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UMKC University Libraries

Law Practice Technology

A guide created for a law class incorporating the book, The 2018 Solo and Small Firm Legal Technology Guide (ABA)

Most Effective Tech Tools

Most Effective Tech Tools

  • Document Management
  • Time & Billing
  • Case & Matter Management
  • Financial Management
  • eDiscovery
  • Docketing Software
  • Knowledge Management
  • Mobility and Mobile Apps
  • Lowest ranking were AI and Blochchain

Source 2020 Solo and Small Firm Legal Technology Guide, p. 260-261 (citing Bob Ambrogi and 2019 Aderant Business of Law and Legal Technology Survey).

Adoption of Teams

MS Power Automate

Priority of Legal Software and Services

Priority of Legal Software and Services Systems

Source of information: Bryce Phillips, Affinity Consulting

Client Intake System

Client Intake System or Client Relations Management (CRM)

Case Management

Case Management

Besides looking at licensing costs, the fundamental issues is whether you wish to use an SaaS (software as a service cloud) solution and if not do you wish to invest heavily by running a SQL server.   One key issue is synchronizing with Outlook and Google calendars.  Many vendors offer multiple services.  See chapter 12 of 2018 LTG for more detailed information on many of the products than is given here.

Work flow:  Contact > Matter > Task > Time > Invoice


Amicus Attorney

  • Small Firm Edition (up to 10 users)
  • 2016 Premium Edition (embedded SQL server, but may require separate SQL Server for large operations). 
  • Amicus Cloud

Abacus Next

  • Formerly Credenza
  • Turns Outlook into casemanagement tool
  • Timetracker, note taker, conflict checker
  • Working with Amicus Cloud
  • Works with Office 365
  • see p. 114 of LTG 
  • Purchased HotDocs

Time Matters

  • LexisNexis product
  • Not so much for small firms
  • Docket and case management, time capture and billing

PracticeMaster (favorite of LTG authors)

Clio

  • SaaS solution
  • Includes document management, timetracking, calendaring, tasks, and billing
  • Can do bi-directional synchronization with Outlook and Gmail and integrates with Box, Dropbox, Google Drive and NetDocuments.
  • Amazon S3 cloud storage
  • Clio video
  • Academic login

Rocket Matter

  • SaaS solution
  • time, contacts and billing functions
  • popular among Mac users
  • Portal 2.0--share calendar, documents, and invoices with clients
  • LawPay--allows clients to pay online

MyCase

  • New service
  • Runs on Amazon EC2 cloud servers
  • Backup to Amazon S3 storage
  • Data encryption
  • Client access portal

Firm Manager

  • Case management system
  • LexisNexis hosted
  • No billing component
  • Discount for new lawyers

HoudiniEsq

  • Based on Web Browser
  • Integrates with Outlook, Word, Excel, Quickbooks, Evernote, Quickbooks, etc.
  • Document managment, workflows, contacts, matters, invoicing, etc.
  • On-premise single user version is given away for free

CasePeer

  • For Personal Injury Firms
  • Calendaring
  • Cloud based
  • Settlement tools

Perfect Practice

  • For litigation practices
  • synchronize calendars
  • schedule cases
  • track time
  • manage workflow
  • access matters

Aderant

  • Case and practice management in the cloud
  • many other services
  • No. 1 choice AMLaw 100

Time and Billing

See chapter 13 of the 2018 LTG.  Issues include multiple billing rates, integration with practice management systems, whether sensative data is held off-site, purchase of support, numbers of licensed terminals, and compatability with Macintosh.


QuickBooks

  • several versions including online version (not recommended, see p. 131)
  • requires knowledge of accounting principles
  • need accountant familiar with law firms to configure categories
  • no lawyer productivity reports

Fresh Books

  • alternative to QuickBooks
  • recommended on The Lawyerist

Tabs3

  • Companion product to Practice Master
  • Single or multi-user versions
  • License fees also computed number of timekeepers
  • Mobility with Tabs3 Connect
  • Highly rated by experts
  • Cosmolex is the web version.

Amicus Accounting

  • Add-on to Amicus Attorney
  • capture time, billing, collections, and trusts
  • Small Firm and Premium licenses
  • Maintenance plan includes Mobility

Bill4Time

  • SaaS
  • Popular with Mac Community
  • Utilizes LEDES (Legal Electronic Data Exchange Standard)
  • Legal Solo and Lego Pro versions
  • Includes mobile app.

Easytime

  • standalone billing mechanism for Mac

Chrometa

  • personal time tracker
  • plugs into Outlook or Gmail
  • notes how long you worked on applications (you don't need to start or stop timers)
  • Premium plan allows multiple devices and exports to Clio, Rocket Matter and PCLaw
  • Not in LTG

Tyme 2

  • Apple app for time tracking

LawPay

  • Payment system for lawyers

Smokeball

  • Automatic time tracking 
  • Automated documents
  • Performance analysis
  • Integrates with Clio

ITimeKeep

  • mobile time contemporaneous entry solution

TimeSolv

  • Time tracking
  • Billing
  • Quickbooks sync
  • Document management

Knowledge Management

Evernote

Conflicts Checking

"One common misunderstanding involving law office software is that there is a category of software products called 'conflict checking software.'  . . . In the world of law office software, conflicts checking tools are commonly available in case management programs."  Todd C. Scott, Minnesota, Conflict-Checking Systems:  Three Great (and Cheap) Ways to Effectively Manage Conflict Checking, 2 GP Solo and Small Trends News, Feb. 2006. See TAPAs: Law Office Systems: Conflict-Checking 20/20 (ABA 2018).

  • Three notebook method (client, other parties, and lawyers)
  • MS Word Table (8 columns--No., Date, Contact, File, Matter, Type, Relation Code., File Status, Misc. Information).  For modified type click here.
  • Minnesota Lawyers Mutual, Avoiding Conflicts of Interest, appendix iv (2016) (Common Party Search Checklist--excellent tool for developing a true conflicts checking system)

Legal Project Management

Project Management Lifecycle. Source:  Leighblackall, Wikimedia Commons.  Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

 

Document Management

See chapter 14 of the 2018 LTG"The main purpose of a document management system is to organize information into a usable and searchable form.  How many times have you looked for a file or document but couldn't remember the name or location?  A document management system allows for fast and easy access to the data, whether in paper or electronic form.  It also provides access control and enforceability of rules."  p. 121

"Case management systems are also used to provide a certain level of document management. . . . A key point to remember about true document management applications is their stringent enforcement of the classification rules.  The user must use the system within the configured rules . . . . In contrast, applications that are not specifically document management software aren't restrictive or mandatory.  The danger is that data may be lost or misfiled when rules are not stringently enforced."  p. 144 of 2017 LTG

Things to look for:

  • How does the software deal with a common firm-wide Public Folder Calendar?
  • Will the product synchronize with your iPad,smartphone, or other mobile device?
  • What if you don’t have an Exchange server and use hosted Exchange services?
  • What email clients are supported?
  • Can you access your email using other devices and software, or are you restricted to using only the email interface of the case management software?
  • Can you synchronize data with your Google account?
  • Will synchronization occur wirelessly, or do you have to connect a cable and manually sync your data?
  • Can you sync everything in your personal mailbox, or are you limited to a subset, such as contacts and calendar only and not the tasks
  • Will your data synchronize with Office 365?

Issues with SaaS systems include making sure transmittal is encrypted and that you retain a localhost copy so your data isn't held hostage.


iManage

 

Worldox

  • integrates with MS Office, Outlook and case management
  • hosted and SaaS versions
  • mobile edition
  • legal hold feature
  • can create restricted-access security groups
  • audit trail of file changes
  • Mac version
  • link to video

NetDocuments

  • matter-centric workspaces
  • email management
  • collaboration
  • mobile access
  • link to video
  • link longer video

DocuShare

  • DocuShare Express for small to mid-sized firms
  • integrates with Xerox copier

Acrobat

"The latest versions of Acrobat provide the ability to mange documents.  The collaboration components with Acrobat are used to organize and reference files in a manner similar to other document systems."  Guide, p. 146

SharePoint

  • MS solution for collboration and document management
  • Guide believe it is too expensive for solo and small firms (see p. 156)

 


Plain Folders and Directories

  • inexpensive
  • use as small firm
  • naming conventions are critical
  • basic structure: client name, matter description, document versions, creation date
  • use similar structure with email
  • Video: Naming Client Directories

Click image to enlarge and see additional information.

Hazel - Mac tool for naming and tagging files.


Alternative scheme using metadata

Click image to enlarge

Video: Metadata, Directories and MS Office


Click image to enlarge

Draft

File Name

First draft created by law clerk

2009 08 26 Will H ds.dox

Draft reviewed by lawyer 2009 08 26 Will H ds-rn.dox
Draft further revised by law clerk 2009 08 26 Will H ds2-rn.dox
Draft further revised and finalized by lawyer

2009 08 26 Will H ds2-rn2.dox

Source:  Sheila M. Blackford & Donna S.M. Neff, Paperless in One Hour for Lawyers (ABA La Practice Division 2014), Appendix Table A.2.

MOBar Resources

The Missouri Bar Association provides an excellent site with with whitepapers and tools for managing your practice at https://mobar.org/site/content/Lawyer-Resources/Law_Practice_Management/Practice_Management.aspx.

These include:

  • Whitepapers
    • Open a Practice
    • Build a Practice
    • Manage a Practice
    • Protect a Practice
    • Wind Down a Practice
  • Tools (see web page above)

 

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