Popular Threads - October 2020

Getting a Text Off a Cell Phone

Some jerk attorney is threatening to sue one of my client's for fraud. The only problem: jerk attorney's wife sent a text, years ago, to my client acknowledging that she knew about the problem. My client, who is awesome, saved said text.

How do I get said text off his phone?

Screen shot from client is probably simplest way to get it off and authenticate it.

Otherwise you are gonna have an expert just to explain how you downloaded it off and the different ways of downloading it off and chain of custody etc.

David Seto

iPhone or Android? I use Decipher to copy and back-up messages on my iPhone. Let's you print them out as PDFs. www.deciphertools.com

Peter T. Clark, Massachusetts

There are a ton of apps that allow you to print text messages to a single pdf file. I usually tell my clients to change their phone settings so that both speakers' messages show up against a white background, then use the app and convert it to a readable pdf. (Otherwise the iPhone blue background for some texts can make them illegible). I have only had one adversary ask how the pdf was created by the client and when the client said she converted it using an ap but was willing to show him the original message which was still on her phone he dropped it and made no objection.

William E. Denver, New Jersey

If it's an old message and there is no better answer, take a digital picture of the text and save it as a pdf.

Geoff Wiggs, California

Plug it into your computer. It should be automatically recognized. Browse the folders until you find the text message.

Treat the phone like a thumb drive.

Russ Carmichael, Pennsylvania

Immediately get client to screenshot it and send it to you (via text or email) before they lose the text (by losing, breaking phone). Once you have an even crude screenshot, you can then think about how to get a prettier download of the text. I have had clients lose key texts far too many times.

Sometimes, I even wait on the phone with clients until I confirm I have received the screenshot.

Eugene Lee, California

Wait for it -- some clients don't know how to screenshot, and they end up deleting the message.

If it's that critical, have the client come into your office so you can take a picture of it or download it or screenshot it yourself.

Clayton T. Robertson, California

For the iPhone, TouchCopy 16 (or whatever the current version) allows you to download texts in a variety of formats, including PDFs and text files.

But a screenshot--or even a picture of the phone showing the message and the number it came from--should be sufficient as evidence if it is authenticated properly.

Kevin Grierson, Virginia

I use TouchCopy 16 for iOS devices. Works reasonably well, although it seems to work less reliably as time passes. I suspect it's because Apple updates their software which means that TouchCopy needs to get updated to handle it. It's a constant arms race.

TouchCopy is pretty inexpensive also. Lifetime license is $40 or something like that.

The company that makes TouchCopy also makes an Android version called Droid Transfer. I haven't used it as I haven't had the need to handle texts on an Android device, but I'm assuming the User Interface, etc. between the two are very similar given that the same company made them.

Andy Chen

Tell the client to take the phone to their local FedEx/Kinkos, open the text message and place face down on the copy machine . . .

Brian C. Hagner, Florida

How Often Do You Replace Your Printer?

I am wondering if there is some standard. How often do you replace your printer?

When it dies or needs a part that costs more than a new one. 

Shell Bleiweiss, Illinois

I have a two drawer Brother printer with letterhead in one drawer and second pages in the second that I've used since 2005.

Deborah Matthews, Virginia

My personal rule is that when the cost of a repair approaches 50% of the cost of buying a new one I buy a new one.

Jim Winiarski

Agreed. I'll add to that--when you can't find printer cartridges for it any more. I seldom use my printer--think I got mine in 2012 or so--but it's an HP All in One, and I wouldn't hesitate to junk it rather than bothering to repair it. Printers--especially inkjet printers--are really cheap these days.

Kevin Grierson, Virginia

I had a HP Laserjet 1320n from some time around 2003-2005 and tossed it when I closed my practice last year. It worked great so no need to replace it. It had an extra 250 page tray that I used for legal size documents when I did RE closings. 

Dennis Chen

I have a HP4100n from 2001. Paper Count of 200,000. Its a workhorse. Toner is still cheap and available. Only thing I have replaced otherwise is upgrading the network cable and JetDirect Card. Both together cost me $25.

Cassette holds a full ream, so no half loading paper when I run out.

Jim Bowman

I ran an estate planning / probate solo practice on a shoestring, so I never had a replacement schedule for any of my office equipment. Replacement was made upon the occurrence of the one or more of the following contingencies:

  1. When it dies
  2. When the cost of repair exceeds the cost of a new one.
  3. When the cost of repair is significant enough that the money could be better spent toward a new one 
  4. When the cost of purchase and installation of a driver to make the old compatible with the new could be better spent toward a new one I had my computer tech guy give my equipment an annual checkup / clean-up at a very reasonable cost, and kept an HP laptop and printer going for 10 years before replacing them with a Lenovo laptop and an HP MFP.

Rod Klafehn, New York

On average, about ten years here. There is no standard. I look at how well the unit is performing, print costs and compare that with a suitable replacement.

Early this year my large Ricoh printer kicked a maintenance message. It would have cost about $800 to get it back up and running, after which it should have performed well. I ended up getting a new Ricoh color laser printer instead. It was a 50/50 game where I just made a choice.

Generally, I will look at replacing a printer when I am having problems with it too often, the quality of printing becomes an issue, or based on the cost of a repair. There is no hard and fast guideline.

I never purchase an inkjet, due to the cost of ownership. Page costs to print, required maintenance and purchase price lead to a total cost of ownership. Laser printers, with an appropriate duty use, are superior.

One of the sites I look at for analysis is printershowcase.com. I have also purchased several printers from them.

Darrell G. Stewart, Texas

Seems like I have to update printers when I update computers, because the old drivers often are not compatible with the new operating system, and the printer manufacturers are not updating the drivers for the old printers. 

Michael A. Blake, Connecticut

It’s a conspiracy! ;) But you correct about that.

Bobby Lott, Jr., Alabama

HP1200 from around 2002

Nicholas I. Fuerst, Arizona

I agree with the above, but I think there is a hassle factor/stress level consideration that often exceeds other factors. If I have a printer that has any issue other than regular maintenance, it becomes a backup.

I have owned Brother and HP but there is NOTHING like a high-volume HP LaserJet, IMHO (e.g. the equivalent of the old 4000 series and above), that compares in a high-volume office. I had an HP4345 that went flawlessly from 2004 to 2015 or so. I replaced the fuser at least 8 times, so a LOT of prints. But the little things started happening with the scanner (printer continued to work fine). I bought a used one, worked great for three years, then the same. So, I bought a lightly used newer version (HP M630 MFP).

That has run flawlessly for about two years now. And by that, I mean "replace the paper and toner” flawless. And it does well with aftermarket toner.

In hindsight, even the little distraction from my HP 4345 was too much towards the end. I'm going to cycle this one out in three years to backup (so five years in service) and get another before any problems start happening.

Bret Cook, California

Too often. They are built to be disposable and it angers me to no end.

Jeena R. Belil, Mew York

When it breaks.

I'm still using the same HP5160 I got well before 2007. It's so old, I can't remember the year I bought it.

I'm just now seriously considering replacing it because I need something faster, not because it's broken.

AnnMichelle G Hart

I think "how often do you replace your printer" is really a question of pages printed as much as, if not more than, physical age (provided you can still get toner/printer ink). I print MAYBE 20 pages a month. I've actually had ink cartridges dry out on me before they ran out of ink. On the other hand, if you have a paper intensive practice, an inkjet makes no sense. My old firm actually had a contract with a company that maintained several laser printers for us and just swapped them out if they needed repairs.

Kevin Grierson

My current HP LaserJet 2100TN purports to have a firmware date code of 19991018, so it's coming up on a birthday! My printer is almost old enough to drink. If I'm reading the status log information correctly, the last status entry was related to the printing of page 72,502, so I suppose it may be entitled to a drink.

I'm not sure there's a standard, per se; I suppose it depends on what you use it for, the quality you need, etc. At this point, in my case, it's getting harder to find toner cartridges; HP stopped making them years ago. 

My general rule, owing perhaps in part to my Scots heritage, is "She's a-broke; she's a-no-fix."

Richard J. Rutledge, Jr., North Carolina

Mask Recommendations


Since March, I have been relatively isolated with contacts limited to a family/friend bubble in a rural area since March and have not had to wear a mask for more than 1/2 hour at a time. I've gotten by with commercial N95 and blue medical masks. I'm now back in the DC area and will have to be wearing masks more often and for longer periods. Plus, it's getting colder and I wear glasses, which fog up easily.

So I'm looking for recommendations about masks that people have found to be comfortable for long term wear and for masks that seal well so that glasses or goggles don't fog up.

Thanks in advance.

Cloth masks. Put your mask on. Then put your glasses on so the bottom edge is over the edge of the mask holding it to your face. Its the air escaping up that fogs your glasses.

If you need some cloth masks let me know. I can make "professional" ones and fun ones.

Elizabeth Pugliese, Maryland

Let me make a suggestion on the “comfortable for long term wear” portion of your question. 

I was recently with someone who had a “thing” (that’s the technical word) under her mask, that kept the mask from “sucking in” to her mouth when she was breathing heavily. She said she found them on Amazon by searching “mask frame.” I searched that term, and found lots of options.

I bought some, and have been very pleased. 

Without the frame, if I walked a long distance uphill, I would find that the mask impaired my breathing quite a bit. With the frame in place, I have many fewer problems, even when I would otherwise be breathing heavily. 

They are not expensive, and seem to help me quite a bit.

Brian H. Cole, California

Thank you. I googled, there are many, many types. Do you know which you purchased?

Deborah Matthews, Virginia

I am also sewing masks, but I will make a plug for my son's business! Yoga Society (yoga-society.com) sells wonderful masks. 

Andrea Goldman, Massachusetts


Roger Rosen, California

I have purchased a number of masks from this site https://shopspacemask.com/ I have been very pleased with the comfort and fit.

Walter D. James III, Texas

It looks like the one I purchased is no longer available, but this one is pretty close:

https://www.amazon.com/Mask-Bracket-Oceantree-Accessories-Large-Adult/dp/B08CK6W57M/ref=sr_1_7?crid=YI670T5HC3HN&dchild=1&keywords=mask+frames+silicon&qid=1603468357&sprefix=mask+frames%2Caps%2C203&sr=8-7 <https://www.amazon.com/Mask-Bracket-Oceantree-Accessories-Large-Adult/dp/B08CK6W57M/ref=sr_1_7?crid=YI670T5HC3HN&dchild=1&keywords=mask+frames+silicon&qid=1603468357&sprefix=mask+frames,aps,203&sr=8-7>

I’m not convinced there is a lot of difference between the various options, however. I think you’d be fine with any of them.

Brian H. Cole

A key factor, IMO, is that the mask needs to work well, even when you're talking. Many masks seem to fit fine, when you're just sitting, or walking. It's when people start talking (i.e., moving their jaw) that the mask will slip down. I have a basketful on the counter, that I've obtained from many places... so I can't really help on where to get them -- since I don't recall. When going for a walk -- I grab any mask. When going to the office, I grab one that is fairly long, coming below my chin.

As a side note.. I've tried several of the 'face scarves' (balaclavas)..

and -- at least for me, as soon as I turn my head from side to side, or begin talking, the scarf slips down.

Laurie Axinn Gienapp, Massachusetts

one more thing.. from those I've talked to (including medical people)..

N95s are extremely uncomfortable for long term wear…even for medical people who are more used to wearing them than a typical person. (and for those with asthma, COPD, even simple colds, or other respiratory issues..

An N95 can be impossible, even for a short time) A good, two layer... or two layer plus filter ... mask is what you need. I, too, wear glasses.

Tucking it up under my glasses is good... and the masks with a bit of bendable metal at the nose, so you can kind of 'seal' it over the bridge of your nose.. will help with 99% of the fogging.

Laurie Axinn Gienapp

Fitment to your face is an individual measure. My wife wears a cloth face mask every day. I bought from a few vendors, and so did she. The school she teaches at provided some. Fitment varied widely. The ones she likes the best are some I bought for me (I have a large head).

Personally, since I am a true solo, I don't have to wear a mask much beyond quick runs to the store or medical visits. In person client visits are minimized. I keep stashes of the blue medical masks around, and pull one when needed. If I had to wear one more often or for longer periods, I would buy more of the one that fit me best, but which my wife appropriated.

Darrell G. Stewart, Texas

It really depends on the size and shape of your face. If your face is narrow, many masks will be too wide, will gap at the sides and will slip down. If it's wide, the mask won't give enough coverage. I have one of those Hannibal Lecter things to keep the cloth away from nose and mouth, and while it seems a bit more comfortable, it is also more trouble than it's worth. If it's necessary to take off one side of the mask for any reason, the silicon device will fall out. I have 30 or 50 washable cotton masks. all of which are too wide, and the straps too long, if I twist them, they cause the cloth to really gap at the sides, so I have to try to tuck part of the side up into the loop. PITA. I also have 50 or so disposable masks, but I hate to create the waste, so I'm holding them in abeyance. I just ordered 5 black contoured washable masks, and am hoping that they are more comfortable and fit better. My entry area looks like a medical supply store, with grab and go bins of masks, clear glasses to put over them, those Lecter things, etc. So far, everything I've tried causes the glasses to fog.

Miriam N. Jacobson, Pennsylvania

Thanks to Miriam and all who recommended mask types or websites. Clearly, I'm going to have to experiment to see what works/fits best.

Mark Del Bianco

I, too, sew masks. I have 2 different patterns and have modified one. If you want the patterns, let me know. I don't think I can attach files to Solosez emails.

Fern Summer, New York

I bought a silicone "mask frame" a few months ago after having the experience at a long zoning hearing of being muffled when my mask was right up against my mouth and nose. I use a double layer cloth mask, that I can insert a filter in if necessary. I separately bought some small "hook and loop" (ie Velcro) circles with adhesive on the back. I adhere one to the top of the outside of the mask frame and its partner to the corresponding spot on the inside of the mask, and same for the bottom of the frame. It is not perfect, but it helps a lot, and the adhesive lasts through a number of uses. Since the package came with something like 300 of the "circles", I have enough for quite a few replacements. I also bought a pack of the metal strips with adhesive on the back that I add to the nose area to help with the glasses fogging. Again, its not perfect, but I feel much more comfortable when I have to be in the mask for long periods at zoning and land development hearings, and I feel the mask frame helps me to be less muffled.

Caroline A. Edwards, Pennsylvania

Brian, do you use this with a paper or cloth mask?

Trying to figure out best options for wearing a mask for a lengthy period of time and glasses too.~ ~ ~ ~

Deborah Matthews

I mostly use them with cloth masks, but I have occasionally used them with paper masks.

They have some little “clips” that are supposed to fasten to the pleats of surgical masks, but I have never tried that.

Brian H. Cole

PowerPoint Ethics

How fast can you move through your slides in a power point presentation to lawyers on a CLE type presentation?

If you have an hour to present, how many slides, maximum can you use?

If you follow the Pamela Reif format and go from slide to slide every 60 seconds [and thus close to 60 slides in an hour], will you make their heads spin, or is it up to them to keep up? Might it be dangerous for those in the audience if you move so fast?


I guess it depends on the type of presentation and how much information you show on the slides.

My last one-hour presentation had 25 slides and information on each slide varied but I think that it was a good number of slides. You have to ask yourself if you, when attending a presentation, want to see too many slides that you cannot keep up with presentation and the presenter or maybe have one slide up there for 2 or even three minutes. 

It also differs if you have interaction with your audience during the presentation, maybe even a handout.

Personally, I think that 60 slides for one hour are too much.

Alexandra Kleinfeldt, Florida

I think it depends considerably on what is on the slides, your audience and your presentation style. I have spoken for 30 minutes on a single slide and have also used 120+ slides in 60 minutes (although in that instance simulating a test so as soon as an answer is yelled out — a couple of seconds — I move to the next slide). My personal style is to have fewer words on slides, use a lot of graphics, and convey much of the material by speaking. If more written information is useful to participants, I’ll include in handouts. Also, don’t be afraid of changing pacing (several quick slides then one slide for a few minutes then a couple more). Good luck!

Kristin Haugen

1 slide filled with lots of text per minute is typical but too much--it's why lawyers get so much flack for their presentation skills. The non-legal trend now is minimalist (e.g., 1 word per slide with minutes of discussion) with splashy graphics, which is the antithesis of a CLE where you're trying to give people information. I personally feel you're better off giving them a packet with the information digestible and organized nicely (e.g., a slide deck for consumption, that they can take notes with), but you don't have to use that for the presentation itself.


I dont think it really matters unless you load up the PowerPoint and just read from it.

Hieu Vu

This is not an ethics question. It is a question of pedagogy. Before you approach the question, you have to understand that this has nothing to do with ethics; otherwise, you won't be able to properly analyze the issue. 

Before answering the question, you need to ask, what is it you want to accomplish, and then what is the best way to accomplish that?

I have given dozens and dozens of presentations at legal conferences over the past 20 years, with most being in the past eight years. They have ranged from a half hour to four hours. While some believe that slides should be entertaining and have only key words, I take an extremely contrarian view. 

The argument is that if you put too much on a slide, people will stop listening to you and read the slide. But, I disagree.

My slide style reflects the frustration I have had with what others have presented. Often times, for a talk that others give, there will be slides AND written materials. The slides are more or less place holders with some key points. The meat is in the written materials. The problem is that when a speaker presents, I want to listen to the speaker and take as few notes as possible. The more someone writes, the less that person is able to listen and digest. However, if the slides only contain key words, with the meat in the written materials, I can't know how much I need to take down in notes. Thus, I need to follow the written materials AND the slides and keep track of what is spoken and in the written materials, as well as what is spoken and NOT in the written materials, all the while, keeping pace with the slides, which are highlighting what is important. I do not like this back and forth, back and forth. Accordingly, my slides ARE my written materials. That is, the slides contain FAR more information than what I would ever be able to cover in a presentation. That is by design. There is no back and forth. Rather, for a 60 -90-minute talk, I may 150 - 200 slides - with LOTS of small print. I also keep a running outline in the left-hand margin, with a red arrow pointing to where we are in the talk so that nobody gets lost. In other words, the slides ARE the written materials.

Sometimes I am criticized for having way too many slides. That's ok. That person just failed to "get it." This is a CLE, not a Sunday afternoon talk at the library, or a cruise ship lecture. I expect attendees to be able to refer to my slides after the talk and learn from them. And, during the talk, I want attendees to listen to me and not have to write down any more than is necessary. If they can follow my talk, by following the slides, they can see what is being presented is also right in front of them. While I don't read my slides, per se, I do closely track the material in the slides. And, up front, I make very clear, just in case someone may be prone to not "get it" that I have far more slides than we could ever expect to cover in the presentation, but that they are intended to be a resource for use following the presentation. 

Recognizing that with so much material, conference attendees could get lost, I put a yellow background behind anything I want to highlight. I am not highlighting the text, per se, but rather, I place a borderless box around the material to be highlighted, fill it with bright yellow, and then "send" the box to the back, so it does not cover up the text. 

I do not have any animations, fade ins, fade outs, etc, for my slides. I want the attendees to pay attention to me and not be distracted by a showy PowerPoint. 

Once conference attendees understand that the slides are meant to be used as a resource, they are less likely to be critical about trying to cram too much into the slides. Two days after your talk, few are going to remember much of what you said. But, if they can refer back to your slides, they will have it all there - if you are willing to put in the work to put it all there. 

When I give the talk, I may stay a few minutes on one slide and then skip the next 15 slides. I say during the talk what I want to highlight, but in order to actually TEACH the material, it is just not possible to expect that one can convey in just one hour all of the material necessary in order to be able to gain some competency in the subject of the talk, unless one were to give a talk that is so narrowly focused, that many in the target audience may just tune it out. 

What I have also done in recent years is add case histories to the presentations in order for conference attendees to learn how the principles or rules taught in the session can be applied in real world situations. If I have a lot of time, say, two hours or longer, I will present case scenarios with questions and have people break up into small groups to work on solutions and, when we re-convene, we discuss the answers to each question. 

One final word: About a year ago I gave a local talk to a group of estate planners. One attendee was critical, stating that he felt that it was a "canned" talk, one that I had given many times before and not tailored to the crowd, and that I must have used slides for that talk that I had pulled from another talk. While it is true that I have spoken on some topics many, many times, I have never given a talk without reviewing the slides, making sure that they were current, and addressing what I believed conference attendees ought to learn from the talk. What I say to a crowd of my Social Security colleagues, will not be identical to what I say to a room full of estate planners. 

Hope this helps,

Avram L. Sacks, Illinois

Thanks to all. Your responses so far have been very helpful. 

Ethics? Well, that was my attempt at humor and getting folks to read my post.

My goal: make their heads explode.

Too many slides? I like Mr. Sacks’ view, you can’t have too many slides.

Written materials? As with Mr. Sacks I think my slides will be my written materials. Available on demand after the show.

But I await further suggestions. 

Roger M. Rosen, California

Avi is right that it comes down to how you can best communicate the information to the attendees.

When I give presentations, I want the student-educator interaction that in my mind is fundamental to information retention. This means my slides are generally there to support me, not the other way around.

My slides are a combination of information and humor, in a variety of media. And they are all designed to elicit responses from attendees. My favorite presentations are the ones where the audience and I have a conversation, and exchange of ideas.

More directly to your point, for an hour presentation I'd have 20-25 slides. Tops.

Your mileage may vary. Eat your greens.

Andrew Wentzell, Florida

It all depends on what you are presenting and your presentation style.

Ross Kodner used to do a presentation, "60 tech tips in 60 minutes," which I never saw but I would imagine it was pretty rapid-fire PowerPoint presentation. I, personally, tend to rely more on written materials, in fact my written materials will usually cover more than my actual presentation; I tend to cover the highlights and emphasize certain points in my presentation. And I use relatively few slides; to the extent that I use them I try to use them to focus on difficult things, like analyzing a complicated statute. There's really no point in putting up for instance case cites, those are in the written materials. Now, I did one presentation where I did NOT write the materials, it was actually an ethics presentation, and though I followed the general outline I was presenting additional material; there I would put up case citations, rule citations and such. But I tend to find excessive slides distracting; if it's in the written material I would rather say "see page 37" then put page 37 up.

Ronald Jones, Florida

1) Fast! But...


Your slides should be EXHIBITS to the speech, they should not be the speech.

Erik Hammarlund, Massachusetts

QuickBooks or … Bust?

So apparently QuickBooks is the go-to accounting program (even for law firms), or is there a rival product that people prefer?

I use QuickBooks because my CPA recommended it. She also set it up for me. When I have questions, she knows what I have.

Deborah Matthews, Virginia

I still use simple Quicken. I have ten employees and it can handle the rigors of a law office accounting.

Robert "Robby" W. Hughes, Jr., Georgia

I did some research into this as I was setting up my law firm. QuickBooks Online has the vast majority of market share here in the U.S.

In other countries, the largest competitor is a New Zealand company called "Xero." I've been using their program for a few months now. Xero's strength is in their pricing; however, I found the UI experience to be clunky compared to QuickBooks. There is also the issue of integrations if that's important to you. I've found that most of the major practice management systems only integrate with QuickBooks.

Joshua A. Lowenthal, Michigan

Quicken is less than $100. It needs to be updated about every 3 years. So, is less than $40 per year. It is not cloud based so you can control your own software and data. 

Robert "Robby" W. Hughes, Jr.

I've been using Peachtree (now Sage) Accounting for decades. It is more oriented towards raw accounting (debits and credits). I have had to familiarize myself with QuickBooks in the past, and far prefer Peachtree's approach.

Michael A. Koenecke, Texas

And Tracy Griffin at Law Charge, copied here, with her long relationship with Intuit was able to help me purchase a newer QB version at a significant savings.

Deb Matthews

I use Quicken as well. It works fine for a law firm. Practice management and billing is best handled elsewhere.

Darrell G. Stewart, Texas

Yes, we use Quicken, Timeslips and Time Matters. 

Robert "Robby" W. Hughes, Jr.

Quicken 2013...

Nicholas I. Fuerst, Arizona

QuickBooks (not in the cloud), Timematters, Billingmatters, and 

Quicken(2009) for my estates, trust, and personal accounts.

Jim Winiarski

Thanks everyone for the feedback. Very helpful.

Clayton T. Robertson, California

I'm not a true solo but have a small firm. I do not use QuickBooks or Quicken, but an accounting software that is integrated with my time and billing and practice management system. It is Tabs3/PracticeMaster, full suite that includes the General Ledger and Trust Account modules.

Any software worth its salt can export data into a common format, including QuickBooks, and any accountant worth their salt can take such exported data and should not require that _you_ use QuickBooks. We have never had a problem with it, and find it so much easier not to have to duplicate entries. For client work like estate ledgers (not my own law firm accounting), we do also have Quicken (a pretty old version, I think), which literally every one of my employees can use, including my receptionist. So anyone can enter data for an estate or trust ledger - it is really, really easy to use.

Cynthia V. Hall, Florida