Technology in the Legal Sector

It is safe to say that we are firmly into 2018 now, and the first month of this year has been filled with brand new technology that is set to change the way we live our day to day lives. Not only has it changed the way that we live our lives but it has changed many different sectors of business.

As technology progresses at this pace, we should probably look at what this means for the legal sector. Firms all over the world are adopting and investing in new technology to effectively compete with the other competition out there. Not only do they need to use this technology to compete with other firms, but clients are wanting more and more engagement with technology in all of the sectors of business. In this respect, the legal sector is quite far behind but they are catching up rapidly.

According to SEO experts, voice searches are expected to take over. With Siri and Alexa already setting the bar very high, and voice searching are expected to account for 50% of online searches by the year 2020. You may be wondering how this can affect the legal sector. Because a quarter of all voice searches are for local information, it is likely that people will be searching for information on local lawyers. This means that law firms will have to make sure that their websites and online presence are adapted to be found in this way. Law firms will already be used to optimizing their page for traditional searches, SEO for voice will be slightly different. It is worth finding out what the difference is and how you can get prepared.

Law firms should also expect to get used to the idea of automated technology. The Law Society has predicted that this type of technology will take over 67,000 jobs in the legal sector by the year 2038. Although many people are worried that this means they’ll lose their jobs, they need to remember the positives to this. Machines can take on a lot of the legal work that often slows law firm employees down and therefore make them more efficient and better able to take on important work. Service automation will help increase productivity and will help law firms be able to take on more and more work, without any extra strain on their employees. This means that you should expect a rise in the number of cases that law firms take on, as well as how much they do in advisory capacities.

Virtual and augmented reality are fast becoming commonplace in a lot of other sectors, but it is one piece of technology that law firms don’t seem to have adopted just yet. This could all be set to change, however, with the law sector finally coming on board with this technology. It is expected that virtual and augmented reality will be used to help with client recruitment and engagement. It is also expected that law firms can use these types of technology to help with staff recruitment and training. It means that training sessions can be delivered via AR or VR and won’t take the employee away from the office for as long as if they were going away to train. This will help lower costs and make sure that people are being trained fully and effectively.

SEO is changing all the time, and 2018 will see further changes yet in this piece of technology. Artificial intelligence or AI means that they can answer users search queries from just the first few words. This is known as predictive search and already exists but in 2018 it is expected that this technology will become more advanced and better able to guess what the user wanted to search for. This means that law firms may be cut out of the competition before the user has even had a chance to search for them.

Definition of Spyware in 2008

With the recent controversy surrounding Phorm’s targeted advertising technology it is important to think about the increasing threat that spyware poses to users’ PCs in 2008. Phorm’s software was recently controversially trialed by British Telecom to track the surfing habits of individual users and then tailor adverts to match their particular interests.

This is worrying since a third party organization might be able to compile substantial information about the user based on their surfing habits and then potentially resell this information to other organizations. This is especially concerning since you wouldn’t want your health insurance premiums to start rising just because you had started to search the Internet for articles associated with high blood pressure or diabetes.

Phorm have argued that any data collected would be anonymous and wouldn’t identify the end user, however questions have been asked about how reliable this protection is. Although British Telecom tested Phorm’s software on their own clients, without alerting them, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office has stated that Phorm would need to be an opt-in service in the UK to be legal.

Phorm isn’t the only organization whose aggressive attitude towards behavioral targeting has raised hackles. Google may have stated that it should do no evil, however Google mailhas received criticism for the way it scans the user’s inbound and outbound emails in order to match the user’s interests with targeted ads. And Google is further able to match up user data stored on cookies across its network. When even industrial worthies such as British Telecom and Google are looking for a piece of our private data it is no surprise that there are also a whole range of other, less reputable firms, looking to install software on your computer that tracks online activity. Which brings us to spyware.

Spyware is software that is installed on a user’s computer, without their express permission, whose function is to monitor, or take some degree of control over, a person’s PC. Spyware can get up to all kind of shenanigans including: tracking what sites you visit and sending this information to third parties (either for general purposes such as targeted marketing, or more specifically to steal information from you); monitoring the information you enter into online forms to steal you data and possibly even passwords; modifying your search results; changing your Explorer settings; and launching annoying pop-up ads.

The distinction between adware and spyware is a fine and often, possibly intentionally, blurred one. An application like Bonzi Buddy was ostensibly an online interactive assistant and animated desktop widget in the form of a cartoon purple ape. However, specific criticism leveled at it included that it would reset the user’s IE home page, track their browsing activity and launch adverts.

All this is the sort of activity you would expect from spyware, but the company responsible for Bonzi buddy always denied that the software was spyware. And, indeed, they may have had a case: the software is no longer available, but if it were we might find that the end-user license agreement permits all this activity, making the application merely adware. A different program, which is generally seen as perfectly legitimate, is the Alexa toolbar. Alexa is a subsidiary of Amazon offers services tracking the popularity of websites, and the surfing habits of their users, through a toolbar that the users install on their PC. These toolbars then forward information to Alexa who then compile it to form their rankings.

Even though Alexa is well-known and all end-users install the software voluntarily, Alexa is still identified as spyware, by some antispyware applications, since the bottom line is that Alexa is tracking your online activity and sending it to a third party. This is why it is so important that you do read those lengthy and rather tedious EULAs and make sure they include no sly reference to “monitoring your Internet usage” or “helping us provide you with a better service” which are generally a good indication that the software you are installing could be spying on you. If spyware can live in the grey area between malware and legitimate(ish) adware, where it is installed with the “informed” consent of the user, then it also unambiguously lives in the world of malware where it can be installed entirely without the end-user’s consent.

Spyware uses a number of tricks to sneak onto your PC. For example it can be installed along with a “useful” application such as Bonzi buddy, a freeware media players or a P2P file sharing application. Spyware also employs those irritating pop-up windows that appear, imitating Windows error messages, asking you to click to fix the problem, or improve PC performance. Whatever you click you may end up authorizing the installation of spyware on your system.

Spyware can also be spread through email attachments which, in some cases don’t even need to be actively executed by you, with it being enough that the email is displayed in the MS Outlook preview panel. In fact some spyware is even more nefarious taking advantage of security loopholes in Microsoft’s ActiveX. In these cases you can be infected with spyware simply by visiting a malicious website: a so-called drive-by download.

If spyware writers are adept at infiltrating our PC’s security systems to get spyware on to our computers in various mischievous ways, they are equally adept at making sure it doesn’t get removed from our computers. Spyware will update the Windows registry to have itself launched automatically by Windows. It will then monitor the registry to detect whether the spyware-launching entries in the registry have been removed and then replace them if they have.

The moral of all of this is that, as ever, prevention is the best cure, so avoid clicking on pop-up windows, and applications or web-links that your receive through email. As discussed actually reading the EULAs that accompany software downloads is also a useful way to keep on top of what you are installing, while you should also avoid installing anything on your computer unless you know that it is produced by a reputable software developer.

If you aren’t sure about the credibility of an application, check it out on Wikipedia.org and if you are looking for a specific type of software, or freeware (say if you need a free media player or anti-virus software), again, search for it using Wikipedia. The disadvantage of searching using a search engine is that you won’t be able to tell from the results, how reputable the company providing the software actually is. With Wikipedia you will at least have the reassurance of knowing that the many experts in that particular field, who have viewed and written the Wikipedia entry, have tacitly endorsed the veracity of the content.

And the final weapon in your antispyware arsenal should definitely be antispyware software. There are a range of effective applications which primarily employ one of two strategies. There are those that work in real-time blocking any incoming data that they identify as spyware, while there are those which work retroactively by scanning your system to identify spyware that has already been installed on your system. Whatever you do remember that spyware is a real threat to your system’s security and stability: even if you neglect spyware, that doesn’t mean that spyware will neglect you!

10 Steps To Boost Your Website Ranking

Your website is up and running, but now you need to help people find you. Keep reading to learn the 9 easy ways to boost your website rankings so you’re on the 1st page of Google – guaranteed! is no particular order to do these in however, all 9 should be ramped up  to happen simultaneously.

A client said to me once “I’d love to maintain my website but it’s expensive to buy a web programmer every time. Even when I do know what to do and how to do it, I cannot spend my time on being a website designer, so what can I do?”

My Reply?…

DON’T GET A WEBSITE YOU CANNOT CONTROL – Completely!  Purchase or build a website that you will be able to make your own changes to without having to pay hundreds of dollars to a web designer or programmer. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with purchasing a template from a professional or repository and making it fit your brand.

You probably own or rent a home, right? Is it custom built or does it look like a few other homes on your block? What makes it different is your personality. This goes the same for a website. Make it your home – or in this case – your business. I really like Open Source tools like WordPress, Drupal, or any other CMS (Content Management System) as a foundation. With these advanced web tools, you can have your website up for business in as little as 1 hour!

The other great thing about the CMS tools I mentioned is that there are millions of people in these Open Source Communities which means you don’t have to depend the one “IT guy or gal” that built a custom site.

You can get help almost instantly via forums, help desks, private chats, etc. Another cool and money-making feature about these CMS tools is that they have plug-ins or modules that can be instantly used on the web such as shopping carts, PayPal Credit Card Acceptance systems, Paid Membership group systems, and so much more!

Below are my Top 10 Ways to boost your website ranking.

10 – Social Networking

Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Google+, etc. Yes, you don’t have to get caught up in the personal side of things but remember, a business is an “entity” and even treated as a person legally in some cases. You MUST spread content across the web and the more you do about your business the more educated your buyer is. There a ton of ways to get this done without spending tons of time. There are tools that you can write once and publish it exponentially with the click on a button.

9 – Search Engines

This is the part of website marketing that search engines look to the rank you. The better your SEO, the greater your chances are of being ranked highest for the keywords and phrases that your potential clients are looking for. Referring back to #1, WordPress & Drupal both have SEO tools built in!

This means that you don’t have to struggle to find the right keywords or phrases. Some plug-ins even scan your website and perform an audit to score your content, keywords, tags, etc. before you publish your site live. If you own a business or are responsible for promotion and marketing of a company, you don’t have time to learn how to be a web programmer, right? Can you imagine being able to make, market, and manage your company website in just a couple of hours a day and leap-frog your competition? It’s possible and greatest of all, most of these tools are free! But I do issue this ***CAUTION*** Don’t get caught up in plugin/module “hell”.

Choose these add-ons very carefully as your site could slow to a crawl or go down. If you have doubt or concern, find a forum you’re comfortable with and ask as many questions as you can, FREE! If you’re struggling to find a forum you like, find a local CMS guru that can help you… like me for instance:). Many of the items can be resolved quickly and cheaply if any costs at all.

8 – Affiliate or Affinity

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could have 1,000s of people encouraging their friends and colleagues to buy your products or services? Imagine the impact on your business! It’s completely within your reach. You can get an Affiliate Marketing System such as AWeber or WP Affiliate.

With just a few mouse clicks,  you’re in business. Many of the AMS add-ons cost little to NOTHING! If you have a great product or service you want to promote, there’s no better way than word of mouth and that’s what a good AMS will do for your business.

AdWords

Remember “School House Rock”. The cartoon ads that came on in between other cartoons:). “Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, get your… ” AdWords here. This is more or less Google AdWrds, Facebook Ads, etc. The great part about this is that you pull true metrics of who your targeted audience is on the Internet, which in turn can create new sales and customers. It’s hard to get away from putting out money for this – so chose wisely and promote SMARTLY.

Make sure to do your research to see where your customers frequent most often. Don’t just push AdWords campaigns because your buddy told you it worked for him/her or vice-versa that it DID NOT work. YOU MUST do your due diligence in this area the most intently if costs are a concern. DON’T BE FOOLED that you can do AdWords Marketing without coughing up some dough. However, if you do it right, you’ll be raking in the dough.

6 – Co-Branding

This is where you find non-competitive organizations that can promote  your business as it will also benefit them. Choose industries that you compliment your business!

Don’t just start asking everyone to to promote you – be specific and be direct. For instance, if you sell shoes, don’t let your first partner of choice be someone that sells clothes. You might be thinking,”What an idiot you are, Manny… ” Well, that might be true; but if I sold shoes, my first partner of choice would be someone that sold shoe insoles, shoe polish, shoe repair, shoe strings diabetic supplies, etc. Get my drift? Next level would be anything in foot care, then clothes and so on.

Create a simple little piece of HTML code (don’t be afraid – it’s simple and I’ll put it here for you) and ask your Joint-Partner to add it to their website, Facebook, Twitter, etc. etc.

5 – Real World

This is a seemingly obvious point – but so many small businesses fail to promote their business across all mediums. This is not just putting your website on your car, shopping bags, business cards, etc.; this should be creating careful messages that gather key information so you’re not wasting your money or time on things that don’t work.

For example, I’d recommend you register several domains that point to different pages (called Landing Pages) that take your potential customer step-by-step into your promotion. Let’s say you’re still selling shoes and you wanted to promote  your running shoes that boast comfort while running. I’d look for a domain such as comfortableRunningShoes dot com or comfortwhenirun dot com

Sounds silly – but it’s effective. All these sites should point to a Landing Page that has the exact product and information such as video or short description about the product/service. Once the user hits the “Submit” button, they’re automatically sent to your main website with more information on the product and you now have a new lead and you know EXACTLY what they’re looking for.

Cost to you? Domain =$10 or less per year + your time to write the description or video. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by pushing your site towards the top and actually making $.

4 – Back-linking

If you were running for local commissioner, mayor, governor, congress person, or even president, what’s the one thing you’ll need to win? Votes. And in order to get votes, you need popularity.

That’s what you can think of back links as. The more you have, the more Yahoo, Google, and Bing see you as the most popular for the type of links related to what you’re promoting. Just like voting, if you have more votes, you win! ***CAUTION*** Don’t get caught up getting a ton of back links just to have them.

Choose back links that are representative of what you do minus the competition, of course. To find out how many back links you have or even your competitor has, go to Alexa

So, people can buy products or services from your company website but what about your Facebook or Twitter page? Yes, you can actually integrate your social networking pages with the ability to sell and receive payments that go straight to your bank account!

You can find many of these “Apps” by search the App community in the Facebook search. Imagine telling all your friends about your Fan Page and they tell their friends but the difference is, purchases are being made straight from your Facebook page! Another aspect is Facebook Advertising.

3 – HTML Ads

You’ve probably gotten e-mails from companies with either ConstantContact, VerticalResponse, MailChimp, or some other logo at the bottom of the e-mail with an “Unsubscribe” link. Go to your inbox and count how many of those you’ve received just today.

There’s a reason for that and it’s because it works… BUT, you have to be consistent, persistent, and aware of the  CAN-SPAM Law. Yes, Law as in you can be fined or imprisoned for breaking this Law. So, “How do I send e-mails to potential clients without violating the law?” you ask. Read, Read again, and Read more of the Terms of Services of the HTML tools you’re using. Don’t click “I Agree” and move on like you do on other sites:). You can even lose your e-mail account from your ISP or even worse, get “Blacklisted” from the entire Internet. Bottom line – have integrity. Don’t send e-mails to people whose permission you don’t have.

I recommend starting with your existing client base, friends, etc. Be sure to have a sign-up form that your friends can point their friends to so you have proof that it was entirely their choice when they agreed to receive your communication(s). We’ll discuss opt-in forms in the next step. If you decide to use HTML marketing (and you SHOULD –  just follow the rules) create a 12-month campaign that will gather new customers and create brand awareness that you likely do not have now.

People will know who you are and what you sell and be able to easily purchase from you as an educated buyer. Then, just like the old head and shoulders commercial, “and they told two friends, and they told two friend,… ” Next thing you know, your mail list is a behemoth.

***CAUTION*** Try to resist the temptation to sell your mail list. Again, you can do this as a lot of folks do, but you should let your subscribers know that upfront in your Terms of Service on your website. If you don’t plan on selling your list, your opt-in forms should say that in bold print on the form as are more likely to sign-up because NO ONE likes SPAM! BONUS MATERIAL!!!

2 – Opt-In Emails

Opt-in marketing can greatly benefit your business… but could also be your a “Achilles heal”. It’s pretty simple though. a. Follow the Terms of Service for gathering names. b. Start with people you know and have your opt-in form ready to receive new prospects. Most of the HTML Ad Tools such as in #9 have easy and hassle-free opt-in forms you can create with your brand on it – FREE!

1 – Texting

What is the most looked at device people carry with them?… DUH! The cell phone, right? You probably looked at yours at least twice while reading this. It’s cool, we all do it and that’s why it’s important to get your message and brand on your customers’ and potential customers’ cell phones. Same rules apply for SPAM.