Category Archives: law

Top Three Priorities for Law Firms in 2018

priorities for law firms in 2018

 

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the great German literary figure once said, “Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” In other words, you’ve got to keep your priorities straight! In fact, results from recent surveys indicates that law firms have certain key priorities for 2018. Here is a breakdown:

Improving Security
According to the recent ILTA Technology Survey, which takes a look at the issues, practices, and trends happening at today’s firms, security is a major focus (just as it has been in the past few years.) And this makes sense: Law firms are prime targets for cyberattacks, given they are in possession of confidential and highly sensitive information about their clients.

Unfortunately, cybercriminals are constantly evolving and becoming increasingly sophisticated. Committing to cyber-security vigilance is crucial in order to keep clients’ private data safe. The good news is that firms are currently trending towards heightened security measures, such as “removing desktop admin rights, adding two-factor authentication for remote access, intrusion detection and prevention systems, DLP, and phish testing of users.” You can protect yourself: For starters, check out this article on two-factor authentication and how to responsibly vet your cloud vendors.

Increasing Revenue in an Uncertain Climate
The legal profession is squarely in the midst of some major transformation, which as a result has some like James G. Leipold, executive director of the National Association for Law Placement (NALP), saying that “uncertainty is the hallmark of the future for law firms.” Advanced technologies, alternative service providers, online legal solutions, and legal smartphone apps have all served to transform the legal landscape, as has globalization. The market is crowded and law firms face stiff competition.

Unsurprisingly, in light of this environment, the Legal Institute for Forward Thinking revealed that in 2018, firms will be acutely focused on how to sell smarter, reduce delivery cost, and improve quality of service to ensure their ongoing ability to win new business in a shrinking market.

AI Adoption
Artificial intelligence (AI) has been a hot topic across all industries, including the legal profession. And clients are increasingly expecting their law firms to adopt AI in some way. While ILTA Technology Survey respondents recognize the potential impact AI can have, they were also very clear that firms must “be careful that our assumptions about the decisions AI is making for us are good ones based on solid information.” Firms should also make sure to provide quality knowledge and information in order for AI systems to be effective. Training these systems will require significant expertise and attention.

Kristin Johnson is an executive and corporate communications professional, and founder of KSJ Communications, a communications and public relations firm. She consults with a diverse roster of clients spanning the technology, professional services, financial services, public sector, consumer, and healthcare industries. In addition to Rocket Matter, Johnson writes for various other publications as well.

 

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The Importance of Delegating: Personal Assistant Hacks for Attorneys

the importance of delegating

 

Being a mother to four children while starting my law firm, launching a blog, and staying politically involved in my community requires time management. However, sometimes time runs out and the just tasks keep piling up. This is where “personal assistants” come into play. Traditionally, the term personal assistant elicits images of young people running around with lattes and notebooks, á-la The Devil Wears Prada. However, the concept of personal assistants has evolved. You may never see your personal assistant (and you may have to get your own coffee!) Several online platforms offer varied “personal assistant” services. Here’s a breakdown:

Legal Secretaries
Secretaries have long performed a myriad of tasks for their employers. However, a most efficient use of their time and efforts would see them performing more sophisticated tasks such as proofreading, drafting and sending correspondence, managing calendars, and organizing incoming mail. They can ensure a second set of eyes on work product and help keep attorneys organized. This type of work can be completed by services like LegalTypist and contracted paralegals. Such paralegals can be found on sites like Upwork; rates range between $25 and $75.

Personal Assistants
A true personal assistant can be well worth their weight in gold. They can handle all the tedious, time-consuming tasks that take lawyers away from practicing law. For instance, such assistants can set pediatrician appointments, research and book flights and hotels, complete award applications, research summer camps, schedule cleaning services,  research mechanics, arrange home repairs, purchase gifts for clients, calendar events, and RSVP to networking events. Personal assistants are unique in that they straddle a working lawyer’s personal and professional life, which is especially important given the ubiquitous “double shift” in many working parents’ lives.

Zirtual is an excellent provider of personal assistants, as is FancyHands. Both services offer college-educated US-based personal assistants. Zirtual, specifically, offers these services for a flat monthly fee (starting at $398 for 12 hours) which can be increased if more hours are needed. FancyHands offers various plans: You can pay $29/month for five requests, $74/month for fifteen requests, and so on.

There’s also Magic, running at $35/hour. Magic has its uses in acute situations: It provides a team of approximately 12 individuals who, together, provide 24/7 coverage. Service requests can take place by phone or email. The requests can be anything (as long as it is not illegal). Sushi delivered for lunch? Hotel booking in the middle of the night? Flowers delivered at 5 AM? A package couriered from home to office and vice versa? Magic only charges for the time spent on each task, minute-by-minute.

Phone Calls
Phone calls need to be received, screened, logged, returned, and made. While receptionists at law firms receive phone calls, take messages, and patch callers through, services like Ruby Receptionists can do all this and those services usually assigned to legal secretaries. In fact, Ruby Receptionists can substantively screen calls, collect specific caller information which is then forwarded by email and/or stored online, and call people back. For a flat monthly fee, this task is more efficiently assigned to a single service provider than delegated to a more expensive hourly resource.

Automation
In addition to allowing attorneys to delegate non-billable tasks to the best-priced personnel, online platforms make it possible to use these outsourced resources. Notably, RocketMatter and Lexicata are excellent ways to leverage a firm’s resources. For instance, RocketMatter allows team members to capture all billable time, share documents, share calendars, and use standardized documents for particular matters. These all increase team and personal productivity.

Bottom line: Productivity is not just about what lawyers can do; it is also about what lawyers should delegate. Sometimes lawyers, especially solo practitioners, think that delegation requires hiring a full-time or part-time employee. However, even if they did that, that one person would not be able to fill all the various roles required. However, in this economy, given technology and unbundled staffing solutions, a little creativity can go a long way to decrease pressure and increase productivity.

Maria-Vittoria “Giugi” Carminati
Carminati is a trial attorney and litigator, women’s advocate, and founder of Carminati Law PLLC, a distributed law firm. Her practice consists of commercial and business litigation, family law, and mediation. She is licensed in NY, TX, DC and CO. Carminati speaks and writes about gender bias, micro-aggressions and advocacy for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.  Her firm leverages technology to maximize productivity and decrease costs while delivering high-quality legal counseling and representation.

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Rocket Matter CEO Larry Port Talks Online Payments in the Latest Lawyerist Podcast

online payments podcast interview

 

Rocket Matter CEO Larry Port had the pleasure of being interviewed for the latest episode of the Lawyerist Podcast. Take a listen as Larry talk with hosts Sam Glover and Aaron Street about the in’s and out’s of online payments and how beneficial they can be to your law firm’s bottom line.

Jump straight to 3:05 to hear Larry’s interview. If you’d like to download a free copy of the Online Invoicing Cheat Sheet mentioned in the podcast, Click Here!

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Internal Communications Trends in 2018: Keeping your Firm Engaged and Productive

 

Looking for new ways to increase workplace productivity and efficiency as well as employee satisfaction? Well, an effective internal communications strategy puts everyone on the same page, working towards the same goal.  The result? Less confusion and a more cohesive, efficient workforce. Internal communications also helps with employee engagement; when employees know what is expected of them and what is happening in the organization, they tend to give their best in working towards the achievement of business objectives. And that of course, leads to better customer service.

Whether your law firm is small and local or large and multi-national, you shouldn’t ignore the significance of internal communications. Here’s our take on the communication trends for 2018:

Implement video.
The global trend towards more flexible working is expected to continue this year. A recent Gallup survey found that 43 percent of employed Americans spend at least some time working remotely. In addition, those who work off-site are spending more time doing so: In 2016, the number of employees spending 80% or more of their time working remotely jumped from 24% in 2012 to 31%.

So how do you ensure engagement and productivity with this growing segment of your workforce? Deploying video enables companies to include remote participants at every meeting, thereby removing that sense of being disconnected. And, for teams working together across geographies, video enables better collaboration. A Forbes Insight survey found that 93% of executives agree that video conferencing improves the effectiveness of teams.

Video can also be used for firm updates, replacing lengthy emails. A quick video clip from a company spokesperson is more engaging and more personal, as it puts a face to the news.

Leverage collaborative spaces.
Company chat software are often considered one of the best business communications tools to keep teams working together. For example, Communicator, which is an integral part of the Rocket Matter platform, lets you share files, host video conferences, and associate your conversations with cases so you can see your correspondence on your Matter Dashboards. Other options include Slack and HipChat.  Instant messaging makes updates on projects and general team discussion much easier. Plus, it cuts down on email.

This is especially important—and effective—when employees are spread across multiple time zones. Organize conversations by subject so they are searchable later saves time.

Launch an internal blog.
Most of us read multiple blogs on a daily basis, whether they be about law, technology, or other issues. Blogs are a great way to not only share information but to drive conversation, one in which multiple readers can weigh in and contribute content.

An internal blog resides behind the law firm’s firewall and therefore is not available to the general public. Instead, it serves as a vehicle for lawyers and staff to share knowledge and keep up with firm news—such as case successes, trial wins, and significant settlements—while building a repository of important information. You can also use an internal blog  to “crowd source” opinions of expert witnesses, mediators, and vendors.

Most importantly, because a blog inherently encourages two-way communication, authors and readers can discuss and debate issues and get to know each other better. It’s a great way to help instill a sense of community and create a shared vision for the firm.

Keep the door open to all employees.
This phrase has been around forever, but over time it has remained incredibly important. Whether virtual or actual, a true open-door policy—where all employees are encouraged to share opinions, discussissues, and brainstorm solutions— fosters trust between employees and leadership and strengthens connection to the organization.

 

Kristin Johnson is an executive and corporate communications professional, and founder of KSJ Communications, a communications and public relations firm. She consults with a diverse roster of clients spanning the technology, professional services, financial services, public sector, consumer, and healthcare industries. In addition to Rocket Matter, Johnson writes for various other publications as well.

The post Internal Communications Trends in 2018: Keeping your Firm Engaged and Productive appeared first on Rocket Matter.

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7 Proven Ways to Be a Happier Lawyer (Infographic)

Did you know that being happy can result in a 31% increase in productivity? Happiness can also increase your accuracy on tasks by 19%! Even though lawyers are in what’s notoriously known as one of the most stressful professions, there are some proven ways to improve your overall happiness and mental health. Here are seven ways to become a happier lawyer:

Click to enlarge and share if you love!

7 Proven Ways to Be a Happier Lawyer (Infographic)

7 Proven Ways to Be a Happier Lawyer (Infographic)

The post 7 Proven Ways to Be a Happier Lawyer (Infographic) appeared first on Rocket Matter.

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Ep 30: Speak Your Time Entries to Alexa with Tali

On this week’s episode of the 10 Minute Law Firm Podcast, Larry Port interviews Matt Volm, the CEO and co-founder of Tali. Tali—Rocket Matter’s newest integration partner—makes it possible for you to speak your time entries into Amazon Alexa and, coming soon, Google Home-powered devices. You can then have them sync directly to your legal practice management software!

Matt discloses his reason for creating Tali and gives us some pointers on how to use this exciting technology. If you’ve been looking for an easier way to track your time, you definitely want to listen in this week!

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Inviting Technology Companies to Build on Rocket Matter’s New API

Build on Rocket Matter's New API

 

At Rocket Matter, we have completely rebuilt our application programming interface (or API for short). Partner technology companies can interact programmatically with almost every aspect of the Rocket Matter system.

For companies that would like to offer cool tools and services to our clients—including thousands of the most technology-advanced and forward-thinking attorneys in the world—integrating with Rocket Matter is straightforward.

Our integration philosophy is to make our product as simple as possible for our end user, build outgoing integrations with the tools those customers work with, and provide support for inbound integration for the universe of tools that can be built on the Rocket Matter platform.

We are following best practices and provide standard authentication and REST operations. As you can see via our easily navigable documentation, almost every entity and operation in our system is available. For example, you can programmatically:

  • Create a matter
  • Upload a document
  • Add billable time
  • Manipulate calendar entries
  • Send Communicator (internal chat) messages
  • Add a phone message
  • Write custom importers
  • Perform several hundred other operations

The API is used internally by Rocket Matter as well, so it is in constant use and is QA’d constantly.

We also provide great marketing support for our integration partners. When you work with Rocket Matter, you will interface with both the marketing and the engineering teams to ensure a successful project.

To learn more, please take a look at our API documentation.

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February Promotion: Free Amazon Echo Dots for New Rocket Matter Customers

Sign up for Rocket Matter and receive a free Amazon Echo Dot

 

Since you can now speak your time entries to Rocket Matter via our Tell Tali integration, we’ve decided to hand out free Amazon Echo Dots to all of our new customers this month. Click here for more details and to get registered.

If you’ve been waiting for that excuse to modernize your practice this year, you can use our Echo Dot promo to finally take action. Think of how efficient your law firm would be if you used Rocket Matter.

You could email out all of your invoices with the click of a button, provide a means for your clients to pay online, and now, instead of using your hands to track time, you can say things like this:

“Alexa, tell Tali to start an activity for Garcia.”
“Alexa, tell Tali to record 10 minutes to Jones for ‘meeting with client.’”

And on a totally unrelated note, you can also say:

“Alexa, play the The Greatest Showman soundtrack.”
(Trust me, someone in my family says those exact words. Every. Single. Day!)

Free Amazon Echo Dot Q&A

Can I sign up, get the Echo Dot, then cancel?
We’ve thought of that and the answer is “No.” This is for people who commit to using Rocket Matter for a year and do not cancel during the money-back guarantee period. If, after a year, you want to part ways, feel free to keep the Echo Dot.

Does the Echo Dot work out of the box with Rocket Matter?
The Echo Dot works with Tell Tali, an inexpensive subscription that allows for verbal timekeeping and seamlessly integrates with Rocket Matter.

Will I be the first attorney in my community that speaks their time entries?
Likely yes. Wow your friends and your clients and definitely build some street cred.

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Hey Alexa! Rocket Matter Now Offers Voice-Driven Time Tracking

Rocket Matter Tali Integration

 

Rocket Matter is proud to announce its new integration with Tali, the leader in voice-driven time tracking and productivity software for the professional services industry. We’ve joined forces with this innovative company to create an easy-to-use conversational time tracking workflow for attorneys. Through this integration, lawyers can speak their time entries to Amazon Alexa and automatically generate electronic invoices and payment links through Rocket Matter.

We know that time tracking and manual time entry can be a tedious, time-consuming, and frustrating process for lawyers that can result in lost billable hours and significant administrative effort. Tali makes these processes so much easier. Lawyers can simply say things like, “Alexa, tell Tali to record 10 minutes to Garcia for ‘meeting with client,’” in order to track time, as opposed to jotting time down on Post-it notes or sifting through your inbox and calendar to recreate your day or week. Once you’re done logging your time, syncing your information to Rocket Matter requires just a simple click of a button.

“The Tali and Rocket Matter integration was a no-brainer for us: our customers want tools that are easy-to-use, and Rocket Matter is one of the most user-friendly practice management platforms out there,” said Matt Volm, CEO and co-founder of Tali. “Voice-driven time tracking helps lawyers capture more of their billable time, while the integration with Rocket Matter completely eliminates the pain and frustration associated with manual time entry, saving users time and improving their productivity.”

“It’s hard to believe how far we’ve been able to push the efficiency envelope with billing over the past ten years,” says Larry Port, CEO of Rocket Matter. “We started with single invoices and then moved to batch billing and online payment solutions. Now our attorneys can speak their time entries through the brilliant work of the people at Tali.”

Check out Tali CEO Matt Volm demonstrating the Rocket Matter integration in the video below.

Learn more at http://www.telltali.com.

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Most Challenging Part of Running a Law Firm: Part Two

most challenging part of running a law firm

 

We recently asked lawyers about the most challenging aspects of running a law firm. We received lots of responses—so many, in fact, that we decided to run a second article on the subject. Here’s what lawyers had to say:

“Running a criminal defense firm is an enormous amount of responsibility. I am responsible for making sure that the work gets done, the potential clients get retained, the bills get paid, the briefs get filed, the cases get argued, and the clients get out of jail. I work for myself, so there is no one else to blame. If there is a problem, I have to solve it. It’s a tremendous challenge, but it’s also incredibly rewarding.” — Zak Goldstein, a criminal defense lawyer in Philadelphia

“Staying on mission and keeping employees happy and productive. We work very hard, and we’d love to take on every worthy client, but to deliver good results and keep thriving, we can’t spread ourselves too thin. That’s no good for clients or for employees. We have a very rigorous evaluation process that helps us to focus on the right cases, in the right volume.” —David L. Scher, an employment discrimination attorney in Washington D.C.

“The most challenging aspect of running a firm for me is keeping track of everything.  It’s not just my clients and my cases that I have to work on, but the business aspect as well.  I have to keep track of the bills, which marketing campaigns are working, returning calls, and planning ahead so my calendar is not too crowded.  I love working with my clients and going to court to help them, but I am still getting used to actually running a business.” —Amanda Waechter PC, a criminal defense attorney in Plainfield, IL

“The travel can sometimes be the most grueling part. Because we are positioned in a smaller region, many expert witnesses are located up in San Francisco Bay Area or down in the Los Angeles region. We’ve been able to take a number of depositions over video conference, which has eased off the 8-10 hour drives. And having client files securely accessible from anywhere keeps us locked in at all times.” —Brian O’Neill, a personal injury lawyer in San Luis Obispo, California 

“Balancing business development with the actual practice of law. The two are distinct concepts.  A lawyer needs to play to his or her strengths. If a lawyer’s strength is business development, then he or she probably needs a partner or associate who’s good at the practice of law. And vice versa for a lawyer who’s a great practitioner but isn’t a rainmaker.”  —Charles A. Krugel, who practices labor and employment law and is a human resources attorney in Chicago

“The most challenging part of running our firm> is making sure that we have the right team in place. We take hiring new attorneys very seriously because it’s vital to service our clients with the best talent possible and ensure everyone is working toward the same goal.” — Julie Sellers, managing partner at a commercial real estate legal practice  in Atlanta

“The most challenging aspect is the business side. If you’re in charge of a law firm, you must understand you are running a business. My greatest failures and successes so far are directly related to business decisions I’ve made.”—Evan Walker, a personal injury lawyer in San Diego

“Finding excellent employees to help you serve your clients is always the largest challenge facing a law firm” — George Lorenzo, a personal injury attorney in Tampa, Florida

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