Category Archives: Productivity

Nearly-Paperless Business Cards

At the Pennsylvania Bar Institute’s Ethics Potpourri last week in Pittsburgh, my friend and fellow presenter, Micah Buchdahl, mentioned what he called “bar-code” business cards.  As he explained it, businesses are moving towards these business cards, which include a bar code (for tech-dummies like me), on the back.  The code can be read by most smartphones.

There are several benefits of using business cards that include this technology.  First, it enables you to include far more information than could otherwise be printed (in legible type, anyway), onto a standard-size business cards.  This would be great for social-media users, who may want to include a blog (or two), a website, their Facebook page, and/or their Twitter handle.

Second, by scanning the code with your smartphone, you don’t have to worry about remembering to type the information into your contacts later.  All of the information is saved as soon as the code is scanned and you can toss the card–or, even better, give it back, and the person who gave it to you can save it for the next guy.

As usual, Micah is on the cutting edge of what’s new in legal marketing.  The ABA Journal has an article by Molly McDonough about a firm in Virginia that will be giving lawyers the option of adding a “Quick Response Code” to their business cards.  The article includes links to other pieces on the topic for those who may want to learn more.

Personally, I think it’s a fantastic idea and probably an inevitable step in the right direction.   I wonder if you could have just a dozen or so really great cards printed and laminated and reuse those instead of handing out the paper copies.  I suppose there are uses for both.  To the extent that I can save the trouble of schlepping around business cards–which, by the way, is a far more annoying task for women who wear suits without pockets–I would definitely vote in favor of the paperless (or less paper) option.

[Update:  In the original post, I inadvertently omitted a link to the ABA Journal article:  Biz Cards Go Digital: Firm Adds QR Codes to Business Cards]

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Filed under Misc., Productivity

Social-Media Policies for Law Firms

Social media is everywhere and its ability to produce a negative impact on your law firm is just as great as its ability to generate a positive one. Be sure to educate your employees on the proper use of these powerful tools now instead of doing damage control later.

To read more about social-media policies for law firms, check out my article in Law Practice Today, the webzine of the ABA’s Law Practice Management section.

And, while you’re there, be sure to check out the other great articles in this month’s edition, including Wikis for Knowledge Management by Andrew Russell, and, from the September edition, Planning an Effective Launch Strategy for a Digital Records Policy, by Thomas Ralston, for those of you who may be considering making the move to a digital (i.e., paperless) law practice.

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Filed under For Legal Professionals, Lawyers, Productivity, Social Media

Saving Time and Energy at the Computer

In this month’s edition of Law Practice Today, the monthly webzine of the Law Practice Management of the ABA, is a great article by Dan Pinnington that everyone who regularly spends time seated behind a PC.  The article, The Greatest Hidden Windows and Office Tricks for Lawyers has bunches of helpful tips on how to navigate more quickly through multiple documents, an excellent explanation of keyboard shortcuts, and more helpful tips.   Check it out to learn how to save yourself time and energy all workday long.

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Tips for Effective E-mail Subject Lines

E-mail is evil.  Many attorneys and other professionals feel this way.  E-mail is often used in such an inefficient manner that it creates more work than it helps us complete. And that’s just the creation of e-mail.

What to do with the e-mails that we send and receive is an entirely different war we’re expected to wage. Filing e-mail can seem overwhelming, especially if you don’t have a system in place for managing the monster on an ongoing basis.

One way to keep e-mail under control is with the use of effective subject lines.  The subject line can (and should) be used to inform your reader about the content of the message and make the message easy to later find. Here are some tips for useful subject lines:

Be brief.  Omit extra words.

No explanation needed, right?  Delete every word not vital to the meaning. Be merciless.

Client: Action

Including the case or client name in the subject line is an excellent step in the right direction.  But it’s not the end of the road.  Follow the case or client name with a colon and then the action you’re requesting of the recipient. If you’re providing information but not asking for any action in return, be as specific as possible about the contents of the message.  For example:

Before: Question re: Smith Matter

After: Smith: Deposition Schedule Status?

**    ***    **    ***   **  ***

Before: Tomorrow’s meeting re: Smith case

After: Smith: Meeting postponed 1 week

Don’t settle for leftovers.

When replying to an e-mail, change the subject line to accurately reflect your message.  Don’t settle for the subject line used by the sender (or by earlier senders when the e-mail is part of a string of messages).

If your opposing counsel e-mails you the location for next week’s deposition and you reply with a question about outstanding discovery responses, change the re: line to reflect your message.  Here’s an example:

From opposing counsel: Smith: Deposition on Tuesday

To opposing counsel: Smith: Status of Overdue Discovery?

Consider acronyms.

The ideal e-mail contains no text in the body.  Instead, everything is communicated in the subject line. Think this is impossible?  Consider acronyms.

For example, a subject line that ends with “EOM” tells the reader that there is no text in the message body.  “EOM” stands for “end of message.”  This is the equivalent of a text message (or a “DM” sent via Twitter).

Other useful acronyms include:

NRR: No reply required.  The equivalent of “FYI”—the reader can review the contents of the message and file or delete it.

RR:  Reply requested. The sender wants the reader to answer a question or provide another type of response.  The reader is being requested to answer something.

RRR:  Read, review, and respond. Like the previous acronym but the reader is being requested to do something.  More than a responsive “yes” or “no” is needed.

Follow me on Twitter @MollyDiBi.  Maybe I’ll follow you back, and we can DM and say “pish posh” to e-mail!

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