Each November, we ask legal tech experts to share their personal holiday technology wish list with our readers. Can’t decide what to gift the techie in your life? Here are things the practice management tech experts would most like to unwrap this year. Enjoy the season of giving!
Erik Mazzone: Apple Watch, from “Meh” to Must-Have
Honestly, it’s a bit of a surprise (to myself, if not to my long-suffering wife) that a new Apple Watch is at the top of my list. I’ve had an OG Apple Watch (or Series 1, I suppose, if you’re not into the whole brevity thing) for about a year, and for nearly all of that year it’s been a gadget in search of a use. I mean, it’s a great fitness tracker (though without a Fitbit’s social component), and it’s useful for getting text message notifications, quickly replying (that’s not dangerous when driving, right?) and a few other things.
But it just hasn’t had a something I love about it. The killer app, as it were.
Until this week, that is, when I discovered something about it I just really love. It’s Apple’s new TARDIS app, which I now use daily to go back to a time where I don’t have to practice saying “President Trump.” JK, as the kids text. Sort of.
Actually, the feature I discovered is that my Apple Watch can be set up so it automatically unlocks my MacBook Pro from the lock screen. Instead of having to enter a password (the horror, having to type in a password — what is this, 2014?), my MacBook pops up a message that notifies me it is being unlocked by my Apple Watch and a corresponding message appears on my Watch. It is a small thing, but it is freaking awesome.
It also presages a near-term future where the Watch can act as a second factor in two-factor authentication, which is pretty cool.
So, just like that, my Apple Watch went overnight from “meh” to “Have I shown you what this thing can do?!?” I’m all in on it again, and naturally, now I want the upgraded model that is waterproof and has GPS in it. Now, will someone please forward this article to my wife?
Erik Mazzone (@ErikMazzone) is a practice management advisor and Director of the Center for Practice Management for the North Carolina Bar Association. He writes and speaks widely on legal technology and practice management, in North Carolina and throughout the country.
Nora Regis: Get a Little Creative
This year I’m asking Santa for the 3Doodler, a 3-D printing pen. The tip of the pen excretes heated colored plastic that you can build on to create sculptures, models and ornaments. There are three different types of 3Doodler pens: the “Start,” for kids ($49); the “Pro,” for artists, engineers, architects and designers ($249); and the “Create,” for hobbyists like me ($99). There are lots of project tutorials and videos on the developer’s website to help you get started.
Nora Regis (@NoraRegisCBA) is Trainer & Coordinator, Law Practice Management and Technology, for the Chicago Bar Association. Nora is a former paralegal, specializing in litigation and bankruptcy. Prior to working in legal, she was a technology help desk agent at University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Heidi Alexander: A Better Set of Ears
A good set of headphones is essential in a mobile world. My headphones serve as an important utility, allowing me to take calls, catch up on podcasts, and jam to music on the go. I’m always searching for the perfect set of headphones. Currently, I use the Samsung Level-U Pro wireless headphones, which I’m quite satisfied with (especially given the reasonable price). But, from time to time when the Bluetooth connection fails or the battery level is too low, I default to my highly reliable Bose in-ear headphones.
My holiday wish list this year includes, you guessed it, headphones. I’m torn between the Samsung Gear IconX and Bose Quiet Control 30, both wireless in-ear models. Samsung markets its Gear IconX as a minimalistic fitness solution, which I would use only for listening because it doesn’t have a microphone. On the other hand, the Bose Quiet Control 30 seems to be a souped-up version of the robust Samsung Level-U Pro and includes an app for the iPhone (which Samsung does not). The primary question for me is whether I replace my Samsung Level-U Pro with Bose or add the Samsung Gear IconX to my repertoire. Either way, I’m excited for the holidays!
Heidi S. Alexander (@heidialexander) is a law practice management advisor at the Massachusetts Law Office Management Assistance Program (MassLOMAP), where she advises lawyers on practice management matters and in implementing new technologies.
Catherine Sanders Reach: Some New Toys, Please
Since there isn’t a time machine available for retail sale, there are a few things that fall secondarily in the “I’d be interested in at least playing with them” category:
- Samsung Galaxy Gear VR by Oculus. Why? ‘Cause you can watch a 2-D video from the surface of the moon. And, it is a modest $60.
- Moto Z with Mods. So, if I can’t get the virtual reality headgear I would take a new Moto Z with the Insta-Share Projector mod to turn the phone into a (duh) projector. And, because I’ve been extremely nice this year, maybe the JBL SoundBoost Speaker mod as well?
- Google Home. Because Google already knows everything about me anyway, what could go wrong? Also, a new Chromecast to go with that please.
And because giving is more fun than getting, just in time for the holidays check out all the different IFTTT applets (formerly known as recipes) to help you manage the hectic holiday season. This list of 32 possibilities from PC World covers everything from setting up push notification for shipping updates, to telling Alexa to add an item to your shopping list, to uploading all those special holiday photos you get tagged on in Facebook to a Dropbox folder … and much more.
Catherine Sanders Reach (@CatherineReach) is Director, Law Practice Management and Technology, for the Chicago Bar Association. She was previously Director of the American Bar Association’s Legal Technology Resource Center for over 10 years.
Lee Rosen: For the World Traveler … Hush!
My office is often a coffee shop in Asia, Europe or South America. I travel full time and make calls from noisy places. I need to be able to hear the other party and they need to be able to hear me. It’s helpful if they don’t realize that I’m sitting close to a barista making grinding and steaming noises. This holiday season, I want to unwrap the Bose QuietComfort 25 headphones so that I can hear the other caller well. They’re over the ear and noise-canceling so they block the sound of most anything.
But that’s only half of my holiday gift list.
I also need a Harmony Headset System microphone from UFlyMike so that my voice can be heard on the other end. The technology packed in this microphone blocks nearly everything other than my voice. It’s designed for pilots flying very noisy planes and it’s more than sufficient to block a noisy barista.
The Harmony microphone plugs right into the Bose headphones and replaces the mic on the Bose cord. They’re a matched set and built from the ground up for loud environments. My holiday season will be perfect — and quiet — if these gifts show up at my door.
Lee Rosen (@LeeRosen) practices family law in North Carolina. His blog, Divorce Discourse, is a three-time ABA Blawg 100 popular vote winner. He is a recipient of the ABA James Keane Award for Excellence in eLawyering.
Jane Oxley: It’s Time!
I’m finally crumbling and for personal and business reasons would really like to unwrap an Apple Watch this year. I like the notifications, which should release me from constantly looking at my phone to see Slack (IM) and email updates from my team. I also love the health and exercise tracking features on the Apple Watch. I tried, and failed, to wear a Fitbit, but I know that the Apple Watch will be on my wrist every day because it’s multipurpose!
Jane Oxley (@JaneOxley8) is President of Smokeball case management software in Chicago, and former general manager at LEAP in Sydney, Australia.
Reid Trautz: Wish List Redux
It’s “Back to the Future” for me this year. My wish list is filled with upgrades of products I know, use and love. It’s time I replaced my beloved 10-year-old Bose QuietComfort 2 headphones, and despite the dozens of great options out there, I like the new QuietComfort 35 wireless headphones that are on every “best of” list this year. I’d also love a replacement for my original Fitbit. I like the sleek new Alta model or the new Charge2. Both have great fitness and health features that will help me achieve my fitness goals. Finally, it’s time to retire my trusty iPad 2 that has become frustratingly slow and just can’t run the new iOS. There are some great deals on the iPad Air 2 this season that have attracted my attention.
Reid Trautz is a lawyer, author, speaker and blogger on the issues of business process improvement, technology, legal ethics and effective practice management. He is a past Chair of ABA TECHSHOW, a Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management and co-author of “The Busy Lawyer’s Guide to Success: Essential Tips to Power Your Practice.” Follow him on Twitter @rtrautz.
Tom Lambotte: Something for Me, and Something for the Mac Office
We just ordered 10 new MacBook Pros with the Touchpad for our team here. I’ll be moving away from having two computers — right now an 11-inch MacBook Air as my travel machine and my 27-inch iMac in the office — and moving to a single computer, so I’ll be needing a monitor. On my wish list is the LG Electronics 4K UHD 27UD88-W 27-inch LED-Lit Monitor with USB Type-C. This 4K monitor will give me the Retina quality that I’ll soon be used to on the new MacBook Pro. It also has the Type-C connector, which will let me use the monitor as a dock, letting me connect a few USB devices in the back of it and charge my laptop at the same time, keeping my desk clear from connectors and cables.
On my personal list is the new Nintendo NES Classic. It is a diminutive plug-and-play re-creation of the original Nintendo Entertainment System, a lot of nostalgia on the gaming console I grew up on. It fits in the palm of your hand, hooked up via HDMI, and comes preloaded with 30 games and includes a single controller. From early signs, this will be one of the hottest items this season, with all of them selling out within hours when they were first released. They have been selling for triple the $59.99 price tag on eBay! I don’t need one that badly, but I’ll be keeping an eye out to see when they come in stock.
Tom Lambotte (@is CEO of ) GlobalMacIT, a company specializing in providing IT support to Mac-based law firms. Tom is the author of “Hassle Free Mac IT Support for Law Firms” and “Legal Boost: Big Profits Through an IT Transformation.”
Sharon Nelson: Hands-free Tablets Anywhere
My tech wish list is long, but answering this question prompted me to just go buy something I’ve wanted for a while. It’s a Prepara iPrep foldable/adjustable e-reader, phone and tablet stand, for iPads and Surface Pros among many other devices. At $20.47 from Amazon, you can’t beat the price and it has a five-year warranty.
It fits all popular tablets, e-readers and cellphones, including Apple iPad, iPad Air, iPad mini, iPhone, Microsoft Surface, Android, Amazon Fire, Kindle, Nook, Samsung and Nexus devices. The iPrep is an easy way to support securely your tablet throughout the home or when traveling. There is an integrated stylus pen stored in the base for convenient access. The iPrep is portable, compact and folds to fit any bag, backpack or purse
There are four adjustable angles to position the tablet for ideal viewing with a non-slip rubber grip on the base. This is important to me since I am prone to knocking my iPad over because its own stand isn’t all that stable.
Curiously, this device is advertised primarily for cooks (and I prepare from-scratch meals every night!), but as much as I may use the device to display recipes and then store them on my iPad or Surface Pro, I also see this device as a very stable way to set my iPad on the kitchen table and Facetime with my grandchildren.
At home or on the road, it offers a great way to videoconference with clients on the iPad, leaving hands free to write or type on my Surface Pro as needed. I can also see watching movies or TV on my iPad while working at hotel desks on my Surface Pro. It can also simply serve as another monitor — and everyone misses multiple monitors when traveling.
Thanks for asking me, Attorney at Work, and giving me the excuse to press that Amazon one-click button! You can buy the iPrep here.
Sharon D. Nelson (@SharonNelsonEsq) is President of Sensei Enterprises, Inc., a digital forensics, legal technology and information security firm. She has written or co-authored a number of books, including “The Solo and Small Firm Legal Technology Guides.” She blogs at Ride the Lightning and co-produces the podcast The Digital Edge: Lawyers and Technology.