I just love Solo Practice University – an online resource for solo and small firm lawyers that covers everything from wills, estates and trusts and construction law to how to run your law practice and, my personal favorite, leveraging technology to make your work bigger than your size. I am on the faculty there – I completed a course a while back on using Google in your law practice. And I just started writing a monthly technology column at SPU called, appropriately enough, “Solo Tech.” A lot of my content will be similar to what you may see here, with a solo practice bent. Check out my first article at the link here. And thanks to SPU for letting me step up on my tech soapbox!
To celebrate my class as Solo Practice University this week on Google Calendar and Tasks, I am going to highlight an upcoming class’ subject – Google Voice, and mention some of its great features. Remember when Google Voice was brand new and everyone got very excited about being able to call for free from their computer or port calls through or to their various phones? It’s now just over three years old and has matured into a very awesome tool for organizing your telephone activity.
Google Voice started life as GrandCentral, which Google snapped up to serve as the telephony part of the Google applications suite. The app launched on March 11, 2009, initially as invitation only, and now available to all Gmail subscribers. You access Google Voice via the web, and Android device or an iOS app. Google Voice provides free PC-to-Phone calling and PC-to-PC voice and video calling worldwide between users of the Google Voice and Video Chat browser plugin, and very reasonably priced calling via other means.
Sure, you can place calls, or route them from any phone to your Google Voice number. You can get audio voicemail and transcripts of those messages, configure personalized greetings by number, conference calling, and even port your mobile number over to Google Voice. But there are some lesser known cool features that are worth a mention too. Maybe it’s time to take another look at Google Voice.
You can blog by Google Voice or set up a Google Voice voicemail button on your blog to literally hear from readers. You can listen to your voicemails while they are happening – sort of like eavesdropping on your messages. Use it for free text messaging. Share voicemails with others by emailing them the audio. Record your phone calls. Listen to Google Voice voicemails while still in Gmail. And, more recently added, organize your Google Voice experience by using your Circles from Google+ – have one set of routing instructions and greetings for one circle and a different set for another circle.
Just a few of the different things you can do with this great standout telephone product! If you want to learn how, then check into my upcoming classes at the Everything Google course at Solo Practice University. And happy calling!
Today is a very good day. Today I get the special privilege of joining an online legal resource that I have admired for quite some time now. Today I am joining the faculty of Solo Practice University.
Solo Practice University (SPU) is an online community of lawyers engaged in solo practice and a portal for resources and services to support that effort. It has been in existence for almost three years, thriving and growing as the traditional legal practice market has withered and shrunk. There are hundreds of lessons on a myriad of topics related to solo legal practice. There is a lively blog. There are approximately 60 faculty and the site is closing in on 1,000 members. It serves as a means for earning CLE credits and as a resource for honing old skills and learning new skills. There is a social component built out from the profiles of members, with the ability to connect and converse with faculty and other students through a forum, groups, commenting, and private messaging. Members can also create their own blogs from SPU’s platform – making it easy for them to engage in Web 2.0 technologies to become outspoken authorities in their chosen area. Members also have access to a co-op of services and products, with healthy discounts on all sorts of practice-related products.
My historical rant about law school always includes a complaint about the near absence of meaningful practical training or resources for new lawyers. Similarly, there are few obvious resources for attorneys who are changing their practice and taking charge by going solo. There is a certain fear of the unknown that comes with such a change and most lawyers have no idea where to turn for needed support.
Founder Susan Cartier Liebel clearly saw the sea change in the legal market and stepped up to fill a major void — making a lot of solo lawyers a lot happier in the process. SPU is accessible on member’s schedule and is affordable and convenient. While I am not a solo practitioner, I am a do-it-yourself-er type and I am constantly looking for tools to help me get the job done my own way. SPU offers new lawyers and new solos a very effective set of tools to help them be the boss over all aspects of their business. For me, jumping into the SPU community and offering some of my own DIY tips is a no-brainer – my blog Advocate’s Studio is all about helping lawyers and other professionals become web DIY-ers and I am thrilled to be able to relate some of my own “trial and error” experience in the hope that someone else may be able to move their own practice along as a result.
So, what am I going to teach? Right now, technology and web resources will be my subject. The first series will be on Google – I will be featuring a variety of Google products that can be used to support a professional practice. The first course, the Google Overview, should be available shortly. From there, I will focus on each product in each course segment, with lots of tips about how to set up, use, and customize through other applications. I will also highlight relevant tricks and tips for getting the best results. There is a lot to talk about when it comes to Google – I may have some difficulty paring it down. But I will do my best 🙂
I am really looking forward to this new role and I can’t wait to get involved in such a great on-line professional community. Hope to see you over at SPU.