The NC Bar Association held its Law Tech Expo this past week. Erik Mazzone, the Director for the Center of Practice Management at the Bar, did a great job of reviving the Expo. I look forward to this being an annual event for our Bar Association and anticipate its growth considering the important role that technology plays in the legal profession today. It was a pleasure to meet such well-known speakers as Sharon Nelson, John Simek and Britt Lorish Knuttgen at the event. VLOTech also had a booth in the hall alongside other exhibitors and we were excited to introduce our SaaS product for virtual law practice to the attendees.
This would be an amusing story if it weren’t so frustrating at the time: I protect my netbook by using Truecrypt so that if it were ever stolen, no one would be able to access my law office data. One of the sites I was presenting was Truecrypt. Right before our presentation, we all connected our computers out so that the video will show up on the auditorium screen. The Truecrypt screen comes up asking for the password, but won’t even let me enter it. Fortunately, I also travel with the portable CD drive and restore CD so it wasn’t a problem once I got back to the hotel. However, I had to jump over to the Bar Center’s podium computer to present my 20 sites rather than using my netbook. It’s the perfect example of how one of my 20 tips can be used to protect your law office data — although not exactly the way I had wanted to demonstrate it.
Snafu aside, the presentation was fun and the audience responsive. I’m looking forward to presenting another 20 of the 60 Websites in 60 Minutes for the Practical Skills CLE in a couple weeks.
Here are the 20 tips that I presented from our session with summaries of the sites.
PrimoPDF: A free PDF creator allows you to create PDF files from 300+ file types. For example, turn a Word doc into a PDF and secure with passwords for digital storage, sending to clients, etc.
Portable Hard Drive: Easy to use for backup of law office data. Run nightly backups with Truecrypt and Sycntoy for security. When traveling, it’s easy to take your law practice along with you.
Truecrypt: Free open source encryption software. Works with PCs & Macs. Multiple uses for this software, especially for the mobile attorney. Ex.: Encrypt files on your USB key or portable hard drive.
Zamzar: Free online file conversion. Convert files to doc, image, video and music formats. Useful for working w/clients, other attorneys using different programs to share data.
ZOHO Projects: Creates a project management space for collaboration that is based on social networking. Map out projects with a team, assign tasks, schedule meetings, work on documents, hold forum discussions and more.
Pipes: A tool that aggregates and mashups up content from around the web to create a customized feed. Use simple commands combined together to create more useful, powerful feeds.
Google Voice: Create a Google phone number and route calls to your home, business, or mobile devices. A useful tool for blocking and screening calls with other features, such as voicemail transcripts, storing, sending and receiving text messages from one device or online to other devices. Rather than calling multiple numbers to reach you, your clients dial one number and it tracks you down to the phone you can answer or takes the call to voice mail.
Meebo: Communicate in real-time with your contacts across platforms including IM and other social networking apps. This tool lets you combine all of your contact lists in different apps into one.
Thunderbird 2: Thunderbird 2 email application has superior security and privacy features, including phishing protection, industry leading junk mail filters, and support for user privacy and remote image protection.
Open Office: Free open source version of Microsoft Office, includes word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and other applications. It runs on PCs and Macs, has great compatibility with other programs and you don’t have to buy a new version to install each time it has an update.
Billeo: A secure tool to manage online transactions, such as payments, passwords, and receipts. Works in your browser to allow for one-click access.
Penzu: This program is for the attorney who enjoys writing but doesn’t want the world to read it. Does your law firm prohibit or discourage you for writing in a public blog? Start a free, private online journal and keep writing.
Scribefire: This is an extension to your Firefox browser that lets you post easily into your blog. Click and drag, drop formatted text from pages and post it on your blog.
Glance: Easy tool for desktop sharing with audio conferencing. Use for web presentations, conferences, training, or general communicating. Allows others to take control of your mouse as well as view your desktop.
iContact: Send clients newsletters and email blasts about your practice and changes in the law without being blacklisted. Use it in conjunction with your blog or website to transfer subscribers to your email updates.
Skype: Free skype-to-skype calls with video, text message from Skype; forward calls to your mobile device, etc. Multiple uses for online communication.
Iceberg: A web-based tool to develop your own custom workflow based app for your law practice or for individual projects. Provides customizable applications to build on. No code writing experience necessary.
Virtual Paralegals: For an attorney practicing law remotely or online, virtual paralegals are a useful resource for transcription, legal research, legal document preparation or other administrative activities. There are virtual paralegal companies, independent virtual paralegals and virtual assistants that may work in different arrangements, such as on a regular basis for a solo or small firm or as added support on a project basis for a larger firm.
Firefox Add-ons: Download these add-ons for extra security for your Firefox browser. Use no-scripts for safest web-browsing.
Bing: Microsoft’s version of the search engine. Keep an eye on how it will compete with Google because it does use a different formula for ranking sites. Attorneys should monitor their personal and professional online presence on a regular basis and this is one more search engine to check.