Save the Date for TECHSHOW2019

It’s a magical time of year in Arizona.  The weather is cooling, sunsets are dramatic, and hope is renewed that 2019 will be the year for the Arizona Diamondbacks.  It’s also the time of year when we at Practice 2.0 allow our inner geek to flourish. Yes, it’s time, dust off the pocket protectors, polish up the walking shoes and air out the winter gear.  It’s time to “save the date” and register for the best technology show on earth.  TECHSHOW2019 registration is open!!  Put it on your calendars now: February 27 – March 2, 2019 in the Windy City (aka Chicago, IL).

Why are we so excited?  Three days of classes on technology and practice management by national experts . . . an expo hall with hundreds of legal technology exhibitors . . . and hundreds and hundreds of attendees who, like us, get excited about the next new product, app, software . . . you get the idea.  There are eight seminar tracks daily, so no matter your particular practice setting – solo, small firm, large firm, legal administrator – or interest – practice management, litigation, marketing or more – there is something for you.  If you haven’t been to TECHSHOW, it’s the perfect time to make it an annual event.

If you haven’t yet been to TECHSHOW you won’t have experienced the inspirational keynote speeches or the fun closing session where we learn about 60 tips, sites and apps in 60 minutes.  You won’t have been to a Taste of TECHSHOW dinner with faculty members and other legal tech enthusiasts from all over the country.  It’s not just a technology show – it’s an event.

Look for other announcements about TECHSHOW here and on our Twitter feed @AZPractice2_0.  And trust us, calendar the dates now, register using our special discount code ER1905 and you are sure to thank us when it’s done.

Password update

In the face of the most recent security incident involving Facebook’s “view as” feature, you may be wondering whether you need to (again) change your password(s).  Once upon a time, this wasn’t quite the ordeal it can now be.  Long ago, in a land not-so far, far away — OK, so we are ready for a new Star Wars movie – we might have had passwords on a dozen or so websites, apps, etc.  But nowadays, we have an ever-increasing number of passwords to remember – some may have dozens, or even hundreds, of log-ins to remember.  And yes, we know, never use the same password for every site, and that “password123” is an invitation to be hacked.

So, we’ve spent lots of time coming up with new, complex, longer passwords.  But how to remember all of them? Particularly when the convention wisdom has been that passwords should be changed every 60 to 90 days.  That is still the protocol in many companies, agencies and government offices.  ARGH!  People resort to re-using passwords, writing them down, storing them on their phones, flash drives, or creating other reminders that create their own security problems.

One solution is to use a password manager – one like Keeper Password Manager, Dashlane or LastPass.  When you use a password manager you have to remember only one password – the “key” to your password vault.  Make it a good one, of course, but at least it’s only one.  But if you are not inclined to use that kind of product, there’s still hope.

Recent thinking about password security is that passwords do not need to be changed as often.  Sure, lots of the other “make a complicated password” advice applies.  In fact, experts have suggested that a longer password is less likely to be hacked than a shorter one.  There are still some “musts,” of course.  In addition to making your passwords longer than before (closer to 20 characters), don’t have them start with a capital letter nor end with a special character, and please don’t use real names, dates of birth, address numbers or other information that can be ascertained through social engineering.  A passphrase is better than a word – something only you would remember – and then maybe use only the first letter of each word.

Current advice is that you should change your password only about once a year (and particularly if you aren’t using multifactor authentication),  if you believe it has been exposed in a breach or “security incident,” if there is evidence of malware on your computer, or – and should we really have to say this again?- you are using a password that can be easily socially engineered.

Still have questions about cybersecurity, law office technology, or other aspects of practice management?  Call us at Practice 2.0, 602-340-7332, for advice or resources.

Fall is finally here, at least on the calendar and Practice 2.0 is ready!

Labor Day and the equinox signalling the beginning of Fall have come and gone.  For those of us who grew up with four seasons that meant that the weather was cooling off, school had started and we had a  bag full of new school supplies.  Of course, in Arizona we haven’t quite cooled down (or not enough, at any rate) or seen the leaves beginning to change but school has started and summer vacations have come and gone.  The pace has picked up at the Bar – sections are meeting again, we are planning for the 2019 Convention, and notwithstanding the weather, it seems like a new year is on the way.

This is the perfect time to revisit your law practice management.  For some, maybe it’s your policies and procedures – maybe you have new associates joining the firm in the wake of the July Bar exam.  Preparing to onboard new staff, either lawyers or paraprofessionals, is a great time to see whether the way you’ve been doing business still works – or works as well as it should.  Maybe it’s time to put your procedures into writing for the first time, or maybe brush the dust off the procedures you’ve been using and revise.

It’s also a great time to do a practice technology check.  Are you using platforms that work for you?  Are you comfortable with your practice management software – or maybe you aren’t using any and should consider it. Maybe you are happy there, but you are considering (or should be) implementing the next step in automating your firm.  Whether it’s client relationship management software, or email encryption, or other technology tools to make your life easier better serve your clients, we have help for you.  Check out our Practice 2.0 practice management comparison chart, and our list of “cool tools” compiled to give you a place to start when considering law office technology.

It’s also a good time to think about making a telephone or in-person appointment to have a consultation on any of these issues.  Practice 2.0 practice management advisors are available to discuss procedures, technology, marketing, networking, and more.  Check us out at http://www.azbar.org/Practice20 or give us a call at 602-340-7332, if you think you need a reboot as the year gets ready to do the same.

Have you registered for the 2018 Bar Convention?

It’s June and the clock is ticking.  It’s almost convention time again for the State Bar of Arizona!  Maybe you are wondering “why should I go to the Bar convention?”  After all, it’s June, it’s hot (at least it is in Central and Southern Arizona – no gloating from you Northern Arizona lawyers!), and maybe you are thinking that three days at the beach might be better.

You couldn’t be more wrong.  There is no other event for lawyers in Arizona that pulls together as many lawyers, from as many areas of practice for three days of quality CLE and fun.  Yes, it is fun!

So, here is our short list of reasons you should attend the 2018 State Bar Convention (at the Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass — not the casino, the luxury hotel less than a mile past the casino).

  1.  Over 50 seminars to choose from on an amazing array of topics.  You can hone your knowledge in your current area, or learn about a new area of law.
  2. We’ll be showing a movie!  Have you seen Marshall?  It’s the movie about Thurgood Marshall’s early days in practice – before he became Justice Marshall.  Not only that, but we have one of the film’s writers coming to join in the discussion after the film.
  3. Do you wonder whether Lawyers Got Talent?  Come to the Thursday night party and see for yourself the other talents your colleagues have . . . there’ll be music, comedy and more.
  4. Puppies!!!  Need I say more?
  5. Network with lawyers from around the state.  You can never do enough networking these days and this is the perfect venue.
  6. Since we mentioned the heat, should we also mention that it’s cool and comfortable at the Sheraton.  Enjoy the inside – they have an amazing lobby – or the outside at the pool – after your sessions each day.
  7. Someone you know is probably a presenter.  Remember those 50+ seminars?  Most of them feature local speakers.  And the ones that don’t feature national speakers you’ll want to hear!
  8. It’s the 25th anniversary of the Ethics Game Show.  How can you miss that?
  9. Vendors – we have a great exhibit hall with all kinds of services and products you should know about.
  10. There’s free WiFi, there’s free coffee, and you can get a free head shot (isn’t it time to update?)  Learn about techniques to keep you happy and healthy in your practice and help to balance your life.

We know, we said a short list, but truly, it’s hard to keep it short.  We could go on and on.  If these reasons don’t convince you, well then come anyway.  You can get a year’s worth of CLE in one place, in three days, and have a bit of a staycation while you do.

 

It’s vacation (or vacation-planning) time again!

Memorial Day weekend is almost upon us, so it’s time to start thinking about vacation, if you haven’t already done so.  (As an aside, if you are wondering what vacations have to do with practice management, please see prior posts on lawyer wellness and think about how much you really need a break!!)

A few thoughts before turning to apps or sites that may help you have a better vacation:

First, you need to do some planning and preparation in your practice so that you’ll be able to turn off your cell phone (at least most of the time), stop continuously checking your email (maybe check it once a day?), and worrying about your clients, their cases and your practice.  Do you need to arrange court coverage?  Do you need to request continuances (if possible without harming your client) or deadline extensions?  Are you sufficiently organized to the point that you know what will be coming up on your return?  Do you have a sufficiently informative “out of office” message on your voicemail and email?  Do you have a contingency for emergencies if those are likely in your practice area?  Doing some advance planning will undoubtedly help you avoid a crisis or mess when you get home (yes, it may require some additional time, but you’ll be glad you did it).

Now that you’ve attended to your practice and made the appropriate plans, how about making some vacation plans?

One of our favorite (non-legal) technology blogs recently focused on travel/vacation apps.  Here are some of the sites they recommend when travel is on the agenda:

  • Expedia or Kayak for finding airfare, hotels, and last-minute “cheap” rates
  • Momondo’s Trip Finder or Skyscanner to search for lower prices in a variety of destinations – best used if your dates and locations are flexible
  • Airbnb (no explanation needed, right?) or BedandBreakfast.com (for reservations in more “traditional” B&B’s)
  • Hotels.com or Booking.com

Here are some of our favorites:

  • Tripadvisor.com for hotel reviews, ratings and remarkably illuminating photos taken by travelers (the ones of hotel rooms are usually so much more realistic than the promotional photos taken by the hotels).  You can also find restaurants, with ratings and comments.  We’ve gotten recommendations here that have led to truly amazing meals
  • Weather.com – really.  Check the weather; you don’t want to pack for sun when you’ll get rain; heat when you’ll get chilled; you get the drift
  • iExit is a great app if you are on a road trip because it gives you information about the amenities in coming exits.  It’s free in the App Store or Google Play and is worth its weight in gold, particularly if you are travelling with children
  • Gasbuddy.com (also has a free app) has gas prices and locations.  The only downside is that it is populated by information provided by other drivers, so if no one has been on your particular route in a while, it may not have the most current information.  (We also use it to find cheaper gas around home – you’d be surprised at the variation in prices locally!)
  • Do we even need to mention Google Maps, or Waze?

And one more, if you are going to the house(s) that Mickey built (aka Disneyland or DisneyWorld) be sure to download the respective apps and be sure to buy the Fastpass/free photo option (we get no kickbacks from them).  Nothing like getting on the shorter line, a little advance notice about which rides are closed, how long wait times are, and where all of the amenities are located to make the trip better.  And having Disney photographers pose you or your group in front of their most memorable locations will assure that no one’s head is cut off in the photo.

Bon voyage.

Passwords and security – yes, again . . .

We all know that we can’t use “password” or “12345” as our passwords.  Well, we have all heard that, but do we really KNOW it?  Have we abandoned using real names, real places and other easily hacked passwords?

It seems that every day brings news of a new data breach.  Millions of users account information, passwords, personal data, are revealed in every data breach.  But are we taking the time and effort to implement some of the simplest measures to try to avoid falling victim to those occurrences? For many of us, otherwise smart and diligent people, the answer is “no” or “not as much as we should.”

So, on this (hopefully lovely) Friday morning, please take a minute to consider your passwords and their security.  Have you heard the “passwords are like underwear, change them often and keep them private” truism?  We just heard it during a presentation yesterday and maybe that’s why this topic is on our minds.  The current wisdom is to have a long, complicated password, upwards of 20 characters, using capital letters, lower case letters, numbers and characters.  Perhaps you have created the perfect password that ticks off all of these boxes.  But another part of conventional wisdom is to have different passwords for each site and app you use.

How to remember all of them?  Are you writing them down and sticky-noting them on your desk or computer screen?  Are you continually resetting your password via the “forgot your password?” function?  One easy solution is to use a password manager.  These services are inexpensive and store all of your individual and unique passwords for you.  You then need to remember only one password – the one that gets you into your password vault – the password manager does the rest.

Another alternative is to create a “master password” that you then customize for each site or app.  Since we know that full names or real words are not the way to go, try using the first, or first and second, letters of a phrase that you will remember.  Use upper and lower case letters, then add on some numbers and a couple of special characters that you will reliably remember and you’ve got the beginning of your password system.  Does this seem too complicated?  If it does, please see the paragraph above about password managers.  Or perhaps you have a photographic memory and can remember dozens of passwords and none of this is necessary?

Whichever way you go, please stop using your children’s names, birth dates, pet names, etc. as part of your password.  Take a few minutes as the week winds down to revise your passwords if you need to, or explore the password managers out there (try LastPass, Dashlane or 1Password to start).

Happy Friday and happy passwording.

Don’t let technology run your life.

There’s been a lot of press lately on technology addiction.   Just one internet search on “technology addiction” brought up hundreds of articles and blogs on technology addiction.  Oh no, it can’t be that our (beloved, essential, “can’t live without them,” “turn the car around, I forgot my cell phone”) devices are the new problem!?!  Yes, it’s a struggle, and it’s real, and not new; this discussion has been going on for quite some time.

Way back in 2012, a Knowledge by Wharton report  gave us the disturbing news that a vast number of professionals checked email after work; more than half have taken a device (that’s work-related, not for personal use) with them on vacation and have sent emails while dining with family or friends.  Imagine how much more prevalent that behavior must be now six years later.  (And that’s not even talking about the people who have to tweet, or post on Facebook, every detail of their day-to-day lives . . . what they had for breakfast, where they eating, what movie they are seeing . . . don’t get us started!)

So, in this new day and time when being available 24/7, 365 days a year has become for some the norm how do we find balance?  How do we not stress out or burn out?  How do we find balance between our professional and personal lives?  Can we discipline ourselves to unplug during whatever we designate as personal “off-duty” time and enjoy  our friends and family, our pets, our non-working lives.

How about giving this a try?  First, take a deep breath.  A really good, deep breath.  Close your eyes if you feel inclined to do so (but not while driving or operating heavy equipment, please!)

Now, try being full present in the moment; you don’t have to do it for hours at a time to start.  Just dip your toe in the mindfulness pool.  Listen to the sounds around you; enjoy the rain.

When you leave your office today, discipline yourself not to check your email this evening.  Watch the Olympics. Not much for TV?  It’s Valentine’s Day – go to dinner with your significant other, or a friend.  Have dinner, have a good conversation about something that does not include work, clients or the law.  Not up for hearts and flowers? Go to the gym and really focus on how you are feeling as you work out.  You’ll be tempted to take just one look at your email, Twitter, Facebook, etc. . . . resist the urge.  It’ll be there in the morning.

Everyone deserves a little down time.  Yes, what we do as lawyers is important and has impact on clients’ lives.  But every professional needs a little time away – your doctor isn’t on call 24/7; first responders get time off – they aren’t available for life-saving duties 24/7, 365.  Enjoy the life your labors have afforded you.  All of the work will still be there, but you’ll be refreshed when you tackle it again.

 

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