Archive for January, 2010
This screencast features, and is sponsored by, the following legal technology products:
- Firmex–provides secure, virtual data rooms, which
can be used in a legal corporate environment to manage online due diligence,
exchange closing drafts, create digital record books, share litigation
documents and secure client access to important files.
- Mavenlink–provides an online collaborative workspace that allows lawyers to manage a client's case from start to finish, including uploading and collaborating on documents with clients and communicating with clients about their case in a secure, easily viewable environment.
In this episode of lawtechTalk, like the last episode, I'm experimenting with a new format. During each screencast and demo, I'll be interviewing a representative
from each company. Hopefully this interactivity will make the
screencast even more interesting for you, the viewer.
There are 3 parts to this episode, which you can access by scrolling through and clicking on each segment below:Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( Comments Off )
As you can probably imagine, I spend a lot of time online. Throughout my day, I find myself returning to the same Web sites over and over again. And, similarly, there are certain online tools that I use repeatedly.
It occurred to me that sharing my favorite Web sites and online tools might be useful to my readers. Although not all of these tools will be relevant to you, you may find a gem or two that will make your online life much simpler and more fulfilling.
Every morning I turn to three Web sites for information and news. First, I review the most popular news of the day at Yahoo News (http://news.yahoo.com/most- popular). The popular news is categorized in three ways: the “most e-mailed news,” the “most viewed news” and the “most recommended news.” Skimming over the news stories and headlines in each section gives me a good sense of what’s happening in the world and the interest level of certain events to other Internet users.
I then read through my RSS feeds using my RSS feed reader of choice, Feedly (www.feedly.com). Feedly pulls the feeds to blogs and other news sources that you subscribe to using Google Reader and presents them to you in a far more user-friendly interface. Feeds appear in a magazine-like view that is much easier on the eyes and sorting through new items is simple and intuitive.
Another benefit of Feedly is that it allows content to be shared quickly via e-mail, Twitter or on other social networking sites. Next, I hit Trendalicious (www.glozer.net/ trendy/), a Web site that offers a real-time ranking of the 100 most popular Web pages as reflected by the top pages trending on three Web sites that sort online content based upon user input: Delicious, digg and reddit. Trendalicious is a great way to get a feel for the topics and new technology products that the online community is focusing on at any given time.
As I peruse the blogs posts, news stories and Web sites that I discover using the above sources, I bookmark those that I find particularly interesting using Diigo (www.diigo.com), a Web- based bookmarking site. I prefer Web-based bookmarking sites to using the bookmark function of my browser because it is more streamlined and I can access my bookmarks from any computer.
Diigo is my preferred web-based bookmarking site for a number of reasons. First, Diigo automatically backs up any site that you bookmark to your “delicious” (www.delicious.com) account. Delicious is one of the most popular Web-based bookmarking services, and backing up your bookmarks to that database as well ensures that your information will not be lost on the off-chance that Diigo or Delicious should fail and lose all of your data.
Diigo also allows you to annotate web pages that interest you. You simply highlight the Web pages or add “sticky notes” using Diigo’s interface and save them to Diigo. The annotations will subsequently appear on the Web sites anytime you visit thereafter.
I also frequently use the “SimilarWeb” Firefox browser add-on (www.similar web.com/) whenever I land on a Web site that interests me. This add-on provides me with links to: (1) similar Web sites; (2) related articles from news sites and blogs; and (3) the latest social media buzz about the Web site. It’s an invaluable tool that is a real time saver.
Finally, once I’ve caught up with the news of the day, I update my daily to-do list by visiting TeuxDeux (http://teuxdeux.com), a simple, intuitive, Web-based to-do application. I recently started using TeuxDeux and it is now my to-do list application of choice.
My next step is to get to work tackling the items on my to-do list. As I do so, I find myself constantly revisiting the Web sites and tools mentioned above throughout my day. Hopefully you’ll find that a few of these resources will become as invaluable to you as they are to me.
I’m very excited to announce that I’ll be speaking at the ABA TechShow in March. This speaking engagement corresponds with the expected release date of the book I’m writing with Carolyn Elefant, tentatively titled: “Social Media for Lawyers: the New Frontier”, which is being published by the American Bar Association.
I’ll be speaking at two different sessions:
- March 25, 2010 at 8:30 a.m. Creating Your Online Presence–I’ll be presenting with my good friend and co-author Carolyn Elefant
- March 25, 2010 at 11 a.m. Managing Your Online Presence–I’ll be presenting with my good friend Matt Homann
Carolyn and I will also be holding a “meet the author” session on March 25th at 4 p.m.
I can’t wait to attend and speak at TechShow. If you’re going to be there, let me know– I’d love to connect with you!
If you can’t make TechShow, you can see my other spring speaking engagements here–maybe we can catch up another time.
This week’s Daily Record column is entitled “More new iPhone apps for lawyers.”
More new iPhone apps for lawyers
In July 2009 I wrote a column about iPhone apps for lawyers.
A number of interesting, new apps have been released since then, so I figured it is time for an update.
My previous column — published in the July 13, 2009 edition of The Daily Record — included information on the vast assortment of apps for databases of federal and state laws, thus allowing lawyers to carry relevant laws and rules in their pockets in an easily accessible format. Today there is a huge assortment of apps of that nature, since many different versions of those types of apps have been released in the interim. I’ll leave it up to you to peruse the app store for the laws specific to your jurisdiction and areas of practice.
One free app of this type to consider, however, is “Law Stack,” which includes full text versions of the U.S. Constitution, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure 5) the Federal Rules of Evidence and the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure.
If you are a LexisNexis subscriber, you definitely should download their new, free app, which allows you to quickly obtain and Shepardize cases, anywhere, anytime.
Dragon Dictation is another free app that is cutting edge and a huge money saver over the traditional software program with which you already may be familiar. The app allows users to dictate a message, which it then transcribes instantly. Users then have the option to edit it and send it via e-mail or text. The message also can be copied to a clipboard and pasted wherever you’d like using the iPhone interface. The transcription is amazingly accurate, making the app a must-have for busy lawyers on the go.
To stay on top of the latest legal news, you can download the ABA Journal’s free legal news app. JD Supra’s Legal Edge app, also free, is another great option for staying on top of the latest news and legal filings in your areas of practice.
One of my favorite apps that I use constantly is Zosh, a true bargain at $2.99. Zosh allows users to upload forms — PDF, Word, Excel, PPT, jpg and many other formats — that have been e-mailed, fill them in, sign them and send them right from your iPhone. There’s no need to print the forms, scan them, fax them or mail them. The app is a tremendous time saver and removes the hassle from that entire process. It’s a life saver and I absolutely love it!
Finally, for lawyers who travel frequently, TripIt is a really useful iPhone app that coordinates with TripIt’s corresponding Web site. After setting up an account,
simply forward itinerary confirmation e-mails from airlines or travel sites to your TripIt account, which allows users to have all travel plans in one place, easily accessible via an iPhone. A social networking aspect to the service also is available, allowing users to share their travel plans with family and friends in his or TripIt network.
There are plenty of other great apps for lawyers as well, and more are being released each day. Explore new apps as they’re released and give them a test drive. It’s worth the time and effort, it’s fun and it saves time and money in the long run.
This week’s Daily Record column is entitled “Collaboration tools for lawyers online.”
Collaboration tools for lawyers onlineMy co-author, Carolyn Elefant, and I are in the midst of re-writing the last and final draft of our book about social media for lawyers, which will be published by the American Bar Association in the spring.
When we began, we sought out an online platform that would allow us to collaborate and create the first draft. Ideally, we wanted a platform that was easily accessible to both of us and would provide a forum to collect all of our discussions and notes, as well as allow us to upload the most recent versions of our work in progress.
As I researched the possibilities, I sought recommendations on Twitter in an effort to capitalize on the collective knowledge of my large following of knowledgeable, tech-savvy followers — more than 5,500 of them. I received a number of great suggestions, and also received a reply from a representative of a company called Glass- cubes (www.glasscubes.com), a product that I hadn’t previously heard of. Ultimately, it was the platform we chose to use.
It worked out perfectly for us. It offered a free, password-pro- tected platform that included a discussion forum, a whiteboard that allowed us to create and edit documents online and the ability to upload recent drafts of Word documents, which then appeared as the first option when the draft was accessed, so the likelihood of inadvertently editing an older version was greatly reduced. We also had the ability to add separate comments at the end of each document, which were not included as part of the document, a method I prefer over the alternative (adding comments to the document text).
The interface was clean, user-friendly and intuitive. As is the case with many collaboration platforms, we could send messages to each other, schedules meetings and add task lists.Glasscubes was the perfect platform for our purposes and I highly recommend it as a collaboration tool.
There are a number of very good, similar alternatives for document collaboration. Google Documents (http://docs.google.com) is one of the most popular. The free service allows users to create, store and comment on word processing documents online. Documents can be either public or password-protected and users can choose whom to invite to “share” the documents and collaborate on the creation of the text. Documents can then be exported in any number of formats — including Word — and then worked on offline.
Another popular option is Zoho Projects (www.projects.zoho.com/google-apps), which is very similar to Glasscubes and provides a number of useful tools for project management and online collaboration. It offers group chat, a shared calendar, discussion forums, the ability to create and manage tasks and also integrates with Microsoft and Google Docs.
One final option worth checking out is Huddle (www.huddle.net). Much like the other platforms, it offers the ability to manage projects and create, edit, share and store documents online in a secure environment.
All of the platforms I’ve mentioned offer a number of levels of paid membership, although the basic level is free and a decent amount of online storage is provided.
Whether a particular platform works best for you depends on the type of project, the features that are most important to you and your personal preference regarding which interface is most appealing and intuitive.
Explore the alternatives, test them out and experiment with collaborating on a project online. I have no doubt you’ll find it to be a beneficial and worthwhile experience.
If you’re in the market for new legal technology products for your law practice, you may want to check out the latest lawtechTalk screencast, available for viewing at not cost, which features, and is sponsored by, the following legal technology products:
- MyCaption–Provides a Blackberry application that converts speech to text within minutes and synchronizes seamlessly with Outlook.
- Legal Workspace–Provides an internet-hosted (aka cloud computing) legal IT environment using many of the desktop software products already used in many law offices, including Amicus, Quickbooks and Time Slips.
- Winscribe–Provides digital dictation and work management software that can be either server-based or cloud-based.
In this episode of lawtechTalk, I’ve tweaked the format a bit. During each screencast and demo, I’ll be interviewing a representative from each company. Hopefully this interactivity will make the screencast even more interesting for you, the viewer.
You can access all four parts of this episode by scrolling through and clicking on each segment below.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( Comments Off )
Last week, as we were driving back to my hometown for a holiday party, my children were in the backseat watching “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” on our car’s DVD system.
At first, I didn’t pay much attention to the movie, although I occasionally listened in as I drove.
At one point during the film, however, a speech given to the students at Hogwarts by one of the main antagonists in the film — the cruel, curmudgeonly Dolores Umbridge — stopped me in my tracks.
Now, before I address her speech, a little background information is necessary for those of you who are not fans of Harry Potter: Dolores Umbridge was an arm of the Ministry of Magic, the governmental entity that ruled over the magical community in Britain. The Ministry was very slow to react to the dangers posed by the reemergence of the main antagonist, the dark wizard Lord Voldemort, who represented all that was evil. In fact, up until the very end of the series of books, the Ministry spent more time attempting to quiet those who insisted that Lord Voldemort indeed had returned than actually dealing with the very real threats he presented.
Dolores Umbridge spent much of her time carrying out the Min- istry’s orders and squelching dissent. Her speech to the students at Hogwarts laid out the rationale for such a ridiculous and counterin- tuitive policy. What struck me as I listened to her speech was that it easily could have come from the mouths of some of the leaders of the legal profession regarding to the adoption of technological advance- ments into the practice of law: “The treasure trove of … knowledge amassed by our ancestors must be guarded, replenished and polished by those who have been called to [this] noble profession. … [P]rogress for the sake of progress must be discouraged, for our tried and tested traditions often require no tinkering. Let us … preserv[e] what ought to be preserved [and] prun[e] wherever we find practices that ought to be prohibited.”
In other words, the Ministry insisted on clinging to the past because it was terrified of change. The Ministry’s ineffective and downright pointless efforts to avoid facing reality — that Lord Voldemort had returned — was a disservice to the interests of the very people it was obligated to protect.
Over the past year, the leaders of our profession have engaged in much of the same rhetoric, decrying technological innovation rather than embracing the reality of change.
In Florida, for example, an ethics panel concluded in a November opinion (2009-20) that judges may not “friend” on Facebook attorneys who appear before them. That’s despite the fact that judges lunch and golf with lawyers on a regular basis, a practice no different than connecting with someone on a social network.
In another recent case, a South Carolina ethics panel rendered a decision (Ethics Advisory Opinion 09-10) that effectively discourages lawyers from claiming attorney profiles listed in online lawyer directories. Many lawyers prefer to claim their profiles so that they can control the content of the profile, which will appear online regardless of whether the profile is claimed.
The panel concluded that, once an attorney claims a profile, he or she must ensure all of the information appearing there comply with the rules of professional conduct, regardless whether the attorney has any control over the information or notice of subsequent amendments.
Such decisions are part of a pattern in our profession, whereby lawyers are discouraged from using Internet technologies despite the fact it is evident the Internet only increasingly affects every business, including the business of law.
To me, it is clear: The day of reckoning has come for our profession. The technologies and changes wrought by the Internet are not going away. Our profession’s leaders would be wise to stop resisting reality, and focus their efforts instead toward helping lawyers incorporate emerging technologies into their practices. The future of our profession depends on this attitude shift.