Chris Tamms’ legal practice is devoted entirely to the law affecting families with a particular emphasis on the rights of parents to have meaningful relationships with their children, especially in difficult cases where the parents were not married to each other.
I like being in the trenches with my clients. I really enjoy being able to accomplish a client’s goal, especially when it involves something as important as their relationships with their children. I deal with custody and divorce cases almost exclusively.
The definition of what constitutes a “marriage” is liberalizing across the United States as more and more states are extending the “right to marry” to same sex couples. My home state of Ohio has not legalized same-sex marriage yet, and in-fact, still constitutionally prohibits it. I expect that Ohio will reverse course in the next few years as various ballot measures and legal challenges are pending. Another welcome trend that I’ve seen in my local court system is a trend toward “shared parenting” as a starting point when discussing the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities.
Growing up, I was a very shy and reserved person. I’ve always cared a great deal about how other people perceive me, so this job has definitely forced me grow a “thiker skin” because in an adversarial system you cannot please everyone. In addition you’re forced to see that there are two, often drastically different sides to every situation. I try to recognize the strengths in the other side’s case and the weaknesses in my client’s while remaining empathetic to what can be very tough situations.
I am an avid reader of “The Mac Lawyer” a blog by Ben Stephens, a family law attorney in South Carolina. When I first started my practice, I decided I was going to use a Mac having become completely fed up with the Windows based machines I had been using since I was a child. I was concerned about reliability (not having a huge budget for tech support) so a Mac made the most sense. I recall reading a blog post from Mr. Stephens and he recommended Daylite as a great Mac contact management system. I had just started using Billings Pro in my practice and had been very happy with that program, so the fact that Marketcircle made both products made me much more inclined to give Daylite a shot. I liked Daylite from the beginning due to its ease of use and the manner in which I could link people and dates to projects and have everything organized in an incredibly intuitive way.
Daylite met all of my expectations. The fact that I could pull up Daylite on my iPhone and iPad was definitely a selling point. Having all my information sync up as easily as it does has been supremely helpful. When I am looking to set a date for a court hearing, I still see the occasional attorney who has to call their secretary to see if they can schedule a court appearance on a specific date, whereas I can just pull up Daylite and get a quick answer. I use Daylite on the iPhone and iPad to keep track of the essential aspects of my cases. When I start a new case I put all the reference information into a “form” customized for the type of case. I have also recently found myself using the notes function a lot more. With Daylite I can quickly add a note on my iPhone or iPad after a client’s phone call to which I can refer back to when preparing for a trial. Daylite is also great for storing emails. With Daylite I can link an email to a specific matter so I have all my notes in one place that I can look up very easily.
The fact that everything is synced up is extremely helpful. I don’t know what I’d do without the ability to keep track of my calendar on my iPhone and know that it is synced with my office calendar. I also appreciate that Daylite links the dates to my specific matters. I can pull up a case and see what’s been done in the case including but not limited to: the number of hearings that have occurred, the meetings that have scheduled with my clients, and whether there are any outstanding tasks that need to be accomplished such as responding to discovery. Having all the information in one place is just fantastic!
Daylite and Billings Pro have definitely made me more efficient. I spend less time each month sending out bills. The invoices have a lot of information built in so I don’t need to go back and add in details for my clients. It’s hard to compare my workflow before Daylite because I started using it within the first year I started my practice, but I know I am more efficient with Daylite than without it. The most important thing to be more efficient is to have everything in one spot and that’s what Daylite does for me.
I like the fact that it’s very easy to use. It’s very intuitive so there was very little as far as a learning curve. I like that the invoices and statements are incredibly professional looking. In this day and age many professionals have gotten away from sending out documents on high end paper with embossed letterhead. Sending out a nice looking invoice with Billings Pro adds a professional touch without unnecessary expense. My clients appreciate most that the invoices are easy to understand as it’s very important to me that my billing be completely transparent to my clients. I’m a huge fan of the option to add retainer tracking to the invoice. Being able to tell a client how the retainer is disbursed on their matter is an important aspect to that transparency. It gives them a much clearer picture of where their money is going.
I’ve been playing piano for over twenty years and actually taught lessons during high school, so I guess my law practice was not my first experience in building and working with clients. Piano is still an important part of my life and I’m eternally grateful that my parents made me stick with it. I’m also trying to improve upon a hideously poor golf game. Baby steps.
I’ve reached out to Marketcircle for online support for both Daylite and Billings Pro. Both experiences were positive. The response time was quick and they seemed to know what they were doing. Their suggestions were helpful and they don’t just inundate you with 50 things to try. They offered me a specific solution.