Online billing and e-invoicing options for lawyers

    In a recent The Indiana Lawyer article, I provided a brief overview of some online billing and e-invoicing options for lawyers and firms. This article supplemented a CLE presentation I gave recently. If you want, you can watch my slides from that presentation.

    Lawyers often leave legitimate time worked for clients on the table. The reason? They fail to capture their time contemporaneous with the activity. Mobile devices (iPhones, iPads, and the like) now have apps which help the lawyer record their time and expenses while out of the office. This ability should help lawyers capture time more effectively and free up time to focus on what's most important. These online billing and invoicing options are easier than ever to get set up and use.

    My goal is always to automate the administrative parts of my practice so I can provide high value to my clients. Capturing time on the go is one step closer to that goal.

     

    Article Snippet

    From the article:

    The ability to track time while on the go and easily bill for that time is a dream come true for lawyers. Many traditional options are not fun to use, have limited ability to do reporting (without specialized consultants), and have a high learning curve. These newer solutions are focused on data analysis and help you focus on getting the most out of your time, allowing you to see where your time (and money) are being used and adjust appropriately.

    If you aren’t convinced, take one case that you can spend a little extra time on (or use a pro bono case for this). Sign up for trials of one or more of these tools and see how it works for that case. Using Clio and other web-based tools makes practicing law and even billing time more enjoyable, allowing some mental freedom to focus on what really matters most in our practices and lives.

    Read more at The Indiana Lawyer.

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    Wrapping your head(er) around your footer in Microsoft Word. 

    The Indiana Lawyer recently posted an article I wrote regarding using headers and footers in Microsoft Word. I hope this helps you sort out this powerful but often confusing feature. 

    Know your head(er) from your foot(er)

    The header of a Microsoft Word document is the space at the top of your document. You can guess where the footer is. They operate with the same rules, so the terms are used interchangeably herein. Headers/footers can be filled with text, images, fields — almost anything. Anything in a header/footer appears on each page of the document by default. This is helpful, especially when combined with Word’s date and page number capabilities. 

    Read the article here

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    Microsoft Word® for lawyers: Give me a (section) break

    The Indiana Lawyer recently published the next article in my series on Microsoft Word® for lawyers titled "Give me a (section) break." In this series, I'm attempting to give readers the tools needed to get the most out of Word in the law firm/legal department environment.

    From the article:

    As we have learned, Microsoft Word formats between the ¶ marks in a document. But, Word can also format different “sections” of a document. Think of an appellate brief. On the first few pages, you might want a cover page, followed by some introductory material (Table of Contents, Table of Authorities, etc.) paginated with lower case Roman numerals (e.g., i, ii., iii). The remaining part of the document should contain Arabic (e.g., 1, 2, 3) page numbers. This task can be handled with sections.

    Take a few minutes to read through the article and brush up on your Microsoft Word® skills. It should help you enjoy your work more and reduce procrastination.

    Read more. . .

    Microsoft Word® Format Defaults

    Microsoft Word® for the legal profession - format defaults

    The Indiana Lawyer recently published the second in a series of articles on Microsoft Word® for the Legal Profession. This article deals with setting format defaults for font, paragraph, and sets the stage for learning how to use sections in Word in the next article. I hope it's helpful to you.

    A brief snippet from the article:

    Can Microsoft Word help you maintain competence and avoid procrastination? Yes, if you take some time to make your software tools work for you.

    Read more here.

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    Microsoft Word® for the Legal Profession: Reformatting Documents

    I’ve started a new series for The Indiana Lawyer on Microsoft Word® for the legal profession. The first article in that series was published recently. You can read it here. In it, I address one common complaint I often here from lawyers and staff regarding a document: what in the world is going on with the formatting in this document?

    This first article focuses on reformatting documents received from others versus starting with a blank document. I hope the tips in this article will help you re-format troublesome briefs, discovery from other offices, and estate planning documents that contain copy and pasted information.

    From the article

    There’s a good chance that your document contains information that was copied and pasted from older Word (or WordPerfect) documents, websites, emails, or the like. Since each “source” file likely has its own formatting applied, one of your first tasks is to determine if you can fix the existing text or need to start over. Thankfully, Microsoft Word makes this relatively easy, if you reveal the formatting.

    Some of the tips from the article will help you understand how to see what formatting has been applied to your document. I show you how to turn formatting marks on and off and explain why those marks are helpful. Also, the article will show you how to reveal the formatting of the text of your document to help resolve troublesome problems.

    Conclusion

    Microsoft Word® is a staple tool in the legal profession. Taking a few minutes to learn more about the tools used on a daily basis will help you be a better lawyer for your clients. My goal with this series is to help you understand some of the more annoying features of Microsoft Word® to reduce your day-to-day frustrations. By the end of the series, you should have a good understanding of how Word works and how you can harness its power based on your particular type of practice.

    Read more. . .

    Microsoft Word® tips for the holidays

    Microsoft Word® Tips for the Holidays

    The Indiana Lawyer recently published my article on how to decorate your documents for the holidays. Here’s what you can learn:

    Use Microsoft Word® to automatically format documents

    One of the best (or worst?) features of Microsoft Word is its automatic formatting. Properly understood, Microsoft Word’s automatic behavior controls are incredibly helpful. In this article, learn how to decorate your documents to your liking with styles and create a table of contents and table of authorities automatically.

    I hope these tips will help you get more from Microsoft Word® to end this year well and make 2017 your best ever. Learning how to harness the power of automatic formatting will help you be more effective in the new year.

    Read more. . .

    Break the Email Full Court Press with a Microsoft Outlook Quick Step

    The Indiana Lawyer recently published my article on Microsoft Outlook's Quick Steps feature. Quick Steps are great tools you can use to handle emails that need standard responses or actions that you often take with an email message.

    From the article, here are three suggested Microsoft Outlook Quick Steps:

    Quick Step 1

    First, “To My Assistant.” Open Manage Quick Steps. Click New | Forward to. Click Options and name the Quick Step. Select the recipient(s) from your Outlook contacts or type the email address. Click Show Options and set the subject and other options as appropriate. The “Text” option can contain standard instructions for handling specific tasks (e.g., please file this; please respond; please set a meeting; please add to calendar; etc.) You can choose to automatically send the message or have Outlook prepare an email for you to send. Add the same “mark as read” and “move to” actions as above, and you’ve just handled multiple steps with one click.

    Quick Step 2

    Second, “To Read.” How many email newsletters do you receive that don’t require immediate action, but stay in your inbox because you want to get back to them? For this action, create a subfolder called “To Read.” Then, create a Quick Step to “Flag and Move.” Choose an appropriate flag and subfolder. Now, you can mark any message you want to read later in one click. If you change the “View” of Outlook to include your To-Do bar, messages marked for later reading appear for easy access.

    Quick Step 3

    Third, “Follow Up.” Many lawyers keep emails as a list of follow-up actions. Instead, use a Quick Step to file the message and apply a follow-up flag as a reminder. Select the first Quick Step you created and duplicate that Quick Step. Then, add a flag message action, choosing your preferred follow-up period. The messages for follow up appear in your To-Do pane.

    Conclusion

    Microsoft Outlook's Quick Steps are great tools to improve your email productivity. What are some of your favorite uses of Microsoft Outlook Quick Steps? Post them in the comments!

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    Thoughts on the iPhone 7

    The Indiana Lawyer recently published an article I wrote on Apple's iPhone 7. In the article, I provide an overview of the latest phone and some thoughts to help you decide if you should buy one.

    From the article:

    If you are on the fence, consider how often and for what purpose you use your current device. As lawyers, we need to have good tools at our disposal. If your iPhone is your tool, it might be time to upgrade for the improved performance. Better battery life, better cameras, faster performance and larger storage capacity can mean more productivity. If your iPhone is a toy, games are supposed to be incredible. Maybe your iPhone is a little of both.

    Are you planning to buy the newest iPhone 7? If so, what version (regular or Plus)? How about the accessories (Apple Watch or AirPods)? Let me know in the comments.

    Read more. . .

    Back to School Tech Tips

    The Indiana Lawyer recently posted my article on being tech-ready for back to school.

    From the article:

    Some other ideas to get ready for back to school:

    1. Back up your device(s). There’s nothing worse than putting in all this electronic information and losing it due to an unforeseen event.

    2. Buy a portable battery charger for your (and your kids’) device(s). Who knows when you will be somewhere and need power?

    3. Consider protective cases for your device(s). If the device will routinely be out in the elements, have an appropriate case.

    4. Set up a charging station where all devices land at the end of the day (and hopefully stay). No need to be tied down 24/7.

    5. In the midst of the back-to-school excitement and confusion, enjoy each moment with your kids. They grow up fast.

    What are your favorite tech and non-tech back to school tips?

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    Clear your Outlook inbox, clear your mind

    The Indiana Lawyer recently published my article on getting to Inbox 0.  From the article:

    Why strive for Inbox Zero?

    The simple answer is because it allows you to be in control rather than be controlled. You get the email out of your inbox and choose when you will respond. Conceptually, Inbox Zero is easy to understand but difficult to implement and maintain. You already have the tools you’ll need. The hardest part is developing good habits and having the self-discipline to maintain your system.

    As mentioned in the article, here are a few additional reference links on the Inbox 0 strategy:

    Resources:

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    Start Your Day in Outlook Today

    Recently, the Indiana Lawyer published an article I wrote titled "Give yourself a fresh perspective on Outlook."  From the article:

    Outlook is a powerful personal information manager. With a few tweaks, you can set the program to show you important and relevant information for the day, rather than being driven by the latest and loudest items in your world.

    In addition to the article, I created a brief screencast detailing some of the steps in the article.  This post contains a link to the video.

     

    Read more. . .

    How to have Microsoft Outlook open Today View

    In this video, I detail how to have Outlook open the Today View by default and share a few tips for configuring Outlook to work better for you.

    How to Configure Outlook

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    Why you should consider Microsoft Office 365

    The Indiana Lawyer recently published an article I wrote titled "Why you should consider Microsoft Office 365."

    From the article:

    Migrating to Office 365 is a decision that should be made with careful planning and consideration of the risks and benefits of a cloud-based system. That said, the trend toward using other people’s computers to lower your own operating costs will only continue in the future.

    Recently, we made the switch at my office.  The biggest advantage so far has been having everyone on the same version of Microsoft Office with up to date security patches. Overall, the update process was fairly smooth, though I would recommend having someone help you through the process. Also, allow more time than you think to get up and running. It takes a while to download the full version of Microsoft Office to your computer.

    Also, if you are considering moving to Office 365, the biggest challenge we have faced has been migrating the files to Microsoft's OneDrive or SharePoint for file storage to replace our file server.  We have been testing the various options available for cloud storage from Microsoft that best suits our firm's needs. Thankfully, we have a working system to support the practice while we work on migrating to the cloud. More on that later.  (Definitely not as user-friendly as Dropbox).

    There's no doubt that cloud computing is the future. Software is becoming subscription based, for better or worse. Hopefully, that results in better security and features for the end user. The ability to access files and firm information from any connected device is really convenient.

    Office 365 is still going through some growing pains. We've decided to grow along with it. What about you?

     

     

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    Goal Setting for 2016

    In a recent post for The Indiana Lawyer, I wrote about some strategies for goal setting in 2016.

    From the article:

    The location of the list [containing your goals] is not as important as removing the tendency to write the list and leave it buried on your desk. Simply keep the list in a place that is easily accessible to limit the resistance to review your goals regularly.

    This time of year is great for reflecting on the past year and putting a plan in place to make 2016 great!

    Read more. . .

    3 reasons to consider using an Apple Watch

    The Indiana Lawyer recently published an article I wrote on why I like the Apple Watch.  From the article:

    There’s not one feature that says buy the Apple Watch. Instead, it’s all the little things it does that add up to a helpful device. It sits on your wrist and gets out of the way.

    The Watch has helped me reduce the amount of times during the day I look at my iPhone.  It helps me focus while at work and at home on the things that matter most in a minimally intrusive way.  And, it's cool.

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    T3:39 | to-do list adjustments to help beat procrastination

    The Indiana Lawyer published an article I wrote recently on adjusting your to-do list to help beat procrastination.

    From the article:

    A few tips: First, make a separate task for each discrete action. Second, set a due date. You can always adjust, but due dates and reminders can help you build the habit of reviewing the task list. Be careful here, though, as a task with a due date is no substitute for a calendared deadline.

    Third, use a consistent naming structure. Start with an action word (e.g., Read, Call, Review, Discuss, Meet with, etc.) and then add a detailed description (e.g., Call client to discuss settlement offer and response).

    What are your favorite tips for beating procrastination?

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    T3:38 | Scanning tips for the mobile lawyer

    The Indiana Lawyer recently published an article I wrote providing some tips for scanning while out of the office.

    From the article:

    Mobile scanning apps continue to improve and get easier to use. With a little practice, you can become comfortable with scanning from your mobile device.

    Here's the link.

    What are your favorite mobile scanning tips?

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    Using a password manager to secure your information

    Recently, I wrote an article for The Indiana Lawyer on using a password manager to help secure your personal information on the web (and on the go).  Check it out here.

    In the article, I reference the popular 1Password app for MaciOS, or Windows.

    Read more. . .

    T3:32 | Start Page: Drag and drop your way to a more productive day

    Here's an article I wrote recently for The Indiana Lawyer on using Microsoft Outlook to create dedicated blocks of time to work on projects.

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    T3:07 | Use Outlook Distribution Lists To Reduce Email Frustration

    For this week's Tech Tip Tuesday (T3), here's an article I recently wrote for the Indiana Lawyer about creating Outlook e-mail distribution lists to reduce email frustration.

    How do you use Outlook to improve efficiency?

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    Indiana Lawyer Article: Start Page: 3 changes to make next time you open Microsoft Word

    Here's a link to my recent article published by the Indiana Lawyer suggesting 3 changes to make the next time you open Microsoft Word.
    What are your favorite Microsoft Word Defaults?
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    Indiana Lawyer "Start Page" Article 03

    Here are some of my thoughts on workflow planning, as seen in the Indiana Lawyer.

    What tools/habits do you have for workflow planning?

    Read more. . .

    Indiana Lawyer "Start Page" Article 02

    Recent article I wrote for the Indiana Lawyer on some legal tech tips for catching up after snow days.

    Read more. . .

    Indiana Lawyer "Start Page" Article 01

    I recently had the privilege of writing an article for the Indiana Lawyer.  The article includes my current thoughts on how much (or little) control you have over your data in the cloud.  Here’s the link.

    Read more. . .