Learning the Virtual Ropes of Remote Lawyering
When it comes to remote lawyering, with great power comes great responsibility. With the great flexibility and independence, comes the great demands of securing confidential client information and maintaining practice standards. In this survey of the challenges and opportunities of remote work, we explore some of the major considerations for practicing law remotely, from leveraging technology, to managing clients and staff, to staying sane when your pug is your paralegal. We begin by exploring what’s to learn from COVID-19 and remote legal operations.
Jason Potter: Welcome to Learning the Virtual Ropes of Remote Lawyering. My name is Jason Potter and I am a staff presenter at Quimbee. For this journey through the ins and outs of remote law practice, we have prepared some written materials for you, including slide handouts and some supplemental materials which includes a list of links to helpful resources. You can follow along with those materials or you can just sit back and enjoy this presentation on remote law practice, where pants are optional.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a seismic shift in every area of life, including shifting our orientation with and around technology. Due to shelter in place and quarantine orders, attorneys and law firms were thrust into remote legal practice. It's a style of work allowing professionals to work outside the traditional law firm or courtroom context. Yet, many in the legal industry were unprepared for and certainly uneducated about remote legal practice when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. For example, in a letter to a Florida bar association during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Judge Dennis Bailey stated, "It's remarkable how many attorneys appear inappropriately on camera during Zoom-based court meetings. One male lawyer appeared shirtless and one female attorney appeared still in bed, still under the covers." Judge Bailey suggested that attorneys need to get up to speed on how to maintain professionalism while navigating these technologies and that there is no such thing as an objection to technology in legal practice anymore.
COVID-19 forced the entire legal industry to challenge traditional assumptions about legal practice and technology. Whereas many in the industry were reticent to accept and incorporate new technologies before COVID, now the industry was given no choice but to do that, to come up to speed during the pandemic. Remote work is powered by technology. The pandemic has also gifted lawyers the ability to reflect on their careers pre-COVID, on their relationships with technology, on high office rent, on outrageous commute times and work-life balance. Legal employers too have their eyes open now as a result of COVID with respect to possibilities of lawyering remotely. And, as a result, what's standard in the practice of law will never be the same. Now, Saturday will be known as attorney shower day.
When practicing law remotely, the quality of service and commitment and adherence to ethical lawyering and professionalism need to be the same or better than they were before, even when you're still in your pajamas at 3:00 p.m. In this presentation, we'll explore some of the major considerations for practicing law remotely, with special attention to security and confidentiality.
First, we begin by exploring what's to learn from COVID-19 and remote legal operations. Well, first, professional preparedness is forever changed. Part of acting professionally is preparing for challenges that can affect our ability to act competently. Preparing for these challenges involves more than staying abreast of current developments in our practice areas. It also involves making sure we stay abreast of current developments in the ways lawyers deliver that advice. Lawyers might have been able to argue that no one could have reasonably anticipated COVID-19, but the same is probably not going to be true next time. In essence, the definition of reasonable preparedness has likely changed. It's... It's expanded. And, there's definitely Purell involved.
Second, the importance of technological competence is now beyond question. Not even a global pandemic that has thrown the entire legal industry into chaos will suspend an attorney's professional obligations of competence and diligent representation of clients, among other duties. Under the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule One Point One, to act competently, the lawyer must have the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness, and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation. Recognizing this need to stay abreast of technological advancements in the legal industry, the ABA House of Delegates voted to add comment eight to Model Rule One Point One. Comment Eight states that to maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology. Now, 41 state bar associations have either adopted this language or issued opinions advising competence in new technologies generally.
Third, technological competence now has greater meaning. If COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of technological competence, it's also expanded the definition of what technological competence actually is. In the pre-COVID paradigm, technological competence extended to the technology tools that lawyers used to practice law at that point. At that point, the list included law practice management software, document management software, billing software, email, a PDF program with redacting and metadata scrubbing capabilities and Microsoft Office programs. Now, to effectively practice law during the COVID-19 pandemic, technological competence has likely expanded to include an understanding of cybersecurity, of team management software if the lawyer is operating as part of a team, and video and mobile technologies.
Also, as the result of the necessary incorporation of new technologies to transmit information to clients or, say, communicate with courts and really to pursue justice during the COVID-19 pandemic, being competent has also meant taking time to think through the impact of our use of those technologies. Now, I'm not talking about making everyone in the Zoom conference laugh when Katy Perry prances across the keyboard. No. Use of these technologies presents inherent risks to confidential client information. So, using these technologies places us right between the duty of competence and the duty of confidentiality.
Fourth, client desires and expectations and their locations are changing. It will be harder for attorneys to go back to traditional models of legal practice after having incorporated remote working technologies. Properly used, these technologies tend to make law practice just inherently more efficient, thus allowing attorneys to pass a cost savings to clients, possibly. In the past, lawyers conducted most of the relationship building in person and now, connecting with clients has needed to evolve. It's very likely that the legal industry will encounter different client expectations in a post-COVID paradigm.
To state it simply, COVID-19 has forced a change in the way the legal industry operates and has wrenched it away from the practices of the past. It has also created opportunities for remote legal practice like never before. In this presentation, you'll learn the virtual ropes of remote lawyering. First, we'll work through some of the ethical considerations with remote legal practice. Second, we'll discuss leveraging remote working technologies. Third, we'll dive into managing clients and staff remotely. Fourth, we'll dig into staying sane while working remotely. And, finally, we'll land on five practical takeaways for practicing law remotely.
So, in remote working, with great power comes great responsibility. As technology advances, becoming competent in that technology is both more difficult and more critical. Let's take a look at cell phone technology as an example. So, let's travel back 40 years to the infamous brick cell phone of the 1980s. There's not much functionality. It's not difficult to master, though it's quite difficult to maneuver. Today, our phones allow us to email, calendar, create to do lists, video call, listen to music, take selfies, watch television, read newspapers, books and magazines, learn the weather, plan travel, fetch an Uber, keep time, track steps, surf the Web, set an alarm, voice record, calculate, leave voicemails, send text messages, give your directions. Oh, and make phone calls.
Calling the phone of today a mobile phone is a misnomer. It's a computer. It's a computer. Frame it this way so we prioritize the issue of security on it. Ethical use of technology involves preparing for the worst. ABA Formal Opinion 477 states, "Cybersecurity recognizes a world where law enforcement discusses hacking and data loss in terms of when, not if." And then, ABA Formal Opinion 483, issued in 2018, states, "Data breaches and cyber threats involving or targeting lawyers and law firms are a major professional responsibility and liability threat facing the legal profession." Law firms are targets for two general reasons. They get, they store, and they use highly sensitive information about their clients while at times utilizing safeguards to shield that information that may be inferior to the safeguards that the clients themselves employ. And second, the information in their possession is more likely to be of interest. And second, the information in a lawyer's possession is more likely to be of interest to a hacker and less likely voluminous than the information held by the client.
The ethical use of technology involves knowing the basics about security and we're going to be discussing the general rules about technology and security in the context of a hypothetical. This is Justine. Justine works for a small firm and has a flexible schedule and she has the option of working from home or the office. Justine has two court appearances today and she decided to work from a nearby coffee shop between appearances. The coffee shop was crowded, but she located a table and set up her laptop to start working. Justine logged into her computer with her password, grizabella. A notice of software update popped up on Justine's laptop screen and she dismissed it, though, so she could get started. Justine connected to the coffee shop's wifi, Mocha Me Crazy, which was free with purchase and didn't require a password. She then logged into her firm's case management software using her password, grizabella. She worked in Microsoft Word on a brief for an upcoming appearance and then saved her work locally, uploaded it to the system, closed her computer, and left the coffee shop.
What are some of Justine's security vulnerabilities here? Well, first, situational awareness is critical in the context of cybersecurity. Justine connected to an open wifi hotspot without a password. Now, open wifi networks are dangerous for security and confidentiality reasons because hackers can sniff the data packets from public wifi networks. Had Justine used a virtual private network, or VPN, after connecting to the wifi and for the duration of her connection to the wifi, Justine's vulnerability here would have been greatly reduced. A VPN creates a private network on top of a public network and allows the user to transmit on the public network as if it's on the private one. But, even a VPN is considered vulnerable today. If there's any way for Justine to avoid using free public wifi for client matters, she should.
Another more secure option would have been to use her iPhone as a mobile hotspot rather than connecting to the wifi. Communications between computer and phone are encrypted through Bluetooth encryption and transmissions are encrypted through a method similar to iMessage. Another option would be to use a mobile hotspot, a small device offered through mobile carriers. The advantage here is connecting multiple devices to that hotspot, which isn't as good on a mobile phone hotspot. This is also encrypted.
Justine was also working on her computer on a client matter in a crowded coffee shop. She needed to make sure that no one could view her work on her computer if she stepped away temporarily. She could use a privacy filter for her computer. It's an analog tool placed over the screen that obscures it from viewpoints other than the person directly in front of the computer. Justine should also require screensaver passwords. Second, the availability of updates often flags the existence of vulnerabilities. Justine did what many of us do when we need to get to work. We put off the software update. But, if the manufacturer is suggesting you update your software, chances are that they know something that you don't know and it's often about security, some known vulnerability that they've patched. It's important for Justine to stay on top of installing the newest software updates for devices and any software applications on those devices. This includes stay up to date on and using anti-virus, malware, and firewall software.
Third, for passwords, inconvenience equals security. In Justine's case, she used the same password, grizabella, for her laptop's log in and for the log in to her firm's case management software. Now, there is a convenience in that. It's easy to remember one password. Sure. But, the more convenient the password, the less secure it is. For passwords, there is a general tension between security and convenience. Passwords should be unique. If Justine committed to using unique passwords, this would provide her with more security. It might be more inconvenient, but there are ways to add convenience. Unique means a different password for each application's log in.
To add convenience, Justine could use a password manager. A password manager is a software application designed to store and manage online credentials. Usually, these passwords are stored in an encrypted database and locked behind a master password. There are several different types of password managers out there based on storage, type of encryption, features, and so on. There are desktop-based, cloud-based, browser-based, portable, token-based, and stateless managers. Desktop-based are softwares that are stored directly on your machine so the passwords are encrypted and stored locally. These aren't so good if you need to access your passwords from multiple devices, though, or if you share a computer. Cloud-based managers store info on their server and data gets securely transmitted from your browser to the server and vice versa. These are great because you can access your info from anywhere, but you have to trust your provider.
Browser-based are managers contained in internet browsers like Firefox or Chrome or Explorer. These don't typically sync up to multiple devices and they are less secure than other types. Portable managers store passwords on either your phone or some other device, like a USB drive. These are more secure than a desktop manager but it means you can't lose the device. Token-based managers are managers that have an additional layer of security that sends a security token to your device after you enter your credentials. These can be more expensive and complex than others. Finally, there are stateless password managers which generate passwords. They can't sync and have a reputation of being more vulnerable to attacks than other managers.
Whichever you choose, a password manager is a must today for lawyers. Using unique passwords is an important aspect of maintaining confidentiality and unless you're Einstein, remembering them all isn't really feasible. Also, passwords should be strong. Don't choose a bad password. According to the data analytics firm SplashData, the top worst passwords in 2018 were "123456," "password," "123456789," "111111," "sunshine," "qwerty," "iloveyou," "princess," "admin, "welcome," "666666," "abc123." Well, according to SplashData, the research shows that about 10% of employees use one of these passwords. These worst passwords were the result of frequency in passwords leaked by hackers. As an update, the password "beef stew" should be avoided as well. It's just not stroganoff.
Choose a fairly long phrase that includes capital letters, special characters, and or numbers. Generally, it should have at least 12 characters. Don't add personally meaningful or common words or phrases like Bible verses or movies. Now, Justine's password, grizabella, is lacking because it lacks a smattering of capital letters, special characters and numbers. But also, it's one of the names of a leading role in the massively concerning film Cats.
Passwords should also be tested. When in doubt, check your password concoction on a password testing website like the well-respected site howsecureismypassword.net. That's howsecureismypassword.net. These tools indicate just how long the password would take to crack. Using this site, here's the verdict on Justine's password. Grizabella would take 59 minutes for a computer to crack. That's not very long. Grizabella with a capital G would take one month. Grizabella capital G with a one at the end would take 41 years. Better. Grizabella one capital G with an exclamation point would take 34,000 years. Now, grizabella one with a capital G question mark would take 63,000 years. And finally, grizabella meow one question mark with a capital G would take three trillion years to crack. Yes.
Passwords should also have two factor authentication whenever possible. This is the most secure. It prevents around 98% of cybersecurity issues. Commit to using unique, strong passwords. It might be inconvenient, but anything less is just not secure. You should have one of those unique strong passwords for each program, software, or device that contains or has access to client information.
Justine doesn't need to make big changes here. She needs to work around the public wifi issue, keep her devices and softwares updated, and use unique strong passwords. But, she definitely needs to do these things to adequately protect her clients' confidentiality. Ethical use of technology means being mindful of risk. Be aware of what information your devices are gathering because surreptitious listening or tracking can occur. Your iPhone, for example, might be tracking your location. To check it out, go to settings, privacy, location services, system preferences, and look at significant locations. If that's turned on, Apple knows where you are. Amazon Alexa is always listening, too, in addition to playing Let It Go over and over once the kids learn her name. That should scare you, at least the listening part. It certainly presents a problem for confidentiality of client communications that occur in Alexa's presence.
Always back up your work to prevent human error. The ethics of cloud computing depends on state bar opinions, but basically, the lawyer needs to take reasonable care to vet a cloud service provider and conduct due diligence on it. The lawyer will have an ongoing duty to ensure compliance with confidentiality rules and an ongoing duty to understand how they're transmitting data. Due to the nature of working remotely, away from a central server, it's important to ensure that your devices are properly backed up.
These are some of the foundational tech-related matters weighing on security and confidentiality in remote lawyering. Against this backdrop, we will turn to a discussion of leveraging remote lawyering tools, managing clients and staff remotely, and staying sane while working remotely.
First, leveraging remote communication tools. How do you choose your devices? Well, the overarching question to ask when considering new technology is, what do I want this device or service to do for me? There are three major considerations that influence the choice of device and software for remote lawyering. First, mobility. Second, ability to keep good client records. And third, preservation of confidentiality. Most people, most lay people, only have to think about the mobility factor. Not lawyers. As you're considering technology, don't just look at technology you're using in silos. Look at how the technology relates. Take a holistic approach and think about developing a technology story.
Video conferencing software is also a critical tool now. There is no equal to actually visiting with your clients if possible. But, since COVID-19, video conferencing has become a must-have technology for remote lawyering, including for new business development, for interaction with clients, and for management of staff. Some firms are relying on proprietary video software, but many attorneys and organizations, including mid-sized, small and solo practitioners, have turned to commercial video conferencing software like Zoom. The most popular platform has been Zoom, but Zoom is certainly not the only player in video conferencing. Some other platforms include Microsoft Teams, Webex, GoToMeeting, and BlueJeans, which was recently acquired by Verizon.
When you make a choice about video conferencing software, consider. Do you want to be able to collaborate on documents, share your screen and chat within the platform? Some platforms will allow you to do these things and others may not. Will you be conferencing from a fixed place or on the go with a laptop? Where and how is data from the meeting stored after the meeting ends? And, what type of security is used? That's a great segue way to mentioning the issue of cybersecurity and Zoom. There's a general consensus that Zoom meets the model rule of professional conduct rule one point six. But, understand that there are some security issues with Zoom. It lacks end to end or end to end encryption on video, though it does have end to end encryption for chat. If you want end to end encryption for video, consider FaceTime, Wire, or Signal. All of these have end to end encryption. But, you know, email doesn't have end to end encryption either and that's ethical.
Here are some tips for optimizing video, audio and appearance in video conferencing. The internal microphone on recent laptop models is fine. But, consider using a VOIP headset instead of the microphone that's embedded in the computer. During video calls, always mute your microphone when you're not speaking. Merely flipping pages while the client is speaking can create a disruptive noise on their end. If you have the ability to plug into the network via an ethernet cable, that will give you the best connection and the greatest prevention of network disruptions of video quality.
And now, the secrets of looking your best on video conference. Here they are. First, wear clothing. So, always dress professionally, the same as you'd operate if you weren't working remotely. Yes, I know that I joked a lot about not wearing pants and the joys of sweatpants, but when you're on a video conference, wear professional attire outside the video frame. No pajama bottoms. You never know if you'll need to stand up and get something, for example. Dress professionally from head to toe, period. Do the same grooming regimen that you do for a face to face client meeting. Also, lighting. Set up two light sources at 10 o'clock and two o'clock, each about four feet apart. Lamps are fine, though you may need to take off the lampshades. Lighting behind you in video conferencing is not your friend. Also, the camera angle. The lens of your web camera should be at eye level. Eye level, which means you may need to place some books under your laptop. The camera should not be looking up your nose.
And then, backdrop. Avoid the unprofessional looking custom backgrounds in Zoom. Seek a solid wall as your background and check that there's nothing within the video frame that would be even remotely unprofessional to show your audience. For example, one time I was in a video conference and one of the attendees' video feeds showed a bit of, a sliver of, a mirror. That mirror seemed to reflect to the bathroom and during the meeting, I watched the attendee's significant other, or tried not to watch the attendee's significant other use the bathroom, shall we say, to the uproarious laughter of everyone in the meeting. So, know what's in your video frame and make sure that everything is professional. Also, choose the location of your call carefully. In conferencing with clients or prospective clients, it's critical that no one can overhear your conversation. If a significant other or a family member is in the house, ask them to leave for a specific period of time.
Also, if you are looking at your client on the screen, keep in mind that from their perspective, you're not looking at their face or at them directly in the eyes if you're looking at their video feed. If you want the client to see you make direct eye contact, you must look directly into the camera, not at their video frame.
Now, in terms of professionalism and video conferencing, the rules of professional responsibility still apply in video format. There should be nothing different in the way you appear or act on video conference than you do in your professional life. Video conferencing is not an opportunity to present differently, even though it may be in the comfort of your own home. [inaudible 00:33:47]. Oh, also, be very mindful not to talk over your client because it's really easy in video conferencing.
In addition to video conferencing, another important tool are client portals. Client portals are convenient and secure. There are three ways to communicate using technology and each of those is considered ethical to use for communicating with clients. There's phone. There's email. And, there are texts. It also so happens that these phone, email and texts are three of the least secure ways to communicate with people. One technology that assists with email communication is the client portal. If all communications to and from the client occur through a dedicated secure portal, then this patches the major security risks inherent in email. Client portals make your life easier and give the client the ability to engage in the representation more fulsomely. Portals give clients access to their documents anytime they want and portals can also give clients access to billing matters before receipt of a paper statement.
In addition, portals can automatically notify the client of major milestones in the representation and send live updates of case activity. Finally, portals allow clients to view the history of electronic discussions as threaded discussions. With potential clients, directing them to a portal to fill out intake forms or even to make an appointment can help ensure that there are no ethical issues inherent in representing someone outside the jurisdiction, for example. It's also possible to require clients to use a portal by creating and executing a client portal agreement. This can really reduce the number of emails, calls and text messages the lawyer receives.
Now, moving from the technology to the issue of managing clients and staff remotely. First, managing client relationships. When practicing law remotely, it's even more important to map out the client's journey through a representation. Much more relationship building often occurs at a distance in remote lawyering and not face to face. It's important to have a clear understanding of how all this feels from the client perspective, so mapping out the journey from initial inquiry to closing the matter can help you identify critical gaps or deficiencies in managing and developing a relationship with client.
Here's a sample client journey that one attorney created. Potential clients will sign up for a 30 minute phone consultation by either calling our virtual reception service or signing up for our calendar service directly from our website. After the consultation, if the person becomes a client, we will set him or her up in our client portal and from there, we communicate, share documents, and receive payments through the client portal for the duration of our relationship. We also use an encrypted messaging and management service to communicate, collaborate, and share resources internally with our team. Video conferencing will be our preferred choice for video meetings and trainings. Once a client is set up in our client portal, the client has direct access to its attorney through the messaging feature and all further communication and correspondence happens there. We'll have a UPS box mailing address that provides a physical street address for business mailings and also for SEO reasons.
Second, the issue of managing a distributed workforce. Lawyers love to manage by walking around and aren't really great at managing a distributed workforce because they can't really micromanage. ABA Model Rule Five Point One B states, "A lawyer having direct supervisory authority over another lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that the other lawyer conforms to the rules of professional conduct." So, failure to properly supervise could result in the supervising lawyer being held responsible for violations of the rules of professional conduct completed by another lawyer.
In remote working, all staff need to be well vetted because all supervision occurs remotely. Some of the keys to managing a distributed workforce are setting expectations early and having key performance indicators for everyone. Create workflows for the team. This allows you to see the mile high view of what people are doing and where they are in the workflow. So, you can have a dedicated process in place for each type of case and then work is divided into timeframes in the process. Create a shared aggregated task list and there are workflow softwares like the software Trello that can help efficientize all of this. There is a link to a Trello introductory video in the course materials.
Another key to managing a distributed workforce is using a central platform for communication, collaboration, and culture. When you go virtual, the number of emails from staff can go up a lot. Channel all communications among team members, including team emails to you, through the central platform. This can seriously cut down on the number of emails you receive. An example of a platform that can achieve this is called Slack and there's a link to a Slack introductory video in the course materials. Teach staff to batch their questions before sending an email through the platform so you can receive and respond to groups of questions rather than piecemeal in individual emails. You can also use that platform to foster a remote work culture. And then, finally, have a secure way to share documents among the team.
Now, with all this to think about, it's a nice segue way to the issue of staying sane while working remotely. One law firm partner described the life impact of working remotely this way. "The pros? No commute. Sweatpants all day. Lots of snacks. The cons? Children with a constant need for snacks and sources of entertainment." The emotional and physical impact of working remotely shouldn't be underestimated. Here, we'll talk about improving and maintaining your mental health when working remotely and establishing and maintaining boundaries when working remotely. Yes, boundaries.
Lawyers already face a significant risk of serious mental health issues. Common stressors for lawyers are workload, long hours, lack of vacation, billable hour expectations, interpersonal difficulties, little support, camraderie or mentorship. I'm already stressed out. The qualities that make you a good lawyer can also lead to anxiety, to depression, and to drug and alcohol abuse. Lawyers are trained to be self-sufficient. But, out of whack, that can lead to feelings of isolation. Lawyers are also trained to be problem solvers and rational thinking. But, out of balance, this can lead to controlling or unfeeling behavior. Lawyers are also trained to be detail oriented, but as many of us know, that can also trend towards perfectionism. Lawyers are trained to be zealous advocates and that can also lead to needless competition. Lawyers are known to multi-task, but out of balance, that can cause distraction. And finally, lawyers are accustomed to stress, but out of balance, that can give a lawyer a feeling of invulnerability.
The American Bar Association Commission on Lawyer Assistance Program's Hazelton Betty Ford Foundation study conducted in 2016 surveyed 12,825 licensed working attorneys from 19 states. They measured the prevalence of depression, anxiety, stress, alcohol use, and substance use. They employed a number of well-tested screening devices or surveys. For example, the WHO audit test, which we've included in the course materials. And, here are the findings. In terms of alcohol, about 85% of attorneys indicated alcohol use in the past year. In the general population, that number's about 65%. The rate of problem drinking was 26%, making the rate of problem drinking in the law profession greater than in any other professional career. For physicians and surgeons, that number is 5%. For the general population, it's 6% of adults over 26 as problem drinkers.
In terms of mental health, the ABA found that 28% of lawyers have struggled with depression. 19% have struggled with anxiety. 23% have struggled with stress. And, compared to the general population, lawyers have three to four times the rate of depression. In terms of substance use, 3,419 attorneys surveyed answered the questions about substance use and that means that about 75% of the attorneys surveyed skipped every question about substance use on the survey.
Post COVID-19, it's really possible that these numbers are higher for lawyers. There are a number of resources available to help prevent and address these challenges. Lawyer assistance programs are confidential programs available in every state. On your screen now, I've provided a QR code. If you scan this using a QR scanner into your phone, you'll receive a link to an excellent national directory of lawyer assistance programs. Lawyer assistance programs assist law students, attorneys, judges, struggling with mental health and wellness challenges like mental health issues, family challenges, burnout, and stress. They typically provide direct counseling or referral to other treatment options and usually they're open to lawyers, to families, spouses, and significant others. They're staffed by attorney volunteers in recovery, typically. They're often free and they're always confidential.
Here is a tip. Seek out connection. If you work remotely, you have less human interaction. Make time for connection with others, either in person or remotely. Consider joining a support group. In fact, consider attending a 12-step meeting. You don't even have to speak at a meeting. Just say, "My name is Joe and I am a friend of AA. I'll pass." Most AA meetings are not limited to alcoholics. On a directory, look for open or closed. An open meeting is open to anyone. A closed meeting is only open to people who identify as alcoholics. You can try out a meeting online, too, without stepping into a room. Since COVID-19, this is especially true. Options for online 12-step meetings abound.
Working remotely takes a strong resiliency reflex. Resilience is a process that enables us to bounce back from adversity in a healthy way. Working remotely is full of adversity and stress. Let's take a look at a few examples. This is a tweet from Lydia. Lydia writes, "Me and my dad are sharing the dining room table, working from home today. He's an aerospace engineer on a conference call ordering fuselage prototypes and I'm drawing a duck." So, in remote lawyering, the blending of professional and personal is total. Here's another tweet from Mary. Mary says, "My husband is working from home and he's still late." It's true that in remote working, there's less distance to travel between bed and workspace. And finally, Dishonest Canine-Visaged Tiny Horse Warrior says, "My wife, a lawyer, is working from home. I believe this technically makes the pugs paralegals." Implying that one does not simply work from home without distraction.
With a quicker resilience reflex, attorneys can bounce back from adversity without internalizing loss or seeking out side ways to expunge those feelings of inadequacy. Here are some tools for maintaining resilience. Make intentional changes to your mindset. Reframe the challenges of working remotely as opportunities. For example, I have control over my distractions. I can design my environment. I can connect when I'm ready. And, I have more freedom and autonomy. Another tool is to practice gratitude, intention setting, and acceptance. Try writing a gratitude list of three to five items every morning or whenever you're feeling squirrelly, for that matter. Try sending random text messages of gratitude. Try mindfully setting aside worry about things you don't have control over. Set an intention for the day or for the week or create an affirmation for yourself. Practice orienting yourself around that affirmation. Here's one affirmation. The universe generously supports me.
To help with resilience, you can also practice mindfulness and meditation. You can do them online, on YouTube, or on apps like the app Calm or Headspace. This is something you can do in the morning, during the day, or at night, or all of them. Also, take a mental health day. Use your vacation. Tell yourself vacations are not a reward. They're a necessity. Another tool for resiliency is to breathe, to get outdoors and to exercise. How are you breathing? What are your shoulders doing? Do a physical inventory of how you're breathing, where you are holding the stress. And, in terms of getting outdoors, like plants, we need air, sunshine and water. Get some exercise outdoors, even just a walk around the block. You're not in an office and you don't have to act like it. Remember law school. We were really creative about how we studied to maintain energy and focus.
And, another idea. Get dressed and practice self-care. I'm not talking about a suit or tie, but put something on that's new every day. Wearing your shoes also can help give the added formality you need to feel in order to get focused. For people who shave, consider shaving as you would if you weren't working remotely. There's something to the ritual of all of this. And, brush your teeth, comb your hair, and make your bed. Another idea to foster resilience is to get a non-competitive hobby. A hobby can help you better define your schedule and gives you something to look forward to at the end of each day. A virtual book club? Sure. Netflix as hobby? Absolutely. It is in my book. And, during lunch, take the lunch all the time.
Focus on establishing and maintaining boundaries. Boundaries are critical for mental health and well-being. Create a daily routine with work hours, lunch, breaks, and finish time. This can be just blocks of time and it isn't about the exact tasks you're doing. Setting a routine is also important for any people you live with, like family, children, and pets. For example, here's a simple schedule without family obligations. We see 6:00 to 7:00 a.m., get ready, feed dog, eat breakfast. 7:00 a.m., they've got a meeting. Eight, that's a work time. The ringer on their phone is turned off. Notifications off. 10:30, stretch and walk dog. 11:00, work time. So, we have a number of different dedicated work times and breathers during the day. And, with families, consider scheduling who has parental duties when.
You can and should develop boundaries around your office and living spaces as well. Try to create artificial boundaries between your working space and your living space. Try to work in such a way where you don't actually have to see your bed. And, attire can be really helpful in creating boundaries. As much as I've joked about it in this presentation, refrain from wearing sleeping attire or after-work attire in your workspace. Keep your workspace as tidy as you would in an office environment. And, set your office up in a way that invites repeated usage without physical strain. Think of ergonomics. And, the other place to develop boundaries is around social media and internet usage. Social media is a double edged sword. It's important to ignore the highlight reel that we see in social media. That causes the [inaudible 00:54:22]. It's the [inaudible 00:54:23]. It's important to ignore the highlight reel that we always seem to see in social media, that trap of comparison. It's a productivity comparison, a success comparison, and it's not helpful. It's easy to fall into it because it feels like connection for us.
Overall, staying sane while working remotely is recognizing progress over perfection and keeping your expectations of what you can accomplish in a day right-sized. Here are some top tips for remote lawyering. And, as I created these, I placed them in different groups. Each group is unified by a common theme.
So, our first common theme is the quality of service and commitment to ethical lawyering and professionalism. Put a great deal of effort into developing and maintaining security protocols that protect confidential information. A good IT support staff can help you comply with your ethical duties. Check your jurisdiction's office requirements to make sure that you can offer legal services without a physical office space. There's also a marketing related concern here. You can't get a Google My Business for SEO purposes without getting a physical location.
The second theme is committing to technology and maintaining a reflective practice. Take the time to study the capabilities of your software so you can get the most out of it and review all of the terms and conditions of your providers. Also, create workflows and automate wherever possible. Also, regularly audit your technology and ensure that they continue to meet your needs, they continue to meet the ethical requirements, and they continue to meet the expectations of clients.
And, our third theme is making use of resources. Check out the ABA and state bar resources available online. Reach out to your state bar's hotline, which can answer practice management and ethical issues relating to working remotely. Make use of exclusive bar association member benefits, their discount programs and services. For example, you might find discounts on electronic payment solutions, technology, and security software. And, solo practitioners should consider succession planning and exploring state bar programs that assist in planning in the event of death or disability.
Our fourth theme is considering your workspace and context to fulfill ethical duties and to maximize convenience. Avoid sharing computers, even with separate accounts. Situate your workspace away from the eyes and from the ears of other people. Avoid talking to clients in public spaces and be especially mindful of the security challenges of working in public spaces and on the go. If you plan to work on the go, prepare for the unexpected by outfitting your everyday work bag with a power strip for solving the problem of limited outlets, with a power inverter for your car in case you need to charge your laptop on the fly. Extra batteries, battery boosters for devices, and a backup internet device that provides you with secure wifi.
A fifth theme is the cost savings of working remotely. Conducting a law practice remotely should assist in keeping overhead down, for example. While valuing your time, consider passing along some of these savings to your clients.
Remote working. With great power comes great responsibility. With greater flexibility, independence, and physical distance also comes a greater need for vigilance. Vigilance with protecting computer systems and files to ensure verbal communications continue to be protected.
Now, we covered a lot of ground on this technology journey, but naturally, there are a number of things we couldn't cover in this survey, including payment solutions, going paperless, setting up a home office, cloud computing, to name a few. It doesn't mean that they're not important. Now, there's also a greater responsibility to manage staff and provide more structure, accountability, and affirmation. And, don't forget the client side and that greater responsibility to ensure a seamless client experience. But, ethical, technical, managerial, and client side considerations aside, the importance of wellness with respect to remote working shouldn't be understated. With remote working comes a greater responsibility to practice self-care, to find resilience, and to maintain boundaries.
Thank you for joining us for this presentation on practicing law remotely. To learn more about the content of today's presentation, you can check out the accompanying course materials which include today's slides and the associated presenter notes. Thank you for choosing Quimbee for your CLE needs and I hope you'll join us again soon. Farewell.