What’s New in Legal Technology, ABA Techshow 2013
ABA TECHSHOW 2013 starts this week in Chicago, April 4-6, so for this “Product Beat” we have a preview of some wares being demonstrated in the exhibition hall—including highlights from announcements released just in time for the conference. If you’re in town, stop by the Chicago Hilton to run these new products through their paces—expo-only passes are free. Watch for special giveaways and—whether or not you attend—be sure to take advantage of all the free 30-day trials!
Just a Few Practice Management Software Updates
There’s something for everyone in the expanding practice management software category. Robust competition means these companies are constantly adding new features. Watch for a trend toward apps that clients can use, too. How do you choose? Most offer free 30-day trials. Take advantage of them to test what works for you.
Gavel & Gown Software announced updates this week to Amicus Cloud, particularly within its Calendar feature. Users will be able to share appointment information and control the level of detail visible to others, and also give rights to other firm members to schedule appointments on their behalf. They can even get audible appointment reminders, including one that sounds like a sophisticated human assistant. Additional updates include Smart Contact and Smart File Selectors, which automatically display relevant contacts or files for users to include in an email, or save to client files, and enhanced invoices.
Houdini ESQ introduced a major upgrade earlier this year, and will be demonstrating its new Adobe Acrobat plug-in, still in beta. The plug-in allows users to generate templates, finished documents, and link documents to matters and bill for time from within Acrobat. Documents are fully indexed and searchable when linked to a matter. PDFs appear under the document tab of the associated matter for convenience. Also, Houdini ESQ recently added pre-bill features that allow users to manage invoicing from their mobile devices.
MyCasejust this week released a first-of-its-kind mobile app with a separate portal directed at a lawyer’s clients—meaning both lawyer and client can access MyCase features from a smartphone or tablet. The app’s features were designed in part to respond to findings in a recent MyCase survey of how lawyers use mobile devices. (The Rise of Mobile for Lawyers infographic points out some interesting trends.)
Rocket Matter will be demonstrating its newly designed client portal, along with its recently introduced email integration, new modern invoices and seamless integration with QuickBooks. With the QuickBooks feature, users auto-import data and eliminate the need for double entry—meaning it works like syncing Quickbooks to online banking. Rocket Matter has also launched its free mobile app, which works both online and off.
Software Technology is introducing Tabs3 Connect, a new feature that provides access to Tabs3 and PracticeMaster from anywhere you can connect to the Internet. No apps to download, users simply log in to the Tabs3Connect web address using their iPhone, Android device, iPad, laptop—or even an Apple computer—to get access to client and contact information, fee and cost entry, personal and firm-wide calendars and more. Tabs3 Connect was designed to protect attorneys’ sensitive information. The information accessed using Tabs3 Connect is secure, residing at the lawyer’s office, on their computer, not in the cloud or on a phone.
Orion Law Management is releasing Orion 4.5. It includes enhancements to the A/R Collection Manager; the addition of payments by working timekeeper to the Payment Calendar; and an improved Calendar Manager designed to help front-office professionals better manage appointments and tasks, while adding a new Advanced Event Manager for docket administrators. Orion has also announced the launch of the iOrion Mobile App, Expense Reimbursement Manager, integration with PayPro’s credit card processing, and the Orion Productivity Pack, designed to better manage billable time, appointments and tasks from Microsoft Office applications.
Thomson Reuters will be demonstrating Firm Central, a new hosted practice management solution for solo and small law firms. In addition to features that help lawyers manage matters, documents and contacts more efficiently, Firm Central integrates legal research solutions such as WestlawNext and KeyCite. To learn more about Firm Central, check out the introductory YouTube video.
Velawsity is a brand-new entrant in the practice management arena, now available on a free beta trial. Launched in March, Velawsity is cloud-based client and matter management software designed for solos and small firms. Among its features: secure attorney-client communication modules and conflict-checking.
And More Legal Product News
Directlaw, the virtual online practice platform, is launching a new version of the Attorney Dashboard that is used to manage the virtual law firm platform web service. This version will also have new payment options that enable clients to pay their legal bills online.
NetDocuments, provider of enterprise document and email management solutions, has launched the “NDApps Marketplace” for third-party developers and integrations. The NDApps Marketplace allows mobile, desktop and cloud-based developers to access NetDocuments SOAP and REST APIs to integrate additional features and functionality into NetDocuments. Current integrations include over 20 leading, legal-specific applications, including Clio’s web-based practice management platform this spring.
Fastcase completely upgraded its search software with a new release early this year, and will be showing it off at TECHSHOW. A faster, more effiicent system means users can return an unlimited number of search results and sort the best to the top, plus there is no session timeout for inactivity. And Fastcase has expanded its eBook franchise with new topical eBook reporters for Antitrust, Bankruptcy, Patent Law, and Securities Law, available for iPad, Kindle, and Android.
Agile Law, a new company that creates cloud-based mobile apps focused on litigation, has released the beta version of its paperless depositions flagship product for Android and iPad. The app helps firms securely upload documents into the cloud and conduct a deposition by securely revealing documents to witnesses using a laptop or tablet, eliminate printing and shipping deposition exhibits. The cost is $100 per deposition.
Bellefield has announced that a BlackBerry 10 edition of iTimeKeep, a native app available for time entry for the legal profession, will be released this spring.
Chrometa has launched a major upgrade for the time-tracking software. Features include email time capture plug-ins for Microsoft Outlook, Gmail and Mac that create time entries automatically, showing amount of time spent on each email, along with addresses, and smartphone call capture apps that turn phone calls into billable time entries, which can then be sent to a timesheet, invoice or billing system. A new invoicing tool helps create an entire month’s worth of invoices with the click of a mouse, and also allows clients to pay directly online. In addition, time can now be recorded in one-minute increments instead of in seconds, to help reduce entries to a manageable number. Also new, Chrometa for Teams allows sharing of common clients, projects and rules with your entire workgroup, as well as team timesheets and team invoices.
VentureDocs launched its Legal SaaS portal in March. VentureDocs offers customized, automated legal documents for corporate lawyers, providing both the plug-and-play document automation software and the content—legal documents and forms—to help lower a law firm’s cost to service startups, angel investors and early-stage venture capital investors.
World Software Corporation is previewing Worldox for Mac, a SaaS Mac-enabled version of its document management system, which is scheduled for release this summer. Worldox for Mac contains a subset of Worldox features, including much of the product’s core functionality, with full-text searching, version control, copy/move/delete functions, check-in and upload, and select email management features included. The Mac version, which requires a Worldox back-end including indexer and file server, integrates with MS Office applications and Adobe Acrobat. The company is also demonstrating Worldox GX3 Cloud, which launched in January.
Neulexa will be demonstrating it’s new cloud-based document collaboration platform, which features project management features, transactional capabilities and team-building social tools aimed at leveraging the legal team’s knowledge base.
Cabinet is introducing a new mobile app for iPad for its cloud-based document management system. The app allows for e-signatures and easy access to secure documents
LawZam has released its mobile app for iPhone, which allows legal consumers to post questions, search, text and video chat with lawyers on the iPhone. Attorneys can view and respond to questions, and stay online and available for video consultations anytime.
nQueue Billback will be highlighting two new products: its iA Virtual Cabinet and its iA Essentials. By providing state-of-the-art document management along with a portal for secure client communications, iA Virtual Cabinet can save time and increase levels of service and efficiency in firms, while saving space and reducing storage costs. It integrates easily with current systems and, through cloud-based storage, it provides a disaster recovery contingency, too. iA Essentials is an integrated cost recovery solution for capturing copy, fax and print data. By leveraging predictive technology, complete configurability and a simple interface, iA Essentials is designed to capture all cost data simply, securely and economically while reducing time and clicks spent, thereby improving efficiency and profitability. It’s available through a monthly subscription fee.
Morning Waves’ Attorney Timekeeper is a new real-time, cloud-based timekeeping application developed by Bill Doran. Comprehensive features for contemporaneous timekeepers include one-touch timekeeping and automatic capture of time spent on cell phone calls. Time segments are integrated regardless of whether they’re captured on a PC, cell phone or tablet. An interesting twist is the option to set time goals and then share the results—creating “challenges” to see who can bill the greatest percentage of time per day or week, and so on. The app also tracks non-work activities (such as exercise time) so users can account for their entire day. Offered for a monthly subscription price, Attorney Timekeeper is free for the first 30 days.
Smokeball launched the Smokeball Toolbar, a document automation tool designed for solos and small firms. It sits within Microsoft Word to help users fill in repetitive data and generate forms and letters.
WordRake, from lawyer and New York Times best-selling author Gary Kinder, will be demonstrating its namesake legal editing software. WordRake “rakes” Microsoft Word documents to suggest edits for tighter writing. (A review recently appeared in Attorney at Work here.)
Levit & James is releasing its newest development—Best Authority Light 3.0. Containing much of the core functionality of Best Authority Premium Edition, this latest version of the company’s lighter-features product line offers less-expensive Table of Authorities generation software, designed for small firms and solo practitioners. Highlights include citation revision tracking, a preview of the TOA and powerful search functions to provide a faster, flexible and accurate TOA.
TriCerat, known for its Screwdrivers print management technology, recently launched Cliptite, an encryption app that adds an additional level of security for firms that worry about data being copied to an unauthorized system when using Windows Clipboard. The app encrypts data before it is copied and pasted between Microsoft apps.
Joan Feldman is Partner/Editorial at Attorney at Work.