The College of Law Practice Management now has applications available for entries for its legal innovations awards. Check it out. The profession is changing. How will technology and improved management impact these changes?
The tech show in Chicago is very interesting. Some of the items that I think deserve close attention are the new portable Fujitsu Scan Snap scanner. It’s light enough to go into the briefcase with no discernible problem. I love it and will get one. Another interesting item is netdocuments … it’s a case management system extraordinaire, including the ability to bring emails into your system. It will save your documents, organize them, allow you to search very quickly. And it works with Word, WP, .pdf, etc. Looks very good. It resides in the cloud for a relatively small monthly fee and makes Dropbox obsolete. Take a look at MyCase, as well, since today they announced a word processing capability right in the system …. No need to go out to your word processor and return. There is more, but these merit actual purchase.
Ed offers 5 ways to increase your law firm’s revenue. 1. Emphasize collections. 2. Hire lateral lawyers to meet specific demands, a new practice area, a new need. 3. Leverage technology. 4. Create a cooperative compensation model that emphasizes the law firm as an institution. 5. Outsource functions that are better done by others. Delegate.
The web is changing. First, everyone wanted to use "com" in their web address. The .com world became crowded, so we saw .biz, .net and others come onto the scene.
The .org generally was reserved for non-profit organizations … But, now the Arizona Bar says that it’s o.k. to use .org for profit-making organizations as well. This reverses an earlier Arizona state bar ethics panel decision (Arizona Ethics Op. 01-05 (2001)) that had found the use of the suffix ".org" by for-profit law firms would mislead consumers. This most recent opinion, (Arizona State Bar Committee on Rules of Professional Conduct, Op. 11-04), finds that the ".org" suffix is now more widely used by for-profits such that consumers of legal services will no longer be misled.
The cynic might say that the neighborhood has become so crowded that economic forces command that .org be available for everyone, profit and non-profit. My question is who is running the madhouse? Is this the Wild West where anything and everything goes? There was some comfort in knowing that .org was an institution or non-profit. But, since the world is upside down anyway in the last few years, why not the internet and web addresses?
Still, .com is the preferred suffix … But, then, why do we need a suffix of any kind? It just means more letters have to be typed. While we’re not cutting trees to write the extra 4 characters, we are using our energy (means we have to eat more to have energy to move our fingers more), we might encounter more finger strain (carpal tunnel syndrome), and other yet to be determined maladies. Where are the real reformers when we need them?
Corey Stephenson of Lawyers Weekly USA wrote an article about the Oregon Bar’s position about metadata:
"If a lawyer receives a document and knows or reasonably should know that metadata was inadvertently included, the Oregon Rules of Professional Responsibility only require notice to the sender. The receiving lawyer is not required to return the document unread or to comply with a request by the sender to return the document, according to the opinion.
The Bar went on to say that the 2nd lawyer’s client should be consulted about whether the lawyer should read the document. "…. (G)iven that the decision affects a client’s objectives, lawyers should consult with the client about the risks and rewards of returning the document versus retaining and reading the document prior to making such a decision."
It was my understanding that a misguided "hard copy" needed to be returned, unopened, if the lawyer knew the document was mistakenly sent. It seems we are modifying the rules a bit with technology.
But, there was a more fascinating pronouncement. The opinion went on to say that lawyers may not utilize special software to reveal the metadata in a document. “Searching for metadata using special software when it is apparent that the sender has made reasonable efforts to remove the metadata may … constitute ‘conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.’" The comparison was made to surreptitiously entering the other lawyer’s office to obtain client information.
In a recent theft of a laptop … from one’s home … the burglar was caught because of an embedded anti-theft software program.
The homeowners were puzzled and could not figure out how someone was able to get into their home, steal their property, and get away, since there was no sign of forced entry into the house. The owners reported the thefts to the Sheriff’s department.
What the thief didn’t know was that one of the stolen laptop computers was embedded with a “LoJack for Laptops” theft recovery software. The company’s monitoring center was notified of the theft by the owners and the monitoring company kept in close contact with the sheriff’s investigator.
The monitored laptop was also equipped with photo recognition software. When the suspect in possession of the stolen laptop realized he could not log onto the computer, he had a completely new operating system installed and the photo recognition software removed. He incorrectly thought the embedded monitoring software had been removed, but it is very difficult to remove it.
The suspect used the laptop to log on to Facebook. This enabled the monitoring company to gather the suspect’s personal information, including a photo of him, his name, and more. This was given to the Sheriff’s investigator who showed the photo of the suspect to the victims. They immediately recognized him as an unlicensed contractor who had done work at their home two months prior. The victim didn’t know him by name, but their information was sufficient to find and arrest the suspect.
Target is. How long will it take for a law firm to be considered a "retailer"? Will size matter?
The Court, in the Target case said "… a retailer may be sued if its website is inaccessible to the blind, stating that the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits discrimination in the "enjoyment of goods, services, facilities or privileges… Until this ruling, commercial websites were not considered a place of accommodation and were assumed to not fall under the Americans with Disabilities Act…"
“With these lawsuits,” Law School Transparency says, “nearly 10 percent of all ABA-approved law schools across eight states will be accused of tortiously misrepresenting job placement statistics and violating state consumer protection laws.”
The complaint says, among other things, that law schools’ employment figures include work outside the law. And Senator Barbara Boxer of California wants the ABA to require all law schools to better determine where their graduates go after school and what kind of employment they get.
In a recent teleseminar I conducted, recent graduates were angry that they spent so much of their money (and incurred so much debt) to receive an education in a profession that does not offer them employment opportunities. They considered it fraudulent for the schools to have taken their money.
Those feelings and this law suit are different. On the one hand, the students want jobs and feel the schools have an obligation to help them get jobs. On the other hand, the current spate of law suits merely wants information — consumer information — to be accurate and available to law school entrants.
What is the obligation of the law school? How could anyone have predicted the shifts in our economy and the disruption of the profession? Not even senior partners are safe in their firm positions. Why should students be protected? We need to watch these developments as the profession continues to change … caused by the economy … and perhaps more significantly, caused by technology.
Our first stop on our Road to Revenue National Road Show is Ashland, OR for the Shakespeare Festival. We’ll see 4 plays in 3 days, a daunting task. But, I love this part of the country. And this oldest of Shakespeare Festivals (since 1935) is done so well amid such great surroundings, how could you not want to be here? My sadness is that we won’t be here longer … So, let me start with our experience today, seeing The Language Archive, written by Julia Cho
One of the best plays I’ve ever seen. Here is what the director says about the play in words that are hard for me to surpass: