Technology seems to finally be driving the core of the vendors at CLE’s across the state. After a tech moderate show at the State Bar of Texas’ Annual Meeting in Austin this past June, technology seems to have taken hold, at least in terms of the masses of vendors showing up at the Advanced Family Law Seminar in San Antonio the first week of August.
Among the ‘Big Boyz,” Thomson Reuters and Lexis pushed their online versions as always, but the competition and diversity that is developing is likely a signal of things to come. As the ability to buy up the technology that these big companies used to propel their control over the market may be on hold as competition from startups and mainstream competitors move forward in the post ’08-recession environment.
Did You Know Fastcase is Free for Texas Lawyers?
‘Almost’ mass marketing to Texas Lawyers seems poised to take off after the State Bar’s delayed acceptance of Fastcase as the preeminent half of it’s free legal research offering to all lawyers. For those attorneys who haven’t seen it yet, it debut’d at the State Bar of Texas’ Annual Meeting in June and access is now free and universal to all Texas Lawyers via their sign in credentials on Texasbar.com. The Fastcase offering finally gives Texas lawyers a free option of really good full search capability a mere click away and could possibly propel greater competitiveness in pricing and use.
In the disruptive legal market of the past two years, the Adaptive Lawyer track backed by the Bar has become ground zero to the various trains of legal movement that keep appearing at CLE’s.
The Ever-Popular O’Connor’s is Now Online!
Jones McClure’s O’Connor’s online, recently launched in beta and introduced at Advanced Family Law 2014, now boasts the majority of their annotated codes in an online and customizable search format. This offering including the Rules of Civil Procedure, Civil Forms, Estate Code, Criminal Code, Family Code, Causes of Action, Property Code and Texas Civil Appeals, among others. According to uber-legal-techie and Vice-President, Jason Wilson, for a price of about $600.00/year, you would now have access to searchability with filters such as practice area, type of motion, and links to the related motions.
Clio and MyCase are Becoming More Popular, Along with RocketMatter
Also making a presence known were Clio and MyCase, two of several cloud based practice matter systems. While Clio has received a massive amount of venture capital money this past year, MyCase has quietly moved into contention with the likely competitor RocketMatter. All boast access to their online portals from between $49 and $65 per seat or license and allow attorneys to create bank-like, encrypted portals for their clients, similar to those many of us have had to recreate from non-legal cloud based systems for years now.
Cloud Based Document Management Platforms
The level of sharing now available via shared cloud document management systems like Dropbox, Box, Evernote and others make these a viable alternative to the ever changing and massive ‘terrabitic’ storage options desperately being pushed by Microsoft (OneDrive), Google (Google Drive) and Apple (iCloud), all of which are continuously trying to sandbox consumer/attorneys into usage with tempting and giant repositories of online space, for lower and lower prices. Clio and MyCase both sync to Dropbox and Box, as two of several ways to share documents and pleadings with clients.
OurFamily Wizard (www.ourfamilywizard.com) made another welcome appearance and has become the now ‘goto’ cloud based portal for parent communication, scheduling, requests for reimbursement of uninsured expenses and third party/ expert access for those such as Parent Facilitators and counselors.
Also boasting the “push of the technology envelope” was LawPay, which partnered up with many bar associations years ago to offer online co-branded merchant accounts, such that attorneys can now send a link to pay with their statements and (if properly motivated), clients can click the link to pay online (either to operating or IOLTA/trust accounts). Keep your eyes open, as the company is now beta testing a “square” type device to connect to iPhones and allow card swipes/payments directly in law firm accounts.
All in all, the seminar was a huge success with top family CLE speakers continuing to update lawyers on the law. Legal technology, however appears to be what’s driving the most innovation and cuts across practice areas and I’d expect this type of legal tech among vendors to increase their appearances at other seminars as well.
Mark I. Unger is a family lawyer and mediator in San Antonio and former Chair of the section.