[Note: Scroll down for the latest in Legal Tech Products and Services Spotlight section.]
LEGAL TECHNOLOGY AND HOW TO PICK IT
The right legal technology can help level the playing field for the solo and small office practitioner. Appropriate legal technology choices should take into consideration your type of practice, your existing equipment, and whether you have staff, among other things.
Are you needing a tech overhaul because your equipment is obsolete, or are you merely want to augment what you currently have? How do you find out what’s right for you? Are you just starting out?
The good news is that easily understood legal tech information is available — for FREE. Online resources are just a click away.
Candid, Product-Specific Reviews
Avail yourself of candid, product specific reviews by tech able, practicing lawyers, nationwide and locally, who have vetted tech solutions in their blogs. Examples of excellent lawyer blogs with product reviews or links to helpful product and service reviews are:
Above and Beyond by Mary Abraham: After practicing corporate law, Mary Abraham now advises firms on knowledge management (i.e., the process of capturing, developing, storing and effectively using organizational knowledge) and the use of technology and social media. Though focused mostly on large firms, her posts often address issues useful to the small office practitioner.
Future Lawyer by Richard Georges: Dedicated to the "future technology for the lawyer today." the lawyer author features emerging technologies.
Law Practice Tips Blog by Jim Calloway: A practice management advisor with the Oklahoma State Bar Association (and speaker at past LSBA Solo and Small Firm Conferences), Jim Calloway's searchable blog offers excellent practical technology tips for the small office practitioner.
Lawyerist.com by Sam Glover: This searchable site is managed by lawyer Sam Glover who writes along with many other contributing notable authors on topics such as practice management, starting a law firm, technology, marketing and ethics.
For other lawyer blog sites, check the American Bar Association’s comprehensive law blog listing.
ABA’s Legal Resource Technology Center
Go to the ABA’s Legal Resource Technology Center (LRTC)
for many excellent comprehensive FREE
resources (ABA membership is not required!
). Of particular note is the LRTC’s extensive comparison chart of the latest legal technology products
: case management systems, time and billing products, litigation support and blog or website providers. The ABA’s LRTC also dedicates a webpage which assembles current information on variety of technology topics
- well worth a look. .
Access a Podcast
Hear podcasts from the ABA’s The Digital Edge: Lawyers and Technology
, featuring practitioners who offer their views and critiques on products and tech strategies.
Like Real Books?
Get a discount on this one: An excellent
resource, in softbound book form, is the yearly Solo and Small Firm Legal Technology Guide: Critical Decisions Made Simple
by Sharon D. Nelson, John W. Simek and Michael C. Maschke. Nelson and Simek were featured speakers at the LSBA’s 2013 Solo and Small Firm Conference. This annual guide is the only one of its kind, written to assist the small office practitioner find the best tech for the dollar. You’ll find the most current information and recommendations on computers, servers, networking equipment, legal software, cloud computing, printers, security products, smartphones, the iPad and anything else a lawyer might need. The authors also provide step-by-step instructions for making sound tech decisions.
This book is worth a look. You have a couple of options:
- Borrow a copy from the LSBA’s Lending Library. Contact Lucia Anderson (firstname.lastname@example.org, 504.619.0110) for more information.
- If you want to purchase a copy, the LSBA is offering the book at a favorable discounted rate. To obtain a copy of the 2014 guide at the discounted rate of $50 (regularly sells for $90), call Kristy Nunez at (504)619-0138.
Ask Your Colleagues
Finally, tech advice also can come from your fellow practitioners. Find others whose practices are like yours and compare notes. Attend the LSBA’s technology seminars and, in particular, the Solo and Small Firm Conference, which feature technology speakers and offer important networking opportunities to discuss technology decisions with your fellow practitioners.
Shawn L. Holahan, Esq.
Practice Managment Counsel
***LEGAL TECH PRODUCTS AND SERVICES SPOTLIGHT***
This section will serve to highlight various tech products and services on an informative, caveat emptor
basis. Though a product or service may be discussed here, such should not be construed as the LSBA's recommendation, endorsement or review of the product or service (although occasionally, links to reviews by others may be included). Keep in mind that prices cited may often be lower than stated.
"PDF," an acronym for "portable document format," allows a document to be presented or sent in a manner independent of the application software, hardware or operating system that created it. In the early 90s, Adobe Systems created the first PDF program, officially releasing a free "read only" program with which most of us are familiar. While the "read only" feature remains free, manipulation of PDF documents (i.e., cutting and pasting from a PDF document, converting a PDF document to WORD, etc.) requires additional tools. Here are two companies which offer products for this:
Adobe XI Pro: This product is available as a cloud based service for $19.99/month, or as a digital or download software for $449. (Pricing accurate as of 6-24-14).
Power PDF Advanced: This product is a direct competitor of Adobe XI Pro and does almost everything that the Adobe product does, except it currently retails at $149. (Pricing accurate as of 6-24-14). Desktop/Portable Scanners:
Reduce clutter with a desktop/portable scanner. These space saving (no bigger than a bread box; some portables no larger than a stack of wooden rulers), relatively inexpensive, very easy to use devices can digitize and scan quickly papers to a file on your computer or server, or attach them to an email, or send them to a printer in your office. Desktop and portable scanners are "must have" items for the small office practitioner as well as for lawyers in larger firms. Several are highlighted below:
Fujitsu Scan Snap: Fujitsu offers several models which differ in the number of pages scanned at a time and in the size of the device. As follows:
iX500: Desktop sized, this device can work over WiFi and comes with Adobe Acrobat Standard for Windows at no extra charge. This device creates searchable pdf documents, scans up to 50 pp at a rate of 25 ppm (even double-sided), is PM/Mac compatible and scans can be directed to Evernote and to Microsoft's Sharepoint. $419 (pricing accurate as of 8-19-14).
ScanSnap S1100 Color Bundle Mobile Scanner: Fujitsu's smallest ScanSnap, this device connects to your laptop via a USB 2.0 port and scans business cards, letter, legal and customized documents. $169 (pricing accurate as of 8-19-14).
Canon's DR-C225 Document Scanner: Canon just released its new scanning device which is comparable to the Fujitsu ix500 in terms of capability. $414 (pricing accurate as of 8-19-14).
Kodak's ScanMate i940: This device is a good compromise between the larger desktop scanners and the smaller portable devices. It will fit up to 20 pp at a time and can be powered from a single USB cable. $175 (pricing accurate as of 8-19-14)