April 2014 Posts

Technology and the Future of Lawyers

 

These days it’s difficult to find an industry that is not affected by advances in technology. The legal industry is no exception, as tech innovations continue to offer lawyers more tools, additional opportunities – and threats to their necessity. Here are several of the most interesting ways technology is affecting modern day legal services, and what those changes may mean in the future.

 

Legal Prediction Services: Legal prediction services do indeed try to predict the results of legal cases. More specifically, quantitative legal prediction systems use data on a client and the details of their problem to judge if they are worth representing, how likely it is that the case could be won, and what sort of arguments should be made in the courtroom. Ideally these services can be used to immediately scan the history of similar cases, find precedents, and give lawyers automated advice on how to proceed. But they can also be used by law firms to cherry-pick the most lucrative cases or those with the highest possibility for success, so there is plenty of room for potential misuse…and for law firms to make their relationship with technology clear.

 

Law? There’s An App for That: Actually, there are multiple apps, from Ask a Lawyer to Shake. These new apps offer everything from legal advice for common misdemeanors to legal forms and contracts customized to what the client wants to accomplish…and without the legal fees that would have come with a visit to an attorney. This type of software (and related websites) are especially popular among the younger generations and threaten to change the legal landscape forever, diminishing revenues that lawyers once received for completing similar tasks. For now, lawyers can still help with many simple services because of the way regulations differ between states and similar conundrums, but technology is busy catching up.

 

 

The Rise of Cloud Tech: A similar change is occurring in the commercial world, where cloud tech services and outsourcing are passing tasks onto vendors and partners with enough experience to complete tasks or offer fill-in-the-blank forms. This means fewer legal questions from HR, payroll and other departments, and therefore less use of legal services overall. Once again, automation is beginning to replace traditional legal services, this time in the commercial world.

 

Technology and Client Loyalty: Before you decide to get rid of lawyers altogether, keep in mind that technology can also help make law firms much more efficient and customer friendly. From online surveys to social, it is easier than ever for lawyers to get feedback on their performance. It is also changing the realities of billing per hour. When technology can now help lawyers accomplish a task in minutes that once took hours, how does the lawyer bill the client – especially in today’s tech savvy world where clients can post their opinions online. Reports such as the 2012 Altman Well Chief Legal Officer Survey have reported that 77 percent of clients surveyed switched law firms that year, a high turnover rate that lawyers can fix by focusing more results-oriented services and less on old-fashioned client relationship models.

 

Cool with Collaboration: Collaborative services are also on the rise among law firms. Thanks to cloud tech and instant digital communication, it is very easy for law firms to contact each other and refer clients. This leads to new efficiencies when developing industry tools that all lawyers can use, compiling industry data, or simply referring a client to another firm with more a specialty in the right field. Clients are also seeking more collaboration on their end, creating ways to share costs and services amongst themselves.

 

Security: Now that so much sensitive financial and legal data is being stored online, law firms need to prove that their security levels are up to the task. This is especially important for commercial clients deeply invested in risk management. The legal IT department is more important than ever before.

 

James Goldman is a professional blogger that understands and provides information for social security disability and veterans disability claims cases. He writes for the Law Office of Debra J. Venhaus, an experienced disability benefits lawyer.

Good Customer Service Rules

Develop the ability to manage the expectations of customer complaints. Stay up-to-date with company policies to ensure that any promise you make to a customer can be delivered.

Surprise Customers with a Bonus

When people spend money on a product, the last thing you want them to think is, “Was it really worth?” To combat this, you should surprise each of your customers with a little bonus. Say for example, when paying the bill in a restaurant, if the waiter gives you a mint for free, you keep more tip than usual. Sometimes small surprises make big differences.

Listen Carefully

As a customer, there is nothing more frustrating than going to great lengths to explain your problem to a customer service representative only to discover that the other person wasn’t listening or that you have to say it all over again.

Give your customer space to talk and listen carefully while they speak. Don’t interrupt but offer appropriate responses to let them know you understand. By letting them tell you their problems, you can also come up with the best way to help them.

Good Customer Service Rules

Don’t Over Promise

If you say you will deliver something by Friday then do so. Otherwise, don’t say it.

Reliability is a cornerstone of good customer service and nothing will disappoint and annoy your customers more than a trail of broken promises, missed deadlines and delays. As tempting as it might be to promise the world to your customer in order to win their business, only do this if you are 100% sure you can deliver to the required standard, within budget and on time.

Don’t let customers pressure you into committing on the spot. Manage their expectations by asking for some time to put a proposal or action plan together so you can really think things through.

Deal with Complaints

No one likes hearing complaints, and many of us have developed a reflex shrug, saying, “You can’t please all the people all the time”. Maybe not, but if you give the complaint your attention, you may be able to please this one person this one time – and position your business to reap the benefits of good customer service.

Patience

If you don’t see this near the top of a customer service skills list, you should just stop reading.

Not only is patience important to customers, who often reach out to support when they are confused and frustrated, but it’s also important to the business at large: we’ve shown you before that great service beats the fast service every single time. Yet, patience shouldn’t be used as an excuse for slothful service either! Derek Sivers explained his view on “slower” service as being an interaction where the time spent with the customer was used to better understand their problems and needs from the company.

5 Must-Do’s For The New Entrepreneur

New entrepreneurs instantly embark on a fulfilling but challenging journey the moment they start their budding venture. Gaining business know-how can take days, months or years of real world practice depending on how open you are to receiving good advice from experienced entrepreneurs.

5 Must-Do's For The New Entrepreneur

Be open to change. Nimble business owners spot trends quickly. Honoring changing trends can put you and your new business on a successful path.

Work on Your Mindset

Set aside time before your work day begins to work on your mindset. The thoughts and feelings you choose dictate how far your new business venture goes. Picking positive thoughts and feelings moves you and your business in a successful direction.

Most new entrepreneurs do a terrible job working on their mindset. Newbies generally ignore golden advice and follow bad advice because they are coming from a space of fear, desperation or greediness. These energies can be rooted out by meditating, affirming and expressing gratitude for at least 20 to 30 minutes each day.

Work on your mindset to spot good advice. Use proven, practical tips to grow your venture.

Build Your Network

Build your network aggressively. Grow your influence. Leverage your presence. New entrepreneurs often avoid this critical action. Shy, unconfident new business owners may feel that they have nothing to offer other entrepreneurs. By meeting people you can come out of your shell, spread value and build your friend network. Friends help you when times get tough.

Friends also point you in the right direction when you want to better streamline your new venture. Make as many friends as possible by helping people. Promote others. Offer your assistance. Helping other people magnetizes you to hungry customers. Build your network steadily to grow your new venture quickly.

Create Value

Create value to attract value. Customers appreciate healthy, updated blogs, email newsletters, videos and offline newsletters. Giving away good, helpful information relevant to your niche helps prospects know, like and trust you. Gain the trust of your target audience by teaching them the ins and outs of your product or service. Write helpful reviews of any product. Share free tips to help your customers solve their problems. Sharing your insight in a clear, free fashion grows your business on a solid foundation.

Build an Email List

Building an email list establishes strong relationships with current and future customers. List-building provides you with a channel through which you can connect with people in a convenient fashion. Grow your list by capturing subscriber information through web forms. Direct offline customers to your website or blog. Set up opt in forms on your blog to capture contact information. Send out helpful updates once or twice each week to grow your new venture.

Follow the Best

Successful entrepreneurs can lead you in the right direction. Follow successes to learn their secrets. Embrace their practical tips. Do what they did to succeed. More importantly, avoid their failures. Successes are quick to share why and how they failed during their journey. Cut your learning curve. Learn from their mistakes. Make your life easier.

Kelli Cooper enjoys blogging about all things business, from how to acquire start up capital to how to execute a successful online marketing campaign.

Ghost- A New Blogging Platform

WordPress and Blogspot are two names synonym to the blogger industry. These two services are so popular that as soon as you hear the name blog, it immediately paints a picture of either a WordPress blog or a Blogspot blog. Both of these services started out as simple and clean blogging frameworks but as of today both of them have advanced to a much higher website level.

WordPress has actually managed to spin a whole new different industry for itself. The success that both of these platforms has enjoyed has created a lot of opportunities but in this race the loyal but simple blogger has found himself lost and confused. Aiming to fill this void, a new blogging platform has been introduced by the name of Ghost Blogging Platform. It is much simpler yet equally effective and is gaining huge popularity with every passing day.

Ghost- A New Blogging Platform

  • Introducing Ghost:

Ghost is an open source blogging platform; it means that you can mould its code according to your own requirements and preferences. It has been created by John O’Nolan and Hannah Wolfe. Besides being open source it is registered under a nonprofit ghost foundation.

  • History:

The founders of the ghost blogging platform, John O’Nolan and Hannah Wolfe were keen to develop a blogging oriented modification of WordPress that was equally effective but a bit light weight. John O’Nolan mentioned this in a blog post and after receiving overwhelmingly positive response he started work on the ghost platform. It was officially released for public in October, 2013. However the development work is still in progress.

  • Business model:

The ghost blogging platform is completely open source and is free to be downloaded and used. Along with the content management software from ghost, there is an optional web hosting service from the ghost itself. However, unlike the platform itself, the web hosting service is not free. Since its open source and free, many third party companies have sprung into action and have started to offer web hosting services for ghost blogs.

A major web designing firm known as WooThemes has also partnered with ghost and has developed some free and premium themes intended for those bloggers who wish to blog on this platform.

  • Platform:

Ghost has been developed in a server side JavaScript execution engine known as Node.js. The entire look and feel and interface of ghost has been designed to be as simple as possible. But this simplicity must not be mistaken for lack of functionality. Ghost still offers the same level of functionality as WordPress and Blogspot offer to their users.

In fact the simple design of ghost makes it much more desirable for a blogger as compared to more complex blogging platforms like WordPress and Blogspot. Since it is still under development, you can expect the functionality to be refined and increased.

Even though the development work on Ghost is still going on, some industry experts have commented that Ghost will soon takeover WordPress, Blogger and others as the most widely used Blogging platform.

Jonathan Griffin is the editor of Best Host News, a site dedicated to reporting on decent web hosting related consumer news.

How Google Plans To Map The Entire World

Google has long been at the forefront of acquiring and cataloguing vast swaths of information around the world. Google Maps is a GPS technology used on most smartphones around the world, and provides its users with the ability to get driving or walking directions almost anywhere on earth. Google Earth was a more ambitious (if less practical) project which generated satellite imagery of almost everyone on the planet.

Google Earth allowed users to find a satellite image of their home, famous landmarks, or natural features such as the Mount Everest or the Nile River. Street View was Google’s ambitious multi-year project to catalogue and generate street-level images of every public road in the world. “Google has effectively catalogued the entire planet. The practical applications for this data in the future are enormous and exciting.” Said Scottsdale Arizona entrepreneur Jason Hope.

How Google Plans To Map The Entire World

One area where Google has yet to significant dent is in the mapping of building interiors. The practical applications of this data would be enormous. For example, mapping of a home’s interior could make it far easier for a visually-impaired individual to get around on their own. This, coupled with interior mapping of local stores and restaurants could make it possible for the visually-impaired to be significantly more independent than they currently are able to be.

Another more mainstream application is the ability to use Google Map directions that can take you to the specific location of an office or store within a building. Instead of having your directions end when you arrive at an address, Google Maps could conceivably take you to within feet of your actual destination. If properly implemented, this technology would mean that users would never again get lost inside a building.

Another exciting possibility would be in the area of home improvement. Imagine mapping your entire home: the walls, floors, windows, everything. You could then take that data to Home Depot or a furniture store and use it to determine what size furniture you should get, and what size shades, blinds, etc. will fit on your windows and walls.

Google is well-aware of the practical and long-term value of possessing data of this magnitude, and they are already working towards mapping the interior of all public buildings through several advanced projects. The recently announced Google Tango uses technology similar to the Xbox Kinect to create 3D imaging of its surrounding environment.

The phone is being developed by Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group, which largely consists of intellectual property and staff retained from Motorola before Google sold the remainder of the company off. The Tango prototype is already being offered to a select group of developers.

Eventually, Google plans on integrating this technology into Google Glass. However, this is not yet possible with current technology due to the considerable processor and hardware requirements of Google Tango. For at least the next several months, Google’s 3D mapping technology will be limited to the bulky Tango prototype, but, given Google’s penchant for innovation, don’t expect it to stay that way for long.

In the long term, Google plans to use 3D mapping technology to create a virtual reality world that is capable of displaying any indoor or outdoor location on the planet. Although this capability is likely to be several years from implementation, we could eventually see software that allows us to visit anywhere on the earth from our desk. The practical applications of this technology are still too far off to even truly understand.

Some of the more immediate benefits of this technology include the use of 3D imaging to create the next generation of face recognition technology. Instead of merely unlocking a phone (as many of the 2D facial recognition technologies are currently being used for), 3D facial recognition will allow users to actually control their devices (similar to how Xbox Kinect can be used to play games or control the Xbox itself).

In the not too distant future, we could see a transition from touchscreen controls being the primary method of input to voice control and movement. With so much data soon to be and already at their fingertips, we can only hope that Google manages to stick to their motto of “Don’t Be Evil”.

About Author:  Amy Taylor is a business and technology writer.  Amy began her career as a small business owner in Phoenix, AZ.  She enjoys writing about business technology trends. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys hiking with her Alaskan Malamute, Sam.