Rumpelstiltskin! What is the darn password again!

Believe it or not, the most common password is the word password. Before feeling smug about that unique password you created, think about how many sites where you have used it. Fess up; you are not alone. The aggravation of forgetting a password has led many people to use one password everywhere. The danger is that if a hacker comes upon your password and a list of your accounts, the hacker can try to enter these other accounts with the password already known. How could this happen? I will share my own experience about when my personal gmail account was hacked.

I must fess up: I used one password on all non-financial related sites. The Gmail Hacker got into my gmail account, looked around in my in box and pulled up my Facebook account email. How did I find out? The Gmail Hacker began getting emails sent to my gmail address. Discovering what had happened, I changed my gmail password to a unique strong password then tried to deal with Facebook. I contacted Facebook to report I had been hacked and wanted to insure that the Gmail Hacker would be shut down out of my Facebook account. I also changed my Facebook password to be another unique strong password. To my aggravation, I periodically get emails from Facebook addressed to the Gmail Hacker asking to return to Facebook. I delete these emails, uttering a curse upon Facebook for ignoring my report of being hacked by this person(s). My hacker did not go by the name Gmail Hacker but I do not want to add to his/her hacking ego by repeating it.

So lesson learned. Use a strong password, strong because it’s length and complexity render it difficult to breech. Many sites now have a password strength meter to check how strong this password choice is compared to safety guidelines. Current security standards show that a safe password should be a minimum 16 characters long made up of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. Your safest course of action is to use a password generator otherwise human nature resorts to a pattern that a hacker could figure out. Randomness and unpredictability are qualities that will keep your password safe(r).

Jotting your list of passwords on a post it and and sticking it on your computer monitor is not a good practice at the office or even at home. There are a number of good password keeper programs or apps that are very helpful. Be sure to create a long, complex, random and unique password to access your password keeper. Google password keeper and you’ll see there are password keeper apps for iPhones, iPads, android devices, web-based, or downloadable to your laptop or desktop. Some you might want to check out include Password Keeper (www.password-keeper.net), KeePass Password Safe (www.keepass.info.com), RoboForm (www.roboform.com), LastPass (www.lastpass.com) and eWallet (www.illiumsoftware.com/eWallet/). Whichever password keeper you use, keep it safe with its own unique password.  Now get busy changing all those unsafe passwords!

Where are your go to resources?

What is the best trust accounting software I should adopt for my firm?
When should I run a conflicts search?
How long I should keep closed client files – if my client has a copy already?
Where should I open my office to get more business?
Which networking events may be helpful to me as a new attorney?
Who can help me figure out what I need to do to open my own office?

These are all questions that get asked over and over by lawyers. The big question behind all of them is one: where are your go to resources? Today, I’d like to tell you about where you can find a variety of valuable of go to resources.

Ask a Practice Management Advisor
I work for the Oregon State Bar Professional Liability Fund as a practice management advisor. If you are an Oregon lawyer or member of an Oregon lawyer’s firm, then you know the PLF is the mandatory malpractice insurance carrier for the basic coverage required of Oregon lawyers in private practice. If you are not an Oregon attorney, you may have a practice management advisor associated with your state bar association. To see a list of practice management advisors in North American, see here ABA Law Practice Management Section Practice Management Advisors/State & Local Bar Outreach Committee. Call your practice management advisor! We are a resource to getting you the answers to your questions.

Practice Aids & Forms
What you may not realize is that the PLF has a huge variety of free practice aids and forms that can be downloaded from www.osbplf.org. See Loss Prevention on the menu and select the last item, practice aids and forms. Download all of them in Word or WordPerfect and you can customize them. You find a variety of checklists to help you to tackle various substantive practice areas – adoptions to workers’ compensation– plus topics that cut across all practice areas like conflicts of interest, calendaring and docketing, engagement, nonengagement, disengagement, file management, opening your law office, closing your law office, trust accounting, and technology. Lawyers are surprised by the number of practice aids and forms that are available.

Publications
You want to open your own law office? The PLF has free guides which you can download in PDF format from the PLF website, on the menu under Loss Prevention, select Books from the PLF: A Guide to Setting Up & Running Your Law Office, A Guide to Setting Up & Managing Your Lawyer Trust Account, Planning Ahead: A Guide to Protecting Your Clients’ Interests in the Event of Your Disability or Death, and Oregon Statutory Time Limitations Handbook.

Books from the OSB: BarBooks is a resource you simply must take advantage of because you are entitled to free access to excellent books specific to your desired practice area, such as the helpful five volume Advising Oregon Businesses. If you want to look at what publications the OSB offers, see the Legal Publications Catalog. Don’t overlook valuable publications that are associated with CLEs.

CLE Seminars
You want to learn about practicing in different areas?
CLEs from the PLF:You can find CLEs geared to avoiding malpractice traps in family law or how to set up a conflict system or handling your trust account or improving your understanding of financial considerations about managing your law office plus a great variety of other practice management at the PLF. See PLF website then on menu under Loss Prevention select CLE to review on-demand programs, access programs available on DVD of a CLE you might have missed and download the CLE’s handouts, or learn about an upcoming in-person CLE.

CLEs from the OSB:You can find CLEs specific to your desired practice area plus other CLEs – find out what CLEs are available in a variety of formats, QuickCalls, CLE On Demand learn about upcoming live seminars you can attend in person or by webinar by accessing the OSB CLE and Seminars catalog at OSBCLE.org.

CLEs from the Oregon Law Institute (OLI):You can find CLE offerings that fit your needs at OLI. Don’t overlook the OLI resources, whether in person seminars, webinars, MP3 courses, or review their product catalog.

American Bar Law Practice Management Section CLEs: The LPM Section offers CLEs produced by the American Law Institute (ALI). You do not have to be a member of the ABA LPM Section, though you may want to join. See information about the LPM CLEs here.

Has It Become Too Late Too Soon?

Happy New Year!

I was joking with my husband about running out of time to get something done before it was too late: “I hate when it’s too late too soon!”  Maybe I’m on to something here.  Running out of time may have been part of 2011. Maybe it has even crept into 2012. Well, luckily, goals are something we set for ourselves and often achieve with great enthusiasm. Other goals we hit a couple of times and then miss a couple of times and give up, discouraged. You may be confusing goals with resolutions because ’tis the season to be confused about setting goals in the new year when we likely are expressing our resolutions. Goals are measurable – “My goal is to lose ten pounds.” Resolutions are for our continuous effort, “My resolution is to eat healthier. ”  For more on Resolutions, see Rod Ibrahimi’s January 2, 2012 post on Lifehacker, “The Science Behind New Year’s Resolutions (And How to Use it to Achieve Yours!)” and to get more clarity around the difference between goals and resolutions, I like David Galloway’s December 31, 2011 post on Lifehacker, “Differentiate Between Goals and Resolutions to Aid in Personal Achievement.”

Now, has it become “too late too soon?” It is the start of a new year. Make it your resolution to learn better strategies for managing your time.

Here are some of my favorites.

1. MindTools. You can do some serious self-improvement on this website! Here is the link to their excellent Time Management Toolkit. I recommend you take the Time Management Quiz to understand what can best help you. Time to get honest.

2. Pomodoro Technique. If you struggle somedays with wasting more time avoiding doing something than the something would take, you may be having some anxiety about getting it done. You think?! Time management gurus advise breaking tasks down into smaller chunks. Very helpful. What the Pomodoro Technique can do is take it one step further, a timer that ‘tells’ you it is time to work in a sustained fashion for just 25 minutes. You are ‘supposed’ to put a checkmark on a piece of paper. I have an iPhone App that tracks my completed pomodoros. Forget the paper – just more clutter on my desk! Then ‘tells’ you it is time to take a break for 5 minutes. After a set of four pomodoros, you take a longer break. Simple. Now try to stick with it. It certainly is a tool for tackling that tough one that you shuffle off to the side of your desk. Try it. It may work. Carol Wilson was Oregon’s first Practice Management Advisor. She used to kindly advise breaking down tasks into small increments. I don’t know if she was a fan of the Pomodoro Technique. But the principle is the same: break it into doable portions. Eat the elephant one bite at a time.

3. Getting Things Done! David Allen.  He has quite a following. A favorite place to begin with the idea is to take the Getting Things Done Quiz which is called,  GTD>Q  and available free. More good assessment. There is a  G T D® Starter Kit that may interest you if you want to leap into the program with both feet, complete with CDs and exercises and other content for $79.98. But I would cautions some of you to be careful to not avoid tackling something that needs tackling by getting focused on doing the G T D® Starter Kit instead of just working on one piece of what needs to be done. You know who you are!

 

4. Get some personal one-on-one or group coaching. Those of you reading this in Oregon can contact the Oregon Attorney Assistance Office and ask Meloney Crawford to include you in her, Getting It Done 2012 program.  Don’t procrastinate now, as it starts the second week of January. And you can even attend by online method. What I really appreciate about Meloney is that she doesn’t believe in one-size-fits-all. She will share a number of tools to help you dig in or dig out!

Well, these are my four. What are yours?

Happy resolutions to you!

 

®

Gifts Aplenty

Here in Oregon, new lawyers are beginning their professional life working with their new mentors according to the desired goals of Oregon’s New Lawyer Mentor Program. I have seen many of these new lawyers who are seeking help with launching their own law practice. Likely this is a situation being repeated in many states as more law school graduates take and pass their state but don’t find a position with a law firm or government agency or in-house counsel.

My advice to these new lawyers  is to get more mentors to work with. There is no “One-Size-Fits-All” mentor. But there are talented lawyers who are experts at closing statements, drafting clear contracts and compelling motions. Others have mastered the fine art of working the room at a networking event or meeting with a prospective client. Still others are excellent at numbers and managing law firm financials so that clients are served at the most reasonable rate at a reasonable profit to the firm.

Where to find these potential mentors? Begin asking other lawyers and judges and judicial clerks to name the five best family law attorneys or civil litigators or criminal defense lawyers or estate planning attorneys. Watch these recommended lawyers in court. Then begin deciding who you think you’d like to learn from. You will be surprised how often these lawyers will be willing to give you tips. I haven’t heard of any of them turn down meeting with a new lawyer. Part of being good at your game is being dedicated to the profession. Realizing that, it is easy to see that you are just as important to these lawyers as they are to you.  Consider them your team of mentors and begin getting gifts aplenty.

Most Important Checklist: Security of Your Gizmos and Gadgets

Here at the PLF we are fond of checklists as a tool for loss prevention. Busy lawyers and their staff will find lots of checklists among the 41 different categories of practice aids and forms. http://www.osbpf.org.

Here is an important checklist you may not have written down.
1. Check that your cell phone – especially Smart Phone– has a password to access it and use it.

2. Check that you have a remote device tracking and data-wipe application installed for your phone and your laptop.

3. Check that your laptop has a secure WiFi if using public WiFi spots.

4. Check that your password is a “strong” password and change it often and different variations for different locations.

5. Check that your cell phone is still on your hip, that your laptop is safely in its bag in your immediate control, and that all those gizmo and gadgets are all tucked away safely where you want them to be.”

Client confidentiality is helped with a checklist for the security of your electronic gizmos and gadgets.

An Untimely Death – Preventable

Do you realize how many times suicide is the cause of the “untimely death” of many lawyers? It is preventable. It is unpleasant and scary to admit there is a concern.

Here are some signs of impairment that can help alert you that someone you know may be at risk.

• Not returning phone calls to clients and opposing counsel.
• Not available when clients or opposing counsel attempt to reach lawyer at the office.
• The voicemail has a message that says it is full.
• The lawyer doesn’t follow through in delivering work product, answers, or return calls as promised.
• Contact with the lawyer leaves impression of distractibility, difficulty tracking conversation, or other indications of cognitive difficulty such as slurred or halting speech.
• Lawyer may be abusing alcohol or drugs and now exhibits disheveled appearance or poor personal hygiene, alcohol on breath or exuded from pores.
• Lawyer’s behavior has changed dramatically. Edginess, agitation, hair-trigger angry outbursts are often dismissed as “just having a bad time lately.”
• The lawyer seems to disappear for periods of time that is unexplained.
• The lawyer has missed deadlines and court appearances.
• The lawyer’s personal finances are in bad shape: loans and credit cards and other accounts in collections and is dodging evictions.
• The lawyer, if working for a firm, is in trouble for chronic absenteeism or “flakiness” or has recently been fired or subject to an abrupt “mutual parting of the ways.”
• The lawyer has recently moved to an executive office suite or virtual office but is never there when you check with the receptionist.
• There may be multiple “attempted delivery” tags taped to the door or a pile of mail can be seen through the mail slot in the door.
• The lawyer doesn’t come to the door though you can hear sounds of someone in the office.
• The lawyer begins to vanish or self isolate a few months before he or she finally commits suicide.
Resources:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
ABA Commission of Lawyers Assistance Programs (CoLAP)
Directory of State Lawyer Assistance Programs
For further information, I highly recommend you download and listen to the following provided as a free service to ABA members. What Lawyers Need to Know About Suicide During a Recession: Prevention, Identity and Law Firm Responsibility (Free MP3 Audio Download)Co-sponsored by the ABA Commission of Lawyer Assistance Programs.

New Amendments to Oregon Rules of Professional Conduct

Just learned that the Oregon Supreme Court approved changes to Oregon RPC 1.5 and 1.15-1 regarding earned on receipt fees and RPC 3.3 relating to a lawyer’s responsibilities when a client or witness offers false evidence.

Let me say that “Earned on Receipt” fees have been troubling legal fees because many lawyers want to designate them as “Nonrefundable.” If you didn’t do the work bargained for, then to hang onto the fee would be collecting a ‘clearly excessive fee,” putting you in violation of Rule 1.5. Now the rule has been amended and if you charge earned on receipt fees you will want to review this amendment so that you can comply:
Rule 1.5 Fees

“…(c) A lawyer shall not enter into an arrangement for, charge or collect:
(1) any fee in a domestic relations matter, the payment or amount of which is contingent upon the securing of a divorce or upon the amount of spousal or child support or a property settlement;
(2) a contingent fee for representing a defendant in a criminal case;
(3) a fee denominated as “earned on receipt,” “nonrefundable” or in similar terms unless it is pursuant to a written agreement signed by the client which explains that:
(i) the funds will not be deposited into the lawyer trust account, and
(ii) the client may discharge the lawyer at any time and in that event may be entitled to a refund of all or part of the fee if the services for which the fee was paid are not completed.”

Make certain that you following the guidelines and have a written agreement signed by your client that properly explains this type of fee arrangement. Be prudent: use the actual language of the rule in your written agreement.

Rule 1.15-1 Safekeeping Property
“…(c) A lawyer shall deposit into a lawyer trust account legal fees and expenses that have been paid in advance, to be withdrawn by the lawyer only as fees are earned or expenses incurred, unless the fee is denominated as “earned on receipt,” “nonrefundable” or similar terms and complies with Rule 1.5(c) (3).

Make certain that you put fees that are designated “earned on receipt,” or “nonrefundanble” or other similar terms into your general account – not into your trust account.

Rule 3.3 Candor Toward the Tribunal
“(a) A lawyer shall not knowingly:
(1) make a false statement of fact or law to a tribunal or fail to correct a false statement of material fact or law previously made to the tribunal by the lawyer;
(2) fail to disclose to the tribunal legal authority in the controlling jurisdiction known to the lawyer to be directly adverse to the position of the client and not disclosed by opposing counsel;
(3) offer evidence that the lawyer knows to be false. If a lawyer, the lawyer’s client, or a witness called by the lawyer, has offered material evidence and the lawyer comes to know of its falsity, the lawyer shall take reasonable remedial measures, including if [necessary] permitted, disclosure to the tribunal. A lawyer may refuse to offer evidence, other than the testimony of a defendant in a criminal matter, that the lawyer reasonably believes is false;
(4) conceal or fail to disclose to a tribunal that which the lawyer is required by law to reveal; or
(5) engage in other illegal conduct or conduct contrary to these Rules.
(b) A lawyer who represents a client in an adjudicative proceeding and who knows that a person intends to engage, is engaging or has engaged in criminal or fraudulent conduct related to the proceeding shall take reasonable remedial measures, including, if [ necessary ] permitted, disclosure to the tribunal.
(c) The duties stated in paragraphs (a) and (b) continue to the conclusion of the proceeding, [unless compliance ] but in no event require[s] disclosure of information otherwise protected by Rule 1.6.
(d) In an ex parte proceeding, a lawyer shall inform the tribunal of all material facts known to the lawyer that will enable the tribunal to make an informed decision, whether or not the facts are adverse. “

Be careful when reading the Rules. When in doubt, be sure to call the Oregon State Bar General Counsel, Helen Hierschbiel for help with interpreting the application of our Rules to your situation and for any ethics advice at extension # 361 at the OSB (503) 620-0222 or toll free in Oregon at 1-(800)-452-8260. If you can’t reach Helen, you can call Chris Mullmann, Assistant General General Counsel and Client Assistance Officer Manager at extension # 392.

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