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Actevis Collection Wizard Offers Affordable Do-It-Yourself Ediscovery Collection for Small Cases

By TechnoLawyer | Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers do-it-yourself ediscovery collection software at a price point far below the industry average(see article below). In addition, you'll find links to the previous 11 TL NewsWire features, including our coverage of cloud practice management software for law firms that crave the billing and automation features of legacy software, a federal tax law research tool that facilitates point-in-time analysis and redlines showing changes, and much more. Don't miss the next issue.

Most litigators work in firms with fewer than five lawyers and handle disputes with a relatively small number of witnesses. However, most ediscovery software for collecting potential evidence — electronically stored information (ESI) — from custodian computers is cost prohibitive.

Actevis Collection Wizard … in One Sentence

Launched recently, Actevis Collection Wizard is forensically defensible, do-it-yourself ediscovery collection software at a low price point.

The Killer Feature

Before starting his demo, Actevis Systems' Chief Software Architect Martin Reich tells me about what I'll call the "ediscovery collection gap." Hiring a consultant to run collection software such as industry giant EnCase costs about $2,000 per custodian.

Accordingly, many litigators omit custodians to save money. Or they may forego using such software altogether, and instead instruct custodians to self-collect from their computers using drag and drop to an external drive. These litigators run the risk of being called as a witness if opposing counsel challenges the chain of custody or completeness of the collection. Mistakes can result in sanctions.

Actevis Collection Wizard offers forensically-sound do-it-yourself collection for $100 per custodian computer. "Actevis Collection Wizard already complies with proposed FRE 902(14) on data collection audit trails expected to become final this year," says Reich. "As a lawyer, you shouldn't collect evidence in a haphazard manner," adds co-founder David Golden. "You don't want your evidence and your competency in ediscovery challenged by opposing counsel."

Other Notable Features

Actevis Collection Wizard runs on Windows PCs. Once downloaded, it walks you through three steps. First, you select the target drive or folder (the C drive is the default). Second, you select the output format such as the native files in the folder structure on the custodian machine or a small set of ZIP files. Third, you select where to save the copy. When configuring the settings, you can exclude file types such as images, restrict the collection to a specific date range, etc.

Email often trips up collection projects. For example, web-based ediscovery tools cannot collect email when Outlook is running according to Reich. Also, many custodians don't know how to export PST files from Outlook. Actevis Collection Wizard collects email from Outlook regardless of its state and without the need to create a PST file. The Recycle Bin likewise can pose collection challenges but not for Actevis Collection Wizard.

To ensure that each copy is identical to its original counterpart and that no tampering has occurred, Actevis Collection Wizard uses the latest file verification protocols — known as "hashing." A group of automatically generated reports provides a defensible audit trail if challenged. For example, the reports list all your settings and all collected files and their corresponding hashes. An expert can use these reports to authenticate the files you produce to opposing counsel. You can have the Collection Summary report emailed to you when the collection process concludes.

What Else Should You Know?

You can run Actevis Collection Wizard an unlimited number of times on a custodian PC for 90 days. This enables you to export in native file format for early case assessment, and then again later for importing into your ediscovery review software. Learn more about Actevis Collection Wizard.

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: Litigation/Discovery/Trials | TL NewsWire

Centerbase Offers a Cloud Practice Management Path for Firms With Complex Billing Requirements

By TechnoLawyer | Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers cloud practice management software for law firms that crave the billing and automation features of legacy software (see article below). In addition, you'll find links to the previous 11 TL NewsWire features, including our coverage of a federal tax law research tool that facilitates point-in-time analysis and redlines showing changes, a legal research service that now provides insights on the judges overseeing your cases in certain federal practice areas, and much more. Don't miss the next issue.

Many law firms find cloud practice management products alluring but lacking in functionality compared to legacy on-premises products. The market seems ripe for cloud practice management software that bridges this gap.

Centerbase … in One Sentence

Centerbase is cloud practice management software with billing and workflow features for law firms with complex business processes such as revenue allocation rules.

The Killer Feature

Before giving me a demo, Founder and CEO John Forbes tells me, "Our sophisticated billing functionality makes Centerbase a great option for law firms looking to move to the cloud from older, server based software such as Time Matters, Timeslips, and Juris."

Forbes is referring to features like the Matters Dashboard, which has functionality similar to Time Matters' Power Views. You can configure the Matters Dashboard to display just about anything related to a matter, including billing information.

You can also configure settings such as trust account thresholds, timekeeper rates, and compensation rules on a firm-wide basis or at the client or matter level. These rules can encompass factors like partner commissions and origination credit. You can also create rules specific to your practice area. For example, your state may require allocating overpayments by clients to a trust account.

Centerbase supports financial controls such as closing dates that lock posted transactions, prebill approvals, write-offs, and adding trust replenishments to the amount due on invoices. Customizable Invoice Templates enable you to create different invoice designs for certain clients or matter types. Invoice delivery options include email, PDF, and ebilling protocols such as LEDES, the latter of which you can configure to accommodate any system. Centerbase also supports credit card payments from a payment button in email invoices.

Centerbase includes a number of reports such as accounts receivable, fee receipts, and timekeeper analysis. The company routinely adds reports based on customer requests. Certified consultants can create custom reports for you.

"Centerbase increased the productivity and efficiency of our entire firm," says Kenneth Sheets, partner at Payne & Blanchard, which switched from Juris. "The team over at Centerbase has been there with us throughout the transition process, making it easier on everyone."

Other Notable Features

If Centerbase doesn't support a process in your firm, you can create a Workflow using the company's free Database Designer. These Workflows can automatically generate and assign tasks to lawyers and staff, send automated email, generate documents from templates, fill in form fields, and create new records. Potential uses include client intake, project management, and referral tracking. You access Workflows from the Custom Actions menu in the Matters Dashboard and other dashboards.

Centerbase takes a unique approach to email and document management. An Outlook add-in can file email messages and attachments in the corresponding matter. Time slips can be created in Outlook when you view or send an email. For documents, Centerbase can appear as a mapped drive in Windows such as on your file server. Any documents placed there become available in Centerbase and vice versa. Centerbase includes 5 TB of space.

What Else Should You Know?

Other key integrations include on-premise Microsoft products, Office 365, and QuickBooks Online. The Centerbase Mobile app provides access to everything on your iPhone. Most importantly, you can enter time on the go. Centerbase costs $52 per user per month. Learn more about Centerbase.

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 | Practice Management/Calendars | TL NewsWire

Standard Fed Plus Brings Point-in-Time Analysis and Comparison Tools to Tax Law

By TechnoLawyer | Thursday, March 2, 2017

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers a federal tax law research tool that facilitates point-in-time analysis and redlines showing changes (see article below). In addition, you'll find links to the previous 11 TL NewsWire features, including our coverage of a legal research service that now provides insights on the judges overseeing your cases in certain federal practice areas, practice management and legal accounting software that can download bank and credit card transactions for faster reconciliations, and much more. Don't miss the next issue.

Tax lawyers are historians. Specifically, they often must identify differences over time by comparing versions of the Internal Revenue Code (Tax Code) and related materials. Surprisingly, most do this by looking back and forth at two versions of these materials, which can lead to mistakes in interpretation.

Standard Fed Plus … in One Sentence

Launched recently, Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory, U.S.' Standard Fed Plus is a new online practice tool based on the Standard Federal Tax Reporter that enables you to compare versions of the tax laws and commentary at different points in time with redlines of the changes.

The Killer Feature

Given that lawyers usually redline their own documents, why not the law too? This clever idea led tax-lawyer-turned-product-director Benjamin Snipes to develop Standard Fed Plus accessed within Cheetah, Wolters Kluwer's new legal research platform.

When you navigate to a section of the Standard Federal Tax Reporter in Cheetah, Standard Fed Plus displays a timeline across the top of the page listing every date on which that section changed. This facilitates a Point-in-Time Analysis — click a date to read that version, click another date, etc. If you need more context during your research, you'll find links to the corresponding legislative history and Standard Federal Tax Reporter commentary. You can also find tax-related case law. Standard Fed Plus can save you about 15 minutes per search according to Snipes.

Given the volume of changes that can occur in the Tax Code, the Redlining Comparison Tool in Standard Fed Plus enables you to compare two versions of a section with additions in green and deletions in red similar to Track Changes in Microsoft Word. In fact, you can copy and paste this redline intact into a Microsoft Word or WordPerfect document such as in a research memo or opinion letter you're drafting. The algorithm Snipes and his team created further reduces "immaterial noise" from the redline.

"Standard Fed Plus is part of our ongoing effort to introduce new, user-friendly and authoritative solutions to frequent challenges faced by tax attorneys and other tax professionals, and integrate accurate content into their workflow," said Dean Sonderegger, Vice President & General Manager, Legal Markets & Innovation. "Even looking beyond the game-changing Point-in-Time Navigation and Redlining Comparison features, Standard Fed Plus combines authoritative content, expert analysis, practice tools, and a current awareness for legal professionals seeking to gain insights on today's most challenging tax matters."

Other Notable Features

In addition to its federal tax offerings, Cheetah contains primary and secondary tax materials from the CCH and Aspen imprints across many other practice areas ranging from antitrust to employee benefits to securities and more. Iconic titles such as Mergers, Acquisitions, and Buyouts by Ginsburg, Levin and Rocap are exclusive.

Cheetah sports a new, responsive design that adjusts to any size screen from a large monitor to an iPhone. Features such as auto-fill and auto-suggest speed up your searches. Related Content and Metadata links enable you to dig deeper without having to run a separate search. You can use the ever-present Copy Link tool to send a colleague to a case, Tax Code section, etc.

What Else Should You Know?

Standard Fed Plus currently encompasses versions the tax laws from 1986 to today, including CCH's commentary and legislative history, and will soon extend this history back to 1917. Learn more about Standard Fed Plus.

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: Legal Research | TL NewsWire

Lexis Advance Now Includes Insights on Judges Powered by Lex Machina

By TechnoLawyer | Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers a legal research service that now provides insights on the judges overseeing your cases in certain federal practice areas (see article below). In addition, you'll find links to the previous 11 TL NewsWire features, including our coverage of practice management and legal accounting software that can download bank and credit card transactions for faster reconciliations, practice management software with a Dropbox-like mechanism for sharing files with clients, and much more. Don't miss the next issue.

Winning a case requires more than understanding the facts and applicable law. You also need to size up the judge, opposing counsel, and the parties. Understanding this human dynamic can tip the balance in your favor.

Lexis Advance … in One Sentence

Lexis Advance is a leading legal research service that now includes litigation analytics from Lex Machina.

The Killer Feature

When you next have a case on an antitrust, copyright, patent, trademark, or securities issue, you can use Lexis Advance to research the judge presiding over your case. Soon you'll also be able to research opposing counsel and competing law firms.

This data comes from Lex Machina, a company LexisNexis acquired in 2015. Lex Machina transforms data from federal court dockets into live charts. In Lexis Advance, you can access this data by clicking on the hyperlinked judge's name in the text of a case or in the new Legal Analytics box to the right of the case text.

This link takes you to a summary with the judge's biographical information, open cases by practice area, comparisons to other judges in the district, cases filed by year, and case timelines. These latter charts give you a sense of how long the dispute may take to resolve and the odds of a trial. Lexis Advance users can access these summaries without a Lex Machina subscription.

"With access to summary charts, graphs, and information about judges from Lex Machina, Lexis Advance users can quickly and accurately understand the justice presiding over their case, better anticipate his or her behavior and illuminate probable case outcomes — with the option to click out to Lex Machina for more detail," says Sean Fitzpatrick, Managing Director for North American Research Solutions at LexisNexis. "It is an early step in our strategy to integrate high value analytic and visualization tools directly into the Lexis Advance research experience."

Other Notable Features

For deeper insights, you can click from this summary in Lexis Advance to the Lex Machina website if you have a subscription to the latter. Lex Machina's Motion Chains enables you to analyze your odds of success for a specific type of motion based on historical data. Similarly, you can see how opposing counsel has performed on similar cases or before your judge. You can also research parties, case damages, venues, practice areas, etc. for business development purposes. As you research, you can download briefs, exhibits, and other documents from cases of interest.

Lex Machina offers a growing number of specialized apps. For example, Patent Portfolio Evaluator lists the complete litigation history for a specific patent. Damages Explorer enables you to forecast likely damages and attorney fees as well as compare damages when forum shopping. Early Case Assessor gives you an overview of the plaintiff's litigation history from recent activity to venues to counsel. Other apps consist of Courts & Judges Comparator, Law Firms Comparator, and Parties Comparator.

What Else Should You Know?

In addition to litigation analytics, you'll notice another new feature in Lexis Advance — Reason for Shepard's Signal. This provides you with instant context for each dreaded red or yellow Shepard's signal or instant peace of mind when the signal is green. Reason for Shepard's Signal is currently available for cases since 2003 with older cases coming soon. Learn more about Lexis Advance.

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: Legal Research | TL NewsWire

CosmoLex's Bank Data Feed Automatically Downloads Checking, Trust, and Credit Card Transactions

By TechnoLawyer | Thursday, February 16, 2017

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers practice management and legal accounting software that can download bank and credit card transactions for faster reconciliations (see article below). In addition, you'll find links to the previous 11 TL NewsWire features, including our coverage of practice management software with a Dropbox-like mechanism for sharing files with clients, software for managing trademarks and other IP assets, practice management software for personal injury lawyers, and much more. Don't miss the next issue.

Online banking is a modern marvel we all take for granted. However, reconciliation remains a tedious process. PDF bank statements may save trees but they don't save time. Instead, your legal accounting software should be able to download transactions directly from your bank on daily basis.

CosmoLex v4.6 … in One Sentence

Launching this week, CosmoLex v4.6 is cloud law practice and financial management software that securely retrieves checking, trust, and credit card account transactions.

The Killer Feature

CosmoLex's new Bank Data Feed technology integrates with all major banks, more than 2,000 community and regional banks, and credit card providers such as Chase and Citibank. Login verification occurs directly with each bank. Role-based permissions enable you to restrict user level access to Bank Data Feeds as well as other areas of CosmoLex for internal security.

You can review and accept transactions one at a time or in bulk from a Bank Data Feed instead of entering them manually. This may make sense for credit card statements. You can assign transactions to matters or a general ledger account.

For bank and especially trust accounts, you can instead use the Bank Data Feed for daily reconciliation. CosmoLex automatically matches the transactions your staff has entered with those from the Bank Data Feed and identifies any discrepancies.

"We identified an inability to utilize bank data feeds as a glaring weakness across the law practice management industry," says Rick Kabra, CEO of CosmoLex. "This new functionality is another example of how we continue to separate ourselves from the rest of the industry. Giving firms the ability to automatically import bank data feeds increases the value of our offering exponentially."

Other Notable Features

As Kabra intimates, CosmoLex offers general ledger and trust accounting, which obviates the need to use general accounting software. The CosmoLex Accountant Program enables your accountant to use CosmoLex for free. CosmoLex works with QuickBooks formatted checks (the company also sells its own line of checks). Financial data permeates the software. For example, the Matters Dashboard lists unpaid balances, unbilled balances, and available client advances whether in trust or operating accounts.

CosmoLex adds trust transactions as a liability as a safeguard. You can enter hard costs such as a filing fee and pay it from a trust account. LawPay integration enables your clients to pay bills or fund a trust account online with a credit card.

Several integrations enable you to access your data outside of CosmoLex. The calendar integrates with G Suite and Office 365, while the document management system can use Box, Dropbox, or OneDrive as its data store. Also, Auto-Match technology files forwarded email messages and attachments in the correct matter.

Other features include task management with automated workflows (e.g., court deadline calculations), a client portal for securely chatting and sharing documents with clients, matter notes, and conflict checking.

What Else Should You Know?

Version 4.6 includes an enhanced Data Import tool to make it easier to migrate from your existing software to CosmoLex. This free tool imports clients, matters, bank transactions, accounts receivable, and trust account balances. If you need a turn-key accounting data migration, CosmoLex certified consultants can handle it for a one-time fee. CosmoLex costs $49 per user per month if paid annually ($59 if paid monthly). Learn more about CosmoLex.

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 | Practice Management/Calendars | TL NewsWire

LEAP Adds Secure Client Collaboration to Its Practice Management Platform With LawConnect

By TechnoLawyer | Thursday, February 9, 2017

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers practice management software with a new Dropbox-like technology for securely sharing documents and communicating with clients (see article below). In addition, you'll find links to the previous 11 TL NewsWire features, including our coverage of software for managing trademarks and other IP assets, practice management software for personal injury lawyers, a court docket service for receiving alerts about cases of interest, and much more. Don't miss the next issue.

The ABA's duty of technology competence seems poised to become the latest regulation adopted by all 50 states. While the rule doesn't provide specifics, many law firms have interpreted it as requiring a more secure approach to client communication and document sharing.

LEAP … in One Sentence

LEAP is practice management software that recently added secure client collaboration tools.

The Killer Feature

LEAP's new LawConnect "storage and collaboration platform" enables you to securely communicate and share documents with clients. Most competing offerings (often called "client portals") require setup before you can use them. LawConnect functions in a Dropbox-like ad hoc manner. This approach means you can share a document in seconds even if you've never previously used LawConnect.

Select one or more documents within a matter, click the LawConnect button, and choose the people with whom you wish to share the document. Recipients receive an email message with a secure link to create a LawConnect account after which they can access the document. Within LEAP, icons let you know which documents are shared and whether clients have viewed them. You can revoke access anytime with or without notifying the client.

LawConnect also facilitates secure client communication. Email notifications let you know a new message exists. LEAP's in-app notification system likewise keeps you apprised of new messages.

Other Notable Features

LEAP offers integrated timers and a timesheet for capturing time contemporaneously or after the fact. A number of technologies automate time capture. For example, Auto Text enables you to store frequently used descriptions, and enter them with a few mnemonic keystrokes. Also, LEAP lists unbilled activities that don't yet have time entries. The LEAP mobile app records billable time on the go.

In addition to capturing more time, LEAP may also get you paid faster now that it integrates with RapidPay (powered by LawPay) for online credit card processing. You can add a RapidPay link to invoices you send.

LEAP also integrates with Microsoft Office for document assembly. LEAP includes many forms (a.k.a. templates) plus you can import and create your own. These forms, which work in both the Online and Windows version of Word, can pull data from any field in LEAP, and incorporate "if/then" statements and other sophisticated logic. You can link applicable forms to a Task so that those assigned the task have everything they need. When you create a document or email message, LEAP prompts you to bill for it.

In addition to capturing documents created through automated forms, LEAP can also import entire folders during initial setup. Similarly, your existing scanning workflow can be redirected to save documents in LEAP (the Android and iPhone app contains a document scanner for mobile scanning). LEAP captures email via the Outlook add-in.

What Else Should You Know?

LEAP works on all platforms. You can use your choice of native apps for Windows, iPad, iPhone, and Android. It also runs in your web browser. LEAP includes a Google- and mobile-optimized website for your law firm to help you attract new clients. Learn more about LEAP.

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: Practice Management/Calendars | TL NewsWire

Alt Legal Automates the Management of Trademarks and Other IP Assets

By TechnoLawyer | Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers software for managing your clients' trademarks, copyrights, and patents from inception to renewals (see article below). In addition, you'll find links to the previous 11 TL NewsWire features, including our coverage of practice management software for personal injury lawyers, a legal research service for medical malpractice lawyers, a service that can help you add a new practice area, a Word add-in for automating exhibit references, and much more. Don't miss the next issue.

Even small intellectual property law firms manage thousands of trademarks and other IP assets on behalf of their clients. This means thousands of deadlines for replying to office actions, filing renewals, etc. Miss a deadline and you lose a client. Time to move beyond your creaky Excel spreadsheets for managing these portfolios.

Alt Legal … in One Sentence

Alt Legal is cloud software for managing intellectual property portfolios, including trademarks, copyrights, and patents.

The Killer Feature

Alt Legal crawls USPTO and TTAB dockets (and soon international trademark databases) to provide automated monitoring of changes and deadline calculations. "What you view in Alt Legal always mirrors the original source," says former big law lawyer and CEO Nehal Madhani. "Your deadlines are always up-to-date." Alt Legal notifies you of upcoming deadlines via email with live links to each filing.

Unlike competing services, Alt Legal's crawler doesn't only look for new docket entries and status date changes but all changes to each record. As a result, Alt Legal can instantly notify you of changes that don't trigger an official notification such as the appointment of a new attorney.

"Alt Legal's automated trademark docketing allows me to organize and monitor filings and keep track of dates and deadlines," says Bill Samuels, an IP attorney and the owner of W.R. Samuels Law. "The platform automatically identifies and updates my docket without manual data entry. To replace Alt Legal, I would need multiple employees to manage my clients' trademark portfolios."

Other Notable Features

You begin using Alt Legal by retrieving all the IP filings under your firm's management. Because TESS is the most modern USPTO database, you can retrieve trademarks by entering the associated email addresses or registration numbers. Alt Legal offers complimentary data migration for large IP portfolios.

The Docketing dashboard lists all IP filings under your management sorted by deadline. You can search by applicant, client, type of filing, etc., and add notes to IP filings for later reference. Alt Legal links directly to USPTO records so that you can download documents, respond to office actions, and reference applicable regulations with a click. Alt Legal automatically adds deadlines to your Clio and Outlook calendars thanks to integrations with those products.

Alt Legal enables you to generate reports using parameters ranging from Literal Element to Statutory Deadlines to Mark Type and many others. You can view reports in a spreadsheet-like table in Alt Legal or export in Excel format. If you wish, clients can gain read-only access to their portfolio.

Speaking of clients, Alt Legal's Intake tool facilities collaboration on new trademark filings. Clients receive a customizable email message with a link to a secure web intake form. The form adapts as clients answer questions such as whether they're filing individually or for a company. Alt Legal's team keeps these forms up-to-date, enabling you to populate TEAS forms without retyping. New filings are automatically captured by Alt Legal and added to the Docketing dashboard.

What Else Should You Know?

Alt Legal enables you to restrict access among your staff to filings assigned to them. Administrators can access all filings. Pricing for Alt Legal starts at $75 per month. Your cost depends on the number of filings in your account. In addition to data migration, an Alt Legal subscription includes unlimited training, live chat, and telephone support. Learn more about Alt Legal.

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: TL NewsWire | Transactional Practice Areas

SmartAdvocate Seeks to Take Document Automation to a New Level in Practice Management Software

By Neil J. Squillante | Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers practice management software with advanced document assembly capabilities (see article below). In addition, you'll find links to the TL NewsWire Top 25 Products of 2016 Awards and the previous 11 TL NewsWire features, including our coverage of a cloud practice management app with a robust data import tool, another practice management app with a do-it-yourself QuickBooks integration, an Outlook add-in that prevents email mishaps, and much more. Don't miss the next issue.

Much of law practice involves recurring, routine tasks. The less time these tasks require, the more time you can devote to the thorny legal issues you're hired to solve. This is especially important for those of you in personal injury practice because of the upfront financing you provide.

SmartAdvocate Cloud … in One Sentence

SmartAdvocate is browser-based practice management software for personal injury law firms that is now available in a hosted version called SmartAdvocate Cloud.

The Killer Feature

"Every time we show SmartAdvocate's Document Template Generator to lawyers, they are amazed at how much work it saves," Chief Operating Officer Arnie Baum told me.

The lynchpin for this document automation is SmartAdvocate's Microsoft Word add-in. This connects Word to your case data in SmartAdvocate. You can automatically populate Word documents with any of this data (including your own custom fields) using Merge Codes.

Out of the box, SmartAdvocate contains nearly 2,000 Merge Codes and hundreds of templates you can modify. You can also create your own templates. None of this involves programming. Instead, you select the Merge Codes you want to use and place them into the template. These templates can include envelopes. "A document that normally takes 3-4 minutes to create can be generated, emailed, and stored in 30 seconds," says Baum.

"There is simply no information you can't enter into the database and there is a merge code for everything so you can generate complicated documents and PDF forms," says SmartAdvocate user Philip L. Franckel, Partner at Franckel & Plevy. "It is highly customizable and easy."

Other Notable Features

SmartAdvocate users spend most of their time in the Case Summary. This elaborate environment contains every conceivable piece of information about a case — critical deadlines, incident details, injuries, medical providers, insurers, timeline, disbursements, notes, etc. The Case Browse feature enables you to search and filter this data, and make bulk changes across multiple cases such as assigning a new lawyer.

How often do you take notes that you later cannot find? SmartAdvocate doesn't only store your notes in the Case Summary, it also enables you to categorize notes by type and search for them with filters. Notes can contain links to related items in SmartAdvocate such as contacts or documents for quick reference.

SmartAdvocate offers two calendars — Case and Office. The former contains case-related events, while the latter contains these events plus non-case events like your vacations. The Office calendar also displays the schedules of everyone in the office. Thanks to the Outlook add-in, you can add these calendars to Outlook and your smartphone. The add-in also enables you to save client-related email in SmartAdvocate.

SmartAdvocate offers more than 20 customizable dashboards. The home dashboard — called MySmartAdvocate — lists your upcoming appointments, deadlines, tasks, and more. Other dashboards enable you to focus on specific areas of your firm such as advertising results and finances.

What Else Should You Know?

Other features of SmartAdvocate include a Case Intake Wizard for case creation from any location,, reports to which you can subscribe by email, and the ability to send text messages to clients from within the system without revealing your phone number. "Initially available only in a server-based version, SmartAdvocate Cloud provides all this functionality in a hosted platform," said Baum. Learn more about SmartAdvocate Cloud.

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: Practice Management/Calendars | TL NewsWire

TL NewsWire Top 25 Products of 2016 Awards

By Neil J. Squillante | Thursday, December 22, 2016

It's time for the TL NewsWire Top 25 Products of 2016 Awards. TL NewsWire subscribers chose the winners of these awards. When subscribers clicked for more details about a product we reported on, they passively cast a vote. Passive voting is the most meaningful type of voting for awards. The winners below genuinely attracted the most interest from TL NewsWire subscribers.

This year a word processor earned the top spot! Major themes among the winners — practice management (8 products), litigation (5 products), legal research (3 products), time capture and billing (3 products), and add-ins for Microsoft Office (3 products). Also among the winners — a smartpen and accompanying app and notebook, a project management app, a virtual desktop service, and a marketing automation app.

TL NewsWire is free — sign up now so you can choose next year's winners.

Congratulations to all the winners! Without further ado …

WINNERS OF THE TL NEWSWIRE TOP 10 PRODUCTS OF 2016 AWARD

Congratulations to the 10 hottest products of 2016!

1. WordPerfect Office X8

This first place finish may surprise some, but not longtime fans who have vowed never to use that other word processor. These fans told Corel they wanted advanced PDF tools, and Corel delivered in WordPerfect Office X8. You can now convert PDF image scans into WPD files, and use Reveal Codes to search and destroy formatting problems. Additionally, you can create your own PDF forms, including digital signatures.

2. Zola Suite

Five years ago, Fred Cohen and his team of designers and engineers set out to build cloud practice management software without compromise. In 2016, this hard work paid off with the launch heard round the legal web. Zola Suite's web, Android, and iOS apps have feature parity. With advanced technologies such as Gmail and Office 365 email integration, telephone call tracking, and a OneNote replacement, maybe you can have it all.

3. Smart Writing Set

Want to get a lawyer's attention? Develop a replacement for the yellow legal pad, which lawyers love to hate. Moleskine's Smart Writing Set consists of a pen with a tiny camera that digitizes your notes. This being Moleskine, the special paper notebooks that work with the pen look as sharp as you in your best suit. The free Android and iOS app stores your notes and can make them editable with its built-in OCR.

4. Contract Tools

Paper Software knows contracts. One co-founder served time in big law, the other is a programmer with machine learning expertise. The result of this dynamic duo is Contract Tools, which adds a suite of tools to Microsoft Word for use with complex contracts. Click a defined term for its definition, find all references to a specific section, locate and finalize all placeholders, and correct inconsistencies, incorrect formatting, and other errors difficult for human proofreaders to spot.

5. Exterro Project Management for Law Firms

Until you can replace your staff with robots, Exterro Project Management for Law Firms might be the next best thing. This project management and process automation software enables you to automate your workflows. When someone completes a task, the person responsible for the next task in the workflow receives a notification. Extensive reporting gives you a God-like view of all your firm's activity, which you can monitor from your beach bungalow.

6. LEAP 365

LEAP 365 easily wins the most impressive product launch of the year as it took place in a (sweet!) suite at Yankee Stadium. This largess underscored the company's significant achievement — cloud practice management software with apps for Windows, web, iPad, iPhone, and Android. During the press conference, four product specialists used LEAP on a different platform while seamlessly collaborating on document assembly and other law firm tasks. Clearly, LEAP had a much better year than the Yankees.

7. ExhibitManager 5

Given how many features Microsoft Word has, it's amazing how many it lacks. ExhibitManager fills one such gap by automatically generating a table of exhibits in a Microsoft Word document based on simple references that you insert while drafting. The software keeps this table updated when you edit your brief. ExhibitManager also manages exhibits using a spreadsheet-like interface, and can create PDF exhibit binders or ebriefs with one click.

8. LexRex

It's hard to believe but the cloud practice management pioneers are nearing their tenth birthday. This means they were originally designed for a desktop web browser. By contrast, LexRex launched this year built for a mobile world with a design that minimizes the number of different screens. The app's Case Categories offer workflow automation, while the Case Summary lists all activity for each matter in a tickler-like manner.

9. LawBase

Many software products require your firm to adapt because of their rigidity. By contrast, LawBase adapts to your law firm. This practice management software ships with templates for practice areas ranging from insurance defense to mortgage refinancing to mass tort. If one of these doesn't apply, the company can work to create a custom template that'll fit your law firm like a glove.

10. Concordance Desktop

Designed for the do-it-yourself law firm, Concordance Desktop added processing to its suite of tools this year. Now for cases involving custodians with mainstream data sources such as Outlook, Windows Explorer, and file cabinets, you can import PST files, scans, and more without a consultant or a dedicated processor like LAW PreDiscovery. You can then use Concordance Desktop's popular document review tools to find relevant documents, apply Bates numbers, and produce them in native, PDF, or TIFF formats.

WINNERS OF THE TL NEWSWIRE TOP 25 PRODUCTS OF 2016 AWARD

Congratulations to the next 15 hottest products of 2016!

11. Firm Manager 2.0

Sometimes software developers focus on user-facing features, while other times they focus on under-the-hood improvements. Firm Manager took both paths this year. Crowd pleasers such as the new templates automate client intake and other routine tasks. Meanwhile, role-based permissions, integration with the online and desktop versions of QuickBooks, and extensive data import tools help law firms switch to Firm Manager in the first place.

12. BlueStylus Time and Billing

It seems like virtually all cloud billing apps cost the same, almost as if they colluded on price. This is of course apocryphal, but if a cartel did exist BlueStylus wouldn't join. At just $7 per user per month, BlueStylus broke the price barrier this year while offering breakthrough features such as automated filing of email messages from clients. Not too long ago, only large firms could afford such technology. Now it costs less than Netflix.

13. ReplyToSome

A few years ago, Peter Norman was holed up in his office at the Singapore outpost of a large law firm where he spent many billable hours negotiating multiparty deals via email with disparate teams of opposing counsel. One misaddressed message could imperil his career. Once stateside again, he spearheaded the creation of ReplyToSome, which adds a suite of tools to Outlook that prevents such mishaps. Even if you don't need to manage large distribution lists, ReplyToSome offers other helpful tools such as SendCheck, which warns you about replying as a BCC and when you forget an attachment.

14. TimesManager Legal

James DeRosa knows a market opportunity when he sees one. With an increasing number of law firms using ClaimsManager despite it being designed for insurance companies, he and his team developed TimesManager Legal to better serve the legal industry. If you can think of a billing arrangement with your clients or partners, TimesManager can handle it — split, blended, fixed, ABA, LEDES, UTBMS, etc. TimesManager can also manage complex approval workflows, and integrates with Tabs3, QuickBooks, Legal Tracker, and TyMetrix among others.

15. CaseFleet

A mashup of client relationship management and litigation management that runs in your web browser, CaseFleet automatically builds a timeline of your cases as you enter facts, issues, witnesses, and legal research. Filters enable you to spot critical connections and build your narrative. Meanwhile, CaseFleet's Legal Calendar color codes all the critical deadlines on your cases and syncs with GCal and Outlook, while the Leads Pipeline helps you capture and convert prospects into new clients.

16. Ulysses 2.5

Designed for writing long, structured documents on your Mac or iPad, Ulysses collects all your notes, research, etc. in one place. You write in chunks (such as different sections of a brief or chapters of your great American novel). When you complete a project, you can combine these disparate elements into a single document in Word, PDF, or ePub format. iCloud sync automatically makes your work available on all your devices, including the iPhone.

17. Digital WarRoom Private Cloud 8.8

Ediscovery software seems immune to the all-you-can-eat pricing revolution underway in other software markets. Digital WarRoom Private Cloud wants to change the game with its all-inclusive price of $1,995 per month. Designed for large projects, Digital WarRoom Private Cloud spans the EDRM gamut, offering tools for processing, review, and production. Advanced technologies include data visualization tools to make email easier to analyze and predictive coding.

18. Nutshell

Peter Drucker advised law firms to understand clients so well that their service sells itself. However, you still need software for the nuts and bolts of online marketing. Enter Nutshell, which captures leads from your website and routes them to your intake team, tracks telephone consultations, and enables you to send personalized email messages to hot prospects. Extensive reporting helps you analyze your marketing campaigns.

19. Amicus Attorney Premium 2016

Now part of the Abacus Next family of products as a result of the merger of the year, Amicus Attorney added enterprise-grade document management features, including check in/out and versioning to prevent lost work or duplicative effort. Also new, client-related email appears alongside documents thanks to integration with Exchange and Office 365. Amicus Attorney's client portal facilitates secure document sharing and communications with clients. You can even have clients complete forms through the portal.

19. Thomson Reuters ProView

The future of the law library finally arrived in 2016 thanks to ProView. Both an ebookstore and ebook reader, ProView is the Amazon Kindle of legal references. You can purchase and read ProView ebooks in a web browser or in the dedicated apps for Windows, Mac, iPad, and Android tablets. New editions of an ebook can import your bookmarks and highlights from the previous edition even if the location has changed. Sharing tools enable you to send a relevant section to colleagues or export it to PDF to send to a client.

20. Firm Central

Firm Central recently earned a TechnoScore of A from our SmallLaw newsletter in part because of its exclusive first-party integrations with other Thomson Reuters Legal's services such as Westlaw, Deadline Assistant, Doc & Form Builder, Case Notebook, CaseLogistix, and Practical Law. Among third-party products, Firm Central integrates with Outlook and QuickBooks. The addition of Time & Billing to Firm Central earlier this year, including trust accounting and three-way reconciliation and reporting, checks an important box on the requirements list of many small law firms.

20. Tabs3 Version 18

There's no better way to get paid than from a trust account. This year Tabs3 kicked trust accounts up a notch by automating payments. Once you create a rule in compliance with your jurisdiction, Tabs3 can apply payments to new bills or accounts receivable or both. Support for electronic funds transfer and credit card processing via ProPay further grease the wheels of commerce. The new three-way reconciliation reports provide your clients with transparency into these automated payments.

21. Boxtop

Our ace product reviewer Ed Zohn runs the products he evaluates in Boxtop to ensure fairness. "Sure beats the old Citrix I used a decade ago," he quipped in a recent email message. Boxtop provides everyone in your firm with a virtual Windows desktop. The wizards at Tabush Group help get all your legal and other software installed in this virtual environment, and can even provide you with thin client hardware that supports two monitors. Boxtop, which also runs on Macs and Windows PCs, supports Microsoft Office, PCLaw, Tabs3, Time Matters, Worldox, and other popular apps.

21. MedMal Navigator

Mention the name Frank Netter to doctors, and they'll wax poetic about his iconic medical illustrations. Now that more than 10,000 of these images reside in LexisNexis MedMal Navigator, you can use them in depositions, settlement conferences, and at trial without any copyright hassles. MedMal Navigator also offers tools for assessing the value of claims, finding expert witnesses, researching illnesses and injuries and applicable standards of care, and of course finding relevant case law in Lexis Advance.

21. MyCase

Proving that technology can save time and money, MyCase's new QuickBooks Online integration enables you to set everything up in a few minutes on your own for free versus the previous implementation that cost $99 and required a one-hour consultation. This integration somehow manages to create QuickBooks invoices that mirror those you create in MyCase right down to every time entry and description — a technological tour de force.

21. Practice Point

Thomson Reuters Legal offers a cornucopia of information services — Westlaw of course but also Reuters News, Practical Law, Westlaw Forms, Business Law Center, and Company Investigator to name just a few. Practice Point serves as your gateway to these services. Need to negotiate a joint venture? Just navigate to that section and you'll find all the resources you need from initial conversation to final agreement. If only Practice Point existed for everything in life.

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 | Business Productivity/Word Processing | Collaboration/Knowledge Management | Gadgets/Shredders/Office Gear | Legal Research | Litigation/Discovery/Trials | Practice Management/Calendars | TL NewsWire | Transactional Practice Areas

Firm Manager's New Data Import Tools Ease Your Transition to the Cloud

By Neil J. Squillante | Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers cloud practice management software with extensive data import tools (see article below). In addition, you'll find links to the previous 11 TL NewsWire features, including our coverage of a practice management app with a do-it-yourself QuickBooks integration, a tool for leveraging court dockets, an Outlook add-in that prevents email mishaps, a research service for medical malpractice practitioners, and much more. Don't miss the next issue.

Many law firms that want to take their practice to the cloud feel trapped because of data migration hurdles. While it's relatively easy to export data from your existing software, most cloud apps have limited import tools.

LexisNexis Firm Manager … in One Sentence

LexisNexis Firm Manager is cloud practice management software that as of this week offers significantly expanded data import capabilities.

The Killer Feature

The words "data import" bring to mind a days-long process fraught with false starts and do-overs. By contrast, Firm Manager's new do-it-yourself data import tools can get you up and running in under an hour judging from the demo senior product manager Scott Light gave me.

The false starts of data migration stem from errors in source files. You then have to hunt down all these errors before you can import anything. Firm Manager takes a different approach. It imports all the clean data and notifies you of any errors. You can then save a CSV file that contains only the errors, which eliminates having to find them. Once you make corrections, you can import this remaining data.

Firm Manager distinguishes itself regarding the categories of data it can import — contacts, matters, billing codes, opening trust balances, time entries, expense entries, invoices, matter notes, contact notes, and tasks. Scott imported a data file for nearly each of these categories during the demo. This breadth gives you the opportunity to import data from multiple sources. If you can export to CSV format, Firm Manager can import it.

Calendars and documents have special data migration tools. For the former, Firm Manager integrates with Google Calendar and Office 365. For document management, Firm Manager can bulk import entire folders and nested folders with one click, and assign all the documents therein to a matter. You can also send email to a matter using a special email address.

"As firms upgrade their practice management systems, they want to bring their current and historical data with them," Director of Product Management Wes Gillette told me. "Firm Manager's new, improved data import process makes it easy for firms to get up and running quicker and easier than ever before."

Other Notable Features

Firm Manager has added a number of other features. The redesigned Home dashboard displays your calendar, tasks, recent activity, and unbilled time (Money Finder). Switching to the new Lawyer View provides insights into your billable targets, over-budget matters, and overdue tasks. Filters give your more granularity into this data.

Also new are customizable templates. Intake Templates ensure consistent handling of every new matter. Fields can consist of dates, currency, menus, and checkboxes in addition to text. Checklist Templates contain all the tasks associated with a matter type, including the person who should handle each task and its estimated billable time or budget. When you assign budgets to tasks, Firm Manager visually identifies tasks that took too long. You can alternatively assign a budget to an entire matter instead of its constituent tasks.

What Else Should You Know?

Two Firm Manager plans exist — Starter costs $29 per user per month while Essentials costs $44 per user per month. Both plans include the new data import tools. Essentials also includes the customizable templates, role-based permissions, QuickBooks integration, and reporting. Learn more about Firm Manager.

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: Practice Management/Calendars | TL NewsWire
 
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