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The Facebook Shell Game

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I have a personal Facebook account – like millions of us. I mainly have it tF gradeo keep track of a few family members and old friends who insist on inhabiting Facebook as a surrogate kitchen table for family news. When Facebook was new, I started off strong, accepting invitations from old college chums, colleagues, acquaintances, and family. Soon, I had a little over 200 “friends.” Then Facebook started changing things. What was joyful and sharing became troublesome and suspicious. I “tightened” my privacy settings, removed personal information, and eventually “unfriended” 150 people. I engaged in a virtual game of lifeboat: choosing who was worthy of staying on board, and who would have to swim. But Facebook continued to make subtle and often confusing changes to its policies. I realized that the friend of my friend is sometimes my enemy – or at least not my Facebook friend. When I commented on someone else’s post, or I “liked” a post or website, my information was open to many outside of Facebook.

I know what you’re thinking: “No one ever promised that Facebook – which is FREE – was going to be your own private virtual chat room.” Yes, I get that, but on some level, I think many of us feel tricked. Probably because when we began with Facebook, we had more options to be “private.”

And now there’s more:

“In a few days we'll be removing an old Facebook setting you've used in the past. You'll see an announcement on Facebook and have several chances to learn about this before then. We just wanted to tell you about this in advance so you have time to review what's changing and understand your privacy options.

What's changing: We're removing an old search setting called "Who can look up your Timeline by name"—but this won't change who can see what you've shared on Facebook.

What did this setting do?

"Who can look up your Timeline by name" controlled who could find your Timeline by typing your name in search.”

Thus began the latest email to Facebook users about changes to a “privacy” setting. In short: like it or not, all users will be searchable now on Facebook. The email goes on to explain how to limit what people can see when they search for you and find you by name. But it was at that point in the email that I stopped paying attention to what I was reading and started thinking about how many times before I’ve gone through this “privacy” charade with Facebook. I’m tired of playing the Facebook shell game. If the word “privacy” is to have any meaning at all, the best thing for me (and all of us who care about that word) to do is quit Facebook.

Master Checklists

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A good checklist can really ramp up your productivity and reduce oversights. Evernote makes creating checklistsevernote logo quick and easy. Even better, this article from Attorney at Work explains how you can easily create a notebook for “Master Checklists” to help you zip right through routine tasks such as opening a new client file or drafting a motion. You can even link your notes to your checklist for an even bigger productivity boost!

Voluntary Good Practices Guidance to Combat Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing

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The ABA Task Force on Gatekeeper Regulation and the Profession has worked with other entities to develop voluntary good practices guidance for lawyers to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. The Task Force has concerns about how mandatory gatekeeper provisions might affect confidential attorney-client relationships and other issues. Below are two publications from the ABA Task Force.

Take a Break

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Did you know...?
• Employers in the United States are not obligated to offer any paid vacation
• Vacation is mandated by law in many other parts of the world
• Poll: Only 57% of U.S. workers use up all of the vacation days they're entitled to
Credit: CNN Online.

Study after study shows the mental and physical health benefits of taking time off. It seems like common sense to me: if you’re tired and stressed, you’re more likely to make mistakes. On the one hand, a vacation is a chance to recharge your batteries and come back relaxed and with a fresh perspective on your job. On the other hand, you could come back to chaos: piles of unanswered emails and phone messages; crises un-handled, and even clients lost.

If you’re a sole practitioner, the idea of taking any time off probably frightens you. Here’s the perspective of one solo who learned that you can take vacation time, including tips on what you should do before you go. However, the author writes about the help his staff provides. What if you’re it – the only person in the office? Can you do it? Should you do it? Yes and yes. The secret is not only planning, it’s learning to let go and recognizing that you can’t control everything. You can manage it as professionally as possible, but eventually, you’re going to conk out. Working at the Bar, you notice the stories of lawyers passing away suddenly. You know the lawyers who suffered serious health set-backs. Life has a way of teaching us that we aren’t in control. Figuring out a way to take vacations helps us also figure out how to manage our practices better; plus, we learn something about planning for the future and when we're no longer around.

It’s a cliché, but on your deathbed, are you going to think that you should have worked more?

Business Card Strategies

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Let me make this perfectly clear: your business card says a lot about you. When I open the desk drawer with my Rolodex and piles of rubber-banded cards, it's like pulling open a drawer of memories. (It also reminds me that I need to scan them with my Fujitsu ScanSnap and save them with CardMinder.)

In some cultures, it is considered correct business politesse to hold the card presented to you with both hands, observe it, and comment, before putting it carefully in your wallet.

I have my own rules for business cards, to wit:
• Make sure someone can read your card easily without glasses or a magnifying glass (the “over age 40” rule).
• If you use your domain name in your email address, make sure you also have a web page with that domain name.
• Send two business cards to each client at the close of your case and ask them to refer you business.
• Whenever you give your card, give three (one for that person and two for friends).
• Use both sides of the card – include your practice areas on one side, a map to your office, or a piece of advice.
• Make it unique and easy to spot.

Making your card unique and easy to spot is tricky in the rather conservative field of lawyering. You want the impression you make to be favorable, so keep that in mind before you get too wild and crazy. And if inexpensive business cards are what you seek, the Internet is a good place to go. Try Vistaprint, but don't forget to give your local supplier a chance to compete.