In this inaugural issue of Law Practice Management & Technology Bits & Bytes, a supplement to the CBA Record, we want to introduce readers to business tools and processes to improve and expand their law practice. In 2012 the ABA’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1 (Compe- tence) comment  was revised to read: “To maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology,…”. The Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 1.1 (Competence) comment  has been updated to reflect the language in the model rules effective January 1, 2016. BITS & BYTES Law Practice Management & Technology March 2018
Table of Contents
Using Technology for Smarter Document Creation .......................... Page 4
CONTACT The Chicago Bar Association
Are You Tracking Time or is Time Tracking You? ................................ Page 7
321 S Plymouth Ct Chicago, IL 60604 (312) 554-2000 www.ChicagoBar.org
On Illinois’ New eFiling System, You Finally Get a Choice .......... Page 8
Presenting with PowerPoint ............................................................................ Page 10
State of the Communication Nation ........................................................... Page 13
With this supplement The Chicago Bar Association wants to help educate attorneys and legal professionals about best practices, products and services that help them stay compliant with the IL RPC and maintain efficient and modern practices to serve clients, provide access to justice and uphold the rule of law.
Simplify Your Document Creation Changing the way you work may seem daunting, but there are several small changes you can implement that will have a big impact on your time and ability to deliver top-notch client service. 1. Talk, don’t type 2. Leverage smartphone apps
USING TECHNOLOGY FOR SMARTER DOCUMENT CREATION
3. Embrace the cloud 4. Streamline workflow
By Jami Gyurci
Gain visibility of your team’s workload. There are so many
Creating a legal document is one of the most time-con- suming duties that attorneys tackle during any working day. The need to create pleadings, agreements, letters, memos and many other kinds of legal documents remains a criti- cal part of the legal process. Fortunately, the way in which documents can be created has evolved, so this traditionally tedious task can be completed much more efficiently. By leveraging the latest digital dictation tools, smartphone apps and flexible cloud-based technologies, firms can greatly streamline the document creation process and reap significant rewards including lower overhead, greater efficiency, increased billable hours, improved client service and cost savings. Digital Dictation & Speech-Recognition Tools One of the greatest efficiency enhancers in recent years involves the substantial improvements in digital dictation and speech-recognition software. With the right technology, assistants often can improve efficiency between 50 and 75 percent. Many products are extraordinarily accurate and unlike old-fashioned dictation tapes, assistants can split transcription work into separate pieces even when it exists as one electronic file. This means multiple transcribers can work together on different sections of a single file, which was impossible with tape. Digital Dictation in the Palm of Your Hand Taking advantage of smartphone apps is one of the quickest ways to ease the document creation process. Digital dictation smartphone apps developed specifically for law firms allow attorneys to record notes on the go, whether they’re on the way to a meeting or waiting at the airport. With some apps, assistants receive dictations and files from the attorneys immediately, allowing them to start working right away — there’s no need to wait for the attorney to return to the office and deliver a pile of tapes or dock their dictation device. This helps the attorneys to work more efficiently by empowering them to turn previously unproductive downtime into billable hours. Leverage the Cloud Cloud-based technology also plays a big part in simplifying and streamlining document creation. For smaller firms,
which typically lack the robust infrastructure and IT staff of large firms, cloud technology allows users to share documents more easily so they can
options available to improve your work and processes, and now is the time to make the changes to your document production process that will ensure efficiency and profitability long into the future.
collaborate on files an d improve workflow . When choosing a new cloud-technology, it’s essential that firms check that their technology partner offers the data security features required to protect their client information. What’s Your Workflow? Does your firm currently have an efficient and effective business process workflow system? Workflows can be deployed to create documents more efficiently and keep attorneys and staff from getting overwhelmed at busy times, for example when attorneys and their teams are preparing for a trial. Some of the new software tools include task delegation functionality, so important work can easily be entered, assigned and tracked. This type of technology gives visibility of which staff have availability to step in and help, and which are overloaded. In addition, when assistants are out sick or on vacation, these tools can help management to redirect work or expedite urgent tasks. New technologies and processes can relieve staff and attorneys frommuch of the drudgery of document creation, allowing them to spend more time on strategic work. Instituting change within a law firm can be daunting, so it’s helpful to remember that the core ideas behind document creation will remain the same. Equally important to remember is that the workflow for the attorney changes very little. A few small changes can reap great rewards both for the users and for the business. Jami Gyurci is the Senior Marketing Manager at BigHand M: 651 747 7206 | www.bighand.com Recognized as the Number One Digital Dictation Solution and Macro / Template Solution in the 2017 ILTA Technology Survey
LPMT Bits & Bytes | March 2018
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ARE YOU TRACKING TIME OR IS TIME
By Eubin Rii
Imagine how much more you would enjoy working throughout the day if you no longer needed to manually keep track of your time and record billable hours. Well, imagine no longer. The technology to track all your activities and time is here.
Op. 93-379 regarding billing professional fees.)
Keeping complete and accurate activity and time records enables you to adhere to the Rules of Professional Conduct and obtain analytics to
measure the performance of your firm. Keeping time records empowers you to determine how much of your day you spend
Keeping track of your time and activities is a necessary evil for the practice of law. Regardless of whether you bill hourly, fixed or flat fee, or on
on billable work, determine staff costs and calculate the profitability of each of your matters. This is especially important for firms that charge on a fixed or flat fee basis, as there is a tipping point at which you no longer are profitable due to the number of hours spent on a client’s matter. The technology now exists to automatically record all your time and activities. In the best case use of automated time and activity tracking technology the application would associate activity to the client’s matter with virtually no user interaction. There’s no need to waste time on administrative non-billable tasks. In addition to automatically tracking your time and activities, your firm should be able to analyze your data to provide you key performance indicators (KPIs) and dashboards (“Firm Insights”) so that you can check the pulse of your firm. KPIs can show you your revenue and profitability metrics, lead analysis, and practice area specific metrics so you can make data driven decisions.
contingency basis, tracking your time is necessary. Rule 1.5 of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct provides “[a] lawyer shall not make an agreement for, charge, or collect an unreasonable fee….” Reasonableness is the basis of charging fees and maintaining a record of your activities and time assists you in establishing reasonableness. (See ARDC case In re Neely, M.R. 27514, 2014PR00129 (Sept. 21, 2015), attorney was suspended for two years from the practice of law for misconduct involving dishonesty and unreasonable fees). The best practice of time keeping is contemporaneous timekeeping. Contemporaneous timekeeping is recording your time, activity and associating it to the matter at the time you complete the activity. For example, if you receive a phone call from your client, you track the begin time and end time of the phone call, create a record with the description of the call, and associate it to the matter. But, the most common timekeeping method is reconstructive timekeeping. Reconstructive timekeeping is where you go back in time, at the end of the week or month, to review your file for documents, emails, and events to determine how much time was spent. Unfortunately, reconstructive timekeeping is inherently inaccurate. (See the American Bar Association Formal
Eubin Rii is General Counsel for Smokeball, Inc. 866-668-3206 | www.smokeball.com To learn why the most profitable law firms use Smokeball, please call us or visit our website
LPMT Bits & Bytes | March 2018
On Illinois’ New eFiling System, You Finally Get a Choice
By Alex Braun
Why pay Here are som reduced or avoided by using a paid EFSP.
The rollout of a statewide eFiling platform is a transformative moment for the Illinois courts. But if you already eFiled locally in years past, you may not realize how much your experience is about to change under Odyssey eFileIL. By summer, you won’t have to bother with the clerk’s website to file in Cook County. You’ll get to choose one portal you can use to file civil cases in any court in the state. And if you’re not satisfied with your filing experience, you can choose another one tomorrow. The way eFiling used to be Electronic filing is not new in Chicagoland. In 2003, the Supreme Court launched a pilot program to test electronic filing in five counties, intending to eventually spread the practice across the state. But a decade later, expansion was slow. While eFiling cut down on trips to the courthouse and administrative costs, the technology required significant up-front public investment. And since different systems operated in different counties, transferring cases became notoriously difficult. The court realized that to implement eFiling statewide , a single platform was needed. But how do you choose—and pay for—a system that works just as well for store owners in Danville as for insurance defense firms in Chicago? Illinois’ new, statewide eFiling system Wisely, the Supreme Court split the task in half. They awarded a contract to build the courts’ back-office system for accepting and reviewing filings (called the electronic filing manager, or EFM ) to Tyler Technologies, a Texas company that had implemented similar projects in a dozen other states. This system would be branded Odyssey eFileIL. To win this deal, Tyler had to build one “free” eFiling portal, or electronic filing service provider ( EFSP ), for filers. This service had to offer the basic functionality needed to place a filing without levying any additional fees. But the Supreme Court also allowed for competing EFSPs, which could offer extra support, capabilities or professional services in exchange for a small per-filing fee. The idea was to give filers alternatives that might be better suited to how they file.
• Accounting chaos. The Odyssey EFM the courts use immediately charges a credit card for each statutory court fee, which can make it difficult to accurately reconcile charges back to cases and clients. Some EFSPs can disburse those fees on your behalf, organize them into ready-made invoices by client, and bill your firm monthly or weekly. • Rejected filings. Electronic filing brings with it a new set of document preparation standards, and failing to follow them closely can result in rejections. Some EFSPs automatically convert your documents to the correct format, offer CLE-accredited filer trainings or provide local support staff with extended hours. • Lack of available filers. What if you’re on vacation, or a major case hits with imminent filing deadlines? Some EFSPs offer concierge services for preparing documents and filing on your behalf. How do I evaluate my choices? Go to efile.illinoiscourts.gov and click on the “Providers” tab. You’ll see all the current certified EFSPs you can use to file in Illinois, along with a comparison chart outlining their pricing and key features. The Chicago Bar and other legal associations are also great resources to lean on for advice and feedback about eFiling service providers. Since EFSPs can only charge per filing, there are no registration fees or contracts to sign. Some also offer free trial periods. There’s no risk in making a few filings with a different provider to see which you like best. The only way to get burned is to not use the choice you’ve been given. Alex Braun is the Senior Marketing Campaign Manager at One Legal | 224-542-9182 | www.onelegal.com One Legal is a certified Electronic Filing Service Provider (EFSP) for Illinois courts. File and serve with top-rated support and simplified billing—or email your documents for us to file.
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LPMT Bits & Bytes | March 2018
Presenting with PowerPoint By Catherine Sanders Reach
Lawyers have long used Microsoft’s PowerPoint to provide visual displays in support of a live presentation during CLE programs, for client meetings and to communicate with a jury. Slides are also used to convey information in an easily digestible format, and sent as stand alone communication devices or displayed online on sites like LinkedIn SlideShare. Over the years the expectation of a professional looking slide deck has gone from aspirational to assumptive. Expectations demand that slides are lean, rely heavily on graphics, and have a high impact. In firms with a graphic design and marketing department a lawyer can often get help, but what can a lawyer do on her own? Live Presentations Slides should help you make your point. Try to find images and words that help them understand the focus of your point. The number one sin, ok probably number 2 (#1 is misleading with charts), is reading from your slides. If your slides have no words, you can’t read them. A slide doesn’t replace the need for the audience to listen to you. A slide filled with words guarantees an audience will read the slide It is important to use high resolution photographs and graphics in your slides, and equally important that you have permission to use them for commercial purposes. There are many paid sites like Fotolia, Shutterstock and iStock by Getty Images to ensure you have access to thousands of high quality images with permission to use them. However there are a few sites to get quality graphics for free. • Unsplash https://unsplash.com/ - Free, high resolution photos. Search and download. No attribution necessary. • StockSnap.io https://stocksnap.io/ - Free stock photos, no attribution, no copyright. Includes a free (while in BETA) graphics editor called Snappa. • Morguefile http://www.morguefile.com/ - Free photo archive of high resolution stock photos. In some cases photographers request attribution, so check the details for the image. Adaptation (editing) is also usually allowed. While Google and Bing have advanced image searches that let you filter for graphics that are free for commercial use, be sure to do a reality check as the filters are imperfect. Occasionally you may need to capture images from your computer screen. Snagit https://www.techsmith.com/snagit. html ($50 for a single user) from TechSmith lets you capture screenshots or just specific portions of you screen, as well as blur, annotate and edit them. All of your clips are saved to an image library on your computer for reuse. Creating Handouts If your slides have no words how can you get your audience to read the case summary, the language of the contract or other clauses that often find their way into lawyer’s slide and not listen to you. Getting Graphics
decks? You can use the notes fields to add content to your slides, thus appealing to the folks who want words so they don’t need to take a lot of notes or they want a quick version of a longer handout. The easiest way to accomplish this is to put notes, suitable for sharing, into the slide notes field. In order to add bullets, hyperlinks and other formatting you can convert the slides to MS Word and edit as necessary. In PPT 2010 • File – Save and Send – Create Handouts – Create Handouts in Word – Notes below Slides In PPT 2013 & 2016 • File – Export – Create Handouts –Create Handouts in Word – Notes Below Slides Alternates to Microsoft’s PowerPoint While people have long used Microsoft PowerPoint there are plenty of alternatives that let you create more fluid, or more graphically pleasing OR just different presentations. You’ll need to practice. • Prezi https://prezi.com – free if everything you do is public and you want to present online. Otherwise $13.25/mo to be able to control privacy, get image editing tools and work offline. Designed to work with touch screens. • Keynote http://www.apple.com/mac/keynote/ - for Macs only, although you can get Keynote for iOS if you want to create and display presentations from your iPad. Keynote is $20, and is very good for editing graphics and has pretty templates. “Works seamlessly” with MS PowerPoint, though that is not entirely true, anymore that moving from one design in PPT to another is completely “seamless”. A reality check is necessary. • Google Slides https://www.google.com/slides/about/ - If you have collaborators, this is perfect. Create, edit, share, and present online for free. Not a ton of templates, but you can convert PPT to Slides easily. Not all the bells and whistles of PPT, but enough for most people. Just like in PPT, don’t forget right click menu options. Conclusion Whether giving a live presentation with visual props, or delivering interactive content on an individual basis or shared platform, we have gone a long way for static slides and Clipart. Take advantages of persuasive technology tools to make your point to a media savvy audience. Want to learn more? Watch for upcoming Hands On training for Microsoft PowerPoint or check out the How To… video in the library at www.chicagobar.org/howto Catherine Sanders Reach is the Director, Law Practice Management & Technology at the Chicago Bar Association. Visit www.chicagobar.org/lpmt for articles, how to videos, upcoming training and CLE, services and more.
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State of the Communication Nation By Anne Haag
In a world where electronic communication is constantly at our fingertips, etiquette matters more than ever, no matter how dusty and drab a concept it may seem. The days of Emily Post may be long past, but some of her messages still bear repeating. Though you may never stumble upon an occasion in which it is necessary to use a tape measurer to help set a table, even Post had the insight to see, “manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.” The most important step to take to ensure your email is polite, structured, and free of errors is to review it thoroughly before sending. This sounds simple, but in truth it undermines the instincts of email and thus takes effort to impose as a rule for oneself. Luckily, there are tools you can use to help train yourself to take this extra, crucial step. Additionally, these tools can save you from several common but no less embarrassing mistakes. Did you forget to actually attach an attachment? Did you accidentally send the email to the wrong person, or reply all when you meant to reply to only one person? An “undo send” button or another method of self-check can save you time and pride. Before you consider imposing a double-check rule though, what do you need to look out for in the first place? Tone So what makes a modern email polite? It’s all about striking a balance between formality and friendliness. If you’re too formal, you’ll alienate the recipient. In fact, a study by Boomerang found that formal email openings were significantly less likely to yield responses from their recipients. The classically simple “hi” and “hello” were ranked the most effective openings. The same idea held true for closings (though in that case, they found specifically that some configuration of “thanks” in a sign-off was the most effective). Structure Structure makes your email clearer. Formatting can become more flexible as an email thread continues, but initial communications should follow a specific
What to Check Before Hitting Send: 1. Correct recipients and email contacts 2. Correct reply level 3. Make sure contacts are in the correct fields 4. Check that your email is structured well a. Greeting b. Well-organized body c. Closing 5. Check for spelling and grammar that might get by your email provider’s check settings 6. Check for clarity 7. Review for tone to make sure you don’t come across as curt or rude
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LPMT Bits & Bytes | March 2018
9. Defer delivery by however many minutes you choose 10. Hit Next > 11. Select any exceptions you want to apply and hit Next > 12. Name the rule whatever you choose. Make sure the box next to Turn on this rule is selected (you probably will not want to select the other two boxes) and hit Finish 13. Click OK 14. Click Apply With that, you’re all set! If you want to delete or change this rule, repeat steps 1-2, highlight the rule in your list and select Change Rule or Delete. Undo Send in Gmail Gmail doesn’t have any options quite as sophisticated as Outlook, but it does have a feature called “Undo Send.” Don’t get too excited – it’s not a magical reversal button, but it does remain an option within 30 seconds of sending an email. That’s not a huge amount of time, but it’s usually long enough to recognize the more technical or minor mistakes you might have made. To activate this feature: 1. Click the gear icon in the upper right hand corner of your Gmail home screen 2. Hit Settings 3. In the General tab (where settings automatically opens), find Undo Send: and check the box that says Enable Undo Send 4. If you want even less time, you can select 5 , 10 , or 20 seconds (30 is the default) 5. Scroll to the bottom and hit Save Changes 6. When enabled, the yellow window that pops up at the top of the page (under Gmail’s native search bar) after sending a message will now include an Undo button for 30 seconds after sending. In Android Settings → Delay email sending → up to 5 seconds These self-check tools may seem like a burden initially, but they’ll save you time and embarrassment in the long run. By being just a little more mindful about your communication skills and strategies, you can help avoid issues before they start. That communication is an art is a truth we’d do well to remember in our modern world! Want to learn more? The Chicago Bar Association Law Practice Management & Technology provides hands on training for MS Word regularly. Watch the schedule at:www.chicagobar.org/techtraining. Or watch tutorial videos in the How To library online at www.chicagobar.org/ howto.
formula. You always want to have the following: 1. Subject line 2. Greeting 3. Body 4. Closing 5. Signature block
We’ve already touched on greetings and closings, but let’s explore the remaining three factors. Subject lines should be informative and effective, but short. You want to let the recipient know why you’re contacting them, and ideally use a keyword that you’ll be able to search for later. However, keep in mind that many emails are received on mobile devices. When a notification pops up, you see only the first several words of a subject line. Make those words count, and leave the rest behind. A similar rule applies to the body of your email. Get to your point quickly, before you lose the reader’s attention. Keep things succinct. Not every email can be short, but it’s generally a great idea to aim for 5 sentences or fewer. It’s an optimistic goal, but if you keep that number in mind, you’ll gradually condition yourself to conform. Signature blocks should be informative and attractive. At the bare minimum, you want to include your name, title, company, and contact information (phone and email). If your firm has a logo, include it here for a sophisticated touch. If you have a strong social media presence, you might want to consider linking your Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter accounts to your signature block. So what tools are available to you to help turn this advice into habit? It depends on your email provider, but most have some kind of option you can easily activate. Create a Rule in Outlook (Desktop Version) If you’re an Outlook user, you can create a rule that will hold any email you send in an outbox for an amount of time that you can specify. Even ten minutes can make a big difference, particularly in tense situations where tempers might be involved. To create this rule: 1. Go to the File tab in the ribbon 2. Select Manage Rules & Alerts 3. Select New Rule 4. Under Start from a blank rule , select Apply rule on messages I send 5. Hit Next > 6. Select any conditions you want to apply. If you want it to apply to every email you send, just hit Next > (If you do not select any conditions, you’ll be given a message that says “This rule will be applied to every message you send. Is this correct?” Hit Yes and continue) 7. Select defer delivery by a number of minutes 8. In the window below the checklist, the selected action will appear and “a number of” will be hyperlinked. Click it
Anne Haag is the Trainer/Coordinator at the Chicago Bar Association’s Law Practice Management & Technology Department.
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LPMT Bits & Bytes | March 2018
LPMT BITS & BYTES THE CHICAGO BAR ASSOCIATION 321 S Plymouth Ct Chicago, IL 60604 (312) 554-2000 | www.ChicagoBar.org