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Bench & Bar of Minnesota is the official publication of the Minnesota State Bar Association.

FAQ: The MSBA’s new and revamped member services

At the start of the new bar year on July 1, the MSBA made several changes to its products and services, including the launch of a new version of our practicelaw resource library, the adoption of Casemaker as the association’s free research tool, and the introduction of new member communities at my.mnbar.org. We also revamped the navigation at the MSBA website; now all these tools, and others, can be found on their own Practice Tools menu as part of the site’s main navigation tabs (that’s the middle of the gray bar, when you’re viewing on desktop browsers).

We’ve also made several how-to guides and short videos available in the Document Library associated with the MSBA News community on my.mnbar.org. Check them out when you have a chance. In the meantime, here are some quick answers to common questions posed by members in the first month that these new services have been in place.

Q: I used to be on the [fill in the blank] listserv. I don’t think I’m getting all the emails. What do I do?

A: You can confirm your membership in communities, or change your email frequency, by going to my.mnbar.org/network/members/profile/myaccount/my-settings. It will ask you to log in, and if you haven’t done so before, it will ask you to accept the terms & conditions. After that, you’ll see a list of all of your communities and how you are set to receive messages; for each community there are three options for email: Real Time, Daily Digest, or No Email.

You also can set an “Override” email address right above that. This lets you send messages to an address that is different from the one used in your login. You can also customize which communities you want sent to particular email addresses through this option.

Please note: If you use a custom domain for your email, you will need to set an override address. For example, if your stated email is john@smithlaw.com but that merely masks the actual gmail account of john.smith1784@gmail.com, you will need to set an override email of john.smith1784@gmail.com for all of your communities in order to send messages to the communities from your email client.

Q: How do I reply to sender? If I click on the button it sends me to the website to sign on.

A: Your ability to respond to the sender is now controlled by the sender. This gives each member greater control over how they participate and what information they share about themselves. If they want to allow people to send directly to them, they can include an email address in their signature block (most people do this anyway).

While you can respond to sender via the Reply to Sender button, doing so will require you to log into the website—but simply clicking the email address in the signature will allow you to respond directly to the sender via your email client.

Q: How do I reply to the group from my email?

A: The easiest way to Reply to All is to use your email client’s reply function; simply hitting the Reply button will send a message back to the community. The Reply to Group button also opens a new email in your mail client (and does not route you to the website).

If you want to start a new thread, the best way to do so is with the Post New Message link at the top of all messages from your community. If you know the email address (for example, MNBAR-solosmall@ConnectedCommunity.org for SoloSmall), then you can simply compose a new message in your email client.

Please note: If you are getting Daily Digest emails rather than Real Time notifications, then the Reply function in your email client will not work; you will need to use the Reply to Group button.

Q: Am I a member of the new SoloSmall community?

A: If you go to my.mnbar.org and log in, you should be able to get to SoloSmall Community (click the Communities tab, then click All Communities). If you are a member, you will see a ‘member’ designation; if not, you will see a ‘Join’ button.

Q: It seems like these new communities aren’t as active as the old listservs. Is that true?

A: No. While the communities do have less activity on the weekends (summer in Minnesota and all), the overall volume is on par with the old system.

The new system also features much greater reliability and availability. There were frequent outages under the old system, which should not occur with the new platform. Additionally, you can always log on at my.mnbar.org to confirm the site is up and that you haven’t missed any messages.

Q: Why do I have to set up another profile?

A: You don’t; my.mnbar.org will automatically pull basic information from your MSBA profile. You can, however, choose to add additional information about yourself. You can even populate your profile by importing your LinkedIn profile.

Q: My contact information is not correct.  How do I change that?

A: Basic information is still maintained on your main MSBA profile, which can be updated at www.mnbar.org/edit-profile. This will sync to my.mnbar.org, but there may be a slight delay in some cases.

Q: What happened to practicelaw?

A: The practicelaw library is now a part of the communities at my.mnbar.org. But you can rest assured that all of the forms and other reference materials are still available.

The new practicelaw at my.mnbar.org offers a streamlined interface and much more robust searches, including the ability to search for a word or phrase within a document, not just in the title or tag. The new practicelaw simplifies the navigation and removes redundancy. Documents are still tagged by subject, and while it is possible to browse through the folder structure, the new, more robust search is intended to be more similar to legal research, relying on quotation marks and Boolean operators (“and,” etc.) to refine the search results.

The new search provides results not only by title but also by keywords or phrases within a document, allowing you to more quickly find exactly what you’re looking for. This is a change, but the new functionality should make it easier and quicker to use practicelaw. For example, to find the Deed of Distribution by a Personal Representative, search with the string “Deed of Distribution” and “Personal Representative” and the first two hits will be the PDF and Word versions. Similarly, searching for “Contract for Deed” and Individual returns the PDF and Word version of the ‘Contract for Deed by Individual(s)’ as 1 and 2 in the results (16 total).

Check out this short video to learn more: my.mnbar.org/viewdocument/intro-to-new-practic

Q: Where is Fastcase? I need to do some legal research.

A: The MSBA changed its legal research provider from Fastcase to Casemaker effective July 1. Like Fastcase, Casemaker remains a free member benefit. The MSBA is continually evaluating its programs and services in an effort to improve the value of your membership. Before the switch to Casemaker, the MSBA spent over a year evaluating not only its current partner but other possible providers, including Casemaker. Part of this process included member feedback and testing.

Casemaker offers a number of new features and benefits, including a true legal citatory; attorney editors review each case. Casemaker also offers Casemaker Digest, an alert system that will be used to improve the MSBA’s long-standing Court Opinions by Email service. The Digest allows you to receive updates triggered by any number of factors, including practice area, court, jurisdiction, judge, case, keyword, etc. Casemaker also offers a Brief Check tool, which lets you upload and cite check an entire brief—yours or the opposing counsel’s.

You can learn more about Casemaker in this (sort of) short video: www.mnbar.org/casemakerinfo

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