Cybersecurity Alert: Watch Out for the Latest Ransomware Outbreak

It seems no matter which way we look ransomware is one of the top news stories. Last week a new ransomware outbreak, known as “WanaCryptor”, “WeCry”, “WanaCrypt”, “WeCryptor” or “WannaCry”, emerged in Asia and Europe, with attacks spreading across 150 countries (including the United States).

Security experts warn users to be aware of phishing emails, phishing phone calls, and malicious email attachments or links. Businesses are most likely to be infected (including law firms); however, individual’s personal e-mail accounts may be targeted too.

Check out these tips on how to protect your computer against ransomware. Also be sure to check for updates and whether your system qualifies for one of the emergency security patches, including but not limited to, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, and Windows 8.

For additional tips on how to protect your computer from ransomware and other cybersecurity attacks, check out the PMAP Law Firm Security Center and follow PMAP on Twitter.

Do You Have a Contingency Plan?

There’s no time like the present to think about your contingency plan.

Sometimes, it’s hard to write a succession plan because you don’t like to think about being dead or disabled. However, it is imperativechanging and something all lawyers can do per Law Practice.orgManaging Law Firm Transition and Rule 1.19 of the S.C. Rules of Professional Conduct.

At a minimum, write a letter to your paralegal or the attorney who would mind your office explaining to them what they would need to know if you were outside of service on a long vacation. Then, make an emergency plan should you become disabled, incapacitated or not able to act inside your practice again. Print the Preparation Checklist to plan accordingly. Fill out this form to add your successor(s) to the registry maintained by the Bar. Finally, use this Agreement to Close a Law Practice as a model agreement between you and your successor(s).

There’s no better time to plan than now!

If you have questions or would like more information on succession planning, contact the Practice Management Assistance Program.

9 PMAP Website Resources to Help You Manage your Law Firm

In recognition of National Small Business Week, check out a few of our favorite practice management and technology website resources to help you manage your small firm (or large firm):

  1. Start a Practice – Are you planning to start a practice? Navigate these resources to find tools to help you develop a business plan, create a budget, decide on an entity and firm name, find the right location, get the proper licenses/insurance, market, prepare for emergencies, choose technology, plus much more!
  2. Close a Practice – You’re thinking about winding down your practice…but you have no clue where to begin. Check out the PMA’s guide to close your office plus how to transition out of practice based on a variety of situations. We even have resources for succession planning!
  3. Firm or Law Partner Changes – Things happen: Lawyers decide to leave in order to form new partnerships, go solo, or dissolve practices. Our lawyers in transition section will help you navigate through a variety of situations. If you cannot locate a particular situation, contact pmap@scbar.org for assistance.
  4. Build Your Practice – Whether you want to explore client development or learn how to build your business, our business development resources provide a variety of tips from a variety of marketing resources.
  5. Prepare for the Worst – With Atlantic Hurricane Season kicking off officially June 1st and manmade or natural disasters happening every day, it is important for law firms to create a disaster and emergency preparedness plan. Check out our Prepare page for tips and also request a free copy of our disaster handbook, if you do not one.
  6. Time and Business Management – How should you manage your time and stay organized in your business? Check out a few great tips here. (P.S. Don’t forget to check out our SC Small Firm blog for more organization/time management tips and the PMAP Forms Bank for correspondence, checklists, plus more.)
  7. Technology Tips – Whether you are interested in learning more about technology or looking for a specific tech topic (software, security, consultants, etc.), our tech tips section will help you navigate through some of the most important decisions in managing your practice.
  8. Legal Research (for South Carolina Bar members) – Looking to conduct research for a particular case or cases? Check out the South Carolina Bar’s free legal research member benefit Fastcase by logging into the Bar’s website. Our FAQ’s page will help show you how.
  9. Resources– Can’t find a specific resource you’re looking for? Don’t forget the South Carolina Bar has over 160 resources available to active Bar members in good standing via the Lending Library. Also, check out the PMAP Videos Bank and the FAQ Bank for helpful tips and information.

Contact the Practice Management Assistance Program for further assistance in managing your law practice.

Is Your Smartphone Protected Against Mobile Security Threats?

Today, smartphones are just as powerful and functional as tablets and computers. However, they are vulnerable to cybersecurity risks.

Did you know that the Federal Communications Commission has created a tool called the Smartphone Security Checker to help smartphone owners get protected against mobile security threats?

To use the tool, choose your mobile operating system and then follow the ten customized steps to help secure your device. Smartphone users should also check out TechRepublic’sfive ways to maintain your privacy on your smartphone and TCCrocks’ important steps to securing your smartphone.

Do you have questions about law firm security? Email pmap@scbar.org or call (803)799-6653 extensions 183 or 118.

How to Manage your Overworked Inbox

Is that overloaded inbox unworkable? Do you wish there was a magical email fairy that would clean it up for you? There are online services that can reduce your stress and get you to inbox zero.

Unroll.me is a service that helps you find all the “subscription-based” emails. It helps you roll them into one email and unsubscribe from the ones you do not want.

Sanebox and Alto are two other services that clean up your inbox by filtering what’s important to you and what isn’t.

What other ways can you use to get to inbox zero?  Here are a few tips to help you better manage your inbox:

  • Set aside a time every day to check and review email.  Email experts suggest a specific time in the morning, a specific time before or after lunch (optional), and then a specific time in the late afternoon. Setting aside a specific time allows you to calendar other important tasks and projects. It also enables your mind to think of email management like an appointment on your calendar rather than an entire day project. Professionals who utilize this logic also suggest newbies (new email managers) set an auto reply (until your internal/external contacts get used to your email management/project schedule) that basically says, “Our office is experiencing a higher volume of workload, therefore, I will be checking my e-mail at 8:00 a.m. and at 3:00 p.m. If you require immediate assistance, please call 555-555-5555.”

  • Establish the 4 D’s Action Model when checking email:
    • Delete (unwanted, unnecessary, and spam emails)
    • Delegate (emails that can be given to an assistant or other staff members in your office)
    • Do (respond to emails that can be taken care of immediately)
    • Delay (emails that you have to complete research prior to responding to or are waiting for a response from other parties)
    • Repeat the cycle often.
  • Use email tools like categories, labels, folders, etc. to help you organize, filter, and find emails.
    • Set up a simple filing system (if you’re able to stay on top of checking your folders). An example folder system might be the 4 D’s (Delete, Delegate, Do, Delay) or Handle Now, Handle Later, Pending Emails, etc. Be sure to also set up your archives folder if you don’t have one (most email management systems do or you just have to turn the feature on if not already established). Law firms might also find it helpful to set up folders by client’s last name, the first name for the organization (or check your practice management system to see what way they suggest or what way works for you best).
    • Set up categories or labels by the type of matter. For example, personal injury, domestic, workers compensation, real estate/transactional, social security, etc.
  • Use rules (if available with your email management software/program) to establish a system for delegation (either by the sender’s email address, subject matter, or recipient’s email address). Depending on the email management system, rules may or may not be able to delegate and send emails for you (research shows this depends on whether the email management software has a timer system established with the rules feature).
  • Use integrated features like Calendar, Tasks, Contacts, etc. to help you organize your other tools you use to set appointments (from email), tasks (from email), save new contacts, etc.
  • If you still want/plan to receive several subscription based emails but don’t want them coming to your inbox, you can use a service like Feedly to manage what blogs/subscription services you want to subscribe to under one tool organized by categories/feeds. You can also use social media tools like Twitter to follow what accounts to subscriptions you are interested in (if they are on Twitter) and read what you want to at your own pace.
  • Encourage staff in your firm to send less email OR to condense email into one or two daily emails (if possible).  This may not be that effective when it comes to specific client matters but this may help reduce general office messages, etc. Consider making morning rounds at 8:30 or whatever time works for you/your firm to meet with team members briefly (you can answer questions for them and reduce your workload).

Do you have questions about a tip above or email management, in general? Email pmap@scbar.org or call (803)799-6653, x. 183 or 118 for assistance.

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