California Lawyer Magazine Featuring Expert David Mitroff, Ph.D.

David Mitroff, Ph.D. is the featured technology expert in the California Lawyer Magazine March 2014 issue in an article on Law Firms and The Cloud.

 

Press and Media Resources

David Mitroff, Ph.D., the Founder of Oakland based Piedmont Avenue Consulting (www.PiedmontAve.com) is available to speak with the media and press on a wide range of topics.

Members of the media, please contact us at:

510-761-5895
Info@PiedmontAve.com

About David Mitroff, Ph.D. and Law Firm Marketing and Expert Services

David Mitroff, Ph.D. is the Founder and Chief Consultant of Piedmont Avenue Consulting, INC. (www.PiedmontAve.com) based in Oakland, CA. Dr. Mitroff advises clients, including law firms, on leveraging new technology to create brand awareness, strengthen customer loyalty and generate new opportunities through consulting services and workshops. Piedmont Avenue Consulting, INC. is a California State Bar MCLE Provider and approved to grant credit for educational MCLE activities. Learn more about our law firm marketing services and workshops for law firms at www.PiedmontAve.com/law

WHY BUY WHEN YOU CAN RENT?

BY SUSAN KUCHINSKAS

THE BASIC PREMISE OF CLOUD SERVICES – renting Web-based software instead of buying­ means that your firm doesn’t need to pay up front for programs that could soon be obsolete. And it means the vendor takes care of installing upgrades and patches because it is hosting the software on its own servers. Using cloud services also lets lawyers and staffers at your firm work wherever they are , on whatever device they choose, as long as they have an Internet connection.

Such mobility makes cloud services well suited to the way today’s lawyers and their clients do business, says David Mitroff, founder of Piedmont Avenue Consulting in Oakland. “People are out and about, at meetings, working at home. ” Traditional software would require you to connect to your office network to get work done; cloud ser­vices let lawyers share documents and interact with clients more efficiently, he says.

Though the business world’s move into the cloud involves ceding control of applications and possibly the data within them, Mitroff says cloud providers review and update their systems–and encryp­tion and other security measures–more intensively than any firm’s internal staff is likely to. To be entirely confident, Mitroff recommends asking potential vendors whether they’ll track who accesses the data they store and keep their own staff­ers away from it.

Another important criterion for selecting a cloud provider is the location of its servers, says Shannon Brown, an attorney who consults on technology with law firms. “Your data can be stored in multiple locations around the world. If you need to acquire that information, or it’s being subpoenaed, you could run into jurisdictional issues,” says Brown, who is based in Mount Joy, Pennsylvania. So far, there’s no case law concerning the security and control of data stored in the cloud, he notes.

As you move to the cloud, be sure to evaluate your own network as well. If a software provider promises 99.9 per­cent up time, remember that you need an equally reliable network connection to enjoy that rate. And, finally, if you plan for your firm’s lawyers and staffers to access your cloud service on mobile devices (as opposed to laptops or other computers), make sure the service you choose provides good mobile apps for the tablets or smartphones in use at your firm.

To start the transition, Mitroff advises testing the waters with a single cloud ser­vice, one that interacts well with software you already use. Next, make sure the tool fits into your existing business processes. For example, if you have invested a lot of money in a full-featured website, you may want to embed a scheduling service in one of its pages , rather than sign on for one that takes your clients to a third ­ party website to make appointments. Finally, Mitroff says, the product should offer a good user experience: “You spend all this money and set up this huge thing and it works very well, but if no one is using it, why have it?” If the service does work well and your staff and clients use it, then you’re ready to “move more and more to the cloud.”

In 2013, the American Bar Association found in a survey that 30 percent of practitioners used cloud services­ for case management, file sharing, scheduling, reputation management, and more. Here’s a sampling of programs on the market.

Case Management
•    Go Matters offers calendaring, con ­ tact, task, and billing management for multiple users with unlimited document storage; $50 a month for up to three users.
•    MyCase manages cases, including documents and contacts. It offers automated billing, shared calendars, unlimited data storage, unlimited client accounts and tech support; $39 a month per attorney, and $29 a month for staffers and paralegals.
•    Uptime Cloud will host your exist ­ ing legal software and documents, and offers its own cloud-based applications, including management of email, calendars, and contacts; its LegalWorks product includes a client portal. Priced from $35 a month per user.

File Sharing
•    Box lets you share files via URL, shared folders, or Microsoft Outlook. Users can set levels of permission and get notifications of file access; $5 a month per user for a shared workspace and up to 100 gigabytes of storage; limited per­sonal accounts are free.
•    Rackspace offers secure, unlimited storage at 10 cents a month per gigabyte, including a 24-hour support; cost depends on volume.
•    Zoho Docs can sync files between desktop computers and the cloud; users share documents via a link or secure email (with optional password protection), create multi-level folders, and see the version history. Priced from $25 a month for five users with 250 gigabytes of storage; limited personal accounts are free.

Scheduling
•    Genbook creates a “book now” but ­ ton on your firm’s website, sends automatic confirmations, and syncs with a variety of calendars. Priced from $20 a month per user with unlimited support.
•    Schedulicity provides a “book now” button on your website that leads to a firm-branded scheduling page; includes a searchable marketplace where consumers can find businesses by ZIP code; $19.95 a month for one user.
•    Timetrade integrates with desktop calendars and lets you set up unique appointment types. Unlimited appointments for one user cost $49 per year.
•    vCita merges scheduling with client contacts and online billing; provides a branded scheduling page linked to your website, which clients can access from any device; sends automated reminders; and syncs with multiple calendars. Full service is priced from  $9.99 a user per month a limited version is free.

Reputation Management
•    Google Alerts are invaluable for tracking appearances of a  key word or phrase-such as a client’s name (or yours)-in the Google News aggregator; notifications can be set for a variety of frequencies; free.
•    Martindale.com provides peer reviews of lawyers; search your name regularly to monitor your professional reputation; free.
•    NutshellMail gathers mentions and messages from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Yelp, delivering them by email at scheduled intervals; free.
•    Sprout Social provides a single in­ box for all social media messaging and mentions; offers keyword monitoring and analytics; and allows scheduled publishing to social media; $39 a month per user.

Susan Kuchinskas covers business and the business of technology for publications including Scientific American, Portada, and Telematics Update.

Piedmont Avenue Consulting – Continuing Legal Education Program

Our instructors have over 30 years of experience conducting continuing education workshops for a variety of businesses including law firms, medical practices, financial agencies and academic institutions.  They have used their expertise to develop a series of CLE presentations and workshops on social media in the legal profession, covering some of the unique opportunities it presents, as well as the many critical issues that surround it.

Piedmont Avenue Consulting was founded by David Mitroff, Ph.D., to meet the growing needs of the consulting relationships he has built with organizations and business owners in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond over the last 15 years.  To learn more about Piedmont Avenue Consulting and how we work with law firms like yours, or for more information about our Continuing Legal Education Seminars for law professionals, we invite you to contact us today and schedule a free 30-minute phone consultation.

Press and Media Resources

David Mitroff, Ph.D., the Founder of Oakland based Piedmont Avenue Consulting (www.PiedmontAve.com) is available to speak with the media and press on a wide range of topics.

Members of the media, please contact us at:

510-761-5895
Info@PiedmontAve.com

About David Mitroff, Ph.D.

David works with a diversity of clients in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond such as restaurants and retail specialty stores, franchises, professional services firms, start-ups and individual entrepreneurs. Dr. Mitroff leverages his extensive professional and education background, including a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology to motivate people to create change, while understanding the psychology behind business and marketing decisions. David is an active member, on the executive board, or advisory committees for several organizations. He continually collaborates with several consultant groups, merchant associations, and charities to best serve the community. David is a sought-after speaker on a wide range of topics from Social Media to peak performance. Through his consulting, lectures, trainings, and keynotes David Mitroff, Ph.D. (www.DavidMitroff.com) has educated more than 15,000 business owners.