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Never Fail to Find a Document Again (Even Those You Don't Know Exist)

By TechnoLawyer | Thursday, September 6, 2018

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers OCR software that automatically finds unsearchable documents in your document management system, Windows PCs, and cloud storage services, and makes them searchable (see article below). In addition, you'll find links to the previous 11 TL NewsWire features, including our coverage of software for managing deal closings, including creating signature packets, tracking who has and hasn't signed, and generating PDF closing binders, cloud real estate closing document automation software for CD and HUD transactions that handles all calculations and tax filings, and much more. Don't miss the next issue.

It's frustrating when you can't find a document that you know exists. But even worse is being unaware that an important document exists even when your search terms should pull it up. For example, failing to find a relevant document during a conflict search or when responding to a subpoena can expose your firm to liability. Law firms should not have any unsearchable documents.

Symphony OCR … in One Sentence

Trumpet's Symphony OCR automatically finds unsearchable documents wherever you store them, enabling you to discover them with keyword content searches.

The Killer Feature

"Law firms don't know what they don't know," says Trumpet CEO Kevin Day. No matter which document management system a law firm uses, typically 30% of the documents are unsearchable.

This happens for a variety of reasons. Some of your colleagues may skip OCR when scanning documents to get the job done faster. Documents that arrive as email attachments from clients and opposing counsel are often unsearchable. Etc.

Symphony OCR uses a two-step process to address this problem. First, it analyzes your firm's documents and flags those that cannot undergo OCR such as encrypted files. This report gives you deep insight into your firm's documents at any given time.

Next, Symphony OCR begins converting documents starting with the newest and working backwards. A histogram shows the progress. After the initial run, Symphony OCR will identify and convert new documents in minutes. In fact, you can specify how often Symphony OCR scans for new documents and which repositories to prioritize.

Other Notable Features

Symphony OCR offers higher precision than competing products because it analyzes each page instead of the document as a whole. Thus, Symphony OCR will find a 150-page document with only one page that needs OCR.

"Symphony OCR analyzes every single document, page by page, to identify image-based content and convert it to digitized, searchable text," says Day. "This ensures that when a firm conducts a search for conflict checks, responses to subpoenas, or other compliance-related searches, 100% of their files can be found based on their content."

Symphony OCR is non-invasive so it does not alter document content. It places the searchable text in an invisible layer over the document image. You can use the Rollback button to restore the document to its original state. Alternatively, you can save the OCR version of the document as a new version and either keep or discard the original.

It can take as little as 45 minutes to set up Symphony OCR. It integrates with popular document and practice management systems such as NetDocuments, ShareFile, SharePoint, Worldox, PracticeMaster, and Time Matters. You can also point it to any document repository such as a Windows or Dropbox folder.

"Things are going great with Symphony OCR," says Valerie Colbert, Office Manager at Duncan, Bressler & Liu Inc. "We love it. Everyone benefits because once the items are saved in Worldox we don't have to worry about them anymore. Before Symphony OCR, we would have to take the time to OCR each and every document. With Symphony, it's done every night savings us a lot of time. This was a program that was worth purchasing."

What Else Should You Know?

Symphony OCR can run on any Windows server in your firm (it does not need a dedicated server). If you prefer, you can host Symphony OCR in the cloud. Learn more about Symphony OCR.

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: Dictation/OCR/Speech Recognition | Document Management | TL NewsWire

Streamline Deal Closings and Automate the Creation of Closing Binders

By TechnoLawyer | Thursday, August 23, 2018

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers software for managing deal closings, including creating signature packets, tracking who has and hasn't signed, and generating PDF closing binders (see article below). In addition, you'll find links to the previous 11 TL NewsWire features, including our coverage of cloud real estate closing document automation software for CD and HUD transactions that handles all calculations and tax filings, document comparison software that adds legal-specific functionality to Microsoft Word's Track Changes and which integrates with popular document management systems, and much more. Don't miss the next issue.

Transactional practice is mostly logical. You argue and obsess over phrases and other details to arrive at a compromise that satisfies all parties and minimizes future litigation. But when it's time to close, lawyers often fall prey to mind reading. "Why haven't they signed? Did they get the signature pages? Should I call them?" It's time to rethink closings.

SimplyAgree … in One Sentence

SimplyAgree is cloud-based transactional management software for streamlining and tracking deal closings, and automating the creation of closing binders.

The Killer Feature

SimplyAgree's co-founders, CEO Will Norton and COO Sam Beutler, spent several years practicing corporate law. They noticed that closings had not changed much since the advent of email 20 years ago. As a result, creating signature packets remains a time-consuming, manual process. Moreover, they found online signature tools inadequate for complex transactions with multiple signature pages and signatories.

"While other electronic signature tools have been focused on general business use cases, few have considered the unique challenges faced by transactional attorneys," says Norton. "That's where SimplyAgree comes in." "Transactional attorneys have proven processes to close complex deals," adds Beutler. "Our goal is not to reinvent the wheel, but to give these processes more horsepower."

SimplyAgree automates the creation and distribution of signature packets. You securely upload the documents associated with the deal to SimplyAgree and enter the name for each signatory. SimplyAgree then identifies where each person needs to sign and creates signature packets comprised of the signature pages for each signatory. You can include duplicates if one or more counterparties requires multiple original signature pages rather than a single copy.

Print signature packets for an in-person signing or email them in PDF format to each respective signatory. SimplyAgree integrates with DocuSign if you want to offer electronic signing and other timesavers such automatically filling the signatory's name and other stored data.

Other Notable Features

SimplyAgree's dashboard lists all active deals. Within each deal, you can track who has and hasn't signed, and store copies of completed signature pages. You can even reject invalid signatures and record why in case you need to show an audit trail someday. SimplyAgree holds all executed signature pages in escrow so that you can continue to negotiate terms.

When deals close, clients often demand closing binders but don't want to pay for them. SimplyAgree automates this thankless task. Upload the final version of your deal documents and connect them to the executed signature pages, arrange the documents in the order you want them to appear, and enter metadata such as party names and the closing date for the cover page. The software then merges all the documents into a single PDF file with bookmarks, corresponding slip pages, and a hyperlinked index.

You can customize the design of these closing binders with your firm's logo and colors. Creating different versions of a closing binder or updating a closing binder with new documents takes seconds rather than hours. In fact, you can use SimplyAgree solely for creating closing binders if you don't want to use its project management features.

What Else Should You Know?

"SimplyAgree is an excellent tool that expedites the closing and post-closing process, saving valuable attorney time and thus saving our clients money," says Aaron Moody, an associate lawyer at Eversheds Sutherland in Atlanta. Learn more about SimplyAgree.

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.

Topics: Automation/Document Assembly/Macros | TL NewsWire | Transactional Practice Areas

Generate Error-Free CD and HUD Real Estate Closing Documents Online in Minutes, Not Days

By TechnoLawyer | Friday, August 17, 2018

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers cloud real estate closing document automation software for CD and HUD transactions that handles all calculations and tax filings (see article below). In addition, you'll find links to the previous 11 TL NewsWire features, including our coverage of document comparison software that adds legal-specific functionality to Microsoft Word's Track Changes and which integrates with popular document management systems, a Mac document management system that combines the familiarity of the Finder with legal-specific tools such as automated email capture, and much more. Don't miss the next issue.

Real estate transactions involve creating the same set of documents repeatedly — perhaps more so than any other practice area. Additionally, it's now a highly regulated market so it's more important than ever to produce error-free closing documents. These are good reasons to automate your real estate deals not to mention saving money and remaining competitive in a crowded market.

Easysoft Online … in One Sentence

Launched recently, Easysoft Online (Easysoft) is cloud software for automating Closing Disclosure (CD) and HUD real estate transactions, including tax filings.

The Killer Feature

You can start using Easysoft in seconds with any web browser. Create an account, designate a settlement agent, and enter your InfoTrack credentials. The software includes unlimited CD and HUD transactions. It complies with all regulations (including RESPA and TRID), calculates taxes, and files 1099 tax documents via InfoTrack.

Your clients will appreciate always knowing the cash to close and closing cost no matter how often the deal terms change. You'll appreciate not having to hire a title agent, which will save you approximately $500 per transaction. Easysoft costs $69 per month so after two transactions it will have more than paid for itself.

"Easysoft allows real estate attorneys to simplify their closings by providing an easy-to-use solution," says Easysoft's Managing Director Jeanette Knight. "With Easysoft, you save time by completing the closing disclosure in a matter of minutes rather than days. And the wonderful thing about Easysoft is you can access it from anywhere at anytime with no installation required."

Other Notable Features

Easysoft's dashboard lists all your deals, including file number, type (CD or HUD), borrower, seller, and status. Easysoft walks you through several screens that mostly consist of forms. You never need to enter information twice as Easysoft auto-populates fields that require the same data. Also, Easysoft performs all calculations so you won't need a spreadsheet.

For CD transactions, Easysoft covers loan terms and costs, taxes and any applicable prorations for city, county, assessment, school, and sewer, prepaid items such as insurance, interest, property taxes, and as intimated above all the inputs that comprise cash to close. Easysoft also walks you through loan disclosures, and adjustable payment and interest tables. A ledger lists all deposits and payments related to the deal and includes check printing if needed.

You can choose from several options for the signature pages, including a Consumer's Confirm Receipt Signature, Seller's Signature Addendum, and Interested Party's Signature Addendum. You can print two versions of the CD — the standard version for the seller that becomes the public record, and a more verbose version for the buyer with all the details.

HUD deals such as cash closings and reverse mortgages offer a similar process without the lender components and generates all the requisite documents, including a Good Faith Estimate.

What Else Should You Know?

Knight tells us that Easysoft reduces the amount of time required to create deal documents by up to 70%. Devan Ingram, a real estate closing assistant at Inzer, Haney, McWhorter & Haney in Gadsden, Alabama, agrees. "My experience with the new online version of Easysoft has been very positive," says Ingram. "Easysoft allows us to run a smarter and faster closing process using automated documents." Learn more about Easysoft Online.

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: Automation/Document Assembly/Macros | TL NewsWire | Transactional Practice Areas

Compare Documents Faster and Gain Deeper Insights Without Leaving Microsoft Word

By TechnoLawyer | Thursday, August 9, 2018

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers document comparison software that adds legal-specific functionality to Microsoft Word's Track Changes and which integrates with popular document management systems (see article below). In addition, you'll find links to the previous 11 TL NewsWire features, including our coverage of a Mac document management system that combines the familiarity of the Finder with legal-specific tools such as automated email capture, a legal payments platform that enables your firm to accept payment by e-check or credit card without having to change your billing process, and much more. Don't miss the next issue.

Microsoft Word's Track Changes offers a barebones document comparison experience designed for the mass market, not legal professionals. But it's convenient because it resides where you work — in Word. Recognizing this, Evolution Software set out to enhance Track Changes rather than require you to change your workflow.

NOVO Compare … in One Sentence

Evolution Software's NOVO Compare is document comparison software that enhances Microsoft Word's Track Changes for generating legal-specific redlines.

The Killer Feature

NOVO Compare resides in its own toolbar on the Microsoft Word Ribbon. Once you configure NOVO Compare, the QuickCompare menu enables you to compare documents with a minimum of clicks. "Our clients asked us to develop a better way to quickly and efficiently compare documents," says CEO Chris Cangero. "QuickCompare is our solution, delivering a practical design and advanced automation."

With QuickCompare, you can compare the active document to another open document in the background, a local or network document via Windows Explorer, or a different document or version in your document management system (DMS). Without any extra clicks, you can decide to make the active or the target document the baseline.

NOVO Compare integrates with the following DMS — iManage, NetDocuments, OpenText, SharePoint, and Worldox. If you use one of these, QuickCompare gains additional options such as comparing he last two versions of a document in your DMS, two different documents in your DMS, or a document in your DMS to a local document.

"NOVO Compare and QuickCompare specifically is of great value to our firm's users," Cheyenne Harden, Director of Information Technology at O'Reilly Rancilio P.C. "QuickCompare allows our staff to reduce the time it takes to produce and correct legal documents. It is truly a timesaver!"

Other Notable Features

NOVO Compare offers a deep collection of settings. You can save sets of settings and switch among them from the toolbar. Most importantly, you can decide what to include and exclude when comparing documents. For example, you can exclude white space, comments, formatting and case changes, etc. You can also modify how changes are shown and in what color.

Other settings enable you to choose the format of the redline (DOCX, DOC, PDF, or XPS), the page layout, whether to show the reviewing pane, how to handle paragraph and footnote numbering, and whether to create a Comparison Summary report in a separate document or before or after the redline. One of the more interesting settings acknowledges today's widescreen monitors, enabling you to show the original and modified documents alongside the redline. In this view, scrolling through the redline automatically scrolls the other two documents.

A number of tools exist for reviewing a redline and accepting/rejecting changes. You can magnify changes to make them easier to see without changing the formatting of the underlying document. You can also switch between a traditional redline view and Word's inline track changes. If you prefer reviewing on paper, you can choose from two settings depending on how much detail you want.

What Else Should You Know?

NOVO Compare integrates with Outlook for sharing redlines. Select the format, and send only the redline or also the original and/or the modified document. NOVO Compare costs $99 per user per year. This includes new features, software updates, and technical support. Learn more about NOVO Compare.

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: Business Productivity/Word Processing | TL NewsWire

That's Not the Finder, That's DocMoto v4

By TechnoLawyer | Thursday, July 26, 2018

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers a Mac document management system that combines the familiarity of the Finder with legal-specific tools such as automated email capture (see article below). In addition, you'll find links to the previous 11 TL NewsWire features, including our coverage of a legal payments platform that enables your firm to accept payment by e-check or credit card without having to change your billing process, document assembly software that you can use within other applications such as your document or practice management system, and much more. Don't miss the next issue.

Given that tens of millions of people use Macs, Apple does not focus on the needs of law firms when it creates new versions of macOS. As a result, law firms grow increasingly frustrated with the rudimentary document management tools in the Finder as they amass more documents and client-related email.

DocMoto v4 … in One Sentence

CHL Software's DocMoto v4 is a Mac document management system with a new Finder-like interface that offers organizational and sharing tools for documents and email.

The Killer Feature

"DocMoto version 4 merges the latest thinking from Apple along with our own designs and customer feedback to produce a DMS that better serves the way lawyers really work," says Director of CHL Software Neil Cameron.

DocMoto looks like a Finder window. You'll immediately notice a side panel with three sections — DocMoto, Favorites, and Recent Documents. The DocMoto section gives you access to all documents via the nested folders your firm uses, your own private documents, and documents you've trashed. You can save frequently-used folders as Favorites for faster access, and open documents you're working on with one-click in the Recent Documents section.

You can open any folder in a new tab. "This tabs layout allows attorneys to keep multiple matters open simultaneously all in the one interface," says Cameron. Searches also open in a new tab so that you won't lose your place. Save any search as a Shared View, which updates in realtime as new documents are created that match your search criteria. Rounding out the new interface, a customizable toolbar enables you check documents in/out, list all versions of document, and much more.

Other Notable Features

Document management without email is incomplete so DocMoto now connects to email accounts such as Exchange, Office 365, and Gmail, and offers several tools to automate the capture of client-related email. One tool — Mailbox Rules — consists of customizable filters. For example, a rule could capture all email to or from a client. An administrator can maintain a set of standard rules for all users. Advanced users can create their own rules, including exclusionary rules to ignore personal email.

Mailbox Patterns give users more control of what email to store in DocMoto but still offer automation. Once created, Mailbox Patterns watch folders in connected email accounts, and copy messages and attachments that match to the correct location in DocMoto. Like the previous version, DocMoto also offers manual import of email via drag and drop.

When you open a document or email message in DocMoto, a three-pane display shows you the document's location, metadata such as who last edited it, and a thumbnail. From here you can view or edit the document, the latter of which checks it out and creates a new version.

"When we moved our documents to DocMoto, it was great to have access to all documents without syncing to a computer and eating up hard drive space," says Kelley McFarland, Lead Litigation Paralegal at Brown Law LLP. "Our colleagues quickly realized how easy it was to share documents with people inside and outside the firm by creating shared links to folders rather than putting documents on a USB drive."

What Else Should You Know?

The new version of DocMoto also features beefed up security, including a setting to throttle the number of documents users can download to prevent internal sabotage or theft. Learn more about DocMoto v4.

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: Document Management | TL NewsWire

Headnote Wants Your Law Firm to Get Paid Early and Often

By TechnoLawyer | Thursday, July 19, 2018

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers a legal payments platform that enables your firm to accept payment by e-check or credit card without having to change your billing process (see article below). In addition, you'll find links to the previous 11 TL NewsWire features, including our coverage of document assembly software that you can use within other applications such as your document or practice management system, case management software that runs on Windows, Android, and iOS with features, customization options, and integrations that acknowledge today's world, and much more. Don't miss the next issue.

The average law firm gets paid 60-90 days after sending an invoice. Second-generation lawyer Sarah Schaaf witnessed both of her parents start their own firms and struggle with collection issues. Sarah left an in-house role in Google's legal department to start a legal payments company to shorten the payment gap to days or even minutes in many cases.

Headnote … in One Sentence

Headnote is a trust-compliant e-check and credit card payments platform for law firms seeking to get paid faster with less follow-up.

The Killer Feature

Headnote eliminates complexity when it comes to getting paid. Headnote provides you with a hyperlink to a secure payment page that you then send to clients using your existing invoicing process by embedding the link anywhere — email message, Word or PDF document, practice management, billing, or accounting software, etc.

When your client receives the link, they click on it using any device, see your firm's letterhead and logo, and pay in seconds without needing to create a Headnote account.

Headnote enables your clients to pay by e-check, a feature that CEO Schaaf tells us is exclusive to Headnote and 100% compliant with IOLTA and the ABA's Model Rules for accepting online payment to both trust and operating accounts. Clients securely log into their bank account and authorize payment using the same instantaneous authentication process that banks use for transfers. Headnote teamed up with Silicon Valley Bank to create this e-check platform, which connects to more than 2,500 banks. This eliminates the older, days-long micro-deposit and account verification process.

"Headnote allows attorneys to easily begin accepting compliant online payments and improving realization rates without changing any internal billing or invoicing processes," says Schaaf. "It's a game changer for law firms and the legal industry as a whole."

Other Notable Features

You can sign up with Headnote in a few minutes, and there's no cost associated with having an account. Enter your email address and firm information, create a password, upload your logo, and connect your bank account.

You can accept only e-check payments or also allow credit cards. Headnote charges 1.9% of e-check and 3.5% of credit card transactions. To comply with ethics rules, Headnote doesn't take this fee from client payments but instead charges your firm separately. This enables you to connect a trust account for client payments.

Headnote also handles collections with its Automated Reminder feature, which emails the payment link to delinquent clients. Choose when and how often to send reminders, and personalize the accompanying message. Some Headnote users like solo practitioner Kimberley Spire-Oh don't need this feature. "Since starting to use Headnote, my clients pay more often and much faster without me needing to remind them," says Spire-Oh. "It's a very user-friendly system and provides huge benefits to my practice."

Several specialized tools exist for specific use cases. For example, if you charge clients a flat fee for the same work over and over, you can create automatic recurring payments at set intervals. Less tech savvy clients can keep their credit card on file and authorize you to make payments on their behalf. Also, Headnote enables law firms to add a payment page to their website to make it even easier for clients to pay (setup is free).

What Else Should You Know?

Headnote offers several reports showing all transactions, all payment links, etc. If your firm uses QuickBooks, syncing your bank accounts will automatically pull in all payments made through Headnote for fast reconciliations. Learn more about Headnote.

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 | TL NewsWire

Document Automation That Resides Where You Work and Store Data

By TechnoLawyer | Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers document assembly software that you can use within other applications such as your document or practice management system (see article below). In addition, you'll find links to the previous 11 TL NewsWire features, including our coverage of case management software that runs on Windows, Android, and iOS with features, customization options, and integrations that acknowledge today's world, an online marketplace for finding contract lawyers without running afoul of ethics rules, and much more. Don't miss the next issue.

Document automation software should be as common in law firms as word processing software. It solves several once intractable problems — creating documents faster, reducing errors, using data that already resides in other systems and ensuring regulatory compliance when applicable. One company believes what's preventing wider adoption is where users access it.

HotDocs Hub and HotDocs Developer 11 … in One Sentence

AbacusNext's HotDocs Hub and HotDocs Developer 11, the new version of the granddaddy of document assembly platforms with 60% market share, focuses on making template authoring and third-party integrations easier.

The Killer Feature

Traditionally, when you needed to generate a document from a HotDocs template, you would open HotDocs on the desktop. You can still do this but HotDocs' new integration tools (a "REST API") enable you to incorporate it into applications that house your client data. With HotDocs serving as middleware, users at your firm may not even realize they're using HotDocs.

The most obvious front end for your HotDocs templates is your practice management system, which can autofill fields such as client name and address, opposing counsel, etc. AbacusNext's practice management products — Amicus Attorney and AbacusLaw — integrate with minimal setup. But as Global Sales Director Gary Eunson stresses, you can incorporate HotDocs into many third-party practice management systems not to mention document management systems.

The HotDocs Professional Services group can assist you with integrations and create templates for you. "Operational efficiency is still a critical issue for law firms of all sizes," says Eunson. "Creating legal documents using our market leading document automation technology provides value, not only for the law firm, but for the clients it serves."

Other Notable Features

Getting started involves a Content Author (someone at your firm or a consultant) using HotDocs Developer to create templates for all the documents your firm regularly creates. You build templates using elements such as text fields, date variables, true/false and multiple-choice dialogs, clause selectors, math formulas, etc.

Completed templates then reside in the new HotDocs Hub cloud repository, which also offers tools for user management. Version control enables you to keep all template versions and rollback changes. Template Groups collect related templates such as those for a practice group in your firm. Integration with Active Directory and other identity systems enable users to access templates. You can host HotDocs Hub behind your firewall, through HotDocs' hosting services, or with Abacus Private Cloud.

Users access templates via their browser. The main tab contains the "interview" as HotDocs calls it — essentially a form. The middle tab offers a realtime preview of the document being built. The third tab lists all the data entered into the interview. When finished, choose from formats such as Word, WordPerfect, PDF, etc., and HotDocs automatically saves the document to your practice or document management system per the integrations discussed above.

What Else Should You Know?

"HotDocs is the quintessential software for document automation," says Michael Savage, operations manager at Baugher Law Firm PLLC. "It's very robust and the possibilities are endless. Generating documents and pleadings now take a fraction of the time they normally would using any other software. I highly recommend this product." Learn more about HotDocs Hub and HotDocs Developer 11.

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: Automation/Document Assembly/Macros | TL NewsWire

The Stuff of Case Management Dreams

By TechnoLawyer | Thursday, July 5, 2018

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers case management software that runs on Windows, Android, and iOS with features, customization options, and integrations that acknowledge today's world (see article below). In addition, you'll find links to the previous 11 TL NewsWire features, including our coverage of an online marketplace for finding contract lawyers without running afoul of ethics rules, an accounting and practice management system that automates client intake, rules-based calendaring, and document creation, and much more. Don't miss the next issue.

For many lawyers, the ideal case management software would consist of native desktop and mobile applications with options for on- or off-premises hosting of the data, and the ability to integrate with any new cloud service. One legal technology veteran spent the last five years rewriting its software from scratch to make this dream come true.

Needles 5 … in One Sentence

Launching this week at AAJ 2018, Needles 5 is a case management system renowned for customization options that can now integrate with third-party cloud software too.

The Killer Feature

Needles spent five years bringing Needles 5 to market — and I'm among the first to see it. Head of Customer Education Bryan Billig starts by running through a few before-and-after screens comparing versions 4 and 5.

Needles adapts to your window size and is optimized for widescreen monitors, which is unusual for a Windows application. "The visual changes alone make Needles far more user-friendly and, by default, more productive," says Tiffany A. Cypress, paralegal at Sutherland & Brinster, PA. The new Needles mobile app for Android and iOS provides a similarly optimized native experience for on-the-go access.

Needles manages the entire client lifecycle from lead generation to intake to settlement. The company pioneered what it calls Case Types — a collection of custom fields, forms, and checklists for specific practice areas. In version 5, customization options no longer have limits. Checklists can now handle complex dependency rules with unlimited date triggers and case assignments.

Because special use cases exist in many law firms, Needles built a web-enabled API. Translation — you can integrate with virtually any product. The forthcoming Needles App Store will feature third-party integrations you can add with a few clicks.

"With a modern feature set that includes updated functionality, a clean user interface, texting, dashboards, and more, Needles 5 has both the tenured experience and the cutting-edge functionality to transform your practice," says Ryan Pakter, the company's Managing Director. "Needles 5 continues to position the company as an industry leader, with the most customizable and robust case management software on the market."

Other Notable Features

Needles includes hundreds of reports for monitoring the health of your firm. Use filters to focus on a subset of data, and customize the look and layout to reflect your law firm identity. Previously, you would need a technician to create your own reports, but the new Report Writer offers a wizard that anyone can use. You can even create reports comparing data over two or more time periods.

Many small touches in Needles reflect today's world. Most notably, a dashboard keeps you apprised of activity on your cases. Contacts have fields for social media accounts, and you can send and store text messages in addition to email. Notes within cases support rich text and hyperlinks, and the new Timeline view in the calendar lists your events side by side with others on your team to facilitate scheduling meetings.

What Else Should You Know?

"True, role-based security in Needles covers every corner of the firm," Billig tells me, wrapping up my demo. Applying a role to an employee restricts their access to information and what they can do with it (e.g., view, add, edit, and/or delete notes). You can host Needles at your firm, in Needles' data center, or with a third-party virtual desktop provider. Learn more about Needles 5.

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

LAWCLERK Offers an Online Marketplace for Contract Legal Work

By Neil J. Squillante | Thursday, July 5, 2018

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers an online marketplace for finding contract lawyers without running afoul of ethics rules (see article below). In addition, you'll find links to the previous 11 TL NewsWire features, including our coverage of an accounting and practice management system that automates client intake, rules-based calendaring, and document creation, a corporate messaging service that automatically saves discussions and shared documents to NetDocuments, and much more. Don't miss the next issue.

You have more work than you can handle but you're hesitant to assume the expense of a fulltime lawyer. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of law professors, biglaw refugees, and other lawyers are available for contract work. You just need a way to find and outsource your work to these freelancers within the constraints of your state's ethics rules.

LAWCLERK … in One Sentence

Launched recently, LAWCLERK is an online marketplace for freelance legal talent that incorporates ethics rules compliance into its outsourcing process.

The Killer Feature

When you first sign up to use LAWCLERK, the company securely verifies your identity and law license. Those seeking freelance work go through a similar verification process.

Your agreement for each project specifies that the freelancer will work as a paraprofessional under your supervision. For example, one of the provisions states, "I will not ask or otherwise cause the lawclerk to sign or file any documents with any court or administrative body." These and other terms eliminate ethics concerns about the unauthorized practice of law and self-dealing. Also, the terms assign ownership of all contract work to your firm, and LAWCLERK takes care of the freelancer's tax reporting.

"Many smart, talented lawyers are underemployed or choosing alternative legal careers where they aren't using their full work product capacity," says co-founder Greg Garman. "This creates a tremendous opportunity for solo practitioners or firms to tap into this underutilized legal talent by hiring these lawyers as freelancers."

Other Notable Features

You post new projects from the Dashboard, including a description, the price you're offering (flat fee), applicable areas of law, skill level, your deadline, and how long you'll accept applications. There's no charge to post or any monthly fees. After working with a freelancer you like, you can send additional projects directly to this person instead of making your projects available to all applicants.

As applicants apply, you can review their profiles, which contain their resume, sample work product, and ratings from previous projects. Ratings indicate whether the freelancer met, exceeded, or fell short of expectations. You can ask applicants questions and reject those who don't meet your requirements.

While you can communicate with freelancers via email and telephone, LAWCLERK offers a portal for secure messaging and document sharing. Also, freelancers can log their time here. Even though you pay freelancers a flat fee, this time tracking can help you decide what to charge your client. Ethics rules enable you to mark up a fee but not a cost.

What Else Should You Know?

How are lawyers using LAWCLERK? All sorts of ways according to co-founder Kristin Tyler. Examples include solos who want to grow their practice without risk, lawyers who need expertise on a niche issue, ediscovery document review, and law firms pursuing alternative business models.

The Bach Law Firm uses LAWCLERK for litigation work. "After using LAWCLERK for the first time, our firm stopped using any other contract attorneys," says managing partner Jason Bach. "LAWCLERK provides us unparalleled talent at rates that are friendly to the bottom line." Learn more about LAWCLERK.

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: Consultants/Services/Training | TL NewsWire

AbacusLaw Goes Beyond the Practice Management Status Quo With Client Intake, Court Rules Calendaring, and Legal Accounting

By TechnoLawyer | Thursday, June 21, 2018

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers an accounting and practice management system that automates client intake, rules-based calendaring, and document creation (see article below). In addition, you'll find links to the previous 11 TL NewsWire features, including our coverage of a corporate messaging service that automatically saves discussions and shared documents to NetDocuments, a Microsoft Word add-in that scores your briefs and offers a spellchecker-like tool which suggests corrections and stylistic improvements, and much more. Don't miss the next issue.

Why is Elon Musk so focused on rocket launches? Because with space travel everything stems from the launch. Now think about your cases. They all start with intake, a process that many practice management systems ignore. But shouldn't intake be a priority?

AbacusLaw … in One Sentence

AbacusNext's AbacusLaw is a popular practice management and legal accounting system with customizable intake tools, court rules calendaring, Outlook integration, and a mobile app.

The Killer Feature

AbacusLaw has an Intake button on its toolbar, which underscores the company's reverence for this aspect of law practice. Click this menu, choose the applicable PALS or Practice Area Legal Solution, and begin entering information about your new matter. AbacusLaw offers PALS for all major practice areas. Each PALS consists of special fields, reports, document templates, and smart intake forms. You can customize a PALS to fit your needs, and create entirely new PALS for niches within your practice.

The intake forms in each PALS are "smart" because they automatically check for duplicate data and link to related information. These forms populate all areas of the software, obviating the need to enter data in multiple locations. Instead of entering all the data yourself, you can have clients, witnesses, and others securely enter information into these forms on your website. You can still take advantage of this automation even if you create a matter the old-fashioned way. Just assign a PALS to the matter and all the associated fields and forms appear for data entry.

Other Notable Features

Rules-based deadline calendaring for litigation matters is another area most practice management systems ignore. By contrast, AbacusLaw includes calendar rules for civil actions in federal courts and most state courts. The calendar rules for California even include specialty courts such as family law. You can set up the applicable rules as part of an intake form or do it later after filing a complaint. The rules calculate all deadlines, and automatically adjust them as continuances and other delays occur.

AbacusLaw also offers automation for transactional practice areas with its built-in document assembly. Choose from dozens of bundled forms and create your own (AbacusNext provides training). After choosing a form, assign it to a matter, fill it out, and generate a Word, WordPerfect, or PDF document for further editing and sharing.

In addition to managing your legal work, AbacusLaw also manages your finances with a full accounting system — general ledger, accounts payable, trust accounting, and of course billing. Every screen in AbacuLaw has a Time Tix button that can start a timer or record a time entry. Reports include all those you would expect, which you can customize. You can also create your own reports.

Because AbacusLaw is matter-centric, you can access all information related to a matter in one place, including calendar events, contacts, documents, and invoices. If you use Outlook, you can also save relevant email to a matter using AbacusLaw's add-in. With the free mobile app, you can access your matters on the go.

"Designed for lawyers, easy to use, and powerful, AbacusLaw helps me manage my practice and do my billing," says Delaware solo practitioner Thomas Shellenberger. "The calendar coordinates well with Outlook and my mobile device."

What Else Should You Know?

Most law firms use AbacusLaw via Abacus Private Cloud, AbacusNext's virtual desktop service. You can host AbacusLaw at your firm if you prefer. Learn more about AbacusLaw.

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 | Practice Management/Calendars | TL NewsWire
 
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