Tag Archives: technology

Blogging Backlash & Lessons In What (Not) To Post

Recently, the community blog PLOS Biologue removed a blog post by two journalists Charles Seife and Paul Thacker that criticized the lack of transparency by scientists.

The article can still be read in a cached form here, in which it states:

“In the wake of several embarrassing scientific debacles where financial conflicts played a prominent role — the death of Jesse Gelsinger,[i] the delayed decision to pull Vioxx and Bextra from the U.S. market,[ii] and the misconduct of Andrew Wakefield,[iii] to name a few — scientists, clinicians, publishers, regulators, and journalists began to beat a steady drumbeat to march research toward transparency.”

The post goes on to discuss various instances where e-mails from scientists have revealed the extent to which industry experts control the scientific literature to promote their own products and private gain.

At the end, the journalists conclude, “In short, those working to improve public welfare should oppose attempts to embolden government entities to withhold public information, thus threatening public health and the public trust in science.”

PLOS Biologue pulled the post after severe backlash by its readers, arguing the post was “not consistent with at least the spirit and intent of our community guidelines.”

Keith Kloor, author of the Nature news article mentioned in the retracted post, told Ivan Oransky of Retraction Watch that he disagreed with the decision to remove the article, stating:

“As much I think the PLOS post is deeply flawed and erroneous, it bothers me that it was retracted. 1) The official explanation is really vague. Not very transparent! 2) I have to wonder if there was intense pressure brought to bear from scientists…I find myself in the odd position of defending the flawed PLOS post from these presumed pressures, in part because I’ve been the subject of similar pressure campaigns. (Of course, I’m only assuming pressure was brought to bear. I have no idea if this was actually the case.)”

This instance provides law firms two important lessons about blogging. First, blogging is not easy. Readers—even online—create a discerning audience who feel free to openly and harshly criticize authors.

Second, blogging—while crucial to the survival of a company’s marketing strategy today—is as dangerous as it is beneficial. It is reported that the number of blogs published by Am Law 200 law firms has grown twelvefold in the last seven years, according to Above The Law (ATL), quoting the Am Law 200 Blog Benchmark Report 2015 from LexBlog.

In the same time frame, the number of firms publishing blogs has more than quadrupled to a total of 163 firms. And eighteen of the top 25 firms are blogging, according to the same source (via ATL).

With all these firms blogging, it’s important to remember that content matters. Just as easily as your firm can attract a wider audience or client base through its posts, it can alienate them.

Which firms may have the most at stake? It’s hard to say, but Fox Rothschild has the most blogs, with 39, and Sheppard Mullin places second with 29 blogs. Womble Carlyle follows closely with 22 blogs, and finally DLA Piper just misses the podium in fourth place, with 21 blogs, according to ATL.

What are these law firms talking about?

  • Employment and labor blogs (132 publications)
  • Corporate and commercial law (104)
  • Financial (100)
  • Intellectual property (73)
  • International (64)
  • Healthcare (55)
  • Administrative (52)
  • Technology (50)
  • Energy (47)
  • Real estate and construction (43)

Finally, you may have guessed, but mobile visits (visits conducted via smartphone or tablet) now account for 25 percent of global Internet traffic —and increase from 14 percent one year ago (via ATL).

So, decide with your marketing team and certainly name partners what message your law firm is hoping to send with its posts. Also come up with a plan for retractions (if any) or legal responsibility for the opinions in the posts. Like all things at the intersection of technology, law, and business, create a policy or manual for your blogging strategy.

In the end, blogging does more good than bad. After all, without blogging or reading others’ blogs, your firm may never know about interesting, informative upcoming events, like the following audio conferences:

  • Counsel’s Guide to Trade Secret Protection: Preventing and Avoiding Costly Errors and Penalties
    • Wednesday, September 16, 2015
  • Reclassifying Exempt Employees: Ensuring Wage and Hour Compliance
    • Wednesday, September 23, 2015 
  • Excel Pivot Tables: Shortcuts, Tricks, and Time-Saving Tips to Crunch Data More Efficiently
    • Tuesday, September 29, 2015 
  • Writing Effective Emails: Mastering The Number One Tool for Business Communication
    • Friday, October 2, 2015
  • Compensating Millennial Associates: Customizing Compensation and Rewards for Increased Productivity and Firm Profitability
    • Thursday, October 8, 2015
  • Partner Compensation: Keys to Compensating Succession and Client Transfers
    • Thursday, November 5, 2015 

To attend, click here.

C4CM audio conferences are live, interactive sessions presented over the telephone. You can attend from any location with phone access. You pay just one low registration fee for as many participants as you wish at one call-in location. Listen in from the convenience of your home, your office or in your conference room with your entire team and immediately put what you’ve learned to work in your department.

Need to reach a wider audience with your posts? Find out how, here.

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Is The Future Bright For Non-Blogging Law Firms?

Your firm may think that it’s above e-gossip or online blogging. But, that’s also what renown law firm K&L Gates thought before its dispute with online reporter, Law360.

Above The Law writer, David Lat, describes the incident with an excerpt from the Law360 piece in his article, “Barbarians at the K&L Gates.”

“Flat profits and spreading concern about the firm’s ability to keep talent are among the reasons more than 80 partners have K&L Gates LLP since the beginning of the year, an exodus that includes many up-and-coming leaders who had been seen as key to the firm’s future, according to some partners who recently left and other experts,” quotes Lat on July 23, 2015.

“Those leaving the 2,000-lawyer firm include rising partners in prized corporate and financial practices and a number of high-profile veterans, including intellectual property litigation heavyweight Michael Bettinger [who moved to Sidley in San Francisco]. Litigators Greg Jackson and Danny Ashby joined veteran Steve Korotash, a former U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission associate director, in a jump to Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP’s white-collar group in Dallas in March.”

Although K&L Gates Chair Peter Kalis was quickly ready to refute this depiction of his business—a depiction that also made its way into a Blomberg article—Kalis lacked an online presence. He and his firm were at a disadvantage in spreading their side of the story.

Notorious legal blogger Kevin O’Keefe followed up with his own Above The Law post titled, “Non-Blogging Law Firm Managing Partners And CEOs Playing With Fire?” in which he writes, “[a] memo leaked to Above The Law and Kalis spoke to Bloomberg on July 29th for a July 30th piece reporting that the partner departures were a natural result of the firm’s strategy.”

“I can’t help but see the irony in Kalis calling for everyone at K&L to take a stand in the media when neither he nor they have an effective media presence. Where’s their voice?”

And that’s the problem with being a Luddite in law. The most efficient and effective way to defend your firm’s image and, by proxy, your clients is the world wide web. After all, it’s in the name, the audience is world-wide.

Perhaps you already host a law firm blog but your posts don’t seem to go anywhere. Delivery mechanisms are equally important to social media.

Here are a few tips on how to get your content shared. But, beware, with every benefit to technology comes certain pitfalls of which your firm should be weary.

1. Publish your posts on media aggregators.

Websites like Reddit, Shoutwire, and Digg allow individuals to submit links to websites, blog posts, or any Internet-based page. The community of readers then votes up (or down) the link based on a review of its content. Create flashy titles and you’ll likely see in a flash the rise of your readership.

Beware: Comments by readers can be harsh. The anonymity of the Internet allows people to write down criticisms (NSFW) that may end up permanently cached on the World Wide Web.

2. Add website sharing buttons.

Your firm’s website should have links to all of your social media accounts, as well as ways to share your posts. Programs like “Click to Tweet” make this easy.

Beware: Your firm may need a small amount of Internet savvy to create buttons on your website and restore broken links.

3. Create interesting content.

This is so obvious your firm is likely already doing it! Nevertheless, remember to write thoughtful arguments accompanied with eye-catching photos. There’s so much competition already when it comes to online content, your firm’s additions must stand out.

Beware: Yes, this requires a little more time and thought to write captivating posts and tweets.

4. Do your research.

If you know what time your readers are log on then you’ll know the best time to publish your posts. Maybe you’re getting a lot of hits first thing in the morning. People are remiss to start work at 8am and decide to read legal news or browse the web. With this knowledge, you can now set your social media to publish at certain times to target your audience.

Beware: Due diligence on your casework is no longer enough. Time to do due diligence on your business development, too.

5. Crossover multiple social media platforms.

Happy you finally mastered the art of blogging for your firm? Time to summarize that blog post on your LinkedIn and Facebook page and compile a 140-character hook for your Twitter account. Don’t be afraid to repeat the same ideas on different mediums.

Beware: Now you’ll have to memorize more usernames and passwords. More social media means more potential backlash.

In the end, it’s possible to circulate your firm’s strategy about hiring, firing, and work ethic before a biased, and certainly less-informed secondary source scoops you.

Start small by using the above tips to get your firm’s content shared on social media.

Last tip: proofread, never post when emotional or angry, and generally be sure it’s content that your firm truly wants shared.

The question for organizations is how do you use these tools to open up communications with your workers, candidates and customers, while protecting your reputation as an organization?

Attend C4CM’s course, “Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter: Developing a Successful Social Media Employer Branding Strategy.“

If you’re looking for tips on communication practices in the workplace, read C4CM’s guide “Communication Skills for Managers: Tips, Techniques, and Best Practice Strategies to Communicate More Effectively.“

Applying successful communication techniques gives you two important advantages: (1) You’ll create a harder-working and more productive employee workforce, and (2) you’ll be less likely to fall into the clutches of employee lawsuits.

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Why The Apple Watch (& Time Management At Your Law Firm) Works Best In Pairs

So it’s here: The Apple Watch. What’s the verdict?

“It’s a gorgeous piece of hardware with a clever and simple user interface and some fine built-in functions. It already has more than 4,000 third party apps. I will probably buy one,” writes Walt Mossberg after wearing a demo Apple Watch for more than one month.

“But it’s a fledgling product whose optimal utility lies mostly ahead of it as new watch software is developed. I got the strong feeling that third-party app developers taking their first swing at the thing simply hadn’t yet figured out how best to write software for it—especially since Apple, for now, is requiring that watch apps basically be adjuncts of iPhone apps.”

Because, after all, the best hardware comes with a variety of well-written, complimentary software.

It’s why, for example, in law firm management the best time savers are not thanks to Timex, rather thanks to coupling incentive pay plans with supporting innovative work practices.

Why? According to experts, the secret to project management has nothing to do with time at all. In fact, most managers speed past deadlines.

Forget the schedule. Key filing or court deadlines aside, it’s more important to be goal- and product-oriented than time-oriented.

“Why don’t more project managers sound an alarm when they’re going to blow past their deadlines?” ask Joe Knight, Roger Thomas, and Brad Angus for the Harvard Business Review Blog.

“Because most of them have no earthly idea when they’ll finish the job. They don’t even think it’s possible to know. Too many variables. Too much that’s out of their control.”

It’s true, law firm managers should focus more on what keeps the client informed and happy rather than exactly how long it took you to get there. Unfortunately, the billable hour and client satisfaction are inextricably linked in legal services industry.

For some companies, the Harvard Business Review advice may be sound. “If your customer doesn’t think you’re late, then you’re not late,” it states.

But, if the equity partner thinks you’re late, then you’re late. And, if the judge thinks you’re late, then you’re really, really late.

So, is time management a strategic variable that law firm managers can manipulate at all?

It turns out, a not-so-recent study from 1997 shows that innovative employment practices—incentive pay, flexible job assignments, and higher job security—increase employee productivity. Although employees may be in a time crunch to write that legal brief, those who work for firms providing non-traditional working hours or environments to do so are more efficient and effective at their job.

The study published in the American Economic Review by Ichniowski et al. investigated the productivity effects of innovative employment practices using data from a sample of 36 homogeneous steel production lines owned by 17 companies.

“The productivity regressions demonstrate that lines using a set of innovative work practices, which include incentive pay, teams, flexible job assignments, employment security, and training, achieve substantially higher levels of productivity than do lines with the more traditional approach, which includes narrow job definitions, strict work rules, and hourly pay with close supervision,” write the authors.

In addition, these innovative employment practices tend to be complements. Essentially, optimal incentive structures—like higher employment security but lower salaries, or higher training couple with incentive pay—come in pairs.

“That is, workers’ performance is substantially better under incentive pay plans that are coupled with supporting innovative work practices—such as flexible job design, employee participation in problem-solving, teams, training to provide workers with multiple skills, extensive screening and communication and employment security—than it is under more traditional work practices.”

So, if your law firm can’t pull back on its billable hours or push forward its many deadlines, at least it can manage the time of and human resource policy for its employees.

Consider implementing flexible scheduling, work-from-home policies, or other innovative management practices. Give your employees the opportunity to diversify their workload or work on a variety of departmental teams.

That doesn’t mean your attorneys won’t appreciate the Apple Watch as a firm gift during the holidays. In fact, as Mossberg continues to tout Apple’s genius: “While testing the watch, I was able to try it during a faux check-in at a W hotel in Washington, D.C. As I walked in, my room number appeared on the watch, and I was able to breeze by the front desk, go right to the room and use the watch as a key.” Undoubtedly your traveling lawyers will still benefit from quick-fix gadgets.

But, in the end, the more choices you offer your employees, the more hours they will bill—and happily—for your firm.

Not sure where to start? Check out ideas for innovative management practices for law firms here.

Reference: Ichniowski, C., Shaw, K., & Prennushi, G. 1997. The effects of human resource management practices on productivity: A study of steel finishing lines. American Economic Review, 87: 291-313.

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B-to-G? The Vital New Tech Lingo That Law Firm Professionals Need To Know

Do you know what B-to-G means? Maybe not what you think. These days it means business-to-geek. And that’s exactly what’s trending for law firm professionals.

Law is one of the world’s oldest and most established industries. It’s made a name for itself by not being trendy, rather, traditional. So why pay attention to trends now?

Well, for one, technology is pervasive in today’s society, and understanding it will not only bring your firm more clients, but it will prepare your firm to better defend them. If you haven’t already formed a dedicated legal team for “technology and emerging companies,” your firm is missing out on a not-so-niche sector.

Entrepreneurs, public and private emerging growth companies, and venture capital and private equity firms are among law firms’ biggest and (potentially) wealthiest clients. If lawyers don’t understand the mainstream and trendy tech trends, it will be difficult to represent the interests, including litigation, advisory, and contractual work, of defense technology, e-commerce, Internet and social media, medical devices, semiconductors, or wireless communications companies.

But B-to-G (don’t forget, business-to-geek) is really describing the future of homes and offices. Nest—a success story for one of this decade’s biggest breakthrough tech companies—embodies everything the modern consumer is looking for in their household and their local neighborhood business.

“I think in the next five years there will be hundreds of millions of smart new home networks,” Mike Maples, Venture Capitalist, said to Forbes, about smarter wifi networks, an area ripe for disruption.

“Right now, I think Linksys and Netgear basically just call China up and say, ‘Can you make the box in my color so I can sell it?’”

But business-to-geek also means developing new business strategies, such as mobile on-demand services. Just like food service or taxis, venture capitalist James Slavet said to Forbes, “The core concept is that with smartphones, we’re all transacting with compressed planning cycles and addictive ease.”

“If you get sick at 2 a.m., rather than going down to urgent care, you’ll be able to pull up your phone and have a consult with a doctor on demand.”

Ping Li, another VC, said to Forbes in agreement: “The marketplace effects are really powerful. These things are not taking years to happen. They’re taking months.”

Law firms confront different kinds of policy and insurance issues than the average services industry. Nevertheless, legal services online and on-demand are on the horizon. Avvo Inc., already launched in 2014 an on-demand service that provides legal advice at a fixed rate via your iPhone, Android phone, or smart tablet.

No, business-to-geek may not have been why you signed up for the legal profession, but it is here to stay. Technology has, in many ways, made the law both harder and easier to practice. The same tools that facilitate doc review may also convolute it.

The same tools that streamline operations and increase profits weigh firms down in extensive training and infrastructure costs.

Still, it’s important for law firm managers to be as up-to-date on technology trends as legal ones. Don’t worry, if you’re struggling, there are now ample online courses here to help. The hardest part will be identifying the best way to transition your team from businessmen to geeks.

Here’s a good start: http://www.c4cm.com/lawfirm/recordings.htm

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Bring On The Lawsuits, Says FCC Chairman & Other Net Neutrality News (Plus Mobile Apps)

Net neutrality. It’s finally here.

The FCC, led by a former lobbyist for the cable and wireless industries, exceeded expectations by voting 3-2 to approve Title II-based net neutrality rules after an unprecedented public-driven tech advocacy campaign, reports Above The Law (ATL) Blog.

It’s rare that grassroots campaigns have any sort of effect on major, lobby-driven government issues. But, protecting the freedom of the Internet has been tried, tested, and found—well—important.

The debate over both side, of course, including the precise wording of the neutrality, will continue for months.

“It also probably goes without saying that opponents of net neutrality and those who like it when AT&T, Verizon and Comcast are allowed to write protectionist telecom law aren’t taking the day’s events very well,” writes TechDirt on ATL.

“Thousands … are celebrating a rare instance where Internet activism was able to overcome lobbying cash and push a government mountain toward doing the right thing.”

In honor of the event, here are three must-haves for the tech-savvy lawyer in order of price:

TrialPad (iPad, $89.99)

TrialPadfor the iPad may, at first glance, seem like a fortune. But, most users claim to be fortunate enough to own it. Reviews include:

“The short review. Wow.”
“TrialPad offers the best parts of a full blown laptop/desktop trial presentation system in a simple-to-use package at a fraction of the cost.”
“For anybody doing any amount of trial work…TrialPad is a must have application.”

TrialPad is a document presentation tool that helps lawyers create convincing courtroom arguments without being tied to a whiteboard or TV screen. Pre-trial, lawyers can import photo, video, or text evidence into individual case files. During trial, lawyers can use call-outs, annotation, and highlighting to emphasize key information for jurors. TrialPad also allows you to add exhibit stickers to documents and search document text.

TrialPad has been honored with numerous awards, such as “The Best Trial Presentation App” with an A+ TechnoScore by LitigationWorld.

JuryTracker (iPad, $4.99)

“Your jury is seated. You are presenting your case. You are busy arguing the law with the judge, arguing the facts with the witnesses and just plain arguing with opposing counsel. So who is watching the jury to make sure they understand your case?”

That’s the advertisement from JuryTracker, which works to help attorneys improve jury selection, identify key jurors, simplify and enhance notetaking, and share reports with the trial team.

Using the iPad app, you can record the jurors’ gender, race, age, religion, education level, and more. The app also lets you to take note of a variety of juror emotions and behaviors during trial, such as smiling at the witness, fidgeting, and taking notes. Lawyers can enter custom questions to ask potential jurors, or flag jurors for preemptory challenge or dismissal.

Fastcase (iPad and iPhone, free)

Fastcase provides lawyers thousands of cases, legal statutes, and bar publications through the iPad and iPhone. Lawyers can search for relevant information by jurisdiction and date, and save their searches for future reference. Fast case provides keyword (Boolean), natural language, and citation searches and sorts results by the most relevant. Fastcase for the iPhone won the American Association of Law Libraries New Product of the Year Award, and both the iPhone and iPad versions are free of charge.

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Cyber-Attacks Increase, Threaten Banks, Law Firms & How To Terminate Them!

Of all the scenes in James Cameron’s sci-fi film “Terminator 2,” there’s one in particular we’d like acted out in real like. The one where young John Connor uses a high-tech device to steal money from an ATM.

Free cash being dispensed at your local bank branch as in “Terminator 2” may be science fiction, but ATM hacks are really happening.

This week, a security company claims it uncovered an “unprecedented” number of cyber-attacks on a reported 100 banks, reports the BBC.

The security company, Russian company Kaspersky Lab, claims that first, hackers accessed the banks’ networks by sending spam/spoof emails to staff; then, the hackers manipulated ATM machines to dispense stolen money.

Europol director Rob Wainwright told the BBC the agency had, “issued warnings and intelligence to national law enforcement authorities and European banks through the European Banking Federation.”

“Reported infections in the EU are unconfirmed at this stage, although we are continuing to work actively on the matter.”

Largely out of the limelight, this attack was patient and planned. News sources are trying not to rattle the money market, but the attack was certainly one point for theft, zero for the economy.

“This is likely the most sophisticated attack the world has seen to date in terms of the tactics and methods that cybercriminals have used to remain covert,” one of Kapersky’s directors told the New York Times.

Corporate data security risks are only getting more frequent and more severe. In fact, the news is full of stories about major organizations (Sony, Target, Google, Ebay, Westinghouse, Home Depot, Neiman Marcus) being hacked, with the perpetrators stealing the financial and personal information of clients, customers and others.

While the malicious reason for an attack may not be apparent, one thing is clear: counsel must understand that traditional network security approaches are no longer enough.

Attackers are getting more and more sophisticated and organizations (including law firms) must prepare as if a data breach is imminent. Because it is!

survey by the Ponemon Institute reports the average cost of cyber crime for U.S. retail stores more than doubled from 2013 to an annual average of $8.6 million per company in 2014. The annual average cost per company of successful cyber attacks increased to $20.8 million in financial services, $14.5 million in the technology sector, and $12.7 million in communications industries.

And, PriceWaterhouseCoopers found that this year is expected to see 42.8 million cyberattacks, roughly 117,339 attacks each day, after cyber-attacks skyrocked in 2014 by 48 percent from 2013.

It’s difficult to prevent cyber-attacks. Your law firm must get involved in prevention; developing good policies and practices to stop an attack once it occurs; practicing mock-breaches with your employees; and creating a public relations plan for your clients in the event your firm falls victim.

The threat may still seem like fiction for your firm, but it is already fact for others.

Try your best to avoid cyber-attacks by attending The Center for Competitive Management’s comprehensive webinar, “Mitigating a Data Breach: Proactively Planning For and Responding To a Cyber Attack,” Thursday, February 26, 2015, from 2PM to 3:15PM EST.

It explores real world data breach scenarios, practical tips for how to proactively plan and respond to a breach, discussion of regulatory enforcement activity and practical advice on:

  • Proactive measures to ensure that you (and your clients) are ready in the event that a data breach occurs
  • The kind of incident response plan that should be in place after a breach
  • What to include in the plan and how to execute it
  • How to apply the right blend of legal and IT responsibilities
  • Appropriate breach reporting to state attorneys general, insurance carriers, customers, etc.
  • The type of crisis experts you must have on file before a breach occurs
  • Best practices for company response to lawsuits and investigations that often follow a breach
  • Brief overview of a laws and regulations applicable to personally identifiable information – GLBA, HIPAA, State Laws on information security.

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Throw-back Thursday: Sumerian Syria & Serious Uses For Excel (For Lawyers)

How about another throw-back Thursday history lesson (and then some law). It’s about Syria—but long before the country was known for ISIS, it was valued for ideas.

Today, two days after news came out that ISIS had burned a captive Jordanian pilot to death, the small Middle Eastern nation hit back big. Jordanian fighter jets flew over the home of the slain 27-year-old pilot, Lt. Moath al-Kasasbeh, in the village of Ay in Karak governorate after participating in air strikes over ISIS’ de facto capital of Raqqa in Syria.

Government spokesman Mohammed al-Momani told CNNThursday that Jordan’s response to the killing “will be strong and will be decisive.”

“We will not let this crime of killing our pilots with the horrific way it was done pass without punishment,” al-Momani said to CNN. “These people will be punished.”

As of today, the government certainly lived up to that promise.

If we go back in time, however, we can look to a small city—Mari—located on the border of Iraq and Syria, not far from Jordan, where civilizations used to come together, rather than clash.

Mari (modern-day Tell Hariri, Syria) was an ancient Semitic city located on the Euphrates river western bank. Thousands of years ago it flourished as a trade center and hegemonic state from 2900 BC until 1759 BC. The city was built expressly for the purpose of trade, based on its relative position in the middle of the Euphrates trade routes—a position that made it an intermediary between Sumer in the south and the Levant in the west.

Sumer is a civilization that existed slightly before that of Ancient Egypt and located in southern Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq). By the late fourth millennium B.C., Sumer (or Ki-en-gir, ‘Land of the Sumerian tongue’) was divided into approximately a dozen city-states which were independent of one another and which used local canals and boundary stones to mark their borders, according to historians (read more about Sumer here).

Far before Iraq was coveted for its oil, it was celebrated for its inventions. There are at least four different translations (although they sometimes conflict) on the names of Sumerian rulers and their illustrious lengths of rule. It’s on one such document that an early Sumerian invention is described: the wheel, dating to circa 3500 BC.

You could perhaps claim that Iraq was forever—since as far as Sumer—destined to be a place highly influential in the creation of the car.

Besides the wheel, however, law firm professionals—people, in general—should be thankful for Sumer’s many crucial contributions to modern technology and language. For example, the civilization reminds us even today why there is no point, thousands of years later, in reinventing the wheel (although many people throughout history have tried).

Now, going back to the practice of law, think about how many new computer programs, tablet and mobile apps that organize case matter material, new-fangled software to organize all the details of your case.

Do we need it all?

When it comes to timesheets, timelines, case status updates, “to do” lists, and other casework assignments, Microsoft Excel has become a tried and true tool for lawyers and law firm managers.

And, its many features are available on the iPad, a favorite among attorneys.

Recently, when Microsoft Excel rolled out a bunch of new features for Excel for iPad, we were paying attention. This is a run-down of Excel for iPad’s new design additions (thanks to AccountingWeb):

  • Pivot table functionality. In the first incarnation, pivot tables were literally trapped under glass, meaning you could only scroll the data around on the screen. Now, although the workbook must already contain a pivot table before opening it using the app, you have the capability to expand, collapse, filter, and even refresh pivot tables, as shown in Figure 1.The caveat on refreshing is that the source data must be within the same workbook as the pivot table.
  • Email documents as PDF. Previously, Excel spreadsheets could only be emailed in their native format, but you can now email spreadsheets in PDF form. Figure 2 walks you through the steps.External keyboard support. Using an external keyboard allows you to use the same navigation and data entry techniques that you do in the desktop-based versions of Excel..
  • Flick to select. You’ll quickly wish for this innovative feature in the desktop versions of Excel. Flick a cell’s selection handle in any direction to automatically select all data in that row or column for a contiguous area of the spreadsheet. It’s a huge advance in using Excel on a touch-enabled device.
  • Third-party fonts. You can now access third-party fonts installed on your iPad in the Excel app.
  • Picture tools. Excel for iPad now supports in-app picture editing so your firm can, for example, update its very attractive blog site.

Not yet convinced of Excel’s application to your law practice? Here‘s a detailed account of how lawyers can use Excel.

Lawyers can use Excel to track (1) timesheets; (2) timelines; (3) case status updates; (4) casework assignments; and (5) financial reporting. These uses, and more, can be easily configured to sync with e-mail in Outlook and all your mobile devices (like the iPad, see above). More than that, Excel is a tried-and-true program that has been used for centuries decades throughout history to save time and money.

Instead of the ghastly air strikes, remember the history of Syria for Sumer. And, don’t reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to (also, don’t add unnecessary conflict in your professional life over it, either).

Learn more about how your law firm can use Excel with The Center For Competitive Management (C4CM)’s guides and webinars:

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