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Virginia Tech and Verbit – National Disability Employment Awareness Summit

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“In 1945, Congress declared the first week in October ‘National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.’ That week is now a month, so there’s more time to celebrate,” reported the National Disability Institute, explaining that the entire month of October is now dedicated to highlighting barriers to employment that people with disabilities face, and the significance of including them more efficiently in the workforce.  

Of course, for people with disabilities to be prepared to thrive in the workforce, the work needs to start earlier. Specifically, it needs to start by creating more inclusive and accessible classrooms that provide equal education opportunities to people who were previously left behind.

That’s why Virginia Tech is hosting a special event on October 4, 2019, and we’re excited to have our own Scott Ready, senior customer success and accessibility strategist at Verbit, keynote speak there.

Here’s everything you need to know about this event.

Discover the Best Tools and Practices for Accessible University Communication at a Free Event

Virginia Tech’s National Disability Employment Awareness event is all about exploring tools and best practices for accessible communications employed around the university. The event will include five talks. The first four will cover proactive accessible design, accessible Web communications, leveraging audio and video technology in the classroom, and how to keep C.A.L.M (Choose Accessible Learning Materials) and caption on. The fifth talk will be Scott’s keynote, which will cover the path to inclusion, and specifically, how to move from being reactive to taking a proactive approach toward accessibility for all.

 

Virginia Tech, the University Behind the Event: Deep Commitment to Equal Access and Opportunity for Students, Employees and Campus Visitors

One of the main reasons we’re excited to collaborate with Virginia Tech on this event is that this university is very committed to equal access and opportunity for all students. It is also committed to providing the same equality to its employees and campus visitors. To follow through on this commitment, the university provides a wealth of physical and digital resources. In the Accessible Learning Materials hub on its website, for example, the university talks about one of the event’s topics, keeping C.A.L.M and captioning on.

 

According to this hub, choosing accessible learning materials supports the development of UDL and, therefore, supports making “learning available to the broadest possible audience.” But just as we emphasize consistently here at Verbit, Virginia Tech explains that adding captions to support hard of hearing students ends up benefiting “a myriad of other students, such as visual learners and multilingual learners.” If you’ve been around Verbit for a while, you know there is a very deep alignment in both values and passion here.

 

An Opportunity to Meet Our Senior Customer Success and Accessibility Strategist

As we shared, we’re very excited that Scott Ready, senior customer success and accessibility strategist here at Verbit, is keynoting the event. Scott grew up with deaf parents who were teachers at the Missouri School for the Deaf, so he grew up on campus and gained a unique perspective that propelled over 20 years of his own professional experience with global higher education and K-12. He started his professional path as an assistant director of the Kansas Commission for the Deaf, and as the director of community relations at the Southwestern Bell Telephone Company’s Relay Center. He continued this path as the community liaison for the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind, enhancing the educational experience for students with varying abilities. Then, he served as the director of online education, plus faculty and department chair, of the first online Interpreter Training Program (ITP) in the country. More recently, Scott spent 14 years at Blackboard Ally, among others as the director of the accessibility strategy, before he joined Verbit.

 

Here’s how you can meet Scott and attend Virginia Tech’s special event:

Event Details

 When: October 4, 2019, at 10:00 AM

Where: New Classroom Building, Room 230, at Virginia Tech

Contact person: Gloria Hartley, ghartely@vt.edu

 

 

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Law Firm Software that Helps You Grow: 6 Technologies to Adopt

Lawyer life is complex, and in an attempt to take care of the small details that make or break a client’s case, it’s easy to let go of a firm’s own operations and unintentionally stunt its growth. But, as they search for law firm software that will take away the need to choose between clients and themselves, many companies find themselves going down a rabbit hole, learning about more and more options, and uncertain what they need to take into account.

Today’s article is meant to highlight six law office software categories that have the ability to help firms improve their current operations and accelerate growth, plus what to look for in these types of software products in order to maximize their impact on the law firm.

 

Law Firm Software Categories that Improve Current Operations and Help Companies Grow

To get the most out of this article, review the recommendations for each category, and make a list of top features to look for, so it will be easier to vet legal software programs. Consider getting feedback from stakeholders in relevant departments on your list, in order to personalize the feature search to their needs.

 

Law Firm Client Management Software that Creates Smoother Workflows

There’s a lot that goes into managing clients and their cases, so it’s easy for legal firms to find themselves wasting non-billable hours on logistics and administration. Firms that see this happening too often for too long might benefit from digitizing the process and using legal case management software that allows them to have everything related to a client or a case in one place.

That includes all client-related data (documents, notes, research, interviews, investigations, transcripts, witness data) and teamwork tracking (meetings, consultations, court hearings, depositions). Some client management software products allow law firms to handle invoicing and scheduling, as well as communication and collaboration, both between different team members and between the firm and the client, which is usually accessible from every device.

Law Firm Accounting Software that Improves Profitability

The common advice for law offices is to get a legal billing software that tracks the billable hours lawyers investing in clients’ cases, to make sure no billable hours are left untracked. This type of software often makes it easier to bill tens, if not hundreds, of clients with a couple clicks of a button, and offer multiple payment options, then track which clients still owe payment to the firm, and how much.

While all this is important, a law office billing software is not enough on its own. It is much easier if the product is a full blown law firm accounting software that lets the organization plan a budget, log what’s being spent, analyze trends, and improve the bottom line as the years progress.

 

Document Management Software for Law Firms that Need to Get Organized

If there’s something lawyers have in abundance, it’s documents. Contracts, research data, hearing transcriptions, job offers to candidates and quotes to prospects are just the tip of the iceberg. A document management software for law firms keeps everything in one place, usually the cloud, that’s accessible anywhere and enables collaboration among team members.

If a firm doesn’t need a full legal case management software, this could be the type of legal practice software that will serve it well, as it often allows the firm to include document templates, plus text, audio and video-based tutorials on how to best personalize documents based on templates, or about processes involving these documents. Law firms can then track what team members are doing, and get notifications to help them make sure work gets done.

 

Transcription Software for Legal Firms that Saves Time and Reduces Costs

Legal firms are filled with transcriptions files from hearings, depositions, and meetings. Lawyers are used to paying high fees and waiting long periods of time for transcriptions to be ready, even if the proceeding is recorded, let alone if complex terminology, complex accents or multiple speakers are involved.

Yet as technology evolves, new legal software programs are entering the market. The most exciting type is artificial intelligence transcription software for legal firms, as this technology can be trained with industry knowledge, and be enriched with automatic speech recognition. In other words, the software can identify the spoken topics and differentiate the speakers, plus provide an almost-accurate transcription within seconds. Often, human transcribers review the produced transcript, and make adjustments to ensure 99 to 100% accuracy. Their adjustments are then used to train the software even more, which reduces turnaround time, and therefore costs, the more the software is used.

Cybersecurity Software that Protects Sensitive Information

Firms looking to upgrade their legal practice software stack are highly recommended to review their cybersecurity strength. The everyday antivirus is not enough, and it doesn’t matter what size a law firm is. Even the small ones deal with sensitive information on a daily basis, and small firms get targeted just as much as the large ones, if not more, since they are often less protected.

Software that provides detection and response matters, yet it’s important to prioritize prevention as well because the result of an attack can be both extremely expensive and deeply impact clients’ lives. The best place to start is the most vulnerable one, which is different for every law firm, yet organizations as a whole tend to be vulnerable when it comes to files entering their organizations, mixing personal and business data on team members’ smart devices, breaches in Web browsers and easy-to-hack passwords, just to name a few.

 

Day to Day Office Management Software

Office management software for legal firms is a solution that encompasses much of what was previously discussed today. It includes case management, document management, calendar and time tracking, and might have additional features, such as marketing campaign management. Yet it does not cover everything a firm needs to invest in its employees in order to ensure its longevity.

While not created specifically as law office software, employee happiness software products help law firms retain top talent that contributes to their credibility and profitability. Some of the tools focus on running quick surveys that help firms get direct feedback from team members. Others encourage team members and managers to be more proactive about giving employees credit for their accomplishments.

Of course, part of leading a company culture that retains top talent is making sure that everyone feels like they’re being treated equally for equal qualifications and performance. Thankfully, there is a growing industry of tools to help firms overcome the often unconscious bias and prejudice in talent management, from blind skill-based screening software (where gender, race, religion or sexual preferences have no way to influence a recruitment decision), to software that advises managers how to make more inclusive decisions when it comes to their team.

 

Where to Start with Your Law Firm Software Upgrade

With such a wide selection of law firm software products, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. To prevent that, firms might be better off choosing one area to improve, preferably the one that will make the biggest impact for them. Once the first one is implemented, a second and a third one can be added as well. Focusing on the biggest impact based on the firm’s specific situation and goals will help ensure that every step forward will upgrade the firm’s operations in a significant way.

 

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