SIDEBAR Fall 2019 - 11


By Joel B. Bernbaum, Esq.

New phone: To Buy or
Not to Buy
By the time you read this article,
Apple, Samsung, and others will have
released new phones into the market.
How do you avoid the hype and make
an informed decision? First, you should
ask yourself these questions: (1) how old
is my phone? (2) what condition is it in?
(3) how is the battery life, memory, and
storage space? Normally, you can get 2 - 3
years' service out of your phone before you
need an upgrade. Most lawyers are heavy users and treat phones
as a business expense. That being said, this is not a cheap decision,
with plans and equipment costing upwards of $1,000. For this
year's models, I don't detect any new features that are "must haves."
A better camera, faster processer, sharper image or size is not
groundbreaking and should not require a new phone and expense.
New is nice, but unless your current phone is causing problems
stay the course and use the money for other needs.

Family Law Software and OS Upgrades
Most of us depend on Support calculation software for our
practice. With the new guidelines, it is paramount that you make
sure your software is up-to-date. That includes the operating
system (Mac or Windows) as well as the actual calculation
program. I find that a cloud-based program, such as Family Law
Software, provides the ability to maintain use of the most current
guidelines, calculations, etc. Since you are accessing the data from
the cloud (i.e. internet) the company maintains the application
and provides the assurance of calculating the support based on the
current guidelines and tax laws. The fact that you access the data
from any computer (or tablet) allows for easier use of the necessary
calculations and also provides your client the ability to enter their
data directly into the program. Printouts are composed and the
data is transmitted to the client quicker and in a professional
format. There are other resources, but make sure you test them
and compare the results before you purchase them.

Social Media and Privacy
Facebook, Google, Amazon and other
tech giants are under increasing pressure
to protect and enhance privacy of users
of their services. Congress is investigating
and possibly passing new legislation to
stop these companies from selling your
buying habits, personal information, etc.
This includes credit information used
by banks and other financial institutions
to determine your credit worthiness.
Recent (and massive) hacks of personal
data are happening more frequently, allowing invasion of bank
accounts, etc. It is time you review your own practices for security
breaches of not only your data but your clients' information. The
courts have begun requiring procedures to ensure that data in
our pleadings and filings remain protected and confidential. We
need to provide better protection for ourselves and our clients.
For example, standard procedure is to never send a document
in native Word format (i.e. property agreements) that can be
changed or compromised. We all should know how to convert to
PDF format to stop this problem. However, in the new version of
Word, the ability to convert PDF documents back to the original
editable format is available as a standard feature that does not
require the purchase of additional software. We are probably at
the point of protecting our documents via passwords to comply
with the requirement of confidentiality and protection of clients'
data. Another caveat is the practice of forwarding email. Please
be careful that you are not forwarding viruses, links that allow
hacking or phishing (phony websites). Unfortunately, we live in an
environment where technology is becoming a tool for those taking
advantage of the unwitting or unprotected. We are at the point of:
Technology, can't live with it, can't live without it...
Enjoy and be safe out there!

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