October 29, 2008
Greg Broiles is correct in pointing out that I did leave out hardware costs from my ROI computation. I also left out the cost of Internet access, the availability of high speed Internet access, and a myriad of other factors that would go into an exhaustive ROI computation. Greg’s point is quite valid, any ROI analysis has to be done from a specific set of circumstances and will give different results for different inputs.
I think the software as a service (SaaS) model is the potential of being the next great thing after all it affords the vendor greater control over their intellectual property, eliminates the end user’s upfront software costs, and may reduce the end user’s hardware investment. For the model to work, the end user has to have reliable access to a high speed Internet connection. For those of us in rural areas, we are the Internet’s hinterland and Internet access often means dial-up, high speed translates to 9600 baud, and reliability is dependent on the vagaries of the gods and the local phone company (surveys show that only about 39% of rural households in my neck of the woods have access to broadband Internet service).
I think that both Rocket Matter and Clio have the potential to be great products. Of all the practice management products I’ve reviewed so far, I think that Rocket Matter offers the most user-friendly, KISS interface out there. If it were a standalone product, my decision as to which practice management system to use would be simple. The ugly reality is I’m a one computer, one lawyer practice with a dodgy internet connection and I’m not sure that SaaS is for me. Your mileage may vary.
October 27, 2008
Posted by Bruce under Uncategorized Comments Off
Rural Lawyer is moving to RuralLawyer.com. We’re still hosted by the nice folks at WordPress.com, but now we have our own domain.
Yeah, I know – in the blogosphere this is nothing newsworthy. But for this neophyte, its still a big step forward.
October 23, 2008
Both Rocket Matter and Clio are online practice management solutions. Based on their respective demos, they both offer an integrated intake-to-billing system. Sam Glover on the Lawyerist offers a good review of both Clio and Rocket Matter.
While both products offer very attractive user interfaces and operating system independence, I don’t get their pricing model. Based on their introductory pricing, ether product will cost a single lawyer firm $600 per year. At first blush, this is less than half the cost of a product like AbacusLaw, but a maintenance contract for the more traditional practice management solutions typically run less than $200 per year, the long term cost of the online products soon outstrips the cost of the more traditional solutions.
So, I don’t get the “why” of online practice management. There doesn’t seem to be any outstanding difference in features and the price is not that competitive. Install a traditional product on a laptop and you have data portability. Backup your computer hardware regularly and you have the same degree of data security. I suppose not having to do software upgrades is a plus, but is that really worth an extra $400 a year? If the yearly cost of either Rocket Matter or Clio was equivalent to the cost of a traditional product’s service contract, I’d buy in, but until then I’ll keep looking into a more local solution.
October 20, 2008
Posted by Bruce under On Law School Comments Off
Your 2L year is the easiest of the lot. By now, you should have a handle on hows, whats, and whys of studing cases and you have left most of the intro courses for the more interesting ones. Now’s the time to start looking for that first legal job (if you can find volunteer work during the summer between year 1 & 2 so much the better). Finding that first job is going to be all about networking, so even if you aren’t interesting in a job with BIG LAW, participate in the on campus interviewing program and start talking with other lawyers – you’ve little to lose and could even gain summer employment. Moot Court and law review are good resume builders, but you can gain a great deal more practical experience by volunteering with a local legal aid organization or a local judge – you can open a lot of doors by with the simple phrase “I’m looking for some practical legal experience, could you use some volunteer labor?”
A brief word of advice, if you didn’t do it during your first year, sign up for your bar review courses during your second year. This will save you money down the road. I used two review courses, one that concentrated on essay preparation and one that concentrated on the multiple choice portion.
Year 3 is tough – the end is in sight and the urge to just coast is strong. Here is where time management really plays a big part because you’ve got to do 3 things – complete your courses, keep up the job search, and complete your bar exam application. I allowed 4 months to complete my bar application and that was barely enough time to track down all the necessary supporting documents, letters of recomendation, etc. If I were to do it again, I’d start 6 months before the deadline.
Once law school is over, take a day off and congratulate yourself. You deserve it, because tomorrow you are going to start reviewing for the bar exam.
October 15, 2008
Posted by Bruce under On Law School
| Tags: Law School
| Comments Off
Yes, you do have to read it all. However, the faster you can get up to speed with the proper way to read a case, the easier your life will be. Your goal when reading a case is simple, eliminate the fluff and isolate the critical facts the court used, the issue the court decided, and the rule/ruling made. The cool thing is that these are the same skills you’ll need when taking an exam. The shorthand for this is IRAC (issue rule analysis and conclusion). The only real difference between reading a case and taking an exam is that the exam requires you to do your own RAC — your professor will take care of hiding the issue and critical facts among the extraneous fluff.
Commercial outlines, case briefs and nutshell guides are useful, but are no substitutes for doing the reading. These commercial products are the law school version of Cliff Notes. Don’t ever make the mistake of thinking that you can get away with using them in class as a substitute for having read the case. Better to admit you are unprepared than to start playing “stump the chump” with the professor. First, there is no way a one page summary is sufficiently comprehensive to provide enough information to satisfy a detailed probing by a motivated professor. Second, commercial products are notorious for getting the names of the plaintiff and defendant reversed at random locations through out a brief and there’s no surer way to set yourself up for a game of “stump the chump” than not being able to present a coherent summary of a case. Use the commercial products to fill in holes in your notes, but don’t rely on them as substitutes for actually reading the material.
Statistics show that your performance during your first year in law school is predictive of your success on the bar exam – if you can manage a C+ average by the end of your first year, you’ll have no problem passing the bar. The catch is: the pace of law school does not allow for “being a little lost”. If you even suspect you might be a little behind, aren’t quite sure of the material, or might have missed something in class don’t wait any longer before you get a tutor, find an academic coach, or get help from the professor. If I were to do it all over again, I would set up a standing weekly appointment with a tutor the moment I set foot on campus and I would keep that appointment religiously.
The hardest part about your first year is realizing that, for the first time in your academic career, you may get a C. Don’t fret. Law schools take the cream of the academic crop each year (the average GPA for my first year class was 3.75). All that a C means is that you are an average over-achiever. C’s get degrees and, more importantly, C’s get jobs too.
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