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.

(I previously posted about the survey’s findings on social media and on e-discovery.)

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).

The public beta release last week of LexisNexis Firm Manager adds yet another choice for lawyers to use Software as a Service, or SaaS, to manage their law practices. Already offering law practice management in the cloud are such sites as Clio and Rocket Matter. Do SaaS applications make sense for lawyers? Is it ethical for lawyers to use them?

At a panel discussion recorded during LegalTech last week, I joined three other legal technology professionals to discuss the topic of law practice management via the cloud. Moderator of the panel was Tom Mighell, author of the blog Inter Alia and senior consultant at Contoural. Besides me, the other panelists were Carolyn Elefant, creator of MyShingle.com, and Andy Adkins, founder of the Legal Technology Institute at the University of Florida Levin College of Law.

Watch our video below. If you have any trouble seeing the video below, then you can play it by clicking on this link.

Logged on to Plaxo today to find this notice regarding its new terms of service:

On October 6, 2009, we will move to a common Privacy Policy and Terms of Service across Plaxo and several other Comcast properties. The new policies will retain both TRUSTe compliance and the strong core principles of our existing policy. You should note the following: Non-personally identifiable data about your usage pattern on our sites will be shared with affiliates to provide tailored content, advertising, and services. To provide a more integrated online experience, users who use a common ID for Plaxo and other Comcast sites will have account settings and other information applied across those sites.

Comcast bought Plaxo last year. At the time, the acquisition was touted as a win-win for consumers, saying it would enable them to “connect with all the people they care about, across all of the devices they use.” This announcement leads me to worry that Plaxo could degenerate into becoming primarily a shill for Comcast products and services.

Last year, in a post entitled, Take Control of Your Outlook Inbox, I wrote about a San Francisco company, TechHit, and its three simple Outlook add-ons for cutting down on e-mail clutter: SimplyFile, EZDetach and MessageSave. Today, the company is releasing the public beta version of an equally simple and clever tool, this time for quicky jumping to the right folder in Windows. Read on for an invitation code to try it yourself.

The program is called QuickJump and what it does, quite simply, is let you find the right Windows folder with just a few key strokes. To open a Windows folder, just launch QuickJump by pressing Ctrl+Shift+J and begin typing a few characters of the folder name. To find a folder named Music, for example, begin to type M, U and the folder will appear highlighted in a list. Then just click “open.”

It also works with the “save as” and “open” dialogs of any Windows application. So if you are working in Word and want to save the document to a particular folder, open the “save as” dialog, then open QuickJump and begin to type the folder name. When it appears highlighted in the QuickJump list, click “open” and the “save as” dialog box jumps to that folder.

During the beta period, QuickJump can be downloaded only using an invitation code. The company has provided a code that readers of this blog can use for a free download. Go to the QuickJump download page and use this code: ll908384573.

The organizers of LegalTech New York, which takes place Feb. 2 to 4, have announced that they are giving complimentary passes to bloggers. And to accommodate them, each seminar room will have a front-row table with electricity reserved for bloggers. Also, on Feb. 3, LegalTech will host a bloggers’ breakfast from 9 to 10 a.m. As it did last year, Legal Blog Watch will pull together and highlight blog coverage of the conference.

The conference is at the Hilton Hotel in New York. The bloggers’ breakfast will be held in the Hilton’s Petite Trianon room. Bloggers who wish to request a complimentary pass should contact Jill Windwer, vice president of digital products at Incisive Media, jill.windwer-AT-incisivemedia.com.

I received an e-mail this morning informing me that I’ve been nominated to be a 2008 Outstanding Attorney in Massachusetts. Unfortunately, says the e-mail, my candidacy has so far received only three votes. That leaves me quite a bit behind Goodwin Procter chair Regina Pisa with 395 votes, Wilmer Cutler co-managing partner Bill Lee with 236 votes, Mintz Levin chair Bob Popeo with 154 votes, and Bingham chair Jay Zimmerman with 57 votes.

So to all the Joe-the-Plumbers of the legal world, get out there and give me your vote!

Not quite a monopoly, but darn close. The now-final $4.1 billion acquisition by Reed Elsevier — parent of LexisNexis— of ChoicePoint Inc. would have given Reed control over 80 percent of the $60 million market for the sale of electronic public records to U.S. law enforcement agencies. Last week, the Federal Trade Commission moved to alleviate the potential anti-competitive effects by requiring Reed to divest itself of the two ChoicePoint services most directly targeted at law enforcement customers.

Within 15 days after its Sept. 19 closing on ChoicePoint, Reed is required to sell ChoicePoint’s AutoTrackXP and Consolidated Lead Evaluation and Reporting (CLEAR) services to Thomson Reuters Legal. You can read more in this FTC announcement in these FTC legal documents. See also this article from DMNews and this blog post from beSpacific.

The FTC documents said nothing about the acquisition’s impact on the broader public-records market. Given that both LexisNexis and ChoicePoint are major providers of public-records research, I have to assume the FTC looked into this. If any readers have further information, please post it below.