Daily Dispatch

The Friday Five

The 2011 National Solo & Small Firm Conference

By | Oct.28.11 | Daily Dispatch, Law Firm Management, Legal Technology

The ABA’s National Solo & Small Firm Conference, held October 20-23 in Denver, offered a huge range of CLE (more than 50 hours’ worth) for busy lawyers. For this week’s Five, we asked Jim Calloway, director of the Oklahoma Bar’s Management Assistance Program, to report back on the sessions that particularly sparked his interest.

As co-chair of the first two National Solo & Small Firm Conferences it was nice to be asked back to speak at this year’s conference and see how it has grown. It’s conducted by the ABA General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Division in conjunction with its Fall Meeting, and this year it was held  in an unseasonably warm Denver. Here are five things I learned at the conference this year.

1. It’s a wrap! As an iPhone and iPad user, I was aware one needed to cover the touch displays with protective film (aka skins) to protect against scratching. (I was also aware that this is harder to do than it appears and that if there is an Apple store nearby, you should go there and let a genius do it for you.) What I didn’t know is that there are a lot of improved tougher skin options now. Check out Zagg and Wrapsol, as well as other vendors. There are custom-styled protectors for many types of phones and devices now, too, and I saw some great keyboard protector covers, which keep spilled crumbs or liquids out of your machine. Some of these come with larger lettering for easy reading. See iSkin, Protectcovers and Fentek to get started.

2. Where, oh, where has my little phone gone? Today’s smartphones carry so much personal information, as well as access to e-mail and other accounts, that losing one becomes more significant every day. I knew that every lawyer should have the pass code enabled on all mobile devices so someone who finds it cannot use it. (You do have your business card taped to the back of each device inside the cover, right? Mine has “Reward for Return of Lost iPhone” written on it.) Every iPhone user should install and set up the free Find my iPhone app. But I learned of many more anti-theft devices: Undercover from Orbicule will snap mug shots of a thief trying to use a lost or stolen Mac, iPhone or iPad, and the tracking features of Prey Project will send you reports, including snapshots and GPS tracking locations. You can also have the phone sound an alarm and display a message on the screen that says the phone is lost or stolen and your contact info.

3. OEM Alert. Ben Schorr reminded us that buying Microsoft Office pre-installed on a new machine may be the cheapest option, but not always the best. These OEM licenses are locked to that machine, so you cannot use the software legally on a replacement computer. In addition, the fully-licensed product allows one to use the software on two computers (e.g., the desktop at work and a laptop) as long as the licensee is the primary user of both machines.

4. Sharing a CD/DVD with the MacBook Air. The MacBook Air is a phenomenally thin portable computer weighing less than three pounds and tapering off to only 0.11 inch at its front edge. But Apple eliminated the CD/DVD drive! You can buy an external drive, of course, but Brett Burney, who blogs at macsinlaw.com, has a great option: “Share” the CD/DVD drive from another computer, Mac or Windows, that’s running on the same network (wired or wireless). On Mac, simply go to System Preferences and enable “DVD or CD Sharing.” For Windows, you’ll need to download the free “DVD or CD Sharing Update 1.0” for Windows which installs an additional item in your Control Panel to easily share the CD/DVD drive. From your MacBook Air, you’ll see the shared “Remote Disc” in your Finder window.

5. The most startling thing I learned at the conference. Approximately 8,000 children come to the U.S. each year without a parent or guardian from countries other than Mexico and are placed in U.S. custody. Many are attempting to reunite with a parent who is working in the states. Sonia Nazario is the Pulitzer Prize winning author of the book Enrique’s Journey, which tells the story of one of these children. She addressed our luncheon with a riveting story of how she took the journey herself at great personal risk. These children are generally deported with no right to see a lawyer, even though some have strong amnesty claims. The ABA GP Solo & Small Firm division supports KIND (Kids in Need of Defense), which recruits volunteer lawyers to counsel these children, and training to do this type of work was offered this year at the conference.

Thousands of hours are donated by lawyers on pro bono cases annually. But I knew that long before attending this conference.

Jim Calloway is Director of the Oklahoma Bar Association Management Assistance Program. He is a co-author of  the ABA books How Good Lawyers Survive Bad Times and Winning Alternatives to the Billable Hour: Strategies That Work. Jim produces a monthly podcast with Sharon Nelson, The Digital Edge: Lawyers and Technology, and writes the “Sites for Sore Eyes” column that appears alternately in GPSolo magazine and GPSolo Technology eReport. He blogs at Jim Calloway’s Law Practice Tips.

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