My Shingle

What If Lawyers Were Compelled to Use the Cloud?

by Carolyn Elefant on July 16, 2014 · 3 comments

in Tech & Web

These days, most legal regulators are pre-occupied with the question of whether lawyers may ethically move files to the cloud rather than whether they must. That’s not so in the medical profession, where the Affordable Care Act mandates the use of electronic medical records and patient portals which will presumably be implemented through cloud-based platforms.

But at least one solo doctor is complaining about the burdens imposed on small practitioners by an electronic records requirement. Brietbart (I know, consider the source…) reports that a solo physician in Pennsylvania, Francis Brescia is facing fines for non-compliance with ACA requirements, after a company he hired back in 2012 to convert his files went into bankruptcy and lost most of his records. Brescia warned that the ACA regulations impact small practices the hardest – and that they could face extinction, as a result. “We’re dinosaurs, we’re not going to be here in 10 years,” Brescia says. “You’re going to have nurse practitioners and PAs taking care of the public..”

What Brescia doesn’t realize, however, is that portals and electronic records could bring his practice into the 21st century and enable it to survive rather than  the way of the mastodon. By providing a way for patients to view files or get in touch no matter where they may be, Brescia would make his medical expertise more accessible and affordable to his patients and by doing so, could compete more effectively with nurse practitioners.

But the competitive advantages of cloud technology aren’t the point of this post. Instead, the Breitbart  piece made me wonder:  what would happen if just as in the medical profession, lawyers were required to convert all client files to digital format and store them in the cloud where they could be accessed by patients through portals? Could solos and smalls accomplish transition to electronic document management seamlessly – or would they find themselves struggling like Brescia? Would non-legal professionals such as paralegals and other assistants have the skills and training to support lawyers operating in the cloud? Would today’s cloud-based law practice management providers have the capability to ramp up from, say, 10,000 users to hundreds of thousands while still retaining quality control?   I’m not so sure. [Note - that's not intended to be a slight to any of the cloud practice management companies - but if all of the over a half million solo and small law firms were forced into the cloud, that would be an enormous bump in users].  [click to continue…]

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Hiatus Is Over. I Think.

by Carolyn Elefant on July 15, 2014 · 7 comments

in MyShingle Solo

I’m back from what has become a more than a month long hiatus from blogging. I last posted on June 11, a week before departing for a two week vacation on June 18. Since then, a varied band of solos stepped up as guest bloggers who’ve held down the fort through last week.

Turning over the keys to my blog, as Scott Greenfield put it is new for me – although sharing this space was part of the original concept of MyShingle. Back when I launched in the dark ages of 2002, I hoped to publish personalized accounts by lawyers starting or practicing solo but had few takers since back then, hardly anyone understood what blogging was (even Kevin O’Keefe  hadn’t yet arrived on the scene to teach them).  Within a couple of years, blogging went mainstream and lawyers who wanted to blog about solo practice didn’t need my platform; they could simply start their own. Of course, many lawyers underestimated the amount of time involved in blogging the solo experience or perhaps found the daily grind about writing about trust accounts and complaining clients and marketing, marketing, marketing deathly dull. Whatever the reason, many of the solo bloggers who comprised the tipping point  that I observed back in 2005 are no longer. And while other practicing solo/small lawyers have taken their place in documenting the solo experience – the  Fishtown boys or Josh Camson or Nutmeg Lawyer, for the most part, stand-alone solo blogs are dead. They’re not sustainable.  [click to continue…]

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This post is part of the MyShingle Solos summer series which was scheduled to run between June 17 and July 3, 2014 and was extended one more day to include some additional guest posts. 

lizaThis post is written by MyShingle Guest Blogger Liz Araguás

If you are a law student considering going solo after graduation, there’s no time like the present to get your practice started. Of course, you can’t actually practice law until you’ve earned your license, but there are many things you can do now to decrease lag time and increase earnings as you transition into your next chapter. During my own 3L year, I decided to look into starting a mediation practice. Although I wasn’t planning on becoming a solo practice attorney at that point, the steps I took to prepare for self-employment as a mediator really helped me as I started my law and mediation practice. I’ve compiled a list of tips, both those I followed and those I wish I had known about, to get your practice off the ground before you don your cap and gown (or quit your current job).

  1. Use your remaining schooling to your advantage

For me, 3L year earned its reputation as the most boring year of law school. My GPA was pretty much set, I had completed most of my required core courses, and recognized that few of the electives taught much in the way of practical law. Once I decided to commit to pursuing self-employment, however, I discovered many ways to use my remaining months of the 3L doldrums to my advantage. [click to continue…]

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This post is part of the MyShingle Solos summer series which was scheduled to run between June 17 and July 3, 2014 and was extended one more day to include some additional guest posts. 

WLN This post is written by MyShingle Guest Blogger  Women Lawyers News

The flexibility of entrepreneurship and solo practice presents a challenge to working efficiently.   Yet, working efficiently is key to maximizing available time for family, friends, or additional business opportunities.  Try starting your morning by reviewing your to-do list, weeding down, and writing a roadmap for your whole day.

Here are five reasons to give this a try:

1. Increased focus.  Our days are full of temptation to jump from one project to another, tackling what pops up in front of us.  If you are scheduled to check your email from 9-9:20 a.m., dismissing a 9:07 a.m. distraction is easier.  Focusing is also easier when you are only required to attend to one thing for a limited period of time.

2. Better time allocation.  Scheduling provides the opportunity to allocate time to the most important tasks.  Otherwise, tasks that are more noticeable but less important may attract unjustified attention.   When an unscheduled task inevitably pops up, “screen” the task to see if it is important enough to warrant changing your roadmap. [click to continue…]

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This post is part of the MyShingle Solos summer series which will run between June 17 and July 3, 2014. 

sthompsonThis post is written by MyShingle Guest Blogger  Dr. Sandra Thompson

Part 1 of this series focused on three tips for getting started incorporating social media into your marketing efforts: 1) identify someone at your firm who will handle social media updates, 2) review the various social media sites to determine what is the best fit for your practice, and 3) separate your professional social media accounts from your personal social media accounts. If you have decided to spend this upcoming long weekend setting up one or more new social media accounts or evaluating how you can improve the ones you currently have, I encourage you to also go back and read my first article on Impact Marketing. This article is going to pull both that first article and Part 1 of this series together and provide some easy ways to boost your social media presence, help your clients and generate more business.

Boost Your Social Media Presence

The first thing you need to do is start letting others know that you are using social media for your practice and that it is in their interest to follow you. If you like to write, or if you have written something recently on as aspect of the law, post it to your website and then cross post it to Facebook and Twitter. As part of that – pay attention to your “News”, “Events” and/or “Publications” links/tabs on your website. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve visited a site for another attorney, clicked on those links and found that the last piece of news or the last event was from one or more years ago. You must be an advocate for yourself and your business – and the way to do that is to let everyone know what you are doing in the community, where you are speaking, what awards you are getting, what you care about in the law and why they should consider you the attorney for their legal matters.  [click to continue…]

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What is Business Development? (And Five Tips For Developing Your Business)

July 3, 2014 by Carolyn Elefant

This post is part of the MyShingle Solos summer series which will run between June 17 and July 3, 2014.  This post is written by MyShingle Guest Blogger Dwayne Allen Thomas 1. Introduction I’ve got a bit of bad news for you. The term “business development” is undefined. This lack of a definition helps to […]

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Using Social Media to Market Your Practice: Part 1

July 2, 2014 by Carolyn Elefant

This post is part of the MyShingle Solos summer series which will run between June 17 and July 3, 2014.   This post is written by MyShingle Guest Blogger Dr. Sandra Thompson In my first article, we reviewed several ways to market your practice without spending money on things that clients may like initially, but that […]

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The Eccentric Personality Types of Solo Lawyers

July 2, 2014 by Carolyn Elefant

This post is part of the MyShingle Solos summer series which will run between June 17 and July 3, 2014.   This post is written by MyShingle Guest Blogger Anne Harvey Young, would-be solo lawyers are an eccentric group—I know, because I used to be one.  The year was 1991 and I couldn’t stand another minute […]

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Getting Past Fired

July 1, 2014 by Carolyn Elefant

This post is part of the MyShingle Solos summer series which will run between June 17 and July 3, 2014.   This post is written by MyShingle Guest Blogger Denise Nichols For my second contribution to the MyShingle Solos summer series, I was planning to share my story of returning to law school after a 20 […]

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Solo is the New Black: How Helping Solo Attorneys Helps the Legal Profession

July 1, 2014 by Carolyn Elefant

This post is part of the MyShingle Solos summer series which will run between June 17 and July 3, 2014.   This post is written by MyShingle Guest Blogger Adam Sherwin Quick: what are the two biggest challenges facing the legal profession today?  Answers will vary, but I am going to guess that many would agree […]

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