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  • Re: Tell Me How to Be a Good Manager

    I've learned from working for crappy managers, mainly. I've seen what they did, and resolved that it should be done the opposite. So I would suggest a few things:

    1) Communicate communicate communicate -- this goes for the good and the bad. An employee should never be in doubt as to where he or she stands. She shouldn't have to wait a year to find out whether she's doing well.

    2) Set clear expectations for performance and projects. People perform better if they know the context surrounding their part of the case.

    3) Don't micromanage. Yes, you can do it better, but can you do everyone else's job, and your own? And if you do, how will anyone learn or grow?

    4) Encourage initiative.

  • (Postal) Mailing list software suggestions?

    Many of my clients/prospects are of advanced age and don't use computers. If I want to communicate with them, the best way to do this is through postal mail. I currently keep my clients/contacts in Clio; I haven't done a mailing since moving to Clio, but I'm getting ready to.

    And I'm not looking forward to it - my impression is that it's going to be painful, because I need to export my entire contact database, then sift through it manually or semi-manually to exclude people who shouldn't be mailed to - decedents, beneficiaries, opposing counsel, whatever.

    Clio does have custom fields where it would be possible to mark someone as a "client" or "prospect" or whatever, but the custom fields don't show up automatically, and for the most part my staff ignore them. (I admit that's not perfect, but I'd rather have employees who are good with people and bad with computers, versus the opposite.)

    So I'll probably end up doing this in Excel.

    But it feels really stupid to, every so often, export my contacts from my real database into Excel, massage the Excel database, do my mailing, and have to do that all over again next time I want to send postal mail.

    Are there other participants here who maintain a postal mailing list of clients/prospects? What software do you use to hold addresses, track responses, and so forth?

  • Re: Is BitTorrent Sync more secure than Dropbox?

    The short answer is "It depends."

    Dropbox (without Boxcrypter, etc.) is moderately secure. They have a team of security people working hard on keeping data safe. The biggest weaknesses with their setup are:

    1. Shared keys. Dropbox employees can access your data. The Dropbox team is probably trustworthy, but there is a chance that a bad guy could worm they way in to gain access.
    2. Large database. Dropbox stores a ton of data. That's a juicy goal for bad guys. Just like Target was.

    Dropbox (with Boxcrypter, etc.) is quite secure. You have private keys in your control, and the "attack surface" is a lot smaller. Your encrypted files still live in Dropbox, but they are bits of pseudo-random noise inside a larger sea of valuable data. Weak passwords could be a problem, but realistically only in the case of a targeted attack.

    Bittorrent Sync is also quite secure. You have your own keys, that are completely in your control, and your files are not part of a bigger database to be breached. The biggest weaknesses in a BTSync setup are:

    1. Closed source, relatively new. Since the source is closed, and its history is so short, it's tough to say that there are no problems. But so far, it looks pretty good; the BitTorrent guys are smart. Still, it's a potential problem.
    2. Open ports. The BTSync protocol requires opening a port on your firewall. It will do this for you with uPNP which minimizes the chance for error, but any open port is a potential vulnerability. If a bad guy said, "Let's get in to Sam's computer." They'd likely start by finding your public facing IP address and scanning it for open ports. Eventually they'd find the BTSync port, and start probing. In the worst case scenario, they find a weakness in the program and gain access to your machine. There are ways to lock down a BTSync setup: restricting ports to certain IPs, block incoming connections from certain regions (China, Pakistan, etc.), and disabling relay servers, but that brings me straight to...
    3. User managed. You are on your own to make it work. There's no tech support phone number or business class service to help you. The forums are a great help, and the documentation is pretty good, but it's up to you.

    To sum up: Dropbox needs an add-on to be secure enough for sensitive data, since it is such a juicy target. BTSync could be vulnerable to a targeted attack, but we can't say for certain.

    We use BTSync for our data, but I spent some time getting everything secured.

  • Re: Ideas on software to track marketing performance.

    Our main source of clients are from referrals from previous clients.

    Great! You should track these too and put a system/process in place to regularly thank and "touch" your best referral sources.

    What I am interested in is a good idea for software to basically track the referral source, type of case, and settlement amount (among other data).

    Very wise. If you're willing to work with a tool that's not "legal specific," I can't say enough great things about: http://www.nutshell.com/

    Really powerful tool and, trust me, I've vetted a lot of these.

    For legal specific, I encourage you to check out Avvo's Ignite Tool: http://ignite.avvo.com/

    Their site doesn't do justice for how powerful this tool really is. It's made specifically for law firms and will track inquiries from up to 10 sources (it's also expandable beyond 10). Really, really good. We've been regularly recommending it.

    Of course, software is only as powerful as your process for working it.

    I intend to use excel to do this but will have to educate myself on making reports with excel.

    Excel is great too. However, if you're not an excel wizard, you're going to spend more time figuring out what works best for you. Sometimes, a tool's flexibility is more of a liability than an asset.

    And of course, you'll also need additional tools to track phone calls, form fills, etc, by source (this is where Ignite is solid).

    Is there any software that would be better suited for this purpose? My main goal is to be able to easily make reports to show how effective different areas of marketing are and the quality of clients that different marketing brings in.

    Based on what you've posted here: Ignite would be my recommendation.

    You could also check out kissmetrics.

    To be frank, in order to track inquiries by source both online and offline, you're going to need to use multiple solutions, unless you go with Ignite.

    I'm really not trying to sound like an advertisement for Avvo, but I must say that I've been really impressed with their tool thus far.

  • Protect Your Domains! New Attack Vector

    Emails are essential to lawyers, and also for most people in general. If someone hacks your email, they can reset passwords at essentially all other websites. I thought I was safe because I have been using Google Apps with two-factor authentication, with a super-long password. However, I use a custom domain. This is a potential attack vector. An attacker was able to compromise someone's registrar account and change the domain records to redirect email to another location controlled by the attacker.

    Steps to mitigate this risk: (1) Enable two-factor authentication at GoDaddy and NameCheap. (2) Change the TTL for your mail (MX) records to one week. That way, even if your registrar account is hacked, you will have time to defend yourself.


  • Re: Managing Closed Files

    Our contract describes our paperless procedure and warns clients to inform us of any document that they need back in physical form. Then we close the file we put the client on notice that the file is available for them to pick up if they wish but that it will be shredded in 60 days if they do not pick it up by then. Probably 1% actually ask for the hard file back. They have all the digital files we have sent them so most don't want it.

  • Re: Helping a solo/small firm transition to the modern age-considering RocketMatter and Clio. Advice?

    I am switching to Mycase from Clio, even though I think Clio is generally prettier, I need the integration with Quickbooks. The only problem with the way Mycase integrates with Quickbooks is that it won't bring over a payment that was not applied to an invoice, so if you get a payment that is more than a particular invoice, it will not be properly marked in Mycase.

    Clio has some advantages over Mycase to be sure. One, Clio integrates with Dropbox, Box and others to create a folder in your cloud syncing service for each matter. Mycase does not have that. Clio has more powerful document automation, but neither one is truly perfect yet to make document automation a killer feature.

    Mycase's iphone app is better than Clio's though Clio's is pretty it is pretty worthless. You cannot even see what a customer currently owes you (that is generally a problem in Clio, it is very difficult to quickly get a customer's balance at a glance). Mycase app is also Ipad compatible.

    Mycase is more flexible with how you can link individuals to a matter, but clio is more flexible in how you define those relationships. Clio allows you to define an individual on a matter by matter basis, but you can only have one client. Mycase allows you to list as many individuals as clients as you want, but you have to define the individual at the contact level.

    I haven't yet used Mycase for actual billing, but the existence of a true portal (clio connect is basically worthless) might make getting clients to log on to see their invoices possible.

  • Re: Worst Website Mistakes

    I know it's a long time past, but I figure others may check this out like I did. Here's a few of the common bad behaviors I've seen:

    1. people who got a "free" website when they signed up for the 3000 dollar per month yellow pages ad campaign 10 years ago. Their site looks horrible and unprofessional. They can't figure out why their clientele is dwindling, and they're still throwing money down the phone book drain.

    2. people who make a decent website and just let it sit for years without adding content, tweaking appearance, or anything. You end up with dated looking sites and your search engine rankings slip further and further down.

    3. People who go too far in self promotion. They have videos that auto start, audio that auto plays, a little miniature version of themselves welcoming people to the website at the bottom of the screen, chat windows popping up in your face, etc. etc. All great ways to get the potential client to just close the window immediately.

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