Armies of robot lawyers are on their way to steal our jobs. We’ve heard that from no less a source than The New York Times. But the truth is far more nuanced, as Joanna Goodman relates in her new book, Robots in Law: How Artificial Intelligence is Transforming Legal Services.

Goodman, a London-based journalist who covers legal technology and other topics, has written an informative overview of the state of artificial intelligence in law today and of where it may be heading in the future.

The takeaway from the book is that AI will not replace lawyers — at least not anytime soon — but that it will most certainly change law practice, and that if lawyers are to remain relevant, they must adapt. And adapting starts with understanding AI and its potential applications in law.

For that, this book is a good place to start. I’ve published a more in-depth review for my column this week at Above the Law. Read it here: This Week in Legal Tech: Book Review of ‘Robots in Law.’

 

Zola - legal-notes-application-mpbIn the practice of law, time is money. Ask any lawyer what he or she looks for most in legal technology, and the answer will immediately be efficiency. Having everything you need in one place, without having to switch platforms, is not simply a convenience, it’s a necessity.

That’s why practice management tools were invented. The ability to multi-task and perform all your essential work functions on one platform is a life-saver for the busy lawyer. Unfortunately, though, not all practice management tools live up to the hype. Many cloud-based systems fall woefully short of providing the full functionality that you actually need to run your practice.

Enter Zola Suite. Created by lawyers specifically for lawyers, Zola Suite is an efficient practice management tool that seamlessly places all the functions crucial to running a law firm on a single integrated platform that everyone in your firm can access. Focused on uniformity, Zola Suite provides consistent functionality across all your daily tasks.

From email, to document management, to accounting, everything is in one place. Even better, Zola Suite’s user interface is highly intuitive, resulting in a clean platform that is user-friendly even for the least tech-savvy lawyer in your office. With a single click of a plus sign, you can add new entries to any part of the system, whether it’s creating a calendar entry, starting a new document, or adding a contact.

On your main dashboard, you will find everything you need to tackle your day, conveniently organized by matter number.

From the moment you open a new matter to the day you send your final invoice, Zola Suite is designed make your life easier.

Emailing and Task Management

We all know email is the crux of practicing law these days, and it’s one of Zola Suite’s strongest features. The platform allows you to link your current email address without clunky workarounds, gaining fully integrated functionality with the rest of your work files.

Laptop with blank screen on white background - Clipping path

The beauty of Zola Suite is that everything operates by matter numbers. Even emails and contacts are assigned matter numbers, creating seamless integration of every item assigned to a particular case. When you’re drafting an email, Zola Suite automatically identifies key contacts and possible attachments that are relevant only to that email’s specific matter number.

There’s no longer any excuse for emailing the wrong person or attaching a file from the wrong case. Gone are the days when you have to worry about accidentally emailing opposing counsel John Smith instead of your client Jim Smith – as long as you’ve updated your contacts, Zola Suite will suggest the right one for you, and you can add it with a simple click. The same goes for attachments. Only documents that have been assigned the same matter number as your email will be suggested as attachments, saving you from having to browse through numerous subfolders to find the right contract. With things as crucial as privilege on the line, any tool that helps eliminate email errors is a tool you need.

Another key feature of Zola Suite is the ability to assign tasks, both newly created, and from emails or calendar events. Surpassing the traditional Outlook invitation that gives only a yes or no reply option, tasks in Zola Suite are far more dynamic – you can assign specific deadlines, see the current status of tasks (including the convenient “Waiting on Someone Else”), monitor which tasks have been completed or are overdue, send reminders, and make tasks recurring.

Anyone who has juggled multiple tasks while supervising others will appreciate the benefits of a system that not only makes it easier to keep track of all the outstanding tasks on a case, but also enforces accountability by those to whom they’ve been assigned.

The task functionality goes hand in hand with your Zola Suite calendar, which is conveniently color-coded by type of task. It even has the option to mark calendar entries private, which is invaluable. No busy lawyer has time to cross-reference work and personal calendars when scheduling a conference call, and not everyone needs to know you have doctor’s appointment on Wednesday.

Billing and Accounting

Zola - time-sheets-mpb (1)Let’s face it – lawyers don’t have a reputation for being accounting geniuses. Nonetheless, we all know that accounting is crucial to the success of any law practice. Thankfully, Zola Suite provides a full accounting system that’s both easy to use and configured specifically for law firms. Mindful of regulations about things like escrow accounts and the comingling of funds, the platform allows you to manage multiple bank accounts and associate all ingoing and outgoing payments, expenses, and invoices with specific matter numbers. And because the accounting system is native to the application, you don’t have to subscribe to a third party service or worry about your data syncing correctly with an outside system.

Zola Suite even makes billing painless. There is no shortage of ways to keep track of your time – nearly every screen gives you a timer, and you can have multiple timers running at once. You can even bill your time while drafting an email.

With built-in billing parameters that are customizable for each case, whether it’s time-based, flat fee, contingency, or some other arrangement, your time can be converted into a polished invoice with one click. The system will also flag unbilled hours and unpaid invoices, ensuring that you’re always collecting for the work you do. Zola Suite also integrates with LawPay, increasing your likelihood of getting paid.

On the Go

In today’s digital world, work doesn’t stop when you leave the office. Because clients can reach you anytime and anywhere, success requires full mobile functionality. With dedicated iOS and Android apps, Zola Suite allows you to access your entire platform no matter where you are. The incorporation of fingerprint recognition ensures that your sensitive information stays secure when you’re on the go.

Zola - androidZola Suite also takes networking to the next level. You never know when the next person you meet might become your next big client. The apps offer a really cool feature that allows you to scan business cards and save them as new contacts. You can even take a picture to add to the new entry. There’s no longer any excuse for losing someone’s information as you’re hustling from meeting to meeting.

One-Stop Practice Management

In addition to its superior email, document management, and accounting functionality, Zola Suite offers a slew of other features that will increase the efficiency of your day-to-day practice.

  • Virtual Notepad – Zola Suite allows you to take notes right in the platform, eliminating the need to later waste time trying to transcribe your illegible handwriting. Complete with auto formatting, the ability to add images, and an export to PDF function, your notes will look professional. And because they’re saved to a specific matter number, you can easily share them with anyone else on the team.
  • Document encryption – Zola Suite incorporates an encrypted client portal, allowing you to send and share documents that you know are secure.
  • Access Restrictions – User access can be restricted on a per-matter basis, allowing you to address conflicts concerns and easily create a virtual firewall when necessary. You can also restrict access to certain business functions, such as creating final invoices or monitoring firm finances.
  • Form Builder tool – Zola Suite will soon be launching a document automation tool. By allowing the ability to build pre-set fields and load them into frequently used document templates, this will slash the time needed to draft standard documents.

The reality of today’s legal market is that a reliable and efficient cloud-based system is crucial to running any competitive legal practice. With affordable per-month rates, Zola Suite is a good option for firms keeping a close watch on expenses; and because there aren’t service tiers, a one-year subscription gives you full access to every feature the platform offers.

It’s time to make technology work for you. Designed around the way law firms function, Zola Suite may just be the busy lawyer’s new best friend.

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alt.legal-Winner-300x572Zola Suite is the winner of the alt. legal Innovation Award  for Practice Management at this year’s Above The Law Academy for Private Practice (APP).

EasyPayJDBefore sponsoring a post on Bob’s blog we wanted to make sure our solution met his technology standards for solo and small practice attorneys. We submitted EasyPayJD to his six point test originally published in Above The Law on June 6, 2016.

We did our own evaluation based on Bob’s definitions and we invite you to do the same. What we discovered is that EasyPayJD scores on each of Bob’s points to offer attorneys a simple, profitable, transparently priced, new twist on an old concept, that has been vetted by real attorneys and legal billing companies.

Below are Bob’s original bullets (and some partial content) followed by our assessment of how EasyPayJD ‘passes the test’ to deliver exceptional value to solo and small practice attorneys.

  1. Good technology fuels either profitability or power (or both). A successful technology product for lawyers does one or both of two things. Either it makes us more efficient, and therefore more productive and profitable, or it empowers us as advocates, leveling the playing field (even for solo lawyers), and enabling us to do more with less for our clients. The best products do both.  

EasyPayJD simplifies payment processing for efficiency:

  1. Simple Sign Up: No paperwork required. Your name, your business name, your business address, and your bar number are all that’s needed.
  2. Fast to Use: Answer three questions and you are paid. Who do you want to charge? What account do you want the charge to be deposited to (Operating, IOLTA, Trust)? How much do you want to charge?
  3. Eliminates Chasing Money: Secure card-on-file and automated payment plans allow you to collect when the invoice is approved. No phone calls, reminders, waiting on checks, or wondering if you collected this month’s retainer.
  1. Technology should work for us, not us for it. It is not enough for technology to be merely functional, it should also be intuitive. It should just work.

EasyPayJD might be the easiest payment interface you’ve ever used.  Choose the client. Choose the account to deposit to. Enter the amount. Submit. Done.

  1. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Legal technology should fill a need or solve a problem.

EasyPayJD solves a real business problem – getting paid by clients in a timely manner. EasyPayJD enables solo and small practice attorneys to keep client payment information securely on file so payments can be processed the moment an invoice is approved for payment. Retainers can be ‘evergreen’ – automatically processed on the specific date agreed to.

  1. Cheap is good, free is better.  …I deny no company its right to make a buck. All I ask is that it’s a fair buck, transparently charged.

EasyPayJD’s pricing is transparent, simple to understand, and extremely competitive.  Sign-up is free and there are no monthly charges.  You only pay a fee when you process a payment (we deliver value)!

  1. Everything old is new again. Nothing gets my goat more than a company’s false claim that its new product is the first this or that in law.

EasyPayJD is not a new concept but a simple and effective twist on an outdated, complicated, and expensive one. It starts with our stripped-down, two minute, no paperwork, sign-up and ends with you getting paid quickly by clients…while remaining compliant.   

  1. The best companies know their customers. But from what I have seen, the companies that are best at serving the legal profession are the ones whose top execs get out in the trenches, where they don’t just talk to lawyers, they listen to them.

EasyPayJD’s top executive is an attorney and has, for more than twenty years, advised physicians, attorneys and professionals on the most effective methods and policies for getting paid quickly and easily. EasyPayJD is the latest innovation from the company he founded, continuing a line of products that make collecting payments simple and fast.

I’ve been writing here about the new survey of small-solo law firm management conducted by Thomson Reuters Solo and Small Law Firm group, to which I was given exclusive first-look access. As I’ve read through the survey results, I was struck by a consistent fact. In almost every category covered, solos stood alone. Their responses consistently and sometimes significantly differed from those of lawyers in any other sized small firms.

For example, solos are far more concerned than other lawyers about the threats to their practices from consumers who handle their matters pro se or through do-it-yourself websites.

For my Above the Law column this week, I’ve gone through the survey and highlighted some of the ways in which solos stand apart. Read more here: This Week in Legal Tech: Survey Sheds Light on How Solos Differ.

I spent last week at ILTACON, the annual conference of the International Legal Technology Association. It is a huge conference, 100 percent devoted to legal technology. But I do not recommend it for most solo and small-firm lawyers. It is primarily focused on larger law firms and, within those firms, on information technology, knowledge management, and operations professionals.

Of course, that begs the question: Which legal tech conferences are best for solo and small-firm lawyers? If you are a small firm lawyer looking to enhance your understanding of legal technology or improve your legal tech skills, which conferences are worth your time and money?

That was the subject of my Above the Law column this week. Find it here: This Week In Legal Tech: The Best Legal Tech Conferences For Small-Firm Lawyers.