You may be surprised to learn that there are two separate legal tech world tours — one underway and the other about to take off. For both, the goal is to meet with legal tech innovators on multiple continents.

Sounds like fun. But in my column this week at Above the Law, I suggest that what we really need is a legal tech tour into America’s heartland.

I want to know about the challenges faced by a solo lawyer in a small town in the Midwest. I want to talk to people in a rural legal aid office struggling to keep up. I want to hear from clerks and judges in an urban courthouse dealing with onslaughts of pro se litigants. And, yes, I want to hear directly from those who are unable to get the services they need.

Read about the two world tours and my proposal for a heartland tour here: Legal Tech World Tours Take Off — But How About The Heartland?

What matters most to clients in choosing a lawyer?

Most practicing lawyers will have an opinion about that, but even better than an opinion is hard-and-fast data. And that is what is provided in the 2017 Legal Trends Report, compiled by practice management company Clio.

As part of its report, released last October, Clio surveyed more than 2,000 consumers and 3,000 legal professionals, compiling their responses to such questions as:

  • How do clients look for legal representation?
  • What factors into their decision to hire a lawyer?
  • How will future trends affect client expectations?

In a Feb. 15, webcast, How Clients Choose Lawyers According to the Legal Trends Report, I will explore the report’s findings in detail with Jack Newton, Clio’s founder and CEO. Newton will also offer insights into how lawyers can act on this information and how technology can help lawyers better serve clients.

The 60-minute webcast starts at 1 pm. EST. Attendance is free, but registration is required.

The webcast is sponsored by Clio and Above the Law.

 

We’ve been running a competition over at Above the Law to select 15 legal technology startups to participate in the second-annual Startup Alley at the American Bar Association’s Techshow conference March 7-10, 2018. With more than 6,000 votes casts, we’ve now announced the winners.

See who they are in my ATL column this week.

The 15 winning companies get to be highlighted as exhibitors in a special “Startup Alley” portion of the Techshow exhibition hall. They will also participate in a pitch competition on the conference’s opening night, where attendees will vote live for their favorite.

The competition is a cooperate effort of Techshow, Above the Law, Evolve Law and this blog.

Congratulations to the winners and thanks to all companies that competed and to all the readers who voted.

Recently, after reading that Dictionary.com had announced “complicit” as its word of the year for 2017, a friend asked what I considered to be the legal technology word of the year. As I thought back over the year, several words and phrases stood out as candidates came to my mind, but one seemed to me to be the obvious choice.

So what is my choice for legal technology word of the year? I review the candidates and reveal my pick in my column this week at Above the Law: And the Legal Technology Word of the Year Is …

Recent weeks have brought a rash of news stories highlighting major technology blunders by lawyers that have resulted in severe consequences. Among them:

  • A lawyer at a major law firm accidentally copied a Wall Street Journal reporter on an email transmitting privileged client information.
  • The Department of Justice improperly redacted a court filing, exposing the private text to the public.
  • A law firm’s decision to cut corners on its spam filtering caused it to miss the deadline for filing an appeal.

I have more details in my column this week at Above the Law: Stupid Lawyer Tricks: Legal Tech Edition.

Two years ago this week, I reported on the launch of Evolve Law, a for-profit membership organization aimed at driving technology innovation and adoption in the legal industry. Cofounders Jules Miller and Mary Juetten told me at the time that they hoped to attract innovative, early-stage companies as members and encourage collaboration among them to help drive adoption of new technologies.

Two years later and with more than 120 members, Evolve Law is entering a new phase. In August, Evolve Law and Above the Law announced that they have formed a strategic partnership that will allow Evolve Law to expand its visibility and offerings.

Starting in late 2017, Evolve Law’s Legal Toolkit, podcast, and content will appear on ATL’s pages and social channels. Members will have opportunities to publish directly onto Above the Law, and gain recognition and insight from ATL’s expert columnists and 1.3 million reader audience.

Recently, I spoke with cofounder Juetten to get more details about the partnership. Juetten, who is founder and CEO of Traklight, will continue her involvement in Evolve Law. Cofounder Miller is no longer involved.

[Disclosure: I am a columnist on Above the Law and Above the Law’s parent company, Breaking Media, sells advertising on my blog.]

Mary Juetten

A key feature of the partnership will be the launch on Above the Law (ATL) of the Legal Innovation Center. Similar in concept to ATL’s Small Firm Center, this will feature posts from ATL columnists and contributors related to the topic of innovation. In addition, Evolve Law members will have the opportunity to publish their own posts in a section called Member Perspectives, as well as to submit content to be published elsewhere on ATL.

“For members, this is a big step up – a giant leap really – in terms of visibility,” Juetten said. “All of the members will go over to ATL and be part of the Innovation Center. You can’t quantify the difference in reach and visibility.”

Evolve Law has become known for hosting events around the country — more than 50 to date — to bring together its members and others interested in emerging legal technology. These will continue to be held throughout the year.

An another way of promoting collaboration and communication among Evolve Law members, this new partnership has created a private Slack channel for members. In addition to allowing members to communicate with each other, the channel will allow them to interact with ATL staff.

Other changes that will result from this partnership:

  • ATL will expand Evolve Law’s Legal Tech Toolkit, a directory of legal technology products and services.
  • ATL will publish quarterly research reports exclusively for Evolve Law members. Members will be able to help shape these surveys through the Slack channel.

With these changes will come new rates for membership in Evolve Law. The new rates will take effect on Oct. 2, but any current members (including any that sign up before Oct. 2) will be grandfathered at their current rate for the remainder of their term.

A chart of the new membership rates and what they include can be found here. The lowest-cost membership category, for emerging companies that are self or angel funded, will rise from $500 to $750 a year. For companies with Series A or greater funding rounds, annual membership will increase from $1,500 to $2,500.

There will also be new corporate and law firm membership categories, at $5,000 and $2,500 respectively, and a strategic partner category for $15,000. Law schools will be able to join for free.

While Juetten said she is excited about the greater visibility her members will get through this partnership, she said that the greatest value of Evolve Law isn’t about clicks, but about community.

“The real value for our members isn’t quantitative, but qualitative,” she said. “The communities that have been established allow people to reach out to a community on legal innovation where there was no community before.”

Networking through Evolve Law has led to strategic partnerships among members and introductions to investors, Juetten said. It also resulted in one acquisition, by Boston-based FoundationLab a digital product design studio, of Functional Imperative, an application development company in Toronto, Canada.

“I think it works,” Juetten said. “It was really important for me that we find a good home for what we built.”

radio-microphone-mic-mike-podcast-podcasting-620x414Nothing like a second chance. I’d wanted to use the headline of this post for my column this week at Above the Law. But after realizing how overused was “golden age” in reference to podcasting, I went with: This Week In Legal Tech: Lawyers Learn To Love The Podcast.

Yet it is a golden age for legal podcasting, I believe. If you’re interested in why I think that (and for pointers to some podcasts worth a listen), check out my column.

APP-logo-oct-2016Just one month from today, on October 28th, 2016, Above the Law will host its second annual Academy for Private Practice (“APP”), a full-day conference offering practical solutions and expert insight on meeting the challenges of starting and optimizing a small law firm practice.

The conference programming combines panel discussions and breakout sessions on subjects ranging from cybersecurity to podcasting to legal services marketplaces, all for CLE credit. Lunch will be served, and the day will conclude with a networking cocktail reception. In honor of ATL’s 10th anniversary, we are offering 10 free tickets to the first person to register using the promo code 10YRGIFT at the registration link below. Otherwise, our Early Bird pricing ($100 off) ends at midnight tonight (promo code 10YRDISCOUNT)!

Why attend?

  • Expert insight and practical solutions for small-firm practice.
  • Networking with peers over lunch and at our cocktail reception.
  • CLE credit.

Who should attend?

  • Biglaw attorneys aspiring to strike out on their own.
  • Small-firm practitioners looking to innovate and grow.
  • Entrepreneurial law students aiming to bring value to potential employers.

In addition, the day before the conference — October 27 — we hold our first-ever company showcase for the finalists of the alt.legal Innovation Awards. We received more than 50 submissions from legal industry innovators and we will announce the finalists on ATL next week.

We look forward to seeing you in Philadelphia soon!

Register-Now-Button

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 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.