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As the dog days of summer linger, why not learn a new skill from the helpful how-tos available online while you’re cooling down in the A.C.? From blogging to streamlining your practice, and pricing to online security, there are a number of guides found over the past month that might just help all us old dogs learn a new trick.
1. Blogging. If you don’t blog but want to, Business Community offers a five-step guide on how to get started. (There’s also a guide on podcasting.) But before you start, consider Real Lawyers Have Blogs’ advice that “lawyers need to be driven by passion when beginning to blog and use social media.” Once you begin, take advantage of tools to aid your productivity, including these nine time-saving writing tools detailed by Robert Morris. Want to add visuals? Contently walks you through 15 multimedia tools to boost your visual content and Solo Entrepreneur offers a video guide on using Fotilia.
2. Productivity. You can’t increase the number of billable hours available in a day, but you can streamline and be more productive. For example, you can learn about working less to work better; try out a few iPhone productivity apps; make haste with drag-and-drop transfer of files among cloud apps; and even maintain productivity with these six tips. But if you want to be your most productive, recharge your brain by taking a real vacation. That means no email, voice mail or otherwise checking in on work while away. “Essential revitalization of the brain comes only when a person enjoys a complete break from the daily demands of a job,” Steven J. Harper notes in The Am Law Daily.
3. Pricing. Increased demand for alternative fee arrangements means now is the time to implement a pricing change. Most firms are slow to do so, but as a Law360 article points out, smaller firms are “touting their flexibility in negotiating ‘bespoke’ fee deals.” Ready to get on the bandwagon? You may want to learn how to implement client payment plans or an alternative billing program — and how do it without fear, uncertainty and doubt.
4. Future thinking. Technology changes and social developments will have an impact on how firms run in the future. Several recent articles can help you plan for what’s to come, such as the legal ramifications of driverless cars and the militarization of police forces, the trend toward office-less businesses, wage-and-hour implications of telecommuting, law firm technologies facing extinction, technology pitfalls to avoid, and even how to downsize your practice gracefully. Also check out the 2014 ILTA/InsideLegal Technology Purchasing Survey for the trends the law firm IT crowd considers “most exciting,” which included mobility, as-a-service models, and wearable technologies.
5. Security. With more lawyers (slowly) moving to the cloud, the recent American Bar Association policy encouraging cybersecurity programs came as no surprise. What may be surprising, however, is that 71 percent of U.S. firms and legal teams do not have IT security staff. On your own? You may want to learn how to protect your data (and ASAP). Several articles this month point the way, including ones on defining the differences among cloud platforms, how to protect against hackers, how to protect client data during breaches and a basic how-to on sharing files with clients. (Also beware a new malware that can infect USB device ports.)
Kandy Hopkins is a Contributing Editor at Attorney at Work. A Chicago-based freelance writer and copy editor, she specializes in legal and healthcare topics, formerly blogging for the Thomson Reuters-affiliated Hildebrandt Blog. Whenever she’s asked, “So, what do you do?” she always replies, “Whatever I think I can get away with.” Most people think she’s joking.
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