Harnessing Digital Marketing to Grow Your Practice

In today's legal market, digital marketing is essential for attracting new clients and growing your practice. Consider the following tools, technology, and techniques to expand your digital presence and track the effectiveness of your marketing strategy.

Peer-to-Peer Pressure: Interview with a Bookkeeper

Venmo, Zelle, and Cash App are peer-to-peer smartphone applications (P2P) that streamline money transfers by linking user credit cards or bank accounts to rapidly move funds between users. In the legal field, client interest in P2P apps is rising. While undoubtedly convenient, lawyers must assess their security and suitability for their practice.

Key Insights from ABA TECHSHOW 2024: Embracing Tech Trends and Cybersecurity Imperatives

The ABA TECHSHOW, held in Chicago from February 14-17, 2024, was a melting pot of insights, innovations, and imperative discussions on the intersection of technology and law. As legal professionals met to explore the latest trends and tools, our PMAP team identified several overarching themes that emerged from the diverse array of presentations and discussions. Here are some key takeaways.

Outsourcing Work to Virtual Receptionists or Assistants

When current resources are stretched to their limits and you need help meeting demands, hiring staff can become essential. If you want someone who can work from wherever, a remote staff person is often the first thought—but you should also consider outsourcing to a virtual receptionist or assistant.

Shape Your Work With Pro Se Parties

Clear communication with pro se parties can help prevent misunderstandings and allow you to better work with them and obtain the information you need to represent your client competently and diligently. Focus on building a professional relationship with them that clearly defines roles and interests. Consider the following tips when interacting with a self-represented litigant to help avoid potential ethics or malpractice issues.

‘Tis the Season: Managing Your Practice During the Holidays

The holiday season is in full swing, and many attorneys are taking some well-deserved time off to relax and recharge or travel to see family. A break from work during the holidays is a great way to prevent burnout and reconnect with friends and loved ones. It can be difficult, however, for lawyers to truly disconnect due to billable hours and client demands.

Apps to Help Legal Professionals Stay Organized

With the sheer frequency and variety of notifications, meetings, and other commitments that legal professionals have, it can be hard to keep track of your to-do’s. Thankfully, technology is available to help. Here are some software solutions and tips to keep you on top of your responsibilities.

The Three P's of Profitability

Profitability can be boiled down to increasing income and decreasing expenses. It’s about understanding your firm’s financial benchmarks for performance, finding new or better ways to get paid, and engaging your staff to meet the firm’s goals.


How many hundreds — or thousands — of emails are in your inbox right now? At what pace is that number growing? Are you confident that an urgent message isn’t lurking in your queue? Does your computer constantly ping and pop up notifications? If these questions speak to the current state of your email account, you may have a problem. These are all telltale signs that a destructive dragon is living in your inbox.

Top TECHSHOW Takeaways

Top takeaways from the ABA TECHSHOW® and EXPO, discussing everything from emerging trends and thought leadership in legal technology, to new product releases and demonstrations.

Design 2023 to be a Success

The new year is a perfect time to reflect on and improve your office and its systems. A simple and efficient exercise called the 'Design Matrix' can help you identify the vital first steps to take.

eDiscovery Software: Eye of the Storm

Discovery can be a major headache for law firms. The proliferation of electronic data makes it challenging for lawyers to efficiently manage all of this information. The typical discovery process can be complicated and expensive, especially for solo and small firms. Managing electronic discovery used to be seen as necessary only for large firms in complex litigation. Now, law firms of all sizes need to be able to handle eDiscovery.

Catching the Right Fish: Associate Job Posts

Finding the right associate to join your firm can feel a lot like fishing. There may be plenty of fish in the sea, but you are searching for a star. Your job description is the first connection potential applicants have with you. You want that first contact to capture their attention and interest while also conveying your values and the benefits of working with you. Read on for a few tips to describe your associate position clearly and authentically.

New Practice Aids Available on the PLF Website

The Professional Liability Fund offers a wide variety of resources to educate and assist lawyers and law office staff. As part of those resources, we maintain and update a library of over 300 forms consisting of checklists, sample letters and pleadings, and other helpful documents. We recently added four new checklists to our website that we encourage you to review.

Plugging the “Knowledge Drain”: How to Retain Knowledge to Ensure your Firm’s Continued Success

Law firms have always been plagued by the “knowledge drain” that happens when experienced employees retire or leave the company, taking their acquired information and established relationships when they leave. Firms must find a way to capture and retain institutional knowledge and make critical knowledge accessible to their teams if they want to ensure business continuity, provide quality legal services, and stay competitive.

Using Video to Support Internal Office Processes

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a one-minute video equals 1.8 million words. This article will discuss three ways to use video to run a better practice, reduce potential malpractice, and improve your bottom line. It will conclude with a step-by-step tutorial on how to make videos for your staff in Microsoft Teams (included free in the Microsoft Office 365 Suite).

Drawing the Line for Nonengagement

Meeting with a potential client may sometimes feel like walking a tightrope. It can be difficult to end the intake without any misunderstandings or unintended promises. When someone believes an attorney-client relationship has formed but you do not, a real danger exists. As the attorney, it is your role and responsibility to clearly communicate when an attorney-client relationship is established and when it is not, no matter the marketing medium.

Don't Underestimate the "Obvious": Document, Document, Document

Many malpractice claims arise from a client’s or third party’s allegation about what occurred, or didn’t occur, during the representation. While it may not seem necessary to document things that did not occur, or in situations involving third parties rather than just your client, proper documentation of these events can help protect you from certain malpractice traps.

Manage Your Trust Account Like You Care for Your Dog

To best manage your lawyer trust account, think of and care for your trust account the way you would take care of your dog. You attend to its particular needs, such as physical and mental stimulation, dietary monitoring, and health check-ups. These steps for owning a happy and healthy dog reflect similar methods for maintaining a sound trust account.

Positive Takeaways from COVID

The last couple of years have been challenging for many people in different ways. While it can be difficult to look back on this time from a “glass half full” perspective, we can use our collective experience during the pandemic as an opportunity to reflect positively on the changes as they apply to the workplace.

Billing Software: Explore your Options

The type of program you use to track your time and calculate your bills will vary depending on your specific practice and firm goals. In focusing on software for billing, you have your choice of options, but you should consider the variety of features available when making the decision which to use for your practice.

Welcome, Monica!

We are delighted to welcome Monica Logan as the newest Practice Management Attorney at the PLF!

COVID-19 State of Emergency Extended Through December 31, 2021

On April 29, 2021, Oregon Governor Kate Brown issued Executive Order No. 21-10, which was the seventh extension of Executive Order No. 20-03 and the COVID-19 State of Emergency since her original order declaring an emergency on March 8, 2020. On June 25, 2021, Governor Brown then issued Executive Order No. 21-15, which extended Executive Order No. 20-03 and the state of emergency to December 31, 2021, unless extended or terminated earlier by the Governor.

PLF CLE on Malpractice Risks in Bankruptcy - The Takeaway

The PLF recently presented a CLE on potential malpractice risks for bankruptcy practitioners. PLF Claims Attorney John Berge and Julia Manela from Watkinson Laird Rubenstein PC explored how the pandemic could generate an uptick in consumer bankruptcy filings after emergency governmental financial assistance ends and eviction moratoriums expire.

No Regrets: Tips to Help Clients Avoid Settler's Remorse

Settlements have always been common in the legal world, and they’ve arguably become even more widely used during the pandemic due to delays in court proceedings. Most civil practitioners at some point in their career will have a client who later questions their decision to settle. Unfortunately, some of these clients sue for malpractice, believing they could have achieved a better settlement or a better result had they moved forward with litigation.

Tommy and the Secure Tunnel: Virtual Private Networks

An attorney, his spouse, and their child stayed a few nights at a hotel for spring break. The attorney ─ let’s call him Tommy ─ pulled out his work laptop on the second night and reminded his family that he had to attend an online orientation. Tommy’s spouse ─ let’s call her Tuppence ─ did not remember him mentioning this meeting and cautioned him that the hotel’s Wi-Fi network wasn't secure.

Resources for Improving Your Remote Court Hearing Experience

Although some courts are moving toward holding more appearances in person, certain court appearances will likely continue to be held remotely for some time to come. While the future of court system operations remains uncertain and will continue to evolve over time, below are some resources to improve your remote hearing experience:

Governor’s Order Extends Civil Time Limitations Again

On February 25, 2021, Oregon Governor Kate Brown issued Executive Order No. 21-05, which is the sixth extension of Executive Order No. 20-03 and the COVID-19 State of Emergency since her original order declaring an emergency on March 8, 2020. Based on this latest extension, Executive Order 20-03 and the COVID-19 State of Emergency will be extended for an additional 60 days, through May 2, 2021, unless extended or terminated earlier by the governor.

Ready, Aim, Fire...or Maybe Not: The Ordeal of Terminating a Client

It’s fairly easy for clients to fire their attorney. Some clients might issue an overt announcement like “you’re fired!” Others might just make a polite statement that sounds more like a request such as, “Would you please give me my file so I can find another lawyer?” On the other hand, it’s not always easy for lawyers to fire their clients.

Death by Bad Management: Leadership as an Antidote to Terrible Bosses

Law firms are known for their high turnover of associates, who leave to join a different firm, take a job as in-house counsel or government lawyer, or depart the legal profession altogether. Some of the reasons include demanding hours, unbearable pressure, a toxic culture, and a lack of work-life balance. But the reason we shall delve into here is the terrible boss.

Mobile Banking: Take Advantage and Tread Lightly

Financial industry leaders expect that many people, both consumers and business owners alike, will continue to favor mobile banking options over traditional banking post-COVID. Take some time to learn the mobile options offered by your bank so you can make optimal use of their features.

Building a Good Workplace Culture in 2021

2020 was a very tough year. Instead of reciting a lengthy laundry list of all the bad things that happened last year, I’d like to focus on one goal that I hope all law firms and legal organizations will commit to in 2021: building a good work culture in which everyone can succeed.

Contract Lawyering: Common Issues and Considerations

The traditional legal employment model of hiring a full-time lawyer to work as an associate attorney or in-house counsel is not always suitable for certain law firms and organizations. Temporary projects or legal work that have limited duration don’t necessarily call for full-time employment of a lawyer. In those situations, working with a contract lawyer can provide the firm with needed resources and still be within its budget.

Hard Times Don’t Call for Desperate Measures

As business continues to dwindle for some law firms, they are laying off associates and staff, imposing pay cuts, and taking other measures to minimize the financial impact caused by the pandemic. The pressure to stay afloat may tempt lawyers to relax their billing practices, ramp up fee collection efforts, and even hoard billable hours. Working from home can also lead to careless billing practices as the line between work and family life begins to blur.

Marketing: Your Law Firm, Yourself

If you feel uncomfortable and unconfident marketing your law firm or yourself, you are not alone. Many professionals feel that it is unseemly to advertise, even though it is ethically permitted under the Oregon Rules of Professional Conduct, as long as it is neither misleading nor false.

Supervising Associate Lawyers to Reduce Malpractice Exposure

In my previous blog post, “Hoarding and Dabbling, Oh My,” I wrote about how the pandemic has resulted in a swift and dramatic transformation of the legal profession. This transformation has created new risk management challenges for many law firms, including hoarding legal work and dabbling in new practice areas. This blog post will focus on another area that may expose law firms to malpractice liability: not properly supervising associate lawyers.

Communication with Clients: Adjust as Necessary

Regardless of the practice area, many attorneys are now facing the dilemma of losing track of their clients. The pandemic, and most recently wildfires on the West Coast, has upended many people’s lives. Clients may have moved or changed their phone number, or even become homeless with limited or no access to phone or internet, making it difficult if not impossible to track them down.

Increased Claims Risk for Criminal Law Practitioners Related to PCR

Criminal law has historically been viewed as a low-claim frequency and severity area of practice – and rightly so.  Our claims statistics have borne that out.  Over the past 12 to 18 months, though, we have started to see the potential for increased exposure to these practitioners – specifically, claims against criminal defense attorneys whose clients have been convicted, but have subsequently been granted post-conviction relief (PCR). 

Why Is More Than a Question: Understanding Your Firm’s Purpose

At the start of this pandemic, many businesses had to close their doors. A few businesses were able to switch gears and continue employing their workers to do something else. For example, some distilleries and wineries started using their own alcohol to make hand sanitizer at a time when it was in short supply. A pizza shop in Chicago that could no longer serve pizza by the slice started using its ovens to make plastic face shields for frontline workers.

Working from Home? Make Your Internet Work for You

Many of us are more reliant than ever before on the stability and speed of our internet connection, now that the pandemic has forced us to work from home and many children are engaged in remote learning. If your home internet connection is not performing at the level necessary to support your needs, consider the options below to make it work for you.

Hoarding and Dabbling, Oh My!

COVID-19 has pushed many lawyers to quickly transition to a remote work environment and digitize their law practice. The swift and drastic transformation of the legal profession has created new risk management challenges for lawyers as they navigate different ways to run their business and deliver legal services. This blog post will explore some of the risks lawyers face when trying to get new clients and retain existing ones during the COVID-19 era.

Resources for Connecting During COVID-19

The pandemic has forced us to reexamine how we connect with others. Thankfully, technology has allowed us to create new virtual networking opportunities with colleagues, friends, and family. It is important to maintain those connections and establish new ones; otherwise it has been shown that social isolation can have damaging effects, both personal and professional.

Phone Systems: What Works for Your Firm?

As we move forward and adjust to the changing infrastructure due to the pandemic, it is a good time to think about what type of phone system works best for your law firm. Phone calls remain a very popular form of communication, despite other methods such as email, video conferencing, and client portals, and may be the preferred method depending on the circumstances.

Working Remotely: The Takeaway

We are now three months in to what is, for many of us, this brave new world of remote work. For some, it has been a resoundingly successful experiment. Some lawyers who previously worked out of traditional law offices have made a smooth transition to working out of their homes – and may never look back, opting instead to take their practices paperless or work remotely all or part of the time.

Manage Your Law Office with Documented Systems and Procedures

It doesn’t take much to open a law practice. Lawyers don’t need big expensive equipment and tools like in a dental or medical office. They can start practicing law with just a computer with access to the Internet and a few software programs. But a successful law practice does not end with having the right hardware and software. It’s the systems and procedures that will help lawyers move their cases along smoothly and provide the infrastructure for growth.

Collaborative Word Processing

With the spread of COVID-19 and resulting changes in how we conduct business, we need methods for exchanging information in different ways. In particular, attorneys need secure methods to collaborate on Word documents with both their clients and colleagues. This collaboration could include simply gathering information from clients with an intake form, review and approval of a document by a client or supervisor, or more complex collaboration involving multiple versions and tracked changes.

More Resources for Working from Home

Switching to a Work From Home (WFH) law practice is a big adjustment for lawyers and their colleagues, staff, and clients. To help support your efforts to make this go smoother, we have created a new practice aid, “Resources for Working Remotely in the Age of COVID-19.” You’ll find it in our new practice aid category: COVID-19.

Maintain Control by Narrowing Down Your COVID-19 Resources

At times like these, the amount of information available on the topic of COVID-19 can be overwhelming. With the vast number of unknowns and quickly changing landscapes, it can be difficult if not impossible to feel any sense of control. I’ve compiled various resources for you to reference, organized by topic, to provide you with a sense of where to look when you have questions.

Working and Meeting in the Age of Social Distancing

In light of the spread of COVID-19, many lawyers are looking for ways to continue meeting with their clients and other parties while keeping some distance from them. Fortunately, we are in an age where technology makes it easy to implement social distancing efforts that many individuals and businesses are now undertaking. This blog post will cover two tools that will allow lawyers to work and maintain social distance: (1) video conferencing and (2) remote access.

How to Prevent Losing Track of Your Client

“We sent a letter to our client regarding settlement and it was returned with no forwarding address.” “I am trying to close my trust account and I still have $500 belonging to a client I can’t find.” “I have a court hearing in ten days and my client’s cell phone has no voice mail box set up.” “My client no longer works for the employer he gave us.” "My client was deported." “Help! I don’t know how to find my client!”

What the Doctors Order for 2020

Let’s start 2020 off with some wishful thinking: if only there were a silver bullet to solve all issues that lead to legal malpractice claims. Wouldn’t that be great? If only lawyers were better at calendaring deadlines. If only lawyers thoroughly understood and correctly applied the law. If only they meticulously documented their files. If only….

Client Intake: Making it More Effective and Efficient

Client intake is an important process within a law firm. Just as with other industries and in our personal lives, first impressions speak volumes. According to the 2019 Clio Legal Trends Report, 42% of consumers surveyed say that if they like the first lawyer they speak with, they won’t need to speak with any others. Implement these tips to streamline and make your intake process more effective.

Loss Prevention Resources

The PLF's loss prevention department provides assistance to Oregon lawyers in a variety of ways. Remember to take advantage of our resources at every opportunity.

What Can Yard Work Teach Lawyers about Project Management?

Anne, the owner of a two-attorney law firm and a single mother of two children, pulls into her driveway after a busy and stressful day at the office. She looks at her front yard full of patches of dead grass, weeds, and random yard debris. Her eyes glance over at her retired neighbor’s perfectly manicured lawn and she lets out a long sigh....

Avoiding Malpractice

Loss prevention is the chief focus for the Practice Management Advisor program, which is carried out by four attorney practice management advisors or PMAs. Since the PMA program is within the Professional Liability Fund, the loss contemplated is malpractice or professional negligence.

The Fraud of a “Perfect” Job Candidate

A law firm in Oregon, whom I will call Alpha Beta Charlie (“ABC”), recently posted an ad for an estate planning legal assistant. ABC received an impressive resume from a candidate. The resume hit all the right points and addressed specific requirements in the job posting. It had flawless grammar and a beautiful layout. The candidate seemed like a perfect match.

The Fake Law Firm Scam

You may have heard about so many frauds that you are tired of listening. As a lawyer, you may avoid falling victim to fraud by being hyper-vigilant, by refusing to click on popup windows, or by refraining from opening unexpected attachments that could release malware onto your computer.

Electronic Payment Processing Software for Law Firms

Payment by cash and paper checks is becoming a less common form of payment. Providing clients with the ability to pay electronically using a credit or debit card or an eCheck is now standard business practice. Many clients assume that a law firm will offer these types of payment options, and setting up an electronic payment system can provide for faster payments and simplify your billing process.

Remote Access for Lawyers: Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) and Virtual Private Network (VPN)

As lawyers embrace the trend to work offsite, remote access becomes an important tool. Remote access refers to the ability of one computer to remotely access information on another computer or network. This functionality lets lawyers access their applications, folders, and files on their work computer while working from home or somewhere offsite.

Six Tips for Keeping Clients Happier with Communication

Unhappy clients are not the clients you want to have. They complain to you, to your staff, to their neighbors, to their friends, and they complain to the Oregon State Bar. One thing that makes clients unhappy is being ignored. Their emails go unanswered. There is no callback. If a receptionist is answering the phone, the receptionist becomes less sympathetic to the complaining client out of embarrassment or frustration.

State Courts: Take Advantage of All Available Resources

Navigating the court system can be a challenging experience. Many attorneys find themselves interacting with the court on a regular basis, while others infrequently encounter the court system. Regardless of your experience interacting with the court, a plethora of resources are available to make the experience less stressful for you and your clients.

The Basics of Your Financial Statements

The three most important financial statements that lawyers should pay attention to are the income statement, the balance sheet, and the statement of cash flows. These reports will not only help you run a profitable law practice, they also will help you to provide current reports to your business loan officer if you plan to get a business loan.

Hiring Staff: Considerations Before and During the Hiring Process

Feeling overwhelmed by your workload and never quite able to pull yourself out of the black hole of tasks? Yet most attorneys have never been an employer, and the idea of all that goes into hiring an employee can feel overwhelming. Don't allow this to deter you from at least considering the prospect of hiring staff.

Options for Getting Paid

Since 2016, Clio has been doing annual surveys that found that lawyers, on average, bill only 30% of their time and collect on about 85% of those billed hours. The reason for this isn’t because solo attorneys and lawyers in smaller firms are slacking off. It’s because they spend part of their workday on nonbillable work that cannot be delegated due to a lack of staff. It’s also because lawyers are not always diligent in entering their time, invoicing, and collecting on their bills.

Scrambling for CLE Credits?

December can be a busy month for many lawyers. One of the many tasks lawyers have to perform as they transition from 2018 to 2019 is submitting their MCLE compliance report to the Oregon State Bar. Sometimes lawyers are shocked to find out they are short 10 or more credits and then scramble for CLEs to make up for the shortfall.

Options for Redaction

Lawyers often need to securely remove confidential information, otherwise known as redaction, from discoverable documents. The physical act of using redaction tape or a sharpie to remove information from documents is time-consuming and can be frustrating to say the least, especially since many documents now arrive in electronic form rather than paper. If you haven’t already, consider using software to assist with the redaction process.

Vision and Mission Statements for Your Law Practice

One thing that some lawyers don’t typically do when opening their law practice is creating a vision and mission for their firm. They may have a website that includes an “About me” or “About us” page that consists of a biography of the lawyers. But biographies do not capture the firm’s identity: what it does, what it wants to be, and what it believes in. That is where the vision and mission statements come in.

Get Ready for Any Disaster

There is nothing like a disaster occurring someplace else to make us pause to appreciate that we are not facing a similar disaster locally. I wonder whether the lawyers in the disaster zone were ready for the devastation to their law firms in the aftermath of the hurricane. I hope so because the disasters we don’t prepare for may bring harm to our clients despite our good intentions otherwise. Now is the perfect time to ensure that we are prepared in our own locale.

Notetaking Outside the Office

You’ve probably faced this scenario: You’re out of the office and you receive an email or phone call from a client or third party and have no access to a pen and paper to take notes. Many options are available that can assist with notetaking when you're working outside the office.

Using Outlook to Save Google Emails

If you are a lawyer using Gmail in your law practice and want or need to save your client emails, here is a tip to help you do this. It requires you to have Microsoft Outlook with Adobe Acrobat PDFMaker add-on. With these two programs, you can convert an Outlook email folder including all attachments into a single PDF document.

Getting It All Done As a Solo

One of the biggest challenges a solo without support staff faces is trying to get it all done. How is it humanly possible? It may take some extraordinary juggling and a persistent adherence to planning, but I believe you can get close.

All Travel and No Play: Confidentiality Concerns if Working While Traveling

Summer is a popular time for taking a vacation. Or you may be traveling for work. Even when taking a vacation, many attorneys unfortunately can never truly leave work behind. That usually means traveling with a laptop or other device to be used for completing work. Yet your ethical duty to maintain client confidentiality pursuant to ORPC 1.6 remains the same when working outside the office.

Video: How to Remove Metadata from a Word or PDF Document

This short video shows you how to remove metadata from a Word or PDF document. Metadata is data stored in an electronic document that is hidden from immediate view. The information that is out of view, but attainable, sometimes includes information that is confidential or prejudicial to your client. PLF Practice Management Advisor Rachel Edwards explains how to use this important process for making sure you don’t accidentally reveal confidential information.

Video: How to Use the Windows Snipping Tool

This short video shows you how to use the Windows snipping tool. The snipping tool allows you to capture a portion of what is seen on your computer screen, such as a picture, a paragraph from an article, or contact information. PLF Practice Management Advisor Sheila Blackford leads you through how to capture something using this tool and how to use the tool’s additional functions such as highlighting text, adding text, and emailing the captured information.

Options for Sending Large Files

Many lawyers who don’t consider themselves “paperless” still prefer to electronically send documents to their clients or other parties. Most lawyers accomplish this task by using their email program. Email works great when the file is small. But it’s not as easy when the file is large. Most email programs allow users to send an attachment up to 10 MB, and a few others may stretch the limit to 25 MB. Here are some options for sending large files.

Playing the What-If Game

Lawyers are great planners. They are helpful to their clients because they are Grand Masters at the What-if Game: anticipating everything that might get overlooked or go wrong and planning accordingly. Today I’d like the opportunity to be the Grand Master for your professional What-if Game.

Managing Client Expectations

Communication is an important part of establishing and maintaining good relationships with your clients. Most if not all attorneys have represented a client who became upset after not receiving an immediate response to an email or phone call, even if the expected turnaround time is unrealistic. Managing client expectations about how you communicate can avoid the stress of miscommunication or clients feeling neglected.

To “Of Counsel” or Not

It’s very temping for lawyers to slap an “of counsel” label on an arrangement they have with another law firm. The of counsel designation may sound attractive, but it has some pitfalls lawyers should be aware of.

Entrance Stage Right: How to Resume the Practice of Law

The one thing we can count on is that plans change. You may have intended that your departure from practicing law was permanent. Sometimes, the reasons that compel us to exit stage left become replaced by reasons to return. How do we do it? Do you try to pick up where you left off or do you start somewhere else? If these are questions you are beginning to explore, here are some things to consider and some resources to help you with your journey.

Video: How to Create a Pleading Template in Word

This video shows you how to create your own pleading template from scratch and describes the benefits of creating your own versus using a standardized template. Former PLF Practice Management Advisor Jennifer Meisberger walks you through each step of the process, including creating the title, caption, body, line numbering, footer, and then saving the template.

Microsoft Office 2007 and Beyond

Microsoft Office is a staple for many law firms and every version offers customer support. Yet support ends a certain period of time after release of the product. Office 2007 support ended on October 10, 2017. If you still use Office 2007 or an earlier version, you may be putting yourself at higher risk for malpractice claims or disciplinary issues now that your system is no longer supported by regular security updates.

Video: How to Create a Transparent Personal Electronic Signature

This video shows you how to create a standalone electronic signature that you can insert into Word documents. PLF Practice Management Advisor Rachel Edwards gives you step-by-step instructions on how to create, crop, sharpen, resize, and save your signature, as well as how to include your typewritten name and firm name in the signature.

Video: How to Use Quick Steps in Outlook

This short video shows you how to save time by using Outlook’s “quick step” feature for tasks like making appointments and sending emails to groups. PLF Practice Management Advisor Hong Dao gives you step-by-step instructions for making use of this quick and useful function.

Back to Basics - Time Management Tips for Busy Lawyers

Lawyers are busy. You are busy. When you hear expressions like “time management,” you probably think, “I don’t have time for that.” More accurately, you don’t have time for complex technology or complicated strategies that involve extra steps in your workflow. What you need are simple solutions that will help you organize your work and accomplish it without delay. We’re here to help. Read on for some straightforward suggestions to help you manage your time and complete your work.

Lawyers as Supervisors

The old adage “I just want to practice law, not be a manager,” doesn’t fit with the business model of a law firm if you have staff. It benefits you and your clients if you put in the time to become a better manager and train your staff accordingly.

Data Hoarding: A Potential Risk for Law Firms - Part I

It may come as no surprise that law firms routinely store huge amounts of client and administrative data in both electronic and paper format. Although lawyers are legally and ethically required to retain certain kinds of data, some data is retained unnecessarily. When you store data you aren’t required to keep or don’t need, it’s called data hoarding.

Managing Our Time, Managing Ourselves

At the beginning of 2017, I wrote a blog post on using the 80/20 Pareto Principle to manage your time. I start this year with a similar post on time management. For this post, I turn to Habit 3 of Stephen Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, to help lawyers see time management from another perspective.

Business Planning for Your Practice

The new year is a great time to create or update a business plan for your law practice. Whether you are a recent graduate, a seasoned veteran, or just new to private practice, it is never too late to set goals and identify strategies to reach those goals. You might think you don’t have time to write a lengthy business plan. You might also wonder, would your practice even benefit from the planning process? The answer is a definite yes!

Is Microsoft Office 365 a Good Bet for 2018?

Lawyers don't have the resources, time, or money to jump on the latest technology product or service for the mere sake of being an early adopter or follower of the crowd. We frequently only stop to consider the what and how and forget the why: does the product or service facilitate providing better legal services to the client in the most efficient manner?

Setting Achievable Goals for the New Year

The concept of “New Year’s resolutions” may have a negative connotation for many of us. It is estimated that on average, New Year’s resolutions fail at a rate of close to 80%. The problem is that we create resolutions that are too vague, making them impossible to implement, track, and carry out long-term. They are merely declarations, with no actual substance or thought behind them. Thus why many of these resolutions quickly fall to the wayside.

Anatomy of a Ransomware Attack: One Firm’s Story

Imagine you post an ad on craigslist to hire a legal assistant. Someone immediately responds by email and attaches a zip file. Believing the file contains the applicant’s resume and cover letter, you click on the attachment and download it to your server. Soon afterward, you can’t access any files on your computer. You have just been infected by ransomware.

Responding to Requests for the Client File

Lawyers routinely receive requests to share materials from the client file. Sometimes clients ask the lawyer directly, but other times the request comes from new counsel or third parties. Evaluating these requests requires you to consider who is entitled to the client file, as well as what documents and materials belong in the client file. Furthermore, you must also ask whether any limitations prevent you from releasing the complete contents of the client file.

Tips for Establishing and Maintaining an Organized Office

According to a professional organizer based in New York City, the average person loses at least one hour per day because of disorganization. Disorganization can be particularly damaging to attorneys, who need to utilize their time efficiently in order to maintain their practice. Remember that it can be easy to organize your office, but the importance lies in maintaining the system longterm.

Copying and Pasting from a PDF

As of August 1, 2017, Uniform Trial Court Rule (UTCR) 21.040(1) is amended to require that a document submitted electronically, whether as a PDF or PDF/A, must allow for copying and pasting text into another document, as much as practicable. The goal of the amendment is to conform the UTCR to the Oregon Rules of Appellate Procedure, which already require electronically filed documents to include the ability to copy and paste.

Protect Your Practice against Disaster

Oregon has had a devastating fire season this year, and it’s not over yet. Hundreds of firefighters are currently working hard to contain the Amber Creek Fire in the Columbia River Gorge while also fighting the Chetco Bar Fire, the WhiteWater Fire, and the High Cascade Complex. Let's not forget other natural disasters afflecting different parts of our country. This is a good reminder for lawyers to take steps to protect your practice and livelihood against disasters.

New Lawyer Mentoring Program

A batch of newly minted lawyers will be inducted into the bar this October. The Oregon State Bar New Lawyer Mentoring Program is a valuable resource for newly admitted members of the bar. As many lawyers have experienced, law school curriculums are often not geared toward preparing their graduates for the practice of law. Even with the advent of programs such as clinics and classes taught by practicing lawyers, new admittees often feel overwhelmed and unprepared.

Assessing and Remitting Abandoned Funds

The safekeeping of property is a well-known responsibility of lawyers. Attorneys understand that we must take great care in holding and accounting for any money in our possession that belongs to clients or third parties. But what happens when a lawyer has kept a client’s money safe, and the client is nowhere to be found come time for distribution? Does the lawyer keep the money in trust indefinitely? Do the funds become the property of the law firm?

A Better Way to Store Your Closed Files

The PLF gets frequent calls from lawyers asking about best practices for dealing with closed files. Traditionally, lawyers put their closed paper files in filing cabinets and store them in their office. When the cabinets are full, they move the files to a storage facility or the basement of the office building. The files stay there until destruction time, which is usually 10 years.

Avoid Mistakes with This Simple Tool

The medical profession uses it. Aviation uses it. Construction uses it. Even the culinary field uses it. It is the checklist. A checklist is a simple tool that can improve the effectiveness of performing complex tasks.

Easy DIY Encryption for Emailing Documents

There are many ways to encrypt email messages sent to clients or other parties. You can use email encryption software like Trustifi, Virtu, or TitanFile. You can also use secure client portals within practice management software to securely exchange documents with clients. Even Outlook Email allows you to send encrypted email messages using a digital ID.

Passphrases: An Enhanced Level of Security

We now live in a digital world. Many of our interactions occur online using computers, smartphones, and other mobile devices. This new reality requires passwords at multiple stages, whether to unlock our computer or smartphone or log in to a practice management software program or website. Here are some suggestions for creating and managing passwords while following proper security measures.

Communicating Effectively and Professionally

The legal world is changing quickly on many fronts, most notably technology. The way we communicate is greatly impacted as a result. Unfortunately, it has also highlighted a divergence among different generations of attorneys, particularly regarding the most appropriate form of communication in different contexts.

Sharing Fees Outside Your Law Firm

Lawyers often ask how to go about sharing legal fees with colleagues or entities outside their law firm. The answer depends on how you arrange the division, and with whom you intend to split the money. Lawyers who split fees as part of a referral arrangement must be careful to follow ethical guidelines, and to also take practical steps to avoid discipline or fee disputes with clients and colleagues.

Inclement Weather Conditions and State Court Facilities

This past winter has been difficult for many of us to handle, both personally and professionally. Whether it be your commute to and from work, your child’s school schedule, or ensuring sufficient food supply in the pantry, inclement weather conditions can be a stress-inducing phenomenon. It can be especially difficult for attorneys facing deadlines and court appearances if the weather situation does not permit safe travel to and from the court facility.

Considerations When Charging Fixed Fees

Lawyers set fees for clients using a variety of arrangements. Charging a fixed fee, a set price for the services the lawyer provides, offers benefits to both you and the client. In addition, fixed fee agreements may reduce the possibility of fee disputes and increase the likelihood of carefully documenting the scope of representation.