The ability to use voice commands to track time is about to take a big step forward with the imminent launch of Tali, a productivity assistant that allows lawyers and other professionals to track time using voice commands through the Amazon Echo or other Alexa-enabled device.

I wrote here about Tali in June, when it was still in pre-beta development. That post came just a month after I wrote about another Alexa-based time tracker, Workspace Assistant, a tool from Thomson Reuters Elite that similarly allows lawyers to perform time-management functions using voice commands. Whereas Workspace Assistant can be used only with Workspace, an enterprise-level product for large law firms, Tali is a freestanding application that can be used by anyone.

Matthew Volm, CEO of the Portland, Ore., startup ThreeMatts that is developing Tali, told me this week that the product will be formally unveiled at the Clio Cloud Conference Sept. 25 and 26 and then will become generally available on Oct. 1.

Tali will integrate with the Clio practice management platform so that time entered in Tali can be synchronized with Clio, matching activities, matters and clients. Volm said that his company is working on building integrations with other practice management platforms as well.

Tali will ship with both a free version and paid “Tali for Law” version for a subscription of $30 a month. The company is currently accepting pre-orders of Tali for Law for firms that want to help test it out. Firms that sign up for the 90-day trial period (at $90) receive a free Amazon Echo Dot.

The two differences in the paid version are that it includes the Clio integration and professional support (plus the free Echo Dot). For that reason, it is best suited for firms that use Clio.

How It Works

I have not used Tali but Volm gave me a brief demonstration. You can use it with any Alexa-enabled device and also through the Alexa app on a mobile phone.

I listened as Volm had the following exchange:

Volm: Alexa, open Tali.
Tali: Welcome to Tali, Matthew. Would you like to log an activity?
Volm: Log six hours for Jones.
Tali: Describe the activity.
Volm: Email to client regarding trial strategy and review six hours of discovery documentation.
Tali: I’ve recorded it. Yippee!

The entry immediately appears on Tali’s browser-based dashboard. Tali identified “Jones” as the client “Matt Jones” by pulling information from Clio. Time entries can be reviewed in the dashboard and, if need be, edited. They can then be synced to Clio, either individually or as a group. Once synced, the time entries are recorded in Clio.

Tali can also be used to start and stop a timer:

Volm: Alexa, tell Tali I’ve started Oregon state tax research for Thomson.
Tali: Got it. Let me know when you’re finished.
Volm: Alexa, tell Tali to stop.
Tali: Activity stopped and saved. Yippee!

So far, Tali does not allow you to run multiple timers. That is something Volm hopes to add. In the meantime, if you are, say, running a timer and a call comes in, you can simply tell her (Volm says Tali is a “her”) to record the time spent on the call. You cannot currently pause and resume a timer, but Volm says that capability will be added soon after commercial release.

I asked Volm how Tali handles identical or similar names. For example, what if you have two clients with the surname Collins? Volm said his company is building a business logic so that Tali will surface what she thinks is the most relevant match. If the match is wrong, you can edit it in the dashboard. Tali will learn from your activity and get better at making matches.

Although those who have the free version of Tali cannot sync to Clio, they still get access to all of their time records through the dashboard. The data can be viewed online or downloaded to a CSV file.

Volm has other enhancements in the works, including other methods to enter time and other integrations with third-party products.

  • Dan Ruderman

    What are the privacy and privilege implications of using a device which is always listening and communicating with a server not controlled by the law firm? I ask because the common usage of the Echo will be in “ready mode” with microphone on and attending to the room. Is the law firm relying on Amazon’s attestation that their voice data is not being recorded or stored? While it seems convenient, I am not 100% comfortable with a permanent listening device installed in every lawyer’s office, especially one that is always on.

    • Bob Ambrogi

      Amazon says it records only a few seconds of before and after the “wake word.” Through the app, you can see what’s been recorded and delete any recordings. To my mind, the greater danger is hackers. See:

      • Dan Ruderman

        Thanks, Bob. I remember when lawyers were concerned email didn’t protect privilege – I worry about the pendulum swinging the other way with all the convenient technology. The notion of relying on law firms to routinely monitor their Alexa recordings is not comforting. To date, the majority of law firms have been pretty poor at managing privacy in terms of technology and security, routinely using Dropbox, Box and public mail services such as Yahoo and AOL. Which means my concern extends to hackers, too, and once again the expectation of privacy and the obligation of privilege.

      • Robert Wagoner

        I have used Dragon with ProTempus for 6 years. I can dictate (with full integration) to all aspects–Document Prep, billing, to-do lists, Pleadings, Templates, Calendar and Mgt, e-mail ( Outlook integration), Word, Word Perfect, etc. ProTempus is $ 100/ Month and I buy an updated Dragon Suite every 2-3 years. Dragon 14 Pro was less than $300. I’m never on the “Cloud” and I assure Confidentiality and Safety, to my clients, as it is all based on my SQL Server.
        The wonderful Support from ProTempus makes it an easy and ongoing process. Ron is always coming up with new aspects and integrations. Dragon and Protempus do not spy on anything and the Fire Walls are effective.

  • Brad Pearce

    $30 / month when I am already paying Clio, and Clio has excellent time entry and management? All Tali saves me is 15 seconds of typing. If I forget to start a timer on Clio, why do I think that I’ll remember to start a timer by talking to Alexa?

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