WV Civil Rights Lawyer

Police Misconduct, Civil Rights Law

Things I should have done…

On things he “should have done” regarding starting his own practice, David Tarrell of the Nebraska Criminal Defense Blog, listed several things that hit close to home, and which I wholeheartedly agree with – some that I did do, and some that I also did not do but should have.

First on his list is “bought a Mac.”  Fortunately I did do this, and have never regretted it.  In fact, I bought several Macs.  Number 10 on his list is that he should have bought an iphone/ ipod sooner.  I finally got an iphone about a month ago, and now I don’t know how I ever functioned without it.  They go together (the iphone and Mac).

Second, third, and fourth has to do with billing.  One “thing I should have done” that I would add to the billing category, is making sure to take cases that allow you to bill.  A wise attorney told me as his one piece of advice to me when I started my practice, “don’t waste your time taking cases that your not gonna get paid on.”  That seems obvious enough, but you would be surprised.  It’s easy to do.  For instance, any case where your not paid a substantial amount of what the fee is going to likely be, up front, it is extremely likely that your not getting paid for your time.  Some are worth it – e.g., personal injury cases – most are not.  Of course, the realization that he should have “gotten more money upfront” is number 7 on his list.  I would put it at number 1 on mine.

Fifth, he lists “not taking business I had no business doing.”  For me, this was real estate work.  At least one time, I agreed to do a title search, etc., and after I had wasted about 30 minutes floundering around, I said, forget it, leave this to the real estate attorneys, and referred the client to one.  Another one is the drafting of any type of trust.  Forget about it.  I’ll stick to litigation.

He also notes that he should have implemented G.T.D. sooner.  I’ll have to look into that one.

 – John H. Bryan, West Virginia Attorney.

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January 23, 2009 Posted by | Law Office Tech | Leave a comment

Macs are an advantage in a law office

When I started my own firm, I was absolutely resolute that I would use Mac computers exclusively, and looking back, I’m extremely glad that I did. Most other law offices, and indeed almost all in the Greenbrier Valley, are PC-based. So I was used to using them in a legal setting, with programs such as Time Matters for law office management. But I had almost always used Macs at home, and loved them for their efficiency and all-around superiority.

So I outfitted my law office completely with Macs. And others have as well. In fact it was easy to figure out which programs to use given the online resources that now exist. For instance, there is the MacAttorney website by Randy B. Singer, that features a comprehensive list of law-related software for Macs. Another great site is The Mac Lawyer blog by Ben Stevens, which in itself has just about everything you need to know about using Macs in law offices. Then there are a couple of email discussion groups: MacLaw Online, which is probably the most popular, and there is MILO (Macs in Law Offices) listserv, of which I am a member. Another great blog on point is the Home Office Lawyer by Grant Griffiths, which has a wealth of information on Mac law office technology. (Update: thanks Mark Bennett for suggesting Criminal Defense Law With an Apple)

So what is the advantage? First of all, Macs don’t get viruses – they don’t slow down. They are more efficient to use. They are so simple to use, and so well organized, that it saves time. But most of all, the technology is better. It’s hard to explain, you’ll just have to either take my word for it or try one for yourself.

Here are some of the programs that I use:

– Apple’s “Mail” for email;
– Apple’s “Calender” for calendering, and then I also use “Busysync” to coordinate instant synchronization across multiple computers in “Calender”;
– Apple’s “Ichat” for network communication between offices and computers. This is also handy for relaying files along with messages between staff members – then the messages can be saved along with their time and date stamps;
– Circus Ponies’ “Notebook” which gives you an electronic version of a litigation binder, with colored tabs that can be arranged in any fashion you want;
– Apple’s “Preview” which allows you to preview almost any type of file without actually opening it, and allows you to do a fair amount of manipulation to .pdf files;
– Apple’s “Pages” for word processing (I don’t miss Word Perfect). I also use “Maclink Plus Deluxe” to convert old Word Perfect files to files readable in either Word or Pages;
– Apple’s “Keynote” for presentations (Its way superior to Power Point);
– Apple’s “Contacts” for maintaining contacts;
– Bright Light Software’s “Easytime” for law office management and billing;
– Apple’s “Iphoto” for organization of case-related photographs;
– Apple’s “Itunes for organization of case-related digital statements;
– Apple’s “Time Machine” for backing up all files;
– Roxio’s “Toast Titanium” for burning DVD’s or CD’s;
– I also use “PDFpen” for more advance manipulation of .pdf files. For instance, when I attach exhibits to pleadings, I use .pdf pen to place electronic exhibit labels on any particular exhibit.

And there are probably more that I am leaving out. But the great thing about it is, many of these come with Macs as standard software. To take advantage of the Mac platform, you really need to scan your files, and that is why I scan everything that comes in and goes out of my office. So, I can instantly pull up any document in any file in any case on my Mac without ever having to leave my desk. This also allows me an instant electronic backup of all files. Another feature I like is the ability to share screens between computers in your network. You can simultaneously view and actually use someone else’s screen and make changes to documents on their computer from yours.

There is much, much more to discuss when it comes to using Macs in a law offices, but there are some great resources out there, and some much more knowledgeable people than I, on the subject. But I have no doubt that using Macs and the latest technology helps me and helps my clients.

– John H. Bryan, West Virginia Attorney

October 29, 2008 Posted by | Law Office Tech | 3 Comments