mobile computing

9 iPhone Apps For Lawyers

Stacked3Here is this week's Daily Record column. My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

*****

9 iPhone Apps for Lawyers

According to the results of the American Bar Association’s latest Legal Technology Survey Report, six out of 10 lawyers use an iPhone. Since the majority of lawyers use iPhones and it’s been a while since I wrote about iPhone apps for lawyers, I figured it was high time I shared some of my latest discoveries. So, without further ado, here are 9 iPhone apps developed for lawyers that you may find to be useful in your law practice.


Lawstack is a free app that provides access to, among others, the U.S. Constitution, the Federal Rules of Civil and Criminal Procedure, the Federal Rules of Evidence. Certain state codes, including New York, are also available for purchase.


With SignNow, a free app, documents can be signed anywhere by simply uploading a PDF or Word doc via email, Dropbox, or by using your iPhone’s camera. This is a really useful app for busy lawyers who often need to obtain signatures from clients and others while on the go.
Livescribe Smartpen is a digital pen that captures your handwriting and sends it directly to your phone. You can then save the searchable document as a PDF and export it to other programs. The various pens start at $129.95, so they’re not cheap, but may just be worth the cost, depending on your needs.


Mobile Transcript is a free app that enables paperless depositions by storing digital transcripts received from a court reporter in the cloud, which can be accessed from any compatible device. You can then annotate, mark up, and share the transcripts with others. There is also a paid version of the app available for $29 per month, which allows you to upload your own transcripts into the app in either Amicus or Summation format.


Dictate+Connect is an app that turns your iPhone into a dictaphone. Once you’ve recorded dictation, you can rewind and overwrite your dictation in the app and then send the sound file to your assistant as a verbal memo. You can also use the app to record meetings. There is a free trial version of the app available but in order to record more than 30-second sound clips you’ll need to purchase the full-fledged version of the app for $16.99.


The Courtroom Objections iPhone app is your go-to objections guide. This app assists you with making and responding to objections in court by providing a useful list of common objections and responses. It’s not free, but at $2.99, it may just be worth the small price you’ll have to pay.


Courtroom Evidence is a mobile reference guide for courtroom evidentiary foundations. It assists you in laying the proper foundation for entering common types of information into evidence. The app is available in the App Store for $1.99.


DocketLaw is a free app that calculates event dates and deadlines based on the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Also available for an additional monthly fee are subscriptions to rules-based calendars for specific state and federal courts. For example, you can access all New York court data for $49.95 per month.


Using Timeline 3D you can create a list of events and then add any relevant media. Once you have done so, you can present your visual timeline using a full screen and with a 3D perspective. You also have the option to export your timeline into PowerPoint and Keynote format. This app costs $9.99.
Your iPhone can be a great tool for your law practice; you just have to know how to use it! So what are you waiting for? Download a few of these apps and start practicing law on the go.

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and the Legal Technology Evangelist at MyCase, intuitive web-based law practice management software for the modern law firm. She is also the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a West-Thomson treatise. She is the founder of lawtechTalk.com and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. She publishes four legal blogs and can be reached at niki@mycase.com.


Second Circuit upholds New York’s bonafide office requirement

Stacked3Here is this week's Daily Record column. My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

*****

It’s been a long road for New Jersey attorney Ekaterina Schoenefeld, who has, for years now, sought to practice law in New York without maintaining a physical office in the state. Her attempt to overturn New York’s “bonafide office” rule was, after multiple appeals, proven to be unsuccessful by the Second Circuit Court of Appeal’s decision in Schoenefeld v. Schneiderman,
Docket No. 11‐4283‐cv.

In this decision, which was handed down on April 22nd, the Court rejected her arguments in favor of invalidating the bonafide office rule, concluding that: “§ 470 does not violate the Privileges and Immunities Clause because it was enacted not for a protectionist purpose to favor New York resident attorneys but, rather, to provide a means whereby nonresidents could establish a physical presence in the state akin to that of residents, thereby resolving a service concern while allowing nonresidents to practice law in the state’s courts.” 

According to the Court, the prohibition on allowing nonresident attorneys to practice in New York in the absence of an in-state office, even though resident attorneys can use their home address as their office, was not unduly prohibitive, in part because “New York’s in‐state office requirement for nonresident attorneys admitted to the state’s bar, N.Y. Judiciary Law § 470, was not enacted for a protectionist purpose disfavoring nonresident admitted attorneys but, rather, for the nonprotectionist purpose of affording such attorneys a means to establish a physical presence in the state akin to that of resident attorneys, thereby eliminating a court‐identified service‐of‐process concern.”

In other words, the rule was purportedly enacted—not to discourage nonresident attorneys from practicing in New York—but to grant nonresident lawyers the privilege of establishing costly office space in New York, just as their New York resident counterparts have, even when their New York counterpart’s office consists only of their residence.

However, as Judge Peter Hall—the lone dissenter—points out, the Court’s assertion that this rule was not intended to prevent nonresident attorneys from practicing in New York is disingenuous at best: “It is undisputed that, at the time Section 470 was enacted, it was part of a larger statutory scheme designed to prohibit nonresident attorneys from practicing in New York.  See Richardson v. Brooklyn City & N.R. Co., 22 How. Pr. 368, 370 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Feb. 1, 1862) (noting that the court “ha[d] always required that an attorney should reside within the state”).” 

He also disputes the validity of one of the main assertions in the majority’s opinion: that the in-state office requirement is necessary to ensure that lawyers can be served with judicial process. “Regarding the issue of service, the Court of Appeals itself observed that, although “service on an out‐of‐state individual presented many more logistical difficulties in 1862, when
[Section 470] was originally enacted,” today there are “adequate measures in place relating to service upon nonresident attorneys,” including the methods of mail, overnight delivery, fax and (where permitted) email, as authorized by the 5 CPLR, and the requirement under 22 N.Y.C.R.R. § 520.13(a) that nonresident 6 attorneys designate an in‐state clerk of court as their agent for service of process in order to be admitted in New York.  Schoenefeld, 25 N.Y.3d at 28, N.Y.S.3d at 8 224–25.”

In other words, the majority’s holding is self serving, and, if nothing else, serves to stifle innovation in the delivery of cost-effective legal services to legal consumers. These consumers who are increasingly unable to afford the high prices charged by traditional law firms who charge such high rates, in part, to recoup the significant overhead costs of running a brick and mortar law firm.

It is indisputable that the legal landscape is changing—especially for transactional lawyers. For these attorneys in particular, virtual law firms offer a feasible alternative to traditional law firms and allow for the provision of affordable legal services. And, with virtual law firms, the lawyer’s physical location is often irrelevant since all communication occurs using technology.

Using convoluted rationales to uphold antiquated rules that prevent lawyers with New York law licenses from providing much-needed legal services to underserved populations does a disservice to New York’s legal consumers and discourages innovation in the delivery of legal services. This disappointing holding is a giant step backward at a time when lawyers facing an increasingly competitive legal landscape should be encouraged to use new tools and office structures in order to improve client service and provide more effective, responsive representation.

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and the Legal Technology Evangelist at MyCase, intuitive web-based law practice management software for the modern law firm. She is also the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a West-Thomson treatise. She is the founder of lawtechTalk.com and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. She publishes four legal blogs and can be reached at niki@mycase.com.


My latest iPhone app discoveries

Stacked3This week's Daily Record column is entitled "My latest iPhone app discoveries."  My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

*****

My latest iPhone app discoveries

 

I readily admit it: I’m a tech geek. And one of my favorite things to do is to discover and try out new iPhone apps. Not all of them are keepers, but I often find a few worth holding onto.

It’s been a while since I shared my favorite apps, so I figured it was high time I wrote about some of my latest discoveries. So, without further ado, here are a few of my new favorite and often-used iPhone apps.

First, if you travel often, make sure to download FlightBoard. This free app provides instant access to all flights and their assigned gates at any given airport. So as you are waiting to deplane, you can access your connecting flight’s gate information. Then open the GateGuru app to view a map of the airport, so you can locate your next flight’s gate and any restaurants you’ll encounter as you make your way to your next flight.

Another travel app I’ve mentioned in the past that I can’t live without is TripIt. I use this app to store all of my travel itineraries in one place. Another benefit is that the app also automatically adds my flight and hotel information to my calendar.

Next, my favorite news app. For a while now I’ve been searching for a news app that provides quick access to the headlines I want to see and recently discovered SmartNews. This is a free app that offers news stories from a variety of sources and allows you to tailor the topics and sources that appear in your news feeds. It’s a very good news app and I highly recommend it.

Next up, two media apps. First, there’s Amazon Music. If you’re an Amazon Prime member, then you have to download this free app, which provides you free access to the Amazon music library as part of your Prime membership. You can play music by certain artists or albums or access Prime Music Custom stations or Playlists. You can also create your own playlists using content from the Amazon music library.

Another media app that I really like is Google Photos. This app was just released and automatically backs up and provides free online storage for all photos taken using your iPhone and other devices. The photos are automatically organized by people and location and you can search the photos by typing in the subject of the photo you’re seeking. So for example you can enter “dog” to locate all photos taken of dogs.

Two contact management apps I use often are CircleBack and Brewster. CircleBack is a free app that collects all of your contacts and then searches through its data in the cloud to provide you with the most current information for your contacts. The data is obtained from other users address books, which are then synced in the cloud with current records and anonymized. You receive notifications whenever one of your contact’s information includes updates, which you can then download to your iPhone. Of course, the tradeoff to be aware of is that you’re providing your contacts’ information to this service in exchange for the benefit of receiving updated information about your contacts.

Another free contact management app is Brewster. This free app syncs with your contacts on your iPhone and also collects all of your social media contacts into a fully searchable database, so you can easily search for contacts living in a certain area. Brewster also automatically categorizes your contacts and allows you to create custom categories as well. So, for example, categories automatically created by that app that appear on my iPhone include “law practice,” companies for which I’ve worked, and schools that I’ve attended. This is a great app that makes it even easier than ever to stay on top of your ever-growing list of contacts.

So those are a few of my favorite apps. Download a few of them and give them a try. Hopefully you’ll find a few of them to be as useful as I do!

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and the Legal Technology Evangelist at MyCase, intuitive web-based law practice management software for the modern law firm. She is also the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a West-Thomson treatise. She is the founder of lawtechTalk.com and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. She publishes four legal blogs and can be reached at niki@mycase.com.


Will the Apple Watch be a game-changer?

Stacked3This week's Daily Record column is entitled "Will the Apple Watch be a game-changer?"  My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

*****

 Will the Apple Watch be a game-changer?

As the Apple Watch is about to hits stores, the question remains: will lawyers use the Apple Watch? Or are we already too overloaded with devices, gadgets and distractions? My prediction is that the legal profession will take to the Apple Watch like a fish takes to water.


The reason is simple. The Apple Watch won’t clutter our digital lives; it will streamline them. This wearable technology will serve as an unobtrusive, immediate link to the truly important information that we need to know while filtering out the digital noise for later when we have time to sift through it.

Here’s the killer feature that will sell lawyers on the Apple Watch: the subtle notifications. Because of the unobtrusive notifications, many lawyers will quickly begin to use Apple Watches as part of their day-to-day routine. The watch will serve as a digital filter, allowing through only the most important notifications from their iPhones. Lawyers will be able to program their watches to permit notifications about phone calls or messages from only the most important people in their lives: their assistants, their work colleagues, their spouses, or a time sensitive call from a specific person.
Currently, with iPhones, it’s pretty much all or nothing. You either receive notifications or you don’t. So if you’re in court or in a meeting and are expecting a phone call, you’re forced to leave your phone on the table lest you miss the call. When you do this, you send the message that you’re not paying attention. Every buzz causes you to look toward your phone, creating a distraction and breaking the flow of conversation.

With the Apple Watch, you’ll be able to set notifications to vibrate and only allow specific calls through from your phone. That way, the watch will only vibrate when you get that call and you’ll be able to sense the vibration without even having to glance at your watch. And then, when there’s a break in the proceedings or the meeting, you can step out of the room and return the call.
Women attorneys will appreciate this feature even more than their male counterparts. Unlike most men, professional women don’t carry their iPhones in their pant pockets or in the inside pocket of their suit jackets. The pockets are simply too small. Instead, we place our phones in our purses or in our briefcases. This means we don’t feel the phones when they vibrate and oftentimes can’t even hear them when they ring. So in order to avoid the appearance of being rude, we tend to miss important calls altogether.

The Apple Watch offers the perfect solution to this dilemma. It will provide women lawyers with the ability to receive important notifications right on their wrist, even if their iPhone is tucked away and out of sight. So while it seems like such a simple fix, it’s an important one and one that will truly make a difference in the lives of women lawyers.

Of course, there will be many other uses for the Apple Watch, both for lawyers and the public as a whole. Importantly, the Apple Watch is in its infancy and its features will evolve over time, defined in part by the ways that we choose to use it. But I predict that it’s the filtered, silent notifications that will be the killer feature that makes it so appealing right out of the starting block. From there, who knows where it will take us? I, for one, am looking forward to finding out.

 

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and the Legal Technology Evangelist at MyCase, intuitive web-based law practice management software for the modern law firm. She is also the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a West-Thomson treatise. She is the founder of lawtechTalk.com and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. She publishes four legal blogs and can be reached at niki@mycase.com.


The courts on mobile devices in the courtroom

Stacked3This week's Daily Record column is entitled "The courts on mobile devices in the courtroom ."  My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

*****

The courts on mobile devices in the courtroom 

In 2007, the iPhone was launched. Thus began the mobile revolution. Now, 8 years later, 77 percent of lawyers use smartphones for law-related tasks, according to the results of the American Bar Association’s 2014 Legal Technology Survey Report. This, even though lawyers are traditionally slow to incorporate new technologies into their work flows. Mobile devices have been the exception, however, and lawyers have latched onto them and embraced them from the very start.

The courts have been much slower in their response to, and acceptance of, mobile tools, as evidenced by the recent policy on mobile device use by lawyers promulgated by the United States Fifth Circuit. As Jeff Richardson recently reported on his blog, iPhone J.D., the federal court recently released new rules, which were approved on Jan. 15, and impose fairly strict limitations on mobile device usage by lawyers appearing in Fifth Circuit courtrooms.

Importantly, the rules require that smartphones and tablets be turned off completely at all times, except when an attorney is presenting an oral argument before the court or is sitting at the counsel table. Even then, the devices can only be used for limited purposes and lawyers are expressly forbidden from using cameras or other recording devices and may not use social media while in the courtroom.

The new policy in its entirety is as follows:

POLICY ON ADMITTANCE OF ELECTRONIC DEVICES INTO THE JOHN MINOR WISDOM UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS BUILDING

A. Cameras and recording devices are not permitted in the John Minor Wisdom United States Court of Appeals Building (“Building”) without the court permission. Laptops, tablets, cell phones, and other similar devices that contain cameras or recording functions are exempt from this subsection but are still subject to (B)—(D).

B. After visual inspection and X-ray by a Court Security Officer, electronic devices may be admitted into the Building.

C. Unless prior court permission is obtained, all electronic devices must be turned off (not “vibrate-only” mode or airplane mode) when inside a courtroom where a Fifth Circuit argument is being held. However, an attorney presenting argument or assisting at counsel table may use a laptop, tablet, or similar device. If the laptop, tablet, or similar device has a camera or recording device, those functions may not be used inside the courtroom. At no time may anyone use social media inside a courtroom.

D. Under no circumstances will disruptive behavior be tolerated in any courtroom where a Fifth Circuit argument is being held. Violators will be promptly removed.

This policy, while very restrictive, is more expansive than other jurisdictions. For example, Maryland State Court Rules explicitly forbid the use electronic devices in a courtroom absent express permission from the sitting judge.

Of course, there are also courts that are more liberal in their view toward lawyers using these devices in the courtroom, such as the Vermont Supreme Court Rule, which allows lawyers to use mobile devices while presenting to the court and while waiting for their cases to be called, as long as the devices are in “silent mode” and aren’t used for oral communication. Other forms of communication are acceptable, such as texting, as long as the judge has not prohibited said use. 

A partial list of the rules promulgated by different courts across the country on these issues can be found at the National Center for State Courts Website. According to this list, 12 state courts have addressed the use of mobile devices in the courtroom, along with six federal courts, not including the Fifth Circuit, as discussed above.

In other words, many jurisdictions have yet to issue policies regarding the use of mobile devices in the courtroom despite the proliferation of these devices and their wide scale use by both lawyers. Hopefully the courts will catch up with the times sooner, rather than later. After all, lawyers rely on mobile tools to help them practice law more efficiently, allowing them to present their clients’ cases with greater clarity and simplicity. So allowing them to use these devices while in court will benefit not just their clients, but also the judges and the court system as a whole.

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and the Legal Technology Evangelist at MyCase, intuitive web-based law practice management software for the modern law firm. She is also a GigaOM Pro Analyst and is the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a West-Thomson treatise. She is the founder of lawtechTalk.com and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. She publishes four legal blogs and can be reached at niki@mycase.com.


A look at 4 of my favorite apps and extensions

Stacked3This week's Daily Record column is entitled "A look at 4 of my favorite apps and extensions."  My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

*****

A look at 4 of my favorite apps and extensions  

I’m a big fan of technology and am always looking for new ways to incorporate technology tools into my daily workflow. As a result, I often find myself experimenting with new apps and browser extensions. Here are a few of my latest discoveries, including iOS apps and browser extensions that simplify my life and streamline my workflow.

First, there’s the GoogleNow iOS app. This app is an intelligent personal assistant that responds to voice commands and also provides “information cards” catered to your needs. The information is gleaned from your phone’s GPS data and the data that Google has collected from your search history and your Gmail account. It then personalizes the results and predicts which “information cards” will be most useful to you, such as traffic directions and conditions from your current location to your home, information about the delivery status of packages, the status of flights you’re scheduled to take, news items of interest, the weather for your current location, restaurants and attractions located nearby, and more.

Of course, in order to increase the usefulness of the app, you must necessarily give up some of your privacy to Google. But even so, for many, myself included, the convenience and utility of the app may outweigh that concern.

Next, the Tempo smart calendar iOS app. After much searching, this is my smart calendar app of choice. This app connects with the native iOS app, Google calendar, or any other calendar that you’ve set up on your mobile device. Once installed, it’s a simple matter to input an event. You simply type in “Meeting with Mary Smith at 3 at Mac’s Diner” and the app does the rest. It automatically creates an event at the specified time, locates and links to the contact(s) you’re meeting with, and suggests businesses that match the location, giving you the option to include a map with a navigation button, so that you can then pull up turn-by-turn instructions via Google Maps.

It also includes a reminders feature, allows you to search for and link to emails that might be connected to the event, offers the ability to include a free conference call link with just the touch of a button, and allows you to send a pre-written text message to the contact you’re meeting with indicating that you’re running late. There are other smart calendar apps that include many of these features, but I prefer Tempo because it includes a search function and has a clean, intuitive interface that permits the calendar views I find to be most useful.

Next, there’s Oyster, an iOS, Kindle and Android app that offers a reasonably priced e-book lending service. For the small monthly subscription fee of $9.95 per month, you receive unlimited access to over 1 million titles. There are a handful of other similar services out there, but I prefer Oyster because of its simple reading interface. And, the app does a great job of suggesting books that might be of interest to you based on your past reading habits.

Finally, there’s my newest email add-on, MxHero, which works with both Gmail and Outlook. This is a free tool that adds all sorts of optional features to each email that you send. You can track emails to see if and when the recipient opens them, you can schedule emails to be sent at a later date and time, you can send self-destructing emails, and you can send group emails that, to the recipient, appear to have been sent to only him or her. It’s a great tools that gives you lots of control over the emails that you send.

So those are some of my latest discoveries. They work for me, but you won’t know if they’re a good fit for your needs unless you give them a try. So why not download a few to them today and see?

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and the Legal Technology Evangelist at MyCase, intuitive web-based law practice management software for the modern law firm. She is also a GigaOM Pro Analyst and is the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a West-Thomson treatise. She is the founder of lawtechTalk.com and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. She publishes four legal blogs and can be reached at niki@mycase.com.


Lawyers and Mobile Devices Trending Higher

Stacked3This week's Daily Record column is entitled "Lawyers and Mobile Devices Trending Higher."  My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

***** 

Lawyers and Mobile Devices Trending Higher

Of all the technology trends, lawyers have adapted to mobile devices the most readily. Smartphone use has been on the rise for years now, tablets are increasingly being incorporated by lawyers and judges into their workflows, and wearable technology, such as smartwatches, will no doubt make inroads in the legal profession as well.


The results of two recent surveys confirm that lawyers continue to adopt mobile technologies into their practices, but the numbers stabilized somewhat in 2014. In other words, the meteoric rise of the use of smartphones and tablets has leveled off somewhat in the legal profession, just as it has outside of it as well.


First, according the the American Bar Association’s 2014 Legal Technology Survey, the percentage of lawyers who reported using a smartphone in their practices remained the same as last year at 91 percent. According to the survey results, lawyers in large firms were the most likely to use a smartphone and solos were the least likely: 96 percent of lawyers in firms with 100 or more lawyers reported using a smartphone, as did 95 percent of lawyers in firms with 10-20 lawyers, 89 percent in forms with 2-9 lawyers and 86 percent of solo attorneys.


Another interesting finding is that 66 percent of the lawyers who use smartphones prefer the iPhone. Of the remainder, 24 percent use an Android device, and the rest use either a BlackBerry, Windows phone or other device. Of those devices, 74 percent were owned by the attorneys and only 28 percent were purchased by their firm.


Lawyers report using their smartphones for a variety of uses, with more than half using their devices to access the Internet, email, telephone, calendars, contacts and to send texts; 7 percent track expenses on their smartphones; and 4 percent even use their smartphones to create documents.
Tablet use by lawyers increased ever so slightly, up one percent to 49 percent in 2014. The number of iPads used by lawyers declined slightly in 2014, down from 91 percent in 2013 to 84 percent in 2014. The rest of the responding attorneys use Android tablets (10 percent), Windows tablets (6 percent), or another device (3 percent). More than 50 percent of lawyers report using their tablets to access the Internet, their calendars and contacts, 17 percent report using their tablets to create documents, and 10 percent use them to track expenses.


Many of these numbers comport with the findings of the 2014 ILTA and Inside Legal Annual Technology Purchasing Survey, which is sent out to 1,400 ILTA member law firms, with 20 percent of the firms responding. 35 percent of responding firms indicated that they do not buy smartphones for their lawyers. Of those that do, iPhones are purchased by 63 percent, 39 percent buy Android, 28 percent buy BlackBerry, and 9 percent purchase Windows devices. Interestingly, according to the survey results from two years ago, 50 percent of firms refused to purchase iPhones and now nearly all do — a statistic that is most definitely a sign of the times!


When it comes to tablets, 48 percent of responding firms indicated that they purchased them for their attorneys. Of those firms that purchased tablets, iPads lead the way at 44 percent. Microsoft Surface followed at 17 percent, Android was next at 10 percent, Windows 8 tablet at 6 percent, Kindle Fire at 2 percent, and BlackBerry Playbook at 1 percent. The remaining 52 percent of firms had either no support for tablet purchases or a BYOD policy in place.


Finally, when respondents were asked about the most exciting technologies or trends, the Internet of things, which includes artificial intelligence and wearables, came in as one of the top responses.
So keep your eye out for the wearables this year, which are the next iteration of mobile technology. Given how lawyers quickly have embraced smartphones and other mobile tools, I have no doubt that wearables will be next!


So, when many of you read my report next year on the 2015 legal technology surveys, I bet quite a few of you will be wearing smartwatches and law firms will have already begun the process of supporting these devices. So stay tuned for the next exciting phase of mobile technology!

 

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and Director of Business Development and Community Relations at MyCase, intuitive web-based law practice management software for the modern law firm. She is also a GigaOM Pro Analyst and is the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a West-Thomson treatise. She is the founder of lawtechTalk.com and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. She publishes four legal blogs and can bereachedatniki@mycase.com.


Virtual law firms allow practice on your own terms

Stacked3This week's Daily Record column is entitled "Virtual law firms allow practice on your own terms."  My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

***** 

Virtual law firms allow practice on your own terms 

For years now I’ve been an advocate of Web-based computing and have asserted that it will change the practice of law as we know it. I felt so strongly about this that I wrote a book about cloud computing for lawyers that was published in 2012, and shortly thereafter, I was hired by a legal software company that develops Web-based practice management software.

So, of course you could argue that I’m biased. After all, I’ve got skin in the game.

But know that I speak from personal experience. Without the Internet, I’m not sure where I’d be today. Web-based computing has been integral to my career success ever since I returned to the practice of law in 2005 after a brief hiatus from my profession. During that short hiatus, I had my second child and re-grouped in the hopes of finding a career path best suited to my needs and interests.

It was in 2005 that I hung my virtual shingle, created a website, and began doing contract work for other lawyers. I also started my first blog, Sui Generis. The career trajectory that followed — contract attorney, of counsel for a local firm, legal columnist and then journalist, book author, national speaker, and New York-based director for MyCase, a legal technology company located in California — would never have been possible but for the Internet and Web-based computing.

Of course I worked hard, but even with hard work, my career path would have been impossible just a decade before. I was fortunate that my reentry into the legal profession coincided with the wide-scale proliferation of Internet-based technologies like cloud computing and social media. Otherwise, I’d probably still be handling occasional matters for local attorneys and struggling to find my way.

Rest assured, I’m not the only lawyer benefiting from the flexibility, convenience and tremendous possibilities offered by Web-based computing. As part of my job as a legal journalist, I often write about lawyers who use Web-based tools in their law practice. In fact, in just the past month, I’ve interviewed three different lawyers who have successful virtual law practices, which are online law firms that do not have brick and mortar offices. In every case, the choice to hang a virtual shingle rather than open up a physical law office was made because the lawyers sought to practice law on their own terms.

In one case, an attorney chose to open up a virtual practice because he and his wife enjoyed traveling. So they decided to pack up their family and move to Mexico for a while. They now plan to stay there indefinitely, since he was able to establish a busy law practice where he handles transactional matters such as estate planning and small business formation for clients located in the states in which he is licensed.

Another lawyer I spoke to has operated a thriving, full-time virtual law practice for over 6 years. Originally from Texas, she relocated to North Carolina due to her husband’s job and continues to handle estate planning matters for clients located in Texas, the state in which she is licensed. She originally hung a virtual shingle while living in Texas so that she could practice part-time and still have time to care for her children, but as they grew and after the family’s relocation, she gradually transitioned to a full-time practice.

In another case, an attorney told me that his family also relocated because of his wife’s career. Before they had kids they’d decided that one of them would stay at home and since she’s a surgeon, he made the choice to be the stay-at-home-father. But rather than leave the practice of law, he established a part-time virtual law practice handling estate planning matters for his clients.

Like the other attorneys I spoke to, he used a Web-based platform to store and access all of his firm’s files and for client communication purposes. That set up is what makes his virtual practice possible and he’s able to care for his children during the day and perform client work on weeknights and weekends. Eventually he envisions transitioning to a brick and mortar office while still handling some client matters virtually.

So the idea that Web-based computing will change the practice of law is no longer just a pipe dream — it’s reality. Lawyers are using technology to create law practices that allow them to practice law on their terms.So while cloud computing may not be changing every law firm, it’s changing the way that some lawyers practice law. It’s giving them more options, increased flexibility, and greater control — over their practices and their lives.

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and Director of Business Development and Community Relations at MyCase, intuitive web-based law practice management software for the modern law firm. She is also a GigaOM Pro Analyst and is the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a West-Thomson treatise. She is the founder of lawtechTalk.com and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. She publishes four legal blogs and can bereachedatniki@mycase.com.


Will lawyers embrace wearable tech, and the future?

Stacked3This week's Daily Record column is entitled " Will lawyers embrace wearable tech, and the future?"  My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

***** 

Will lawyers embrace wearable tech, and the future?

 

Technology is changing at a rapid clip. Devices that were once a marvel less than a decade ago, like e-readers, smartphones and tablets, are now commonplace. Cloud computing is on the rise and social media use and postings, whether by parties, witnesses or jurors, is now a factor in the vast majority of cases being litigated in courtrooms across the country. The times the are a changin’ — and quickly.

The good news is that in some cases, lawyers are adapting quite well, especially when it comes to mobile computing. In fact, according to the results of the American Bar Association’s 2013 Legal Technology Survey, nearly 91 percent of lawyers use smartphones in their practices and 48 percent use tablets.

That’s an incredible amount of acclimation in a very short period of time given that the first smartphone, the iPhone, was released in 2007 and the first tablet, the iPad, was released in 2010. In other words, lawyers — who are traditionally slow to adopt new technologies into their practices — seem to be taking to mobile like a fish takes to water.

Well get ready, fellow attorneys, for the next stage of the mobile revolution: wearable technology.

And, it’s not just coming soon — it’s already here. Google Glass is now available to the public, smartwatches have been available for a number of months now, and Android Wear, Google’s smartwatch, was just released, with rumors of an iWatch release in the fall.
That means you can pick your wearable poison. Apple or Android? Smartwatch or glasses? Or perhaps you’ll choose both.

I predict that for most lawyers, smartwatches will initially prevail and that we’ll see a quick uptick in use once the iWatch is released, since the vast majority of lawyers still use iPhones (62 percent according to the 2013 ABA Legal Technology Survey results).

The reason smartwatches will be so popular with lawyers is that they offer an easy and unobtrusive way to filter only the most important information received on your smartphone. So if you’re expecting a priority email or phone call, you can program your phone to forward it to your smartwatch so that you’ll receive a subtle vibration on your wrist. This will come in handy when you’re in court, for example. So instead of causing a disruption in the proceedings, you can leave the room quietly and tend to the matter in the hallway with no one else the wiser.
Google Glass won’t be as popular at first, but over time I suspect that as new legal specific apps are released (the folks at Cornell’s Legal Information Institute are already working on some) and as forward-thinking lawyers find creative ways to use Glass in their practices, we’ll see lawyers increasingly using this technology as well.

I speak from experience. I recently obtained a complimentary pair of Google Glass for review purposes thanks to a helping hand from the kind folks at Justia, including Tim Stanley, Nick Moline and Vasu Kappettu. Glass is an incredible technology that offers tremendous potential.
Much like the iPhone when it was first released in 2007, Glass is a diamond in the rough and its utility will no doubt change over time as more apps are developed and users find creative ways to make it work for their needs.

So mark my words: The next stage of the mobile revolution has arrived. Learn about wearable technologies and be ready. Sure it takes time to keep up with rapidly changing technologies, but even so, it will pay off in the long run. Rest assured the time spent keeping up with new technologies will pay off down the road and is a far better option than the alternative: being left behind in the wake of inevitable change.

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and Director of Business Development and Community Relations at MyCase, intuitive web-based law practice management software for the modern law firm. She is also a GigaOM Pro Analyst and is the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a West-Thomson treatise. She is the founder of lawtechTalk.com and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. She publishes four legal blogs and can bereachedatniki@mycase.com.


Tech goals for solo and small-firm lawyers

Stacked3This week's Daily Record column is entitled " Tech goals for solo and small-firm lawyers."  My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

***** 

 Tech goals for solo and small-firm lawyers

 

Every year I write about different legal technology surveys that are released. Many focus on how lawyers are actually using legal technology, such as the ABA’s annual Legal Technology Survey. But it’s also helpful to know how solo and small-firm lawyers envision using technology in their practices.

That why the results of two legal technology surveys about lawyers’ plans to use legal technology in their law practices are so interesting (disclosure: they were conducted by MyCase, the company for which I work). They offer a glimpse into the businesses of solo and small firm lawyers and provide indications of their assessments of the value that different types of technologies will bring to their law practices.

The first survey was conducted earlier this year. A large sampling of lawyers were asked about their key business challenges for the coming year. From the responses, it was clear that one of their highest priorities was to grow their practices and that implementing new technologies, such as mobile and cloud computing, into their workflow was an important part of achieving that goal.
According to the survey results, 35 percent wanted to grow their business by using technology to increase efficiency, part of which included streamlining their billing practices and making it easier for clients to pay them; 31 percent hoped to become more organized by better utilizing technology to move to a paperless office and by managing their time more efficiently using mobile billing tools; 12 percent sought to become better lawyers by becoming better organized and improving client communication; and, 11 percent planned to move their law firm to the cloud as part of their efforts to better manage their practice by becoming more mobile and facilitating more flexible client communication.

The second survey asked lawyers in firms of less than 50 people about how they planned to use new technologies in their law firms. The respondents were nearly evenly split between solo practitioners (57 percent) and larger firms (43 percent). In particular the survey focused on learning more about how and why lawyers planned to use technology to increase productivity.
The survey results indicated the majority of respondents planned to invest more in technology to help them run their practices over the next year. Like the earlier survey, respondents indicated that the biggest planned technology investments revolved around going paperless and increasing efficiency: 73 percent reported that they were moderately to extremely likely to increase reliance on technology over the next year and 33 percent were likely to increase reliance on mobile in the coming year.

In terms of the specific technologies most likely to be implemented, 35 percent reported that they planned to digitize documents and 16 percent planned to start using comprehensive law practice management software. Also interesting was that respondents reported that they hoped to use new technologies to decrease inefficiencies related to client communication (31 percent) and time entry (25 percent). And, the traditional method most likely to be abandoned in favor of new technologies was the pen and paper appointment calendar, with 60 percent of respondents indicating that they planned to stop using it.

Other interesting findings included the fact that 64 percent of respondents agreed that there was a connection between increased mobility and profitability and only 37 percent respondents were not optimistic about increasing profits despite the less than robust economy and increased global competition for legal services. And last, but not least, when it came to increasing profits by bringing in new business, 46 percent of respondents agreed that word of mouth remains the best way to get new business and 29 percent agreeing that referrals from colleagues were one of the best sources of new business.

So that’s how some solo and small firm lawyers plan to grow their law practices by using technology in the near future. Are your goals for your law practice aligned with the survey results? What types of new technologies will you use in your law firm over the next year?

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and Director of Business Development and Community Relations at MyCase, intuitive web-based law practice management software for the modern law firm. She is also a GigaOM Pro Analyst and is the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a West-Thomson treatise. She is the founder of lawtechTalk.com and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. She publishes four legal blogs and can bereachedatniki@mycase.com.