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2018 Practice 360º Recap

By Jeffery Leon and Jordan Uhl

May 23, 2018

D.C. Bar's fourth Practice 360º | A Day for Lawyers & Law Firms

On May 18 the D.C. Bar hosted its fourth Practice 360º | A Day for Lawyers & Law Firms, an annual all-day event that offers practical seminars and CLE programming on key topics. This year’s event focused on legal ethics, marketing, social media, professional development, and technology. Here are a few highlights:

Keynote Address: Bringing AI to the Law
This year’s keynote was on artificial intelligence and its impact on society, technology, and the law, presented by Thomas J. Hamilton of ROSS Intelligence. Hamilton explored the concepts of big data, machine learning, and artificial intelligence, and the subtle yet massive disruptions of these new technological approaches. From Google Duplex to Amazon Echo to facial recognition tech on smartphones, machine learning and AI are transforming industries, providing new ways to collect and present data, offload work, and more, and savvy attorneys need to recognize and utilize these technologies to stay competitive in the legal profession.

Using Social Media in Litigation: The Ethics and Practicalities
In this session, Niki Black of MyCase delved into social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and how attorneys can ethically mine these services to obtain information for litigation, as well as to research jurors for trial. Black said that lawyers “have an obligation to be tech confident,” and to “be curious, learn, think, and stay ahead of the game” when it comes to using social media to help build their cases. Attorneys also need to be aware of the differences in ethical rules for social media in different jurisdictions, Black said, and to avoid the kneejerk responses around social networking and to remember: It is here to stay.

The Criminal Lawyer and Technology
Ada Chan and Mark Rollins of The Rollins and Chan Law Firm led the seminar “The Criminal Lawyer and Technology,” exploring the advantages of software for small firms and solo practices, such as Clio, LawPay, and DocuSign. The session also touched on the benefits of effectively using your firm’s website and social media presence to market your firm. Chan and Rollins mentioned that social media is best grown organically and within reason, and attorneys should approach it with professionalism and personality. The speakers also highlighted the importance of getting good reviews on Google and Avvo, and to explore blogging and short videos for informative and striking ways to build your brand.

Sponsored Lunch: Clio Legal Trends Report
At the luncheon, George Psiharis, vice president of business operations at Clio, provided an overview of the company’s 2017 Legal Trends Report. Attendees received updates on hourly rates in different areas of law and geographic locations, as well as trends in average workday, collection rates, and other areas shaping the legal profession, especially with issues pertaining to small firm lawyers. Psiharis also talked about how lawyers can leverage data and technology to become more productive and to serve their clients more efficiently. Psiharis said Clio tapped nearly 3,000 legal professionals to gain a deeper understanding into their workday, how their days are broken down by the hour, what’s preventing them from maximizing productivity, and even how they handle being frequently interrupted in the office. To see the full details, review Clio’s 2017 Legal Trends Report.

Ethics: Frequently Asked Questions for Solo and Small Firm Lawyers (CLE) 
D.C. Bar legal ethics counsel Hope C. Todd and Erika Stillabower led attendees in an interactive session on frequently occurring professional and ethical hypothetical dilemmas. The hypotheticals were loosely based on inquiries to the D.C. Bar Legal Ethics Helpline, and Todd and Stillabower guided attendees through the applicable D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct, formal Legal Ethics Opinions, disciplinary cases, and best practices to resolve ethical issues. Some of the topics covered were advertising and responding to negative reviews on social media, how to describe your practice and accept prospective clients under complicated circumstances, and written fee and contingency agreements.