Category Archives: Practice Tips

ABA Techshow 2010 – Roundup of Paperless Office Sessions

I’ll be presenting my thoughts on ABA Techshow 2010 to my CBA Law Practice Management and Technology committee on April 9, 2010 along with our other members who also attended Techshow, but I wanted to also post some of them here. I spent Day 1 in the “Paperless Practice” track, and most were really good sessions. I learned a lot about how better to implement a system for using less paper in my practice. I’ll certainly look into some of the tech and software recommendations.

    Scanning and Paper Reduction in the Law Office 101

The first session, with speakers Nancy Duhon and Michael Morse, was a great introduction to how to implement a paperless system in a real law practice. Michael has a thriving PI practice in Michigan, and his firm does not accept paper copies of accident reports, medical records, etc., if they can help it. Those they have to accept are scanned and shredded, or in certain cases the originals are returned to the client. Lots of good tips and tricks came from this session. You need a good way to get paper into your system, a good backup system, and a good way to get what you need back out of the system.

    Document Management Software: The Electronic File Butler

This was the weakest session for me, but not due to the speakers. Steve Best and Richard Serpe did a great job keeping our interest, but I thought the topic could have been condensed down to about 6 minutes. Yes – “DMS software really works to help you search, and you need to force compliance with using it.” Enough said. One great thing about Techshow is the openness of the speakers and the exhibitors – I met the President of Worldox, Ray Zweifelhofer, at a reception and we had a nice chat about his company’s software. I know it’s a popular package, and with good people like that at the helm it’s bound to stay popular.

    Digital Workflow – Developing the Paperless Habit

This was easily the best session of the track. Nerino Petro and Ernie Svenson (Ernie the Attorney) did a fantastic job expanding on the insights from the first session with more practical tips and real-life examples. I forgot which one of them said it, but I still remember the line “Friends don’t let friends print emails.” If it’s digital, keep it digital. If it’s not digital, get it digital and get rid of the paper. I’ve gotten to know Nerino over the years attending Techshow, and his sessions are always interesting and informative. Ernie is also quite down to earth and a very good speaker. If you don’t already follow his separate “PDF For Lawyers” blog, I strongly suggest you subscribe.

    Paperless Law Office Library: Research and Forms

Donna Neff and Paul Unger finished the day with another strong session. Good tips on creating and storing usable forms and research libraries were shared. Donna has developed a system for the storage of electronic files without the use of a document management software package that was introduced in this session but expanded on in another session on Friday. With a good system in place to scan incoming paper, and a way to get what you need out of the system again, a lawyer has little need to keep lots of paper.

I always enjoy Techshow, which is why I’ve gone more years than not since 2006. I think last year (2009) was the only year since then I haven’t gone through the CLE sessions. I am looking forward to Techshow 2011!

Practice Tip: Use Truecrypt to secure portable media

Imagine you need to take a file with sensitive data on it with you on a trip, but the only method you have available is a small USB thumb drive. You get to your destination only to discover the drive fell out of your pocket somewhere along the way. What a disaster, the hardest for me would be having to explain to those affected by the data breach what happened to their data.

So, what’s the solution? Use Truecrypt to secure the drive. You can take a blank drive with no data on it, add the Truecrypt Traveller Disk software, and then create a “container” to hold the data which is encrypted. The idea is that the container should fill the rest of the drive. The Truecrypt software can very easily be set up to run from the USB drive on any Windows computer you attach it to (the only caveat is you have to be in administrator mode) and allow you to mount the drive. You only need to enter your password when mounting the drive – once attached, it works like any other drive, it selects the next available drive letter to use.

I think it works great, it’s a very elegant solution to the problem. The software is open source, and supports multiple encryption formats if you want to get arcane, but the defaults are plenty strong so long as you use a good long password with letters and numbers and symbols.