Monthly Archives: July 2009

My thoughts as a "non-lawyer"

I came across an article the other day, written by Nancy Byerly Jones entitled:  Treating ‘non-lawyers’ with respect.  Here’s the intro:

A couple of Twitter “tweets” I’ve read recently referenced a lawyer disciplined for allowing “non-lawyers” to do something that only a licensed attorney should have done. I really dislike the “n-l” word, so I suggested in a reply “tweet” that surely we could all find more respectful words to use when referring to those who do not practice law for a living.

While I certainly agree that there are enough firms and attorneys out there with egos and issues who look down upon support staff AND I agree that the staff at a law firm very rarely get the appreciation and respect they truly deserve, I don’t think that has anything to do with the term “non-lawyer”.

“Non-lawyer” is just a word and means anyone not holding a JD. It easily helps me identify who we are speaking of because at a firm, there are so many levels and titles and such. Some paralegals prefer to be called legal assistants, and in some states you can’t call someone a “paralegal” without some form of certification.  It’s all very confusing.

To top it all off, what other term are you going to use?  You can’t use “professional staff” as then all the non-attorneys would get their panties in a bunch that they were being called “non professionals”… and the only other term that’s even close is “lay person”.  Now there’s a reference I don’t like: “lay person” – it doesn’t make sense to those outside of law and just the words are kinda funny.  I definitely prefer “non-lawyer” over “lay person”.

Of course, there are attorneys who spew out the term “non-lawyer” in a derogatory fashion,  but they can use the same tone on the words “secretary”; “assistant” or even “support staff”.  In other words, it’s the person – not the term.

How do you feel about the word “non-lawyer”? Take my 2 second poll:

Is the term “non-lawyer” offensive for you?

2 new twitter words: twiltering and twollution

I think these two are a long time coming:

  1. twitter + filtering= twiltering:  what twitter should have the tech doing to automatically filter out high volumes of messages with exact same words (“click here and get 400 followers”).
  2. twitter + pollution= twollution- the crap twitter users have to suffer through because twitter tech isn’t twiltering the universal stream.

If any twitter geeks/coders are reading this, I’m not complaining.  I understand free tech and absolutely recommend twitter as the only social networking tool you NEED to have.  Works on all personal mobile devices, from any web browser, and truly – I have seen first hand how it can connect real, live people with common interests (like beer!) lol

In the end it all takes up bandwith – and I would imgaine it is in twitter’s best interest to filter for this type of spam,  I mean, stuff, and remove it before it populates the stream.

5 Things To Do Before Your PC Crashes (besides "back up")

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Having to reinstall my software several times over the years is what prompted these nuggets:

  1. Write any key, registration, serial numbers or passwords directly on the inside cover of the software CD.
  2. If you download a program off the internet, burn the downloaded .zip or .exe file to CD and write the same code(s) on the CD/envelope/storage cover.
  3. Make a .pdf copy of any confirmation e-mail containing your codes and passwords and save it to a file on your hard drive named the application, i.e., “Corel”. Program files are stored separately on your hard drive.  Make the new folder directly in your My Documents folder or wherever you regularly store your business/client documents so it  gets backed up with your other records.
  4. If you really want to cover all the bases, print out the .pdf confirmation and store with your accounting records/paper receipts.
  5. Store all the program CDs in the same place – shoe box/CD holder/drawer – so when you have to restart with a new machine or freshly wiped OS, you are not wasting time searching for them.

It is never a convenient time to have to reinstall and rebuild your PC – but having all the proper installation codes, CDs and passwords in one place makes it as painless and efficient as possible.


PrimoPDF is a great, free application to turn the digital and paper into .pdf.  You can download from   Once you download and install, simply hit Ctrl+P from almost any application to create a .pdf.

Twitter 101 – a basic guide for those who want to get started right and professionally connect with others via twitter:

The Legal Connection LinkedIn Group: connects you with attorneys and legal professionals from around the web.

My thoughts on using Google…

In response to a recent discussion on a list serv, below are my thoughts on Google.  Please feel free to add your comments and thoughts…

I don’t trust Google with anything but public list serv messages and Google Alerts. For that, I’m

I read the Google TOS so long ago, I’m sure they’ve changed somewhat.  Hwever, from what I recall (and I’m no lawyer – this is a pure layman’s interpretation) – Google won’t share your information; but they do reserve the right to review it.

That was all I needed. I work with attorneys. Not acceptable to me.

So I bought my own domain (through Go Daddy) and set up every single one of my company’s processes without Google with one exception – I had a Blogger blog since before they were part of Google. Blogging I consider public; and if Google wiped out my blog tomorrow – OK. I’d be upset; but I wouldn’t be “out of business”.

I tell peeps Google is the borg – it is all consuming and all it wants is all your information, all the time. ewwwww isn’t that creepy to anyone but me??

I used to say if Google and Microsoft merge – we’re all SOL! One entity to rule the web AND our PCs? AHHHHH


Best Portable Digital Recorders for Lawyers

First off, spend the money (about $500) and get a recorder that has a slide switch.  It removes most of the learning curve as digital units work almost exactly same as tape based units.

Many attorneys I’ve spoken with have tried to save money and ignored my recommendations, only to find that the learning curve or button placement/functions are difficult, if not impossible, to coordinate.

In any event, I used to recommend three models, but had to drop the Olympus DS-5000 from the list as:

(a) you must convert the file to industry standard .dss using the software provided.  The unit itself creates a proprietary .ds2 file.  Who needs extra steps?!

(b) when I held a DS5000 at LegalTech 2009 – it felt like a toy you’d get from a fast food restaurant.  By contrast, the Philips 9600 felt remarkably like a tape based recorder.

So the portable digital recorders I DO recommend are:

1.  Philips 9600; and

2.  Grundig Digta 420.

If you haven’t heard of Grundig – their product offerings are so dang good, I bet they will be a main player in only a short time.

In fact, according to Nerino Petro, Practice Management Advisor to the Wisconsin State Bar:

“Grundig had kind of faded away for a while but they are making a serious comeback the last few years. I’ve always preferred the Philips units as they fit my hand better than the Olympus units…”

If you’d like to learn more or purchase a Philips 9600, by all means head on over to and speak with my bud Bret Williams.  He’s an authorized reseller and heck of a nice guy!  Contact me if you wish to order a Grundig model.  I’m not a reseller, but I can put you in touch with the right peeps.

Also, if you’re in a large box/office/chain store – don’t buy!  In most instances those recorders are not “professional” series and do not have the same functions needed by someone who relies on dictation to get their work done.

Organizing Digital Documents – No Software Necessary

I have always had a knack for keeping legal practices organized. In my brick and mortar life, I was generally the person charged with finding that one important document/file/motion an attorney would misplace, swear they put back in the file or gave to so and so (with so and so having no clue, of course). In many instances, I was also required to find it NOW! ;)

Obviously, this made me good at looking for things. It also gave me a lot of incentive to put into place systems to lessen my stress. It certainly taught me that no matter what type of business or practice you run —
if you aren’t organized, you’re going to be wasting a great deal of time looking for things.

One way to organize your documents is by using document management software. If you have ever worked at a large firm or corporation, chances are you are familiar with this technology. Document management programs are what pop up whenever you save a document. The pop up window asks for certain information such as client number and may pre-populate other fields such as “created by”.  If I were still in the “real” world, I would probably have Worldox™

However, single practices and small firms do not necessarily need to invest in what can be an expensive and disruptive technology upgrade in order to keep their digital documents organized. What they must do, however, is carefully consider and routinely apply appropriate naming conventions for all files.

Consistency is key here – once you put a policy into place, you and your staff must adhere to the rules for the policy to work.

Here’s a few tips for keeping your computer and electronic document files organized without additional software:

  • Pick a date that you will institute your naming policy. Obviously, your computer or network already contains numerous documents that were named by whatever methods you currently use (if any). It is very arduous and time consuming to go back and rename all these documents. By picking a start date, you will immediately know if a document was created before or after your policy simply by its date and you can narrow or broaden your search accordingly.
  • Create a directory called “Clients” and then a subfolder for each client based on last name. Put every document created or scanned for that client into that directory. Even if you only institute this one procedure, you limit your search for documents to one place, rather than all over your computer. If you have more than one client with the same name, simply use last name, first initial.
  • Documents and files should be named by date then identifier, i.e., “2009-04-03 Smith ltr”. This is a letter to someone named Smith, dated April 3, 2009. If you use all 4 digits of the year first, and the “0″ in months which contain only one digit, you will be storing your documents in reverse chronological order – no sorting by date necessary.  Keep in mind the “date” stored by your computer is usually the last date the document was opened, which is not necessarily the same date as when it was created/saved.
  • Along with date, all file names should hint at what the document is. For instance, Ltr to Adv, OSC (Order to Show Cause), Memo, Affid, Affirm, etc.

These are just a few tips to help you keep the documents stored on your computer or small office network organized without investing in document management software.

For a more in depth system described by two fellow Canadians for Law Pratice Today: click here

LegalTypist Review: LawTalkNetwork podcast Lawyers and Smartphones

Below is my interpretation/notes/transcription of the recent LawTalk Network podcast:


The Kennedy-Mighell Report – Lawyers and SmartPhones

Dennis and Tom discuss “smart” phones, including the iPhone and BlackBerry and a mention here or there of the Palm Pre…

Please note: Anything in black was actually stated or is my paraphrasing of what was said.  My comments are interjected throughout and are distinguished by brackets and colored maroon.

Dennis back from Maui and “swamped”.  Talked to Tom – who’s swamped too. [Maybe they need to set up a call with me!? lol]

[Initial observations:

It’s nice to see they’ve cut down the length of these podcasts – this one being just a little shy of 25 minutes.   Ideal length is no more than 20 minutes, IMO.

I see rather than incorporating Adrianna into their podcast, LegalTalkNetwork has placed Adrianna on a podcast with the Chair of next year’s ABATechShow, Debbie Foster.  I have yet to review that podcast but intend to.  :)  (Adrianna always makes me laugh and Debbie was the ONLY person at ABATechShow 2009 I did not get to meet face to face…) :(

The introduction music comes on too loud.  It’s startling (not in a good way).

The conversation is  really limited to the devices and tech personally used by the speakers.]


Dennis: BB – never has a tech before been taken to by attorneys than the BB.  [uhhh you must have forgetten about Corel WordPerfect and word processors…]

There are 4 generations of legal tech.

Attorneys have a number of options but historically lawyers are  attracted to BBs.  They can’t let go of them.  [That’s not just attorneys and yes, it’s only BB owners who act like twitchy addicts.]

Tom: Why attorneys use BB is because connection – it’s e-mail.  BB is the superior e-mail client – handles it better and I may get argument and I think the BB is best at e-mail.  Connected 24/7.  Lawyers who want to be connected that much. [Careful, being connected gets addictive.  Like anything else, it can control you or you can control it.  Set boundries.  FYI, my least recommended personal mobile device is a BB because it turns otherwise polite, normal human beings into crazed, e-mail addicts – you don’t see iPhone or Treo users acting that way do you?!]

2009 ABA Survey:  64% of attorneys use BB.  Healthy chunk.  iPhone increase: 5% last year to 14% this year.  iPhone making inroads on BB

Dennis: you’ve recently gone to iphone – can you point out features why?


Few reasons iPhone superior with BB:

1.  Applications.  iPhone has largest and best featured of the smartphone manufacturers.

2.  Good robust internet browser.  Google Android now good.  iPhone easier and friendly than a BB browser.

Downsides to iPhone make it not as good addressed in the last release:

1.  Search.  Now you can.

2.  Cut and paste. Now can be done.

This brings it up to competitive with BB.

#1 difference – are you a tactile keyboard user or a virtual keyboard.  It does take getting used to.  Big consideration.

Dennis: used BB off/on since early days.  I use iPod Touch – similar.  Like the bigger touch screen; really useful in a lot of ways for broader purpose for phones – which is phones turning into the third screen or mobile platform [You heard it here first – smartphone = “personal mobile device”.]

E-mail is why attorneys like smart phones.  There are problems with e-mail as communication tool – we talk about it in our book too.  As we use phones for everything, that’s where you start to see why some other phones become more attractive than a BB – or BB Storm with touch screen. [Just as all tech, e-mail should be used judiciously.]

BB domination in the legal profession.  That will be difficult move to make.  There is a lot of BB lock in because firms do standardize – its so hard to do something else.  All captured in these two year service contracts – make change even slower.

Tom: There are firms who will say I’m sorry we don’t support BB even though turning on Exchange server to work with BB is actually very easy.  Other issues difficult to choose carrier – device or carrier?  I don’t like service enough to have to have it if I find phone on other service to move.  Happy to move.  Lots of lawyers on multiple user plans and can’t just change over more readily.

Dennis – it is more important to make sure you have good coverage.  [I agree.  Pick carrier then device.  Hold device if at all possible before purchasing.  Be certain you have 30 days to return any new device.]

Easier to stick to where I am, so more inclined to go into BB Storm.


Tom:   Where I want to see things to go – applications are the determining factor.  Expect to see lots more legal based applications.

Dennis:  As we move to mobile platform apps more important.  [Palm has tons of apps…  Pre is new OS so third parties need time to catch up to new code.  You can do lots with Centro, Treos and Palm OS devices – watch movies, use as modem, etc. all long before iPhone a gleam in Apple’s eye…]


Dennis:  Apps where you focus attention and where interesting things happen.  Still believe it will stay a BB world and changes will happen slowly because of institutional issues and contracts; share of iphone use will keep up.

Audience Question:

1. I need secure and confidential e-mail for client communications – what do I use?

Tom:  Briefly, rules do not require encryption in most states.  Things may be shifting.  Look at encryption – lots available, favorite is pgp (free); hushmail is another example; zigscorp specializing in this for a while – even encrypt your Gmail.

What I want to say is you need to think what you’re going to use before – many require your clients to have this program – so have client buy in before you make investment in specific product.  If you do business with international clients – many other countries have different laws, including encryption of e-mail.  Do research before hand so you can use that software outside of the country.

Dennis:  Re: ABA Rule that says lawyers don’t need to encrypt e-mail – we should be pioneers and I think we’ve abdicated this.  Encryption not that easy to implement.  It takes two to tango.  Requires initial set up and cooperation by more than one person.  Public keys/private keys – sometimes hard to figure out or part of third party e-mail system.  Just not as easy as you would imagine it would be.  I think you do need to start looking at ways to do what you can.  Gmail just made itself so you could use SSL when using – worthwhile step to do more of what you can do … suspect moving toward some type of encrypted e-mail. [DO NOT USE GOOGLE GMAIL FOR CONFIDENTIAL CLIENT WORK PRODUCT COMMUNICATIONS.  There, I said it.  Can you hear me now?!? No, I’m not an attorney – I’m the chick that makes attorneys look good!  Gmail can hurt anyone, not just attorneys.  Don’t use it for anything mission critical.]

Tom:  …suspect you are right.

Dennis:  One more thought on iPhone – made comment on 4 generations on legal tech at the start of this and would like to close loop.

1st Generation Tech =  Staff focused

2nd Generation Tech =  IT department focused

3rd Generation Tech = lawyer focused

4th Generation will be client focused – that’s a story for another day.

iPhone became part of that battle ground between 2nd and 3rd generation;  individual attorneys wanting to have certain tools, while IT wants to keep business as usual… this will be an interesting battle and how it plays out as we move from 2nd into 3rd generation.  IT will win but over 3 to 5 years may see transition.

Tom: first with solo/small firms because no constraints.

Parting shots:

Dennis: Windows Vista – not a huge number of attorneys on Vista but still, me – I have a  tremendous number of programs open at any time – move between them – could click or use Alt + Tab to go in between; however, in Vista if you hit Windows key + tab it gives you a 3D, flipping way to move around – not small icons, larger screens.  Helpful way to move between programs.

Tom: Facebook went to personalized vanity url this week.  As of last week you can log on and claim your own vanity url – do not violate any copyright – if using FaceBook for marketing (I think LinkedIn better) but if using – do claim it so you have something to give to clients and potential clients to easily access your FaceBook page.

Show wiki:

[All in all another fine show of two lawyers speaking about the tech in their world.]

TheLglCxn Week in Review: 2009-07-03

Monday, June 29

In 2007 The first Apple iPhones went on sale

@chrisbrogan 19 Presence Management Chores You COULD Do Every Day

Tuesday, June 30 – Last Tuesday of the month

June Issue of The Legal Connection Ezine:

@astarita E-mail Storage and the Attorney Client Privilege: Work place computers, privacy…

Wednesday, July 1 -Canada Day!  :)

Blog Post:  Funny Molson Commercial:

@SoFlaEstatePlan publishes New Post on MJ’s Will. It’s a simple pourover will. Diana Ross is successor Guardian of his kids!

Thursday, July 2 –

My twitter tip: If it’s a pix of YOU on a twitter acct, don’t let anyone tweet on your behalf. Peeps see & think only YOU. Don’t break that trust!

Pick your application cheat sheet:

@ABAJournal publishes New Mich. Jury Rule: No Texts, Tweets or Google Searches

LegalTypist not listed as “VA” in ABA article on virtual “paralegals”/”assistants”

RT @Rex7 @econwriter5 @CopyrightLaw “Who’s in Control of Your Online Content?”

New podcast launched at Legal Talk Network:


Legal 3.Oh!, – wonder when they’ll get a Virtual Assistant podcast? ;)

Friday, July 3 –

@bschorr Nice article for business travelers on how to get comfortable in coach on planes.

@KStarry publishes GoDaddy Wants You to Go Twitter I ? GoDaddy (for registering domains)!

***End of Review***

I wish all my US contacts and peeps a safe, happy and plentiful July 4th!

Everyone else, have a great weekend!  :)

5 Key Considerations To Selecting The Right Equipment To Get and Keep You Mobile

  1. What is your tech comfort level? Be objective and use a scale of 1-10 with 10 being uber geek. I recommend if you don’t rate yourself a solid 6.5, find a local consultant. Use a professional well rooted in your community, preferably with experience in your industry. You may pay a bit for their knowledge, but in turn save yourself hours of research and the cost of testing, trial and error, or worse.
  2. Less is best.  Think about it, each new piece of equipment also ads cables/chargers, integration/software and care (not to mention upkeep and initial cost). So if you can perform five functions with one piece of physical equipment, why use three?
  3. It’s not the gadget – it’s how you expect to use it. Think about how you prefer to work, then match your preference (along with tech comfort level) to the proper personal mobile device.
  4. How much physical paper do you have to handle? Paper impedes mobility. You need to get it digital the question is at what point. For instance, using unified messaging will turn faxes to .pdf  and your personal mobile device’s camera can capture business cards.
  5. Mobility is all in the set up.  You have to match how you “work” to mobility and not conform yourself to a one size fits all approach.  For instance, I’m a lifelong Palm girl – but I don’t bash any other personal mobile device.  My motto is – if it works for you…

Do it right and you will be free of the constraints of having to be in a certain physical location in order to process the information and data which is your business/life.