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Congratulations to the Winner of the ISBA Usability Survey Drawing

Posted on May 10, 2017 by Sara Anderson

Congratulations to Steven Pietrick, who was selected at random to win $250 after filling out our usability survey. We asked members to complete a usability survey, the results of which will help us as we work to redesign the ISBA website. Thank you to the more than 400 members who participated in the survey. 

Best Practice Tips: Law Firm Billing Software – Cloud-Based vs. Desktop

Posted on May 10, 2017 by Sara Anderson

Asked and Answered

By John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Q. I am the managing partner of a 12-attorney firm in Toledo, Ohio. Our firm is evaluating new billing software and we are looking into some of the cloud-based solutions. We are currently using a desktop program that we have been using for 15 years. The program handles our billing as well as our accounting. We have kept up with the updates to the program and the software has worked well for us. Several of our younger attorneys have used a couple of cloud-based billing programs in other firms and are trying to convince the firm to change over to one of these programs. They believe it is easier to enter time sheets and the software is easier to work with. What are your thoughts?

A. I agree that the subscription cloud-based billing programs are easier to learn and use. In part this is due to limited function and capabilities. However, user simplicity is only part of the equation. The bigger question is whether the software will meet your needs. Many of the cloud-based programs were designed for solo practitioners or very small firms with limited reporting requirements. While these programs are getting better and inheriting more features they are still not up to par with the older desktop programs. Limitations include:

Congratulations to the Winner of ISBA's First Instagram Challenge!

Posted on May 10, 2017 by Sara Anderson

Winning #deskieCongratulations to Joy Gossman for winning a set of Marie Kondo's books, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Life-Changing Maging: A Journal, and a Royal 1600mx paper shredder in ISBA's #deskie challenge on Instagram!

On the first day of Member Appreciation Month, we tackled de-cluttering Marie Kondo-style and asked readers to share a photo of their decluttered desks or the item that sparks the most joy.We loved seeing your photos of our tips being put to good use in your offices and what brings our members joy during the workday! 

Don't forget to check out our Membership Appreciation Month site for upcoming promotions.

Membership Appreciation Month Tip: Your Brand, But Better

Posted on May 10, 2017 by Sara Anderson

There's probably no better way to project a polished professional presence than having a good brand. Today we're looking at what that means exactly, and exploring ways to improve yours.

Your Brand Is Your Promise to Your Client. If you Google 'branding' you'll find many different descriptions of what it means. But at the heart of it, your brand is how others see you based on how you present yourself and the characteristics that define you. This is your personal brand.

Your professional brand adds the context of your work to that equation, defining your unique value proposition in the marketplace.

And your firm brand is about the reputation and value proposition of your firm as a whole, not just you (unless you are a solo lawyer).

"Knowing who you are, what you stand for, your professional strengths and what clients can expect when they hire you - as well as being able to communicate this clearly and effectively - will be key to your success both in terms of becoming better known internally (within your law firm) and externally (with your clients)." - The Importance of Personal Branding for Lawyers, Stephanie Solakian Goldstein

A Drone Flies Over Your Backyard – Is That Trespassing?

Posted on May 9, 2017 by Mark S. Mathewson

It's Sunday afternoon and the neighbor kid's drone comes buzzing over your yard, maybe 50 feet overhead. Like any good lawyer you ask yourself, "Is this drone flight violating my airspace?" (If you're a really good lawyer, you refer to "airspace" as "vertical curtilage.")

The short answer is yes, writes Elizabeth Austermuehle in the April ISBA Real Property newsletter. "[I]n the absence of federal or state regulations granting drones the right to fly over private property without the property owner's permission, drones do not have the right to do so," she writes. Though Illinois has passed legislation ordering up a task-force report on drone regulation (due July 2017), state law does not currently regulate drone use.

As for federal law, the FAA has long permitted flights over private property in "navigable airspace," which generally applies to the space 500 feet and higher above ground, Austermuehle writes. But it hasn't had much to say about drones - at least not until June 2016, when the agency "released its first operational rules for routine use of small [unmanned aircraft systems]," she writes. "The rules offer safety regulations for UAS weighing less than 55 pounds conducting non-hobbyist operations. Among other things, the rules require drone operators to keep the drones within their visual line of sight and prohibit flights over unprotected people on the ground who are not directly participating in the UAS operation."

Lawyer Referral Service Makes Over 900 Referrals in April

Posted on May 9, 2017 by Sara Anderson

The Illinois State Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral Service provides referrals to local lawyers Mondays through Fridays.  The Service makes referrals in a number of areas of law.  For the month of April, there were at total of 940 calls.

Membership Appreciation Month Tip: Up Your Out of Office Game

Posted on May 9, 2017 by Sara Anderson

Today's challenge is to create a more thoughtful out-of-office ('OOO') message, also called an automatic email responder, to better serve and delight your clients.

An Easy Way to Extend Your Customer Service. Picture's the end of the day the Friday before your week-long vacation. You're about to shut down your computer when you remember - shoot! - I need to let everyone know I'll be out next week. So you log back into Outlook/Gmail, spend 60 seconds updating your last (generic) OOO message with next week's dates, and 2 minutes later you're out the door.

Sound familiar? If so, you're not alone.

And while just the basics will suffice, it's certainly not taking advantage of the opportunity to create a positive memorable experience for the reader. You've worked hard to develop client relationships and deliver exceptional service while you're in the office. It's time to extend that to your client touches when you're out of the office as well.

The Bare Necessities. A professional OOO message should at minimum cover the following 3 items: