Archive of ‘Legal Technology’ category

ABA TechShow 2015 Recap: Vendor Hall — Where The Clouds Were

Welcome to Chicago

By: Mark I. Unger | @miunger | miunger@gmail.com

TechShow 2015Recently the 29th annual ABA Techshow was held in Chicago.  I’ve been fortunate to be able to attend and present at this show a few times and it’s always an awesome experience.  This year was no exception and Michael Peck and I were at this year’s show and bring you our observations over the next couple of weeks.  The 2015 ABA Techshow included seventeen different tracks spread out over the two and a half days, including over 60 topics covered and 67 different speakers from all over the world.  Everything from ESI to Evernote was covered at one point or another.

What’s Trending? The Cloud and Data Privacy

60 Sites / 60 Minutes

The author, now unable to count correctly after the lightning fast 60 sites finale

The major trend, as you might imagine, was the Cloud and data privacy. It was cloud-mania all over the place.  Cloud practice management systems seem to be popping up like e-discovery vendors did several years ago.

There were approximately 120 vendors in the Exhibit Hall and while the swag was a bit shallow this year, the money spent on exhibits was not.  The cost for a company to ‘vend’ is not inconsequential.

Information Overload is a Given

Michael Peck and Mark Unger diligently prepare for their flight to ABA Techshow 2015 by texting the pilots directions (they like that)

Michael Peck and Mark Unger diligently prepare for their flight to ABA Techshow 2015 by texting the pilots directions (they like that)

As I sit on the plane ride from Chicago, my mind is tired and yet swimming with all of the people and products I didn’t get to float in my ‘beta-mind.’  The big companies were there.  Thomson Reuters and LexisNexis.  Also, following their lead at ILTA in Nashville last August, Microsoft was also in attendance, pushing their Office 365 and Sharepoint solutions that will no doubt integrate with their cloud-based legal practice management system.  Microsoft appears to be poised to ‘attempt them some more world domination’ in the not too distant.

In addition, Cloud practice management leaders Clio (who launched their native iPad App) and MyCase had their booths right across from each other.  At one point, in what I can only guess was a coincidence, MyCase was serving some very good beer, while Clio slowly poured guests small glasses of champagne.  Both also hosted parties on Thursday and Friday night respectively at local Chicago hotspots.  Rocket Matter, despite holding back on booth-space this year, did launch their newest product, a native intake form that works in conjunction with their cloud portals and websites.  Clio offers third-party app sync with several intake form products such as Intake 123, who also had a booth there to show off their very ripe product.  While Clio and Rocket Matter continue to roll out increasing third party app integrations, MyCase continues to build out their functionality completely within their own product.  Another cloud practice management vendor, which was new to me and possibly Techshow was MerusCase and Shane was more than happy to demo their product on camera for us.  This product focuses the user on their ‘activity tab’ with an unlimited number of filters for search capability, and a hover feature for instant preview of the document.  See the video below (link).

One of my friends back home pointed me towards Zola, yet another cloud system but their reps told me that the owner prefers for them not to show their product on camera so unfortunately, I can’t tell you much about them, other than that Bob Ambrogi wrote and posted an in-depth review of their product.

Bob also reported on Clio’s new native iPad App, something that many have been waiting for and which promises yet another mobile facet to the enormous repertoire of flexibility from massive third party app integrations.

... and people say irony is dead ... :)

… and people say irony is dead …

Vendors are Now Focusing on Family Law Too

Several other offerings by vendors included something just for Family Lawyers, which interested me, as I have not seen too many vendors in this space at Techshow in years’ past.  The company, Olive Us, produces Genesis Child Custody Manager, which seems to be attempting to compete in some ways with the powerhouse www.OurFamilyWizard.com parenting portal, though is more focused on tracking children’s issues such as pickups, drop-offs, shared expenses and communication records.

They do state that this is not a co-parenting type of App and is not limited to just parents, but could include other relatives or designated adults who might also be picking up the children.  It does seem to be geared to documenting information for future use in litigation, which is a function that mostly has been left to work-flow creation in iCal or Word docs or something like the Day One Journal App for iPhone.

While the primary focus does appear to be tracking pickups or drop-offs but, at least in this demo, there doesn’t seem to be any geo-location tracking that would be possibly available in a mobile app similar to the WithMyKids App.  There is a “Current Location” button that, I presume would need to be pressed by the user to allegedly document where and when the pickup or drop-off of the child occurred.  See the video below (link).

Crowd-Funding Legal Fees?

One other that was completely off the beaten path and a novel concept was CrowdLaw (https://crowdlaw.net), which provides a web-based way of helping clients raise money for their attorney’s fees.  Sort of a kickstarter project for the crowd-funding of legal fees, there appear to be no direct competitors to this model.

TechShow2016Plan Now to Attend Next Year!

Next year will be the 30th Anniversary of the ABA Techshow and it will be held on March 17-19, 2016.  More information on ABA Techshow can be found at www.abatechshow.com


about the author

Mark I. Unger is an Attorney/Mediator/Consultant from San Antonio, Texas.  He can be contacted at www.unger-law.com or via Twitter at @miunger.

Legal Technology Dominates Focus Among Advanced Family Law 2014 Vendors

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!

Image 1Jones 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. ImageAccording 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.

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