mobile computing

8 handy gadgets for the mobile lawyer office

Stacked3This week's Daily Record column is entitled "8 handy gadgets for the mobile lawyer office." My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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8 handy gadgets for the mobile lawyer office

For the 21st century lawyer, mobility is key, since a mobile law practice makes it easier than ever for lawyers to practice law no matter where they happen to be. That’s why, according to the American Bar Association’s 2013 Legal Technology Survey, more lawyers are going mobile than ever before, with nearly 91 percent of lawyers surveyed reporting that they have used smartphones in their practices and 48 percent of lawyers surveyed reported using a tablet at work.

But in order to have a truly mobile law office, you need to have the right accessories. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself on the road trying to make do under less than ideal circumstances.

But never fear! What follows is a list of my favorite gadgets for the mobile lawyer.

First, there’s the the Aidata LHA-3 LAPstand Aluminum Portable Laptop Stand which retails for $38.99. I use this stand all the time. It raises my laptop up to a more ergonomic viewing level and is incredibly versatile, allowing you to set up shop no matter where you happen to be. Using it, you can view your laptop at multiple angles and it’s very lightweight at only 1.8 pounds.

Next, continue increasing the ergonomics of your mobile law office even more by dumping the clunky mouse. Instead, avoid wrist pain by switching to the Wacom Bamboo pen and tablet. It retails for only $49.99 and is well worth the money. This handy, pen-like tool can be used to navigate the Web with ease. It’s quite thin and light and takes up very little room in your laptop bag. And as an added bonus, it can be used to sign or annotate documents or create sketches, if you’re so inclined.

Next up, consider investing in a portable keyboard to go along with your ergonomic mobile office. I prefer Apple’s Wireless Keyboard ($69.99) because it’s full-sized, lightweight and very thin. It takes up very little space in your laptop bag and can be used with both your laptop and tablet.

Another stand to consider is the StabilePro iPad stand. Although pricey, ringing in at $107.99, this attractive stand raises your tablet to eye level and, when used with your portable keyboard, creates a functional work station. Another benefit, the stand rotates side to side and front and back, making it easier to view your tablet’s screen from any angle.

Avoid battery drain on the go and invest in Monster Outlets to Go. This compact tool makes it easy to keep your devices charged while on the road. It includes both electrical outlets and a USB port and costs only $19.95.

Another option is to use an iPhone case with a built-in battery pack. The Mophie Space Pack iPhone 5/5S case with battery charger is a great choice since not only is it a battery charger, it also includes up to 16 GB of backup storage. It costs a hefty $149.95 but depending on your needs, may be well worth the price.

Next up, avoid the risk of a water-logged tablet and purchase a DryCase cover for your tablet. For $59.99, this flexible, clear tablet case will protect your tablet from water, whether you’re at the beach or hiking in the rain.

Finally, splurge and buy yourself the Pencil iPad stylus by FiftyThree. This stylus is incredibly sharp-looking and functional. And, it works just like a pencil. You write with the pencil tip and erase with the eraser end of the stylus. The graphite version costs $59.95 and the walnut version, which includes a magnetic strip to attach it to your tablet, costs $79.95.

So now that you have a few ideas about tools to enhance your mobile office, the next step is to add a few of them to your arsenal. Which ones will you buy?

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and Director of Business Development and Community Relations at MyCase, an intuitive cloud-based law practice management platform 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 take advantage of wearable tech?

Stacked3This week's Daily Record column is entitled "Will lawyers take advantage of wearable tech?" My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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Will lawyers take advantage of wearable tech?

Wearable technology: it’s been the topic of discussion in technology circles for some time now. Pundits have forecasted that in 2014 there will be a rapid uptick in the use of wearable technologies such as smart watches and Google Glass as prices drop and they become more readily available.

 

Last week, some of those predictions came true when Google Glass was finally released to the general public — albeit for just one day at the very high price of $1,500. Even so there continue to be well-founded reports that a consumer version of Glass will be released in the fall for the much lower price of $600 and that Apple will most likely release the iWatch in September.

 

The question remains, however: will these technologies catch on with the general population? And even more importantly to readers of my column, will lawyers have any practical use for these devices?

 

Some lawyers have been convinced from the get go that Google Glass has a place in law office. One such lawyer is Mitch Jackson, a California personal injury lawyer. In November 2013, Mitch suggested on his blog that lawyers would indeed find uses for Google Glass, such as during voir dire (online: http://jacksonandwilson.com/48-hours-of-google-glass/): “Last night I was playing around with Glass and trying to figure out how to have notes or an outline appear. For example, maybe notes to use during an interview or an outline to use during a deposition or jury selection. I may be picking a jury and starting trial in 2 weeks using Glass. The judge is OK with me using Glass in court … I’ll be using the outline functions I mentioned above and, recording my voir dire for later review and use.”

 

Of course, not everyone is convinced that Google Glass will benefit lawyers. Jeffrey Taylor of the Droid Lawyer blog, a staunch believer in the effective use of technology in the practice of law, remains unconvinced (online: http://thedroidlawyer.com/2014/04/google-glass-may-finally-have-a-place-in-law-firms/): “Long-time readers know that I’m not too enthusiastic about the potential of Google Glass in law firms. Namely, I’m just skeptical that Glass actually adds value to a lawyer’s tech arsenal. Of course, I’m not saying Glass isn’t valuable or useful, I just don’t know that lawyers can fully benefit from such an expensive piece of technology.”

 

But even Jeffrey was impressed by one Phoenix-based personal injury law firm’s recent use of Google Glass. As reported in a recent Business Insider article (online: www.businessinsider.com/lawyers-use-google-glass-to-win-cases-2014-4), attorneys James Goodnow and Marc Lamber from the law firm Fennemore Craig started using Google Glass in a very creative and innovative way as a means to record the effects of serious injuries on their clients’ lives.

 

For example, they loaned a Google Glass device to one of their clients, a double amputee, so that he could wear it to record and document his day-to-day activities and the severe limitations that he faces because of his injuries. Thus far it proven to be a novel and effective use of Google Glass.

 

So there’s a lesson to be learned here, my fellow lawyers: don’t automatically discount new technologies just because they’re different and untested. Instead, learn about them, keep an open mind, and think critically — but not skeptically — about their use in your practice.

 

Not all emerging technologies will have a place in your practice, but some have the potential to streamline your practice and allow you to better represent your clients — it’s oftentimes simply a matter of being able to imagine the possibilities.

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and Director of Business Development and Community Relations at MyCase, an intuitive cloud-based law practice management platform 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 atniki@mycase.com.


Productivity apps help lawyers manage time

Stacked3This week's Daily Record column is entitled "Productivity apps help lawyers manage time." My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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Productivity apps help lawyers manage time

According to the American Bar Association’s 2013 Legal Technology Survey, 91 percent of attorneys have smartphones and 48 percent use tablets in their practices. So more likely than not, you own either a smartphone, a tablet, or both. And now that you own a mobile device, why not use it to increase your productivity?

To help you do just that, here are some of my favorite productivity apps that you might want to consider.

First there is my favorite to-do/calendar app combo: Any.do and Cal. Both apps are free and were developed by the same company. Most importantly, the apps integrate, making your tasks and calendaring system a seamless, intuitive experience.

Any.Do is a user-friendly and versatile to-do app (iOS, Android, and web app) that is flexible enough to fit into most workflows. You can add tasks via the Web interface or the smartphone app. If you add a task using your smartphone and include the name of someone stored as a contact on your phone, the app will connect the task to your contact and will automatically include a link to any contact information relating to that person.

Another great Any.Do feature is that the Web browser extension integrates with Gmail, prompting you to add an email-related task at the end of each email. The task you create is then linked to the email, so that you can quickly return to the email, should you need to do so in the future.

Cal, the corresponding calendar app integrates with Any.do so your Any.do tasks are listed within the Cal interface. Cal connects with the native iOS app, Google calendar, or any other calendar that you’ve set up on your mobile device.

You can connect the app with your contacts so that whenever you enter an event, such as “Meeting with Mary,” the app will search your address book and suggest contacts with that same name, which you can then link to the event. The app then automatically includes the contact information so that you can email or text him or her from within the event with just the touch of an icon.

You can also add a location and, once you’ve done so, the app suggests businesses that match the location. After you choose the correct business, a map appears along with a navigation button, so that you can then pull up turn-by-turn instructions via Google maps.

If you’re in the market for a voice mail system other than your phone’s native system, YouMail, a free iOS and Android app, might be just what you’re looking for. One of its best features is the ability to forward voice mails to your email. Being able to do this makes it much easier for me to remember to respond to or take action in regard to a specific message. You can also email a voice mail to someone else as well — something that occasionally comes in handy.

YouMail also makes it easy to organize your voice mails. Instead of being forced to store all of your voice mails in one location, you can create sub-folders (ie. “follow up,” “work” or “personal”). Once you’ve done so, you can then file received voice mails into specific folders after you’ve listened to them.

For contact management, consider Brewster, a free iOS and Android app that facilitates contact management across your social networks. Once you download this app, it collects all of your social network contacts along with your phone’s contacts into a fully searchable database. This is a wonderful feature because for those of you who travel often, since it makes it so much easier for you to locate (and network with) your connections who live wherever you happen to be traveling to.

And last but not least, Springpad is a great app for note taking and keeping your life — both online and offline — organized. Using Springpad you can create notes and collect and organize many different types of files — including photos, Web pages,UPCs (of wine, books or other items) scanned via your smart phone, online recipes, and notes or reminders — using any Internet-enabled device.

So there you have it — an assortment of apps to help you stay organized and increase your productivity. So why not get started today? Download a few apps and see how much time you save!

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and Director of Business Development and Community Relations at MyCase, an intuitive cloud-based law practice management platform 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.


6 must-have apps for every lawyer’s new iPad

Stacked3This week's Daily Record column is entitled "6 must-have apps for every lawyer’s new iPad." My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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6 must-have apps for every lawyer’s new iPad

You received exactly what you’d asked for this holiday season and now you’re holding a shiny new iPad in your hands. Now what? How do you figure out which apps to download to help to make you a more effective, efficient lawyer? Well, you’re in luck! Get started by downloading the 6 apps suggested below:

 

First, purchase PDF Expert ($9.99). It’s my favorite app for PDF annotation and storage. Using this app, you can easily import documents from many sources, including email attachments, your computer’s hard drive, Dropbox, SkyDrive and GoogleDocs. You can import a range of file types, including iWork, MS Office, Power Point, text files, images, music and video files and more.

 

Then, using this app you can fill in forms, add typewritten text in any number of fonts and colors, or insert handwritten text into documents. You can also mark up documents by highlighting text or striking through words.

 

Fastcase is another great app. This free app includes cases and statutes from all 50 states and the federal government and allows you to conduct free legal research on the fly, even if you don’t have a Fastcase subscription.

 

For a mobile scanner, consider the Scanner Pro app ($2.99). It allows you to use your iPad’s camera to capture an image of the document, then converts it into a PDF which you can then email or upload into any number of integrated online storage services.

 

Every lawyer needs a “to-do” app and Any.DO is a great choice. This free app is user-friendly and versatile and is flexible enough to fit into most workflows. It’s available as a browser extension for Chrome and other Web browsers as well as an iPad app. You can add tasks via the Web interface or the smartphone app, and can even share them with others if necessary.

 

But what sets it apart is the way that it integrates with your smartphone and with Gmail. So, if you add a task using your smartphone and the app will automatically include a link to any contact information stored on your phone relating to that person. The Web browser extension integrates with Gmail, prompting you to add an email-related task at the end of each email. The task you create is then linked to the email, so that you can quickly return to the email, should you need to do so in the future. Finally, the developers recently came out with a great, free calendar app, Cal, that integrates with Any.DO and GCal or your native iOS calendar.

 

Next, download Google Now. This free app is Google’s intelligent personal assistant that is designed to provide you with the information most relevant to your daily life, right on your smartphone. Like Siri, Apple’s personal assistant, the Google Now app responds to voice commands and also provides “information cards” catered to your needs, based on your interaction with your phone. The information is gleaned from your phone’s GPS data and the data that Google has collected regarding your search history. It then personalizes its results and predicts which “information cards” will be most useful to you.

 

And last but not least, don’t forget about law practice management apps. Most reputable Web-based law practice management companies offer iPad (and iPhone) apps which provide lawyers with 24/7 access to their firm’s documents, client files, contact information and more. And, some, such as MyCase’s app (the company for which I work), even offer a client-facing app which allows clients to securely communicate with their lawyers and access all of their case-related information as well.

 

So there you have it — a great list of apps to get you started. Download a few of them and see how much your new iDevice helps you to streamline your law practice and improve your productivity in 2014!

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and Director of Business Development and Community Relations at MyCase, an intuitive cloud-based law practice management platform 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.


2013 holiday gift ideas for tech-savvy lawyers

Stacked3This week's Daily Record column is entitled "2013 holiday gift ideas for tech-savvy lawyers." My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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2013 holiday gift ideas for tech-savvy lawyers

It’s that time of the year again. Time to eat good food, spend quality time with loved ones and friends, and buy presents — lots and lots of presents.

So, what about the tech-savvy lawyer in your life? Are you wondering what to buy for him or her? Well wonder no more, because I’ve got plenty of suggestions for you right here in my annual gift guide for lawyers with a passion for technology and gadgets.*

No doubt your technology-loving lawyer already has a smartphone and a tablet, so I won’t waste your time discussing those this year.

But if the lawyer in your life is taking steps to move toward a paperless law office, here are a few apps to consider gifting that will make the process easier. First there are an assortment of note-taking apps, but some of the more popular ones include Evernote (free), Notability ($2.99) and Springpad (free).

For document creation, consider Apple’s iPages app ($9.99), Office² HD for Word docs($7.99) or Office 365 for iPhone (free). For PDF annotation and storage apps, take a look at Goodreader ($4.99), PDF Expert ($9.99), iAnnotate ($9.99) and ReaddleDocs (free). Finally, scanner apps are a must-have for the paperless law office and a few good choices include Scanner Pro ($2.99), GeniusScan (free) or TurboScan ($1.99).

Another important piece of the puzzle for the mobile lawyer is a light, but powerful laptop. The new Macbook Air is a great choice and has incredible battery life, but for a cheaper, albeit less powerful alternative, the new Chromebook is also worth considering.

Of course books always make great presents and lucky for you, there are a number of useful and interesting books that were released over the last year that would be ideal presents for any lawyer.

First there’s “The Lawyer Bubble: A Profession in Crisis” by Andrew Harper, which offers an insightful, albeit depressing, look at our profession and the forces that have led us to the somewhat tenuous position that we find ourselves in today. Next, “Google Gmail and Calendar in One Hour for Lawyers” by Carole Levitt and Mark Rosch is a step-by-step guide for lawyers interested in learning what features and functions are available in Gmail and Google Calendar, as well as related services such as Google Chat, Google Talk, Google Hangout and Call Phone.

And, last but not least, there’s “Blogging in One Hour for Lawyers” by Ernie Svenson, which teaches lawyers how to create, maintain and improve a legal blog, all the while developing new business relationships and opportunities.

And, if you’d like some holiday music with a legal theme to set the tone for your holidays, take a look at the holiday-themed albums offered at LawTunes.com.

Finally, if these suggestions aren’t enough for you, you can always check out The Billable Hour (thebillablehour.com), a website that offers unique gifts specifically tailored to lawyers and legal professionals.

* All of the suggestions above are based on my personal experience and preferences, but rest assured — I haven’t been compensated monetarily by any of the vendors for these recommendations, although in some cases I was provided with review copies of some of the products mentioned in this article.

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and Director of Business Development and Community Relations at MyCase, an intuitive cloud-based law practice management platform 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, technology and a light at the end of the tunnel

Stacked3This week's Daily Record column is entitled "Lawyers, technology and a light at the end of the tunnel." My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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Lawyers, technology and a light at the end of the tunnel

For years now, I’ve been writing about the intersection of technology and the legal profession. And for years now, I’ve urged lawyers to learn about emerging technologies. My belief has always been that it’s the dawn of a new age — one where cloud and mobile technologies have the potential to save lawyers time and money, allowing them to focus more on representing their clients and less on administrative functions.

Unfortunately, our profession as a whole has been slow to respond to my rallying cry. While small sub-groups of lawyers are incredibly tech-savvy, many lawyers continue to practice law as if it were still 1999.

So earlier this week, when I attended a New York State Bar Association Appellate Law CLE, I was dismayed at the very outset when I noted that I was the only attendee — out of approximately 100 — who was using a laptop. And of the remaining lawyers, only a handful were using tablet computers.

What little faith I had in my profession’s ability to change with the times was reduced substantially and I reluctantly resigned myself to the idea that 2013 was apparently not the year that Upstate New York lawyers saw the light.

And then, at the end of the day, everything changed.

It started when New York Court of Appeals Judge Eugene Pigott took the podium to offer appellate practice tips. I’ve heard Judge Pigott speak on a number of occasions and he’s always entertaining and down to earth and this talk was no exception. But what took me by complete surprise was when he encouraged attendees to check out the Court of Appeal’s website and then listed all of the information that could be found on it, including webcasts of oral arguments, transcripts of oral arguments, court forms, e-filing capabilities, and even appellate briefs. His inclusion of this information in his presentation gave me hope and made me wonder if perhaps there was a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel after all.

But what happened next took me completely by surprise: ex-New York Court of Appeals Judge and now Federal Second Circuit Judge Richard Wesley began his presentation. At first, it seemed like a rather typical — and very helpful — presentation on various tips for appellate attorneys. And then suddenly he veered into a side discussion of the benefits of iPads. You heard me correctly: iPads!

He explained that he takes his iPad everywhere and that he and all of the other Second Circuit judges use iPads on the bench. On the bench! And that he converted everyone at a judicial retreat last year — even the 80-year old judges. He advised us that during oral arguments, the judges access Westlaw right from their iPads and also have PDFs of the briefs in front of them with hyperlnks to the cited cases. On their iPads! On the bench!

After his talk, I approached him and asked him to share more about his iPad use. His eyes lit up and he held out his iPad (housed in a black leather case with built-in Bluetooth keyboard, in case you were wondering). “It’s the best!” he said. “Look I can access my entire docket right now! See? Each case is listed and then I can access all the documents in the cloud — right here on my iPad! And when I read briefs, I type notes in the margins and then send it off to my law clerks. It’s great! I can work from wherever I happen to be!”

At this point I was beside myself. I mean, I couldn’t have scripted this better if I’d tried! And this, from a federal court judge no less. But, even though I knew I should just call it a day and walk away before something happened to ruin this perfect moment, I had to know what app he used to annotate his PDFs. I figured it had to be one of the clunkier ones — probably Adobe’s more conventional app. After all, he was a federal court judge — I mean, how tech-savvy could he be?

“I use PDF Expert,” he replied. “It’s the best app. I initially used another one, but it just wasn’t as full-featured and intuitive.”

I couldn’t believe it! He used my PDF-annotation app of choice! I was nearly speechless at this point. But somehow, I managed to I pull myself together, thanked him for his great talk, and told him how impressed I was with his tech-savviness. And then, as I walked away, he left me with these parting words “I love my iPad! It’s made me so much more productive!”

I had to pinch myself. Was I dreaming? Had my profession finally turned the corner? And what in the world was that blinding light before my eyes? Either I was about to pass out, or maybe — just maybe — that light at the end of the tunnel that I’d been convinced was an oncoming train was actually, at long last, daylight!

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and Director of Business Development and Community Relations at MyCase, an intuitive cloud-based law practice management platform 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.


Mobile apps for the paperless law office

Stacked3This week's Daily Record column is entitled "Mobile apps for the paperless law office." My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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Mobile apps for the paperless law office

More than ever, lawyers are realizing the value and time-saving capabilities of mobile devices. The flexibility and convenience of practicing law on the go is especially apparent when lawyers take advantage of mobile apps created for creating, storing and organizing documents and notes. If you haven’t yet discovered the many benefits of creating and accessing digital documents on your iPhone or iPad, why not get started today using some of the iOS apps discussed below?

First, your iOS device is perfect for taking notes no matter where you happen to be. Some of the most popular note-taking apps include Evernote (free), Notability ($2.99), and, my favorite, Springpad (free). All three of these apps offer a vast assortment of note-taking capabilities, including a variety of methods and integrations which allow you to access your notes on both your device and online. Springpad and Evernote also offer Web-based interfaces which make it easy to clip and store websites, images and more using any Web-enabled device.

For document creation, one of the best options is Apple’s Pages app ($9.99), which offers full-featured word processing right on your iPad or iPhone. If you prefer Microsoft Word, then you can use the Office 365 app for iPhone (free, but not yet developed for the iPad), although that app requires that you have an Office 365 subscription and doesn’t offer many of the popular features found in Word, such as the ability to track changes.

For a more full-fledged word processing app for Word documents, take a look at Office² HD ($7.99), an app that lets you view, edit and create Microsoft Word-compatible documents, Microsoft Excel-compatible workbooks and Microsoft Powerpoint-compatible presentations right on your iPad.

Next up, apps that facilitate the storage and annotation of PDF documents. There is a lot of competition in this space and as a result, there are a number of PDF apps that are popular amongst lawyers.

First, there’s Goodreader ($4.99). For many lawyers, this is the app of choice for reading and storing PDF documents. although I find the interface to be a bit clunky. My preferred PDF annotation app of choice is PDF Expert ($9.99), because it has the cleanest and most intuitive interface. Like Goodreader, it reads most documents types and and once you’ve imported documents, you can create folders, name your files and store them away.

It also has fantastic annotation features, making it incredibly easy to fill in forms by adding typewritten or handwritten text into documents. You can also mark up documents by highlighting text or striking through words and easily input text into blanks found in documents. Other popular options to consider include iAnnotate ($9.99) and ReaddleDocs (free).

Finally, another way that you can use your iPhone and iPad to manage documents on the go is by using a scanner app. There are a number of document scanner apps available either for free or at very reasonable prices of less than $10. These apps make it easy to scan a document using your device’s camera function. You simply take a picture of the document and then send it to the recipient via email. Many also give you the option of printing the document or uploading it to a cloud-based document storage website such as Dropbox, Evernote or Google Docs. My scanner app of choice is Scanner Pro ($2.99). Other alternatives include GeniusScan (free) or TurboScan ($1.99).

So there you have it: an assortment of apps that make it easier than ever to create and manage documents on the go. So download a few of them today and give them a test drive. You might be surprised at how easy it is to to stay on top of your busy law practice no matter where you happen to be.

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and Director of Business Development and Community Relations at MyCase, an intuitive cloud-based law practice management platform 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.


Looking at the 21st century legal landscape

Stacked3This week's Daily Record column is entitled "Looking at the 21st century legal landscape." My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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Looking at the 21st century legal landscape

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.

— Charles Darwin

 

Law firm leaders take note: The current legal landscape is a perfect example of Darwinian theory in action. The world is changing rapidly and only the most adaptable and innovative legal providers — and providers of services to our profession — are going to prevail and thrive in the new world order.

Recent announcements from two different companies which provide services to lawyers are indicative of the pace of change and the need to pivot — or pay the price — at the slightest hint of change in consumer demand.

First, there was  the announcement last week of BlackBerry’s buyout offer from Fairfax holdings for $4.7 billion, which followed news that BlackBerry was reporting a quarterly loss of nearly $1 billion and planned to lay off 4,500 members of its workforce. This, after BlackBerry’s seeming dominance of the mobile computing market as recently as 2010.

But it was in 2010 that fissures in their marketshare became apparent when BlackBerry’s stock market performance began to be superseded by Apple’s. The rest, as they say, is history. BlackBerry — unable or unwilling to pivot with changing times — went the way of Kodak.

Shortly thereafter, large firm lawyers across the country reluctantly parted with their “Crackberry’s” only to find a newfound love — and addiction for — Apple and Android smartphones.

Also announced this week was legal research provider Fastcase’s new partnership with the New York State Bar Association, marking their 25th partnership with bar associations across the country. While this is an impressive milestone, what really stood out to me in their press release was this fact: Fastcase now has over 600,000 subscribers, which they assert is more than half the population of lawyers in the United States.

From my current understanding of the number of United States attorneys, their claim is correct, but even if it’s not 50 percent of lawyers, that’s still an impressive number. And it’s a number that is no doubt affecting the bottom line of the “big two” — the more traditional legal research providers who shall remain unnamed.

So, it’s clear that lawyers, although historically resistant to change, are undoubtedly changing with the times, since they’re shifting from using more traditional technologies and tools to more modern, 21st century alternatives.

But, the question remains: are lawyers fully embracing change or are they moving too slowly? According to the fifth annual Altman Weil Law Firms in Transition Survey (online: www.altmanweil.com/LFiT2013/), the results are still out. While law firm leaders are acutely aware of the changes that the profession is facing, many continue to implement the old school strategies to 21st century problems.

According to the survey: 1) They are concerned that the demand for legal work is flat or shrinking in many practices; 2)They feel real pricing pressure from clients; 3) They recognize the competitive forces of commoditization and the emergence of lower-priced, non-traditional service providers, 4) They are coming to grips with the idea that aggressive growth in lawyer headcount may no longer make sense, and 5) They believe that the pace of change is increasing.

However, despite their acknowledgement of the need for change, the unfortunate conclusion reached by the survey was that: “Along with many external market pressures, there is internal drag from partners who don’t fully understand the need for change, who don’t feel any sense of urgency to change, or who are simply resistant to doing things differently. Additionally, firm leaders’ options are often constrained by Baby Boom partners with significant economic sway and a short-term outlook who act as a drag on meaningful firmwide innovation.”

So, although some lawyers concede that rapid change is afoot, many of those in leadership positions are unwilling to pivot with changing times. Only time will tell if this failure to react appropriately to change will result many large firms following in BlackBerry’s shoes and suffering a Darwinian fate. Tune in tomorrow and see.

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and Director of Business Development and Community Relations at MyCase, an intuitive cloud-based law practice management platform 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’ use of mobile computing climbs in 2013

Stacked3This week's Daily Record column is entitled "Lawyers’ use of mobile computing climbs in 2013 ." My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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Lawyers’ use of mobile computing climbs in 2013  

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Lawyers love their mobile devices!

But don’t just take my word on it. Instead, consider the results of the American Bar Association’s latest Legal Technology Survey Report, a multi-volume report which is issued annually and focuses on technology trends in the legal industry.

According to this year’s survey results, lawyers are using mobile devices more than ever. Not surprisingly, solo practitioners were the most likely to use mobile devices, with 85 percent reporting use of mobile devices in the law practices in 2013, up from 77 percent in 2012.

The most popular mobile device was a smartphone, with nearly 91 percent of lawyers reporting that they used them in their law practices, up from 89 percent last year.

Lawyers overwhelmingly preferred iPhones, with 62 percent of those lawyers surveyed reporting that they used an iPhone, up from 44 percent last year. Androids were the second most popular smartphone, with 22 percent of respondents using an Android phone.

Not surprisingly – especially in light of the recent news that the company that manufactures BlackBerry phones is seeking a new owner – BlackBerry use continued to decline, with only 6 percent of lawyers using them and only 1 percent using Windows Mobile.

Like smartphones, tablet use also increased at an impressive rate. Nearly half of all lawyers surveyed reported using tablets in their law practices, with 48 percent of lawyers now using tablets, up from 33 percent in 2012.

And, like smartphones, Apple is their brand of choice. In fact, 91 percent of lawyers who used tablets preferred the iPad – and of the 9 percent who didn’t use the iPad, more than half used an Android device.

In other words, lawyers are going mobile at an incredibly fast rate, especially when you consider the fact that the iPad was first released just three years’ ago and today nearly 50 percent of lawyers now use tablets in their law practice.

However, not all lawyers are taking appropriate steps to secure their mobile devices. For example, in 2013, not all lawyers password protected their devices, although 91 percent reported that they did, up from when only 89 percent last year.

Unfortunately, far fewer lawyers took the security precaution of enabling the remote wiping of their phones; only 25 percent enabled that feature in 2013. While not an impressive statistic, at least it represents an increase from 2012, when only 18% of lawyers reported enabling that feature.

So, what apps are lawyers using the most on their mobile devices? According to the survey, the most popular law-related apps used by lawyers were Fastcase (26.5 percent), Westlaw (7.7 percent), and Lexis (7.7 percent), and WestlawNext (7.3 percent). Other legal apps used by lawyers surveyed included the ABA Journal, LawStack, American Bar Association, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, PLI and Lexis Advance.

The top three most-used non-legal apps lawyers reported using were: Dropbox (15.2 percent), Evernote (9.8 percent), and LinkedIn (8.6 percent). Other non-legal apps used by lawyers included Dragon Dictation, Documents to Go, the Wall Street Journal, PDF readers, and QuickOffice.

And, not surprisingly, since solo attorneys use mobile devices the most, they also download the most apps, with 43 percent reporting that they downloaded apps in 2013, up from 30 percent in 2012.

So there’s no question about it. Lawyers are embracing mobile computing more quickly than ever before.

But what about other types of technology? Well, the ABA survey covered that as well, so tune in next week to learn if lawyers are as receptive to using cloud computing in their law practices as they have been with mobile computing.


Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and Director of Business Development and Community Relations at MyCase, an intuitive cloud-based law practice management platform 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.

The latest in Android apps for lawyers

Stacked3This week's Daily Record column is entitled "The latest in Android apps for lawyers."

A pdf of the article can be found here and my past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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The latest in Android apps for lawyers

A while ago I wrote an article that focused on resources for Android-toting lawyers and promised that I’d follow up with an article on Android apps for lawyers. Well if you’re a lawyer who loves Android devices but haven’t yet figured out which apps will help you in your law practice, you’re in luck! What follows are some great Android apps that will help you to stay on top of your law practice no matter where you are.

And before I start, I’d like to extend my thanks to Rochester attorney Steven Feder, an avid Android user, for sharing his favorite list of Android apps from a recent presentation that he gave on this very topic. His list was a wonderful resource and helped me tremendously in drafting this article.

First, let’s focus on the substantive legal apps developed for lawyers using Android devices.

For conducting free legal research on the fly, look no further than the Fastcase app. Another great resource is dLaw, which provides free access to federal statutes and rules along with access to Google Scholar’s legal research capabilities, and also offers paid access to various state statutes and rules.

For a functional legal dictionary, there’s LawGuide. Another great resource is the NYSBA’s ethics app, which provides full, searchable access to all New York ethics opinions.

For specific practice area tools, there’s Karl’s Mortgage, a mortgage amortization app and QuickTax, an app that is chock full of tax-related information.

Picture it Settled is an app that is currently free, although that may start charging an access fee down the road. This app aids in settlement negotiations by using predictive analytics — including vast amounts of settlement data — to assist lawyers during negotiations.

And of course, there are apps devoted to legislative and Supreme Court topics, including We the People (the full text of the U.S. Constitution), Congress (everything you ever wanted to know about Congress and pending bills), and PocketJustice (everything you ever wanted to know about the U.S. Supreme Court).

If a mobile office is what you seek, the following apps will help you achieve that goal. First, there’s Documents to Go, which is a great, albeit somewhat pricey ($24.95), word processing app that allows you to create Word documents.

Next, ScanToPDF is a really handy app that turns your Android device into a scanner. EFax is a mobile fax app that is a really useful tool, but you have to sign up for their eFax service in order to use it. Finally, there’s SignEasy, an app makes it easy to sign a document using your finger or of stylus and then share the executed document via email.

And last but not least, a few apps that turn your Android device into a personal assistant. First there’s SpeakToIt, an app that allows you to speak to your phone in order to obtain all sorts of information and also performs tasks and notifies you of important events. And, finally, DictaDroid ($1.99) is a dictation app that transforms speech into text.

So there you have it. A great list of Android apps for the mobile 21st century lawyer. Download a few and see how much you can get done using just your Android device.

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and Director of Business Development and Community Relations at MyCase, an intuitive cloud-based law practice management platform 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.

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