Two words you need to use more often.

Allow me to reintroduce you to two of the most powerful words in your vocabulary: http://www.dreamstime.com/-image16386463

No & Help

These two words can dramatically impact the success of your career, business and quality of life. First try to ignore your brain’s initial perception of the words themselves.

Repeat after me “No is not a dirty word.” Early in my career the CEO and founder of the technology firm where I worked said this to me on our elevator ride out of the building one day. He had entered the elevator, calm, cheerful and ready to take on the weekend. While I was buried in my email, phone buzzing away all while I fished for my keys so I could go and pick up equipment we needed for a weekend project. He explained that sometimes it is better to say no, than to take on something that doesn’t quite fit into your wheelhouse, overload your schedule or step outside of your delivery comfort zone. Even if it’s for an important client. What’s more important to the business and what drives a higher quality of life is focus and execution. As we walked through the building doors, he looks over and says “Say it.” I reluctantly repeated “No is not a dirty word” pausing for a second to really think about it. He smiled, and walked away wishing me a good weekend.

When I got into my car, I began to think about my week. How many of the meetings, projects and tasks could have been more appropriately scheduled, delegated or just plain denied? What other work, business development or client satisfaction goals could have been met with just a little more bandwidth to focus?

It is normal to feel compelled to help with nearly everything co-workers or clients ask for. Realizing that it’s not expected, and sharing honest reasons for saying no is a completely normal course of action. But overburdening yourself, wearing your team too thin, and not making time to concentrate of the basic needs of your business is a recipe for disaster. So, one more time, please repeat after me “No is not a dirty word.”  Look at your schedule today, this week, or upcoming month. Are there projects, meetings or looming deadlines hanging over your head? Maybe some are there because we couldn’t say no? It’s ok, here’s where the second part of our lesson comes in.

Help. A word that we associate with situations that include fire, drowning victims, generally horrible and scary circumstances. In actuality help is a word we should be using on nearly a daily basis. None of us truly understand the power of the human condition, or expanse of our own network until we use this word.

Help isn’t just for emergencies, it’s for collaboration, cooperation, evolution and adaptation. Why bang your head against the wall trying to solve a problem for days, while you relay empty excuses to the client or awaiting parties? Just ask for help. Smoke signal, Facebook, Linked In, Google, You Tube, text, call, email whatever way you feel comfortable reaching out, just do it. Sitting around waiting for a miracle to fall from the sky isn’t going to make it happen. Worse, sitting alone stewing about a problem, wallowing in your own self-doubt, pity or projects only compounds your feelings of despair and desperation. Being a business owner, independent professional or working in an environment where you are isolated a majority of the time makes it easy to get lost in work, forgetting how many wonderful people there are in this world that would be happy to help you. All you have to do is ask.

Asking for help expands your base of knowledge, strengthens existing skills, educates us about new tools and gives us a chance to connect with people. You just have to know where to look and say “Could someone please help me with this? Anyone have any thoughts? I am looking for a mentor to help guide me through my first case. Nearly every single Bar Association or Professional Group has a mentor program, list serve, maybe even a library of help videos. Your LinkedIn network, You Tube Videos, Alumni committee these are just a few of the places you can turn to for easy, accessible and most likely free help.

What’s in it for the other person? How honored would you be if a young attorney called you late in your career? Your practice is winding down, working your way toward retirement when you get a message from a recent Bar graduate looking for a mentor. Ecstatic! A chance to share your experience with someone who’s just getting started offers a fun and engaging way to break up your week. Even better, you’re growing your practice and you hear from an ambitious young attorney that needs a partner firm to help with a case that’s outside of their practice area! Let the conversation begin.

I am always impressed, but never surprised by the outpouring of support and help I see between attorneys and their staff on list serves. Such simple technology, yet so powerful. The ABA’s Solo Sez list serve is probably the most popular free resource… more like lifeline for attorneys everywhere. Post your question, situation or concern and within hours I guarantee you’ll have more responses, suggestions and offers to chat than you’ll know what to do with.

In conclusion: None of us have all of the answers, nor can we be experts at everything. So as we embark into the New Year make a commitment to yourself to use a lot more no and open yourself up to opportunities to grow by asking for help. Your life will be less stressful, creating room to grow and learn. Most importantly you’ll earn the respect of others through being honest about taking on work, or reaching out to ask for help. It’s a good thing.

 

Thank you for sharing your day with us!

Have a no or help story to share? I’d love to hear it! Feel free to post below, or share it with me on Twitter @ChelseyLambert.

How To…Integrate the New Timeslips With QuickBooks

Several years ago, Timeslips introduced a direct link between Timeslips and QuickBooks. Clients and consultants found the link less than ideal and were able to work with Sage to re-write the link from the bottom up. Today, firms have a single point of data entry for accounting information when receiving payments, allocating fees and expenses, and tracking client funds. Terry Rosenthal demonstrated the new link and provide instruction for configuration and use.

Watch the archived session, watch the quick demonstration, and see Terry’s response to a few audience questions:

  1. Does this integration link work with Timeslips 2012?

No.  The new link only functions with Timeslips 2014.  The required version of QuickBooks is QuickBooks Pro 2011 or higher.

  1. Is there a mobile app?

Sage Timeslips eCenter is a mobile site that is optimized for tablets and smartphones.  Users can enter their time using the eCenter; all time is then downloaded into Timeslips by the system administrator.  At this point, this is the product to be used for tablet and smartphone time and expense entry.  There is not yet an “app” to manage the entire billing process.

  1. Does Timeslips have any plans for a cloud based system?

Sage Timeslips has not disclosed any plans for rolling out a cloud based ASP model product.

Learning, Food, Prizes: CBA Law Practice Management & Technology Expo

Come by the CBA on Wednesday, May 8, 2013, between 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. to catch up on the latest in law practice management and technology services that can benefit your law practice, including CBA Member Benefit providers, plus participate in free CLE, see product demos, and enjoy food and prizes!
Expo Hall from 10am – 3pm

From 10-3 visit with national and local law practice management, business services, and technology companies in the Law Practice Management & Technology Expo. See more and find out who is coming in the Expo Guide.

Door prizes will include: $100 American Express Gift Card, compliments of Practical Law Company, LLC; iPad Mini, compliments of LexisNexis Firm Manager; Four $25 Starbucks Gift Cards, compliments of LexisNexis Firm Manager; Two Lawyer Career Manuals: (1) Direct Examination, a workbook for lawyer career satisfaction and (2) Ask the Career Counselors, answers for lawyers on their lives and life’s work, compliments of Under Advisement; Software package including WordPerfect Office X6, Perfect Authority and PDF Fusion, compliments of Corel; 12 months free subscription to Smokeball, compliments of Smokeball; Kindle, compliments of AAA; and more!

Complimentary lunch and snacks will be available in the Expo Hall.
Complimentary CLE from 11am-12pm and 1pm-2pm

Join us for complimentary CLE presentations at 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. sponsored by LexisNexis Firm Manager and Practical Law Company.
11am – 12pm – Moneyball for Lawyers: Using Data to Make Your Firm Competitive

Long gone are the days of an “if you build it, they will come” law practice. Today’s potential clients are not only savvier about what specific legal services they need, they’re willing to shop around to ensure they’re getting the biggest bang for the buck. Running a competitive firm these days takes management and marketing skills, sure, but it also takes something many lawyers don’t think of: data analysis. Just as the Oakland A’s used player stats to build a winning team in the hit movie Moneyball, so can lawyers take their firm to new levels with inside data. This webinar will teach you how to look at your firm’s stat sheet in a whole new light—and how to use that information to make sound business decisions. Register Now!

Speaker: Christopher Anderson, LexisNexis Firm Manager
1pm –2pm – This Just In: Keeping Up With Developments in Your Practice Area

Keeping up with cases, codes, regs and news that affects and informs your ability to competently represent your clients can be a daunting task. Come learn about resources and strategies to get “just in time” information and harness it in your law practice. Free and fee-based services provide a focused stream of real-time information that can be accessed via the web and mobile platforms. From do-it-yourself RSS feeds to professionally edited, curated and produced content portals there are ways to maximize your efforts and minimize time when keeping up with current developments. Register Now!

Speakers: Ryan Allen, PLC and Catherine Sanders Reach, Director CBA Law Practice Management & Technology
Product Demonstrations at 9:00am, 9:30am, and 3:00pm

Product demonstrations in Charter Hall (first floor) directly before and after the Expo Hours will give you a chance to sit down and get a focused look at some new and favorite technologies. Come watch and learn more about:

3:00pm- Avvo Ignite Suite marketing platform
9:00am – Corel WordPerfect Office software
9:30am – Smokeball Office document management and assembly

This is but a taste of the festivities during CBA Member Appreciation Week. Check out the full week of festivities and please join us!

Document Assembly for Real Lawyers

“You’ve heard it from just about anywhere technology advice gets spread: Document assembly systems save time, boost productivity, reduce errors—and all while helping to eliminate reinventing the wheel when drafting documents. Sounds fabulous. But are real-life lawyers actually adopting document assembly in their practices? For insights into that—and, better still, tips on how to get the benefits without taking a wallop to the wallet—here’s the scoop from some folks in the know.”

This article  in Attorney at Work, featuring interviews with Jim Calloway and Catherine Sanders Reach, outlines the current state of document assembly software and usage in law firms.

Interested in learning more about document assembly? See the archive of the CBA  CLE “Smarter, Better, Faster, Document Assembly”  and check out the free How To… Automate Functions in MS Word and How to… Control Formatting with MS Word Styles and Templates.

Practice Management Tips and Tricks

Law practice management and technology tips are a great way to get quick shots of information you can use immediately – or tuck away for when you need them. In January I presented a CLE for the CBA on “Tips for the New Year”. Did you miss it? Watch the archived webcast and download the materials for some ideas to keep moving forward this year.

The provenance of the “tips” format may be disputed, but ABA TECHSHOW provides some of the best of the best for lawyers in the form of 60 Sites in 60 Minutes and 60 Tips in 60 Minutes. For a taste of ABA TECHSHOW tips check out this wrap-up of  2012 60 Sites in 60 Minutes. Interested in going to ABA TECHSHOW? The Chicago Bar Association is putting together a SuperPass group for the absolute best rate until March 9 or take advantage of discounts through the Event Promoter registration.

Can’t wait? The March/April issue of Law Practice Magazine is the ABA TECHSHOW issue and the cover story is “13 Tech Tips for 2013″ including tips from past and current speakers – including me! Read the article for some instant gratification.

Chief Judge Evans Revises Mobile Computing Ban in Cook County Courts

General Administrative Order No. 2013-01 Revises and Supersedes General Administrative Order No. 2012-8

On December 12, 2012 General Administrative Order No. 2012-8 was released, declaring a ban against mobile computing and telecommunication devices for all Cook County courthouses except the Daley Center to begin on Monday, January 14, 2013.    A list of exempt persons was identified, including licensed attorneys, who would be permitted to bring the devices into the court. However, unless ordered by the trial judge presiding, these devices would only be allowable in public areas of the courtrooms, outside of the courtrooms.  This was troubling to some lawyers who use mobile computing devices in the courtroom to check calendars, read advance sheets, access legal research, and communicate with their offices.  Some domestic violence groups were also worried about a “chilling effect” on access to justice due to the ban.

Today Chief Judge Evans released a revised order,  General Administrative Order No. 2013-01 .  Revisions to the order include changing the language regarding exempted persons from the prohibition

from:

“The persons described above in section 2(a-h) may use the telephone, SMS (short message service) texting, instant messaging, email, and word processing functions of a cell phone or other electronic device only in the public areas of the courthouse outside the courtrooms, unless otherwise ordered by the trial judge presiding.”

to:

“The persons described above in section 2(a-o) may use the telephone, SMS (short message service) texting, instant messaging, email, and word processing functions of a cell phone or other electronic device only in the public areas of the courthouse outside the courtrooms, and said electronic devices must remain off when in courtrooms, unless otherwise expressly permitted by the judge presiding.

This amended statement is followed by new language:

“Nothing in this order should be construed to affect a judge’s authority to permit attorneys and pro se litigants with cases before the judge to use such devices in the courtroom for purposes such as making evidentiary and other presentations to the court, preparing orders and other court documents, making entries in a case management applications, or any other purpose the judge deems appropriate.”

Additional changes expand the list of those exempted from the prohibition to include domestic violence advocates or counselors, persons present to obtain orders of protection, participants in a domestic violence assistance program, and disabled persons whose disabilities necessitate the use of an electronic device to communicate.

The Office of the Chief Judge press release issued by the court notes that there will be a three month grace period after the start of the ban ending on Monday, April 15, 2013. In part it says:

“in an effort to aid those taking public transportation to various courthouses, the Circuit Court of Cook County is assigning a person to work with Cook County’s real estate and facilities department heads to quickly find a solution for storage of said devices – a claim check system or providing locker facilities as examples. During the grace period, if a person cannot leave the device in a car or with a companion outside the courtroom, the device can remain with the person inside the courtroom but in the off position. If a person is identified as powering on the device, the person may be held in contempt of court and possibly face penalties ordered by the judge.”

Action Alert for Lawyers Who Accept Credit Card Payments

Do you take credit cards?  If so please read about the changes to IRS verification requirements effective January 2013!

From Lawyer’s Trust Fund of Illinois:

Significant penalties in 2013 if credit account information doesn’t match

If you accept credit card payments, you may be impacted by IRS verification requirements that may impact you and your practice in 2013.

Under federal law, credit card processing companies are required to verify information regarding each merchant accepting credit card payments. For the purposes of this requirement, a lawyer or law firm that accepts credit card payments is considered a “merchant.”

The credit card processors must verify and match each merchant’s federal tax identification number and legal name with those found on file with the Internal Revenue Service.  An EXACT match is required.

There are serious consequences for lawyers if there is NOT an exact match:

  •  Beginning January 2013, the IRS will impose a 28% withholding penalty on all credit card transactions, including those that the lawyer directs to an IOLTA account.
  •  The lawyer may be in violation of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct if client funds that should be in the IOLTA account are withheld by the IRS (and not available to the client on demand) due to the lawyer’s failure to act.

Take action now

If you accept credit card payments, take steps now to avoid IRS penalties and potential rule violations:

  •  Contact the credit card processor to determine that a match occurred. (The credit card processor should have information from the IRS if a mismatch occurred and already have notified the lawyer of the problem. However, it is not known if all processors have provided such notice.)
  •  Correct any mismatch if you have been informed of one.

For more information on this issue, see:

Want to learn more about trust accounting rules? Watch the archived program “Trust Accounting: Everything You Need To Know” from the CBA, and check out the New Lawyer Toolkit: Basic Skills and Opening a Law Practice programs (both complimentary for CBA members) which include information about trust accounting, taking credit cards and best practices for billing.

Add-on: SimplyFile for MS Outlook

There are many MS Outlook add-ons that mimic functionality that is already built into the application. Though Techhit’s SimplyFile http://www.techhit.com/SimplyFile/ would seem to fall into that category since MS Outlook has a strong rules function and has added the “Move” group in the Home tab, it is actually amazingly useful despite some overlap. SimplyFile is an “intelligent filing assistant for Microsoft Outlook” and costs $50US.

So, is it worth it? Find out in my new Slaw.ca post “SimplyFile for MS Outlook

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