Risky Business: Managing Law Firm Risks

Lawyers help their clients manage many legal and business risks. But law firms have many risks of their own to managetoday. Fromransomware and other cyber attacks to losing a key client or key lawyer, the way to Managing Riskmanage these risks is to think about the risks in advance and make plans from creating an incident response plans to purchasing insurance. In my column Risky Business: Managing Law Firm Risks for Law Practice magazine, I cover several risks and how to begin the planning processes to mitigate them.

The September/October 2017 of Law Practice magazine is a Finance themed issue. Every lawyer in private practice should be interested in law firm finance. Noteworthy articles include Budgeting for a Banner Year by Ellen Freedman, Identifying Your Ideal Clients by Mary Juetten and Using Small Data to Make Big Decisions by Fastcase CEO Ed Walters.

Managing both finances and potential risks more effectively are great topics for law firm improvement. There is much to consider in this issue of the Law Practice Division’s flagship publication.

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Risky Business: Managing Law Firm Risks

Client Portals: Now More Important than Ever

My “Big Idea” for the Big Ideas issue of Law Practice Magazine was a column titled The Law Firm Portal: A Must-Have Client Service Tool. I hope you can take the time to read it. Portals

In all honesty perhaps the biggest idea today for solo and small firm lawyers (who have not already done so) is to work from digital client files, powered by practice management software which allows lawyers to securely communicate with clients via secure client portals and reduces the use of insecure email with clients.

Darla Jackson, Oklahoma Bar Association Practice Management Advisor, and I did a webcast for the American Bar Association called Client Portals: Why Attorneys are Flocking to Them earlier this year early this year. It is still available on demand. The ABA apparently had one of their writers attend the program and that summary was circulated to the entire ABA membership in June: Why attorneys are flocking to client portals. It is a quite good summary of the program and the concept.

Now the world has watched as hurricanes have destroyed and damaged many buildings in Texas and Florida. There really cannot be a better argument for preserving client information in a manner where it can be easily accessed to be used for the client’s benefit. In the even of a natural disaster, as soon as both the lawyer and the client locate electricity and an internet connection giving access to a cloud-based practice management system or portal provider, the law firm is operating and there are secure communications with the client, no matter who might be excluded from office or home.

Darla Jackson will also be presenting a program on client portals at the Oklahoma Bar Association Annual Meeting in November 2017.

Client Portals: Now More Important than Ever

ICYMI One Year Ago – Cyber Security for Small Firms and Solo Practices on Digital Detective podcast

One year ago I was the guest on Digital Detectives podcast on the topic of Cyber Security for Small Firms and Solo Practice.

This is an important subject and I decided this podcast deserved a repeat promotion. I had occasion to listen to the podcast recently and my five Digital Detectivescybersecurity tips are still important for lawyers, especially in smaller firms.

One thing that has changed since we recorded the podcast is that the ability to pay the ransom (if you are so inclined) is now often nonexistent. Once the infection is out in the wild, the authorities can’t do much about preventing the spread, but they’ve been successful in quickly blocking the methods used to pay the ransom in bitcoin.

I was interviewed by my good friends, Sharon Nelson and John Simek and I can guarantee that you will never hear a podcast about cybersecurity with more laughter. The information about today’s cyber threats seems much less scary when it is interspersed with laughter.

Share the link to the podcast with someone you know that needs to listen to it.

ICYMI One Year Ago – Cyber Security for Small Firms and Solo Practices on Digital Detective podcast

BIg Ideas from Law Practice Magazine

The Big Ideas issue of Law Practice Magazine is one of my favorite publications each year. As a member of the LP Magazine board, I love watching it take shape.

Law Practice Magazine JulyAug 2017The most recent Big Ideas issue not only has great content, but also one of my favorite covers for the magazine ever.

Among the many great articles contained in this issue is Transforming a Law Practice with Technology by Nick Gaffney, one on how legal operations professionals can bring a data-driven approach to law firm budgets, and an article entitled Gray but Not Gone by Roberta Tapper and Elizabeth Deane, which focuses on the role of senior attorneys who do not wish to retire. There are also columns on artificial intelligence in the practice of law, the current state of digital maps and the Legal Board, a keyboard design for lawyers.

Brooke Moore writes Client Driven Firms: the Future of Law Is Now. There can be no more true statement today about the future of law practice today than this one. Clients are pressuring the law firms that serve them to improve.

Summer may be ending, but your summer reading list hasn’t been completed until you have digested the big ideas contained in this great Law Practice magazine.

BIg Ideas from Law Practice Magazine

Podcast: Teaching the Technology of Law Practice to Law Students

We really enjoyed recording our recent Digital Edge podcast- Teaching the Technology of Law Practice to Law Students.

Our guest was Darin Fox, an associate dean at the University of Oklahoma College of Law. He oversees the law library, information technology, and the school’s law practice technology training program, called the Digital Initiative Project. Not only is theUniversity of Oklahoma College of Law myalma mater, but the Digital Initiative Project is a great concept for the training of future lawyers. Every incoming law student gets an iPad, withaccompanying training and legal-specific software apps. They offer many tech training classes and have a certificate they offer to graduates as well. But listen to the podcast and you can learn of all of the interesting concepts OU is using for lawyer training. (And let me add, as we approach the fall football season, BOOMER SOONER!)

Darin Fox Digital Edge

Three University of Oklahoma College of Law faculty members attended this year’s ABA TECHSHOW, participating in TECHSHOW’s academic track. Planning is underway for the next ABA TECHSHOW now and there will be an academic track for law school faculty again next year. So if you haven’t yet gotten it on your calendar, now is the time. ABA TECHSHOW 2018 will be held March 7-10, 2018 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. Whether you are a law school faculty member or a practicing lawyer, there’s no better place to learn about the latest advances in law office technology, get advanced training on the tools you use and meet some really great people than TECHSHOW.

And, yes, unless you are a recent law school graduate, things are changing in law school instruction just like they are in all aspects of our profession.

Podcast: Teaching the Technology of Law Practice to Law Students

Growing Your Law Practice by Publishing Content

I often have lawyers tell me that they know they should be doing social media marketing or maybe blogging, but they really don’t know how or what they talk about and how to target it to impact their practice. And no one believes that they have the time.

I’ve known Nancy Myrland for a fairly long time, although not extremely well. We occasionally have visited at conferences, but she’s a law firm marketing expert and generally goes to different conferences than I do. But let repeat. She’s an expert. I’m fairly certain when we first met in person we both already felt we knew each other because of reading each other’s online articles and social media posts. That’s how social media marketing should work.

Today she published Lawyers, Can You Grow Your Practice By Publishing Content? You should read it. You should also feel free to click on the link Myrland worksheet to download her simple worksheet for content creation. You’ll have to give her your email address and she may reach out to you again in the future. That’s how the world works.

Nancy doesn’t know I’m going to do this blog post. But her worksheet is a nice way to collect your thoughts for your law firm marketing and so I am sharing it with you. Again, that is how social media marketing works.

Kevin O’Keefe, CEO of LexBlog, writes frequently on his Real Lawyers Have Blogs blog about developing connections and relationships through social media. That is his business, but also his passion. If you haven’t visited his blog, today is a good day for reading his content.

Marketing by content sharing involves sharing your expertise with others without counting an immediate and direct return from any particular content. But the content you share should be thoughtfully targeted to highlight the services you provide to an interested audience. But share great content regularly and something good will happen in return.

Growing Your Law Practice by Publishing Content

Who’s in Control? The Algorithms that Run our Legal Research Platforms

Post by Darla Jackson, OBA Practice Management Advisor

Darla JacksonAlgorithms greatly affect the results produced by legal research tools. While legal information professionals have understood this for some time, only recently has an independent study documented the variance in legal research results produced by the unique algorithms employed by different research platforms. A report of the study, conducted by Susan Nevelow Mart, The Algorithm as a Human Artifact: Implications for Legal {Re}Search is available on SSRN (or an abbreviated comparison of results produced by the algorithms utilized by a number of research tools is available at https://www.aallnet.org/sections/rips/pdfs/21st-Legal-Research-Teach-In/Handouts-and-Guides/Algorithm-Comparison).

Despite the influence that algorithms have on legal research, most legal research tools have released minimal information about their proprietarily developed algorithms, which has been called a lack of Algorithmic Accountability. Understanding the Technical Bias of Westlaw, Lexis Advance, Fastcase, Google Scholar, and Casetext, Three Geeks and A Law Blog (12/12/16).

Not only have legal researchers had limited information about the algorithms used by these black box systems, the researchers have not been able to customize algorithms to contextualize their research. Fastcase 7 now allows users to perform a customization of the relevance algorithm.

On the Advanced Search display in Fastcase 7, if you check the option to “Customize Relevance Algorithm” the customization tool allows you can customize the relevance algorithm by adjusting the sliders for seven relevance factors. These factors are the Search Relevance Score (this scores each document based on the numerosity, proximity, diversity, and density of your keywords); Large Document Relevance (This shows the relevance for larger documents); Small Document Relevance (this shows the relevance for very short documents, such as appeals that simply affirm the lower court); Authoritativeness (this scores judicial opinions by how many times they have been cited); Frequently Read (This machine learning tool prioritizes documents frequently read in the Fastcase service); Frequently Printed (this machine learning tool prioritizes documents frequently printed in Fastcase); and Frequently E-mailed (this machine learning tool prioritizes documents frequently e-mailed in Fastcase).

I must admit that in my brief non-scientific trial of adjusting the relevance algorithm, I did not observe any significant variation in the search results produced. However, I hope to engage with Fastcase to discuss the weighting and application of the customizable factors. For now, some transparency and customization does help me at least feel somewhat more in control.

Fastcase algorithm

Who’s in Control? The Algorithms that Run our Legal Research Platforms