Greetings from Dine Law, P.L. located in sunny Southwest Florida! We are a small law firm providing Elder Law services in Manatee & Sarasota Counties, and in October 2012, the members of the firm embarked on quite a journey together as we moved our entire practice (server, telephones, time-keeping, email and document management systems) into the cloud. And by members, we mean all those employed by Dine Law. Don’t worry lawyers, the Rules Regulating the Florida Bar have not been broken by providing non-lawyers with an interest in the firm! But what we have done is given every lawyer and staff member a voice when it comes to choosing and implementing the technology used by Dine Law. We believe that it is this collective thinking and decision-making that paves the way for our accomplishments and provides a solid framework for support when we hit technological roadblocks. Dine Law is firmly floating in the cloud now and that could not have been done without each person’s willingness to accept change and commitment to learning new systems and programs.
Each month we will be writing to you about our perspectives on technology and law practice management. We want to provide you with a glimpse of how we are using technology to manage our practice and share the obstacles we have overcome as well as the challenges we still face. Because we truly believe all members’ opinions are valuable (and because creating this blog post is just one more way we can all spend time together laughing and enjoying each other’s company!), we will be writing to you as a group and incorporating each member’s perspective in his or her own words. This will start next month with the topic of Timekeeping.
To help you get a feel for who we are, this first post is an introduction to the firm and its members. Erika is the founding attorney and has been a practicing lawyer for 10 years. Logan and Sierra are associates and have been practicing for 3 and 6 years, respectively. Heather is a paralegal and office manager with 10 years of experience in the legal field. Diane is a full time paralegal and Jet is a part-time paralegal, and together they have 60 years of combined experience. Please grab a cup of coffee or diet coke (or coconut water if you’re health conscious) while you read this post and feel free to give us your two cents in the comments section. We also welcome future topics you’d like to hear our perspective on!
The firm’s founding partner, Erika Dine, has been practicing law for ten years as a member of the Florida Bar. She became a solo practitioner in 2008 after having worked in a firm setting and as a prosecutor. It was at this time that she started researching how she could use technology to manage her practice most effectively, a theme which she has maintained as her practice grew over the past six years to include two associates (Logan Elliott & Sierra Pino), two paralegals (Heather Muncy & Diane Roy) and a part-time paralegal (Jet Stewart). Erika concentrates her elder law practice in the areas of Guardianship, Probate and Estate Administration, Medicaid, Veterans Administration and Estate Planning, and Litigation involving exploitation of the elderly. Erika’s commitment to the community is documented not only through the hundreds of hours of pro-bono work she performs, but also through supporting every member of the firm to take on a cause of their choice by allocating working hours to volunteer time and providing firm resources as necessary.
Erika’s perspective on technology: “I want it simple and I want it pretty.”
Logan Elliott is an Associate Attorney at Dine Law, P.L. and has been practicing law for three years. Logan has bucked the implementation of technology at every turn. His supervisor, Erika has described him as an old man in a twenty something’s body. When it comes to technology, Logan self identifies with Statler and Waldorf, the disagreeable balcony-dwelling old men from the Muppet Show. As recently as a few months ago, Logan would have been much happier with a room full of file cabinets brimming with reams of paper. He is a visual person and therefore more comfortable seeing a shelf full of files knowing they are there as opposed to looking at a computer or server box and hoping that the files are in there . . . somewhere. Most recently however, Logan has warmed up to the idea of technology after learning to operate his iPhone and accepting that technology does enhance efficiency. In his free time, Logan is an avid outdoorsman. Being a native Floridian, he enjoys camping in the cooler months and watersports in the warmer months.
Logan’s perspective on technology: “I fear the day Skynet becomes self-aware.”
Sierra Pino is an Associate Attorney at Dine Law, P.L. She embraces the use of technology to provide efficient and cost-effective services to clients and to help her achieve a better work-life balance. Ms. Pino previously practiced law in Boston, MA in a variety of settings, including as a law clerk, at an AM LAW 100 firm and for a boutique family law firm. She is licensed to practice law in Florida and Massachusetts. Volunteering is an integral part of Sierra’s life, and she does so by serving as a Guardian ad litem for the 12th Circuit and teaching the legal aspects of homeownership to the Manatee County Habitat for Humanity families. Sierra enjoys playing beach volleyball in a weekly league and is learning to play tennis with her husband of seven years, Steve. Sierra and Steve were rescued by their two dogs, Max (a terrier mix) and Tyla (a retriever mix).
Sierra’s perspective on technology: “Give me technology with all the bells and whistles, but be patient as I take the time to train and educate myself to maximize its potential.”
Heather Muncy is a Florida Registered Paralegal and the Office Manager at Dine Law, P.L. She began working in the legal field 10 years ago and started working for Attorney Erika Dine in January of 2009. Heather has taken a leadership role in implementing technology and training into firm culture. She is passionate about the use of technology and is always looking for better ways to utilize each system to its fullest. Heather was born and raised in Sarasota, Florida. Heather, her husband, Brandon, and their two children, Hunter Chase and Dakota Mae, enjoy spending their free time on the water boating, skiing and tubing.
Heather’s perspective on technology: “Technology advances daily! I strongly believe the firm as a whole has to grow with technology. I want to know the ins and outs of any system we are considering so we can assist our client’s more efficiently.”
Diane Roy is a Florida Registered Paralegal and has worked in the legal field for over 26 years, with the last 10 years focused in the areas of Guardianship and Probate. Diane maintains her certification through on-going training and workshops to keep her abreast of the changes in Probate and Guardianship Law. Diane’s many years of expertise are a definite bonus for this firm and for our clients. On a personal note, Diane moved from Maine to Florida in 2002 with her husband of 28 years and two children and enjoys the Florida weather compared to the cold winter months in Maine.
Diane’s perspective on technology: I remember my first job in a legal office over 26 years ago. Legal documents were prepared on typewriters; when introduced to my first computer, it was foreign to me and scary at best. Internet in the office was unheard of. I confronted technology with hesitation as long as I possibly could until one day I took the plunge and dove right in and never looked back. I am simply amazed at modern technology today and embrace the change with open arms.
Jeanetta “Jet” Stewart has worked as a paralegal for 34 years. She works with Dine Law as a part-time paralegal. Her contribution of experience and knowledge is a great asset to a young and dynamic firm like Dine Law. Jet is a “almost-native” of Florida, having lived in the Bradenton area since 1969. She is married, has two daughters and four granddaughters, and enjoys spending time with her girls and weekends out antiquing.
Jet’s perspective on technology: “Given my penchant for organization, today’s advanced technology is a perfect platform for organizing any office. Just give me a good, solid, database!”