Management Assistance Program on www.OKbar.org

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A Little of This, A Little of That
Things Lawyers and Law Firms Should Do Soon

By Jim Calloway

Last month in this space I wrote a Law Practice Tips column titled “Thinking about Tomorrow” which encouraged, among other things, Oklahoma lawyers to attend our annual meeting and hear famed futurist Richard Susskind discuss his view of the future of law.

This month’s column will cover a wide variety of topics briefly. Hopefully some of you will have a bit of downtime during the next couple of months, so I am passing along some projects for your law firm to incorporate in addition to some other online reading material.

YOU REALLY NEED A PASSWORD MANAGER

This is really on your must-do list. As I’ve written in this space before, computer security today means lengthy complex passwords that are difficult to remember. Using a password manager to keep track of them (and to generate incredibly long, complex passwords) is becoming a mandatory part of your cybersecurity protocols.

Although these tools have a long history of good performance and security, malware designers are targeting these password keepers and trying to break the master password. This is concerning. SC Magazine has an article about the latest attempted compromises of password managers by cyber criminals.

Of the three targeted products mentioned, I am aware that several lawyers use KeepPass because it is free. This month, I am removing KeepPass as a good option for lawyers and won’t be listing it in my presentations on this topic in the future.

The bottom line for me is password keepers are serious business and even though there are great freeware options for other types of programs, I think we want paid “staff” protecting our passwords and available there on the job to act if there ever is an issue. This may be either a group of programmers doing this to make money or a traditional business model with employees showing up for a paycheck. I want someone there who will be in a position to drop everything and respond immediately when there is a rumor of an attack or vulnerability, not a “hobby” open-source coder who thinks “wow, I wonder what the code looks like for that exploit? Let’s get the guys together tonight (after the day job is over) and order pizza and check it out.”

For that to work I have to be paying money into the product. LastPass Premium is only $12 per year, but you can go to Lastpass.com and see how professional their website looks with employment opportunities and a physical location posted. The person I know who is most knowledgeable (and most paranoid) about such things uses eWallet. Another popular product is 1Password. See the iPhoneJD review of 1Password.

So my thought today is sometimes paying for something is a better bargain than obtaining it for free. (And how many times have you said the same thing to others about paying for legal services?)

MULTI-FACTOR AUTHENTICATION – PRO AND CON

While a password manager is a simple and convenient method to have better Internet security for your personal accounts, multi-factor authentication provides even more security. Now many sites allow one to set up this type of additional security. Typically the way this works is you enter your username and password to log into the site and then a code is sent to your mobile phone by text. Type in the code and you are good to go. It takes a little bit longer to accomplish this, but the benefit is that even if the site is hacked and all usernames and passwords stolen, evildoers will still not be able to breach your account because they won’t have your cell phone to receive a text message. The problem is, of course, the extra time involved and the fact that if you ever leave your cell phone at home or if it loses its charge, you cannot get into these websites without a lot of additional steps.

The ABA Law Technology Today blog recently had dueling posts on whether MFA is a good thing. Reading both will give you a better idea of whether this is right for you. Take a look at “Multi-Factor Authentication Isn’t Ready for Mainstream” by Craig Huggart and “Multi-Factor Authentication is Effective and Easy to Use” by Andrew B. Stockment.

PODCASTS – LISTEN UP

I am of the generation that would still rather read than watch a video if I’m trying to learn most types of information. (How to do X with a software product is a notable exception where a video can be quite helpful.) I’ve been known to quickly leave a webpage when I determine the information I thought was there is all provided by video with no text to read. Part of this is because I can scan and skip to the important part of a written article, while with a video or audio I have to watch or listen to the entire thing in most cases.

But podcasts in audio format can actually allow you to make better use of your time if you know how to set them up to listen to them while driving, bike riding, exercising or just resting your eyes.

So I have a “must listen” podcast for you: “The Fundamentals of Podcasts: Listening and Subscribing” from The Kennedy-Mighell Report with Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell. You can listen from your computer, learn how to subscribe to podcasts and listen to them on your mobile device of choice. They also include some of their preferred podcasts and there are links to all of them on this webpage.

Another “must listen” podcast for the holiday season is our annual Digital Edge podcast “Tis the Season: Tech Toys for the Holidays 2014”. Sharon Nelson and I have some fun suggestions that we think will be of interest to you. Some are truly great gift ideas and some are just fun tech toys, like the drone that one can wear on their wrist and send it out like a boomerang to take a selfie photo and return to you.

CLIENT PORTALS

One of the great features of cloud-based practice management solutions for lawyers is that they allow a lawyer to set up online client document repositories. While lawyers are understandably cautious about security and privacy of Internet-based services, they should also understand that email is completely insecure. More law firms are opting for providing their clients a secured website to log in and view or download the documents the lawyers want to share with their clients.

North Carolina family lawyer Lee Rosen shares in his blog post, “How to Set Up a Client Portal,” why he thinks client portals are critical. He also discusses the way he used NetDocuments to set up this service for his firm’s clients.

FORMAT PAINTER IN MICROSOFT WORD

Recently there was a discussion on OBA-NET that included one lawyer complaining about the difficulty of formatting documents in Microsoft Word.

Some of this frustration can be remedied by the use of Microsoft Word’s Format Painter. This tool is very easy to use and allows you to apply the format in one part of a document very easily to another part of a document. Here is how.

You can use the Format Painter on the Home tab to apply text formatting and some basic graphics formatting, such as borders and fills.

    1)    Select the text or graphic that has the formatting that you want to copy.
       
Note: If you want to copy text formatting, select a portion of a paragraph. If you want to copy text and paragraph formatting, select an entire paragraph, including the paragraph mark.

    2)    On the Home tab, in the Clipboard group, click Format Painter.  The pointer changes to a paintbrush icon.
       
Note: Double-click the Format Painter button if you want to change the format of multiple selections in your document.

    3)    Select the text or graphic that you want to format.

    4)    To stop formatting, press ESC.

You can share these instructions with everyone in your law office.

PROFESSOR SUSSKIND SPEAKS TO OKLAHOMA LAWYERS

I think it is fair to say that the audience at the 2014 OBA Annual Luncheon were generally very impressed with Professor Susskind’s address at our event. To say he was thought-provoking is an understatement.

For those of you who missed Professor Susskind’s address or want to hear more, check out a video of his recent presentation on artificial intelligence as it impacts the law. It was given at ReInvent Law NYC 2014, and it’s available online.

I will also again encourage Oklahoma lawyers to read his book Tomorrow’s Lawyers.

The future of law and the future of the legal profession is a topic that both inspires and terrifies many in the legal profession. But we should approach the challenges of change by study, problem-solving and mastery of new skills. That approach is certainly in line with the best traditions of the legal profession.

Mr. Calloway is OBA Management Assistance Program Director.  Need a quick answer to a tech problem or help solving a management dilemma?  Contact him at 405-416-7008, 1-800-522-8065 or jimc@okbar.org.  It's a free member benefit!

Originally published in the Oklahoma Bar Journal -- December 13, 2014 -- Vol.
85, No. 33