Ruby Receptionists Review

On this episode of “Ask Ryan” I review Ruby Receptionists.  Ruby Receptionists answers phones. That is what they do. This is my Ruby Receptionists review.

I answered my phones for the first two years of practice. It wore on me. It made it hard to get work done. All I was doing was answering my phone. Lawyers are in a client service business. Answering the phones is a key component of satisfying clients.

And equally as bad, I was missing out on clients. One day I had a potential client call me with two new cases. The cases were good cases. The client had found me online. I called him back 15 minutes later and he already had hired another lawyer. There’s the quick and the dead.

By not having not having a receptionist I was failing. I was failing myself. I was failing my clients. And I was failing my business.

Ruby Receptionists Review
Ruby Receptionists Review

Ruby Receptionists answers phones. They answer my phones. And they have answered them well for nearly the last 2 years.

I haven’t had to train anyone. No additional space is needed in my office. There’s no need to add anyone to the payroll. My assistant’s time is maximized because she can focus on pleadings, discovery, and other important matters. She does not have to answer the phone.

Ruby takes the time to set up and understand my call settings. Any changes to my settings are quickly implemented. Changing my settings is as easy as opening an app on my phone or calling Ruby.

Watch below for my Ruby Receptionist Review where I discuss the pros and cons of using Ruby. I am not paid for this review. I receive nothing in exchange for post this. My thoughts are my own.

If you’d like to ask me a question for an upcoming episode of “Ask Ryan” please shoot me an email at

Trial Presentation: Getting Evidence On A Screen

Attorney Andrew Garza and our court tech set up.
Attorney Andrew Garza and the CT Trial FIrm, LLC court tech set up.

We’re often asked how we do it. How to get your documents on a screen in court? How to display video in court? How to show pictures to a jury? This post is about trial presentation: getting evidence on a screen.

We’re often asked about our trial presentation process. Here’s our secret sauce.

Epson EX3240 SVGA 3LCD Projector 3200  

We tried several projectors. The Epson EX3240 was the best value/quality play that we found. It’s listed on Amazon right now for $399. It has no problem displaying images, videos and documents in courtroom lighting. None.

AmazonBasics High-Speed HDMI Cable – 25 Feet

I love wireless setups. I don’t trust wireless set ups for court presentations. Hardwire me, baby. One less thing to go wrong. At $10.69 on Amazon this 25 foot HDMI cable is both a bargain and a must have.

Epson Duet 80-Inch Dual Aspect Ratio Projection Screen

You need a big screen. Don’t make your fact finder squint. This screen is fantastic. It is adjustable. It is easy to carry. Fairly lightweight. And solid construction. A must have.

And get a stand for your projector. This can be a small portable table or a tripod.

If You Are Using An IPad and You Should

The ipad is a fantastic trial presentation tool. Better than my laptop. Here’s why. The Trial Pad app is outstanding. It is the best presentation software that I have used. I strongly recommend the iPad Pro. The extra screen size and RAM make it even more useful. Also the extended battery on the Pro will keep your presentation going.

Assuming you are using an iPad you’ll need these things:

Lightning Digital AV Adapter

This $49 adapter allows you to connect your iPad to the projector via HDMI. At $49 it is a ripoff. But it is necessary,

Trial Pad

This app is just the best. I’ve used others. I’m not going to waste space in this post writing about it. Click on the link above. See what it does. Buy it. Use it. Love it.

Odds and Ends

Get a long extension cord. You’ll never know where the outlets are going to be.

Get a power strip. You’ll want to make sure you can plug in and charge your devices.

Get a big solid tote bag. You’ll need it for all of your cords, power strips, and projector. Basically buy the biggest and most solid tote bag you can find.

And the backbone of all of this is having a paperless office. Click here to learn how to go paperless. 

4 Simple Steps To A Paperless Law Office

This post is on 4 Simple Steps to A Paperless Law Office.

Paperless law office
ScanSnap – Essential for Your Paperless Law Office

I am regularly asked by other lawyers to help them go paperless. Here’s my 4 step process.

  1. Start by making your new files paperless. So many lawyers get bogged down in how many paper files they have and how long it would take to scan them all. Don’t worry about this. Start by making every file going forward paperless.
  2. Invest in a scanner. I love ScanSnap.
  3. Pick a cloud based service. PC Mag has a list of services you may consider. 
  4. Use Adobe to manipulate your PDFs – add pages, move pages, redact, edit, etc. Adobe Pro comes with a ScanSnap. If you are a Mac user Adobe Pro is not included in your ScanSnap. I love Adobe DC. It is the best buy in SAAS. A steal at $14.99 a month.

That’s as simple as I can make it. What are you waiting for? Do you hate saving money? Have a thing against trees?

I have been paperless for 4 years. I have no file cabinets. No copier. And I use 2 toner cartridges a year.




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SaneBox Review: Great For Lawyers

A 154,000 emails. That is how many emails I have received in 3 years.

If you are like me, you struggle with email. 

On one hand email is very convenient. When I first started practicing in 2005, I didn’t have an email account. All correspondence was by mail. I would receive a letter. Think about how I wanted to respond. Then respond by letter. Now I mail a few letters a month.

On the other hand, I receive 100s of non-essential emails every day – listservs, newsletters, and ads. Sorting through this stream of emails is less efficient than my letter writing days.

Emails from clients and counsel are very important.  Listserv emails are non-essential.

Enter Sanebox.

Sanebox prioritizes emails from contacts. Those emails arrive in my inbox.

Sanebox digests all of those listserv emails and sends them to me in one email. One email with headings. One email that comes at the end of the day.

Sanebox allows me to “blackhole” emails from senders that I never want to hear from again.

Sanebox No Response allows me to see emails that I have sent and haven’t received a response from. Very useful to make sure things don’t fall through the cracks.

It learns my preferences. It is easy for me to correct any decision it makes.

In a word, Sanebox is: wonderful.

Efficiency experts estimate that every interruption costs 23 minutes. That is the amount of time it takes us to focus back on the task we were working on.

With Sanebox you’ll have fewer interruptions. You’ll have more time. More time for what actually matters.

You can try Sanebox for yourself for free for 2 weeks. If you click on this link and sign up, I’ll receive $5 off. I promise you that I’m not recommending Sanebox for this reason. It’s just FCC regulations require me to disclose this.

Sanebox gets an “A Connecticut Law Blog” seal of approval. I only recommend services that I have used for a period of time and believe they make a positive difference in my life.

Click Here To Sign Up For Our Law Practice Secrets Newsletter

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A Review of Clio Cloud Conference 2016

If you are reading this you are probably considering attending Clio Cloud Conference 2017 or you work for Clio. Either way, read on.

This is my attempt at reviewing Clio Cloud Conference 2016. Which is a difficult thing to do. There is one of me. There were numerous seminars. So my experience may be vastly different than what someone else experienced.

You should also understand my background. I’m very into legal tech. I spend a lot of time studying and refining my business and tech. A lot. Doing so allows me to better serve my clients. I am constantly trying new software. And implementing what I like. 

One of the first software investments I made when I went solo was to sign on with Clio. I did so in 2012. I have been with them consistently since then. I believe I was a “beta” subscriber. I believe that Clio is the best practice management software available to small firms and I recommend the product.

I don’t work for Clio. I paid my way to the conference. Clio gave me a shirt, a bag, and some great socks as take aways. None of which has impacted my review.

The Good:

Nobody puts on a better conference than Clio. From the second I walked in, I felt like I mattered. They thought of all sorts of ways to improve the attendee experience. The food was great. The Clio After Dark was fantastic. It was easy to find and talk to vendors. The Radisson Blu was swanky. The entire conference had a “cool” vibe. I don’t think Disney puts on a better production. The Clio staff was very helpful and friendly.

Some of the presenters were very good. I particularly enjoyed a presentation about hiring trends. I thought the session was both practical and insightful.

There was lots of tech, lots about Clio, and lots about business.

Yoga between sessions. Lots to like.

The Not So Good:

For as great of a production as the conference was – it was difficult to find the right room for a seminar. The online map provided in the conference app was useless as it did not label rooms the same way they were labeled on the agenda. This sounds strange. But I wasn’t the only one who had a tough time figuring out what room was what. I even walked into the wrong room and sat down in the wrong seminar. I felt bad leaving but I wasn’t the only one.

Bigger room signs would be nice. But the 2017 Conference is in New Orleans so that will be different.

Some of the presentations weren’t good. I’m not going to name names on this site because that would be rude. But some of them I gave poor reviews to. I felt like they were wastes of time. In the sense they were too general, too ambitious, too unfocused, and sometimes behind the curve.

The descriptions of seminars were sparse or non-existent. A few paragraphs on the conference website about the topics that were going to be discussed would have been nice. They could have then been put in the app. That would have solved some of my problems with me not feeling like some of the sessions were worth my time.

The Problem:

At any conference there are speakers that you’ll enjoy and one’s you won’t. And what is not insightful to me may feel revolutionary to someone else. And vice versa. I’m sure an HR person would have found the hiring seminar too basic.

I think the basic problem with Clio Conference is existential. What is it? Is it a cutting edge legal tech conference? Who is the audience? Should only tech geeks attend?  Should every session be general or narrow? It is hard to do a business development session in an hour. Is the audience big law or small law? Is it a place to learn Clio?

There was a seminar that I was particularly excited about. Without knowing it, I found myself sitting down with one of the presenters. My eyes lit up when I found that this person was presenting one of the 2 or 3 sessions that most interested me. I decided to use the opportunity to pick his brain. As we discussed the subject matter he said “I think you may be too advanced for this session….many people here don’t even know about this topic so I have to keep it basic”.

Said another way, there’s no reason to sell lawyers who are using facebook on the benefits of using facebook.

But that same session may have been worth the price of admission to someone else.


I changed my flight to leave the conference early on Tuesday. About noon. I was scheduled for a red eye but hopped on an afternoon flight back east. I felt my time was better spent getting home so I could see my kids before they went to bed and be ready to tackle Wednesday. The conference wasn’t for me.

Others stayed and loved it.

I hear Gary Vee was awesome.

I think the conference was very well done, very cool, just not for me.

What I’d like to see Clio do for 2017 is:

  1. Put the agenda and speakers out as soon as they come onboard. I think when I booked my ticket, I did so blindly. I went based on reputation and the strength of the 2015 speakers.
  2. Do seminar summaries. Keep them short. Even a few paragraphs. Even a blurb about “target audience”.
  3. Distribute slides from seminars online in the app.
  4. Think about the big picture. Who should go? What should they get from this? What is Clio Cloud Conference? And perhaps limit your focus areas. It’s really hard to do a broad “how to grow your business” talk in 30 minutes. What would have been preferable is a day of 30 minute speakers each exploring an idea or 2 that has worked for them. Then I could get actionable take aways.
  5. Bigger room signs.
  6. More vendors. One of the coolest things about the show was talking to vendors. I found the vendors to be very useful. At least the ones that were useful to my practice or that I wasn’t already using.
  7. Keep the keepers. You have a great vibe, great staff, great after hours party – there’s lots to like here.

I’m going to keep my eyes on the agenda for 2017. I hope to see blurbs about the seminars.

You are going to read a lot online about how much fun this conference is. Believe it. It’s a lot of fun. And if you want fun – sign up now for 2017. Get your early discount. You won’t regret it.

But my expectations were a little higher than “fun”. Ultimately, I place a very high premium on time away from my clients, business, and family. If I had to do it over again, I would have skipped the conference and spent a few days in Chicago with my wife. Again, your mileage may vary.

And if you are an associate at a large firm, and they’ll pay for it, by all means go.

I do think many of the problems that I encountered – including the decision to attend – could have been solved with more information about the substance and target audience of each session.

Who knows, maybe I’ll try and become the solution and pitch a session to Clio Conference 2017. I mean the conference was cool. I’m sure there are sessions that I’ll like. And I’m positive Clio will put on a great show. And New Orleans. I mean New Orleans.

And if you are reading this far, I’d like to thank the Clio staff. You couldn’t have been better hosts. I hope this post doesn’t come off as ripping anything about the Clio team or the conference. That’s not the intent. I guess I liked it enough to care about writing it and I want to see it improve and grow.

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Pro Tip On Bringing Your Cell Phone To Court

Can I take my cell phone to court?

The answer is yes. Yes with a slight caveat. You can’t use your phone while court is in session. Nor can your phone make any noise.

You don’t want to have a marshal take your phone. Or fine you. Or disrupt court proceedings. You really don’t. I know from experience.

These magic devices that make our lives easier are hard to mute. Even when we hit mute – notifications have a way of popping up and making noise.

Here’s a pro tip on bringing your cell phone to court.

Tip: Use airplane mode.

Using Amazon Dash Buttons In Your Law Firm

If you are running a small law firm there are all sorts of things – taxes, insurance audits, payroll, vendors and the list goes on. The work never stops in a day. You just stop working that day. Using Amazon Dash Buttons in your law firm makes life 250% more awesome. Guaranteed.

You need to spend your time focusing on the important things like clients. But there is mundane creep that tries to sabotage your best intentions. By mundane creep I mean running out of supplies. You go to print the fee agreement only to find out you are out of toner. A trip to staples ensues.

Fortunately it is easier than ever to buy anything. But there’s a better way. That better was is Amazon Dash buttons.

Dash buttons are little wifi enable buttons that are easily placed where you keep your supplies. You buy the button, easily connect it to the internet with your phone, and select the item you want ordered when someone presses the button. And bam! Two days later that item appears.

There are dash buttons for all sorts of products. In my office I use them for paper, toilet paper, paper towels, hand soap, dishwashing detergent, and trash bags.

My assistant sees the paper is running low. She hits the button. The paper that I want comes directly to the office. Neither my time or hers is wasted buying or ordering supplies.

With dash buttons you don’t have to worry about multiple people hitting the button and winding up with 20 boxes of paper. The button won’t process another order until after an order arrives.

This is especially useful for me. In addition to running a law firm, I also lease office space through a separate business to colleagues. I handle common supplies. With dash buttons there are no more emergency runs for supplies. It is less for me to do.

Dash buttons are a cheap and simple hack to make your office more efficient and productive.

If only there was a Starbucks dash button. Make it happen, Amazon.

Here’s my hokey video featuring paper and a dash button.

MileIQ An Essential App For Your Law Practice

It’s the small things that make all of the difference.

When I started my own firm, one of the things I was very bad at was keeping track of my mileage. Come tax time, my accountant would ask for my mileage log. I would then look back at my calendar, open google maps, and calculate mileage based on what was in my calendar. Things like trips to get supplies or to the bank never made my spreadsheet.

As of March 30, 2016, the current IRS mileage rate is $.54. That adds up quickly.

Last year, I installed MileIQ on my phone. It was a decision that saved me hundreds if not thousands of dollars in mileage expenses and hours of my time. You can save yourself 20% on the premium version of MileIQ by clicking here. Full disclosure I save some money on my account if you buy.  I would recommend this product even if there was no benefit to me.  You can try MileIQ for free.


The Stress of Practicing Law As Documented By Fitbit

Law is a stressful profession. Lawyers take on the most severe problems of their clients.

The two photos in this post show the strain of practice. They are screen shots from my fitbit. The first picture shows my heart rate at 142 beats per minute when I began my oral argument before the appellate court. I was standing still. A heart rate of 142 beats per minute is one that I acheive while running.


My heart rate at the beginning of oral argument.


The second picture charts my sleep at night. The fitbit shows that I awoke at 2:18 am. That is wrong. I was up at 1:48 am (the second to last blue line) but was just lying in bed. At 2:18 I decided that going back to sleep was not happening. I couldn’t sleep because I was replaying the argument in my head. Thinking of all of the questions. All of my answers. All I said. And answers that I wish I had thought of standing before the court.




Up early trying to process the argument.

This summer, I ditched my Moto 360 in favor of a fitbit because I needed to prioritize my health over incoming messages. It is a happy change for me. But these two pictures remind me of the physical stress the legal profession puts on me.