Paperless Law Office

Will The iPad Replace the Legal Pad

With the launch of Apple's iPad, many people wonder what the device will be best suited for and how one can apply it in their practice.  Attorney and Tech Writer Dennis Kennedy discusses the practicality and pitfalls of the iPad and the legal profession.

Announcer: Welcome to GAL radio, brought to you by the Greatest American Lawyer blog, changing the way law is practiced through technology, innovation, and creativity.  Turning the business of law on its head and shaking things up for the betterment of clients, lawyers, law firms and society. Now here’s your host, Damien Allen.

 
Damien Allen: Good afternoon and welcome to GAL radio my name is Damien Allen and joining you today on the phone is Dennis Kennedy. Dennis is a St. Louis based computer lawyer and legal technology writer. His website is denniskennedy.com is the home of his blog. He is also a monthly writer for the ABA journal. Good afternoon Dennis, , welcome to the program.
 

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The Survey Says: More People Want ONLINE Legal Services

Technology and the Internet are constantly reshaping the way we look at the landscape of business.  More and more people have turned to the web to do their banking, shopping, schooling, and entertainment.  A recent survey conducted by Epoq U.K. says more people want their legal services on the web as well.  Attorney Richard Granat discusses the findings of the survey with Damien Allen on today's program.



Announcer: Welcome to GAL radio, brought to you by the Greatest American Lawyer blog, changing the way law is practiced through technology, innovation, and creativity.  Turning the business of law on its head and shaking things up for the betterment of clients, lawyers, law firms and society. Now here’s your host, Damien Allen.

Damien Allen:  Good morning and welcome to GAL Radio.  My name is Damien Allen, and joining me today on the phone once again is Attorney Richard S. Granat of Directlaw.com and Mylawyer.com.  He’s also the Chair of the Elawyering Task Force of the Law Practice Management Section of the American Bar Association  Today we’re discussing the Epoq Legal UK survey on online services.  Good Morning, Richard, and welcome to the program.


Richard S. Granat:  Good morning, Damien.  How are you this morning?

Damien Allen:  I’m doing fine.  Hope you’re doing well, sir.

Richard S. Granat: I am.

Damien Allen:   Epoq Legal UK recently conducted an online survey finding that the majority of those polled expected good law firms to offer their services online in the next couple of years.  Is this desire or need for online legal services on the rise, Richard?

Richard S. Granat:  There’s no question in my mind that it’s increasing, whether it’s the UK or the U.S.  In fact, if the survey would have been conducted in the US, where, I think, we actually have higher internet penetration, I think the numbers would actually be higher.  I also have another data point. We just recently got a survey from our Google representative showing data in the legal category which shows that over a two period the number of people searching legal sites has increased by 192%, almost 200%.  So, we see an increasing trend by the consumer looking for answers on the internet or legal services on the internet.

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Delivering Online Legal Services: How to Set Up and Operate a Virtual Law Practice

With the advent of the internet and growing new technologies, attorneys need not be bound to the structure of a "brick and mortar" business model.  Lawyers can now reach out to potential clients and resources through the use of extranets, cloud based software platforms, and network legal information as well as better communicate with current clientele over the internet.  Richard Granat joins Damien Allen to discuss "The Virtual Law Firm"

Announcer:  Welcome to GAL Radio brought to you by the Greatest American Lawyer blog, changing the way law is practiced through technology, innovation and creativity.  Turning the business of law on its head and shaking things up to the betterment of clients, lawyers, law firms and society.  Now here’s your host, Damien Allen.

 

Damien Allen:  Good afternoon and welcome to GAL Radio.  My name is Damien Allen and joining me today on the phone is Attorney Richard S. Granat of Directlaw.com and Mylawyer.com.  He’s also the Chair of the Elawyering Task Force of the Law Practice Management Section of the American Bar Association, and today we’re discussing delivering online legal services and how to set up an operative virtual law practice, and I know the American Bar Association is issuing guidelines as the major focus for them. Richard, welcome to the program. 

 

Attorney Richard S. Granat:  Hi, Damien.  Good afternoon. 

 

Damien Allen:  Pleasure to have you on the show today, sir.  Could you please tell us what is a virtual law practice?

 

Attorney Richard S. Granat: Well, a virtual law firm is really characterized by access to the law firm through what we call a client portal where clients can sign on with a username and password.  It’s not like a typical website that you see which just has the lawyers biographies and some legal information, but is really a platform under which the law firm can actually deliver legal services to the client and relate to the client online,  collaborate with the client, give legal advice online.  It’s essentially a vehicle for online legal services, and this is something new.  We sign onto our bank or we do our brokerage online, we do our travel online, but law firms are not really done that before.  They haven’t had what we call a secure client portal where the client could actually sign on to the law firm. 

 

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Comparing E-fax and Electronic Fax Services

Every once in a while I get a question from one of our readers about incorporating an internet fax service into their business model.  These systems generally go by the description “electronic fax”, “internet fax”, “e-fax” and “online fax” services.  The major player in the market is a company by the name of eFax, although there are many other providers in the space who are nipping at their heals.  As is common in the internet space, the up and comers often offer more for the money than the big dogs.  It just so happens that one of our clients provides a extremely valuable comparison service which will allow you to take a look at many of the top-end electronic fax providers in the space, compare price, number of faxes, 800 numbers, free trials and the rest.  Check them out at www.faxcompare.com.


The Best Things in Life Really Are Free: A Thumbs Down To Copernic Desktop Search for Pay Version

Those of you who have been around for a while know that one of my favorite software products of all time has been Copernic Desktop Search.  Two years ago, I downloaded the free desktop and network search tool which essentially pre-indexes all of your emails and selected files so that you could search for virtually anything and the results would come back in less than a second.  In fact, my entire email process changed as a result of Copernic.  No longer did I file any emails, delete spam or otherwise.  I treated email as a big data drop and simply used Copernic search in order to almost instantly identify any single email, or group of emails. 

About four months ago, my Copernic stopped working.  The company apparently had decided to abandon its free version for network search (you can still apparently get a free version to search only your own computer) and start charging $49.95 per license for its professional edition and $59.95 for its corporate edition

Normally, this wouldn’t bother me at all.  Copernic deserves a license fee for its otherwise amazing product…except that it’s no longer an amazing product.  In fact, my new “for pay” version has barely worked since I installed it.  It is prone to crash, freezes up, and does not deliver returns nearly like it used to.  For whatever reason, I was never able to get it to index my Outlook archives, essentially rendering my email search process useless.  You can either “for sure” find what you’re looking for using this kind of tool or not.  If it’s not reliable, then you likely won’t use it at all.

The search tool that comes with Microsoft Windows has always been downright awful.  I am now left to wonder, is there a desktop and network search tool that will get the job done?

I’d be interested in anyone out there who has a good client and network side pre-indexing search tool that will pull all types of data files and integrate fully with Outlook.  In the meantime, my plan is to contact Copernic and let them know my problems.  I’ll let you know how customer support goes and whether or not my experience is the exception or the rule…


Not Interested In Paying $300.00 for Adobe Standard? Try Nitro for $50.00

It is hard to imagine any lawyer operating in today’s digital world without an upgrade to Adobe Reader.  Adobe offers its Acrobat 9 Standard for those looking to interact with their PDF documents for $299.00.  Clearly, Adobe is the gold standard in PDF. 

However, there is a great alternative, which contains most of the key functionality of Adobe Standard.  That product is offered by Nitro Software.  Typically, the price is about $100.00.  They are running a Christmas special at $50.00 which is hard to beat. 

You need to do more than read PDF documents.  You need to be able to engage in mark-up, editing, commenting, and creating PDF documents.  I have been using both Nitro and Adobe products for years.  I have always been shocked at how good Nitro is at mimicking the Adobe Standard functionality. 

And what about your staff and support team?  If you can’t afford Adobe Standard for your entire team, you definitely need to check out Nitro. 


The Cost Savings in Going Digital

I’m often asked how much money it will cost in staff and time to scan in all of the documents which are generated from outside our own office onto our file server.  Essentially, people want to know whether or not a paperless law office will save, or cost, them money. 

There’s no doubt that it takes people and time to scan in documents.  While I have not run an analysis comparing the cost of a paperless versus a non-paperless operation, I do have some observations. 

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Case Management Solutions for Law Firms

There is an interesting discussion and a number of link resources over at the LinkedIn business networking questions and answer section.  A variety of attorneys have suggested different software tools for case management.  Of course, basecamphq.com is included.  Two new ones which I have not seen before are Open Practice and Serengeti Legal Matter Management and E-Billing System.

Has anyone had any experience with either Serengeti or Open Practice?  Does anyone have any other case management software tools which are web enabled to add to the list?