In recent months, the cloud-based practice management platform MyCase has introduced a variety of enhancements that share a single theme – they were all inspired by listening to customers.

That is what Kim Coalson, senior vice president for MyCase at AppFolio, its parent company, told me when I sat down with her for an update at ABA Techshow last month.

“We are really customer-service oriented,” she said. “We do a lot of customer visits. All of that listening really guides the changes we make.”

Recent updates – most since January – focus on helping lawyers in three areas, Coalson said:

  • Reducing barriers to getting paid.
  • Reducing administrative overhead by reducing the steps it takes to complete a task.
  • Facilitating client communication.

With regard to getting paid, MyCase now allows lawyers to create and send invoices that include a secure link that the client can click in order to make an electric payment. In the past, invoices had to be delivered via the client portal and clients had to log in to the client portal in order to make a payment. Now, lawyers can send invoices containing the secure link and clients can follow the link to make payments, all without accessing the portal.

With regard to reducing the steps to complete a task, MyCase now creates a default set of folders every time a user creates a new case. Users can create and customize default sets of folders for types of cases, areas of law, or whatever purpose they wish. These folder sets serve as templates that save the need to create folders manually for each new matter.

MyCase also updated the process for adding new cases and contacts, making it a one-step process. Now, while creating a case, the user can add the client’s complete contact information. Alternatively, a user can create a case directly from the updated “Add Contact” form by clicking “Save & Add Case.”

With regard to facilitating client communications, MyCase rolled out a responsive version of its client portal that can be used on any device. Whether accessing the portal on a computer, tablet or mobile phone, the client gets the same experience due to the responsive design. Also new in the client portal, clients can view folders you’ve shared with them, and any documents within those folders.

Along with rolling out this responsive version of the portal, MyCase got rid of the portal app it previously offered.

“We are now releasing updates as often as three times a week,” Coalson said. “Our developers are really wanting to get stuff out.”

At ABA Techshow last week, MyCase, the cloud-based practice management platform, previewed the new version of its app, which it will be releasing for both iOS and Android devices. (Click any image above for a larger view or see an animated view below.)

MyCase would not provide a date certain for release of the app. It will begin beta testing with select customers in the near future and roll it out after it is satisfied that the app has been thoroughly vetted and is ready for large-scale release.

In developing the new app, MyCase says that it carefully studied how solo and small-firm lawyers want to use their mobile devices and the activities they need to be able to do when they’re away from their desks.

The new app will focus on enabling lawyers to do those things well and on leveraging the unique attributes of smartphones to provide better access to information and greater efficiency, the company said.

“MyCase recognizes that it’s an increasingly mobile world and we’re moving forward with our mobile development in a whole new way to reflect this,” Tracy Stevens, vice president of product, said in a statement. “Our expectation is that the new apps will uniquely support the activities that our customers are trying to get done when they’re away from their offices and will be equally as indispensable as the version they use on their desktops.”

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A post here in April reported that the practice management platform MyCase would soon be adding a feature to allow lawyers to accept credit card payments from clients directly through the MyCase application. This week, that feature went live.

The MyCase Payments feature already allowed online e-check payments directly from a client’s checking account. With this new enhancement, clients also have the option of paying their invoices using credit cards. The feature can be used to make payments to either a firm’s operating account or a trust account.

MyCase is charging a flat 3 percent per transaction processing fee for credit card payments. (Checking account payments are free.) It takes the fee out of a firm’s operating account.

Read more about the new feature at the MyCase blog.

 

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Clio now integrates with Vonage VoIP phone services.

Time to play catch-up on legal technology news and notes from the past few weeks:

Take credit cards in MyCase. The practice management platform MyCase already has the ability to accept online payments directly from a client’s checking account. At the recent ABA Techshow, MyCase announced that its payments feature will be expanded later this year to include a built-in credit card option. It will allow users to accept credit card payments through MyCase for a flat 3 percent transaction fee.

For a short video showing how MyCase Payments works, see here.

Clio gets new call services. Practice management platform Clio announced two integrations at Techshow that provide enhanced calling services for its users.

The first is an integration with the VoIP telephony company Vonage Business. The integration allows firms that use Vonage as their business phone system to have all incoming and outgoing calls automatically logged in Clio, showing each call’s date, time and duration. Once logged, the call can be associated with a contact or a matter and a time entry created. The integration also enables click to dial from within Clio.

The integration works with all phones — desk, softphones and mobile. It uses Vonage’s middleware product gUnify to connect Vonage and Clio. Because gUnify is cloud-based software, it works without any special hardware or software required of the law firm and can be quickly set up.

The second integration is with Ruby Receptionists, a company that offers live, remote reception services for the legal industry. With the integration, messages and voice mail notifications from Ruby are sent directly to a lawyer’s or firm’s Clio account.

And Lexicata now also integrates with Ruby. Lexicata, the cloud-based CRM and client-intake software for law firms, has also announced an integration with Ruby Receptionists.

Now, when a Ruby receptionist answers a call for your firm, he or she will be able to take down the caller’s name, email, phone number, and some basic call notes into a webform. The data will be captured into theLexicata Inbox and the firm will receive an email notification.

From there, the firm can “Quick Intake” the lead and set up a new matter in Lexicata with a couple of clicks. The call notes will be saved as a matter note, and their contact info will be pre-populated to really streamline the process.

Tackling legalese. No doubt many of you have heard of or even used WordRake, a legal-editing add-on for Microsoft Word and Outlook that can help tighten your writing. I’ve learned that the next release of WordRake, coming out later this year, will go even farther.

The next version will have two separate functions. One, called Clear and Concise, will do what WordRake now does. The new function, called Plain Writing, will tackle legalese, suggesting ways to eliminate obtuse and legalistic language.

If you’re not familiar with WordRake, see my reviews of version 1.0, in which I tested its ability improve the writing of Justices Scalia and Kagan, and version 2.0, in which I tested it against the plurality, concurring and dissenting opinions in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission.

A job board for legal tech. Evolve Law, a for-profit organization launched last September to help drive technology innovation and adoption in the legal industry, has introduced a job board.

The job board features job openings at Evolve Law member companies. Among the current listings are jobs at Abacus Data Systems, Allegory Law, Avvo, Contactually, CosmoLex, Hire an Esquire and LegalZoom.

In conjunction with the job board, Evolve Law plans to stage a series of career fairs around the country.

And also from Evolve Law. A new podcast, looking at innovation in the legal industry through interviews with company executives involved in legal startups.

A matching site for A2J projects. A2J Author is a tool used by legal aid programs, courts and others to create automated guided interviews to help direct individuals in need of legal help. (I previously wrote about it here.) Last week, A2J Author’s developer, the Center for Computer -Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI), announced the new A2J Project Matching Portal.

The portal helps connect legal aid organizations and courts that are looking for help creating A2J projects with teachers of A2J Author courses who are looking for student projects. An organization posts a project request to the site and law faculty browse available projects and contact any they are interested in helping with.

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The cloud-based practice management platform MyCase has added a new feature, MyCase Payments, that allows MyCase users to accept e-check payments from their clients. The feature, built directly into the MyCase platform, is designed to help lawyers get paid more quickly.

The new feature works with MyCase’s legal billing capabilities and allows lawyers to accept payments directly from clients’ checking accounts as e-check or Automated Clearing House payments. The feature is included within the MyCase subscription price and requires no external integrations.

Payments can be accepted into both a firm’s operating and trust accounts. MyCase says that it is designed to ensure that earned and unearned fees are properly handled.

Once you set up MyCase Payments, then when you create an invoice and send it to your client through MyCase, the client receives an email with a secure payment link. The client simply follows the link to make the payment.

MyCase already allowed users to accept credit card payments through account integrations with PayPros, Inc. or PayPal Pro.

With this new feature, MyCase users now have one-stop access to billing, invoicing, and payment processing, all within the MyCase platform.

[Disclaimer: MyCase is a paid advertiser on this blog. Advertising is not sold directly by me, but through the Lawyerist advertising network.]

AppFolio opened for trading on the Nasdaq market on June 26.
AppFolio opened for trading on the Nasdaq market on June 26.

Last June, AppFolio, the Goleta, Calif.-based company that owns MyCase, the cloud-based practice-management platform, completed an initial public offering in which it raised some $74 million. I cannot think of a major IPO in the legal industry in recent memory. So what does this mean for MyCase and what does it mean for the legal industry more broadly?

Yesterday, I spoke about the IPO with Jason Randall, executive vice president of AppFolio, and Nicole Black, who holds the enviable title at MyCase of legal technology evangelist.

AppFolio acquired MyCase in 2012 from its original founders. At the time, AppFolio’s primary product was AppFolio Property Manager, a cloud-based property-management platform for residential and commercial property managers. Now, with its IPO behind it, the company plans to expand into other verticals, following a similar model of offering cloud-based management software for small- and mid-sized businesses.

With regard to the legal vertical and MyCase, the IPO’s impact will be minimal, Randall said. The company already had a clear road map for developing the product and already was investing heavily in building that out.

“We were marching on a mission before the IPO and we’re marching on the same mission after the IPO, which is giving our customers a great product to use,” Randall said. “We’ve been heavily investing in that since day one and that hasn’t changed.”

AppFolio has a list of product enhancements it is working on for MyCase, including one that will be released soon. Neither Randall nor Black would say what it is, except that it will be “big.”

“We believe in this market,” Randall said. “By buying MyCase to begin with and heavily investing in it, as we have and will continue to do, it shows our confidence that this is a great market to be in and that it is one we are committed to.”

I asked Randall if AppFolio would use any of the money raised in the IPO for new acquisitions. He said that they are looking at that possibility but that any acquisitions would have to align with the company’s overall goal of providing the best value to its customers.

I also asked him whether MyCase would pursue more integrations with third-party vendors, similar to the way that competitor Clio has added integrations with a number of vendors to provide added services and functionality.

MyCase already provides some integrations, such as with Quickbooks and Microsoft Outlook, he pointed out. There will definitely be others, but they will be done strategically and seamlessly based on what is best for MyCase’s customers.

“Sometimes the tendency is to integrate with everyone who’s integratable,” Randall said. “We’re not interested in integrations that generate a great press release but have little value for our customers. Our focus is on what our clients need and how best to provide that.”

The customer experience is also important, he added. “When we do an integration, we work hard to make sure it’s seamless. It should be almost invisible. It should just work.”

Both Randall and Black see significance in the IPO beyond specific product enhancements and development plans.

Black, who has been writing about cloud computing since 2008 and is author of the 2013 American Bar Association book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, said that the IPO shows that cloud computing is here to stay in the legal industry and that there is a market for innovation in legal technology.

For MyCase, the IPO shows that it is part of a significant cloud company that is committed to growth and development. “The IPO shows that MyCase is here to stay, that we’re here for the long haul and really invested in making it the best platform on the market.”

mycasedocs

The cloud-based practice management application MyCase has added a foldering feature to make it easier for its users to manage their documents, it announced today.

The feature allows users to create folders within their cases and use the folders to organize their documents. The folders are in addition to the document-tagging system MyCase already had in place.

To create a folder, a MyCase would open the case details page for a particular case, then click the Documents tab. They will now see a “New Folder” button there that they can click to create a new folder. For now, folders can go only one level deep.

Once a folder is created, the user can select one or more documents to move there. When the user clicks the Move button, a window will open asking the user to select the appropriate folder.

Disclosure: MyCase is an advertiser on this blog.

Catching up on some of the week’s news in legal technology and information:

blawbank_homepageBanking law resource. On Wednesday, Bloomberg BNA announced the launch of Bloomberg Law: Banking, an all-in-one resource on legal and regulatory issues that integrates banking news, analysis, primary and secondary sources and practical tools.  The collection includes Bloomberg BNA news stories; portfolios and treatises from leading banking practitioners; full text of major federal banking statutes and regulations, federal agency documents, and laws that impact banks from all 50 states; and state law “Chart Builders” that let users create reports on key banking requirements across states. It is available through the Bloomberg Law legal research platform. Jean O’Grady has more information at Dewey B Strategic.

the-practice-first-issueDigital magazine on law. Yesterday, Harvard Law School’s Center on the Legal Profession rolled out a new website and launched a digital magazine, The Practice. The first issue of the six-times-a-year magazine is free, but subsequent issues will require an annual subscription of $195. CLP says each issue will be framed around important themes affecting the legal profession, such as disruptive innovation in legal services and professionalism in the 21st Century, and will include both feature stories and recurring features and columns. The first issue focuses on the theme, “The Global Age of More for Less.”

Federal docket research. I’ve written before about docket research sites such as PacerPro. Now there is another, called DocketFish. It provides searching and downloading of the federal PACER civil dockets and has both free and paid versions. (Like other such services, the free version still incurs PACER charges.) Free accounts allow basic searching, while premium accounts add features including bulk downloads, document delivery alerts and case alerts. I will be testing this out and providing a more detailed review in the near future.

Websites from MyCase. MyCase has reduced the sign-up fee for its custom websites offering from $1,500 to $500. Frankly, I did not know that MyCase offered websites until it was pointed out to me this week by Niki Black, director of business development and community relations at MyCase. The sites are available to MyCase customers for the set-up fee of $500 and then a monthly $50 maintenance fee. Niki describes the service in a blog post and provided these links as samples of the sites they’ve created: here here and here.

Crowdfunding litigation. Crowdfunding has taken off in various sectors and this week it reached litigation. A new website, LexShares, enables investors to put their money up to fund lawsuits. The site connects accredited investors with plaintiffs in commercial lawsuits to allow investments in specific cases. If the plaintiff recovers, through settlement or judgment, the investor receives a portion of the proceeds, proportionate the investment. Potential investors can browse available cases and pick the ones they wish to invest in. Once they have invested, they can track the case’s progress through the site. Debra Cassens Weiss has an interview at the ABA Journal with the site’s cofounder, lawyer Max Volsky.

I’ve seen a lot of infographics, but never before have I been blamed credited for one. According to Nicole Black at the MyCase blog, the infographic I’ve embedded below, 10 Technologies that Have Changed the Practice of Law, was inspired by a post here on LawSites, A Chronology of Legal Technology, 1842-1995. Thanks Nicole and MyCase for turning my rudimentary list into something much nicer.

You’ve no doubt heard about Heartbleed, the security flaw that exposed personal information at many leading websites. The flaw was in OpenSSL, an open-source version of the SSL protocol that is used to encrypt transmissions between you and a website. The flaw created a vulnerability that could have exposed sensitive information. The vulnerability affected several leading Internet companies, including Google, Yahoo and Netflix.

It made me wonder how many companies that cater to the legal profession were affected. I’ve collected a bit of information here. If you know of others, please let me know or add a comment below. If you are unsure about whether a site was vulnerable, LastPass has a Heartbleed checker where you can enter a URL and sometimes get an answer. For a good overview of Heartbleed, see this New York Times Q&A, Aaron Street’s excellent Lawyerist post, or the Heartbleed site. Continue Reading Which Legal Sites Did Heartbleed Affect?