The top legal technology trends this year? All month, you’ve been reading about trends in the legal profession: Bob Denney’s annual “Hot and Not,” Doug Edmund’s “Signs of Hope for Tomorrow’s Lawyers” and Larry Port on the legal cloud. To continue the trendspotting, we asked more of our favorite legal technologists to chime in on the most important developments of 2013 and their personal favorite tools or apps this year. Take notes!
AILA Practice & Professionalism Center, Reid My Blog!, Washington, DC
Development: The continued adoption and expansion of cloud-based technology, from software such as Office365.com to new enhanced storage options, such as Box.
Favorite: Every day I read personalized media content on my iPad via the Zite app; store items to reread later using the Pocket app (connected via Zite); and often tweet out the best articles using Twitter via Zite. Easy, convenient and, so far, free!
NetDocuments, Salt Lake City, UT
Development: Technology is increasingly becoming part of the overall business strategy for the law practice. Cloud and mobility tools are really shaking things up, moving IT out of the back office and into the spotlight.
Favorite: Resisting the selfish plug, the most amazing app I’ve found this year is Trello. It’s a simple way to manage tasks in a team/project management style.
Law Practice Management & Technology, Chicago Bar Association, Chicago, IL
Development: Integrated document assembly and workflow tools for small firms. Think Clio, MyCase and Rocket Matter.
Favorite: iPad mini.
Marc W. Matheny
Attorney at Law, Indianapolis, IN
Development: The most exciting trend (not development) was the gravitation to mobile technology. Both cloud-based practice management and file storage became the norm rather than the exception. Secondly, the proliferation of legal work on tablets, especially the iPad, both in the office and in the courtroom was a real change, and a trend I expect will continue.
Favorite: My personal favorite new tool this year was Google Drive, which is not new for 2013, but which I started using extensively. Google Drive is simply a fantastic tool when collaborating with others on a project, a file or legal pleadings. Unlike other collaborative resources, you can actually watch changes being made in real time. Also, since you are only working in one document, you never have the problem of having several draft documents in the Drive folder; other cloud-based functions will leave several drafts, each one saved by each individual user. This does not happen in Google Drive — the finest new technology service I have tried in 2013.
Hub City Law Group, New Brunswick, NJ
Development: Clio’s iPhone mobile app.
Favorite: Rulebook — I’m not sure if it actually came out in 2013, but it’s definitely the year that I discovered this app’s capabilities and the variety of content that the app can provide.
Absolute Legal Services, The Droid Lawyer blog, Oklahoma City, OK
Development: In the Android world, I think three things were important: the Nexus 7 (2013), the Nexus 5 and Moto X, and the introduction of Android 4.4 (KitKat).
Favorite: I love my Nexus 7. I also really like Google+ and Hangouts.
Barriston LLP, Small City Law Firm Tech blog, Barrie, CA
Development: The continuing expansion of fully integrated law office software.
Favorite: iPad Air. After years of Apple phobia, I embraced all things Apple, but my iPad Air has been the game changer — work, play, travel — it’s with me all the time and handles pretty well everything I throw at it when I’m not at my desk. I rarely crack open my laptop now.
Gowlings, Hamilton, ON
Development: Useable, straightforward, practical web-based process mapping and project management tools for large law firms (e.g., Cael by Elevate Services).
Favorite: Things have gotten a bit dull. My new iPad and MacBook Pro? Just more of the same, really, except a bit faster, thinner and sharper. Apple’s just mailing it in now.
Erik J. Heels
Clocktower Law Group, ErikJHeels.com blog, Boston, MA
Development: LexisNexis finally published an online-only law review, only 20 years after Rick Klau did the same with JOLT [Richmond Journal of Law and Technology] at the University of Richmond.
Sensei Enterprises, Inc., Ride the Lightning blog, Fairfax, VA
Development: Companies like Novus Law taking business from BigLaw by offering more efficiencies and a lower price was one important development.
Favorite: The Seahawks app — so I know what the heck my husband is talking about.
Internet for Lawyers, Rio Rancho, NM
Development: The work being championed by Tom Bruce (Cornell LII), Carl Malamud (PublicResource.org), Tim Stanley (Justia) and Ed Walters (Fastcase), among others, to make public domain content like case law and municipal codes freely available to the public (electronically) is exciting. I think pioneering initiatives like theirs, the Public Library of Law (PLoL) and the Free Law Project will prove to be just the tip of the iceberg.
Favorite: While it’s decidedly not cutting-edge, I replaced my old desktop scanner with a new Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500 … and it’s every bit as good as you’ve read it is. (I do have a bit of an issue scanning stacks of receipts that are different sizes.)
LAWPRO, Avoid-a-Claim blog, Toronto, ON
Development: The automation and artificial intelligence that can be incorporated into intelligent legal systems is amazing. These systems can or will be able to do most everything that lawyers currently do, often faster, cheaper and more accurately than lawyers. It will be interesting to see what develops around:
- Regulation — how do you regulate someone who is outside your jurisdiction?
- Admission — should non-lawyers or websites provide legal services?
- Malpractice — will clients have the benefit of malpractice insurance if their legal service provider makes an error?
The need for greater access to justice will drive changes in the legal services realm that we have yet to see or imagine.
Favorite: At the risk of losing my tech-innovator status, I will unequivocally state that I really love my BlackBerry Q10. Great one-finger navigation. True and instant multitasking. Twenty-four-hour-plus battery life. Excellent email client and unified inbox. Brilliant browser for traditional and mobile websites. Super social media apps. Predictive typing knows my thoughts and words before I do. Almost all the essential apps I want and need.
Oklahoma Bar Association, Jim Calloway’s Law Practice Tips Blog, Oklahoma City, OK
Development: A few law schools are starting to focus on teaching technology and innovation, from Professors Katz and Knake organizing ReInvent Law Laboratory at Michigan State to LoyolaLawTech to Prof. Bill Henderson at Indiana University giving a class assignment to profile legal disruption companies. We are going to see more new lawyers who “get it.”
Favorite: It seems odd even to me, but it is my Blue Snowball microphone on a small tripod stand. The intention was to have better sound quality on my podcasts, but the unintended result was that I use Dragon NaturallySpeaking more effectively than ever before now that I can just turn to the microphone and say “Wake up” instead of fiddling with a headset.
Heenan Blaikie LLP, Toronto, ON
Development: Ransomware — truly scary —with the NSA revelations just behind.
Favorite: Evernote continues to be indispensable. And Prezi just keeps getting better as a presentation tool that knocks the socks off PowerPoint.