Affinity Consulting Blog


We came across this in our twitter feed and thought it was a great idea to encourage wellness in the workplace. We have since started a 10,000 step challenge in our office and everyone is upping their step game! We wanted to share this blog by the South Carolina Bar on their “Living Above The Bar” Wellness Program!

From the South Carolina Bar:

In August, you may have seen attorneys talk about how they’re #LivingAboveTheBar on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, but what does that mean, and where did the hashtag come from?

As a group, lawyers have high levels of stress, dissatisfaction, burnout, divorce, preventable disease, suicide and substance abuse. Knowing this, SC Bar leaders knew that inaction would only serve to exacerbate these issues. In 2014 the Bar created the Wellness Task Force, and after a successful year made the task force into a standing committee. Living Above the Bar is the Wellness Committee’s program that aims to help lawyers achieve total wellness: mentally, physically and socially.

The committee has secured fitness partners in the community that offer SC Bar members discounts on anything from personal training to massages. They also developed a statewide speakers bureau and hosted a variety of health-focused sessions at the 2015 and 2016 SC Bar Conventions. These resources and more are housed on the committee’s website, www.scbar.org/livingabovethebar, which has an abundance of healthy tips, recipes and information.

Wellness

In August the committee decided to continue the wellness conversation with the “Just for the Health of It” Photo/Video Contest. The contest was led by Website Subcommittee Chair Jasmine D. Smith.

We wanted to reach out to the larger audience of SC Bar members to encourage them to take small steps toward improving their everyday lives,” said Smith. “We hoped the contest would give Bar members the opportunity to interact and discuss key wellness issues on a variety of social media platforms.”

The committee encouraged Bar members and the public to participate in using social media to share their healthy tips, recipes and workout regiments with each other. Multiple submissions were encouraged; however, all photos and videos submitted via social media had to include the hashtag #livingabovethebar and a caption with a brief description to be eligible for prizes. Participants also had the option to email their submissions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

In the end, the contest received more than 175 submissions, addressing a wide range of wellness topics. Three contest winners were randomly selected on Facebook live stream on Sept. 12, and received an Apple Watch, FitbBit and fitness prize pack.

Thank you to all the Bar members and community participants who submitted such impressive videos and photos,” said Smith. “Your contributions will surely encourage members of our Bar to make small changes to live a healthier life.”

Check out the wellness blog at www.scbar.org/livingabovethebar to see all of the contest submissions!

The Reasonable Care Standard Doesn’t Stop with Your Phone

The recent growth and demand for cloud based applications has increased the attention attorneys give to the protection of their client’s data. We research whether it is ethical to store client data in the cloud. When we shop for cloud based technology, we grill the vendor on their security, encryption, and their promise to protect our information. 256 bit? Dual Authentication? We need it all!

The truth is, it is probably more likely that you will leave your phone at the coffee shop or at your daughter’s volleyball game than you will be the victim of a major security breach or hack. So what are you, the person with the obligation to protect the data, doing to make sure your phone is secure?

The best approach is to simply not store confidential Information on your phone. However, that's easier said than done as we rely more and more on our phones to stay connected to the office and our clients. Further, many lawyers don't store confidential information on their phones, but use apps and other remote connection options to access confidential information from their phones. Of course, those same apps might be used by unauthorized users to access the same information if the phone fell into the wrong hands.

If you are going to carry or access confidential client information on your phone, it is essential that you employ security. Phones are extremely easy to lose and they can be compromised by worms, phishing and hacking (smartphones can be accessed through public Wi-Fi, Bluetooth capabilities, malware and other methods). Below are some of your options. Password Protection: At a minimum, you need to password protect your smartphone and all of the major players offer this. In other words, the phone can't be used without entering a password.

Encryption: Most smartphones have encryption capabilities built in and this functionality is also available via many apps which one could install on a smartphone.

Remote Wipe: This is the ability to remotely destroy all data on your phone if your phone is lost or stolen, All major cell smartphones allow for this (iPhone, BlackBerry, Android and Windows Mobile). There are also apps which will perform this function such as Lookout Mobile Security (www.mylookout.com) which works for Android, Windows Mobile and BlackBerry devices.

Firewalls and Antivirus Software: Particularly if you use your phone to access the Internet or email, you should consider firewall and antivirus software. Smartphones are vulnerable to the same types of issues that can affect personal computers. Beware of Bluetooth: If you leave your phone's Bluetooth functionality turned on and "visible", it's possible for hackers to gain access to your phone without you knowing. Therefore, if you're going to leave Bluetooth turned on, you should adjust the phone settings so that it isn't visible to thers.

Backup Your Phone Often: All smartphones have some type of backup utility. Some backup options store the backed up data on your personal computer and some store it on a secure web server. Whatever options are available to you, make sure you use them.

Do you need help with security? Let us help. Click HERE to schedule a call with an Affinity Consultant.

The Affinity Consulting Group Document Management team is proud to be featured on the NetDocuments Certified Partner Highlight Video Series. We have a team of 12 people on the team and converted roughly 600 firms to new document management systems. Listen to Gregory Bray as he talks about Affinity Consulting Group, ways we can help you go paperless, the Cloud and our relationship with NetDocuments.

About NetDocuments

Founded in 1999, and with offices in the US, UK, and Australia, NetDocuments is the leader in cloud-based document and email management. With hundreds of thousands of users across 140 countries, organizations enjoy the power and simplicity of built-in disaster recovery, matter centricity, enterprise search, mobility, records management, collaboration, and compliance for documents and email.

Subscribe to our NetDocuments newsletter today!

Finally! 140 means 140, not 140 minus pictures.

Recently, Twitter rolled out substantial changes to how its character limit works.

These changes, first announced in May, are aimed at giving users more space to fit their thoughts into 140 characters, the limit for each tweet. Attachments like GIFs, pictures and polls will no longer count towards the restriction, nor will videos and quoted tweets.

Did you see the recent news, Innovative Firm Culhane Meadows Leverages Worldox Cloud Technology for Greater Efficiency? We are honored to be a part of this project and proud that Worldox has showcased our great client, Culhane Meadows.

Below is the full Press Release from Worldox:

Innovative Firm Culhane Meadows Leverages Worldox Cloud Technology for Greater Efficiency

When Culhane Meadows needed a document management system that would enhance their innovative and agile business model, they chose Worldox Cloud. Each attorney supplies his or her own equipment and either works from a small rental office or from home, making costly infrastructure and staff no longer necessary. Worldox Cloud is easy to use and allows their attorneys to work from anywhere.

“Culhane Meadows prides itself on using cutting edge technology to provide it clients with high quality, efficient and cost-effective service and is always looking for innovative ways to increase the quality and efficiency of our client service. We chose Worldox Cloud as a foundation of our technology platform to provide our firm with a sophisticated, robust document management system that enhances our innovative firm’s ability to provide high quality services from anywhere in a secure, fully scalable and efficient cloud environment because Worldox had and continues to have an eye for innovation and constantly provides excellent customer service.” – Heather Clauson Haughian, Founder & Managing Partner

Rebecca Sattin, CIO of World Software Corporation commented: “It has been a banner year for our Worldox Cloud division. As more firms adopt Cloud technologies, the unique approach taken by Worldox has differentiated us from our competitors in that our product is not browser-based. Being an opt-out system, we can ensure that all firm data will be saved in Worldox, supporting firms’ information governance policies. Innovative firms like Culhane Meadows have been growing and in the past year we have expanded our Cloud operations to include Australia (Matrix Solutions), Canada (Animate, Inc.) and the UK (Copyrite).”

The full case study on Culhane Meadows can be found on the Worldox web site.

When news broke in August that Abacus Data Systems bought Amicus Attorney, we anticipated change would be coming. Business acquisitions and mergers are common place, this isn’t anything new. But for many of OUR clients, this news has caused panic and concern, frustration, and has even forced firms to make major decisions in short and even uncomfortable time frames.

Here is a summary of the changes as of now.

Amicus Small Firm Edition

  • As of August 5, 2016, you can no longer purchase Amicus Small Firm Edition or Credenza.
  • As of August 5, 2016, existing Small Firm Edition users can no longer add a new license to their existing system
  • Current firms using Amicus Small Firm Edition will be supported through the end of their maintenance agreements.
    - Whether you are on a 1 year plan or a 3 year plan, you will have access to technical support through the duration of your original agreement with the former Gavel & Gown.
  • Firms using Amicus Small Firm Edition without any maintenance or technical support agreements in place with the former Gavel & Gown Software cannot get support from the vendor.
  • Firms can get support from Affinity.
    - Affinity is thrilled to help, of course – but this option is risky and should be a short term solution for firms. The product has reached its end of life. No more sales, no more development, it has effectively died. It is time to make a decision about where to go from Small Firm Edition.

Amicus Premium Edition / Amicus Premium Edition plus Billing

Prior to the acquisition of Amicus by Abacus, support for Amicus Premium Edition 2013 ended (June 30, 2016). It should come as no surprise, then, that Abacus will not support Amicus 2013. They are running an aggressive campaign to get people to upgrade to the most current version, Amicus Premium 2016. By aggressive, we mean free if you upgrade in the next 90 days. Affinity can’t exactly compete with free, but we are offering to upgrade our clients for a much reduced fee. Contact us to see if your firm is a fit for the upgrade.

Amicus Premium Billing is no longer being sold to new firms. Existing Amicus Premium firms can add it to Amicus, existing Billing firms can add licenses and get support. Otherwise, no new sales.

We knew change was coming, and here is another big one. Amicus Premium Edition will no longer be sold under a “perpetual licensing model.” In the past, you paid $849 (or something close to that) and you OWNED the license. You could purchase maintenance, or not, but at the end of the day – you owned a license to the software that lived on your server. With the acquisition came a switch to subscription pricing. $77 per user per month, to be exact. So, even if you already BOUGHT the software in a prior year, you can consider that a sunk cost, as you will be switched over to the $77 per month per user model.

When will it switch? A few things can trigger it…first, when your maintenance or tech support agreement comes up for renewal, you will be converted to subscription pricing. IF you need to add a new license (even if that is PRIOR to your renewal), you will trigger subscription pricing for all of your licenses. And, if you take them up on their FREE offer to upgrade you from a prior version to Amicus 2016, you will convert to subscription. Now, we have been told that any balance of your maintenance or technical support agreement will be prorated and credited towards your subscription – but we don’t have the official word on how that will calculated. In any event, if you are talking directly with Abacus (we still want to be your Trusted Advisor and advocate – so please let us help with these conversations), be sure to know when you paid your maintenance, when it expires, and pay attention that you are getting the credit you deserve.

The Reaction

It’s not hard to image how the change, the speed of the change, and the financial consequences have affected our clients and others using Amicus. The subscription pricing will increase some firm’s costs by 2-300 percent. We don’t love how things have gone down, but we want to try to bring some calm to the situation.

$77/ month / user is more than you have ever paid, but you are getting a seriously powerful program for that amount. Converting to another PMP program out of anger, frustration, or spite is an expensive endeavor, and will likely cost more than the Amicus subscription. Subscription pricing is new to a lot of people, but it isn’t a new concept. It is likely the wave of the future for software, and frankly – does provide firms with the ability to better anticipate and budget software maintenance costs while using the most up to date software.

Other Confusing Distractions

In addition to emails and letters about end of life, old versions, support, and scary letters about compliance and security, many firms are also asking “What is Abacus Private Cloud?” Abacus Private Cloud is a completely hosted infrastructure – it is not a replacement for Amicus Attorney, it is a replacement for your servers. All of your programs would be migrated to the Abacus Private Cloud, and it is a completely different offering than Amicus Attorney. It isn’t a bad product – or a bad decision to go hosted – we recommend it all the time! Deciding to move your firm to a hosted infrastructure is NOT a decision to be made quickly or lightly, and certainly not because you have a coupon for $1500 off.

One last thing. Amicus Cloud is now called Amicus Online. Because, well, that was the only product left that didn’t have some news attached to it!

Answer: Yes. End of Blog.

But seriously, first let’s really define the Cloud. I mean, your stuff isn’t really up in the clouds. It just lives on a server somewhere, and you use the internet to connect to it. And frankly, even if your client’s data was actually sitting on the top of one of those pretty fluffy white clouds in the sky, it would STILL be safer than it is on paper in your office…on your desk in your unlocked office...where 15 people you don’t know who help to maintain your office building have keys, or on your laptop where the password is “password”. Or even your on-premises practice management program where you stay logged in all day and night, never locking your screen. These are just a few examples of situations around your office. But aside from all those things, let’s talk about practice management in the Cloud.

Every single “Cloud Based” practice management company worth their salt has information about the security of your data available on their website. In fact, here is a link to a bunch of them. There are more – this isn’t an endorsement or a recommendation…but what you will notice is this: Back Up. Bank grade encryption. Password policies. Redundancy. All things you likely don’t have in your office right now.

If understanding the security that is inherent in your program doesn’t give you enough peace of mind, consider what your state might have to say on the issues. We know the Rules of Professional Conduct vary from state to state, but we all have an obligation to protect our client’s data, no matter where we are practicing. The American Bar Association maintains a great resource that helps to summarize Cloud ethics opinion around the U.S. found HERE, you will see that for the states that have actually issued a formal opinion on the matter, the standard is “reasonable care.” Interestingly, most states have not issued a formal opinion, but we think our clients will certainly use reasonable care, understand how the provider handles the data, be comfortable with the measures in place to protect confidentiality, and the like.

If you had an opinion about the security of the Cloud or the sophistication of the features in cloud based practice management programs in the past, it’s time to take a second look.

Affinity Consulting Group is proud to announce that September is Client Appreciation Month. In honor of our wonderful clients, September will feature special webinars geared toward some of our most requested and popular topics!

Enjoy our Guest Speaker Webinar Series to Celebrate!

View all of our webinars on the webinar page: www.affinityconsulting.com/webinars

Don't miss out on this excited event!

This is being written on July 21, 2016. On July 29, 2016, just over a week from now, Microsoft's free upgrade offer from Windows 7 or 8.1 to Windows 10 expires. Contrary to what you may have heard (or wished), it is not likely to be extended.

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