Legal Technology for Small Law Firms - Strategist
Strategist - The FindLaw Law Firm Business Blog

Recently in Legal Technology Category

Apple (again) heralded the release of the Apple Watch on Monday, promising more than a prototype this time. The smart watch will go on sale starting April 10 and be available in three different models, ranging in price from $349 to a staggering $10,000 for the Apple Watch Edition, which comes in an 18-karat-gold alloy.

With the arrival of a new "smart" device comes the arrival of new methods for letting potential clients know you exist -- and potential ethical issues. Here's what you need to know about notifications, geo-fences, and professional responsibility:

As you may recall, Nina Pham, a critical care nurse from Texas, contracted Ebola in October. She's fine now, but at the time, she wasn't doing so well, in spite of public statements that her employer, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, made about her ordeal.

These statements form the crux of Pham's lawsuit against Texas Health Presbyterian, in which she claims the hospital acted negligently, given the risk of Ebola. The suit also claims that Pham was a "PR pawn" used to make the hospital look better.

That's all well and good -- but let's talk about the complaint itself. Have you seen it yet?

As if Hillary Clinton needed more trouble stemming from her time as secretary of state, The New York Times reports that she used a personal email account "exclusively" to conduct official State Department business. That's potentially problematic, thanks to federal laws requiring retention of agency emails as official records.

This raises the question: When do you use work email and when do you use personal email? And can it get you into any ethical hot water?

Courts move slowly, as Chief Justice Roberts noted in his State of the Federal Judiciary Report earlier this year. Yes, he knows that the Court needs electronic filing and video recording, but for vague or unspecified reasons, they're just not ready for that yet.

Now that we think about it, all courts at every level have weird anachronisms that shouldn't exist anymore, or practices that just plain don't make sense. We've assembled a list of five things courts need to stop doing in the year 2015. This is the year of the Hoverboard, after all!

It's been 25 years since a University of Michigan Ph.D. student named Thomas Knoll and his brother John, then a visual effects supervisor at ILM, created a program for displaying images on a black-and-white display.

That little program for Mac OS 6 was Adobe Photoshop, and after 15 versions, it's going well beyond just displaying images. Photoshop is the industry standard for photo manipulation, and indeed, is now a verb for the act of digitally altering a photo.

Speaking of digital alterations, Photoshop may be used more often than you think in a legal context. How do you know when an image has been Photoshopped?

Between Facebook, Twitter, and a website (and, if you've been reading here, podcasts!), maintaining your Internet presence can seem like a full-time job, or at least a half-time job. And, wait, don't you have a law firm to run? All that marketing won't matter if you don't have to do any actual lawyering.

That's why you might want to consider hiring a social media manager -- a full- or part-time employee who not only manages your Twitter feed, but functions partly as a marketing manager who knows how to leverage social media.

OK, so you have a blog. You have a Twitter account. You have a Pinterest, a Tumblr, an Ello, and even a lawyer Tinder (but we should talk about deleting that soon). What tools are left for solos and small firms to use to market themselves?

Podcasts! You've probably heard about them, you may have listened to them, but did you know it's dead simple to make your own? All you need is a laptop, a USB condenser microphone, and an hour a week to record a show about a topic of your choice.

We've been quietly watching a proposed change to the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure wind its way through the appropriate channels, wondering if it's worth writing about. As the proposal has gathered steam, it turns out it's created as much divide as Team Edward v. Team Jacob -- minus the abs and the longing looks.

The proposal to reduce the maximum length of federal civil briefs from 14,000 words to 12,500 words has drawn comments from lawyers and judges alike -- and guess who's on which side of the proposal.

Even in Web 2.0 world, the telephone -- and its constant companion, voice mail -- are still with us. There are actually a lot of people out there who prefer the scintilla of human interaction the phone provides over the cold, lifeless specter of email. (Or the tantalizing fun of Snapchat.)

As with every office practice, voice mail has its own etiquette and best practices guide. Here some of the rules you should keep in mind for professional and efficient voice mail communications:

Virtual Law Office 105: Processing Credit Card Payments

How complicated is getting paid by credit card?

In an ideal world, one would only need a credit card processor, such as the many ones we've talked about that handily operate via an attachment to your smartphone. If a food truck can take plastic, lawyers certainly should be able to do so too, right?

Except IOLTA accounts. Damn trust accounts. If you're taking payment in advance of services rendered, things get immensely complicated because most credit card processors take their cut out of what the consumer pays -- which creates an obvious ethics issue for unearned fees that are supposed to be sitting in your IOLTA account.