Criteria for a Good Web Site As any litigator knows,
you can't get the right answers unless you ask the right
questions. What are the right questions when it comes to
designing a web site for the Internet? Three of the most
- What do you want to accomplish with a web site?
- What is your expected/desired audience?
- How will people access your site?
What Do You Want to Accomplish?
The first thing to decide is what you want to accomplish by
setting up a Web site. At a minimum, people generally want to
present the firm's practice and attorneys. However, this, by
itself, is a poor reason to create a Web site, since you are
really only slightly expanding on your Martindale entry.
Additional things you may wish to do with a Web site include:
- Publicize the firm's recent activities, including
newsletters the firm publishes, significant cases the
firm has been involved in and seminars attorneys have
attended. Publications by attorneys should be referred to
or reproduced. This can lead to opportunities for
cross-marketing to existing clients. If the firm sponsors
seminars, they should be listed.
- Serve as a resource to other attorneys by including a
number of links to areas related to the firm's primary
practice areas. A site that is useful to other attorneys
serves to increase the firm's reputation as a leader.
- Serve as a showcase either legally or in terms of the
technology being used.
- You might have a restricted area (accessible only by
password) for client information. The client would be
given secure access to information directly concerning
your representation of them.
- Showcase new hires, recent activity, etc. The listing of
attorneys should include e-mail addresses and be more
than just a re-hash of your Martindale entry.
- Institute an e-mail response system that will return more
information to anyone requesting it. A request to
"email@example.com" returns general information,
a request to "firstname.lastname@example.org" returns
information concerning your tax practice, and so on. This
helps you to track people who visit your site and can
lead to new clients. Depending on your e-mail system, you
may not need a Web site to do this.
What Is Your Expected Audience?
You might expect or hope that the following categories of
people visit your Web site:
- Existing clients will visit your site for a number of
reasons. They might want to keep their finger on the
general pulse of the firm to make sure it is active and
intellectually alive. Or to check out other practice
areas with an eye to expanding their business with the
firm. If your representation concerns a particular
specialty (tax issues, patent law), they might want other
information relevant to your representation of them.
- Prospective clients might access your site to get a
better overall view of the firm.
- Other attorneys might visit your site to "check you
out" or preliminary to pos-sible job opportunities.
Or, if your site maintains links to research sites or
specific practice areas (maritime law, environmental
law), to use it as a jumping off point for further
- Finally, law students might visit your site in connection
with job opportunities.
How Will People Access Your Site?
Many Web designers want to build in "hot" new
features to a site, including extensive graphics, animation, Java
scripts and so on. You should be careful that the technology you
implement in your site reflects your expectations concerning how
people will visit it.
If you can assume that most visitors will be
professional/corporate users who have high-speed Internet
connections at work, or students with high-speed connections
wired into their dorm rooms at law schools, then the sky's the
However, if you believe that many people might access your
site via modem, either from smaller companies that do not have
high-speed access, or attorneys who are "surfing the
net" from home at night via modem (even the newest 56kb
modems), then there is a tradeoff between advanced features and
the amount of time it takes to download your home page or other
parts of your site. The Web is not known as the "World Wide
Wait" for nothing. You might want to scale back graphics and
Java scripts in order to provide users more rapid access to your
Building and maintaining a Web site in-house takes substantial
effort. Many Internet Service Providers will host your site for a
reasonable fee, and may even provide design services. However, it
is important to have someone at the firm responsible for
overseeing and updating content and generally keeping the site in
line with your goals and desired audience.
Finally, you should commit to keeping the site updated. A site
that has not been updated in six months or more sends the message
that this is purely a pro forma site and that the firm has
no real interest in the Internet.
A careful analysis of the above criteria can help you create a
site that fits your needs and keep enthusiastic web designers and
consultants under control.
Connecticut ABA Legal Tech Show The METZ Software booth
(#39) at the Connecticut ABA Legal Tech show will be staffed by
Heckman Consulting personnel. METZ Phones is an excellent rolodex
program for managing your addresses and mailing lists. It can be
integrated into your word processor, e-mail package and fax
program, so that you have one central point of administration for
all your data. METZ Phones is shareable, so that an attorney and
secretary can share the same database and if desired give proxy
rights to other users for controlled access to a particular
database. The show will be held on November 18 at the Radisson
Hotel, Cromwell. Visit us at Booth #39!
New Palm Pilot Links The PalmPilot is one of the
hottest new electronic toys. Whip one out and people will freely
confess to "PalmPilot envy." The stylized Graffiti
handwriting is easy to use--but it's still handwriting. So the
success of the PalmPilot (which IBM recently licensed) depends on
third-party software to enable users to synchronize their Pilot
with their desktop applications, whether they be Lotus Organizer,
Ecco, Goldmine, Sidekick, Act! or whatever.
Two new applications have recently been added to PalmPilot's
list. Puma Technologies (makers of Intellisync, a leading program
for synching other applications with the Pilot) has just released
a module for GroupWise 5.2 that allows you to synch up your
GroupWise calendar, note and to do lists with the Pilot.
Tele-Support's Data-Sync has a new module that synchronizes a
METZ Phones database with the Palm Pilot (although it is a
two-step process, unlike the Intellisync process). I was able to
download a database of nearly 1,000 names to my PalmPilot Desktop
in under 5 minutes, and keeping it synchronized with the
PalmPilot takes only a minute or two.
A number of other companies are actively working on PalmPilot
links, including Corel (for CorelCentral in WordPerfect 8),
TimeSlips and Amicus Attorney.
Puma Technologies: 800 248-2795
Tele-Support: 541 412-0400
Amicus Attorney Certification John Heckman is now a
Certified Consultant and Certified Trainer for Amicus Attorney
software. Amicus is a practice management system designed for
small and medium size law firms to help attorneys track their
cases, including time entry features, a rolodex, calendar and
annotations concerning matters. It can be linked with a variety
of time and billing systems, including PC Law, TimeSlips and
QuickBooks to automate the transfer of time entry into your
billing system. A single user version of Amicus (ver. 1.7) also
ships with the Corel WordPerfect Legal Suite. Upgrades to the
current version (2.5.3) are only $99.
About This Newsletter
Heckman Consulting is a systems integration firm specializing
in the legal market. John Heckman has over 15 years experience in
the legal community. This newsletter is published periodically as
a service to our clients and others in the legal community. It
will contain items we have found to be of interest. The
newsletter is on the METZ Software web site at: www.metz.com
Contact Heckman Consulting at:
3 Fenwick Place
Norwalk, CT 06855
Tel: (203) 831-0442
Fax: (203) 227-4354
Return to Contents
Rolodexes: Mine is Faster, Stronger, Better than Yours
Electronic Personal Information Managers
(PIMs) and rolodexes are an emotional subject. People get very
attached to Program X and "can't understand" how
anybody else could possibly use "that piece of junk,"
Program Y. Program Y's user feels the same way about Program X
(and the nitwits that use it). Taking a more dispassionate look,
what are the features you might demand of a rolodex program (I
won't deal with PIMs here)?
There are three main categories of rolodex
features: basic functionality, ease of use, and "look and
feel." While look and feel tends to be very subjective, it
is possible to lay out some criteria for the first two.
What do you want a rolodex to do? Here are some of the
features I find particularly important:
- Categories. The ability to categorize entries (personal,
Christmas list, vendors, clients, etc.) adds considerably
to a program's functionality. For example, any time you
do a mailing (Christmas cards for example), it can
be generated in just a few minutes by category and you
don't have to worry about entries being up to date from
the last mailing (assuming you keep up the rolodex).
- Ability to sort instantly by Company Name, Last Name or
other indexed fields. In a table display format, you
should be able to click on the column to be sorted and
have it sort without disrupting the display or having to
drag the columns around (click once for A-Z, twice for
- Ability to create multiple formats or layouts that might
be used for printing labels, to paste information into a
word processing program, e-mail program, telephone lists,
or just to print a hard copy. I know one secretary who
printed two copies of over 1,000 rolodex cards so that
her boss could have a hard copy at the office and at home
- Hot key to paste information into other Windows programs
and/or integration directly into them (an icon on the
- Ability to add multiple addresses for a given person and
unlimited custom fields.
- Links to e-mail and phone dialer.
- Easy way to make a "portable" copy for home or
laptop, then synchronize any changes made on the laptop
or home PC to the main office/network copy. If a program
can synchronize with a hot new toy like the PalmPilot,
that's a plus.
- Database should be networkable. You should be able to
share a rolodex with various people and define their
access down to a field level (Jim Jones has read-only
access to the database in general, but no access to the
Personal Notes field).
- You should be able to import and export data easily from
a broad range of file types by matching fields in the
file to be imported with fields in the database. The
fields should not have to be in the same order to be
Ease of Use
What are some of the key ease of use features that make
a rolodex stand out?
- Good speed. Should load, add records and re-sort quickly.
- Full typedown search. If you type "cra" it goes
to entries starting with "cra" not first to
"c", then "r", then "a".
- Ease of mass data entry, including:
- ability to duplicate an existing record and
repeat most information (for another person who
works at the same company, for example).
- ability to repeat last entry with simple
keystroke (e.g., Company Name, City, etc.)
- if rolodex has separate Company tables,
when you type in the company, it should
automatically fill in the address, etc.
- ability to move from field to field and screen to
screen with keystrokes for faster data entry.
- Ability to eliminate defined leading words from a sort.
The New York Times should sort under "N", not
Look and Feel
There's a tradeoff here between people who
like a "clean" look and feel and people who want to see
a maximum amount of information at one time. Some programs
display the entries in what looks like a physical rolodex card,
and you can "drill down" to see more information.
Others have a more database/table look. This is a personal thing,
although the trend seems to be toward the clean look. One display
feature I particularly like is the ability to display the full
name normally(Mr. Jim Jones) while still sorting by last name.
Any program that ships with the ability
to customize your display screens means that you can create your
own look and feel. This is obviously a plus.
And the Winner is... METZ Phones
The best rolodex I have found to date
is a program called METZ Phones, by METZ Software. It satisfies
most of the above criteria, although it tends to load slowly and
it won't eliminate leading words like "A" or
"The" when sorting. However, you can add unlimited
custom fields and addresses and the formatting and printing
features are excellent. I've created formats for letters, labels,
e-mail addresses phone lists and hard-copy printouts. It also has
a direct link to the 411 directory on the Internet, so if you
need to add an address, you can click on the 411 icon to find it.
On the network side, an Administrator program allows you to grant
proxy access down to a field level (access to the first Notes
field, but not the second). You can also link and synchronize an
office copy with a laptop copy very easily. Check it out at
As "second best" take a look at
Nexcard (www.nexal.com). Office Accelerator from Baseline Data
Systems (www.baselineconnect.com) and Client Manager from
Software Studios (www.studio2.com) both integrate directly into
your word processor and can be accessed from there. Sidekick has
a large following from the good ol' DOS days. The windows version
was taken over by Philippe Kahn and is marketed as Sidekick 98
With the exception of Office Accelerator, all
these programs allow you to download a free trial copy.
The above article was originally published in the November
issue of the Danbury Area Computer Society, dacs.doc.