When it comes to practice management software, competition is a good thing. With the ever-increasing popularity of cloud-based practice management among lawyers, the various platforms have all been scurrying to add new features and enhancements. A prime example is Rocket Matter, which in recent months has added email integration, launched an iPhone app, launched an [...]
TAG | practice management
The cloud-based practice management platform Rocket Matter today announced that it has added email integration. This means that users can associate folders in whatever email program they use — whether it is Outlook, Gmail or another — to the Rocket Matter system. Thus, email folders for specific clients can be associated with those clients on Rocket Matter and be readily available, including attachments, from wherever you access Rocket Matter.
The feature works only if you are using the IMAP protocol to control your email, rather than POP. If you use Gmail or access your email via a Microsoft Exchange server, you are probably using IMAP. With IMAP, your emails remain stored on a central server, making them accessible through multiple devices. With POP, the emails are actually downloaded to your computer and removed from the server.
The new Rocket Matter feature does not remove emails from your IMAP server, it simply accesses them there once you provide your email log-in credentials. The emails remain accessible through your standard email software as well.
Rocket Matter’s email integration includes the ability to search emails by subject, contents or sender. It also allows you to quickly bill your time for an email.
For another review of Rocket Matter’s new feature, see Erik Mazzone’s post at Law Practice Matters, where he writes, “Rocket Matter deserves credit for advancing the ball for cloud-based practice management software.” I can’t argue with that.
Users of Clio, the cloud-based law practice management platform, now have the ability to add custom fields to matters and contacts, the company announced today. That means that users can add data-entry fields of their own in addition to the pre-defined data fields provided by Clio.
Clio’s new custom fields feature supports “typed data,” meaning that users can specify that a custom field should be a text field, checkbox, date, currency, number, picklist or contact or matter reference, the announcement said. Custom fields will be fully integrated with Clio’s document automation system, which means that you can create automated documents that draw from the custom fields as well as form the standard fields. (See screencaps below.)
“Custom Fields has been one of our most-requested features, and we’re thrilled to deliver a whole new level of application flexibility to our customers,” Jack Newton, Clio’s co-founder and CEO, said in today’s announcement. “Every practice area has specific data-related needs; Clio users can now tailor their matters and contacts according to their specific practice requirements.”
The announcement was made in conjunction with Clio’s fourth anniversary this week. It is the longest-running among the several companies that now provide practice management in the cloud.
Rocket Matter, a cloud-based legal billing and law practice management application, today launched an iPhone app to facilitate mobile access to the application’s core functions. The app runs on all versions of the iPad, the iPhone 3GS and higher, and iPod touch running iOS 5 and above.
The app lets you use your mobile device to:
- Capture time and expenses and associate them with a matter. This includes the ability to run a timer on your device.
- Access information on all of your matters within Rocket Matter.
- View and add contacts and initiate calls and emails.
- Manage your calendar and keep it synchronized with your Rocket Matter account.
I have not tested the app. A press release issued by the company this morning says this about it:
The company designed the app after conducting extensive user surveys. Based on the feedback, the iPhone app provides a streamlined version of the essential features of the flagship cloud-based product.
A built-in timer and intuitively designed screens quickly capture billable time and expenses. Contact lists, client-matter information, and calendars with day, month, and list views keep all relevant case information in one convenient place. Information recorded via the Rocket Matter iPhone app appears instantly in the web-based product.
In situations with little or no connectivity, data is automatically stored offline. The app will instantly synchronize with the Rocket Matter database once connectivity is restored.
It also says that the app uses the same authentication and security measures employed by the web application. All data is transmitted to and from the app over an encrypted channel. Users can set a passcode lock to ensure that there is no unauthorized access to their data if the device is lost or stolen.
Lawyers’ use of web-based software and services has grown only slightly in recent years, a new survey indicates. Growth in use of the cloud is greatest among solos and small firms and lawyers in these firms are more likely than their larger-firm counterparts to use cloud-based applications.
These are among the findings of the recently published 2012 ABA Legal Technology Survey Report. Volume II of the report covers law office technology and includes use of web-based software and services among the topics it covers.
This year, 21% of lawyers reported having used cloud-based software (also referred to as Software as a Service, or SaaS). That is an increase from last year’s 16%, but little difference from the 20% in 2010 who said they’d used the cloud. Solos were most likely to use the cloud, with 29% saying they had, up from 23% in 2011. Lawyers in firms of 2-9 were next most likely to have used the cloud, with 26% saying they had, compared to 20% in 2011. Of lawyers in firms of 100 or more, just 11% said they’d used the cloud.
Of lawyers who have used the cloud, the application they are most likely to have used is Google Docs, with 46.2% saying they had used it. The next most commonly used applications were two cloud-based practice management platforms, Clio, with 12% saying they’d used it, and RocketMatter, with 5.1% having used it. Dropbox was used by 3.8%. (The survey listed applications for respondents to choose from so it may not accurately reflect the scope of cloud applications used by lawyers.)
When lawyers who use the cloud were asked why, nearly three-quarters identified the top reason as easy browser access from anywhere. Other reasons for using the cloud included 24 x 7 availability, low cost of entry and set monthly fees, elimination of IT headaches, robust data back-up and recovery, and ease of start-up.
Asked about their biggest concerns about using the cloud, 66.9% named confidentiality and security. Other top concerns were insufficient control over their data and the possibility of losing access to data.
With regard to cloud-based practice-management platforms, lawyers who had used the cloud were asked about the features and functionality they would most want. Calendering was ranked first (49.3%), followed by centralized matter management (48%), document management (43.9%), time and billing (43.2%), contact management (41.2%) and conflict checking (37.8%).
The 2012 ABA Legal Technology Survey Report consists of six volumes, covering a range of topics from technology basics to mobile lawyering. The cloud computing results are contained in Volume II, which covers law office technology. Volume II is available for purchase from the ABA for $350 (or $300 for ABA members). An abbreviated trend report on law office technology can be purchased for $55 (or $45 for ABA members).
Earlier today, I published a post about the recently released ABA Legal Technology Survey’s findings on blogs and social media. A separate part of that survey looked at lawyers’ use of web-based software, more commonly referred to these days as “the cloud.” Interestingly, the highest usage of cloud-based applications is among solo and small-firm attorneys, according to the survey. When asked which cloud-based applications they used, the second most common answer they gave was Clio, the cloud-based practice management application. (Respondents chose from a list of applications; the top three were Google Docs at 46%, Clio at 12% and RocketMatter at 5%.)
Well, as of today, those Clio users have a new feature to take advantage of. This morning, Clio announced full integration with Google Drive, a feature that promises to facilitate the creation and sharing of documents among lawyers and their clients.
This means that users will be able to take advantage of the features of Google Drive directly from within Clio. They can create documents, associate them with matters, and share and collaborate on them with others. They can also use Google Drive features such as full-text search and OCR recognition.
Earlier this year, Clio announced that it had raised $6 million in financing. Based in Vancouver, B.C., the company was founded in 2007 by Jack Newton and Rian Gauvreau. It was the first of the increasingly popular field of cloud-based practice management applications.
I wrote just yesterday about the announcement from MyCase of its application programming interface and App Bar, which will allow third parties to develop applications to integrate with the MyCase practice management platform. Today at ABA Techshow, the company had another announcement: the launch of MyCase Draft, an internal word processor and document generation tool. The tool lets users create and edit documents from within MyCase. It also allows users to create document templates that can be merged with existing and custom client and matter fields within the applications.
I have not seen this in action yet. A press release from the company describes these features:
- Simple and automated document assembly: Easily create document templates in MyCase, then merge those templates with matter and contact information, and documents will be immediately generated.
- Built-in word processing capabilities: Draft has a built-in word processor as part of the core MyCase practice management system. Legal professionals can now run their mobile practice more efficiently by creating and editing documents at any time, from any location.
- Next generation collaboration: With word processing built into MyCase, collaboration issues are eliminated, and with permissions, clients can open, edit and review documents with ease.
I recently wrote about announcements (here and here) from two other practice management applications, Rocket Matter and Clio, that they had added document assembly to their menus of features. MyCase appears to have taken this a step further, with the addition of word processing.
Just yesterday, I posted here about announcements by two of the leading cloud-based practice management platforms, Clio and Rocket Matter, that they had launched application programming interfaces (APIs) that will allow third-party application developers to integrate directly with their platforms. I noted the coincidence of the two companies’ announcements coming within days of each other, after having just recently both announced the addition of document assembly to their platforms, also within days of each other. I jokingly suggested the possibility of high-tech corporate espionage.
Well, the plot just thickened. Today, another cloud-based practice management platform, MyCase, announced the launch of its API allowing third-parties to develop applications for its platform. In addition, MyCase announced the launch of the MyCase App Bar, a feature that it says will “provide one-stop access to important firm data as well as popular third party apps.”
Unlike Clio and Rocket Matter, whose announcements both named third-party apps ready to integrate with their platforms, MyCase’s announcement did not name any. It did say this:
While the initial app focus is on core workflows and tasks such as seamless synchronization (between MyCase, Outlook and Google) and integration (of emails into specific MyCase case/client folders), social media management apps such as twitter and popular legal productivity apps will follow. The MyCase App Bar and marketplace, which over time will include a wide variety of legal services and applications, is focused in the short-term on third parties that are already popular among existing firms and that help enhance clients’ ability to manage their practices and better serve clients.
MyCase will be exhibiting at ABA Techshow this week, so if you’re attending, you can find out more there.
I’m starting to wonder whether Clio and Rocket Matter are engaged in high-tech corporate espionage. In January, within days of each other, both companies added document assembly to their cloud-based practice management applications. (See my earlier posts here and here.) Now, again within days of each other, both companies announced that they have launched an application programming interface (API) that will allow third-party application developers to integrate directly with their platforms.
Clio’s announcement will be released tomorrow morning, just a day before the start of ABA Techshow in Chicago. It calls its API the Clio Platform and it will allow third-party developers to securely access data and actions within Clio. It uses OAuth 2.0 for secure authentication, which allows secure access between applications without having to share credentials.
Both companies also announced initial third-party applications that will integrate with their platforms. Clio said that both Zencash, a receivables management application, and DirectLaw, a virtual lawyering platform, will be integrated immediately. Chrometa, a time-tracking application, will be integrated in April. “We’ll have lots of other exciting partners launching tools built on top of the Clio platform,” Jack Newton, Clio’s founder and CEO, said in an email.
Rocket Matter is launching is API with Chrometa already integrated, its announcement said. Chrometa and Rocket Matter will be demonstrating the integration at Techshow this week.
“Rocket Matter is no longer just a product: it’s a platform for other software companies to create amazing products for lawyers,” said Larry Port, CEO of Rocket Matter. “We wanted our first API integration to be with an incredibly useful, amazing product and forward-thinking company, and found this partner in Chrometa.”
Meanwhile, Jack Newton said his company is excited about the launch of its API. “We’re tremendously excited to announce the Clio Platform, and are thrilled to see the integrations and extensions developers are building using the Clio API. Clio’s users will benefit through a broad range of integrations and add-ons being built for Clio by a broad range of partners.”
If you are attending Techshow, both companies are exhibiting there, so check out their new APIs.
I’m sensing a trend here. In January, I wrote here that the Web-based practice management application Rocket Matter had added document assembly. Less than a week later, I posted here that Clio had announced its addition of a document assembly feature. Then I learned that HoudiniEsq had already offered document assembly for at least a year.
Stay tuned for further developments.