Is it Time for Office 365?

As more and more firms decide it’s time to upgrade their current version of Microsoft Office, they’re confronted with the decision of whether or not to move to Office 365. Thankfully, Microsoft Office 365 for Lawyers: A Practical Guide to Options and Implementation by Ben Schorr has come along just in time to help with the decision-making process. This book answers, in plain English, all of the common questions you will be asking as you start to consider whether you should purchase another software upgrade for Office alone or enter the world of additional products and services that Office 365 has to offer .

Topics covered include how the Office 365 subscription system works, which version of Office 365 is right for you, how to integrate SharePoint into your practice, and how to troubleshoot common Office 365 issues as they arise. There is also information on using Exchange Server with Office 365 on a budget.

Technology upgrades are never easy, but you can take a lot of the pain out of the process by checking out this quick, easy read. To receive books from the PMAP Checkout Library call (334) 517-2242 or email kristi.skipper@alabar.org.  Or purchase it at a discount through the ASB website.

Make Amazon’s Customers Your Customers (or Clients?)

That’s the come-on for the latest offering from Amazon.

Some people claim that Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s insatiably driven CEO, is determined to conquer every market segment of the economy, one by one, and to do it by undercutting the existing price structure in that segment. While that’s probably a little overblown, Amazon does seem to offer almost any product you can think of these days at lower-than-market-leader-prices, so I wasn’t really surprised to hear that Amazon recently announced Amazon Payments, their move into the electronic payment processing market, and that they undercut many of their competitors’ prices in the process.

The part of the offering that will be of potential interest to lawyers is Amazon Local Register, a service that allows the processing of Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover credit and debit cards via smartphone or tablet, with a current, set flat rate of 1.75% per swipe. They also boast of no monthly fees, no long term contract, no fee for chargebacks, no fee for refunds and no fee for international cards, and will guarantee the swipe rate through December 31 of next year if you sign up by October 31st. The rate is set to move to 2.5% beginning January 1, 2016, which is still below that currently charged by Square or by Intuit for QuickBooks users. The secure card reader needed for Amazon Register is $10, which they say they’ll credit against your first $10 in processing fees.

The bar offers a member benefit for credit/debit card merchant services through LawPay, which we believe is the best bet for lawyers because of features such as the ability to maintain one merchant account while directing charges to either your operating or trust account, as appropriate, and the assurance that neither chargebacks or fees will be processed against your trust account. But I can’t help but wonder whether Amazon’s move into this market will result in downward pressure on the rates all merchant account providers charge over the long run. And that would be good for everyone, lawyers included.

Back to Basics

As a new bar year begins the theme of “back to basics” seems to be coming up over and over. ASB President Rich Raleigh has adopted it as his guiding principle for the upcoming year, and it offers a lot of room for thought and improvement in both the way lawyers practice and in the administration of justice. So I wasn’t entirely surprised when the July/August issue of GPSolo magazine hit my desk this morning touting this same idea. As always, it’s chock full of feature articles and regular columns that go right to the heart of the issues that solos and small firms deal with every day, such as:

There’s even a great article entitled Why Are You Practicing Law in the First Place? on how the authors have incorporated their passions into their practices, and many more. Check it out online today. There are bound to be several good nuggets of wisdom you can put to use in your practice right away!

Do You Provide First Class Legal Services?

If you’d like to learn to make yourself invaluable to current and future clients, the latest addition to the PMAP Checkout Library can point the way. Although seemingly aimed at a small segment of the legal field, Succeeding as Outside Counsel: A Lawyer’s Guide to Providing First Class Legal Services from the Client’s Perspective is extremely useful reading for any lawyer who wants to learn to understand his or her clients’ needs, better manage client expectations, improve client communications and create a business development plan to attract new clients by better addressing client needs.

Written by Rod Boddie, who has over 15 years of experience as in-house counsel for several large companies and currently develops training programs to help outside counsel understand what their clients need and expect and how to deliver it, the book sets out what clients are really looking for (beyond handling a particular legal matter) and provides concise and entertaining illustrations of how lawyers often fail to understand, much less, deliver. You’ll learn how to add value beyond your initial engagement, provide actionable work product, best go about informing and educating your clients and develop client-centric billing practices.

If you’d like to check out this or any other books in the Practice Management Assistance Program Checkout Library, call (334) 517-2242 or email pmap@alabar.org.

New Practice Niche – Can Law Cure Disease?

I often get questions about underserved areas of practice that other lawyers might not have thought of, so when I see what I think may be a potential new practice opportunity I like to mention.

A few days ago I came across an article in the New York Times titled When Poverty Makes You Sick, a Lawyer Can be the Cure. It outlines the ways in which sub-standard housing conditions can contribute to the ill health of occupants and the steps that some metro hospitals around the country are taking, through medical-legal partnerships, to combat the often illegal conditions the treating physicians contend are making, or keeping, their patients sick. Then, this morning I heard a report on NPR entitled New York Debates Whether Housing Counts as Health Care. According to the report, Common Ground, an organization which creates and manages housing for the homeless, claims that placing an individual in an apartment costing $24,000 per year can prevent an estimated expenditure of $56,000 per year on shelter stays and emergency room visits. The debate centers around whether Medicaid should pick up the tab for such capital costs, even if doing so does demonstrably save the program money.

For lawyers who are interested in access to justice issues and medical and landlord-tenant law, this could be an opportunity to write your own job description with your local non-profit hospital, provided you are also willing to seek out some initial sources of funding to get it off the ground.

Boost Your Bottom Line With Document Automation – Free Webinar!

Once upon a time automobiles were individually made by hand. They were beautifully crafted and richly appointed, and only the wealthy could afford them. Then, Henry Ford devised the first assembly line and the Model T became affordable for the masses. Legal services aren’t an exact parallel, but there are lessons to be learned from the comparison.

Law offices moved easily, if somewhat reluctantly, from typewriters to word processors, and the ease with which documents could be created, modified and re-purposed made the work of both legal secretaries and lawyers somewhat quicker and easier. But many legal documents are still much like hand-crafted autos – one of a kind and expensive – even though they don’t have to be. Over the last few years there’s been a quantum leap in how documents can be generated using document automation systems, yet very few law firms are taking advantage of the radical increase in productivity, and profitability, these systems can offer.

If you would like to know more about document automation and how it can improve your life and your bottom line, and start to think about how you could begin to implement more streamlined document generation processes in your law office, you’ll want to take advantage of a free one-hour webinar sponsored by the folks at The Form Tool. Set for Thursday, July 31st at 10:00 a.m. CDT, this program will cover the five steps to elegant document automation, and is designed to help everyone, no matter their level of experience or the tools they are using. Register here.

Flat Fees for Fun & Profit

If you’ve been considering implementing flat fees in your practice but are not sure exactly how or where to start, ASB Member Benefit provider Clio is presenting a webinar, featuring North Carolina lawyer and Divorce Discourse blogger Lee Rosen and Clio’s lawyer in residence Joshua Lenon, that will guide you through the process.

Free and open to all ASB members, the webinar, set for Tuesday, July 29th, at 12:30 PM CDT, will cover the ethical issues involved in setting flat fees and how to calculate a flat fee that will be fair to both the client and the lawyer.  Put it on your calendar and register here or call the Practice Management Assistance Program at (334) 517-2242 for more information.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 40 other followers