Most states have rules of professional conduct for lawyers to inform clients of the status of their cases and to promptly reply to their reasonable requests for information. An efficient and timely way to comply with these ethics rules on client communication is via email (encrypted as necessary, of course), which supplies lawyers and clients with a communications record.
Templates to Save Time Responding to Email
To save time and labor in writing emails, develop automated responses for when you are on vacation or otherwise unavailable. You can also create quick replies to send from your smartphone, such as “I’ll read this later and get back to you” and “Let’s set up a meeting to discuss this — please send me your availability over the next few days.” To save even more time, consider composing templates or boilerplates that can easily be inserted into new emails and email messages you respond to. That’s the premise and promise of Ant Text, an add-in for Outlook and Outlook Web Access (OWA) running on Exchange Server 2013 and above, which includes Office 365.
Ant Text makes it easy to write and reuse form emails and meeting invitations using your own designs, logos, text and attached files. After you design the email templates, you can share them with the rest of your firm to ensure consistent communications with clients and potential clients. Ant Text provides the sharing function.
How Ant Text Works
Ant Text can be downloaded and installed manually by administrators, but Office 365 users can enable it without IT support.
For the add-in, click the Store icon on the Outlook Ribbon, search for “Ant Text,” and install it.
For OWA, click the gear icon in the upper right-hand corner of the browser window, choose “Manage add-ins,” search for “Ant Text” and install it.
Yes, you can do both; however, the Outlook desktop version is more advanced than the OWA version. Ant Text promises the desktop and online versions will have feature parity later this year. Until then, I focus on Outlook for the desktop.
Once Ant Text is enabled, select an email in your inbox and start up the add-in from the Ribbon. The Ant Text window opens on the right side of Outlook, allowing you to create a reply to the selected email by choosing a template.
Pull down the Settings menu items and click Ant Text. The Ant Text window changes, allowing you to create folders and forms. I first created a folder for new client inquiries. The folder appeared in an “Ant Texts” folder containing a default template. Don’t remove the default template. For folders to work in Ant Text, they must include at least one template. Then I created draft messages as models to reuse and dragged them into the folder structures under the Ant Text folder.
Templates for Retainer Letters, Inquiries, Meeting Requests and Much More
For my practice, I created templates to respond to new client inquiries for each state, outlining my areas of practice in the jurisdictions. I attached a sample retainer letter and New York statements of client rights and responsibilities to my model reply for the Empire State. I also included my law firm logo and v-card in the message and as an attachment.
I also replied to messages by setting up meetings, using Ant Text to set up reusable meeting requests. Although I can use Outlook Templates for form emails and default meeting requests, Ant Text templates make it easy to create forms with standard text and vibrant graphics using copy-and-paste functions and reuse that work on demand and within the context of messages and invitations.
Windows Desktop Client Works with Word and Excel Files
Besides the Ant Text Outlook and OWA add-in, the Danish technology provider also supplies a Windows client that installs to the desktop in one click. The client software allowed me to create and edit Microsoft Word files (.doc, .docx, .docm) files to insert text and graphics into new email messages and save them to a file structure made known to Ant Text in a configuration setting. The documents are stored on a local or network drive, which can be used to share the files with other lawyers and staff who also install the client code.
Ant Text’s Ant XL feature supports merging fields from Excel spreadsheets into templates in Outlook. Ant XL made it easy for me to compose a newsletter via email and simultaneously send it to a list of clients. Ant XL also supports merged fields and Out-of-Office templates in Outlook and OWA.
You can try Ant Text free for 14 days. The Standard subscription (10 Ant Text templates) is $14.95 per month, which amounts to $1.50 per template per month. The Business license allows the use of unlimited templates and Ant XL for $18.95 per month.
Sean Doherty is a sole practitioner advising organizations on technology controls that comply with industry standards, laws and regulations governing information technology, safeguarding privacy and preserving evidence in litigation. Sean previously worked as an analyst for 451 Research, where he directed the company's business and technology coverage of information governance, compliance, and electronic discovery. He also worked as a technology editor at ALM Media. Follow him on LinkedIn and on Twitter @SeanD0herty.
The opening ripple of ABA TECHSHOW 2018 a few weeks ago began at the conference’s second annual Startup Pitch Competition, where 14 legal technology startups competed. Voluble, a social media data analyst provider won, but not for sentiment analysis. The company creates trial exhibits from consumer posts discussing products, manufacturers and purchasing decisions. The exhibits aim to show secondary meaning, deceptive advertising, anti-competitive behavior, the likelihood of confusion and dilution, and more.
It would have been nice to see a runner-up to Voluble because there were plenty of candidates. Take Digitory Legal, which uses historical law firm billing data and industry trends to help firms manage the cost of matters. Or Qualmet, a web and mobile platform that allows corporate legal departments and outside counsel to measure and benchmark performance to drive business value. Or pick a champion from the finalists listed here.
Regardless of who wins or loses these pitch contests, they’re becoming standard fare at conferences and a benefit to startups and the legal tech community. The pitch format exposes new technology to the community in a concise, convenient forum and gives startups a mechanism to test, and perhaps validate, their problem identification and resolution. Once approved by the community, startups may find new champions, customers and venture capital investment, and maybe celebrate future anniversaries at TECHSHOW.
Themis Solutions’ Clio and Rocket Matter, web-based practice management software, are 10 years old and Worldox is celebrating 30 years of business. I covered Clio’s new integrations for Microsoft Outlook in “Overcoming Fear and Loathing of New Technology at ABA TECHSHOW 2018.” The Vancouver-based company is poised for significant calendar updates later this year. Perhaps at the Clio Cloud Conference Oct. 4-5 in New Orleans? In the meantime, Clio will be adding 20 new integration partners to its platform, which now sports version 4 of its application programming interface (API) and a total of 90 app integrations. You will find all the new integrations in the Clio App Directory.
I found some new Clio partners at TECHSHOW, including BirdEye and startups Gideon and Lawyaw. BirdEye automatically sends review requests to clients after users close a Clio matter. Gideon offers a messaging and client intake platform to qualify leads and convert them to clients. And Lawyaw automates document creation from more than 5,000 state, county and local court forms. (Gideon and Lawyaw competed in the Startup Pitch Competition.)
Rocket Matter introduced a workflow management platform for law firms, called Rocket Project Management. It automates matter management by creating transitions between different phases of a case, such as client intake, litigation, settlement, and file closure. Each phase or status can support tasks, custom data, calendars and date functions to comply with deadlines. When matters change status, predefined data substantiate the matter. The new platform works with Rocket Matter’s Communicator, an internal messaging tool, to alert lawyers of case status changes on their mobile devices. Rocket Matter also released integration updates for LexCharge payment processing and LawToolBox‘s rules-based deadline calculations. Look for Rocket Matter to integrate with Google G Suite later this year.
Worldox, a New Jersey-based document management system (DMS) provider, will celebrate a pearl anniversary at its user conference May 20 in New Orleans. There, it will announce the Beta version of its next-generation DMS, which will engage server-based email with predictive filing and build on Microsoft Azure, integrating with tools like Microsoft Flow and PowerBI. Besides the platform tools, the Microsoft cloud will allow Worldox to scale over 1,000 users. On a physical front, Worldox continues to expand its DMS market in North Africa, South America, the Middle East, Canada and Australia.
Empower Legal launched its Litigation Suite at TECHSHOW. The suite consists of streaming video tutorials that help litigation attorneys and their clients prepare for mediation, depositions and trials. Alan Fanger, an award-winning trial attorney and radio legal analyst, casts professional actors in the videos produced by Reflection Films and published on the Vimeo platform. The characters, testimony and events are fictional, but the lessons are real. For example, the mediation video conveys the essential elements of any mediation, including advice toward settlement: listen effectively, acknowledge litigation risks, accept the reality of settlement, be courteous to opponents, and establish a bottom line number to settle. Empower Legal makes Google Android and Apple iOS apps to view the videos. The Newton, Massachusetts-based company has two more videos in production: expert witnesses and investigations.
Lawmatics is a CRM and marketing automation tool designed for solo practitioners and small to midsize law firms. The startup company, founded by Matt Spiegel, the founder of MyCase, said Lawmatics is like Salesforce and HubSpot for the legal profession. The marketing tool is built on AWS and includes custom forms, an email agent and built-in e-signature functions. Spiegel demonstrated Lawmatics’ automation from lead intake to client conversion while showing me an accurate and dynamic picture of pipeline activity. But many lawyers will find the area between leads and retained clients outside their bailiwick. Spiegel agreed and said education would be a big part of customer engagement and the onboarding process. If Lawmatics is anything like MyCase, it’s one to watch. Investors are on board, and Spiegel is looking at growth mode.
Lynx Workflow’s FactBox, a web-based fact management and timeline software provider, came to TECHSHOW for the first time hoping to go beyond word-of-mouth advertising and social network marketing. The San Francisco company tackles inefficiencies in workflows for trial and other court proceedings, which can be decentralized, inconsistent and expensive. FactBox, like an Evernote for litigators, makes chronologies and timelines of key facts and links them to source documents. Explore sample case notes here.
Notes from the Expo Hall
AbacusNext redesigned the user interface (UI) to its CRM software ResultsCRM (formerly Results Software), which is now fully cloud-enabled and optimized to run on Abacus Private Cloud. The new UI provides a consistent user experience across desktop, web and mobile applications and supports drag-and-drop tiles and data modules for customization.
Case.one came to TECHSHOW with its recent launch of File.one, a new application in its .one suite of case management tools for law firms. File.one tackles the problem of files stored in multiple systems and locations using a search tool that simultaneously searches on-premises servers and cloud storage and supports approximately 120 different file formats.
DocsCorp‘s document comparison software, called compareDocs, has undergone a significant upgrade that includes two new comparison workflows: Compare Selected Text and Compare from Clipboard. The new Compare Selected Text and Compare from Clipboard functionalities give users the ability to compare specific sections or snippets of text vis-a-vis comparing an entire document with a modified version. The new workflows save time and allow users to stay focused on a particular task, such as changes to a single paragraph, a clause, or contents of a table.
Before TECHSHOW, Judicata’s Clerk, a web-based California legal research tool that has ingested thousands of pages of legal text and millions of case data points, was recently upgraded to correct citation errors based on the California Style Manual or The Bluebook. Besides remedying citations, Clerk assesses the strength of arguments, drafting (quotations and attribution accuracy of quoted text), and context, considering cases with similar causes of action, facts and judges.
Lit Software, a maker of iOS apps for litigation (TrialPad, DocReviewPad and TranscriptPad) came to TECHSHOW with two feathers in its hat. Earlier this year the Miami-based company updated TranscriptPad to include Impeachment Reports, showing deponent name, date, and volume of deposition with page-line source designations. It also enabled users to sort reports chronologically to see issue codes in the context of surrounding testimony. And in two months, Lit Software will release a new product, called TimelinePad, for depositions and trial. With the forthcoming app, users can organize litigation events in a timeline.
If you lack an iOS product, check out ExhibitView Solutions. Although the company makes an iPad app called iTrial, its trial presentation software ExhibitView 7 is primarily designed for Windows 10 and has many new enhancements, including the ability to create high-definition synchronized depositions in its TranscriptPro tool.
Web-based practice management provider MyCase released an easy button to receive and process online payments. Instead of asking clients to log into a client portal to pay, MyCase users can email clients a unique, secure payment link copied from their latest invoice. When clients click on the link, they are taken to a secure credit card form to pay. Besides email, MyCase’s secure payment link can be sent via chat or SMS message.
WordRake editing software, which makes prose clear and concise for legal documents, will soon support MacOS. Watch the Seattle-based company’s blog and check out the company’s writing tips.
60 in 60
The final ripple at TECHSHOW featured a crescendo of tips and tools from the “60 in 60” session, an annual affair highlighting the latest in apps, new technology and work hacks. This year, conference co-chair Debbie Foster, a partner at Affinity Consulting Group; Lincoln Mead, director of Information Services at Utah State Bar; Tom Mighell, vice president of Delivery Services at Contoural and also TECHSHOW co-chair; and John Simek, vice president of Sensei Enterprises, orchestrated the session and shouted out their favorite findings, which included:
Fastcase AI Sandbox, a private digital environment to analyze law firm data using artificial intelligence and data analytics tools, Fastcase resources, and other external libraries to derive new insights to drive decision-making.
DuckDuckGo, a search engine (and Chrome extension) that doesn’t track you, follow you with ads, or store your personal information. From the DuckDuckGo blog, check out “How to Live Without Google.”
ROSS Intelligence EVA. Upload a brief (drag-and-drop) to ROSS Intelligence, and EVA returns, for free, a hyperlinked list of cases cited in the brief that received negative treatments.
Other notable tips included AI tools like Voicera and Jog.ai that attend your phone conferences and transcribe phone calls; Anchor lets you record a podcast on your mobile device, with remote guests; and Tresorit, a cloud-based storage provider that puts encryption keys in the hands of customers.
And finally, until next TECHSHOW, cover your Apple watch to mute a call. Priceless, from Debbie Foster.
Sean Doherty is a sole practitioner advising organizations on technology controls that comply with industry standards, laws and regulations governing information technology, safeguarding privacy and preserving evidence in litigation. Sean previously worked as an analyst for 451 Research, where he directed the company's business and technology coverage of information governance, compliance, and electronic discovery. He also worked as a technology editor at ALM Media. Follow him on LinkedIn and on Twitter @SeanD0herty.
Here's the legal lowdown on document management software
BY NICOLE BLACK
Choosing the right technology tools for your law firm can be a confusing endeavor. After all, there are so many different types of software products available and so many choices to make when it comes to features, pricing and security. Sifting through the maze of information can be a time-consuming process that can quickly become overwhelming.
That’s why my goal with this new monthly legal technology column is to get lawyers up to speed on their legal software options. In each column, I’ll focus on a specific type of software—such as billing or contract analysis software—and explain the choices available, including features built into software suites and stand-alone platforms devoted to handling a particular law firm function.
Most of the software tools discussed will be those aimed at small and midsize firms, since large firms have very different, more complex needs. I’ll also focus primarily on cloud-based tools since even the most traditional software providers are transitioning many of their products to the cloud. Generic consumer-focused tools will not be discussed since legal-specific software is designed with lawyers’ needs in mind, both in terms of functionality and security, whereas consumer-focused software is not.
In this column, I’ll cover the document management software options for solo, small and midsize law firms. Because the practice of law is document-intensive, firms of all sizes have document management needs. Some rely on the foldering systems built into their word processing software, but most firms require a more robust system. That’s where document management software comes in.
Document management software is designed to provide a built-in organizational system for your documents. Documents can be associated with case files or matters, and access can be limited to certain firm users. Some more robust systems include document versioning and audit trails that track user access to documents. Document collaboration and sharing features are also built into some platforms and allow secure external sharing with clients, co-counsel, experts and more. Another feature included in some software products is the conversion of scanned documents into optical character recognition format, which creates searchable, indexed PDFs.
Your firm’s document management needs will depend in large part on the size of your law firm and the practice areas handled by your firm. Some practice areas are much more document-intensive and thus require more robust document management tools.
For solo and small-firm lawyers with practices that aren’t document-intensive—such as family lawyers, trust and estate lawyers, and criminal law attorneys—a stand-alone document management system is likely unnecessary. Instead, the document management features built into most law practice management systems such as Rocket Matter, Clio or MyCase (note that I am the legal technology evangelist with MyCase) will often be sufficient and more cost-effective than using both law practice management software and document management software.
The document management features built into law practice management software typically include the ability to store and associate documents with client matters, basic document versioning, and the ability to share documents using secure online portals. Some even allow document collaboration using secure communication portals, a functionality that is all the more important in the wake of ABA Formal Opinion 477, wherein the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility concluded that particularly sensitive client information should no longer be shared using unencrypted email.
Of course, some small and midsize law firms have more complex document management requirements. Three leading stand-alone systems for such firms to consider are iManage, Worldox and Netdocs. Worldox and iManage have been around for years as premise-based solutions, and both recently rolled out cloud-based options. Netdocs, on the other hand, has always been a cloud-based solution. This means Netdocs was designed to work in, and take advantage of, cloud functionality from the very start, whereas Worldox and iManage’s cloud versions are based on functionality and features found in their premise-based software.
All three platforms provide advanced document management features. In addition, they also include robust document versioning, audit trails and OCR conversion from scans that permit document indexing and search features. Each also includes email management tools, knowledge management capabilities, and other features specific to larger firms, including key integrations with Office 365, e-discovery platforms, and more.
Finally, because all the document management systems discussed above—both the stand-alone and built-in options—are cloud-based, mobile document access is available no matter which software solution you choose. When your firm’s documents are securely stored in the cloud, you can easily and securely access those documents from any location via the mobile app of your chosen software program using any internet-enabled device.
With today’s document management software, gone are the days of scrambling to locate documents. Instead, you’ll be able to quickly and easily access, share and collaborate on your firm’s documents no matter where you are. Another bonus is that with cloud-based document management software, you’ll be well on your way to digitizing your firm’s documents, allowing your firm to easily transition to e-filing when it’s required in your jurisdiction.
So if you aren’t already using document management software in your law firm, what better time than now to make the move?
Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York, attorney, author, journalist and the legal technology evangelist at MyCase, legal practice management software for solo and small-firm lawyers. She is the nationally recognized author of Cloud Computing for Lawyers, and she co-authored Social Media for Lawyers: The Next Frontier.She also co-authored Criminal Law in New York, a Thomson West treatise. She writes regular columns for The Daily Record, Above the Law and Legal IT Pros, has authored hundreds of articles and regularly speaks at conferences regarding the intersection of law, mobile and cloud computing, and internet-based technology. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our intent is to explore this complex and tangled issue piece-by-piece to make sense of the current thinking around data protection, legal ethics and regulation.
Admittedly, these articles are often a bird’s eye view of an issue that affects every person and business a little bit differently. Additionally, targets (that’s you) experience online threats differently based on who they are and what data they have. This makes it hard to promote one-size-fits-all recommendations.
To overcome some of the amorphousness that surrounds this topic, we wanted to provide a more concrete checkup that anyone, attorneys to zookeepers, could benefit from.
This checklist comes with the usual disclaimer that you should engage in a threat assessment of your own situation to know what is the best way to protect your data. Further, these are not foolproof recommendations. Nevertheless, if you are not doing the things below, you are likely less safe for it.
1. Have you been pwned? It is pretty safe to say we have all been hacked or compromised at this point. Between the breaches of Equifax, LinkedIn and Yahoo, information from billions of accounts have spilled out into the world. But were you one of them? While it is impossible to be 100 percent certain, there is one way to see if your account information has fallen prey to a hack. By going to haveibeenpwned.com, you can type in your email addresses or usernames to see if they come up in the sites database of publicly known hacks. If a hack has occurred but it has not been verified or made public, then the site will not have that information. However, it is a good first step to know if your passwords have been compromised.
2. Consider a password manager. If your email address came up on haveibeenpwned, your palms are probably sweaty and fear has overtaken you. This is normal, but not necessary. Let us channel that nervous energy towards getting serious about passwords. Even the grinning readers who did not see their email on the website should follow along. A password manager will help you store your bevy of passwords, which should all be as unique as a snowflake. No longer will you need gimmicks to remember which password had an exclamation point or the capital “T” in it. The manager will handle that for you. While not hocking particular software, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has some handy questions to vet a company promising you security:
• Is the company clear about the limitations of its product? Do not trust companies that promise the world or use buzzwords like “military grade.” That is gibberish and should be discounted.
• Does the company share its threat model in case of a compromise? Mature companies who trust in their product will be transparent about the attacks they are prepared for and how they are prepared. Look for this documentation.
• Does the company say it cannot or will not access your data? You might have to read the terms of service, but companies that cannot access your data by design are better. “Will not” leaves the backdoor ajar.
• What do users say? Like everything else, you can find online reviews of password managers. Do people still trust the tool? Has the company made unfortunate headlines recently? These are all things to consider in your decision.
When you are thinking about which manager to use, Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy foundthat the password managers that come default in many browsers are being used by ad trackers to scoop up your data.
3. Treat yourself to better passwords. It is 2018, and a password under seven characters that combines your dog’s name and your birth year are not sufficient. Nor is it cool that you have a dozen passwords that are permutations of each other. While a password manager (see above) will help keep your online life in order, you still need quality passwords to make the software worthwhile. The National Institute of Standards and Technology updated their password guidelines last year, and they recommend that you create a strong password, or longer passphrase where possible, that avoids the maddening nature of passwords with upper-case, special symbols and numbers. Think of a line from a book or song that is not that popular and easy for you to remember. This is especially important to master passwords to things like that new password manager you got after reading this article. Also, unless you are breached, NIST no longer recommends making periodic changes to your password. If it is not broke, do not fix it. Last, NIST recommends avoiding password hints or knowledge-based authentication, which brings us to…
4. Two-factor authentication! I hope that when you saw that header, you smugly thought to yourself, “I already do that.” If so, you’ve graduated to step five. However, if you do not know what two-factor authentication is, keep reading. Two-factor authentication is a two-step process to signing into an account. Instead of merely typing your password and logging in, two-factor will send you an email or text message with a unique passcode to enter before you can access your account. The hope here is that if your password is compromised, you have a second line of defense. All major companies have two-factor now, so take advantage of it. (For a list of sites with two-factor authentication check out twofactorauth.org.)
5. Encrypt your devices. While the word “encrypt” can sometimes make people feel uneasy, it has become a painless, low cost way to protect your information. Doing so can make you feel slightly more secure if you lose or misplace your device. Android, Apple and Microsoft now all have turnkey encryption for their devices. For Android Pixel, Samsung Galaxy S8 and later phones, they come encrypted. For iPhone users, it is as easy as turning on your passcode, which Apple says 89 percent of its customers already do. Windows, as well, makes it easy to turn on BitLocker, their encryption service. With this step, do not forget to also encrypt external storage devices you use for documents or pirated MP3s from college.
With all of this being said, stay vigilant. As a digital consumer, you are constantly playing defense against an ever-evolving offense. While these tips work for today, they may not in the future. To keep abreast of changing threats and best practices, keep track of the Journal’s ongoing series and other trustworthy news sources.
TECHSHOW is back and it's better than ever. Register now for the premier learning and networking event for legal professionals. Join us to get the latest education and strategies covering what's new in legal technology and how you can better serve your clients.
Have you ever wanted to text an appointment reminder or a quick message to your clients without having to use your cell phone? Many clients are faster at reading and responding to their text messages than to their emails. There is an easy and free way to do this. It’s called Email-to-SMS Gateway. You just use your email program on your computer to send a short text message to your clients. No need to use a third-party service that you don’t know and trust. No need to install an application.
What is SMS Gateway?
An SMS gateway allows your computer to send Short Message Service (SMS), which is generally known as a “text message,” to a cell phone. However, the text message cannot be more than 160 characters and cannot include media.
If you want to send a longer text message with an image, video or audio, you’d need to use the MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) gateway. MMS is a type of messaging that has no character limit and allows media files. Most cell phones support both SMS and MMS. But keep in mind that if your client's phone plan doesn't have MMS, he or she won't receive the message.
The SMS gateway texting method requires you to know three things:
Your client’s cell phone number.
The name of the client’s phone carrier. You can look up the carrier at this website.
The SMS gateway address that corresponds with the carrier. The gateway addresses for major U.S. phone service providers are listed below for your convenience:
SMS Gateway (text only)
MMS Gateway (text and media)
(Include “1” before the phone number)
(Include “1” before the phone number)
Follow these steps to send text messages from your email program:
Compose a new email.
In the “To” field, insert the client’s 10-digit phone number followed by the appropriate @gateway address. Do not include hyphens or dashes in the phone number.
For example, if your client’s phone number is 503-123-4567 and the carrier is AT&T, this is the SMS gateway address: email@example.com.
If the carrier is T-Mobile, make sure you include the number “1” before the 10-digit phone number.
Write your message. Keep the message to fewer than 160 characters. If you need to write a longer message or want to include media, use the MMS gateway address or regular email.
Your client will receive your email in the form of a text message on his or her cell phone. If the client responds to your text, the message will be sent to your email inbox.
There are other options to send text messages from your computer, including using Google Voice and third-party online services. But SMS gateway is simple, reliable and free. You can test it right now by sending a text from your email to your cell phone.
This issue of Law Practice offers a preview of the speakers at TECHSHOW 2018. For more than 30 years, the Law Practice Division has gathered the top technology experts for this one-of-a-kind program. If you are resistant to the technological changes affecting the practice of law or just aren't sure where to start, mark your calendars now. One of the reasons lawyers are resistant to technology is they just aren’t sure where to start or how to evaluate the risk of transitioning to a new application or system. Understanding and evaluating that risk can be overwhelming.
This is what TECHSHOW offers lawyers: a one-stop location explaining what technology to use, how to use it and under what circumstances. Whether you are considering using cloud storage for the first time and need to know how to do that safely or whether you are considering using Office 365, TECHSHOW has experts to answer your questions. There are hands-on workshops, small group meetings and an EXPO. The experts at TECHSHOW have done all the research and can help you find the answers. Whether a first-time attendee or a veteran, you will benefit from TECHSHOW 2018. All you have to do is set aside the time to attend.
This issue of Law Practice tackles the current state of artificial intelligence use in the legal community and the prospects for it to change in the near future, the burgeoning use of ransomware, tips on how best to get to the meat of e-discovery matters and much more!
Finally, we’d like to thank our guest columnists. Skip Rudsenske contributed to the Highlights column and Peter Roberts to the Finance column. And we wish Mike Downey well as he hands in his final Ethics column.
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To access the tool, copy and paste the link below in your browser or visit securityplanner.org
What’s on your tech to-do list for next year? Maybe you’ve resolved to get more organized, go paperless once and for all, or move all of your practice systems to the cloud. Could be you’re dreaming of a new website — or a better laptop and new headphones would make you happy. What’s worthy of your technology investment next year?
We asked the practice management technology pros to recommend one good way for lawyers to upgrade their tech in 2018. Here’s wise advice from Heidi Alexander, Sheila Blackford, Joyce Brafford, Jared Correia, Tom Lambotte, Sharon Nelson and John Simek, and Lee Rosen.
(Tip: Consider Nehal Madhani’s advice on using “process mapping”to identify which areas of your legal workflow are ripe for automation — and where to invest in technology.)
HEIDI ALEXANDER: TAKING CARE OF YOU, FIRST
Quality client service is essential for a successful law practice. Indeed, elevating the needs of your clients will lead to more consistent collections, return clients and referrals. However, while there is no doubt that focusing on client service has its time and place, the only way you can provide real value and efficacy to clients is by putting yourself first.
Something accurate underlies that annoying recitation to put your oxygen mask on first before helping others. The reality is that practice is stressful and if you ignore your own needs, you will burn out. If you are so busy that you can’t stop to take a breath, it’s time to take a step back from your practice and focus on you.
What does this have to do with upgrading your legal tech? Well, legal tech solutions are no longer a scarcity; you can find a product to suit any one of your practice needs. Most importantly, though, implementing a legal tech solution requires thoughtful research, vetting, planning, training and more — not to mention budgetary considerations. If you don’t have the mental bandwidth or proper mindset to adequately implement legal tech, it will lead to frustration, increased costs and ultimately failure.
So, before you dive headlong into system upgrades, work on first taking care of you. Schedule time for yourself every day, try exercising regularly, and learn about mindfulness. Test out mediation using an app such as Headspace or Calm, or just take a moment to breathe. (Try setting a timer or use Apple Watch’s Breathe app.)
If you can make these activities a habit, you’ll reduce stress and approach your practice with a clear head, thus enabling you to effectively implement whatever tech your practice needs in 2018.
Heidi S. Alexander (@heidialexander) is Deputy Director of Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers, where she also leads the Massachusetts Law Office Management Assistance Program (LOMAP). She is the author of “Evernote as a Law Practice Tool” and serves on the ABA TECHSHOW Planning Board. In 2017, Heidi was appointed to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s Standing Advisory Committee on Professionalism.
SHARON NELSON AND JOHN SIMEK: CONSIDER THE CLIENT PORTAL
If you don’t already have one, consider implementing a client portal. Client portals will help you solve all sorts of problems. Clients can access documents pertaining to their matters. They’ll know the status of their matter whenever they want to check on it. Clients will be able to “follow the money” and know how much the matter is costing, how much may be left in the retainer and even pay their invoice online if needed. Client communications is much improved as well. Client portals can allow document collaboration and even facilitate secure, encrypted communications.
The good news is that many case management platforms provide client portals as part of the offering. Having a client portal integrate with your practice management is an excellent way to improve the client experience (clients adore client portals) and make your practice much more efficient, profitable and attractive to prospective clients.
Jared Correia (@JaredCorreia) is CEO of Red Cave Law Firm Consulting, which offers subscription-based law firm business management consulting and technology services for solo and small law firms. A former practicing attorney, Jared is a popular presenter and regular contributor to legal publications (including his “Managing” column for Attorney at Work).
JOYCE BRAFFORD: EMBRACE SLACK
As an alternative channel for communication, Slack helps you be more responsive to conversations that really matter. It’s like a high-priority system for communication threads, tasks and calendars. Slack connects with many of the apps lawyers are already using, including Dropbox, Google Calendar, Box and Wunderlist. As a single platform to better communicate in the office and with clients, it’s a no-brainer.
LEE ROSEN: FOCUS ON BEST-OF-BREED APPS AND BRING THEM TOGETHER
Stop trying to find the magic bullet. There isn’t a single app that will properly manage your client information, track your time and billing, create your documents, control your calendar, and generate comprehensive management reports.
You’re asking for something that doesn’t exist and you wouldn’t really want it if it did. Software developers can be good at a bunch of things or great at one thing. Great always beats good, and you’re never going to be satisfied with the compromised software made by vendors trying to be all things to all lawyers.
Pick the best software for solving each of your specific problems. Then tie your best-of-breed applications together so that they share information. You won’t have to enter the same data twice, plus you’ll get applications built by specialists who completely understand your issues.
Pick the best document assembly system, integrate it with the best document management system. Tie both of those apps in with your client relationship management system and connect that to your time and billing product. Bring all that data together with your task management system and connect it to your phone system and your accounting application.
Products like Zapier, Automate.io and IFTTT are the glue connecting your apps to one another. Start small and, over time, go big.
You’ll end up with the best software, minimal data entry, and solutions that keep you satisfied rather than always wishing for more.
Lee Rosen (@LeeRosen) grew his North Carolina family law practice and sold it. He travels full time while helping lawyers grow their practices. His blog at Rosen Institute is an ABA Blawg 100 Hall of Fame honoree. He is a recipient of the ABA James Keane Award for Excellence in eLawyering.
SHEILA BLACKFORD: LEVERAGE TECHNOLOGY TO REDUCE PRODUCTION TIME
Lawyers who are tech-savvy are taking this year-end time to evaluate their business processes to identify ways to leverage their production time. Clients are choosing efficient law firms that deliver high value at the most reasonable cost. This means upgrading to technology tools that can reduce production time, such as document automation and document assembly software Pathagorus, along with speech recognition software like Dragon NaturallySpeaking. Tools like this will help get the work done more efficiently.
In 2018, something you need to do is find out if your digital credentials are for sale on the Dark Web. Digital credentials such as usernames and passwords connect you and your team to your critical business applications: case management software, banking, online file storage and much more. Unfortunately, criminals know this — and that’s why digital credentials are among the most valuable assets found on the Dark Web. Far too often, law firms that have had their credentials compromised and sold on the Dark Web don’t know it until they have been informed by law enforcement.
Dark Web ID, from ID Agent, will detect your compromised credentials in real-time on the Dark Web. It vigilantly searches the most secretive corners of the internet to find compromised credentials associated with your law firm and notifies you immediately when these critical assets are compromised before they are used for identity theft, data breaches or other crimes. Ask your IT provider if it offers this service.
Tom Lambotte (@LegalMacIT) is CEO of GlobalMacIT, a company specializing in providing IT support to Mac-based law firms. Tom is the author of “Hassle Free Mac IT Support for Law Firms” and “Legal Boost: Big Profits Through an IT Transformation.”
Have You Considered Adding Video Conferencing to Your Practice?
According to a study conducted by the Legal Resource Technology Center of the American Bar Association, only about 20% of lawyers were using video conferencing in 2016. And, of those 20%, only about 4% were using video conferencing regularly. But, when compared to other businesses, that is far below average. Why? The study didn't reach that far, but there are several reasons why attorneys may not be using video conferencing. They may be skiddish about the technology, unsure about the security features, and unclear about how to make client confidentiality work in the context of both technology and security. But, other businesses are using these tools regularly because video conferencing can reduce travel and other related costs by as much as 30%.
Video conferencing comes with many benefits, particularly in a rural state such as Kansas where traveling to meet with clients can be costly and transportation can be an issue for many clients. Setting up video conferencing in one’s office can allow an attorney to meet with more clients in one day than would be possible by travel alone. And, it can allow the attorney to cover a wider catchment area as well, thereby potentially meeting needs in underserved areas.
The most important question to ask when considering video conferencing is what am I wanting this service to do for me? This question will allow you to sort through potential products and services out there in the realm of video conferencing to find the one that works best for you.
·Do you want to collaborate on documents with clients, share screens, and chat with clients and participants while on the conference?
·Will you use one room in the office for video conferencing that will remain set up with all of the necessary tools or will you be carrying your laptop around to do video conferencing on-the-go?
·Are you looking for a cloud-based service and, if so, what questions do you need to ask to know what happens after the call(s) – where is the data stored and what type of security is used?[i]
Additionally, the attorney will want to consider the cost of the product. There are some free products out there, but not many. A few, such as Zoom, will allow you to use the product for free up to 40 minutes and up to 50 participants, but if you want to add the additional features, support, and functionality, then you must pay for the service. And, this is true across the board. In order to have access to increased functionality and features, the attorney will need to pay for the service and the product.[ii]
When selecting a product, be sure to pick a tool that is easy to use. You will need to be competent on this tool so by picking one that is easy to master you will better ensure your ability to reach the level of competence. Also, your clients will need to use this product and if there is an excessive amount of downloading and technological sophistication needed to use it then you may have upset clients and decreased satisfaction with your services.
Support is an important feature to think about when considering video conferencing. Paying for a product will increase the accessibility to support and this will allow the attorney to focus on being the attorney on the call and not the tech expert. Thus, if the client has trouble logging in, or there is a problem with the platform, then there is someone else to call other than the attorney having to try to troubleshoot all of the tech issues along with the legal ones.[iii]
Some accessories may be necessary to make your video conferencing services flow. You will need a computer, security software, and the video-conferencing service. Zoom, Google Hangout, Skype for Business, WebX, and Go-to-Meeting are just a few of the services on the market today. You will want to explore the products available to find the right fit for your practice. Additionally, when setting up video conferencing in your practice you will want to make sure you have a high-quality webcam and headphones. Even if you are the only one in the room, or in the building, you may want to use headphones. Oftentimes, when speaking directly toward the computer it can leave a muffled echo that does not sound professional. You will want to test your sound quality prior to the first video conference with a client.[iv]
When considering any type of technology every attorney must consider the implications to client confidentiality. Given the range of ethical issues raised by using technology in a law practice, we must always try to identify appropriate security measures to keep client information safe and protected. Here are a few questions to ask regarding technology and data security at your firm:
·Are your physical, organizational and technological security measures adequate?
·Are you using firewalls and intrusion detection software appropriately?
·Are you using anti-malware software appropriately?
·Are there firm policies in place regarding technology use?
·Are firm lawyers and staff given adequate technology training?
·Do you have measures in place to ensure data integrity?
·Is your data backed-up?
·Are your passwords, other access restrictions and authentication protocols sufficient?
·Do you use encryption, where appropriate?
·When discarding equipment, do you take appropriate measures to guard against unauthorized disclosure of client information?
·Is there an incident response plan in place at your firm?[v]
Once a choice is made regarding a type of security, a video-conferencing product, and the place and type of storage for client information, all of this information should be listed in the client engagement letter providing notice to clients about how and where their information will be kept and secured by the firm.
Video conferencing can open your practice to new areas, new clients, and new possibilities. While there are many things to consider before jumping in to video conferencing, it can be an exciting opportunity to grow your practice. Before starting, you will want to remember to arrive at your conference early, every time, because software glitches happen, and you want to be prepared. If you are early to the conference, then you have a chance to troubleshoot problems and glitches. And, remember if you are on the screen, or in the room, then people can see you. You are always visible during a video conference, so be prepared to watch your mannerisms and facial expressions and be “on” for the entire call. [vi]
If you have any questions related to video conferencing, contact Sara Rust-Martin, KBA Law Practice Management Attorney, 785-861-8821, or firstname.lastname@example.org
[i]Why Video Conferencing Belongs in the Law Firm. Law Technology Today. (May 12, 2017).
[ii]Why Video Conferencing Belongs in the Law Firm. Law Technology Today. (May 12, 2017).
[iii]Why Video Conferencing Belongs in the Law Firm. Law Technology Today. (May 12, 2017).
[iv]Why Video Conferencing Belongs in the Law Firm. Law Technology Today. (May 12, 2017).
[v]Legal Ethics in a Digital World, The Canadian Bar Ass’n (2014).
[vi]Why Video Conferencing Belongs in the Law Firm. Law Technology Today. (May 12, 2017).
The noble legal profession is notorious for its inability to move away from long-standing traditions. While many firms of all sizes experiment with new technologies, methodologies and business practices, the vast legal landscape can hardly be distinguished from itself two or more decades ago.
To see how little has changed, we need only look at the proclamation that “the billable hour is dead”—which has been echoing for many years. We hear the celebratory whoops of success now and then, but we more frequently see the data indicating little has changed.
In this era of the rise of the machine, one is left to wonder how the traditional law firm model will fare for lawyers and staff alike. A modern law firm intent on thriving will likely undergo changes large and small; and a firm that has a high probability of success has thrived in a culture of change that pushed them through the past two decades.
Before we can paint a picture of the 21st-century law firm’s technology landscape, we must focus on the drivers of success: culture, people and processes. Without the right environment in which to leverage technology, success will be accidental and nonrepeatable.
The term innovation sits in stark contrast to notions of tradition, hierarchy, repetition and perfection, all of which are part of the DNA of a law firm. A cultural shift is necessary to create the right environment in which entrepreneurship and innovation can be fostered.
A culture of innovation will drive creative approaches to service delivery that will drive business growth. Innovative firms have a deep focus on the client experience, empathetically embracing the client’s needs.
An innovative culture has no regard for rank or privilege, and it cares nothing for the concept of hierarchy so deeply rooted in traditional law firms. Rather, it creates opportunities where every voice is heard, where the freedom to fail is intrinsic, where department and practice silos are nonexistent, and where the strategic and business goals of the firm are understood, valued and moved forward by every employee. All with a single focus on better service to the client.
Knowledge-sharing isn’t a discreet discipline; it is part of the lifeblood of the firm.
THE HUMAN ELEMENT
Scouting, hiring and nurturing exceptional legal talent have long been goals of successful firms. The modern firm has the same desire for exceptional talent as it builds a professional staff who will direct and manage the firm’s business and support the practitioners. Savvy, agile, team-focused individuals who thrive in a culture of innovation and share the firm’s strategic vision and business direction will contribute to success.
The complexities and rapid rate of change of our technologies allow us to view human capital with a fresh eye—focusing less on traditional measures of education and experience (though those are important components), but with a stronger focus on mindset—aka attitude—and general flexibility, critically important attributes of engaged employees.
A collegial, collaborative culture requires collegial, collaborative people for sustainability and adaptability. By creating an environment that telegraphs strong support of personal and professional goals while placing value on family and leisure time, a firm will build a reputation that will attract the right people.
Nurturing all employees of a firm through ongoing education and support of peer networks will underscore the importance placed on the critical human element. The smart firm clears the path for its employees to connect with other smart people via professional associations and industry conferences.
As we increasingly see a world of phone-facing consumption of information, the value of real-life peer connections cannot be overstated. And the wider the network, the more learning opportunities exist. Peer connections across industries and across the globe are priceless.
THE ‘PRO’ IN PROCESS
With the right culture and people supporting it, a modern firm will examine its approach to process improvement. Many successful firms dedicate teams to continual examination and refinement of processes using Six Sigma, Agile or Lean disciplines. Absent this level of formality, a firm’s commitment to ensuring the most efficient, client-focused outcomes will drive success.
With the right culture of collaboration and inclusivity, continual improvement of processes occurs organically. Process improvement is aided by technology, and we’ll see the hot spots as we explore our tech landscape.
SHUT DOWN THE GARBAGE-MASHERS!
There is a scene in the original Star Wars where our soon-to-be heroes find themselves at the bottom of a garbage chute. When the compactor begins compressing their space, they struggle to stay on top of the heap. That scene can be reminiscent of how we’ve often dealt with technology, trying to separate the value from the junk and staying on top of it lest it crush us.
Technology should be used to solve a problem or make a process more efficient. And it should be utilized within intelligent processes by savvy people.
There is no perfect inventory of apps and gadgets that will ensure a firm’s success. Good technology is only part of the makeup of a good law firm.
Our modern law firm exploits the technology that supports the processes that aid the people who thrive in a culture of innovation, inclusion and knowledge-sharing. The obsolete garbage-mashers were shut down long ago.
Randi Mayes retired this year as executive director of the International Legal Technology Association, a position she had held since 1997. Law firm technologists Sheryl Dale, Gerry Heidenreich, Lyle McIntosh, Beth Patterson, David Roden and Barry Wheeler, who serve on ILTA’s program planning teams assisted in this article’s preparation.
One of the best legal conferences in the country each year is the ABA Techshow! This conference brings lawyers, innovators, law practice management advisors, tech creators, and others in the industry together to discuss, brainstorm, and share ideas and information about how to build the practice of law. It is a great experience and, if you have the chance to go, I would highly suggest it!
Connect with over 2,000 leading technology purchasers and influencers at the best conference for bringing lawyers & technology together, and the trusted ABA source of information on legal tech products and services!
The KBA will be releasing the Conference Code which will allow you to save money on your registration fee as a KBA member. That will be released to you as soon as it is available to us! So, stay tuned!
If you want to learn more about last year's conference, check out photos and videos by following the hashtag #ABATECHSHOW2017
And, for this year, go ahead and mark your calendars for the dates: March 7-10, 2018 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago
This is a new venue for us, so it will be fun!
Hope to see you there! Stay tuned for more details....
Wi-Fi networks make it easy to connect the systems in your practice, both to each other and the outside world. However, they often make it easy for an intruder to gain access to those same systems and the data therein. You can significantly reduce this risk by making a few important changes to your network configuration.
Secure Administrator Access
Start by setting a strong password for administrative access to your wireless router. Many networks are breached because the default password was never changed. You will need to log in to your router’s configuration website to reset this password and update the other security options discussed in this tip. For most wireless routers, you access this website by entering “192.168.1.1” or “192.168.0.1” into your browser address bar. (Make sure you are connected to your network first, either via an Ethernet cable or Wi-Fi.)
With administrator access locked down, you should now secure access to the network itself. Most wireless routers today support a primary Wi-Fi network, one or more guest networks, and wired, local network (LAN) ports to connect directly to the router. We recommend that you keep your office devices and staff on the primary Wi-Fi (your “private” Wi-Fi network) or LAN, and use a guest network for any clients or visitors who need internet access.
Enforce Wi-Fi Authentication
Access to all of your Wi-Fi networks needs to be password-protected. For small businesses, the predominant standard is referred to as WPA2-PSK or WPA2-Personal, or just WPA2 (WPA2-Enterprise can provide more flexible authentication options for larger practices with many users, but requires additional configuration, which may require IT services). With WPA2-PSK, a shared password is used to access the network. Use your password manager to generate a different, strong password for both your private and guest Wi-Fi networks.
From your browser, you will need to find the wireless settings section of your router’s configuration. For each wireless network, you should:
● Set a network name, or SSID. This is what users will see when they choose from available wireless networks. Clearly differentiate your private and guest network names.
● Choose “WPA2-PSK” for the network authentication method and “AES” for the encryption method. Depending on your router, these may be grouped together or split into two separate options, and they may use different labels like “WPA2-Personal” or “WPA2”. Do not use “WEP”, “WPA” (without the “2”), or “TKIP” (without “AES” included), as these options are less secure and may be easily circumvented.
● Enter the password you generated for the network, also known as the pre-shared key.
Limit Guest Access
Your guest network is there to keep your clients and visitors separate from your private network — and out-of-reach of your confidential information. If you’re not careful, however, you may inadvertently allow your guests much greater access. When configuring your guest network, you may see an option to allow guests to access your LAN, local network, or intranet. Make sure you do not allow LAN access so that your guests cannot reach office systems that are wired directly to the router.
Keep in mind that wireless routers can typically be reset to their factory configuration with the push of a button or a straightened paperclip. Once reset, the default password is the only defense between an attacker and your network. If possible, keep your wireless router in a locked enclosure or cabinet with the reset mechanism inaccessible.
After completing these steps, you will have locked down access to your network configuration and created a secure way to connect your staff and clients to the network resources they need.
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The Promise and Peril Chatbots Pose for the Legal Industry
The link below will take you to an interesting new article written by Tom Martin and published in the June issue of Law Practice Today. If you are not familiar with the term "chatbots", like I wasn't before reading the article, he is referring to "Alexa" and the Echo Dot, and other "personal assistants." The article offers an interesting perspective on how this technology should be a part of the legal industry. It is worth the read. It may be a bit on the edge, but I thought it was worth sharing!
To read the article, just cut and paste the link into your browser: