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These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

 

Stacked3This week's Daily Record column is entitled "2015 Holiday Gift Guide For Lawyers."  My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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Last week I offered my recommendations for holiday gifts for the lawyer in your life. Today, I’m taking a different tack. I’m going share my favorite tech and gadgets that I’ve discovered over the past year and tell you exactly why I like each one so much and how I use it.

First, there’s Amazon Prime. How I love thee. For just $99 per year you get free 2-day shipping on many Amazon items. For someone like me, who saves times by frequently shopping online, the free shipping alone pays for the sign-up fee.

I also take advantage of Amazon’s “subscribe and save” feature, which allows me to subscribe to items I purchase on a regular basis, determine how often I’d like to receive them, and I receive a 15 percent discount if I subscribe to 5 or more.

You also receive free unlimited online photo storage with your Amazon Prime account and there’s an Amazon Photo app that automatically uploads photos right from your phone as you take them. This is also another feature that more than pays for the membership.

There’s also the Kindle Owners’ Lending library which allows you to download and read certain books to your Kindle for free (but not via the Kindle app when used on other mobile devices). And if that’s not enough books for you, you can join Kindle Unlimited for $9.99 per month and have unlimited access to over 1 million books, which can be read on any device.

Then there’s Amazon Prime’s video and music services. These are included as part of your Amazon Prime membership and provide you with access to an incredible amount of free music and movies, which can be accessed from any device.

Amazon Prime Music becomes all the more useful when used in conjunction with Amazon Echo. I purchased Echo earlier this year when there was a Prime members special price offering of $100. Currently it costs $179.99 on Amazon. My family loves Echo. We keep it in our kitchen and you can stream just about any song or album simply by asking the device (“Alexa”) to play it. The speaker on Echo is surprisingly good. And if you want to know the name of a song, you simply ask her mid-song and she’ll tell you.

Using Alexa you can also listen to your iTunes music library, along with many radio stations. To change the volume you simply ask her to do so.

We also use it for our grocery list, so when anyone in the family uses up an item they simply tell Alexa to add it to the list. Another thing I love to do is have Alexa read the morning news to me as I make my latte. And if I ever need to obtain a piece of information, the answer is just a voice command away. Echo is by far one of my favorite purchases of 2015.

Another device purchased in 2015 that I love is my Apple watch. Although I use it for many things, my favorites include answering calls and texts I would otherwise have missed, using it to navigate when traveling and walking around a strange city, and to pay for coffee at Starbucks without having to reach into my purse for my phone or wallet.

Another favorite purchase is a little gadget that creates white noise. I happen to have a husband who snores, and this little device has made my evening slumbers immeasurably more peaceful. So if you, too, have a mate who snores, definitely consider a white noise machine. Mine cost only $20 and it’s worth its weight in gold!

And, last, but not least, the free meditation app Calm was really useful to me. I started meditating for approximately 10 minutes per day over the summer and discovered this app. It has a 7-day meditation series that helped jump start my meditating and I found it to be really useful. If you’ve been thinking about exploring mindfulness and meditating, this app is a great place to start. You can also watch this video recording of a webinar on mindfulness for lawyers.

So those are a few of my favorite gadgets and gizmos that I used in 2015. Perhaps you might give one of them a try and find that it’s one of your favorite things in 2016. You never know!

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and the Legal Technology Evangelist at MyCase, intuitive web-based law practice management software for the modern law firm. She is also the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a West-Thomson treatise. She is the founder of lawtechTalk.com and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. She publishes four legal blogs and can be reached at niki@mycase.com.


2015 Holiday Gift Guide For Lawyers

Stacked3This week's Daily Record column is entitled "2015 Holiday Gift Guide For Lawyers."  My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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2015 Holiday Gift Guide For Lawyers

Now that Thanksgiving is a thing of the past, you know what that means. It’s time to start buying holiday gifts! Here are some ideas for the lawyers in your life.

First, consider the Amazon Echo, Amazon’s voice recognition device that was released earlier this year. Echo is an important development in the next stage of voice recognition software, in part because with all of its smart home integrations, it created a bridge between voice recognition software and connected smart home devices. Its ability to interpret voice input is surprisingly good, and its many integrations make it ideal for a law office.

You can ask Echo tell you about your upcoming appointments, add an appointment to your calendar, create a plan for the day and add items to your to-do list. Before you leave the office for court, you can obtain information about traffic, the best routes to take, the weather and more. The possibilities are endless and it will only improve with time, which is why it’s such a good choice for lawyers.

Another great gift to consider this year is the Apple Watch. The watch is perfect for busy lawyers since it serves as an unobtrusive, immediate link to truly important information while it simultaneously filters out extraneous digital noise. The unobtrusive notifications are the killer feature for lawyers, allowing them to receive important information while in court or meetings. The watch is a great way to help unclutter the digital worlds of the busy lawyers.

Next up, a few books that might be of interest to the lawyer in your life.* First, there’s the recently published Second Edition of “How to Capture and Keep Clients: Marketing Strategies for Lawyers,” (ABA 2015) written by attorney Jennifer J. Rose. This incredibly useful book includes chapters on all aspects of legal marketing written by more than 27 lawyers and legal marketing experts. Whether you’re a new lawyer seeking to obtain your first client or a seasoned attorney interested in learning about new ways to reach potential clients, this book is for you.

Another book to consider is “How Did She Do That? Marketing Success” (ABA 2015), written by Dee A. Schiavelli and Afi S. Johnson-Parris. This useful book provides women lawyers with business development ideas and implementation tips, which are gleaned from interviews with women lawyers who have successfully navigated the marketing maze to the benefit of their careers.

A third book to add to your gift list is “The Future of Professions” by Richard Susskind and Daniel Susskind. This fascinating read predicts the decline of many professions, including the legal profession, and suggests which people — and technologies and systems — will replace them. It provides a ton of great insight and would be the perfect gift for any forward-thinking lawyer.

Finally, there are the gifts made by lawyers, as suggested by my good friend and co-author Carolyn Elefant at her blog, My Shingle. After all, what better gift for a lawyer than one created by another lawyer? First, IP solo lawyer Steve O’Donnell offers a delicious assortment of candied and seasoned peanuts in more than a dozen unique flavors.

Next, Maryland-based family law attorney Elizabeth Pugliese creates colorful quilted blankets, table runners, and more. You can purchase her work at Legal Quilts, and 25 percent of proceeds from purchases made during the holiday season go to charity.

If beautifully carved and decorated wooden bowls, spoons, ladles and more are your style, then former solo Donna Canfield’s creations may be right up your alley. You can view her work here at “Live a Life Less Ordinary."

Finally, by way of blatant self-promotion, my nature-inspired jewelry creations might be the perfect gift for the women attorneys (or even non-attorneys) in your life. My jewelry can be found at my new online store, Legally Boho Jewelry.

So there you have it! Lots of great gift ideas. So what are you waiting for? Start shopping!

*By way of disclaimer, I received complimentary review copies of each of these books.

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and the Legal Technology Evangelist at MyCase, intuitive web-based law practice management software for the modern law firm. She is also the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a West-Thomson treatise. She is the founder of lawtechTalk.com and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. She publishes four legal blogs and can be reached at niki@mycase.com.


Brooklyn fire destroys 85,000 court files

Stacked3This week's Daily Record column is entitled " Brooklyn fire destroys 85,000 court files."  My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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Brooklyn fire destroys 85,000 court files

 

In the past, I’ve discussed the many benefits of online data storage via cloud computing. Whether it’s convenience and flexibility, 24/7 access to client data from anywhere, affordability, simplicity or the ability to eliminate IT staff and software management requirements, there are a host of reasons to move your law firm into the cloud.

But there’s another important reason to make the transition to storing your law firm case files in the cloud: disaster backup. As I explained in a column earlier this year where I covered a fire that resulted in a Buffalo law firm’s confidential client files being strewn onto the city street below, you never know when disaster will strike. Unfortunately, that fire wasn’t a rare, isolated occurrence. Just a few months later, another fire — this time in Brooklyn — destroyed even more confidential and irreplaceable legal files.

This particular fire decimated a Brooklyn storage building, including all of the paper files that were stored inside. As reported in the New York Daily News, over 85,387 boxes of records that belonged to the New York State Office of Court Administration (OCA) were lost, consisting of records of closed cases from all five boroughs:

“The lost records include 19,108 boxes from the criminal division of Manhattan Supreme Court. The boxes contained case files and court transcripts from felony matters between 1940 and 1998.
The biggest hit was to family court files — 34,187 boxes worth, dating from 1954 to 2006, were scorched in the flames.

Also lost were 1,213 boxes containing Manhattan Supreme Court civil records from 1911 to 1954 and from 1985 to 1997; 18,721 boxes from Brooklyn Supreme Court (civil) from 1873 to 1941 and 7,668 Bronx Supreme Court boxes from 1983 to 1995.”

Regrettably, the OCA had insufficient backup procedures in place, meaning that nearly all of the files damaged in the fire were considered unsalvageable. The OCA even brought in a disaster recovery firm in an unsuccessful attempt to recover the documents:

“There is nothing that was salvageable,” said OCA Executive Director Ronald Younkins. “They had an outside company that specializes in restoration of documents and disaster recovery. They came and — nothing.”

Should files destroyed in the fire be requested for use in other proceedings, the OCA intends to attempt to reconstruct partial case files through other means. In some cases, the OCA will attempt to obtain records for more recent cases by accessing documents that were e-filed. But for all other matters, the OCA will have to rely on documents maintained by other offices:

OCA may ask the district attorneys’ offices to share documents and some disposition data is computerized. Also, some records were scanned or preserved on microfiche.

So, because the OCA had no online backup procedures in place, it has to rely on obtaining copies of the few remaining digital and paper documents that are in the custody of others.

While you might think this type of disaster is unlikely to happen to your law firm, are you really willing to take that chance? Fires and other disasters happen more often than you might think. So plan ahead. Use cloud storage for your firm’s case files.

With online storage, you’ll have one less thing to worry about and your law firm’s confidential client data will be safely stored on cloud computing servers with built-in redundant data backup. This means that the data is regularly backed up to multiple servers located in different geographical regions.

In other words, when your law firm’s data is stored in newly built, cutting edge, cloud computing data centers you can rest easy. Because even in the face of disaster, cloud computing will save the day.

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and the Legal Technology Evangelist at MyCase, intuitive web-based law practice management software for the modern law firm. She is also the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a West-Thomson treatise. She is the founder of lawtechTalk.com and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. She publishes four legal blogs and can be reached at niki@mycase.com.