Sep 17, 2014

Rocket Matter’s New iPad Version ‘Not Just an App’

“This is not just a companion app to our Web version,” Rocket Matter CEO Larry Port said about the iPad app the company released today. “It is a full-featured practice management platform.”

In fact, the user interface of this new app will now drive development of the UI for Rocket Matter’s web version and its iPhone and Android apps. “This UI will drive the other products,” Port said. “Its look and feel will be interpreted for our other platforms, starting with the Web and moving to other devices.”

I was able to test a pre-release version of the app and I was impressed by its responsiveness, simplicity and features. With this app, an attorney can do almost everything on an iPad that he or she could using Rocket Matter’s Web version. The biggest feature missing in this app from the Web version is access to document storage. That will be added at some point, Port told me.

What is here is the full ability to access and edit all matters, contacts, calendars, tasks and notes. Users can also view billing and trust account information and add billable time and expenses.

All of this information is available whether you are online or offline. If you add or change any information while you are offline, you can synchronize it with Rocket Matter once you are back online.

Simple, Responsive Design

As you can see from the screenshots, the design is simple. Tap “Matters” and a list appears of all your open matters. You can also view completed and closed matters. To add a matter, simply tap the “+ Matter” button at the top of the screen.

Print

The company also introduced a new logo today.

Other functions operate in the same way. View your calendar by day, week or month and tap a button to add an appointment. View pending and completed tasks or filter tasks according to who created them or who is responsible for them. View, edit and add contacts. In the billing view, a quick tap lets you select the month to view invoice and a tap elsewhere on the screen lets you change the view of your billing from day to week to month.

Everything is searchable from a search box at the top of the page. As you begin to type a search term, a drop-down suggests matching results.

After using the app, one aspect that stood out to me is its zippiness. Tap a command and the information appears instantly. The only time I saw any lag was in switching among calendar views from day to week to month, and that was no more than a second or two.

As I mentioned, the app lacks document storage. Other features in the Web version that are lacking here are the ability to create invoices or to run reports such as accounts receivable, user activity and the like. Port said that these “back office” type features may never be added to the app, because he does not think attorneys use them away from the office.

Users can customize the app by choosing from six theme colors and by adding either an avatar or an image of their own.

Although the iPad edition is being announced today, its availability for download in the iTunes Store was delayed by Apple’s release today of iOS 8. The app will be available for download by early October, Port said.

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Sep 16, 2014

See You at the Clio Cloud Conference?

dsc_4198a

It is not too late to register for the Clio Cloud Conference next Monday and Tuesday in Chicago. I attended and spoke at the first Clio conference last year and can attest to the fact that it was well worth attending.

This year’s conference looks even better than last year’s, with keynote speakers Richard Susskind, the legal futurist; Cindy Cohn, legal director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation; and Carolyn Elefant, the guru of solo law practice; along with a stellar line-up of other speakers.

The conference runs over three tracks, business, technology and Clio University. The latter focuses on practical how-to’s for Clio users. Throughout the two days, there is a parallel “unconference” for unscripted conversations and collaboration.

Use this link to register and receive a $400 discount off the registration fee.

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Sep 16, 2014

ScanSnap’s Newest Scanner Works Anywhere with Any Device

Beauty Shot 1

Fujitsu today is releasing its newest scanner, the ScanSnap iX100, and it is a mobile lawyer’s dream. Lightweight and battery operated, it scans wirelessly to any computer, iOS or Android device, producing high-quality scans at a fast speed.

Wireless scanning is nothing new, of course, but what distinguishes the iX100 is that it doesn’t even need a Wi-Fi network to do it. It has its own built-in WiFi transmitter. If you are somewhere without an available Wi-Fi connection, connect to the iX100 using its direct Wi-Fi signal. You can do this from either a computer or a mobile device. You can also scan to a computer via a USB connection.

I had a prerelease model to test for the last couple weeks and I’ve just written a review that will appear in an upcoming issue of the ABA Journal. I don’t want to crib my own review, so I’ll keep my comments here short.

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The ScanSnap iX100 is designed for mobility. It weighs less than a pound, fits easily in a briefcase (10.75 x 1.87 x 1.42 inches), and has an integrated lithium battery.

Even though it is small, it performs well. Its performance is helped by a built-in microprocessor that enables it to create PDF and JPEG files and correct the images internally. This is the same processor used in the desktop ScanSnap iX500. The iX100 scans at a rate of 5.2 seconds per page for up to 300 DPI resolution. (It can scan up 600 DPI for color and 1200 DPI for black and white, but 300 is all you would need for documents.)

ScanSnap Folders

The software lets you choose where to send the scanned file.

Operation is easy. To turn it on, just fold down the page feeder. Then insert a document and press the button. To scan multiple pages, just keep feeding them. Although the iX100 has no page feeder like a desktop scanner would, you can fairly quickly get through a small stack of documents.

2014-09-13 19.54.33

The start-up guide scanned to my iPhone.

For scanning business cards, a dual scan feature lets you feed in cards as fast your hands can move. Even with multiple cards moving through the scanner at once, it will recognize each separately.

Scanning to a mobile device requires that you first install a free app, which is available for both iOS and Android. Once the app is installed, you can scan documents directly to your mobile device in the same way you would to a computer. Simply load the document and press the scan button, either on the scanner or in the app. To switch between scanning to a computer or to the app when both are in range, simply start or close the app.

When scanning to a computer, the software lets you choose whether to save the scan locally or to a cloud service such as Dropbox, Google Docs, Evernote, SugarSync and SharePoint.

The MSRP of the iX100 is $229. If you often have a need to scan away from the office, this is the ideal device for you. In my testing, I found it handy even in the office for quick desktop scanning of documents and receipts.

 

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Sep 12, 2014

Viruses are More Common at Law Firms than Encryption, ABA Survey Shows

Security Tools Used

Nearly half of law firms were infected with viruses, spyware or malware last year, according to the latest ABA Legal Technology Survey Report. At the same time, only a quarter of law firms had any kind of email encryption available for their lawyers to use, the survey found.

Also, 14% of law firms experienced a security breach last year in the form of a lost or stolen computer or smartphone, a hacker, a break-in or a website exploit.

Taken together, these findings paint a sorry picture about the state of law firm security: Viruses are common; encryption is not.

Firms with virus

In the survey, 45% of respondents said that their law firm technology had been infected with a virus, spyware or malware. That was more or less the same as the two prior years (43% in 2013 and 44% in 2012) and down from 55% in 2011. Firms of 2-9 attorneys were most likely to have had a virus (51%), while firms of 500 or more attorneys were least likely (31%). Another 28% of respondents could not say whether their firm had been infected.

On the bright side, of those who reported an infection, 48% said it resulted in no business losses or breaches. The most common negative results from virus infections were downtime/loss of billable hours (42%), consulting fees for repair (37%), and temporary loss of network access (25%).

Only 6% said the virus resulted in the destruction or loss of files and less than 1% said it resulted in unauthorized access to non-client sensitive data.

Regarding email encryption, just 25% of law firms have it available, according to the survey. It is more commonly used at larger firms and least likely to be used at solo and small firms.

However, among lawyers who affirmatively say they use email to send privileged or confidential communications, the use of email encryption is slightly higher — 35%. By far, the most common “security precaution” taken by lawyers who send privileged emails is to insert a confidentiality statement in the email. Seventy-three percent of lawyers rely on these statements to protect email confidentiality.

Security Breach

As for security breaches, they were most common at firms of 10-49 lawyers (19%) and 500 or more lawyers (17%). Among solos, just 12% reported a security breach.

For the most part, these breaches resulted in no business disruption or loss, although 26% said the breach caused downtime and loss of billable hours. Eight percent of the breaches caused the destruction or loss of files, but just 1% said it resulted in unauthorized access to sensitive client data. In 5% of the cases, the firms notified clients of the breach.

Some other interesting findings pertaining to law firm security:

  • 56% of respondents said their firm has a disaster recovery or business continuity plan, while 21% did not know whether their firm had such a plan.
  • The most common form of data back-up is an external hard drive, followed by offsite backup and online backup. Some 10% of firms use USB drives for back-up and 6% use CDs.
  • Half of all firms back up their computer files daily. Another 15% back up more than once a day.

About the Survey

The Legal Technology Survey Report is edited by Joshua Poje, director of theLegal Technology Resource Center.  It is published in six volumes. Each volume can be purchased for $350 or, for ABA members, $300. The volumes are:

combined edition can be purchased for $1,800 or, for ABA members, $1,550.

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Sep 11, 2014

Our ‘Lawyer2Lawyer’ Podcast Begins its 10th Year

This week marks the beginning of the 10th year of Lawyer2Lawyer, the legal-affairs podcast cohosted by J. Craig Williams and me and produced by the Legal Talk Network. We are the longest-running legal podcast and one of the longest-running podcasts of any kind. By my rough count, we’ve done over 400 shows.

Bob_Craig3

Craig and I recording Lawyer2Lawyer in 2005

Our first show was posted on Aug. 31, 2005. Our guests were Mike Greco, who had just taken office as president of the American Bar Association, and Erwin Chemerinsky, then a professor at Duke Law School and now dean of the University of California, Irvine, School of Law.

According to Wikipedia, the longest continually running podcast of any kind is Radio Open Source, which began in September 2003 with the help of Dave Winer, the author of RSS. A month later, at the original Bloggercon conference at the Berkman Center (which I actually attended), Winer promoted his idea of distributing MP3 files via an RSS feed. That, more or less, was when podcasting began to take off.

Our show started as a weekly podcast and continued as such until 2013, when Lawgical bought the Legal Talk Network and we decided to reduce our frequency to every other week.

While we were the first podcast on the Legal Talk Network, it has grown to host a whole stable of shows — with new ones in the works even as we speak. I urge you to check out all the great podcasts LTN offers.

Producer Laurence Colletti

The show would never have happened if not for Lu Ann Reeb and Scott Hess, the founders of the Legal Talk Network. They came up with the idea for the show and reached out to Craig and me to host it. And the show would not continue to happen if not for the folks at Lawgical, who bought the Legal Talk Network in 2013 and continue to expand it — particularly CEO Adam Camras, CTO Trent Carlyle and COO Jim Pickell.

Of course, if anyone deserves credit for the show, it is the behind-the-scenes folks who actually do all the work. For many years, we had the great honor to work with producer Kate Kenney and and audio engineer (now lawyer) Mike Hochman, who were not only wonderful to work with but who became good friends as well.

Engineer Mark Oblinger

When the company changed hands and we lost Kate and Mike, Craig and I worried about who could possibly replace them. But that was before we started working with our new producer, Laurence Colletti, and audio engineer, Mark Oblinger. Laurence is a practicing lawyer who is tireless in coming up with ideas for shows and chasing down top-notch guests. Mark is a Grammy-nominated producer, audio engineer and composer who is an absolute magician with sound, able to make even me sound pretty good.

A huge thanks to everyone who listens to the show. I know for a fact there are a handful of you out there who have been listeners since the start. We really appreciate your listening.

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Sep 9, 2014

Abacus Unveils System that Puts Lawyers’ Desktops in the Cloud

A virtual desktop replaces your computer desktop.

A virtual desktop replaces your computer desktop.

Abacus Data Systems, the San Diego company long known for its AbacusLaw practice management system, branched off in a whole new direction today with the launch of Abacus Private Cloud (APC), a secure, hosted, cloud-based environment for law firms to run all their technology and applications.

The idea is to free law firms from the burdens of IT management and the expense of IT installation and maintenance. With APC, law firms need no special hardware or software and no network infrastructure.

Instead, APC literally becomes the lawyer’s desktop. After logging in, the APC virtual desktop replaces your computer’s desktop (although it can be minimized at any time to return to your own desktop). You do all your work in this virtual environment, from creating and editing Microsoft Office documents to managing email to browsing the Web. Abacus takes care of everything, including storing and backing up your data.

This diagram depicts how APC works in a law office.

This diagram depicts how APC works in a law office.

Virtually any software that you can run on your local computer can be run on APC. That includes cloud applications and practice management systems from other vendors. You can use APC without having to use AbacusLaw. If you are a Clio user, for example, you can continue to use Clio through APC.

The virtual desktop interacts with your local hardware. You can print from APC to a local printer and scan from a local scanner directly into APC.

Within APC, each user has access to two drives. A corporate drive is for anything the user wants to make available to others in the firm. A private drive is for documents and files that only the user can view. Both drives are backed up nightly.

APC seems particularly well suited to a firm that is just starting up. Rather than invest in technology, infrastructure and IT consulting, the firm can get everything it needs in a virtual package. APC can be customized to deliver the software and configuration a firm wants.

All the data is stored in state-of-the-art, redundant data centers in San Diego and Houston. All subscriber data is backed up every night. All files are scanned and protected with enterprise-grade virus protection.

Because the system is cloud-based, it can be accessed from any smartphone or tablet. Abacus guarantees that users will always have access to their data — it will never be deleted, destroyed or lost, the company says.

Pricing starts at $165 per month for the first user and $50 per month for each additional user. Integration with Office 365 is available as an option, as is the AbacusLaw practice management platform. Other factors affecting price include space usage and other software installations. The system can be used by firms ranging in size from sole practitioners to 500-plus.

The launch of Private Cloud follows last year’s hiring of Alessandra Lezama as Abacus CEO. Lezama was formerly CEO and COO of American Internet Services, a data center and managed services company in San Diego, and an executive with several telecommunications companies.

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Sep 9, 2014

LexisNexis Launches Major Revamp of Lexis Advance (With Screencaps)

Lexis Advance Home Page

New Lexis Advance Home Page

It has been four years since LexisNexis unveiled its first Lexis Advance product, originally called Lexis Advance for Solos. It followed that a year later with the formal launch in December 2011 of Lexis Advance, its next-generation legal research platform marked by a streamlined and simplified interface and Google-like universal search. In the years since, Lexis has continued to make changes and refinements to Lexis Advance (as it did here). But on Sunday it rolled out the most major redesign yet of the platform.

LexisNexis previewed the redesign in July at the annual meeting of the American Association of Law Libraries, as I reported in a post then. At that time, however, the platform had not launched and remained in development.

The focus of this latest version (if you’re counting, this is version 4.2) is on streamlining the interface without sacrificing functionality. As Marty Kilmer, vice president of Product Platforms at LexisNexis, told me yesterday, they wanted this to be easy to use for law students just learning legal research while retaining all the tools and capabilities that law librarians and other advanced users would want.

As I noted in July, they have done this by simplifying the design throughout the interface and attempting to maximize the content and tools available on a page. On the home page and on every page, the same Google-like universal search bar remains, but gone are tabs and gone are various buttons that replicated functions already available in any browser.

SearchFilters

Search filters are consolidated

The search page now contains multiple “pods” that provide quick access to the user’s history, folders, favorites, alerts, news and notifications well as to help and support. For now, these are fixed on the page, but the ability to customize and re-position some of them may be added later. 

From the main page, users can refine and filter searches in advance, to limit them by jurisdiction, category, practice area and other facets. As you add filters, they are displayed on your screen, and any filter you’ve added can be removed with a click. Also, a filter icon inside the search window turns black to remind you that you have filters set. One you’ve selected any group of filters, you can save them as a “favorite” if you want.

Both the results pages and documents pages have also been streamlined. Content categories show on the left side of the screen to further filter results. Buttons for printing and saving to folders are prominent at the top of the page. In a document, right-click on a selected portion of text to bring up the copy with citation option or to annotate, highlight or add the text to a folder.

Browsing has also been beefed-up in this latest version of Advance. Now, browsing by topic and browsing by source have been combined into a single widget. New categories have been added to the browsing menu, including browse by publisher. Users can also select whether to browse only sources that are included within their subscription plan or also out-of-plan sources. If out-of-plan sources are included, they show up in a dim-colored font to signal that they cost extra. A “browse”drop down at the top of the page lets you select any source or topic to browse.

Browsing also extends to full publications. If you type “Nimmer” in the search bar, it will immediately suggest Nimmer on Copyright and give you the choice of its table of contents or its text. If you select text, it begins to display the book in sequential order, letting you move from section to section. The TOC remains available to expand and browse from the left of the screen.

For general searches, results show matches across all categories of materials. You can easily narrow results to cases, statutes or other content types by clicking on the left of the screen. A new Snapshot view shows the most relevant results on a single screen. When you select a case from the search results and view it, a Shepard’s summary is shown on the same page; click it to go to the full Shepard’s report.

The new design is responsive, so that pages display properly on any device, whether it is a computer, tablet or smartphone. The design extends across all integrated Lexis Advance products, including LexisNexis MedMal Navigator, LexisNexis Verdict & Settlement Analyzer, Lexis Practice Advisor and LexisNexis Counsel Benchmarking.

This release also expands the content available within Lexis Advance. Ever since Advance first launched, LexisNexis has been porting content over from its legacy research systems. That process started with the most-used content and worked its way down. With this release, that process is now at its tail end, Kilmer told me. This release adds 13 million documents, including constitutional archives, administrative code archives and selected international titles.

Browsing topics.

Browsing topics.

 

Shepard's information is previewed.

Shepard’s information is previewed.

 

Responsive design works across devices.

Responsive design works across devices.

 

New design extends to related products.

New design extends to related products.

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Sep 8, 2014

Fastcase is Most Popular Legal App, ABA Survey Says

For the second successive year, the Fastcase legal research app is the most popular legal app among lawyers, according to the 2014 ABA Legal Technology Survey Report. The most popular business app among lawyers this year is LinkedIn, the survey said.

Among lawyers who reported having downloaded a legal-specific app, 36.5% listed Fastcase. Last year, Fastcase was also the most popular, with 26.5% saying they had downloaded it.

(For last year’s results, see this post.)

Other legal-specific apps mentioned by lawyers in the survey were:

  • WestlawNext, 33.7%.
  • Legal Dictionary App, 22.1%.
  • Lexis Advance, 14.1%.
  • TrialPad, 8.3%.
  • Courtlink, 6.7%.
  • LexisNexis Legal News, 6.4%.
  • LexisNexis Get Cases & Shepardize, 6.1%.
  • Westlaw News, 4.2%.
  • TranscriptPad, 3.8%.
  • HeinOnline, 2.9%.
  • Federal Courts, 2.9%.
  • Casemaker, 2.2%.
  • Other, 28.5%

When asked about general business apps, 68.3% of respondents named LinkedIn. Last year’s most popular business app, Dropbox, came in second this year, at 65.3%. That is still a big jump in usage, given that Dropbox was first last year with just 15.2% saying they had downloaded it.

Other popular business apps among lawyers this year were:

  • Evernote, 38.1%.
  • DocsToGo, 20.8%.
  • GoodReader, 19.9%.
  • QuickOffice, 17.8%.
  • LogMeIn, 15.1%.
  • Box, 8.5%.
  • Notability, 6.9%.
  • Other, 16.3%.

To reiterate, these percentages are of lawyers who reporting having downloaded a legal or business app, not of all lawyers who responded to the survey.

The Legal Technology Survey Report is edited by Joshua Poje, director of theLegal Technology Resource Center.  It is published in six volumes. Each volume can be purchased for $350 or, for ABA members, $300. The volumes are:

combined edition can be purchased for $1,800 or, for ABA members, $1,550.

 

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Sep 4, 2014

Sponsor the Mass. Bar Foundation’s 50th Anniversary Gala

Does your company or law firm believe in supporting access to justice? If so, have I got an opportunity for you.

As many of you know, this year I am president of the Massachusetts Bar Foundation, a legal charity that supports access to justice programs operating throughout Massachusetts. This is the MBF’s 50th anniversary year. To celebrate (and to help raise funds for the programs we support), we are holding a gala dinner on Oct. 23, 2014, in Boston. (more…)

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Sep 4, 2014

Fewer Lawyers Have Blogs, ABA Survey Suggests

PersonallyMaintainABlog

The number of lawyers with legal blogs is dwindling, according to the latest Legal Technology Survey Report from the American Bar Association’s Legal Technology Resource Center.

For 2014, 24% of respondents in the annual survey said that their firms have blogs, down from 27% in 2013. Asked whether they personally maintain a legal blog, 8% said yes, down from 9% in both 2013 and 2012. (more…)

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