CLE Caveat 9-24-2015

No photos, graphics, or live urls : Just some thoughts looking back on the advice and tips I have handed out at the 2015 WV State Bar “Solo and Small Firms Annual Conference”:

  1. Strange to write my post script before publishing my two CLE related posts.
  2. But, as I prepared my materials, I began to think of qualifiers.
  3. Many things I try don’t work out.
  4. Some things work for me but may not be best for others.
  5. There are important “forks in the road” of  law office management and technology, and it’s not as simple Yogi’s advice, “Take it.”!
  6. So here are my caveats:
    1. One week before my presentation, my “trusty” Dell Latitude E6510 died. “Motherboard.” Ike says! Yikes. I expected to keep my Windows 7 machine as a back up for two more years. I sit here anxiously awaiting a near identical used machine, $250, praying I can just switch my “C” drive and have my old reliable applications for a while longer. I don’t. need a desktop machine, but I still need a laptop.
    2. Every move, from DOS to Windows, XP to Windows 7, or 7 to 10, are “BIG DEALS” and it takes at least a year to make each big transition.
    3. There are strong points in favor of Windows’ devotees, and the “Apple Faithful”.
    4. I have my windows machines as does my staff. Two even still have Windows XP.
    5. But I have an iPad and iPhone and will be upgrading soon.
    6. The file structure of Windows is second nature. I need my folders!
    7. I find document management and editing on my iPad clunky.
    8. As much as I love my Surface Pro 3 in some ways, I have BIG concerns:
      1. My peripherals such as, thumb drives,  external drives and my Sony Cybershot 110 camera WILL NOT WORK!
      2. Remember that the SP3 has no bay for CD’s and DVD’s.
      3. That leaves me relying on e-mail attachments and DropBox, and that means my Dell Latitude remains an essential tool for the foreseeable future.
      4. The pen that came with my SP3 WILL NOT WORK! I have ordered new batteries, two per pen, and a used pen, which also won’t work!
      5. The SP3 came with Windows 8.2, but even with a five-hour course, it was a dud. Windows 10 installed fine but “lost my stuff”. So much for being an “early adopter”. It should be easier for you. Windows 10 is much better.
    9. Consultant Barron Henley points out that Apple Macs, for all their user friendliness, cost nearly double a Windows machine with equivalent power. The SP3 may be an exception as mine was at least $2000.
    10. Brett Burney and others tout Apple’s ease of use and resistance to security breaches.
    11. If you are younger or just starting your practice, I have advantages over you, but you have one over me! With 30+ years of files, my acquiring an integrated practice management application is probably at least a $15,000 acquisition, and a very demanding proposition for my staff.
    12. You may be able to do it for under $1000.
    13. In 2-4 years, not so much as I will have at least 7 years worth of files digitized and NOT paper. In the meantime, we are scanning essential pages and shredding our 10 year + paper client files.
    14. So, “bite the bullet” and be sure you have practice management software.
    15. If you have not mastered Word, Access, Excel, Outlook, Publisher, PowerPoint, and OneNote, or the Apple or other equivalent, you have a BIG hurdle ahead of you. These are core application EVERY lawyer and business owners should know.
    16. You MUST be “in the cloud”, but which one(s)?
      1. DropBox?
      2. Google Drive?
      3. Onedrive? (and what’s Skydrive)?
      4. iDrive?
      5. And will you move to WorldDox or Carbonite? For gosh sakes, at least back up into the cloud every night, so when the fire or earthquake comes, you aren’t ruined.
      6. Office 365?
      7. I hope you paid attention to Brett Burney’s presentation, because this is one of his topics.
    17. Perhaps most of you will not have one foot in the Windows Camp and the other in Apple iDevices as I do. I like the redundancy, and the iPad is so much more an intuitive tablet. And my iPhone is, welll… cell phone. Others prefer Android devices. Now Windows is trying to go mobile.
    18. Voice to text is a vital tool for me, but Dragon Natural Speaking is a flawed product.
    19. They lie when they say it learns, at least in many instances. It can’t do my name, “J. Burton Hunter III” unless I say, “Cap I, Cap I, Cap I”. And no amount of “training” can teach it “Letetia”.
    20. The iDevices’ “Dragon App” is ok for draft orders right after the hearing, but the limited ram capacity, means dictating only a paragraph at a time, without the editing features of the full Dragon. Why can’t Apple or Microsoft take on Nuance. For now Dragon is it, and an app formerly called “Dictamus” that will create and audio file that I can e-mail back to the office.
    21. Podcasts and training videos are wonderful, as is Sirius, but all require dangerous “fiddling” and attention lapses that the good old analog radio with its buttons has had for decades. Nancy and I must travel together in order to make them work, and when I am driving, tears sometimes come unbidden as she tries to solve the mysteries that lie therein.
    22. If you are a genius at technology, you get to be a national speaker, but most of us aren’t, and technology can be hard, expensive, and frustrating.
    23. Autofil of your e-mails addresses, and “copy to” and “blind copy”. If you haven’t sent something confidential to the wrong person, you will. My daughter in law Jessica and CLE Director Jessica have learned to reach for “delete” quickly as Outlook and Siri have been moving them up and down as my “primary Jessica”.
    24. And, marketing one’s self is time-consuming. If you love to share, talk, and write, as I do, it is easier. If I had the choice, I would retire now to a second “career” as a professional write. That’s why I have an 800 page “e-book” and 270 articles. But even if you aren’t a blogger, you must claim your pages on all the major social and professional sites. If nothing else, when people look you up, you must appear, as a well qualified professional, preferably with a dozen or more good reviews.
    25. Remember, you won’t be in print media, Yellow Pages, local newspaper, much longer, so if you are a small firm, you had better have a plan. If you are too “small”, you can disappear.
    26. And, try as I might, I cannot get enough family law lawyers using Pathagoras to create that great library of pleadings, forms, handouts, and orders, that would make our document assembly so much easier. I am hoping Roy Lasris found some disciples  in the audience during his 15 minute presentation during mine on Friday.
    27. We hope you have learned some things you can apply to improve your daily efficiency and visibility and that you will give us feedback with questions and comments. Please subscribe to my blog.  jbh

This post was written by Burton Hunter

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