In our second installment of our weekly series on the future of the GLSA, we will hear from the speakers on the State of the Industry Panel, recently featured in Law Technology Today. First up is Jorge Newbery, the CEO of a new legal plan, Debt Cleanse, who joined GLSA recently.
Where do you see the GLSA in 3 years?
Jorge: GLSA would rebrand itself the ALSA “Affordable Legal Services Association” and be the trade group for legal practitioners and innovators whose mission is to make justice affordable for all Americans. We would embrace the use of technology and share the resulting cost savings with the 99%. As a group, we lobby to end short-sighted practices which are protectionist , i.e. follow the District of Columbia’s lead in allowing law firms to include non-attorney partners and end state laws which require lawyers to conduct certain types of work, such as the Illinois requirement that lawyers handle real estate closings, which could readily be handled by non-lawyers. Although these practices may result in enhanced earnings in the short-term, these feed to the public perception that lawyers do not contribute a lot to our society. We need to help change that.
What is the single most important change to the legal profession that must happen to improve access to justice or legal services?
Jorge: Affordability. Money buys justice in our country today. The majority of consumers and small business owners are legally bullied by the elite of our country. We need to change that.
How does your company improve access to justice?
Jorge: We connect consumers and small businesses struggling with unaffordable debts with affordable attorneys who want to help people. Many of our plan attorneys are working from home or modest offices and their lower overhead results in lower fees. Further, our strategies enhance the ability of members to pay their attorneys, and our technology maximizes the efficiencies of their interactions, saving time and reducing fees. Finally, we do all the marketing, so attorneys discount fees to our members by 25%.
How can attorneys make more money using your company or plan?
Jorge: We provide plan attorneys marketing, training, technology and tools so that they can spend more hours on billable legal work, rather than on non-billable marketing, administration, and other non-core functions. Best of all, we provide the platform for many attorneys to do what they went to law school to do: help people.
If you are interested in hearing more from the State of the Industry Panel, participating in charting GLSA’s new course, and learning more about how legal and subscription-based plans can help your practice, attend the Tampa Bay conference this May 9th to 11th more information available here. Registration is open now and there are limited Early Bird tickets here.
This is the first of a weekly interview series centered around the future of the GLSA and our upcoming Tampa conference. Today we chat with GLSA President Matt Hahne.
What is your view of the current and future mission of the GLSA?
Matt: I believe the current view of the mission of GLSA is twofold. First, to build an organization designed to be a think tank for innovative legal services with the goal of providing access to justice, and second marketing and encouraging the growth of legal plans in our country.
We can always look to improve, but the idea of creative and critical thinking will only come with more players/organizations affiliated with GLSA to share ideas. We need to improve on opening up the doors of GLSA to any and all organization that are in the business of expanding the access to justice in this country. The Umbrella should be huge!
What do Legal Plans need to elevate their presence in the US and Canada?
Matt: Being a plan attorney, I think Legal Plans need to continue to work hand-in-hand with their attorney network to market legal plans. Consumers do not know the benefits of legal plans and are simply uninformed. Network attorneys see how legal plans help people every day and these stories need to be shared nationwide in the hopes of getting more consumers signed up for legal plans.
What is the single biggest barrier to access to justice and how can GLSA address this?
Matt: Everyone has their own opinion regarding this issue. I believe the single biggest barrier is attorney compensation. GLSA can certainly help address this. We can continue to promote the growth of legal plans in our country. Legal plans provide attorney services at a discount rate while providing a streamline of clientele for the firm.
Why should attorneys join a legal plan?
Matt: I often tell attorneys that are interested in joining a legal plan, if you have all the business you want at your firm and you don’t need any more clients, then legal plans are not for you. However, if you want to reach a base of potential clients that you otherwise arguably would not acquire while generating consistent income, signing up for a legal plan is a no-brainer!
If you are interested in participating in charting GLSA’s new course and learning more about how legal and subscription-based plans can help your practice, attend the Tampa Bay conference taking place on May 9th to 11th — more information available here. Registration is open now and there are limited Early Bird tickets here.
Thank you GLSA for the opportunity to share important information for members about their cybersecurity. In my practice, we focus on helping people understand how to implement easy and reasonable measures to protect themselves and their firms online. One of the core measures that I help people implement is 2 Factor Authentication(2FA). Also referred to as Multi-Factor Authentication(MFA), or 2 Step Authentication. To define what we are talking about, think about the status quo username and password combination. In this scenario, all that is needed to access a resource is a username and a password. This introduces a lot of risk in that the entire lot of data protected behind the combination is solely dependent on the quality and secrecy of the password. Most users, in order to make their lives easier, tend to use passwords over again on multiple sites to make their lives easier. This is understood, considering the sheer volume of credentials a typical partner for firm administrator needs to get through the day. Passwords are a topic for another blog post, however.
Most popular websites and applications now support the ability to add an additional security measure beyond the username and password to better secure access. Gmail, Office 365, most financial and banking sites and firm management applications such as Clio support 2FA. I submit that failing to enable 2FA on your accounts may subject you to a negligence complaint in the event of a data breach. When working with users to set up 2FA, I frequently hear, ‘that was easy’ when completing the process. In most cases activating 2FA on an application is as simple as clicking the security settings for your account, clicking a button to enable and entering your phone number and receiving a test text message. Because of its dependence upon the possession of a device such as a smartphone or an authenticator application, a username and password along with 2FA are exponentially safer than a username and password alone. Because of the ease of use to employ text messages in your 2-factor strategy, I submit that failing to use 2FA for any applications that support it constitutes negligence on your part in your strategy to protect data. There really is not a good excuse for not doing it.
Your action item after reading this blog post is to list the top 3 applications you use in your practice. These would be the applications that contain the most sensitive data about your clients. Perhaps Office 365, Clio or another firm management system, and perhaps a file storage system such as DropBox. Then check each application to determine whether it supports 2FA. Note Office 365, Clio and DropBox all support 2FA. If it does support 2FA, enable it. This applies to everyone in your firm who uses the respective application. Be mindful to include administrative or technical support staff. Also consider these people may be outside your firm such as an IT consultant or contractor. Thank you for the opportunity to contribute to improving data security for GLSA members. Feel free to contact for more info about 2FA or any cybersecurity topic. 888-908-4551 or smz@eWranglersbts.com.
Law offices are busy places. There’s always more to do, tight deadlines, and wondering how you’re going to get it all done. There are a lot of time saver tips available online. Yet, there are some that aren’t helpful because they take more time to implement and learn to use than the original task. In this post, we’re focusing on simple tips that you can easily work into your routine to improve your efficiency.
Use Templates for Standard Documents
Consider the documents you use on a regular basis. Do you (or a support staff member) type them from start to finish? Our first time saver tip is using templates for standard documents. Create a template from an older document to make the document creation process faster. Remember to remove all personal information from the template. Microsoft Office has a great walk-through for template creation.
Automate What You Can
Legal tech is the world’s best time saver for lawyers. Determine the areas that take up the largest portion of your time (outside of giving legal advice to clients and appearing in court!). Technology is meant to be a tool, but it only works if you choose the right solutions and use them.
Case practice management software can be used to automatically deliver invoices, provide documents, and help with client intake. Chatbots can be used to provide basic information (such as office hours), answer basic questions, and also help with client intake. They can also be programmed to complete basic forms for you. For example, LawDroid, which can be accessed via Facebook Messenger, can be used by consumers to fill out LLC forms. The process takes about 10 times for the consumer.
Keep Control of Your Schedule
It’s important that lawyers stay in control of their schedule. Even if someone else is in control of your calendar, it’s important that you review your schedule so that you know what’s expected of you. You’ll also be able to better prepare for meetings and know if a deadline is sneaking up on you. Proper calendar management is a time saver because you’re able to know where your time is being spent and if you’re being double booked. Don’t take on more than you can reasonably manage. Make liberal use of your support staff where you can.
Create Time for Deep Work
One of the best time savers for lawyers is to create time on your schedule for deep work. Deep work means that you’re eliminating distractions and spending that block of time working on a specific project. Consider scheduling your deep work time for the period of the day where you’re most energetic. Take a few days to really pay attention to your energy level during the day. Write down the times when you have the most energy and the times when you have the least energy. This becomes a time saver because you can establish the best times for you to work on projects that need your focus. You can use the other time for smaller, less intense projects.
Work Just Six More Minutes Each Day
Consider the number of hours you currently work and bill. If you add six minutes to your work day, you have an extra 23 billable hours each year! It’s an easy (and doable!) tip to help you create more billable time during the year!
Lawyers spend a lot of time improving their ability to deliver legal services to their clients. But business development for lawyers? Not always a priority. When you’re running your own law office, how can you make time to improve the business side of things?
Why Is Business Development Hard for Solo Lawyers?
Business development for lawyers is difficult because when you have your own law office, you’re wearing all the hats. You’re overseeing not just client services. You’re also planning and implementing marketing plans, management plans, and still carving out time for your personal obligations. Business development is hard for solo lawyers because we can’t make more time in a day.
Legal Tech Is a Beneficial Tool to Improve the Business Side of Law
If you had to change a flat tire while you were on the side of the road, you’d either need to call someone and wait for them to arrive or you’d hopefully have the right tools for the job so that you could just take care of business and get on with your day. Business development for lawyers requires the right tools. Legal tech can help lawyers continue down the DIY of business management and avoid the expense of consultants and business management staff.
Getting Started with Legal Tech
Getting started with legal tech is often the most difficult part. With so many options, how do you know what to choose? After all, there’s a legal tech solution for practically everything related to the business side of law (and even on the side of legal service delivery).
Start by creating a list of areas in your business that you think could improve. Try to choose at least ten potential areas. Common areas you might consider include:
- Determining if a lead you received is a good lead
- Your client intake process
- Improving (and using!) engagement letters
- Paying law firm expenses
- Staying on top of billing your time and invoices
- Improving the appointment scheduling experience
- Providing updates to clients on their legal matters
Once you’ve created your list, it’s time to prioritize what should be addressed first. You can do this by using a scale from one to ten, with ten being the most frustrating issue you deal with. This will help you narrow down your legal tech options.
After you’ve decided where to start, ask your colleagues or friends which legal tech solutions they use to address that sort of issue. This will give you a good starting point in creating a list of potential solutions so that you can review their features and choose the solution that best meets your needs.
To learn more about legal tech and business development for lawyers, check out these resources:
As CEO of the cybersecurity company eWranglers, Steve Zetzer discusses the most cyber-secure mobile devices, password protection options, the limits of cybersecurity risk aversion, and the concept of Cyber Hygiene, among other topics.
Legal tech is a quickly growing field. With so many choices, how do you know which solutions work best for your needs? If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed over the vastness of options, you’re not alone. Here are some of the best legal tech tips from Catherine Sanders Reach, Director of Law Practice Management & Technology with the Chicago Bar Association. You can find all of Catherine’s tips here in a webinar or in a downloadable PDF. We’ve selected the tips below because of their ease of implementation. You may find that choosing easy to work with legal tech first will help you make the transition easier for your entire office.
Start by Using a Familiar MS-Office Program: Word!
One of the best legal tech tips out there is to start with something you know: MS-Word. While it’s not something designed just for law office use, you can still use it to make your life easier. You can change autocorrect in Word to add certain words or phrases as you type. Catherine’s presentation and handout uses an excellent example: changing autocorrect to type “Family Medical Leave Act” when you type the acronym. You can find a walk-through for using autocorrect in this way in Catherine’s handout.
Use a Plug-In to Improve Your Legal Documents
Intelligent Editing is a plug-in for Word. With their Legal Checking package, you can define the style rules that should be followed (including terms, capitalization, citations, word choice errors, and checks for consistency in your writing). It’s an easy way for you to get your feet wet with a tool specifically made for the legal industry while using a program you understand.
Bookmark All Tabs in Chrome
If you do a lot of research, you know the pain of having multiple tabs open just to have them disappear if Chrome crashes or your computer stops working. Did you know that you can create a bookmark of all the tabs you have open? You don’t have to do this one by one, either, just right click on any open tab and choose the option that reads “Bookmark all tabs.” If you prefer using the keyboard, that’s Ctrl-Shift-D. Just remember that organization is key when you tend to bookmark a lot of sites!
Simple Email Encryption
A lot of legal tech choices that allow you to communicate with clients, potential clients, and others comes with encrypted email. If you’re not quite ready to switch or you want to keep using your Gmail, Yahoo, or Outlook email, there’s a simple way for you to protect your email. The program is called Virtru. In addition to encryption, it also allows you revoke sent messages, restrict whether a message may be forwarded, and set emails and files to auto-delete. Virtru also identifies sensitive information and encrypts the message or gives you a warning that the information is in the email.
Online Appointment Setting
Another great legal tech tip that’s simple for you to try is enabling your clients and potential clients to set appointments with your law firm online. Using SetMore, you can have unlimited appointments, unlimited clients, and up to 20 staff members for which you can set and manage appointments. It can be embedded into your website, blog, social media page, or your mobile app. Clients can also reschedule or cancel their appointments.
Use a Mobile VPN
If you’re on the go and use a lot of free wi-fi hotspots, you could be putting your client data, banking data, and personal data at risk. Free hotspots are often unsecured. You can create and use a virtual private network (VPN) to use while you’re on the go. Many of the programs that allow you to do this are extremely cost-efficient. There are even free VPN apps, but they often have ads and run much slower than one you may pay just a few dollars a month to use.
There are a lot more tips in Catherine’s webinar and downloadable PDF! We’ve only chosen some that are quick and easy for you to implement. Make sure that you check out all of her legal tech tips!