Podcast: Is Law Really A Buyer’s Market? And If So, Now What?

Our podcast Is Law Really A Buyer’s Market? And If So, Now What? is quite exceptional if I do say so myself. Of course exceptional is much easier to accomplish when your podcast guest is an esteemed expert like Jordan Furlong discussing an important topic that is near and near to his heart. Law is a buyers market

And it certainly adds to his enthusiasm when he has just released a new book about the legal marketplace.

For those of you who prefer to read rather than listen, the fine folks at Legal Talk Network have provided a transcript of this podcast.

The legal marketplace is certainly changing and the term “buyer’s market” is very accurate. As Jordan says, “the short answer is that it means that the balance of power between lawyers and clients in the legal market has shifted and it has shifted in favor of clients, and it couldn’t shift any further towards lawyers … because we have always been the ones who are in control of the market.”

This impacts lawyers who serve all types of clients. Corporate America is more careful with its legal spend and consumers can explore other alternatives as well. Furlong discusses how many law firms should examine their basic business model and structure to prepare for the changes ahead.

“There are these new ways of delivering legal services,” he notes. “You can adopt these legal services in some way, I mean, to your own practice, you can augment them to some degree, add your own particular unique bells and whistles, or you can say, you know what? I can’t compete in this practice area anymore and I need to go do something else. Higher value, something the machines can’t imitate.” Some lawyers may decide to reshape their practices, and use a standardized process-driven approach to delivering some types of the legal services they have always delivered more cheaply and efficiently.

A law firm needs to have a strategy in three dimensions, Furlong says. These dimensions are the user experience, a competitive strategy for differentiation and improving law firm culture. To learn more, you will need to listen to the podcast — and perhaps buy the book.

Podcast: Is Law Really A Buyer’s Market? And If So, Now What?

Manage Cyber-Attacks: Is It Really Not If You Will Be Attacked, But When?

Manage Cyber-Attacks: Is It Really Not If You Will Be Attacked, But When? is my new column in the Oklahoma Bar Journal.

This is a sobering subject, but it is critical for all law firms to appreciate this idea in their risk management practices. It is a bit hard to accept that it may be impossible to have such bulletproof cyber security that you can be absolutely confident you will never be breached. After all, I’m fairly certain our country’s intelligence services had some Skull and crossbones high level experts working on their security and they have suffered spectacular breaches. In hindsight, this article’s title perhaps should have been “Manage Cyber-Attacks: Is It Really Not If You Will Be Compromised, But When?”

We have fallible, and sometimes corruptible, human beings working with our technology systems. Computer code is vastly more complex. There are more openings. Think of the difference between fighting crime in a small town with one stop light and a large urban metropolis with high rise buildings, subway systems, subterranean sewers and other complex infrastructure. Coders are going to write new code. Some of it will have unintended consequences and open up new security risks. And that new employee may not appreciate all of the dangers lurking in her inbox.

So does that mean give up? Game over?

Of course not, we cannot give up on security measures. We need to have good cyber-security infrastructure, practices and training. But there will be dangers appearing online that haven’t been invented yet.

Today, a large part of good security practices includes creating Incident Response Plans and other recovery techniques. If you do not have an IRP, it is time to create one. This is unpleasant to consider and easy to procrastinate for the same reason so many people put off creating an estate plan. But this is just as important.

In the column, I take the reader through a couple of scenarios to give some examples of planning. Firms can get help with IRP’s from professionals, but each plan should be unique because the assets you have to respond are unique. I tried not to make this too threatening, but I have been on the phone with lawyers who had no plan and now have a network frozen by some malware. Planning is better!

Manage Cyber-Attacks: Is It Really Not If You Will Be Attacked, But When?

Protecting clients from scams in the name of the law firm

I wouldn’t usually post a local news item on my blog, but this video is worth watching. An individual showed up to close on the house he was buying only to learn that he had wired $54,000 out to an email scammer posing as his real estate agent. Did the scammer somehow learn of the real estate contract and use the name of the agency? Some say the real estate agency has responsibility for not warning the person to look out for scammers. Real estate agencies are now, as a best practice, warning new customers that they will never be asked to wire money by the agency. The final observations on the video from a cybersecurity expert may not correctly state the law of liability, but they are food for thought for real estate agencies and law firms alike. It is important to protect confidential client information and email is increasingly problematic.

I think law firms who will never ask for electronic fund transfer should mention to new clients that they will not and law firms using electronic billing should communicate to new clients what the firm’s ebill will look like and to be alert for fake emails or fake ebills.

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Protecting clients from scams in the name of the law firm

Great Reads from April, 2017

Our OBA-MAP Reading Room for April, 2017 includes articles on non-digital time management, a new downloadable ABA checklist on ensuring your cybersecurity Reading room 2when using outside vendors, 7 Tricks To Free Up Space On Your iPhone, Technology vs. The Billable Hour, Choosing Your Law Firm’s Optimal Markets, legal jobs that might be lost to automation and Two Ways Lawyers Fail With Technology.

Great Reads from April, 2017

ABA Issues New Ethics Opinion on Encryption of Attorney-Client Email

The ABA has released Ethics Opinion 477 (May 11, 2017) on encryption of attorney-client email.

Those who do not want any rule requiring email encryption will rejoice if they skip down to the opinion’s conclusion and read:

  • “A lawyer generally may transmit information relating to the representation of a client over the Internet without violating the Model Rules of Professional Conduct where the lawyer has undertaken reasonable efforts to prevent inadvertent or unauthorized access. However, a lawyer may be required to take special security precautions to protect against the inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure of client information when required by an agreement with the client or by law, or when the nature of the information requires a higher degree of security.”

They would be rejoicing prematurely at the absence of the words “email encryption required.” The opinion notes that a hard and fast rule cannot be be crafted to apply to all situations, and therefore:

  • “A fact-based analysis means that particularly strong protective measures, like encryption, are warranted in some circumstances. Model Rule 1.4 may require a lawyer to discuss security safeguards with clients. Under certain circumstances, the lawyer may need to obtain informed consent from the client regarding whether to the use enhanced security measures …” Cybersecurity

  • “In contrast, for matters of normal or low sensitivity, standard security methods with low to reasonable costs to implement, may be sufficient to meet the reasonable-efforts standard to protect client information from inadvertent and unauthorized disclosure.”

My first reading is that this is along the line of my suggestion that a text to a client asking “Court starts in 5 minutes. Where are you?” is not a problem even if you are using unencrypted SMS texting because of the low sensitivity of the information, the relative security of texting and urgency overrule the extremely slight risk. See my article Email Attachments vs. Client Portals.

Among the things that lawyers should understand is how confidential client information is transmitted and stored. The opinion also suggests that every device and access point “should be evaluated for security compliance.” The law firm must have appropriate policies and procedures. They must train staff and supervise them on reasonably secure methods of communications.

Email keyOnly then can the lawyer make the decision that a particular electronic client communication need not be encrypted.

I have just read this today and may have additional thoughts upon reflection. But there is some language to quibble with:

“In the technological landscape of Opinion 99-413, and due to the reasonable expectations of privacy available to email communications at the time, unencrypted email posed no greater risk of interception or disclosure than other non-electronic forms of communication. This basic premise remains true today for routine communication with clients, presuming the lawyer has implemented basic and reasonably available methods of common electronic security measures.14 Thus, the use of unencrypted routine email generally remains an acceptable method of lawyer-client communication.”

To say that there is no greater risk of email interception and/or disclosure today than there was in 1999 is just nonfactual.

But overall, this opinion sends a clear signal that law firms have to pay attention to security of email and other client communication. Most law firms have already determined that is the correct policy. I still suggest lawyers also read Texas Legal Ethics Opinion 648 in addition to this opinion.

ABA Issues New Ethics Opinion on Encryption of Attorney-Client Email

Podcast – Running with the Machines: Artificial Intelligence in the Practice of Law

There’s a lot of discussion these days about Artificial Intelligence and how AI and robots are replacing many jobs. Lawyers are starting to listen and think about how this trend might impact them. For the near future, most of those who pay attention to such trends in legal tech generally say it won’t necessarily be technology replacing lawyers so much as lawyers who are more Andrew Arrudaempowered by technology replacing those who want to do things the old, traditional way.

In this episode of The Digital Edge Podcast – Running with the Machines: Artificial Intelligence in the Practice of Law, hosts Jim Calloway and Sharon Nelson talk to Andrew Arruda, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of the artificial intelligence company ROSS Intelligence, about how artificial intelligence assists lawyers, not replaces them. Our conversation includes what ROSS is, the biggest misconceptions surrounding AI, and the biggest challenges facing legal technology adoption in larger firms. In case you have not be paying any attention, ROSS is the legal version of Watson, IBM’s AI tool that is famous for easily beating the best Jeopardy human champions.

Don’t dismiss this podcast because you are unconcerned about AI. Understanding the next generation of tools that are making their way into law firms is important for every lawyer even if you have no intention of hiring ROSS as your new associate.

Podcast – Running with the Machines: Artificial Intelligence in the Practice of Law

iPhone users should take a look at the iPhone app, Workflow

Apple bought the Workflow app last week–and they apparently do not plan to kill it. As an iPhone user who was always going to get around to trying Workflow, I now think big things are ahead for this app and a lot of lawyers may want to try this now-free app.

See Apple bought the best utility app for the iPhone, Workflow.  From a 2014 review: “With only a half-hour of familiarity I was able to Workflow appset up a workflow that can find the locations of meetings I might have on any given day, pull images of the buildings they’re in from Google Street View, and email them all to me.”

If you are new to workflows or process automation, probably the best way to understand this is to look through these examples: 25 Coolest Things Apple’s Workflow App Can Do.  Number 4 is how to easily create those text-on-picture graphics we see circulating as social media memes using your own pictures and the text you want.

The above included several things I didn’t know how to do, although I assumed that they were “doable” with some research. The list above has many fun and useful things to do on your iPhone, like automatically texting your spouse the time you will be home. But it is also good experience for lawyers as developing law office workflow automation is something lawyers will be doing more, so some experience is good.

There are also many good reviews of Workflow in the iTunes store.

iPhone users should take a look at the iPhone app, Workflow