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BlawgWorld: Lawyer David Sparks' Presentations Plus 56 More Must-Reads

By Kathryn Hughes | Friday, August 1, 2014

Coming today to BlawgWorld: Our editorial team has selected and linked to 57 articles from the past week worthy of your attention. Below you'll find a sample article from each section of today's issue, including our BlawgWorld Pick of the Week.

USB Hub Buyer's Guide

The Best iPhone Calendar Apps

Please Share Your Memories of Ross Kodner

The Fascinating History of Autocorrect

Congratulations to Jeff Richardson of iPhone J.D. on winning our BlawgWorld Pick of the Week award: Review of Lawyer David Sparks' Presentations

How to Receive BlawgWorld
Our newsletters provide the most comprehensive coverage of both legal technology and mainstream technology of interest to the legal profession (e.g., monitors, smartphones, scanners, the iPad, and more). But not the only coverage. BlawgWorld enables you to stay on top of all the noteworthy legal and mainstream technology articles (and podcasts and videos) published elsewhere without having to hire a research assistant. Even when you're busy, you won't want to miss each issue's Pick of the Week. Please subscribe now.

Topics: BlawgWorld Newsletter | Computer Accessories | Gadgets/Shredders/Office Gear | Laptops/Smartphones/Tablets | Practice Management/Calendars | Presentations/Projectors | Technology Industry/Legal Profession

Why I Ditched the iPad; Review of Sony ICD-P520; Achieving a Paperless Law Office; Document Naming Twist

By Kathryn Hughes | Friday, August 1, 2014

Today's issue of TL Answers contains these articles:

Mark Klarich, Not Waiting for Godot: Why I Ditched My iPad

William Reaves, Review: Sony Digital Recorder ICD-P520

Tim Tierney, The Six Steps to Paperless Law Office

Steve Long, When to Place the Document Type Before the Date

Don't miss this issue — or any future issues.

How to Receive TL Answers
Do you believe in the wisdom of crowds? In TL Answers, TechnoLawyer members answer legal technology and practice management questions submitted by their peers. This newsletter's popularity stems from the relevance of the questions and answers to virtually everyone in the legal profession. The TL Answers newsletter is free so don't miss the next issue. Please subscribe now.

Topics: Coming Attractions | Dictation/OCR/Speech Recognition | Document Management | Laptops/Smartphones/Tablets | Practice Management/Calendars | TL Answers

Actionstep 14.7: Read Our Exclusive Report

By Neil J. Squillante | Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers a cloud accounting, billing, and practice management application with a new technology for the fast pace and unpredictable nature of law firm work (see article below), a website that creates a printer version of web articles, a cloud application to ensure consistent use of your firm's templates, and an application that mirrors your iOS device onto your computer or Android device. Don't miss the next issue.

LEGAL PRACTICE MANAGEMENT THAT REFLECTS LAW FIRM REALITY

Lawyers have an unpredictable job. For example, clients — some of them from the distant past — will contact you out of the blue with questions. This makes it challenging to enter time and other information into the structured fields of practice management systems. You just don't have the time in the heat of the moment so instead you use a scrap of paper that you inevitably forget about or lose. A new technology promises to break this vicious cycle.

Actionstep 14.7 … in One Sentence

Launched today, Actionstep 14.7 is a cloud accounting, billing, and practice management application that automates tasks via workflows.

The Killer Feature

Like other practice management applications, Actionstep stores structured data. This is a necessity so that for example an email address resides in a designated place and acts the way it should when clicked.

However, the new version of Actionstep has a "Scratch Pad" for quickly entering unstructured information when you're in a rush. Later when your day calms down, you can convert these notes into structured data such as calendar events, contacts, tasks, time entries, etc.

Actionstep can remind you to revisit your notes so that you don't fall behind. Each user's Scratch Pad is private, enabling you to brain dump without worrying about anyone else reading your unpolished notes.

The company spent a lot of time testing Scratch Pad with volunteer lawyers to optimize the user experience. "Scratch Pad is a great example of how we are shaping the software to match the way lawyers instinctively think and work," Actionstep CEO Ted Jordan told us.

Other Notable Features

Also new, the Activity Log provides a Facebook-style news feed of what you and your colleagues have done recently — new matters, updates on existing matters, task assignments, etc.

The Activity Log complements Actionstep's signature Workflows technology, which guides users through each step of complex yet routine tasks such as client intake, court-specific litigation deadlines, checklists for specific types of documents, etc. Workflows essentially tell everyone "what's next" (and who should handle it) while the Activity Log tells everyone "what happened" (including new steps added to Workflows). Together, these two technologies aim to provide quality control throughout your firm.

A step in a Workflow may involve creating a document. Thanks to Actionstep's built-in document assembly engine and integration with Microsoft Office, you can store Word templates within Actionstep, fill in merge fields with data from a client's record, and store the final document in a specific matter. The document assembly technology also enables you to create web templates for clients to fill out, and send personalized bulk email messages such as for billing. Actionstep integrates with HotDocs for more advanced document assembly.

Other features include Outlook and Gmail plugins for saving email and attachments within a matter, and general ledger and trust accounting so that you need not pay for a separate accounting solution or deal with integration and duplicate data hassles.

What Else Should You Know?

Actionstep costs $60 per user per month. It works in all desktop and mobile web browsers. You can try it for free. The company offers a growing library of preconfigured and customizable Workflows in its online store such as its popular U.S. Litigation Pack. Learn more about Actionstep 14.7.

How to Receive TL NewsWire
So many products, so little time. In each issue of TL NewsWire, you'll learn about five new products for the legal profession. Pressed for time? The newsletter's innovative articles enable lawyers and law office administrators to quickly understand the function of a product, and zero in on its most important features. The TL NewsWire newsletter is free so don't miss the next issue. Please subscribe now.

Topics: Accounting/Billing/Time Capture | Automation/Document Assembly/Macros | Coming Attractions | Practice Management/Calendars | TL NewsWire

Three Common Productivity Tasks That an iPad Performs Better Than a PC

By Neil J. Squillante | Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Can the iPad perform productivity tasks? Obviously. But can it perform them more efficiently than a PC? This is the more important question, which we continually research. In this issue of TL Research, we explain three tasks that the iPad performs better in terms of both functionality and speed than a PC. The accompanying video demonstrates two of these tasks.

THREE COMMON PRODUCTIVITY TASKS THAT AN IPAD PERFORMS BETTER THAN A PC

In a recent episode of the A16Z podcast Andreessen Horowitz partner and mobile computing analyst Benedict Evans described smartphones as "way more sophicated than a PC" thanks to their camera and sensors.

He's right. It's relatively easy to build your own PC. However, you cannot build a smartphone — or a tablet — in your den. The mobile operating systems that run these devices likewise outclass their desktop counterparts. Look no further than installing and uninstalling apps as proof.

Sophistication Versus Utility

Of course, sophistication is just one aspect of a tool. A Tesla is more sophisticated than a Toyota Camry, but the latter will serve you better for most driving tasks thanks to the plethora of gas stations. While Tesla has a long road ahead, what about the iPad? It's the most popular tablet among TechnoLawyer members and all lawyers for that matter.

Over the past few years, lawyers have debated whether you can use an iPad for so-called "real work." While enjoyable, this debate sidesteps the more important question — should you even if you can?

For example, most lawyers can type faster on a PC than on an iPad. And despite my high hopes for taking handwritten notes when the iPad mini launched (our most tweeted article), I'm now more bullish on smartpens that write on paper and transfer your notes to an iPad.

On the other hand, the iPad bests the PC (and Mac) at certain tasks. Below are three that the iPad performs better in terms of both functionality and speed than a PC based on our research.

1. Sharing Web Articles

Email remains the most common way to privately share articles you find on the web with clients, colleagues, and friends.

Most people share articles by copying and pasting the URL into the email message they send. Recipients must click the URL, which means they cannot read your message and the article in the same place. And what if the article resides on a website that requires a subscription?

On an iPad (and iPhone), you can easily send the entire article inside your email message.

In Safari, tap the Reader button on the left side of the address bar (it's an icon comprised of four horizontal lines). This eliminates all the surrounding cruft, leaving only the article. Next tap the Share button to the left of the Reader button. Finally tap the Mail button. (If the article spans several pages, start with the printer-friendly version if one exists.)

This three tap sequence places the URL and the entire article into a new email message. Write whatever you want above the article and send the message.

The above video demonstrates this feature. Try sharing this article.

2. Adding Contacts From Unstructured Data

A number of Outlook add-ons such as Gwabbit and Copy2Contact exist that can recognize email addresses, street addresses, telephone numbers, etc. in the body of email messages (e.g., signatures) so that you can quickly create new contacts.

That's nice but the Mail app in iOS recognizes this unstructured data without having to buy any extra software.

You probably know how to tap an email address to start a new message, a street address to view that location in Maps, and a telephone number to make a call (iPhone only).

However, if you tap and hold you'll see an option to create a new contact or add the information to an existing contact.

The iOS Contacts database syncs with Google Apps, Office 365, and Microsoft Exchange in addition to Apple's iCloud. If you use one of these services (if you don't you should), the additions and changes you make on your iPad will appear in Outlook on your PC (or whichever application you use to store contacts).

Watch the above video for a demonstration of this feature.

3. Replacing Paper

A growing number of lawyers already use their iPad as a paper replacement, but it's such a powerful use case that it bears mentioning. The iPad offers an excellent reading experience while offering much better portability than paper once you get beyond 50 or so pages.

First, using any number of apps such as Adobe Reader, GoodReader, Notability, NoteSuite, PDF Expert, etc., you can store PDF documents on your iPad and annotate them. The sync services that these apps support make it easy to move documents from your PC to your iPad. There's no reason to lug reference books to court anymore. Or for that matter to save paper user guides when you buy a new whatever (most companies make their user guides available online in PDF format).

Second, consider taking paper replacement further. For example, hand your clients your iPad to show them a document. If everyone at a meeting has an iPad, use an app like Slingshot to share your screen with them. Finally, consider reviewing depositions on your iPad using an app such as TextMap or TranscriptPad.

The Future Ain't What It Used to Be

As Yogi Berra's quote teaches us, new technologies inevitably surpass old technologies, evolving from toys to necessities. The iPad has already proved its potential. iOS 8 — especially extensions — will add to the number of productivity tasks it can perform better than a PC.

Neil J. Squillante is the publisher of TechnoLawyer.

How to Receive TL Research
Our flagship newsletter offers in-depth buyer's guides and other helpful research reports for everyone in the legal profession. Written in plain English by leading experts, these reports combine exhaustive research with sound statistical techniques to provide you with reliable analysis, data, and insights. Just as importantly, TL Research reports often include benchmarks, charts, and other visuals that bring the information to life. TechnoLawyer members regularly use TL Research reports at strategic planning meetings. The TL Research newsletter is free so don't miss the next issue. Please subscribe now.

Topics: Business Productivity/Word Processing | Document Management | Laptops/Smartphones/Tablets | Practice Management/Calendars | TL Research

Reviews of Exchange Online, Olympus DS-5000; Email and Word on iPads; Goodbye Legal Software; Help Me Go Paperless

By Kathryn Hughes | Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Today's issue of TL Answers contains these articles:

Douglas Morrison, Review: Microsoft Exchange Online (Synced Email Service)

Alan Gamse, Email and Microsoft Word Tips for iPad Users

Chris Raesz, Why I Gave Up on Legal Billing and Practice Management Software

Matthew McInteer, Review: Olympus DS-5000

Don't miss this issue — or any future issues.

How to Receive TL Answers
Do you believe in the wisdom of crowds? In TL Answers, TechnoLawyer members answer legal technology and practice management questions submitted by their peers. This newsletter's popularity stems from the relevance of the questions and answers to virtually everyone in the legal profession. The TL Answers newsletter is free so don't miss the next issue. Please subscribe now.

Topics: Accounting/Billing/Time Capture | Coming Attractions | Dictation/OCR/Speech Recognition | Email/Messaging/Telephony | Laptops/Smartphones/Tablets | Practice Management/Calendars | TL Answers

Review of MyCase Plus New Research on Improving Your Website

By Kathryn Hughes | Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Coming today to SmallLaw: Created by lawyers, MyCase has established itself as one of the major cloud practice management systems. In this issue of SmallLaw, lawyer and software connoisseur Chandra Lewnau evaluates MyCase from the perspective of both a power user like her and a newbie like several of her colleagues. The result is the definitive MyCase review, touching on virtually every feature from importing data to user experience to calendars and contacts to tasks and workflows, and much more. Also, don't miss the SmallLaw Pick of the Week for new research on how to improve the performance of your law firm's website.

How to Receive SmallLaw
Small firm, big dreams. Written by practicing lawyers who manage successful small firms and legal technology and practice management experts who have achieved rock star status, SmallLaw provides practical advice on management, marketing, and technology issues in small law firms, as well as comprehensive legal product reviews with accompanying TechnoScore ratings. SmallLaw also ensures that you won't miss anything published elsewhere by linking to helpful articles (and podcasts and videos) about solo practices and small law firms. The SmallLaw newsletter is free so don't miss the next issue. Please subscribe now.

Topics: Accounting/Billing/Time Capture | Coming Attractions | Online/Cloud | Practice Management/Calendars | SmallLaw

A Small Firm That Beats Mega Firms Plus Media Coverage

By Kathryn Hughes | Thursday, July 17, 2014

Coming today to SmallLaw: Stephen Babcock of Babcock Partners doesn't hew to stereotypes. His small litigation boutique competes against large law firms both for clients and in the courtroom. In this issue of SmallLaw, lawyer and journalist Marin Feldman profiles this Louisiana law firm and its founder. You'll learn how Babcock gained complex litigation experience directly out of law school, why his firm has invested more than $150,000 in technology (including the products purchased), and his secrets to success. Also, don't miss the SmallLaw Pick of the Week to learn how to obtain mainstream media coverage for yourself and your law firm.

How to Receive SmallLaw
Small firm, big dreams. Written by practicing lawyers who manage successful small firms and legal technology and practice management experts who have achieved rock star status, SmallLaw provides practical advice on management, marketing, and technology issues in small law firms, as well as comprehensive legal product reviews with accompanying TechnoScore ratings. SmallLaw also ensures that you won't miss anything published elsewhere by linking to helpful articles (and podcasts and videos) about solo practices and small law firms. The SmallLaw newsletter is free so don't miss the next issue. Please subscribe now.

Topics: Accounting/Billing/Time Capture | Collaboration/Knowledge Management | Coming Attractions | Document Management | Law Firm Marketing/Publications/Web Sites | Litigation/Discovery/Trials | Practice Management/Calendars | SmallLaw

Technology for a Small Law Firm; Reviews of DS-5000, AS-5000, AutoHotkey; Office 365

By Kathryn Hughes | Thursday, July 10, 2014

Today's issue of TL Answers contains these articles:

Karl M. Rowe, Technology for a Small, Growing Law Firm

Neal Frishberg, Review: Olympus DS-5000 Recorder, AS-5000 Transcriber

Tom Trottier, Review: AutoHotkey, Automating Document Naming

Emmett Raitt, Review: Office 365 and Outlook Web App for Syncing Among Devices

Don't miss this issue — or any future issues.

How to Receive TL Answers
Do you believe in the wisdom of crowds? In TL Answers, TechnoLawyer members answer legal technology and practice management questions submitted by their peers. This newsletter's popularity stems from the relevance of the questions and answers to virtually everyone in the legal profession. The TL Answers newsletter is free so don't miss the next issue. Please subscribe now.

Topics: Automation/Document Assembly/Macros | Business Productivity/Word Processing | Coming Attractions | Dictation/OCR/Speech Recognition | Document Management | Email/Messaging/Telephony | Laptops/Smartphones/Tablets | Practice Management/Calendars | Privacy/Security | TL Answers | Utilities

Neil Squillante on the Top New Legal Technology Products Plus 62 More Must-Reads

By Neil J. Squillante | Monday, July 7, 2014

Coming today to BlawgWorld: Our editorial team has selected and linked to 63 articles from the past week worthy of your attention. Below you'll find a sample article from each section of today's issue, including our BlawgWorld Pick of the Week.

Review: InfoQube (Ecco Pro Reincarnated)

How to Create Saved Search Folders

How to Take Notes With Siri

Snowden FAQ and His Impact on Law Practice

Congratulations to Heidi Alexander of Legal Toolkit on winning our BlawgWorld Pick of the Week award: Top New Legal Technology Products of 2014

How to Receive BlawgWorld
Our newsletters provide the most comprehensive coverage of both legal technology and mainstream technology of interest to the legal profession (e.g., monitors, smartphones, scanners, the iPad, and more). But not the only coverage. BlawgWorld enables you to stay on top of all the noteworthy legal and mainstream technology articles (and podcasts and videos) published elsewhere without having to hire a research assistant. Even when you're busy, you won't want to miss each issue's Pick of the Week. Please subscribe now.

Topics: BlawgWorld Newsletter | Collaboration/Knowledge Management | Coming Attractions | Laptops/Smartphones/Tablets | Networking/Operating Systems | Practice Management/Calendars | Privacy/Security | TechnoLawyer

Reviews of WordPress, BackupBuddy, CompassPoint Legal; Time Matters v. Alternatives; Desktop as a Service

By Kathryn Hughes | Thursday, July 3, 2014

Today's issue of TL Answers contains these articles:

Philip Franckel, Review: WordPress and BackupBuddy (for Law Firm Websites)

Paul Purdue, Review: CompassPoint Legal (Desktop as a Service)

Bobby Abrams, Review: Time Matters Versus Alternatives

Caren Schwartz, Desktop as a Service Explained (Works on Macs and PCs)

Don't miss this issue — or any future issues.

How to Receive TL Answers
Do you believe in the wisdom of crowds? In TL Answers, TechnoLawyer members answer legal technology and practice management questions submitted by their peers. This newsletter's popularity stems from the relevance of the questions and answers to virtually everyone in the legal profession. The TL Answers newsletter is free so don't miss the next issue. Please subscribe now.

Topics: Accounting/Billing/Time Capture | Backup/Media/Storage | Coming Attractions | Law Firm Marketing/Publications/Web Sites | Networking/Operating Systems | Online/Cloud | Practice Management/Calendars | TL Answers
 
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