Tech & Marketing Tips Galore at ABA Meeting

Ross_kodner When I saw the little fan plugged into the USB port of Ross Kodner's laptop, I knew I was at the right place: on the speakers' platform for the program "Technology for the Rest of Us: 2005 Edition" presented on August 5 at the ABA Annual Meeting in ChicagoNerino Petro, who was sitting next to me, wore an atomic wrist watch, so that confirmed I was in techno-heaven.

We delivered as many tech and marketing tips as we could in 90 minutes.  My fellow panelists were: Ross Kodner of MicroLaw in Milwaukee; David Bilinsky, Esq., Law Practice Management Advisor, Law Society of British Columbia in Vancouver; Jim Calloway, Esq., Law Practice Management Advisor, Oklahoma Bar Association; Debbie Foster, President of Intouch Business Consultants in Tampa, Florida; Tom O'Connor, Director, Legal Electronic Documents Institute, Seattle, Washington; and Nerino Petro, Jr., President of Cencom in Loves Park, Illinois.  Here are the best:

  • Best office PC to buy today: Speed: 2.8 to 3.4ghz Pentium 4 or Athlon 64 Series; RAM: 1 GB (inexpensive!), Monitors: 17" or 19" LCD flat panel, CD-ROM: CD-Writer/DVD reader , Hard Drive: 40/80 GB if LAN station, 120-300 GB if standalone system, Operating System: Windows XP Pro (no Windows XP Home - Mac is possible too!), Price: $900-$1500, Brand: Whatever works for you!  Generic PCs have no price advantage any longer.
  • "All-in-One" office Printers: Laser printer (black & white) is better than color inkjet for office use and much less costly to operate; RAM: 64 Mb preferred (more is better); Speed: At least 15 pages per minute (faster is better!); Networking: If not shared, USB 2.0 connection is best.  If shared, Internal or External 10/100 Ethernet print server (preferably same brand as the printer; Faxing:  Don't considers these PC fax units - they don't work well in that role; Scanning:  Get an automatic feeder and also look at included software to see if PaperPort and/or text recognition software is included; Copying: Consider it a "backup" to your main copiers; Brand:  HP or Brother are safest choices; Model Suggestions:  HP Laserjet 3380, Brother MFC-9800; Price:  $550-$700 without 2nd paper tray or networking.
  • Listserv_footerlogoSubscribe to the LawMarketing Listserv at  This online email discussion group lets you get answers to marketing questions from experts.  It operates 24 hours a day and is independent of any trade association.  You'll get news accounts of marketing conferences, and invitations to write articles and review books.
  • Handheld wireless PDAs: Types: Blackberry, Smartphones (Palm), Smartphones (Pocket PC); Differences: Blackberry syncs with Outlook, but to check more than e-mail, you need the Blackberry Enterprise Server software and Exchange Server, Real-time always on email. Palm Smartphones - 100% Palm devices - maximum syncability with legal apps - real-time email with software like SnapperMail. Pocket PC Smartphones sync with Outlook and Microsoft apps primarily -more limited when it comes to legal apps like case managers.
  • Digital camera: Point-and-Shoot models are quite adequate. Resolution: At least 4 megapixels - 5 or 6 is better if budget permits. Digital Film Type:  SD cards are the overwhelming standard today -and the least costly to purchase - get 512 Mb (under $100); be sure to get an SD Digital Film reader for a PC in your office for easiest photo transfers ($15-$40). Battery:  Lithium-ion rechargeable is good, but you want AA or AAA capability as well for emergencies. Docking:  "One Touch" docking units for simplifying photo transfer make sense, but SD card readers are easier to use. Brands:  Kodak, Nikon, Canon, Panasonic (Sony uses less standard Memory Sticks for digital film, Fujitsu and Olympus use odd WxD cards). Price:  $250-$600.
  • AppleGet a Macintosh computer.  They are not subject to hacking, viruses and spyware.  Apple doesn't even offer programs for them, becuase they are not an issue for Macs.  The ranks of Mac-using lawyers are steadily increasing. For Mac lawyers, their systems are their "secret weapons," allowing them to spend more time practicing law and less time babysitting uncooperative technology.Today, with 100% file compatibility and Virtual PC 7 from Microsoft to run Windows applications, Macs can make real economic and functional sense for lawyers, especially in smaller practices. The Mac Mini is a perfect example of a low-cost network station - from $499.  Powerbooks could be the ultimate Legal Road Warrior platform. So explore, subscribe to MacLaw and MacAttorney and consider making the switch at
  • Convert long Web addresses into short ones with Use Are you sick of posting long URLs in emails only to have it break when sent causing the recipient to have to cut and paste it back together? Then use TinyUrl. This Web site will create a tiny URL that will not break in email postings and never expires. 
  • Get client feedback without paying client feedback without paying big bucks. 

    Go to and set up online survey questionnaires on the fly with Zoomerang.  The annual subscriptioin is $600.
  • Lawmarketing_avantgo_channel_2 Get free fonts and Powerpoint templates at You can enhance your presentations by getting icons, bullets, dingbats, business quotations and some very useful tips and tricks about design and more at Brainybetty. You can also take the advanced graphics tutorial here and learn how to make your own special templates or learn about using PowerPoint with Macromedia Breeze here.
  • Start an Avantgo Channel.  You can broadcast Web content -- such as news, weather, sports, entertainment and law firm sites, that you can read on your PDA, Blackberry or Palm device.  There are 7 million subscribers to  As a channel content provider you can break throughthe clutter.  There are 2,500 content offerings, but only 1 for law.  The typical AvantGo reader is an executive with income of $75,000+, a health care professional, an IT professional or a sales representative.
  • Broadcast a Web Seminar. You attended Webinars, now you can give added value to your clients, increase contact with them and get more exposure for your firm.  Emailing invitations to your Webinar helps expand your mailing list.  Everyone benefits because everyone saves travel expenses and time with a Webinar.  Attendees can ask live questions during the broadcast, increasing the live quality of the proram.  You can record them for later playback and Webinars are now Cheap: $400 for 90 minutes.
  • Use a business card scanner. It will help eliminate the thick wad of business cards you bring back from conferences by scanning them directly into Outlook fields.  You can also retrieve your information on the Web on  The scanner allows you to add meetings notes and personal details and sync with your PDA. The Cardscan Personal is USB Powered, needs no power cord and costs only $149.
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