Law Practice Management Newsletter

Issue 3

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Editor's Message

Five tips from the ABA TechShow Road Show

by Alan E. Brown, Esq.
Morrison Mahoney LLP, Boston

Were you at the ABA TECHSHOW Road Show in Boston? With presentations from some of the nation’s leading experts in mobile technology, knowledge management, software and practice management, there were enough useful tips to keep even the most tech savy lawyers salivating. Here are five useful nuggets I took away that I intend to incorporate into my practice:

1. Use Two Monitors. Need to boost the efficiency of your document handling? For the very modest cost of a second monitor you can see a 30 to 50 percent increase in productivity. The best part besides the low cost? It targets exactly what I spend the bulk of my time doing: editing documents.

2. Do More With Adobe. With incredibly useful legal features from Bates numbering to electronic signatures to creating, formatting and editing documents from any source, this software should be in every lawyer’s office.

3. Try Out Some New Web sites.

  • Worldcat.com – Find any publication at the library closest to you. It’s the old card catalog on steroids.
  • Babelfish.yahoo.com – Quick translations to and from over 25 languages. !Que bien!
  • Justia.com – Search legal content online, especially your favorite blawgs.
4. Mind Your Own Business. Whether you’re a solo, partner or brand new associate, take charge of your practice by setting clear goals and measuring the results of what you do. Think marketing, billing, professional development, etc.

5. Read Law Practice Today. I picked up a free copy at the TECHSHOW Road Show. Filled with incredibly useful content, this ABA LPM Section publication offers something for everyone on topics including marketing, management, technology and finance. It is my new must read.

Want even more? This month we feature articles on Internet recruiting and VoIP, both great solutions for putting technology to use to save you money. Enjoy.

If you’d like to get involved with the e-zine, please contact me at [e-mail abrown]. For more information on what the Law Practice Management section has to offer, you are welcome to contact the Section Co-chairs, Alan Klevan, Esq., at [e-mail alan] and Rodney Dowell, Esq. at [e-mail rodney].
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Strategic Internet Recruiting on a Budget

Get the most recruiting bang for your online buck

by Teddy McNaught Esq.

A recent survey of the hiring practices of 49 large companies indicates that over 25 percent satisfied their hiring needs externally using job boards, such as Monster.com, CareerBuilder.com and Hotjobs.com. Given the success that large firms are having with online job postings, small firms may consider advertising online as well. If you find yourself in need of a new hire at your firm, turn to the Internet and follow these tips. 

The Pros. One good thing for employers, large and small alike, is that tremendous redundancy exists between the job boards. According to Andrea Simard, a professional recruiter with AccountPros in Boston, as much as 70 percent of job seekers using CareerBuilder also use Monster. Therefore, if you choose to pay to advertise on one job board, you won't be forsaking a majority of the candidates. 

Monster charges $385 to advertise a position on its Web site for 30 days. CareerBuilder charges $419 for 30 days, and Hotjobs charges $369 for a 30 day ad or $410 for a sixty day ad.

If you are reluctant to shell out the cost of advertising on one of the major job sites, consider Craigslist.com for job postings. At only $25 a month per job posting, Craigslist is, by comparison, a bargain. Plus, while Craigslist's search functionality may not be as sophisticated as the major sites, it is not bad. Perhaps most importantly, Craigslist is very easy to use.

Apart from Craigslist, there are other lesser known alternatives to the major job sites. For instance, you might try advertising on JobFox or Talenthook. These smaller staffing sites tend to be more specialized, according to Simard. Plus, Lawyers Weekly has its own online classified section.

The Cons. Job boards can bring you a huge number of potential hires. Statistically, however, most candidates will be unqualified or, in some cases, grossly unqualified. According to Simard, "only approximately three percent of candidates responding to a position posted on a job board will be qualified for that position." While the specialized nature of legal staffing may increase the number of qualified hits you can expect from your online ad, hiring managers should still expect to see far more unqualified candidates than qualified ones.

So, the next time you need to post a position, consider online recruiting where you'll find opportunities for every firm and every budget.

 

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What is VoIP?

Save money by placing telephone calls over the Internet

by John A. Stone
TCG Network Services, Natick

Voice Over IP Explained

By now, you may have heard about Voice-Over-Internet Protocol (VoIP). But if you are like many lawyers, you still are not clear on what it could mean for your practice. Knowing the facts can help you make an educated business decision about this technology.

VoIP Defined

Voice-Over Internet Protocol essentially transmits conversation into data. VoIP services convert your voice into a digital signal that can travel over a data network, like an e-mail you send. VoIP is incorporated directly into your business’s data network using your network cables and becomes a seamless part of your infrastructure. It is a telephony standard that has proven to be extremely cost efficient as well as powerfully productive.

So what do you need to know about VoIP?

Here To Stay

The most important thing to know is that VoIP has hit Main Street and is no longer considered an emerging technology, but an established standard. Telephone system technology is now run by servers, not screwdrivers as IT professionals play an ever increasing role in its implementation. The overwhelming majority of new business telephone systems are VoIP based.

Cost Reductions

VoIP offers considerable cost savings in long-distance charges since calls are made over the Internet, especially for firms with multiple offices or significant long-distance calling.

Other cost savings comes from the scalability of VoIP technology. Traditional phone systems require users to pay for any changes or upgrades they may need, for example adding extensions when people are hired or changing extensions during reorganizations. With VoIP, the system is software-based and can be upgraded and changed to fit your needs easily. In fact, 90 percent of changes can be made by an office administrator with a click of the mouse or remotely by your vendor.

Since these systems are software driven, investments in this technology are protected from obsolescence as new and custom features can be added easily to address needed functionality.

VoIP technology also adds business tools and enhances existing ones, providing more efficiency with business operations and leveraging your current technology investment.

Regardless of how VoIP is used, it lowers a firm’s total phone bill and its total cost of ownership by leveraging your existing technology investments like Internet, e-mail and even cell phones.

Continuity of Business

Business interruptions can adversely affect the ongoing operations of any organization. Inclement weather, illness, security issues and other factors can all prevent access to your phone system and your clients. But with VoIP, just because your building closes doesn’t mean your business has to.

Productivity and continuity are maximized with VoIP, as users can receive all e-mails and handle live calls regardless of their physical location. Back-up and disaster recovery features ensure that important voicemail, data and programming are not lost in the event of a catastrophe.

Unified Communications

VoIP allows users to have voice, e-mail, text, fax, chat and calendaring all in one place – wherever you are. By converging all of these communications tools, businesses are maximizing productivity, client service and client confidentiality.

VoIP delivers complete accessibility to contacts regardless of a caller’s location. When clients call, they can find you and have more options than simply to leave a message. Calls can be forwarded or screened seamlessly. Users can create a private message for a designated caller.

Powerful audio conferencing ability allows for easy scheduling, status checks on participants and more productive sessions. Presence management provides tighter collaboration between peers.

The ability to record calls and retain call records is a straightforward process, allowing firms to enhance operations and accountability and avoid potential legal and professional pitfalls.

Implementation Options

The far reaching advantages of VoIP are compelling businesses of all sizes to rapidly embrace this technology. While researching and evaluating the many product and service options available, key decisions related to the organization’s business drivers, corporate culture and company policies need to be made.

During this process, perhaps the most important choice management will face is whether to own or rent. There are clear advantages and downsides to both an On Premise (In House) solution and an Off Premise (Hosted) model.

Hosted VoIP has lower start-up costs and then a monthly fee for each phone or user connected to the host. Other than phones and a special router, the system resides and is managed off site. This type of service runs exclusively over your Internet connection, helping reduce costs associated with land lines. The most popular productivity features are widely available with hosted solutions, but they are limited to the host’s feature set and generally cannot be changed. Hosted VoIP is a fixed monthly service provided on an annual contract basis, much like a traditional phone company.

In House VoIP involves a capital purchase or lease, yet ongoing recurring costs are minimal. Businesses can utilize one or a combination of connections, including Internet, copper or digital lines. Features abound in these systems and additional functionality can be added through regular software updates. In general, companies have much more control over how the system works on a daily basis. In house VoIP is a corporate asset that becomes part of your network.

VoIP technology has become mainstream, bringing the same tools that Fortune 500 companies use to the small and medium-sized businesses. Regardless of the size of your organization, VoIP technology is now accessible, scalable and affordable.
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Do You Skype?

Putting VoIP to the test

by Andrea Goldman, Esq.
Law Office of Andrea Goldman, Newton

We have all heard about the new mysterious telephone options available over the Internet. Skype and Vonage seem to be the most well-known services, but I assume others have cropped up as well, offering VOIP (Voice Over IP). I had very little interest in learning about these options, having dealt with bundling my at-home services (telephone, internet, cable) and spending tons of money on my cell phone service. I have even mastered IM.

That all changed when my daughter left to spend the rest of her senior year of high school in Beijing, China. One of the first causes of concern was how we were going to communicate. The students would all have cell phones, but we did not know how much it would cost them for us to call. So, everyone agreed that the best option was to Skype.
    
My fourteen year-old helped me set up my Skype account (www.skype.com), which took about two minutes and I was in business. First of all, you can search for others who have Skype by clicking on Add, and entering the Skype Name, full name or e-mail address of the person you want to add. Click ‘Search’ to find them. You then add the contact and wait for them to authorize you before you can call them.

You can also import your Outlook contacts into Skype. Any Skype-to-Skype call over the computer is free. Your first call to a land line or cell phone is free, but then you can purchase Skype credits at their low rates. They also have business plans, call forwarding, voice mail and text messaging.

So, to get started with Skype, I took advantage of a www.woot.com special and bought a webcam package. Now I open Skype, see that my daughter is online, set up the webcam and my microphone and click on the green phone symbol. Shortly after my daughter answers, I see her and she sees me and we are having a conversation. She shows me her Chinese knot tying and her latest purchase. Everyone else is weighing in, so I open the chat window and type in some comments that I do not want the rest of the family to hear.

When I was an exchange student in Peru, I spoke with my parents once in three months and it was really expensive. Now Suzannah and I talk to each other when the time difference will allow, and we planned her prom dress design by exchanging pictures from the Internet. It’s all amazing, and it makes me miss her a little less. Oh, and by the way, did I mention it is free?
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Join us at the FREE Legal Technology Expo

To continue to meet the growing technological needs of the legal community, the MBA will host a free Legal Technology Expo on Friday, March 20 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Sheraton Framingham, 1657 Worcester Road, Framingham.

The Legal Technology Expo will feature dozens of companies displaying their latest products and services for lawyers, in addition to comprehensive educational programming. 

Gold Sponsor

  • Catuogno Court Reporting

Silver Sponsors

  • FusionLegal
  • Nuance Communications Inc.
  • Zix Corporation
For a complete list of vendors, click here.

Programming will include:

  • SESSION I: How to Improve Your Law Practice, 15 Minutes at a Time
  • SESSION II: Compliance With the New Privacy Regulations

JUST ADDED: BONUS HOUR OF PROGRAMMING

  • Search Engine Marketing For Law Firms from 2 to 3 p.m. (Sponsored by LexisNexis)

To R.S.V.P. for the Legal Technology Expo, call MBA Member Services at (617) 338-0530, e-mail membership, or click here.

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Submit an E-zine Article

Have a cool technology or practice tip to share? We want to hear from you!

Hardware or software, in the office or on the road, if you use a technology to make your practice more satisfying, effective or profitable, we want to know about it.

E-mail your ideas, links, pictures or short article to [e-mail abrown].

Get your name out there!

©2014 Massachusetts Bar Association