Web resources

Round Up: Secure Communication, Cybersecurity, Podcasts for Lawyers, and More

SpiralI often write articles and blog posts for other outlets and am going to post a round up here from time to time (but won't include my weekly Daily Record articles in the round up since I re-publish them to this blog in full). Here are my posts and articles from October 2018:


Technology know-how: bridging the gap

Stacked3Here is a recent Daily Record column. My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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Technology know-how: bridging the gap

By now, I’m sure you already know that New York lawyers have an ethical obligation to maintain technology competence. What that means is that you need to have a basic understanding of legal technology issues so that you can make educated decisions about whether to use technology in your law practice, and which tools to use.

Of course, we all know that’s easier said than done. After all, you’re already incredibly busy representing clients, meeting deadlines, staying on top of changes in your practice areas, and running your law firm. How are you supposed to learn about the latest in technology, especially when changes are occurring at such a rapid clip?

The good news is that it can be done. But it’s going to take some dedication and effort on your part. The key is to incorporate learning about technology into your daily routine. This will allow you to spend just a few minutes each day educating yourself, rather trying to frantically learn all that you can in a single CLE session each year.

Obviously, the latter option is a horrible strategy for any number of reasons. So instead, take the time to incorporate legal tech learnings into the beginning or end of each workday. Here are some ideas to help you do just that.

First and foremost, take advantage of your local bar association’s resources. For Monroe County lawyers, make sure to join the Monroe County Bar Association’s Technology and Law Practice Committee, which I happen to chair. We meet every third Tuesday at 12:15 and a free lunch is provided, so what have you got to lose? During our meetings you’ll learn about the latest legal technology news and tips, and will also hear from a different nationally recognized expert during each meeting who will answer your legal technology questions remotely via GoToMeeting. If you can’t make a particular meeting, never fear, you can log in remotely via GoToMeeting to hear that month’s guest Q & A and can even ask questions and participate. Make sure to join the committee or contact the bar to get on the mailing list so that you’ll always receive the monthly email with the GoToMeeting link.

Next, If you’re not already reading a few legal technology blogs each day, now is the time to start. The trick is knowing which blogs to read, since there are so many blogs out there. One option to consider is a new global legal news network site from Lexblog This site curates legal blog posts from around the world and offers a multitude of channels on a host of legal topics, including a technology channel, a privacy and data security channel, and a law firm marketing and management channel. And, for even more legal technology blog recommendations, check out this post.

And last but not least, subscribe to a few podcasts. Here are a few that focus on legal tech issues that are worth considering: 1) LawNext – Bob Ambrogi interviews legal technology entrepreneurs and innovators, 2) This Week in Law – Denise Howell and her colleagues and guests discuss the latest issues in technology law, 3) The Law Entrepreneur – Neil Tyra and his guests focus on the business of law, including using technology in law firms, 4) Law Firm Autopilot – Ernie Svenson covers the ins and outs of legal technology and law practice management, 5) The Geek in Review – Marlene Gebauer and Greg Lambert talk about emerging issues in legal information and knowledge management.
So now that you know about all of these free resources, you’ve got no excuse; it’s time to get up to speed on legal technology. So pick your poison, dive in, and start learning. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

 

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney, author, journalist, and the Legal Technology Evangelist at MyCase  law practice management software. She 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 Thomson Reuters treatise. She writes legal technology columns for Above the Law and ABA Journal and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. You can follow her on Twitter at @nikiblack or email her at niki.black@mycase.com. 


Top resources for lawyers seeking technology competence

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

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Top resources for lawyers seeking technology competence

These days, technology is unavoidable. Even lawyers can’t escape it and now regularly use technology as part of their day-to-day practices. For example, according to the 2017 American Bar Association’s Legal Technology Survey Report (“Report”), 94% of lawyers now use smartphones for law-related purposes.

Cloud computing has made its mark, too, with more lawyers using it in 2018 than ever before. In fact, according the Report, the number of lawyers incorporating cloud computing software into their law practices increased by 14% over the past year. The survey results showed that after remaining stagnant at ~30% from 2013-15, and then increasing to 38% in 2016, there was a large increase in 2017, and that percentage jumped to 52%.

Of course, although the use of technology in law firms is increasing at a rapid clip, that doesn’t mean that all lawyers should be using technology. Instead, it’s up to each lawyer to determine if and when to implement technology tools into their practice. But in order to do that, you need to fully understand the technologies available to you. Otherwise you won’t be able to make educated decisions about technology.

Because of the rapid pace of technological change, the thought of learning about emerging technologies often seems overwhelming to lawyers, leading some lawyers to choose to ignore technology altogether. Rest assured, that’s a mistake, especially now that 31 states require lawyers to maintain technology competence as part of their ethical obligations, of which New York is one.

Since ignoring technology isn’t an option, here are some resources to help you learn about the latest legal technology options so that you can make educated choices about implementing technology into your law firm.

First, there’s a great book focused on helping solo and small firm lawyers to make wise decisions about technology tools for their law office, “The 2018 Solo and Small Firm Legal Technology Guide,” which is published by the American Bar Association. This book is written by legal technology experts and is full of the information solo and small-firm lawyers need in order to make knowledgeable, informed decisions about law office technology. The authors — Attorney Sharon Nelson, Certified Information Systems Security Professional John Simek, and Digital Forensics Examiner Michael Maschke — cover a vast range of hardware and software tools, provide a wealth of information and tips on choosing the right technology for your firm, and offer their perspective on the impact of emerging technologies on the practice of law.

Blogs are another great resource for lawyers seeking to learn about legal technology. However, there are a lot of blogs out there, so choosing which ones to follow isn’t always easy. To get you started, here are some of my favorite legal technology blogs.

First, there are the legal technology columns at Above the Law. These columns are written by a number of different legal technology bloggers here (myself included), and are always informative and cover a variety of legal technology issues.

Next, a blog that has been around since 2002: Bob Ambrogi’s LawSites, which provides news about the legal tech industry and lots of great advice for lawyers seeking to learn more about using technology in their practices.

Other popular legal technology blogs to consider include: 1) Future Lawyer, written by the always-knowledgable Florida litigator Rick Georges; 2) Technologist, a group blog; 3) Divorce Discourse, where attorney Lee Rosen shares technology and law practice management advice; 4) Law Practice Tips, a blog chock full of wisdom from Jim Calloway, an attorney and the Director of the Oklahoma Bar Association’s Management Assistance Program; 5) iPhone JD, where attorney Jeff Richardson covers all things Apple-related, including iPhones and iPads; 6) Ride the Lightening, which covers a variety of interesting legal technology issues and is authored by lawyer Sharon Nelson, who offers her opinion on the effect of legal technology on the practice of law; and 7) the MyCase blog, where I regularly write about a host of legal tech issues.

So now that you know where to turn to learn all about legal technology, what are you waiting for? Start reading some of these resources today, and you’ll be well on your way to the technology competence needed to make the right legal technology choices for your law firm.

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney, author, journalist, and the Legal Technology Evangelist at MyCase, intuitive, powerful law practice management software for solo and small law firms. 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 can be reached at niki.black@mycase.com.


Plan for 2015 with these solo/small firm resources

Stacked3This week's Daily Record column is entitled "

Plan for 2015 with these solo/small firm resources."  My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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Plan for 2015 with these solo/small firm resources

 

The new year is upon us and it’s time to start planning for 2015. For solo and small firm lawyers, annual planning can be an arduous task. Not only do you have to stay abreast of changes in your practice areas — you are also tasked with making business decisions about the direction of your law firm.

The good news is that there are lots of resources out there for solo and small firm lawyers to help you stay on top of running your busy law practice. Here are a few to get you started.

First, there are lots of great books that cover the basics of running your law firm. There’s the recently updated “Solo By Choice: How to be the Lawyer You Always Wanted to Be” and “Solo By Choice, the Companion Guide,” both written by solo guru Carolyn Elefant. There’s also the more traditional stand by, “How to Start and Build a Law Practice by Jay Foonberg.” Another great book for 21st century legal practitioners is “Limited Scope Legal Services: Unbundling and the Self-Help Client” by Stephanie L. Kimbro. And, of course, I think that my book, “Cloud Computing for Lawyers,” is a great technology resource for lawyers, but then again I might be biased.

Law blogs devoted to solo and small firm attorneys are another great way to find information to help you plan for 2015. First, there’s Attorney at Work, a group blog focused on a wide range of topics focused on running a small firm practice. Lawsites is a blog written by Bob Ambrogi and covers everything you need to know about the latest in legal technology. My Shingle is Carolyn Elefant’s long-standing and helpful blog dedicated to all things solo. Finally, there’s the ABA’s Law Technology Today blog, which addresses need-to-know technology topics for solo and small firm attorneys.

There are also a number of useful online forums available for solo and small firm practitioners. First, there’s Solosez, a free listserv for solos sponsored by the American Bar Association’s GPSolo section and where lawyers discuss all aspects of running their law firms. The Macs in Law Offices Google Group, is a great forum for lawyers who use Apple computers and devices in their law offices. Also useful is Solo Practice University, which is an online university designed to teach lawyers how to open up and run a solo practice. And last but not least, there is the Google + Community, Lawyers on G+, where lawyers gather to discuss the ins and outs of running their practices.

Finally, don’t forget about the vast assortment of legal conferences aimed at solo and small firm lawyers. These conference provide fantastic educational and networking opportunities, so why not invest in your practice and your future by attending at least one or two of these next year? First, there’s the solo/small firms conferences, which cover a variety of topics of interest to lawyers seeking to run their law firms more efficiently and economically and are always well worth the time spent attending them. The American Bar Association’s Solo and Small Firm annual conference is a great place to start. Also useful are the various solo and small firm conferences sponsored by state bar associations, And last but not least, consider attending ABA Techshow, a conference held in the spring in Chicago, which focuses on using legal technologies to run solo and small firm law practices.

So now that you are armed with law practice management resources, why not spend some time coming up with a plan to get your firm off on the right foot? Invest a little time up front and make 2015 the best year it can be!

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.


Online tools to streamline your email

Stacked3This week's Daily Record column is entitled " Online tools to streamline your email."  My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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Online tools to streamline your email

These days we spend an awful lot of time sorting through and responding to emails. Oftentimes, email ping pong can take up a tremendous amount of time as we attempt to schedule meetings or phone calls on dates and times that work well for a group of invitees.

Another problem often encountered is that, for many of us, our email operates as a “to-do” list, which can sometimes become overwhelming since email wasn’t intended to be used this way. As a result, emails can often accumulate in your in-box incredibly quickly, making you feel overwhelmed and disorganized.

Fortunately, there are online tools designed to solve these problems by integrating with your Gmail account. I recently discovered a few new ones that I find to be quite useful and thought it would be helpful to share them with you, my faithful readers.

First, there’s Streak (streak.com). This is my new favorite email management tool. This Gmail add-on is billed as a CRM (customer relationship management) tool, but doesn’t need to be used for that purpose. Personally I only use it for two of its features, both of which I have become increasingly reliant on.

First, it has a built-in email tracking tool. This means that once you send an email, the app tracks it and advises you when the recipient has opened it. Sure it sounds a little creepy, but it’s a feature that I find to be incredibly useful. No more wondering whether you’re being ignored. With Streak, you can confirm that suspicion and move on with your day! Truly though, knowing whether an email has been opened really does help in terms of assessing whether you need to send a follow up email.

Another great feature that Streak provides is the ability to “snooze” an email. This means that you can temporarily archive an email and remove it from your inbox, but before doing so you can set the parameters for when it reappears in your inbox at a later date. So you instruct Streak to archive it for any time period that you desire. You can also set the requirement that it reappear only if no one replies to it. This is a really handy feature that helps to keep your inbox less cluttered, but still allows you to stay on top of emails that require a reply or that require some other action on your part.

Assistant.to (trybetty.com) is another great Gmail extension that integrates with your Google calendar and is designed to reduce the number of back and forth emails when trying to schedule a meeting date. The way it works is that any time you respond to an email, a prompt appears at the bottom of the email which allows you to choose the meeting length and location and then connects to your calendar so you can select a few dates and times that work for you. Once you’ve done so, you’re then returned to your email and the app inserts text into your email that lists your available times. It’s that simple!

Alternatively, if you don’t use Gmail and Google Calendar or prefer not to grant an app access to your calendar, another free and simple option for scheduling meetings is When Is Good (whenisgood.net). You go to this website and then simply choose the dates and times that work for you. Once you’ve done so, a special link is created for your event. You then send the link to the other attendees and they can then visit the website using the link and indicate which dates and times that you’ve chosen work for them as well. Again, this is another useful app that simplifies the meeting scheduling process.

These are just a few of the great email add-ons available for Gmail users and others. Hopefully these ideas will help to streamline your daily workflow a bit. After all, we could all use a little more simplicity in our online — and offline — 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.


What’s coming in legal innovation in 2013

Stacked3This week's Daily Record column is entitled "What’s coming in legal innovation in 2013."

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

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What’s coming in legal innovation in 2013

At the end of January, I attended LegalTech 2013, a legal technology conference sponsored every year by American Lawyer Media. This conference is attended by thousands of legal and IT professionals seeking to learn about the latest legal technologies and innovations. If nothing else, this conference is oftentimes a convergence of some of the most innovative and influential people and companies in the legal technology space, and this year was no exception.

But, at this year’s conference, I discovered that most of the innovative legal thinking could be found on the sidelines rather than on the exhibit floor — which was largely dominated by companies offering ediscovery services.

Throughout the conference, I met with the founders of a number of legal technology companies and had the opportunity to learn about their products. As I did so, a trend emerged: many of the most innovative legal technology concepts revolved around using online platforms to provide lawyers with economical tools to enhance and simplify their practices. Among the most interesting were LexisNexis’ MedMal Navigator, Picture it Settled, LawToolBox, and LegalShare.

As I mentioned in an earlier article, MedMal Navigator offers medical malpractice attorneys uniquely tailored access to Lexis’ vast amounts of content and includes built-in assisted legal research dashboard which includes an interactive Q & A tool that walks lawyers through the process of analyzing the applicable standard of care, aids in assessing case values, and helps lawyers locate similar verdicts and settlements.

Contrary to my earlier understanding, you do not have to be a LexisNexis subscriber to use MedMal Navigator and can even choose to utilize and pay for only select “pods” of information, such as the medical experts pod, the case valuation pod, or the standard of care assessment pod. This payment scheme makes this tool all the more accessible and appealing and I believe that this innovative offering has the potential to be a very valuable tool to medical malpractice litigators.

Also of interest to litigators is Picture it Settled, a Web-based application with a mobile app offering as well that uses predictive analytics including vast amounts of settlement data to assist lawyers during negotiations. Using this tool during negotiations, lawyers can, based on real-time input of offers and counter-offers, estimate when the opposing party will settle and for how much.

Another tool that litigators will no doubt find useful is LawTool Box. This Web-based tool is a rule-based deadline manager. It includes the court rules and deadlines of different jurisdictions and then integrates them into a firm’s calendar for a given case using Outlook and other calendaring systems. And, if a due date for a particular task changes, all subsequent due dates are revised accordingly.

Finally, there’s LegalShare, an interesting online legal document marketplace. Legalshare is an online repository of legal documents, including pleadings and memos, contributed by other lawyers and available for purchase on a per document basis. Lawyers can both buy and sell documents. This online tool is ideal for solo and small firm lawyers who don’t have access to the vast document databases available to large firm lawyers and who can’t afford to pay for Westlaw or LexisNexis’ legal research services that include access to pleadings and legal forms. So, for solo lawyers who are practicing law in a depressed economy, the ability to purchase relevant documents at low cost gives them an affordable head start when drafting their own pleadings and memos.

So, as I learned about these different online tools for lawyers, I realized that innovation in the legal field is alive and well. The Internet, mobile and cloud computing facilitate the creative delivery of affordable and very useful tools for solos, small firms and litigators. That’s why it’s so important for lawyers to make an effort to stay on top of emerging technology trends and new products. Then figure out which ones could improve and streamline your law practice and put them to use for you.

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.


Internet research tips and tricks for lawyers

Stacked3This week's Daily Record column is entitled "Internet research tips and tricks 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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Internet research tips and tricks for lawyers

I was recently provided with a review copy of “The Cybersleuth’s Guide to the Internet,” written by Carole a Levitt and Mark E. Rosch. This book, which was recently updated and is now in its 12th edition, was written to help lawyers learn how to use the Internet to conduct effective and free investigative and legal research.

When I first started reading this book, I smugly expected that, given my knowledge of online tools, I wouldn’t find much that was new to me. Was I ever wrong. In nearly every chapter I learned at least a few new tricks, and by the time I had finished the book, I had learned a vast array of new and practical tips that I would have otherwise never known about.

And, since I’m feeling altruistic, I figured I’d pass along a few of them to you.

First, you probably already know that when you perform a Google search, you can limit the results to certain categories, such as videos, images or news. But did you also know that you can limit your search to provide results from certain timeframes, including the past 24 hours, the past week, or the past month?

Another interesting Google fact: you can conduct patent searches on Google at www.google.com/patents.

And, Google tip 3: you can search for definitions of words by typing “define:” into the search box followed by the word you would like to define. This search will bring up definitions of the particular word from across the Web. Similarly you can also search for synonyms of a certain word. To do so you add a tilde (~) next to the term for which you would like retrieve synonyms.

Now, on to the next tip. Have you ever wanted to view a older version of a website? You can do so using using a website called the “Way Back Machine” which can be found at www.archive.org. You type in the website’s address and then choose, from the dates available, the version of the website you would like to see.

The next few tips are from Chapter 7, which is, without a doubt, one of the most useful chapters in the book. This chapter focuses on using the Internet to conduct free investigative research and explains how you can use the Internet to locate people and conduct background checks.

At the beginning of this chapter, the authors provide you with a very helpful list of useful websites which provide access to free public records and publicly available information. I’ve reproduced that list below:

• Search Systems (www.searchsystems.net)

• RootsWeb (rootsweb.com)

• USGenWeb (usgenweb.com)

• Portico (indorgs.virginia.edu/portico)

• BRB Publications (www.brbpub.com/free-public-records)

• Zabasearch.com (www.zabasearch.com)

• Black Book Online (blackbookonline.info)

• Zoominfo.com: (zoominfo.com/search)

• 123People.com (www.123people.com)

• Pipl.com (pipl.com)

• Spokeo.com (www.spokeo.com)

Also from this chapter comes another interesting tip. Did you know that you can use your public library card to gain access to expensive pay databases for free via your library’s online portal? It’s true. Just visit Libdex (www.libdex.com) to locate your local library’s website and determine which databases you have access to as a result of having a library card with that library. Databases available at some libraries include the full text of the Wall Street Journal, Gale’s Business Directory (provides background information, broker reports, and more), and RefUSA (includes addresses and phone numbers for millions of people and businesses.)

But Chapter 7 doesn’t stop there. The remainder of this chapter includes a wealth of information regarding ways to locate information and people, including how to: find military personnel, locate assets and personal property, verify aircraft registration and pilot certification, and research copyrights, trademarks, and patents.

Believe it or not, Chapter 7 is followed by 11 more chapters. In the chapters immediately following Chapter 7, the authors provide, among other things, an exhaustive look at ways to find additional types of information, including locating and researching experts, attorneys and judges.

Finally, the last few chapters of this book focus on methods to conduct legal research online for free. These chapters provide invaluable information for lawyers trying to run their law practices on a dime in this competitive economic climate.

My only criticism of this book is that some of the information is already outdated even though this latest edition was published just a few months ago. But, that’s the nature of the beast and is to be expected when you’re covering the Internet — where websites and interfaces are updated every day — sometimes multiple times in one day.

The bottom line: this book provides a wealth of information for attorneys (or anyone else) seeking to use the Internet to conduct free investigative research and for that reason alone is worth its weight in gold. I highly recommend it.

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and the Vice President 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 nblack@nicoleblackesq.com.

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Free legal research, educational info for lawyers

Stacked3This week's Daily Record column is entitled "Free legal research, educational info 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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Free legal research, educational info for lawyers

It used to be that the only place that lawyers could obtain free access to legal research and information was at the law library. My how things have changed!

Nowadays, lawyers have available to them a vast array of free online and mobile-based legal resources, including free legal research portals, online legal databases and educational videos. The problem is that many lawyers simply don’t realize that these resources exist.

Well, that’s going to change right here, right now. In this article you’ll learn about some of the latest tools, resources and legal research portals available to lawyers. And, guess what? They don’t cost an arm and a leg. In fact, they won’t cost you anything — they’re free.

First, there’s Fastcase. If you’re not familiar with Fastcase, it is a company that offers lawyers an affordable online legal research alternative to the traditional mainstays of legal research, Lexis and Westlaw.

But, in addition to its reasonably priced research platform, it also offers lawyers free tools as well. First, Fastcase offers lawyers a free legal research app for iPhones and iPads so that you can conduct legal research on the go. It gives you full access to their legal database of case law and statutes, but you can’t save your searches, nor can you email or print cases from the app.

Fastcase also just announced that it is making Advance Sheets available in e-book format for free. In other words, you no longer have to pay $850 for an annual subscription to Advance Sheets in paper format; you can now receive the same information in e-book format for free.

You can also conduct free online legal research with Google Scholar. Using Google Scholar, lawyers can search the opinions of all federal and state courts, in addition to journals and other legal publications.

One of the drawbacks of Google Scholar has long been the inability to reliably cite check cases. However, Google Scholar recently improved upon that feature, so that when you search Google Scholar for a case name and cite, it sorts the results by placing those that involve the most discussion of the case at the top of the results. This improvement brings Google Scholar one step closer to replacing traditional — and expensive — legal research platforms.

You can also access most U.S. laws online for free. So, if you’re looking for a statute or regulation, you access all state and federal laws for no charge at Cornell’s Legal Information Institute.

Finally, Lawline, a long-time provider of reasonably priced online CLEs, just announced last week that all of its online content can now be viewed for free. That means that there are now hundreds of hours of video CLEs available for instantaneous viewing on just about every conceivable topic, ranging from criminal law and bankruptcy law to corporate law, education law, and more.

CLE credits aren’t available unless you pay a fee, however. But even so, you now have a ton of useful, professionally produced CLE programs right at your fingertips — and at no cost to you!

So what are you waiting for? There are a ton of incredibly useful legal resources and tools available to you for free. Fire up your computer, download an app to your iPad or iPhone, and get started!

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and the Vice President 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 nblack@nicoleblackesq.com.


For the record: Google+ is the next big thing

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...Image via CrunchBase

I've been predicting for at least 6 months  that's it's high time for the next big thing in social media. In such a highly and quickly evolving arena, it's seemed very strange to me that the landscape has remained fairly static for a few years now.

Since 2008, it's really been the big 3: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. The ways that people have used these platforms has changed and the membership of these platforms has rapidly increased. But, the players haven't changed.

For the past year or two, Google has tried to change things up--with Buzz and Wave--but neither did the job. Once I had a chance to try each one out, I quickly lost interest. My gut instinct told me that neither one was "it"--the next big thing.

Google+ is an entirely different story, however. Last Tuesday, I was lucky enough to receive an invite from Tim Stanley of Justia (Thanks Tim!) the day after it was released in beta. Within minutes of signing up and playing around with it, I knew Google had gotten it right this time around.

Compared to Buzz and Wave, people are flocking to Google+--and using it--in droves (all things considered). There is constant activity and discussion. This is occurring because there's something about user interface that just works. It's fairly intuitive and the interface is simple and uncluttered.

But what truly makes it different and will make it most appealing to lawyers and other professionals is the Circles. Google+ makes it east for you to group the people that you share with into circles. So when you post something, you can make it visible only to your chosen Circles of users.

This arguably solves the dilemma that many lawyers have encountered in regard to interacting with clients on social media. It also makes it easier for lawyers to share more "lawyerly" posts, which can be too technical for most followers, with only others in the legal profession. It's the perfect solution for lawyers.

The bottom line--my gut tells me Google+ is the next big thing I've been waiting for. Only time will tell if I'm correct. And in the meantime, it'll be interesting to sit back and watch as this social network develops. It sounds like there are a lot of new tools and features that will be released in the very near future.

So, tune in tomorrow and see what happens! And if you'd like an invite, DM me on Twitter or FB with your email address and I'll try to send you one via a work around that I discovered. It works most of the time, but seems to work best if you already have a Google profile set up.

Nicole Black is of counsel to Fiandach & Fiandach in Rochester. She co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a West-Thomson treatise, and is currently writing a book about cloud computing for lawyers that will be published by the ABA in early 2011. 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 nblack@nicoleblackesq.com.

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