20 Oct 11

Yes, it has happened!  Over the past two years I’ve converted to a completely Mac household.  In March 2010 I bought my 17″ MacBook Pro.  In March I bought my iPad2 (followed up by another iPad 2 purchase after leaving first one on an airplane in August).  And most recently, October 16 I made that leap I said I would NEVER make.  Yes, the iPhone now resides in my pocket, on my bedside table and next to me at work.

For those who don’t know my history AGAINST everything iPhone, it’s been a long hard-fought battle.  First putting the iPhone up against my far superior BlackBerry for so many years.  Then in 2010 I started in the Android craiz.

Here is the SmartPhone history of Richard Wood: 2005 – BlackBerry 7100 (AT&T), 2006 – 7130 (Verizon),  2007 – BlackBerry 8830(Verizon),  2008 – BlackBerry 9530 (Verizon), 2009 – BlackBerry 9550(Verizon), June 2010 – HTC EVO 4G WiMax (Sprint), April 2011 – HTC Thunderbolt 4G LTE (Verizon), September 2011 Motorola Bionic 4G LTE (Verizon), October 16, 2011 32gig White iPhone (AT&T).

My first SmartPhone - BlackBerry 7100 on AT&T

As you can see from the above, I’m a device junky.  I don’t dare attempt to tally up how much dough I’ve dropped on SmartPhones over the past 6 years, but I suspect we’re pushing $10k.


I’m going to layout likes/dislikes of each device and why the change from the previous device.

  1. AT&T BlackBerry 7100 – This was a love/hate relationship from the start.  At the time I received this device it was issued to me by my company and it was supposedly the most advanced BlackBerry on the market at that time.  AND since my firm issued ONLY BlackBerry devices my hands were a bit tied on selection.  I hadn’t owned a SmartPhone before this one so I was actually thrilled to get it!
  2. Verizon BlackBerry 7130 – I recall this creating an amazing amount of termoil in my homelife.  I had convinced my partner that when I received my 7100 (above) that he should convert from Verizon to AT&T so we could talk for free.  Well, I couldn’t handle staying with AT&T.  At that time he and I both had terrible call quality and phone calls dropped left and right.  That was the primary reason for jumping to the 7130 on Verizon.  I knew the call quality and dropped calls would essentially go away!  And they did.  It was a very solid device.  Still small like my 7100, but much more reliable.
  3. Verizon BlackBerry 8830 – I was now going to be playing with the big boys!  This thing was HUGE.  And in my mind it was the bee’s knees!  Big beautiful color screen, high(er) speed data network and the OS was leaps and bounds more advanced than the 7130.  The ONLY thing this baby was missing was a camera and I didn’t feel like waiting for the 8330 to be released.  I needed it and needed it NOW!  This was a “World Phone” and even made a trip to Mexico with me.  One disadvantage of this phone was the keypad.  I never fell in love with the VERY flat difficult keys.  It was also VERY difficult to see the silver keypad in any sort of dark(ish) environment.  I remedied this problem by swapping out the keypad from an AT&T 8800 (black).  Worked pretty slick even though it looked like crap.
  4. Verizon BlackBerry 9530 – The infamous “Storm”.  Eeesh, where do I start.  I had to love it!  It was my first phone without a physical keyboard, which means there was screen real estate to do ALL sorts of things with. Unfortunately, this phone was fraught with problems, although I rarely had the significant issues most people had with it.  For starters in order to select an icon or type the letter “A” (or any letter) you had to physically depress the glass screen until it clicked.  It seemed like an ingenious idea at first.  But it was really annoying when you figured out that it was not Multi-Touch and thus you couldn’t easy or quickly transition from one letter to the next while rambling in an email.  I saw this “bright spot” being that I would have to be more concise in my emails (everyone always wishes that I would have adopted that years ago).  Never happened. I eventually learned to type like a champ on there.
  5. Verizon BlackBerry 9550 “The Storm 2” – the physical form factor of this device was very similar to the origanal 9530 Storm.  But they did make some significant improvements, the biggest one I recall was the glass actually went to the edge of the case!  Because both of these devices had depressable glass screens they needed to be able to move.  However on the original Storm there was a lot of play with the glass in that it would often shift side to side and up and down.  No longer on the Storm 2.  Second major improvement was the multi-touch capabilities.  You could finally touch two different parts of the glass and have them recognized as individual touches.  This wasn’t so helpful in typing (after all, you still only had one piece of glass you were pressing on), but instead it was helpful in highlighting text.  You could place one finger at the beginning of what you wanted to highlight, then your other finger at the end of the desired text.  Pretty slick!  Processor speeds and a Rev. A CDMA chip also helped process information and data faster over their network.  I loved plugging this baby in on the train ride to work everyday and tethering my laptop, logging into work an hour before I even got there.  She was a work horse!
  6. Sprint HTC EVO 4G WiMax – By the time 2010 rolled around BlackBerrys were quickly become obsolete to the elite in the tech community.  BlackBerry was falling behind significantly with hardware AND software being rolled out.  After meeting a Sprint Store Manager and District Manager at a Social Media Club social event I was curious about what else might be able to shift my attention from BlackBerry to an alternate and better device.  This is where the EVO came in.  Sprint was JUST rolling out their 4G WiMax network and I had the great fortune of living in one of the first cities who rolled out WiMax.  I had just moved into a new condo and had EVERY intention of using this new AMAZING speed as my full-time home internet connection.  It didn’t take long to figure out that (at least at that point) WiMax was a flawed network that had VERY difficult time penetrating buildings and even windows for that matter.  So, you could easily get 10-15mbps downloads OUTSIDE, but the 4G would drop to about 0.2mbps once inside the condo (10 feet away, wooded structure).  I suffered this for 9 months, complaining a lot and ended up dumping the WiMax (which for 98% of the time I owned the EVO I kept the 4G turned off because it sucked the battery dead within hours).
  7. Verizon – HTC Thunderbolt 4G LTE – In 2011 Verizon rolls out its first 4G LTE network (technically started in December 2010, but that was only for a data-only dongle).  This network in and of itself was being sworn to promise 15+ mbps uploads with testing sometimes hitting in the 30mbps range (yes, I experienced this as well).  This was HUGE.  A giant leap forward in USA mobile networks!  Better yet Built on a beautiful HTC platform I was already familiar with because of my EVO.  This change did not come without its own issues however.  Two days into having this new phone, the highly anticipated 4G LTE network had a three day data outage!  Granted I could still use their 3G network, but these devices obviously favored the new LTE network because they did not work quite as reliably on 3G.  My only other problem with the device happened to come when I was traveling to Orlando, FL in May 2011.  I couldn’t get ANY service, 3G or 4G, at or around the hotel!  PANIC! I was at a conference for a week!  Verizon promptly overnighted me a new Thunderbolt (which the hotel charged me $10 to RECEIVE the package).  Same issue!  So, there must have been another outage of some sort, but “we” never did figure it out.  All I know is that it was fine when I got back to Seattle.
  8. Verizon – Motorola Bionic 4G LTE – The hardware on this device was suppose to change “everything”.  Duel core processor, 8mp camera, 1080p video shooting, weird dock thing that made it operate like a real computer, plus xGA display. This SHOULD have been a fantastic device.  However, after a month of owning it, I had too many issues.  Data connections being dropped several times per day, continued 4G data outages (not sure if it was phone or network, assumed phone), music would randomly start playing when it connected to my car’s bluetooth.  Mostly I just couldn’t rely on the data… and that’s why I had a SmartPhone… DATA!
  9. My most recent - iPhone 4S, 32gb White on AT&T

  10. AT&T – Apple iPhone 4S White 32gb – My roommate and I both had Thunderbolts at the same time.  After a few months he started grumbling that he just “wanted it to work… just work… no fiddling with it, no reloading roms, no rooting… just WORK!”  I thought this was kinda funny since I loved tinkering with the ROMs and software, but it wasn’t until I got my Bionic that I understood what “just work” means.  Do what I want, when I want it. WOW, novel concept. So, in hearing all the hype about the new 4S I decided to cut my losses and pride.  It was time to complete my metamorphosis into the next Apple Fanboy.  I would be sacraficing LTE 4G speeds and I COULD have stayed on Verizon’s network, but here’s why I didn’t, a) 4G LTE had been pretty problematic from the start (albeit less problematic than WiMax), and b) Verizon’s 3G CDMA network for the iPhone was SUPER slow compared to AT&T.  From what I read it was something like 0.75mbps on Verizon vs 7-10mbps on AT&T.  And since I rarely ever talked on the phone my hangups about call quality and dropped calls were moot.

So, there’s my SmartPhone history.  In the next segment I’ll review my iPhone 4S comparing some of its awesomeness to the awesomeness of my past devices.

Filed under: BlackBerry,Droid,iPhone,Mac,Mobile,Technology

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29 Apr 11

Some of you likely know that Summit Law Group is a little different. I get bug-eyes from people whenever I discuss our lack of a general policy manual, our lack of dress code, our Value Adjustment Line allowing the customer to set the end price, and that minor detail of EVERY person having an outside office with no corner office real estate. Yes, these are ALL very remarkable cultural marks of Summit Law Group.

Recently, I took advantage of one more remarkable cultural marking, our pet friendly office space!

I’m sure there are many smaller firms that offer pet friendly work space, likely due to a main partner in the firm setting that rule from the get-go because of their own dog. However, I’ve never met a 30ish attorney firm who had an open policy allowing employees to bring pets to work.

So, I know, this all sounds great and fun and all, but how does it really work out?

First off, my initial concern was that even though it’s SAID that Summit is pet friendly, what’s the reception going to be like when I first bring her to work? Will relationships change? Well, although there are a few folks who have always disagreed with Summit’s pet tolerance, I’m finding 90% of people here get great joy from taking a few minutes to visit with this little love monster. It’s really helped enhance many of my office relationships, giving different angles of personal engagement and conversations that would never have otherwise come about.

So, that’s the good part…

There are some draw backs.  First and foremost, even in a pet friendly office not EVERYONE is pet friendly.  And even though they smile and say, “Oh how cute!” know that they may be complaining to someone.  I’ve been fortunate enough that I believe all the concerns have been completely legitimate and no one has complained from a point of “joy stealing”.  With that said, here are my own rules I’ve applied to allow my experience as a pet owner to be as freeing and joyful as possible:

  1. Although you might think EVERYONE wants to meet your pet and play with him/her, you shouldn’t take her EVERYWHERE in the office with you.  I’ve learned that it’s quite a distraction for people when you walk in with a Lucy in tow and try to discuss complex (or even simple) business matters.  Leaving her in my office allows me to conduct “business as usual”.
  2. Pets aren’t meant for meetings… of any sort.  For the same reason parents rarely bring their children to work, it’s a good idea to not bring your pets to business meetings.  Imagine someone bringing their child into a business meeting.  It does change the conversation dynamic and likely even the focus of the meeting.
  3. Pee pee pads are necessary, even for the most well behaved dog.  You don’t want to be THAT employee who gets the “pet friendly” title taken away because you haven’t properly trained your pet.  This can go for bathroom habits just as well as chewing habits!  I would be mortified if Lucy caused damage in my office.  Granted she’s 4 lbs of cuteness, but she COULD still cause some damage.  The Pee Pee Pad reference is a general one. Doesn’t have to only insinuate bathroom habits.  Think about making sure your pet can remain entertained in your office without having to “engage” the local fixtures.
  4. Have a backup plan! Sometimes meetings pop up unexpectedly (and by sometimes, I mean all the time), so have arrangements with others in your firm who are willing to watch your pet if an unexpected meeting should make it necessary to leave him/her for an extended period of time.  I’m not saying a 15 minute meeting.  Most pets can handle that.  But for meetings that may run longer, your pet likely isn’t really interested in spending that much time alone.  If all else fails, have a kennel either in your office or in your nearby car.  Neither of these are ideal, but will certainly due in a pinch.
  5. Not every office can be pet friendly.  Some buildings don’t allow pets at all (unless under ADA rules for service animals).  Keep this in mind for YOUR office if you’re thinking about converting to a pet friendly office OR if you’re considering moving your office.  Think your culture could be enriched by adding pets? Make that deal with your landlord even if you THINK it MIGHT be a possibility!  You can always not allow it, but if you don’t have an arrangement with the landlord, you’re sunk!
  6. The office should not be an off-leash area at any time. There are a couple good reasons for this, first, because there may be other pets in the office.  Keeping yours on the leash will prevent any potential “run ins” between them. Another reason is that no matter how well behaved your pet may be it’s VERY difficult to train the humans in the office!  So, some people will LOVE bringing your pet to their office where they have treats and kibble!  Once this starts and you let your pet off the leash OFF they go down the hall making rounds to the treat-holders society.

Those are my pieces of feedback for now. Please drop questions in the comments.  I’d love to examine any ideas you have.

If you have more interest in Lucy than in my firm you can always follow her on Facebook!

Filed under: Cultural,Legal,Management

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1 Feb 11

One of my wonderful lawyers here at Summit Law Group, Ms. Sofia Mabee (Labor & Employment Lawyer Extraordinaire), found this article on the WSBA website recently and pointed it out to me after my grumbling about being asked to run my @SummitLaw tweets and Facebook posts by one of our lawyers.

Lawyers Tweeting, Blogging, and IMing — Oh My!

The first part of the article is pretty dry (for me) but what I found astounding was the section called “Status updates, comments, and blogs” about a third of the way down the page.  In particular:

Fourth, sometimes non-lawyer staff or a third-party service is called upon to manage the lawyer’s or law firm’s social network sites. In that case, RPC 5.3, the duty to supervise non-lawyer assistants, comes into play and the lawyer should review each and every status update or post before it is made public.

WOW!  I had no idea!  And I had never heard any of my other legal folks discussing this either.  Thought it might be nice to point this out.

Personally, I think RPC 5.3 is VERY vague to cover this, but alas, the WSBA has a tad more authority to judge that than I.

(NOTE: This is a Washington State rule, check your state bar for similar rules.)

Filed under: Blogging,Legal,Social Media,Twitter

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21 Sep 10

My EVO apps:

  • Advanced Task Manager (gives ability to kill apps that give you problems)
  • Amazon Shopping App
  • Amazon Kindle for Android
  • Astro File Manager (like Explorer on a PC, lets you file through the file system)
  • Audible (audio books)
  • Batteryminder (I like that this shows me the percentage of battery remaining and gives me warnings if I’m getting low, also tracks what is using batter)
  • Barcode Scanner (Google Goggles is also popular)
  • Dolphin Browser HD
  • Pandora (free radio, personally I prefer this to Last.fm)
  • LogMeIn (paid, remote access to different types of computers, work and/or home, VERY nice program!!)
  • Scan2PDF (paid, might not be helpful to you, photograph a document and converts it to PDF to mail it/copy it)
  • NewsRob Pro (syncs with Google Reader for GREAT RSS integration and can push articles out to twitter/Facebook very easily and seamlessly)
  • Handcent (replaces native SMS/text messaging app, much nicer interface)
  • Foursquare (Location based checkin “game”/app)
  • TweetDeck Beta
  • Google Voice (if you use Google Voice this is the native integration app)
  • Switch Pro (helpful toggles for on/off of different settings)
  • Sound Manager (helpful to schedule your sounds to go off at a certain hour and back on at another hour)
  • Whrrl (Location based checkin “game”/app) (not available on the market, but beta is pretty open)

Filed under: Droid

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12 Sep 10

So, I’m going to do a series of blog posts in the coming weeks about making choices regarding your needs for a lawyer, legal services and powerful ways to avoid pitfalls during that process.

Buying legal services can be quite similar to buying any other product or service. You have choices. Choices about personality and relationships; choices about pricing; choices about extra charges; choices about payment plans; choices about billing arrangements; choices… just choices! Most of the time any of us (including me for the first time on the BUYING end of legal services recently) the process of choosing a lawyer solely depends on someone else recommending a lawyer “they’ve heard of”. And, because when we need legal services, we’re usually months late in finally making that choice, so we’re hurried to get legal representation. Go into the decision with tools to make the choice quick and easy.

I have so many friends who don’t work in legal who want advice about how to find the right lawyer and what to look for as qualities or pitfalls to avoid. And I do figure with my experience with having worked with firms who have a combine total of over 1500 lawyers in the past 10 years (large firms, mid-sized firms, and smaller firms). Working at some of THE top firms in the world and in Seattle. Beyond that experience, my connections through the Association of Legal Administrators (a 10,000+ member organization dedicated to educating, networking and enhancing the business managers inside law firms and legal departments), gives me access to thousands of professionals and friends in the industry all around the United States who I trust for advice and guidance in all areas of the legal industry and running law firms. With the relationships I’ve built within ALA, I certainly have great ways to dig up personal experience with individual lawyers or firms around the country.

So, what do you say? Who doesn’t want advice and guidance on making choices that could cost you big BUCK?. Many lawyers will get you similar results… others will get you amazing results and will leave you feeling like you have a friend in the biz OR you could get a lawyer who just made bank for your hardship.

My promises: I will mention all of my previous firms and my experiences in those environments and cultures. I will NOT name names of lawyers I didn’t get along with, but will share the stories openly with fictitious names. :) I WILL likely boast about my current firm, Summit Law Group, because they rock AND because they’ve given me an amazing insight as to why law firms should be different. And my final promise, no sugar coating, just honest, straight forward answers and guidance to choices in legal services.

How do you think I should handle this? Should this be my first stab at video blogging? OR should I stick with my written word? Maybe a little of both! Very excited about this topic.

Filed under: Legal,Management

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26 Aug 10

(From my Flickr Album)

Awww… ain’t she a beauty?

Well, my ex got the “nice Lexus” (2002 LS 430), admittedly a very nice car and I got the… 1992 LS 400.  Yes, she was a marvel in her day, but her day has LONG since past!

At first I was really MAD to have him “dump” the old clunker on me, but then I decided to turn this into a growing moment.  Knowing very well, I wasn’t going to keep either car (both gas guzzlers), the only difference would have been trade-in value.  And since this just meant he was taking less from my retirement accounts in exchange for the nicer car, I’m in the same position.  No big deal.

So, I wanted efficient. I wanted comfort. I’d owned two Lexus(s) previously and wasn’t really loving the idea of going to a Ford Fusion or VW anything or those ugly Prius(s).  So, just to prove I didn’t want a VW, I did go and test drive the new 2010 VW Golf TDI from Carter Volkswagen.  It was super cute, but ZERO frills.  Having been a Lexus owner for 5+ years now, that was a tad odd. No power seats?  Really?  Anyway, yes, it’s efficient as far as gas mileage goes, but I’m not a fan of the diesel engine from an environmental standpoint.  I know, I know, “this one is much cleaner and passes emissions standards in all 50 states”… yup, I knew that.  Anyway, cute little car that I would have HAD to get custom ordered all decked out with what they call options, which would take 3 months to get.  Never could get them to respond to my request to spec out the model I wanted.  Odd.  With all the frills I think it came to about $33k.  I thought that was a lot of money for a car with no electric seats and no leather!  Maybe it’s just me….

Next, feeling at a bit of a loss for my once held desire for the Golf, I decided to browse the inventory of the local Lexus dealers online.  And VOILA, there she was… the car that would soon be named Alfred (after Batman’s assistant, duh! She’s got more gadgets than the bat mobile!).  I searched all over the internet, reading reviews, looking for comparable other cars, but nothing was jumping out at me except lil Alfred.  SO, the website says, “Send a sales inquiry”, you fill out the form telling them your preferred contact methods (phone, email, etc).  About an hour later (maybe sooner) I received a reply email… asking me to call them!  HELL NO!  I had specific questions that I wanted answered via email before I called or went over there… and so that’s basically how I replied.  I get a second reply, “but I can answer your questions more easily over the phone.”  Nope… no go buddy.  I wrote them back, “You asked for a preferred method of contact and then tell me you can only discuss it over the phone.  Apparently you don’t like your customers’ preferences.”  The next morning I had a reply from the Internet Sales Manager apologizing for the odd behavior, he answered my very simple questions and, as expected, asked when I could come over to test drive her.  IMMEDIATELY was my reply, but I tried to be more subtle, by answering, “hopefully this afternoon”.

So, I took the “clunker” (LS 400, which every time we went to the dealer for a car wash we’d tell them we had our clunker Lexus and they’d get a kick out of it) over to Lexus of Bellevue.  Met Ken, my new sales guy introduced by the Internet Sales Manager who took me out for a spin in Alfred.  She’s purdy… but I couldn’t figure out how to start the darned thing!  I felt like a moron!  I’d driven a Honda Civic Hybrid several years back, but had totally forgotten all the intricacies of operating a hybrid.  No physical key, foot on brake, press the POWER button, flip the tiny little shifter thingy into drive and off you go!  Oh so quiet, like the passengers of a hearse!  Oh, the gas motor wasn’t yet running, DUH! Of course it’s going to be quiet.  I still was not disappointed when it did start (very very subtly) when I accelerated into traffic.

So, that was the beginning of my love affair with my hybrid transsexual car.  She looks like a girl, but has a boy’s name… oh yeah!  HOT!  😛

What do I think of her now?  Well, here are the great positives so far: averaging about 35 mpg (exactly on target with the manufacturer), the seats are deadly comfy (slept for 6 hours one evening after a drunken bender), plenty of leg and head room all around, a TECHNOLOGICAL MARVEL (simply amazing how much technology is built into this car), she turns lots of heads being the purdy “Matador Red” and having the optional tinted windows and larger 18″ wheels, and the gas peddle response is MUCH better than I expected from a car rated as 0-60 in 8.4 seconds and 187 horse power (going from 290 in my LS 430), I also love the bluetooth music and telephone!! Love sitting in the car and my  HTC EVO (by Sprint) connect automatically and will start playing music.  LOVE IT!

What don’t I like? Well, I don’t like the “EV” driving mode. “EV” stands for Electric Vehicle.  It’s a complete farce.  You have to be going under 20 mph and can’t accelerate “too quickly”.  Dumb, pointless. I SORT OF like the navigation system, but I can’t seem to get the web synced “eDestination” system working correctly, so I can enter my addresses from my computer and have them sync to the car automatically.  That’s annoying, but I have an appointment with the dealer’s tech expert to help me through all the technology that IS the HS 250h.  So another thing that’s hard to get used to is that the brakes are SUPER sensitive!  You’ll nearly put your passengers through the very expensive windshield the first time you try to stop.  Fortunately, the first time is usually a car salesman!  You get used to that very quickly.

Well, that’s all for now.  LOVE for Alfred!

Filed under: Social Media,Technology,Twitter

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27 Jul 10

Just when I thought the Social Media “revolution” was actually revolutionizing the legal industry, we now have more and more people expressing their refusal to adopt due to the “permanence” of posts.

Two different occurrences recently reminded me that I needed to expand thought into this realm.  Occurrence 1: a legal administration group I’m involved in started “cautioning” its members (member to member forum, NOT the organization speaking) on the permanence of social media posts. Occurrence 2: a blog entry by the talented Nancy Myrland called “Should Law Firms Ban Use of Facebook at Work?”  Nancy shows a quick example of how to engage your entire firm in the marketing efforts of the firm by empowering the attorneys and staff to use social media with proper guidelines and examples.  I’ll talk about this idea (which I love) shortly.

For now, let’s focus back to the Permanence issue.  There’s no doubt that things posted online are now being indexed and saved in the archives for eternity, somewhere, by someone, not necessarily the original location you may have posted. For example, if you post “I had a great day at the ALA Conference in Boston” on Twitter, you should realize that Google reads and indexes everything on twitter.  So, what’s wrong with that tweet?  And what’s wrong with saying, “I just read a great blog entry by Nancy Myrland about law firms banning Facebook at work” with a link?  Who cares if it’s permanent?  Am I fearful that perhaps Nancy might someday be accused of something OUTLANDISH and by my “liking” her article therefore I’m associated with her?  That’s absurd.

Is this a control issue that we’re seeing?  I understand law firms, and corporations, feel the desire/need to control everything on the interwebs (cute/funny term for the internet), but what if you’re not saying things you’d be embarrassed to be permanent?  Personally, I think posting your complaints about the permanence of social media on a forum even more embarrassing, but that’s just me perhaps.

Here on my blog, there’s an option to automatically post one entry per week that is a compilation of all your tweets from the prior week.  I’m seriously considering turning on this feature!  It would make finding me and my likes/dislikes all that much easier simply by scrolling through my own blog. Granted, I am part of Gen X and usually find myself more similar to Gen Y (sometimes known as Millennials) in that I run my life completely transparently online and offline.  I WANT people to know and feel who I am, what my beliefs and ideas are.  I want to reach out to the world knowing that sometimes connecting to people online is just as powerful as connecting in person.  BE only one person.

I’ve heard of people creating separate Facebook or Twitter profiles for themselves so they have “one professional profile” and “one personal profile”.  If you can’t say something personal to your professional colleagues, then you likely shouldn’t be posting it online (or even saying it).  The old adage of “What goes around comes around” can certainly catch up with you.  Personally, I’d rather my actual written words catch up to me because I actually wrote them rather than the interpretation through four different people getting to someone from a spoken word.

Do I ever post things that I wish were not permanent?  Sort of.  What I mean by that is that some messages I post, if read SOLELY individually, could be taken as rude or disrespectful on my Twitter or Facebook.  However, I’m not ashamed of who I am.  I don’t post slurs about individuals or direct insults to people.  Sometimes I might call out a public figure or company to DO better in the world, but that’s who I am.  I try to live an example of customer service everyday, inside and outside my firm.  But by no means do I wish them to feel I’m just a “doing” robot.  I don’t just “do” whatever is asked of me, I also think.  I’m a human with emotions, thoughts, opinions, humor and frustration.  People connect to other humans, not to monotonous robots writing more blah emotionless words into opinions they feel they need to believe.

Free yourself from the shrinking world of political correctness and “lack of opinionness“.  Open your heart and mind to the world. Toughen your skin, allow people to judge you, don’t be embarrassed by who you are inside OR outside the office.  If you have something to be embarrassed about you should likely address why your embarrassed by that or why you continue to do it.

Filed under: Blogging,Legal,Social Media,Twitter

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14 Jun 10

WOW… what a week!  I’ve had such an intensely busy schedule that I actually thought I wouldn’t have time to write this entry.

First off, yes the device is AMAZING!  I read a TON of articles and reviews before getting it, including many about what apps I should download to start off since I’ve never owned an Android phone.  I’m going to address a couple of the “concerns” I read that were consistent in the reviews and give you my swing:

  1. Other Reviews: “Battery Life is Bad” – This I found to be… true.  I decided early on, before I even got the device, that I would simply run the device in 3G mode except when I really needed the 4G and that I would leave WiFi turned off unless I knew I needed/wanted it.  Well, after following that model consistently, I still find the battery life to be terrible.  Maybe 5-6 hours before a charge/battery change is needed.  For most folks, that is completely unreasonable.  For me, I’m ok with it.  I have a spare battery that I always carry.  Ordered it before I got the EVO.  Anticipated this as an issue.  Spare battery solves this issue for me.
  2. Other Reviews: “4G Coverage is Spotty” – This I found to be… true.  Even though I live in the greater Seattle area, the 4G coverage is spotty.  Part of the spotty/inconsistent service is the commonly known issue of penetration for this WiMax technology.  Most places indoors you can’t use 4G, or rather, it’s pretty useless inside.  For me though, as I mentioned above, I rarely would choose to use 4G unless I’m streaming video (up or down).  Recently I went to the Seattle Sounders match only to find that an unfortunate 4G outage was happening for the first 30-40 minutes of the game.  At first I thought, “WOW!  I have FULL 4G bars right now! a-streamin we shall go!” But then when I went to upload I kept getting errors.  I did find out from my Sprint friends that there happened to be a short outage happening, which DID turn out to be very short, but just happened to be when I was trying to upload!  Go figure.  That aside, I can’t get 4G in my condo in Shoreline and even inside my office I can’t get any 4G bars.  I’m pretty confident in saying I’d RATHER not be paying that $10 data premium for services I can rarely use.
  3. Other Reviews: “WiFi is weak” – This I found to be… true.  In my condo I have a b/g/n router that is 15 feet from my couch and I still only get 2 out of 4 bars of signal strength, nothing in between me and the router but air.  I also noticed I often get send/receive data transmission errors when connected to WiFi.
  4. Other Reviews: “Harsh Voice Quality” – This I found to be… false.  I think the voice quality is great!  And even though my original device had a faulty microphone (got a replacement a week later when new stock came into my store), I use my Bluetooth 99% of the time and I could hear and be heard very clearly.

So, here are some of my own points of interest and findings:

  1. Flexibility: I never had any issues customizing my BlackBerry devices LIKE CRAZY, but most people don’t want to spend nearly as much time as I did playing with their BlackBerry.  With that said, my EVO takes customizing and flexibility to whole new level.  I can literally take every application off of my screens and rearrangement wherever I want them, including cool widgets (widgets allow you to “operate” the software without opening it).
  2. The Camera ROCKS: That’s right! It rocks!  And not because it’s an amazing 8mp, but actually because the quality of photos it takes is wonderful!  The 8mp only really says it takes large pictures, not that it takes nice pictures.  But the EVO photos are fast, crisp and colorful.  Great job HTC!
  3. Screen Protectors: Ok, as I hope you can tell, I LOVE my mobile devices, however, for all three of my past touch screen devices I have purchased screen protectors all to simply rip it off within 24 hours of installing it, essentially flushing $10-25 down the drain.  I recently saw a review of the scratch test of the EVO and it seemed to fair pretty well and since I knew I wouldn’t be striking mine with a knife, sandpaper, or any other intentional actions I’m comfortable with it not having a screen protector.
  4. Cases: As  you can imagine there are a TON of cases available for this device.  Right now I have the Seidio Innocase II with holster.  I also have a beautiful white leatherish/weaved material case I got from the Sprint store that has cool silvery metalic edges.  And I also just ordered a third case.  Yes, perhaps overkill, but the cases are like accessories to a wardrobe!  The third one I ordered is also a Seidio, but is an “exclusive” offered by Amazon called the Seidio Innocase Active Case.
  5. Size: I LOVE the size!  Folks have aired some complaints that they’ve thought it was too large of a device.  Of course most of those folks haven’t really used it for longer than 5 minutes if at all.
  6. The magic of the web: Coming from BlackBerry land I’ve had spotty (at best) experience with mobile web browsing, but the EVO is one mean internet surfing machine!!  The EVO comes with a native browser that works well, but it was recommended on several blogs that I try Dolphin Browser HD.  It’s amazing!  Tabs so you can open multiple pages, super fast graphics and layout loading, very accurate page rendering (layout), and the COOLEST feature of all is the “gesture commands” you can use.  This means you can touch a little command “button” in the lower left and then by swooshing out a “G” on the screen it instantly moves me to Google.  If I swoosh “N” it opens a new “tab”.  And you can train it to open any bookmarked page like this.  Pretty cool and fast way to navigate.
  7. The Power Button: I don’t like it.  It’s on the very top of the device and is almost completely flush with the body making it a little difficult to feel even if you’re pressing it down.  You use the button A LOT since it’s the only button that will lock/unlock/awaken the device from sleep.  With that said, my new case coming has a button enhancement that should make finding it and operating it a little more seamless.
  8. Linking people in your life: One of my favorite “gadgets” is Favorites.  In here you can drop in a few of your friends.  But because the EVO address book “links” your friends through their various identities (you can link you Outlook contact to their Twitter profile, their Facebook profile/info, Flickr, etc.  By all their accounts together and dropping a few of them into this gadget, the gadget tells me whenever they have activity on any of their linked accounts.

Overall, very pleased with the device regardless of my airing of complaints at the beginning of the article.  I guess mostly because I knew what I was getting into with each of those items before purchasing.

Next article to come: EVO/Android software! .. continue reading ..

Filed under: Droid

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20 May 10

Recently, attorneys Kristin Anger and Sofia Mabee from my firm, Summit Law Group, did a presentation here in Washington about the “Legal Ramifications of Social Media”.  Much of this information stemmed from a presentation by another Summit Law Group attorney, Bruce Schroeder, at a public employer conference in New Orleans, LA in April 2010.

DISCLAIMER: This document is intended to be a general guide of employment issues and risks for employers to keep in mind.  Please do not use this guide assuming this is legal advice.  Your company’s individual circumstances should be discussed with your employment attorney.

Legal Ramifications of Social Media

Filed under: Social Media

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18 May 10

I’ve had a few interactions with friends recently about the Arizona Immigration Laws and thought I’d publicly share my thoughts.

Three things of interest to me that I haven’t seen being said is:

  1. Employers have a significant responsibility in enforcing immigration status.  And if employers can’t do it, I’m not sure how local police forces can be expected to do any better.  I’ve heard of the fake birth certificates and work credentials that are being presented to employers by illegals, but we don’t have a resource to verify the validity of such documents.  We just have to ask for them.
  2. If this issue truly is about crime, then police already arrest criminals that they catch.  Criminals get a background check already to determine citizenship status, don’t they?  Passing laws like this only provokes a mass revolt by real citizens who are falsely detained because they aren’t carrying legitimate paperwork.  Again, what paperwork would be sufficient? A driver’s license? A fake birth certificate?  Have the police been trained on how to verify birth certificates?  What about green cards?  Personally, I’ve never even seen one, let alone could I verify if one is legit or not.  Or is blond hair enough?  Are we going back to a “paper bag test”?
  3. Isn’t it the Federal Government’s responsibility to enforce border controls and immigration?  I’m curious if the states even have a right to intervene.  That’s not to say the states aren’t affected by it “more than the federal government”.  But I’m curious where the separation of state/federal responsibilities and rights come in.  If the feds aren’t doing enough to patrol our boarders for the criminals, then that’s an entirely different problem to address.  The crime issue and border patrol are related by funding.  Want more?  Increase federal funding for it.

I don’t think running a “police state” or essentially a Martial Law State can correct the problems Arizona is facing.

Are any of these three issues being addressed already?  Am I completely misunderstanding issues?  I’m sure I’m missing lots of facts, but these are the issues rolling around in my head telling me these AZ laws are troubling.

Filed under: Cultural,Legal

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17 May 10

I love my BlackBerry.  It does (most) everything I want.  With that said, I get technology envy.  It’s not a healthy condition to have, but like alcoholism and bulimia it’s something that requires professional help to overcome.

I’m about to give in to my technology envy after having my BlackBerry Storm2 for only 6 months.  My Storm2 is wonderful!  Best BlackBerry I’ve ever owned!  With that said, BlackBerry is quickly falling behind in technological advancement.  That’s NOT to say it’s not the most trustworthy and secure device on the market.  You’ll never hear me argue that point.  It is, everyone knows it.

So, what’s the latest/greatest allure?  The HTC Droid EVO being released by Sprint on June 4th.

I have to give it a try!  The specs for the device tell a general reader that if it performs they way it’s promised to it will be the “perfect, most advanced device” on the market.

Here’s a rundown of the specs that make me drool:

  • Main display: 4.3” WVGA (800×480) 65K colors (HUGE!!)
  • 3G/4G capability (4G only in certain markets right now, mine is one of them)
  • Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ QSD8650 (1GHz) processor (fastest mobile processor on the market)
  • Google Goggles (Search the internet by taking a picture instead of typing words)
  • Google Navigation (FREE navigation software powered by Google Maps) (Also comes with Sprint Navigator for free)
  • 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot capability – connects up to eight Wi-Fi enabled devices
  • 4G data speeds (WiMAX) – peak download speeds of more than 10 Mbps; peak upload speeds of 1 Mbps; average download speeds of 3-6 Mbps
  • Capture and share HD-quality video (720p) from your phone
  • Live video sharing with Qik
  • 8MP autofocus camera with dual LED flash and 1.3MP front-facing camera (DUEL cameras, one front, one back to do mobile video conferencing!! WOW! 8MP on a mobile device??)
  • FM radio and Amazon MP3 store

Crazy, right?

So, what am I worried about losing?

  1. Worried about Microsoft Exchange integration – I know it’s technically possible natively and through third-party apps, but not nearly as seamless as BlackBerry
  2. No “memos” integration between device and Microsoft Exchange.  I use the Notes feature in Outlook a lot, which shows up on my BlackBerry as “Memos”.  I have yet to find a way to sync those to my anticipated Droid
  3. Nervous about lack of applications developers – I KNOW what apps I have for my BlackBerry and have been able to acquire them over years, porting them from device to device, but I’m just not sure about the thoroughness of apps available to Droid
  4. I promise to miss you Verizon!  I have friends here in Seattle who work with Sprint and who are active in the local Social Media community.  I’m really looking forward to supporting them and their efforts to integrate into the local community.  I have yet to meet anyone from Verizon supporting events or participating.
  5. BlackBerry Messenger has become a staple in my life.  Instant communication with other BlackBerry users without the device battery drain of “normal” instant messaging systems (thanks to the superior “push” technology of BlackBerry)
  6. I promise to miss you Verizon! I know I’ve already said that, but I made the mistake once of switching carriers and suffered for one year with AT&T before returning home to Verizon’s superior coverage and clarity.  I can’t say that I’ll be affected by “poor” Sprint coverage or service or clarity.  I’ve never had Sprint, but I do know they don’t “have a map for that”.  I’m relying on my best friend who tells me he’s always had Sprint and has never had issues with service in the greater Seattle area. (He also enjoys the more inclusive pricing structures with Sprint)

Ok, so there you have it.  I’m going to give my BlackBerry the ol’ heave-ho!  I never thought I’d say that… but yet again, there’s always the possibility of buyer’s remorse.

So, should I just ditch my BlackBerry and fully commit?  Or should I keep it during the 30 day trial period knowing I’ll be able to switch back if for some reason the Droid fails me?  HELP!

Filed under: BlackBerry,Droid

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14 May 10

So, since my last MacBook Pro update, I’ve overcome some major obstacles and have created a few.  However, I’m surviving… although not yet thriving.

I pledge that a month from now, I’ll be LOVING this little piece of beautiful aluminum (pronounce that however you like).

So, what do I love?  Well, I’ve learned to love VM Fusion!  Saves my butt a few times a week when I have to login to my work computer, but can’t seem to figure out how to VPN in with my Mac.  But as soon as Fusion is loaded we’re off to the races!  I did have to give up on Parallels.  Never did get that to work.  Oh well.

My biggest dilemma when I started this journey was figuring out the file system.  More specifically, I noticed that if I imported photos into iPhoto, I could only edit them AND see them in iPhoto.  I’ve since learned there are ways “around” that, but it’s supposedly a precaution to keep you from accidentally editing photos with other software… or something.  Anyway, I guess my initial inquiry was really two fold: 1) the file system issue as stated above, and 2) what photo editing software do I want to primarily rely on?

My answer to that SO far has been Aperture.  I really like it, have grown to love it really.  Has great integration with Facebook, Flickr, email, etc.  Also easy to organize photos.  Good news is that tomorrow I have a full day class on Adobe Lightroom.  That should be fun, yet will further my confusion as to which software I should be using.

Photo editing isn’t really like any other computer software.  Each of them have their strengths and weaknesses.  For example, supposedly Photoshop does EVERYTHING, however, I can’t make it do anything because there are SO many things it can do all the controls confuse and scare the crap out of me.  So a step down from that is Lightroom and Aperture.  I find these both to be fairly thorough, yet fairly simple to use with some advanced features and add-ons available.  And then there’s iPhoto, Satin’s photo editor. Grrr…

So, back to my Mac.  I’ve been to my first official “One to One” and asked lots of questions about the Mac file system and did receive a pretty thorough explanation, none of which I can repeat back…. because I don’t remember it, that’s how “Greek” it was to me.  Doesn’t make a lick of sense.  Oh well, I’ll deal.  I’ll figure it out eventually.  One very complicated task I did figure out at my session was the whole pinch zoom thingy.  I know, I know, “everyone knows how to do that”.  Well SOME of us have never owned an iPhone, which apparently is why many Mac users know the pinch instinctively.  I felt like (and pardon the non-p.c. connotation) a retard!  I held my breath the entire time trying to zoom in or out on a photo or website.  THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE EASY!  But yet, I’m pretty sure I turned blue in the face on at least two occasions and nearly a third.

So, what do I LOVE?  Well, the battery life ROCKS my world!  Five hours of normal heavy use fully lit screen.  That’s pretty amazing!  Jumps by hours if I drop the screen lighting any.  However, I think the listed “9-10 hours” advertising might be if it’s just sitting there on the lowest light setting.

I also love that my cat (Phyllis for those of you who aren’t Facebook fans of hers) has figured out how to use the track pad!  She can even scroll pretty effectively!  Granted, she loves to sleep on my voluptuous belly while I’m “computing” and occasionally her little paw slides onto the track pad and then if I try to move my mouse I’m scrolling all over the place, of course thoroughly confused.  Phyllis approves.

Filed under: Mac,Technology

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10 May 10

Most of the top line social networking sites (Facebook, LinkedIN, Twitter) all have a very easy way to display a customized URL to go directly to your page without having all the weird characters that you normally see.

As for Twitter, the URL is automatically shortened and customized.  So, mine for example is http://twitter.com/RL_Wood.  My pointers with Twitter are:

  1. Make your user as SHORT as possible.  Although “TheRampantTechnologyGroup” might best explain who you are, it makes “retweeting” (other circulating your information) quite difficult with only 140 characters to work with.  Remember and underscore IS a character and can help a lot.
  2. When you consider a Twitter handle, remember the handle is case sensitive.  So use case to your advantage!  If your handle was @robertespinozaesq, it might be more easily read if you wrote @RobertEspinozaEsq

With regard to Facebook, it’s quite simple to choose a URL that makes it easier for you to direct people to to your FB page.

  1. First off, login to your Facebook page.
  2. Next, go to http://www.facebook.com/username/ Here is where you’ll set your one0-chance only page name (can not updated it later on) (my direct link is http://www.facebook.com/LegalAdmin)
  3. Once you’ve chosen a name, if you go back to the http://www.facebook.com/username/ You’ll have to option of giving names to your “fan pages” (recently renamed just “Pages”).  These names are helpful for groups you’ve created like mine http://www.facebook.com/PugetSoundALA and http://www.facebook.com/QLawWA

Now on to LinkedIN.  Customizing the URL to your page is even easier than the other two.

  1. Once you’ve logged in you’ll see a tab/button at the top that says “Profile”, click on it.  Here you should see your profile.
  2. Just a few lines down from your picture you’ll see your “Public Profile” and it shows a link.  Likely you can’t really comprehend what the link is saying because of the strange characters and slashes.  Note the “Edit” button on the right of the URL!!
  3. Click on Edit and type in your new URL path!  Mine for example is http://www.linkedIN.com/in/legaladmin

Hope that helps!  By following these few tips it’ll make sharing your social networks in social settings MUCH easier.  Consider putting your LinkedIN and/or Twitter handle on your business card now that you’ve made it simple for your business partners to get to!

Filed under: Social Media,Twitter

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20 Apr 10

Yup, you read it right.  I bought a MacBook Pro.  As a matter of fact the MacBook Pro 17″ with the i7 processor and anti-glare screen!  Here are my stats, share yours if you get the chance 😉

  • 500GB Hard Drive
  • 4gigs RAM
  • A nice shoulder bag case
  • Software Add-on: Parallels 5 (for running Windows INSIDE the Mac OS)
  • One year One to One “training/support” program (Haven’t decided on the 3 year service plan yet… Hmmm… $349 more!?!?)

What do I think?  Well, we’ll get to that!  But first, let me give you a tiny bit of back story.


  1. I’ve always been a “Mac Hater”
  2. I can count on two hands how many times in my life I’ve ever operated a Mac
  3. I still have no plans on going iPhone (and would only SLIGHTLY consider it if it makes it to Verizon)

Buying factors:

  1. With my brand spanking new Canon 7D camera fully equipped with Full HD 1080p video recording capabilities, I have more confidence that this new Mac will give me the processing power to view, let alone edit the video.  My current Dell D630 can’t even view the video smoothly, let alone modify it.
  2. I’ve always had “hand me down” laptops from work.  I thought it might be time I made my own decision about what machine I wanted for MY use.
  3. It’s probably the most beautiful laptop, physically, that I’ve ever seen.
  4. My ex would never have allowed me to live in “Mac luxury”, so I’m feeling a bit like lavishing myself!

What I like so far:

  • Enormous beautiful display!  Nothing like it!   I’m thrilled with it!
  • Boot Camp allows me to dual boot in either Windows 7 or Mac OS (must already have the copy of Windows, not pre-installed)
  • Facial Recognition in iPhoto.  This is going to be really hand for my Legal Association events where I often take pictures of some of the same people (hope it can tell my cats apart, that would be a nice bonus!)
  • AMAZINGLY quiet!  I can’t hear it!  I literally have to have my ear pressed against the bottom to hear any fans or anything moving inside.  That’s pretty sweet.
  • Was surprised to get RDMPlus to install (remote desktop software so I can access it from my BlackBerry)
  • Was also surprised to get LogMeIn to work too!

What I dislike so far:

  • This whole Mac touch-pad flick here with one finger, do this with two fingers, that with three fingers and the other thing with four fingers is for the birds!!  I feel like it takes me SOOOO much longer just to figure our the correct “gesture” to get the darned thing to copy and paste!  I know, this is something I’ll get use to.
  • I HATE that I didn’t have the option of upgrading the DVD player/writer to Bluray!  WTF?!?!  That’s just dumb.  Really unhappy about that!
  • Haven’t quite figured out yet how to transfer my music from my PC to the Mac.  I KNOW there’s a way to do it over my network or through network cable or even Firewire, but I’m stumped.  That’ll come soon I’m sure.
  • I have all my eggs in one basket.  ALL of the software I’ve purchased over the past dozen years has all been for PC, so I have to start from scratch.  That is no fun at all!  Thank goodness my credit cards aren’t close to the max yet!  LOL


  • Still LOTS of hope.  I’ve literally only really been working on it for about 3 hours since yesterday because I didn’t partition and install Windows 7 via Boot Camp
  • Frustrated with the rumor of “Mac is SO intuitive”.  That’s BS.  I feel like a third grader.  Scratch that, third graders are pretty tech savvy these days.  I feel like a 2 year old!  I could do JUST about anything to my Windows machines, sort of a nerd really.  Now I’m a complete novice.  I guess that can be thought of as a “humbling experience”

Wish me luck!  For those of you who attend church regularly during the week, I’d really appreciate you putting in a prayer request for me!  Thanks in advance!

Filed under: Mac

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21 Feb 10

It’s been a conscious decision from the day I started working at Summit Law Group (August 29, 2005, but who’s counting) that I would become Summit’s second CLM.  Knowing very well, that it would take me another 3.5 years to qualify as a “Functional Specialist” (someone who works in a specific function at a law firm, in my case I am the Accounting Manager having only oversight of the firm’s financial activity, this is opposed to an “Overall Administrator”).  The qualifications for a Functional Specialist are a bit more stringent than those of an Overall Administrator.  First off, you need five years in a managerial role.  Secondly, BEYOND the 120 minutes of certified course work in five of the nine areas of study over a 24 month period prior to applying for the exam, you ALSO needed 15 ADDITIONAL HOURS of certified course study outside of your own functional specialty.  The understood reasoning for the additional hours requirement is because, as a functional specialist you do not have responsibility and thus perhaps knowledge in all the areas of the law firm’s operations, even if you could sit for and pass the exam.

Knowing all this, it was apparent that any functional specialist seeking the Certified Legal Manager designation would need to exert a higher level of dedication and discipline to achieve this already very high standard for professional certification.

What I didn’t initially realize during my initial preparations was how much support and encouragement, education, mentoring, and cheer leading it would take for me to go from Certifiable to Certified!

Over the first two years of my employment at Summit, Marc G. Reynolds, CLM sat with me on many occasions to discuss the certification, the process, the educational requirements, his journey through the process, the trials others went through, the idea that many people hide the fact that they are taking the exam simply to save embarrassment if they should fail, and so on and so forth.  There was much to discuss and much to prepare for.  These discussions led me to offer complete transparency of the challenges I would be facing over the upcoming years.  Almost immediately, I began sharing with colleagues in PSALA that in May 2009 I would be sitting for the CLM.  Keep in mind, that this is 2005 still!  I couldn’t even start compiling my educational requirements for another two years, but yet, I was already putting myself and my dedication out there knowing very well, that if I placed this standard on myself, then others around me would encourage and help me along the way.

So we skip forward to October 2007.  I attend the Region 5 conference in Portland, OR and receive my first few CLM qualified hours of course work!!  How exciting!  I didn’t even realize it.  (Keeping in mind it was also at this conference where I met Wendy Rice-Isaacs, President of ALA International, and told her, “I”m going to be President someday too”.  To which she relied, “Oh, of your chapter?” and I said, “No! Of all ALA, just like you!”  What was I thinking?  Anyway, let’s hope I’m writing about that journey at another time.)

Next big step in the journey was attending the International Conference the following spring which happened to be in Seattle in May 2008.  Just prior to this conference I started back tracking through my legal course work and started documenting all of the sessions I attended in Portland as well as any chapter education that would qualify for certification.  Then, when the Annual Conference Educational Brochure was released I very delicately scoured the educational sessions for EVERY single CLM certified course to determine if I would reach all my educational needs by the end of the conference.  To my amazement, if I attended all the CLM sessions during the 2008 conference I was going to have more than 80% of my course work already completed, with still another year to complete the remaining educational requirements before sitting for the exam in May 2009.  WOW!

My next step was the PSALA CLM Study Group.  Beginning on October 1, 2008 members of our chapter’s elite compiled courses covering all the essential “areas of competence” for legal administrators.  These courses would be conducted every other Wednesday from 3:30-5PM until APRIL!  WOW!  We were so lucky to have such an amazing group of dedicated and specialized knowledge in our chapter.  And although I didn’t need to document this coursework into my criteria for certification, it was absolutely critical to my ultimate success.  After all, JUST simply being a manager for 5 years and receiving the prerequisite course work was simply NOT enough to pass the exam.  You needed a true and thorough knowledge of ALL areas of law firm operations.

The very first CLM Study Group meeting was a bit intimidating.  Even though I had discussed the exam and processes quite extensively with Marc G. Reynolds, CLM over the past few years, it was quite intimidating to hear that Carol Anne Nitsche, CLM had actually read THE Financial Management for Law Firms reference book three times, cover to cover.  This monstrous book was 500+ pages of formulas and finance theory all based around law firm performance standards.  OMG… There was no way I was going to have that much dedication.  Is that what it really took?  It was at that moment that I severely regretted having told EVERYONE that I was definitely going to sit for AND PASS that exam in May 2009.  Thank goodness, no other prior CLM’s at this meeting had gone to quite that length.

Skipping forward to January 2009, I submitted my certified educational listing to ALA Headquarters to “certify” that I could in fact sit for the exam in May.  I submitted my payment and application then… I found out that they wouldn’t schedule me to sit for the exam.  Well, not until February 2009 when I actually hit my 5 year mark!  PHEW!  I have to say, I was a bit panicked when I got the phone call saying “We received your application and your payment, but we can’t send you a confirmation letter just yet”.  But alas, in late February I received my certification letter telling me that I officially qualified to sit for the Certified Legal Manager exam on Sunday, May 17, 2009 from 8AM-12PM in New Orleans, LA.  YES!  SUCCESS!  Well, not yet, but I was so close!!!

Over the next few months, I spent 3-4 nights per week reading through all my study materials from the CLM Study Group, as well as the CLM Study Guide.  It seemed like the more I read and the more I studied the more confusing all the information got!  But, I made it through all the materials.  I was as prepared as I could be.

Fast forward to the morning of May 17, Barb Paige and I met for breakfast at 6:30AM to make a final study run and to fuel up for the 4 hour mental marathon!  But… both of us were exhausted!  Many of our friends went out on Saturday night while we stayed in to study, while we stayed in to be well rested and un-hungover.  So, that solemn morning we sat there at breakfast, ate quietly, and expressed how nervous we were to take that LONG escalator ride up to the third floor of the Marriott Hotel.

When we arrived at the exam room at 7:30, we were the FIRST people there.  The doors weren’t even open yet.  Just moments later, one of the ALA staffers bursts through the doors perky and happy and praising us for arriving first and SO excited that we were sitting for the exam (the other ALA staffer seemed just as exhausted as we were and fortunately shared our lack of enthusiasm at such an early hour).

Over the next half hour each of the other 30 or so exam participants trickled into the room, each one taking a seat at their individual tables, the rules were explained and off we went!  I read through the exam once marking all the answers I knew instinctively, setting aside all the questions that I would need to “process” more thoroughly for later on.  This took me about an hour to go through the 125 questions.  Next I went back through to process the approximate 1/3 of the questions that required some evaluation or at least a coin flip approach.  That took another hour.  It was now 10AM and I had all the answers circled in my exam booklet.  Last step was to transfer the answers from the booklet to the answer sheet.  That took another 40 minutes as I still re-read every question as I transferred the answers from the booklet to the answer sheet.  10:40… and I was done?  Just moments before that I saw one gentleman turn in his materials and leave, but that meant I was number 2 to finish?  That couldn’t be a good sign, so I started going through my booklet again…. hold on, I had done my best.  I promised myself that I would not beat myself to death and risk changing perfectly good answers!  So, I took a deep breath, picked up my exam and took the walk of shame to the “hall monitor” at the front of the room, went back, gathered my personal belongings and out the door I went, knowing it would be “6-8 weeks” before I knew the results.

The conference was amazing, blah blah blah.  The only thing I could think about was that exam, the individual questions that seemed crazy, the results of that exam, and what it would mean for my future.  Trying to picture my new email signature “Richard L. Wood, CLM”.

Four weeks passed, I’m sitting in my office.  It’s about 11:15AM and Marc G. Reynolds, CLM walks into my office holding one single envelope.  This envelop is handed over to me.  It hasn’t been opened.  It says “Association of Legal Administrators” on the outside.  My heart races!  Why did he do this to me?  He intercepted my exam results and now had brought the letter to me and expected me to open it in front of him.  What if I failed???

I slowly tear open the letter… “We are sorry to inform you that you did NOT PASS the Certified Legal Manager exam.”  My heart sunk.  I looked up at Marc G. Reynolds, CLM and said, “I didn’t get it”.  Together we went over the very vague scoring results to see where my weaknesses were.  Come to find out, I was actually pretty good in finance… but not so good in ALL the other areas, just BARELY not passing each of the other areas of the exam.

Now what?  The Region 5 Conference was going to be in lovely Banff, just outside Calgary up in Canada and would not be an exam site for the fall.  So, the only next chance I would have to retake the exam would be in Las Vegas the week after the Region 5 Conference.  Would I have to go through ALL that study prep AGAIN?  What if I failed AGAIN?  What would be next for me?  Was it supposed to be a sign that I shouldn’t even be in legal?  All of these questions pounded in my head for two months.

Then I sucked in my ample stomach and said, “I’m going for it.  I’ve already put in SO much effort.  I can do this!”  So, once again I was on the studious path preparing for the exam retake in Las Vegas, NV on October 8th at 1-5pm.

I decided to skip the Region 5 conference in Banff assuming I would be spending that weekend studying intensely for the exam.

I won’t drag you through the play by play again, except for a few minor steps.  I arrived in Vegas on the evening of October 7, got up early on the 8th and went to the spa for a full body Shiatsu massage, had lunch and went to the exam.  I was VERY relaxed.  I had been through this before and decided there was no need to be nervous.  I already knew what to expect, except this time I wasn’t expecting a failure notice!  Once again, I had finished the exam in less than three hours, then RUSHED to the airport to catch my 5:30 flight back to Seattle.

Once I get back to my office four weeks pass and I am contemplating my entire future based around the results of this exam.  I couldn’t let Marc G. Reynolds, CLM down again.  We’re peers.  He’s put a lot of effort into preparing me for this exam, preparing me for a bright future in Legal Administration, building me up to our peers inside and outside our firm.  What if I failed again?  Should I just leave?  Should I change careers?  I was heart broken at the idea of leaving, but very worried about the consequences of proving my own incompetence.

Again, four weeks passes, this time I grab the letter out of my mail box.  I open it… “Congratulations!  You have PASSED the Certified Legal Manager Exam!!”  Tears welled up in my eyes, not quite spilling over the dam.  I literally RAN to Marc G. Reynolds, CLM’s office and tossed the letter on his desk, “I PASSED!!!”  To which, Marc G. Reynolds, CLM replied, “Congratulations Richard L. Wood, CLM”.  I was the 7th PSALA chapter member to become a Certified Legal Manager and number 312 in the United States.  It was a very proud, yet humbling moment in my life.

I hope I’ve given you an idea of the risks and rewards of the journey through the CLM process.  Would I do it again?  Would I have told everyone that I was going to sit for the exam?  Would I sit for the exam knowing I would fail the first time?  Would I sit for the exam a SECOND time knowing in my heart of hearts that my life and career were going to changer regardless of the results?  I would.

Out of this intense process blossomed a new Certified Legal Manager.  A designation currently reserved for only 312 of our 10,000+ membership.  It’s not only a moment of pride for pride’s sake.  It’s an accomplishment of a thorough and well balanced education.  Even though the exam seemed like the “be all and end all”, looking back at the process, I learned so many new skills and developed a whole new understanding and respect for the AMAZING industry that I’m thrilled to be a leader in, Legal Administration.

If you’d like more information about the CLM process, the exam or my experience, please feel free to email me, Richard L. Wood, CLM at RichardW@SummitLaw.com.

Filed under: Management

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11 Feb 10

Thanks to my dear friend Evelyn for sharing this with me yesterday:

This internet business was featured in a television news story yesterday evening.  It is quite frightening for those of us who assume that resumes would actually reflect the true history and qualifications of the applicant:


Our employment verification process takes the frustration out of your job search and eliminates annoying blots on your resume. We realize the pressure you face trying to find a job or start a new career. Based on many years of HR experience, our job reference services can help you land that job by providing you with outstanding job references for you to add on your resume, and answer any inquiries with a positive response..  Read more on How-it-Works

Why Choose CareerExcuse.com?

  • You Choose Your Career History!
  • You Pick Your Start and End Date!
  • You Choose your Salary!
  • We Provide a Real Company Just for You!
  • We Provide a Real Address For That Company!
  • We  Provide a Real Website For That Company!
  • We  Provide a Real “800” Phone Number!
  • We Will Have our Operators Standing By!

Just one more thing to watch for when doing reference checks.  Evelyn

Here’s the ABC News Story: http://abcnews.go.com/Business/fake-job-references-real-jobs/story?id=8401993

Filed under: Legal,Management

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19 Dec 09

First off, let me just say that I’m a Verizon junky.  I love Verizon.  They DO have a Map for That!  Great service, great devices (I have the BlackBerry Storm2) and reliable connections and speeds.  That’s my disclaimer!  (I hate AT&T, dislike T-Mobile and have never really thought much about Sprint except that they run on the “same” network technology as Verizon, just not as thorough of service coverage).

On December 8th I went to the Social Media Club Seattle event on the Microsoft campus.  Well, there was an “after party” sponsored by Spring 4G.  I’ve never been much of a Sprint guy, but thought I’d go and check it out anyway.  I’ve heard some good things about 4G WiMax and really wanted to see what it was really like.  That evening they had a 6 computer work station setup with Sprint U300 4G dongles (aircards that plug into your USB port) and I could not believe it when I did a speed test (the first and only thing I went directly to do) and saw it clock at 3.2 Mbps.  At the time I was told that was “a bit slow” by the Sprint rep, since apparently “good” signal strength can yield around 7-9 Mbps!!  That’s INSANE!  That’s 2x-3x faster than my home cable internet service… and it’s over the air!!  So, fascinated by the speed I experienced, I introduced myself to Jon (District Sales Manager) (@WSthHouse)and David (Store Manager at Northgate Way) (@Bonjour206).  These two are amazing guys.  Very nice, very straight shooting all around fun to hang out with.

So, I kept up twitter conversations with the two of them and a few days later David came to a #ColdPavement event in Belltown to hang out and so I could pick his brain some more.  I was basically digging for the weaknesses of 4G.  I did find out that some buildings do have penetration issues, so in those situations you’ll really need to be closer to windows (not so appealing an idea).  Other than that I couldn’t tell what the downsides could be since the service is only $59.99 a month (and completely mobile, unlike my home service).

After some thought of the subsequent days I decided that Friday night (last night) I’d take the plunge, go to the Sprint Northgate Way store and grab me some 4G.  Why not?  I’m going to be temporarily moving into a rental condo (I own it, but it’s been rented out over the past three years) and I don’t want to sign up for TV, telephone and internet while I’m trying to sell the unit.  So, this three inch dongle (three inches of speedy joy) could make that situation a lot nicer.

HOWEVER, Friday afternoon I discovered online through several different forums that the U300 has been having driver issues with Windows 7!  Ot oh!  I have Windows 7 on my laptop! YIKES!  I shot David a text message asking what his proposed work around would be… “No problem, a new update software update was released on Dec 14 with Windows 7 drivers.  You’ll be fine!”  Phew!  Saved the day!  Just when I thought I’d have to drop the whole thing, David rushes to the resque.

So, I get to the store around 5:30pm.  David is with a customer.  One of his sales monkeys RUNS over to ask, “Hey! How can I help you guys today?” (I brought my friend Josh with me, @JoshITGuy since he’s an IT Consultant and pretty savvy on networking and computer stuff)  I just told him that we were waiting for David and would browse while we waited.  Keep in mind Josh is also a Sprint junky.  Has been with Sprint for a long time (albeit one minor blip when he jumped ship to AT&T for an iPhone only to find out that AT&T sucks… that didn’t last long fortunately).  So, of course while “we” are browsing Josh is drooling over the BlackBerry Tour on display (with a dead battery unfortunately) and frantically wondering if David will be able to upgrade his soon to be obsolete 8330 to the shiny new Tour!

So, after about 15 minutes of wait for David to finish up with a customer (found out later he had been on a customer support call for a customer for 1 hour 10 minutes), he came over and we started the process.  He took us to the display and started showing us around the speed tests and all that, but I stopped him to say I’d already gone through it and had already made up my mind.  David ran into the back room and came out with a shiny black box that had my new toy inside.   Amazingly helpful, he says, “Well, this could take a few minutes to get setup because I’ll have to activate it and there’s a ‘Welcome’ message on there that I’ll have to get removed.  For some reason, just like with our phones, Sprint puts a welcome message on the aircards.  This doesn’t affect the 3G cards, but for some reason it prevents the 4G card from connecting and can be problematic if I don’t take care of it before you leave.” (WOW, it takes guts to admit that there’s a glitch in the system, even if you know how to get it resolved).  So he takes 15-20 minutes on the phone with a support rep to get this all taken care of, he says things are working fine.  But, I had my Windows 7 laptop WITH me.  (Smart cookie I am… make him get the software and make sure it’s working before I leave the store.)  So, he tells us that the software will take a little time to download and install.

So, while the download and install is taking place the three of us run out to grab a quick bite to eat and return to my laptop within the hour to have pristine Windows 7 compatible software on my laptop.  We walk in, install the software and within 15 minutes we’re connected to 4G and smokin the interwebs!

Oh, did I mention that while David was working with the customer support on the phone he was setting up my friend Josh with his new BlackBerry Tour?  Yeah, miracle worker!  He was able to get Josh’s renew date bumped by a few days to have him walking out with a powerful new BlackBerry Tour… all while on hold for my “Welcome Message” issue.

So, I got back late last night to the house I’m staying at on the top of Queen Anne hill in Seattle, immediately cranked up my laptop and plugged in the dongle.  Immediately went to the Speakeasy Speed Test site, fired it up, hit test… ONLY 1.8Mbps.  I was devastated (and very tired).

This morning I woke up, went down to the laptop again, did the speed test three times: 2.8Mbps, 3.4Mbps, and 3.8Mbps!  WOW!  Holy smokes Batman!  I’m stoked!

(In the image above, the Green number is my tested download speed and the Red number is my tested upload speed)

So, after a thrilling customer service experience with David and a great (and fast) experience with Sprint 4G, I’m a happy boy!

Did I mention that I’m happy?  Just want to be sure you understand that.

So, just as a disclaimer, Sprint 4G is not all that widespread yet.  It does cover most of the “I-5 corridor” from Bellingham down through Lakewood (just south of Tacoma) according to the service maps.  And it’s in a few other markets around the country.  But if you have this service and this dongle, it also does connect to their 3G data service too (although seems much slower in comparison now that I’m spoiled).  Take a stroll over to the Sprint Coverage Maps to see if their 4G service is in your market yet.

Good luck and happy surfing!

UPDATE: I forgot to mention the efforts that my dear friend Brian Westbrook put into making the Spring 4G “SMC After Dark” party work out flawlessly!  Great job Brian!

Filed under: BlackBerry,Social Media,Twitter

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1 Nov 09

Just in case you haven’t seen the Stephen Colbert “The Word – Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”.  Very funny!

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word – Don’t Ask Don’t Tell
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Religion

Filed under: Cultural

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27 Oct 09

I’m often asked how I could POSSIBLY manage to keep up with the constant stream of tweets from SO many followers (I don’t have nearly as many followers as many of my friends, but compared to others, 2700 is a lot).

Here’s my top 10 list of actions, applications and websites that will help you be more productive and keep on top of the Madness.

  1. TweetDeck – You have to get this.  You have to learn how to use it.  It will change how you look at Twitter.  A couple months ago I put together a “Video: Intro to TweetDeck” (program has been updated since my video blog, but still very similar).  It’s quite a simple program, but what I love most about it is that I can categorize all the different followers into different columns.  So, I’ll have “Friends” in one column, “Legal Tweeps” in another, and “Seattle folks” in a third column.  I’ll also have one column dedicated to @replies, DM’s and one for my Facebook stream.  With all this you can now see everything spread out on one screen.
  2. Upload a picture to your Twitter profile – I’ve actually heard some friends say they refuse to follow someone who doesn’t bother to change from the default image.  If you don’t like the idea of it being a picture of you, get one of your dog or a tree.  Anything but the default twitter image!  People will respect you more.  :)  While you’re at it, make sure to add your real name, your location and a bio.  Also, for a web link use your LinkedIN page if you don’t have a blog or website to direct folks to!  :)
  3. Get involved in your local Social Media Community – in Seattle we have the Social Media Club Seattle (a/k/a SMC Seattle) and you can also find events going on locally at twtvite.  Why bother with Twitter if you’re not going to use it to it’s advantages?  Turn those online relationships into real ones!  If you have a hard time finding people to follow, go to an event and meet some folks.  It will energize you to get involved.
  4. Find Followers – Using websites like wefollow will help you find twitter followers in topic areas you might be interested in.  If you work in Legal (as a lawyer or otherwise) you can check out LexTweet (operated by LexBlog).  There are TONS of other websites out there to help you find followers.  Plus your friends will likely participate in #FollowFriday (#FF) where they recommend people to follow!  This is a great way to for you to find like-minded people.
  5. Tweet on the Go! If you use a “Smartphone” there are lots of options for reading and sending Tweets on the Go.  For iPhone, a must have app is Tweetie (that’s the extend of my iPhone knowledge).  For BlackBerry I would suggest SocialScope, IF you get it.  It’s been in closed beta since January of 2009, I have hope it’ll be released to the general public soon.  Otherwise Ubertwitter is a great alternative.
  6. Tweeting Articles – Some folks live on Twitter simply to share and read articles that they love!  One easy way I do that is by using Viigo on my BlackBerry.  Every morning when I’m on the bus I’m constantly reading articles from news papers and blogs.  Using Viigo with just two clicks I’ve submitted the article to Twitter.  Very simple.  Also, if you’re reading a blog you might notice that beside each article you see a Share This button or a Twitter/Facebook button.  USE THEM!  Tell your following you’ve found something they might be interested in!  (TweetDeck has URL shrinking build in.  So if you paste a long URL address it will shrink the address for you)
  7. Re-Tweeting – Want to get someone’s attention? When you see something that someone has sent out and want to share it with your followers you “re-tweet” it.  On TweetDeck that’s a specific command.  You’ll know retweets because they start with “RT”.  When you RT someone’s tweet it tells them you like what they’ve circulated.  Some even take the time to thank folks personally for RTing their tweets.  This is a great way to increase your social profile. (Found this Re-tweet Etiquette very interesting)
  8. Sharing Twitter Responsibilities – If you have a Twitter account for your company, organization or non-profit you should consider sharing the Twitter responsibilities with others.  One very popular and EASY way to do that is to use a site called CoTweet. Here you can both send out tweets from your organization OR from your personal account.  You can also assign specific people to reply to specific tweets.  This takes the burden off of one single participant and allows others to get involved.
  9. Read Trust Agents!  If you want to feel part of the Social Media community and really be able to best “take advantage” of the relationships you build, Trust Agents, by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, is a fun and very helpful read.  I recently wrote a review of the book “Review: Trust Agents“.
  10. Distributing Your Twitter Handle – First off, DON’T protect your Twitter profile.  It’s just dumb.  If you don’t want certain people to see what you say, then either Twitter isn’t for you OR you shouldn’t say “it” to begin with.  Next, I put a little clear sticker on the back of my normal business cards that have my Twitter handle on it and my blog URL.  This allows me to give folks that info when doing a traditional business card exchange.

BONUS: Be a person, not a company.  People want to connect with People, not companies.  It might feel nicer for you to be more anonymous as “XYZ Corporation”, but you’ll end up just that, anonymous.  People usually hate following companies and are generally suspicious of companies who follow them.

OK, that offically wraps up my rendition of “Top 10 Twitter Tips”.  Hope you find them helpful.  Drop me a line anytime.  I love interacting with folks.

Tweet ya later!!!

Filed under: Social Media,Twitter

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25 Oct 09

First off, I believe this book is well intentioned for corporate folks who have large organizations begging them to understand what this “whole social media thing” is all about.  It’s very appealing to this audience for a few reasons.  1) The methodical approach to much of the first 2/3 of the book are getting folks to understand the statistical value of target markets relating to technology, referred to as “Technographics”.  This approach could be very helpful to folks who need statistics to prove anything to someone else.  2) Lots of large companies are used in the Case Study examples.  Again, I believe this approach gives anyone who works in what they believe is a “stodgy corporate environment” hope that their organization too can overcome the fears of innovation.

My biggest concern about this book is that it really seems more as a sales pitch for consulting company where the authors work, Forrester Research.  This really puts me off, but alas, there were lots of gems gleaned in these pages.

This book couldn’t be further opposite of “Trust Agents” if it tried.  They only really have one thing in common and that is “people connect to people”.  I repeat, “People connect to People!”

Although I like the idea that they have a winning step by step approach for entering the Groundswell (the large uprising of customers voicing opinions and blogs about you online where you have no control), but I also worry that issuing a step by step approach to a crowd who are likely reading this book because they don’t know where to start, is like telling someone how to build a watch when they ask for the time.

The one missing message of this book was “just try it”.  Especially if you are in a much smaller environment (and I’ll bet you are) than the examples of companies given in the book.  In the legal administrator ranks we have a term called “Paralysis by Analysis” and it’s exactly what it sounds like.  People and companies will continue to put off the inevitable by over analyzing the circumstances or waiting for one more example of what can go wrong.

I don’t believe this book gives you everything you need to start a complex groundswell engagement if you’re a large company, but after all now you know that Forrester Research has the capacity and technical skills to help you over analyze the situation of your customer base and determine exactly what direction you need to go in.

I found it absurd to state things like, “This solution only cost the company $280,000 to start and maintenance is only $25,000 per month.”  Statements like that help me fully understand that Forrester is targeting much larger fish than me or my firm!  LOL

Don’t get me wrong, I did like the book, but just having finished Trust Agents (a very feel-good and personal book), the writing style and approach from a corporate formula approach just hit me wrong.

I think it was mis-titled.  Should have been “Groundswell: How your Fortune 500 Company will be Transformed by Social Technologies

(This was my second Kindle book completed, but this one I started and finished on my new International Kindle 2! Much nicer to read on!)

Filed under: Management,Social Media,Twitter

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25 Oct 09

Trust Agents is written by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith

First off, this was the first book I read “cover to cover” on my Kindle 1 (Kindle gifted to me by my good friend Devri Owen).   As for my Kindle experience, I think more time should have been spent by the publisher to ensure proper formatting of the Kindle version.  It appeared that much of the book was “centered” with the exception of some excerpts which had a significant left indent, leaving 1/3 of the left side of the page blank, which you couldn’t entirely understand why in the Kindle.

So, about the book and content.  I loved it.  But I’m heavily involved already in Social Media.  So, because of the amazing relationships I’ve already built using Social Media, I felt this book perfectly worded my experience.  Of course I’m going to love a book that expresses my own experience.  :)

The big thing about this book for me was simply explaining that it didn’t matter what online tool you were using (twitter, Facebook, etc.), this book is about connect with people using these tools.  It’s about building relationships and becoming a Trust Agent.

One of my favorite messages in the book refers to the “One of Us” mentality. “One of Us” refers to the group of social media fanatics which, if you operate by the methods explained in the book, you get to become “One of Us” and accepted into the inner circle.  Once in the inner circle, you have new social responsibilities.  Perhaps more importantly for this message was that instead of being seen as another corporate sales person you’re “One of Us” by contributing to the overall success of everyone participating.  You connect with people for the sake of helping them accomplish what they need, instead of just reaching out to accomplish the sales needs of your company.

What I loved most about the book was the writing style.  I love reading blogs because people talk like people and not like corporate types.  That’s how this book was written.  It’s written in a very casual blog style.  Writing in this style helps the reader personally identify with the writers.

I work in the legal field (Accounting Manager for Summit Law Group).  So, as you may not know, trying new things in the legal field is very suspect to those around you.  Especially when you operate by the “Trust Agent” standards of just meeting people, trying to connect with them, helping them out with things, all while not forcing your own business down their throat.  So, I am often asked how my social media involvement helps my firm (usually by those outside my firm).  I often have to explain that I love helping people connect with others.  I’ve met HUNDREDS of the people that I tweet with and those folks I consider good friends.  I know that if/when they need legal services they will contact me to see if I know of someone (inside my organization or other) who can help them with their issues.  They contact me for a few different reasons.  MOSTLY because I’ve built a “One of Us” relationship with them where they feel I’m a friend and can be trusted for such a reference.  Although I have hundreds of Social Media contacts, I have even MORE contacts in the local legal community and will work very hard to help them find the counsel they need to solve their issue.

If you are already using Twitter (in specific, although Chris and Julien avoid specifying the online tools), this book will help you enhance relationships on Twitter.  It’s excellent at reminding you that people connect with people, not businesses.  A business who is involved with Social Media will never be a trust agent (my words not theirs).  A business might be a source of information.  But people connect with people.

I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did.

If you have a Kindle, pick up this book here at Amazon.com or you can buy the hard-copy book also at Amazon.com

Filed under: Social Media

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13 Oct 09

Today Doctor of Blogging for Lawyers Kevin O’Keefe posts his newest blog entry “Companies and law firms blocking use of social media : Insanity is rampant“.  And even though the author of the statistics posts a correction to Kevin’s blog, the results are quite amazing!

You have to take a look!

Filed under: Blogging,Social Media,Twitter

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16 Sep 09

Was that title confusing? At first I wrote “Political Statement to Follow”, but then decided political statements generally DO require apologies on blogs where they are COMPLETELY off topic, but I think every blog should dedicate a bit of space to human rights, feeding hungry children, fighting world malaria, and LOTS more worthy causes.

So, I’m gay.  I’m pretty sure I’ve covered this in previous posts.  My partner and I have been together for 9.5 years.  Earlier this spring the Washington State Senate, House of Representatives, and Governor Christine Gregoire signed part 3 of the Domestic Partnership Rights.  This last part is casually known as the “Everything but Marriage” bill.  Normally, that would have meant that it would go into law 90 days after signed by the Governor.  However, a group of concerned citizens gathered enough voter signatures forcing the bill to go to a public vote in November.  So, you’ll be hearing more about Referendum 71.  In order for the original bill, passed by our state legislators and governor, the citizens must vote APPROVE.

So, blah blah blah… let’s put this really simple.  There are a handful of VERY important rights for domestic partners (gay couples and heterosexual couples with one partner over 62, it’s NOT just a gay thing):

  1. Death benefits for partners of police and firefighters killed in the line of duty – currently, they are simply abandoned by the government to not only mourn, but also to fend for themselves.
  2. Right to use sick leave to care for a seriously ill partner – doesn’t this sound like a basic right? Currently, I can’t take sick leave to take care of my ailing partner??? Crazy.
  3. Pension benefits for partners of teachers and other public employees – similar to the death benefit for police and firefighters, currently any state pension can’t be passed on to a domestic partner.
  4. Victim’s rights – I’m a little unclear about this one.  Please leave your comments to help me understand this one.
  5. Right to workers’ compensation benefits if a partner is killed in the course of employment – I had never considered this point in the past.  I had never realized that if I were killed at work, my partner would receive nothing.  But if a straight married colleague lost her life while at work, workers’ comp would pay benefits to her husband.

Anyway, hope this helps clarify some of the issues.  I was warned that I would get emotional about this topic, but I think it’s worth expressing the reality of the situation.

PLEASE give me some feedback here.  Particularly on the Victim’s Rights issue.  And, I really want to hear some sort of legitimate opposing views.  All I’ve heard so far is the same lies that were spread in California about Prop. 8 that “this bill would force schools to teach homosexuality”… whatever that means!  Got a valid argument? Do share!

Filed under: Cultural

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14 Sep 09

In the not so distant past we’ve all heard LOTS of controversy about the Lawyer Rating website called Avvo.

I had a wonderful and unique chance to sit and chat with Avvo Founder & CEO, Mark Britton, tonight at the Seattle Legal Bloggers & Twits Tweetup. Regardless of how your initial reaction is to Avvo, you really can’t help but like Mark. He’s a brilliant guy with a very impressive history of formulaic innovation.

I just want to spend a couple lines to tell you some of the highlights of what I learned about Avvo tonight. If you’re a lawyer please take this advice directly to www.avvo.com and update your profile!

1) “Avvo scores resumes” – In Mark’s words whenever any one of us is hirings someone we scan their resume and place higher or lower value to different sections. Through the use of outside consultants, test groups of hundreds of lawyers, thousands of consumer testers, and some complicated programmers they do they same thing, except instead of just a general idea of whether or not someone is a worthy candidate they place a score on the head of the player. That score can be aided, it’s constantly fluctuating based on the age and influential value of each entry.

2) “You generally get what you deserve” – MY words, not Marks. If Avvo scanned your website to create your preliminary score and you want to complain instead of claiming your profile and modifying and WORKING for a better, more accurate score them you get out of it exact what you’ve put in… Generally only complaints!

3) “Avvo helps lawyers understand what well-rounded marketing is” – Again, my words, but influenced by my conversation with Mr. Avvo. The more experienced a lawyer is, naturally the higher the score. But just like in life, “experience” and credibility for experience don’t just get marked on the calendar as you get older. There are important milestones that tell us, and others, when we’ve reached high points and low. And sometimes it’s the balance of LOTS of points that give you a synergistic score. Years (1 point) + AV Rating (2 points) + pos Client Review (1point) might individually total 4, but in a complex mathematical world that is Avvo that score might equal 6! Synergistic scoring (my term not Mark’s). All good things add up to more good things. If you think you have enough good things, just add a few more. Have something bad? Bad review? There are ways to counter it. Look at the options. If all else fails find more good to add!

4) Got questions about how Avvo works? JUST ask Mark! Mark@avvo.com. He says he’s always accessible. I don’t suggest only sending hate mail. I would suggest putting together real questions about how to increase your score… But please claim your profile and do a TAD bit of homework before simply complaining about what you heard about Joe Schmoe and his score. Mark and his Avvo team do TONS of educational events, webinars and meetings. Take a couple hours and learn this tool that is revolutionizing lawyer ratings.

Even before meeting Mr. Avvo tonight I’ve been an Avvo fan. I’m usually a fan of folks who want to do things a little differently. Way to go Mark!

That’s it for now. That’s my bus blog entry for this evening (yes, BlackBerry + New WordPress Blog App + Time to Kill = Good Times!!)

Filed under: Legal

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1 Sep 09

I feel pretty well connected into Social Media, but that doesn’t mean I’m an expert… by anyone’s imagination!

However, I was talking with my good friends up a DerekMedia today, Derek Johnson & Andrew Dumont, about further developing Summit Law Group’s social media presence. This is a really tough topic for me since I’ve been doing it all up til now and I was curious about what an outside company might be able to offer insofar as changing up my own approach and “strategy” (if that’s what you can call my shot gun approach). Are there better and more practical methods that I’m not employing? LIKELY!

DerekMedia is likely a great solution for a firm like mine. First off, they are a customer and it always feels good to give business back to customers! Secondly, they have an edginess about them that I absolutely LOVE! They aren’t willing to sit idly by while the world revolves around them in the same old way it always has. They want to challenge the direction of the revolution!

Anyway, so the dilemma is: I’ve been doing all the Summit social media activity for a fair amount of time now getting things off the ground. And in the local legal community I am held in fairly high regard for innovation and approach on these issues. However, what is enough? When’s it time to say, “Yes I can, but should I? Is this the best use of my time and skill? Is there someone else who is more effective and/or efficient?” My ego says, “HELL NO! You rock!” But my intuition says, “Richard, relax. You can still ‘do’ it even if you out-house to Derek’s posse!”

Anyway, so now comes the discussion of ROI and budget and all that. But before I can touch that topic, I have to convince myself and develop convincing arguments that assistance is needed and desired.

Until next time, In-House or Out-House, help me decide! :)

Filed under: Management,Social Media

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