January 2015

Our Partners and staff came up with several resolutions that will help you and your law firm get off to a good start in 2015.  Some of these resolutions related to law office technology. Others are applicable to small businesses in general. Finally, there are a handful of personal resolutions that may help you become healthier and happier in 2015.

Here is our list of resolutions for 2015 (in no particular order).

Adhere to ABA Model Rule 1.1 on lawyer competence as it now includes competence in understanding relevant technology as follows; “To maintain the requisite know ledge and skill, a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology.

Enter all time into billing system the DAY IT HAPPENS – easiest way to make more money in 2015.

Learn more about Microsoft Word and become a more skillful user (training classes or read a manual), then use that knowledge to start building go-to templates for the complex documents you routinely generate in your practice. Put the best of what you know into those templates and STOP creating new documents from old ones. It’s the easiest way to increase speed and accuracy in your practice.

Manage your general ledger better by consistently posting, doing your bank reconciliations monthly without fail and review financial statements every month to understand firm financial health and/or fix problems in a timely manner. Don’t let success be merely accidental. If you do, failure may be inevitable.

No smartphone/devices while eating – If you are going to engage with your dining partners, constantly looking at your phone, taking calls, or responding to texts impairs that relationship. If you are dining alone, set the phone down and take a little time to relax and collect your thoughts.

Create a better task management system for yourself. Read 1 or 2 of the leading books on task management such as Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen (2002) or Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy (2007). Then consider incorporating a great task management application into your system like Wunderlist or Evernote.

Turn off Push Notifications on all of your devices. Take back control and avoid being distracted by every alert, badge, banner, etc.

Delete Apps on your devices that you no longer use. One hit wonders were cool, but now they are just taking up space and creating distractions.

Use Multiple monitors to improve productivity – and provide them to everyone in the office. We remain surprised at the number of firms we visit where users have only have one monitor. Screen space, like hard drive space and Cloud storage, is becoming cheaper all the time.

If you work from a laptop on the road, get a USB second monitor for traveling. One Affinity Partner and one staffer currently use the very affordable but functional AOC 16 inch USB monitor that works with both Windows and Mac.

Implement a Password Manager. We see far too many lawyers and law firm staff who merely write down their passwords on a piece of paper or store them in an unencrypted document or spreadsheet (we know how that worked out for Sony). Be smarter than a multi-national corporation. Use something like RoboForm, LastPass, or 1Password to securely management your passwords. All of them have mobile apps too.

Be sure you are properly accepting credit card payments. A refresher on the ethical requirements associated with accepting credit cards is worth doing as merchant services like Square and PayPal become popular. Start with this article from Beverly Michaelis at the Oregon Law Practice Management blog.

Better document your work on case/matter files. Doing so could spare a grievance, malpractice claim, or fee battle down the road. There are some great tips in LawPRO’s Avoid-A-Claim blog.

Keep Windows and your application software updated to avoid security breaches. Use a utility like Patch My PC to make the process painless.

We hope these resolutions help you achieve a successful 2015.