Posts Tagged ‘legal technology’

Lawyers, are you keeping up with your security updates?

Businessman standing and working wth touch screen

By: Ronald Chichester | http://www.texascomputerlaw.com

Lawyers, are you keeping up with your security updates?

As we’re all too keenly aware, software programs can contain flaws that make the lawyer’s (or client’s) data vulnerable to compromise.  For example, the makers one of the more common software applications that attorneys use for encrypting client data — 7-zip — have recently found some vulnerabilities in their encryption code.  The bugs got fixed last week (on May 10 to be exact).  But have you updated your version of 7-zip since then?  For that matter, have you updated all the software on your machines?

Yes, the Linux guys have it easy.  Their package managers update not only the operating system, but all open source software installed on their machines.  Unfortunately, those of us who use Windows or OS X have to update manually.  We know that’s a chore, but an important duty nonetheless.  The software guys endeavor to plug security holes as quickly as possible.  Sometimes they fix the problem within hours, but often within a day or two.  It would be poor recompense for their efforts if you failed to update your software when needed.

I know that some of you who have read this are saying to yourself: “Hey, I’ve got better things to do than to chase down updates.”  Well, maintaining client confidences is part of YOUR job.  Fortunately, there are some things that you can do to make the job easier.  The Federal Government sponsors a website from which you can glance for problems with your important applications (like Adobe Acrobat, Windows, etc.).  Take a look at:

http://www.kb.cert.org/vuls/byupdate?open&start=1&count=20

Those of you with news aggregators can take advantage of their RSS feed:  http://www.kb.cert.org/vulfeed

The nice thing about that database is that it tracks more than just the software on your PC.  It also alerts you to problems with your other equipment, like routers and printers.  It’s there for your protection, and it’s free.  Use it.

ILTACON 2015 Summer Legal Technology CLE: What ILTA Dreams May Come

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

ILTACON Legal Technology Conference

When:  August 30-September 3, 2015

Where:  Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada

ILTA is the International Legal Technology Association and for the last couple of decades has been providing a platform for massive and sophisticated legal information technology exchange between professionals.   ILTACON is one of the preeminent legal technology conventions in the country.   Make no mistake about it.  ILTA ConThis spectacular legal technology bonanza is not for the weak of ‘legal tech heart.’  It is however where the sophisticated buffalo roam to find out what is on the bleeding edge of legal technology from those who have been in the industry and have the knowledge to explore solutions and trends in the future.

I last wrote about ABA Techshow in Chicago this past spring and Michael Peck also recently shared valuable insight into the real deal that is Techshow.  It simply outshines itself year after year as a true ‘lawyer’s legal technology show.’ While Techshow plays to lawyers, ILTACON dances with lawyers and law firm technologists and administrators.  Last year’s event was held in Nashville, Tennessee and boasted over 1600 registrants, over 3500 participants, 406 new registrants, 152 alumni, and with international representation from 15 countries.  It is a truly world class event.

Peter Diamandis, launching the event with the introductory Keynote, shaped this massive audience with his own version of what I call ‘trendspotting,’ specifically a glimpse of technology in the next two to five years, crowdsourcing (how to reach out and get answers), and world abundance (where the world is going).  His points of how disruptive technology feeds innovation and what he termed “the new Kodak moment” lead to his theme that innovation can come from anyone anywhere (i.e. how Kodak thinking linearly gave way to Instagram).  His offering of these topics and the fact that we now have exponentially growing technology lead us to his 6 D’s of Exponentials, the point being that even in the legal field we must pay attention to what drives innovation.  The bottom line—expect technology to be molecular and cheap, with robots (automation) everywhere.

This is the kind of serious philosophical but practical consideration that is provided at ILTA, at a very high-functioning level.  This continued with Speakers and Vendors and a merging of presentations between the two.   Speakers covered topics close to my ‘legal-tech-heart’ such as whether legal is ready for an all MAC environment (Brett Burney); Client Extranets, granularity of permissions, shareability of data (i.e. true collaboration) and the reality of keeping it simple to drive usability (Mark Thorogood); Mobile Technology in Court, including mass use of iPads and other mobile devices and Apps v. the contraposition of shunning such mobile use for desktop preferences (Britt Philips and Jim Berriman); Tablet Wars, which pitted a Surface Pro user against Android user yet against an iPad user.  The deck was stacked in this challenge as all users aren’t created equal, but the end result of MS Surface’s high performance is I believe a ‘tell’ of their recent trend towards really grabbing significant legal market share after several years of perceived loss.

Vendors and vendor presentations were not left out and, in fact made up a very significant portion of the forward thinking and futuristic movement.  Google and Jack Halprin (who’s recent passing is another massive loss to our legal segment) created an interactive environment of desktops for users to experience a hands-on approach to Google Apps for Business (and Legal), including their launch of a chrome extension, Google Drive for Work and Vault, their e-Discovery platform for document investigation and legal hold.

Not to be left out but in fact at the forefront of launches, Microsoft launched into ‘beta’ its Matter Center for Office 365, which could very well signify the possibility of ‘world domination’ in legal workflow (or a very admirable attempt at the least).  This legal practice management environment, which joins the multiple other cloud-based legal practice management systems, builds on it’s late entry into the free offering of software in order to price people into their cloud based storage with integration into the apps most used (i.e. Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook etc.).  It further claims real-time integration with SharePoint and collaboration via sync with One Drive, Yammer, Lync, all of Office 365, and mobile device management capability.  Their stated goal of enabling legal professionals to manage processes within one ecosystem is definitely the wave of the future, as telegraphed by the integration of third party apps into and with existing cloud storage providers.

The upcoming ILTACON 2015 promises no less and possibly a massive increase in legal tech innovations if trends continue and given law firms’ increased spending (an approximately 6% increase, according to last year’s ILTA survey of 281 firms polled).  Doing more with less, cost-cutting and spending to accomplish that are trends that are not limited to mid-size or large firms.  Solo’s and small firms are under increasing pressure to accomplish the same.   Within this context, the 2015 ILTACON schedule looks to be similarly impressive with many tracks and topics that will make many legal professionals take note.  Currently on the “grid” or schedule are significant topics such as an in-depth look at cloud computing, The Three C’s of Office 2013/O365: Connectivity, Communication and Collaboration, Mobile Device Management Shootout, Considerations and Consequences: Moving to Cloud Document Management, iPad Tips, Tricks, Apps and Accessories for Day-to-Day to the Courtroom, Augmented Intelligence for Legal, a Legal Technology Disruption round, Best Practices for Secure External Collaboration, Macs in a Law Firm Environment, Innovation Through Automation: Implementing Effective Document Assembly, and The App Creation Experience.

In short, mobile, security, the cloud and innovation appear to be on our horizon and ILTACON’s.  As a benefit of membership, State Bar of Texas Computer & Tech Section members are also now members of ILTA and able to received 50% ILTACON DAY PASS for Tuesday September 1, 2015.

For more information about joining the section, see http://sbot.org/membership/.

If already a Computer & Tech Section member and you need your ILTA SignIn info (sbot em address), contact Mr. Ron Chichester at complaw@gmail.com

Once you have your ILTA SignIn Info, to get your 50% Day Passes, Click Here (SignIn required to get the discount)

For more information about ILTACON, see http://www.iltacon.org/iltacon2015/home.


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.

ABA LawTech Show: “You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know Until You Go The Show”

By: Michael Peck | @mdpeck1 | mdpeck@mdpecklaw.com

You don’t know what you don’t know until you go to the Show”

Michael PeckThat is the key takeaway from the recent ABA LawTech Show in Chicago.

Far too many of our attorney colleagues sit contentedly in their offices completely unaware of the many ways they could be saving save minutes, if not hours, each day. The increases in efficiency that modern technology can provide are astounding, and not only for attorneys, but for their staff as well. Simply put, with appropriate technology, everyone in your law practice can get a lot more done in less time. This is good for everyone, especially you, the (hopefully) smart business owner. Never forget that you run a business and the purpose is to make money, infuse happiness into your day-to-day life, and most importantly, keep the gnat-buzzing distractions and crap out of your consciousness!

Efficiency is the Ultimate Goal

I was reminded of this by an excellent presentation by Perlman/Flaherty at the ABA LawTech Show. They spoke to the daily ‘inefficiency magnitude’ as it applies in your office, day after day after day, to overall productivity and profitability.

TechShow 2015How immune to change are you? Flaherty gave the statistic that only one in seven patients can change their lifestyle behavior when told by their doctor that they are in imminent danger of a heart attack and death. That is a compelling statistic that begs the question, “how many attorneys are immune to common sense and obvious managerial efficiencies when told their office practices are inefficient and antiquated?” It’s only money–your money–are you willing to find out if your office needs a change? If so, give the office audit to your staff, and yourself, and see how you can make more money, and have more spare quality time.

While you are thinking that over, here are 7 other observations I took away from the ABA LawTech Show on things you can do to make your practice more efficient and profitable:

1. If you can’t go all paperless, at least can that old fax machine

Imagine the furor if, ten years ago, an attorney had wanted to discuss a futuristic paperless law office and then had an entire day of discussion allocated exactly to that! The Paperless Office Track is the result of that need and was one of my favorites at this LawTech. It always is. One discussion point that I found mind-boggling was how many attorneys still use fax machines with dedicated hard phone lines in their offices (probably even ones with the roll of paper). Sign up with an eFax-type provider for an absolutely ridiculously small monthly amount; then, ditch the fax machine, the phone line for the fax machine, and the supplies and service agreement for the fax machine. We’re talking some serious dollars that we can save on a monthly basis with no complications.

2. There is a big push toward the Cloud, but don’t forget about the ethics issues

Discussions and presentations abounded on scanners, cloud document management, and PDF. It’s an Alvin Toffler Third Wave moment that third party vendors would be vying to become the ultimate custodians of all of your office’s legal product in the Cloud. And, notwithstanding the security issues, make you pay for the privilege! This is why there was an all day “The Cloud” track that included presentations such as “Ethics in Choosing Cloud Services”, “Cloud Architecture” and “Cloud Collaboration.” As Dylan once stated, “the times, they are a changin'” — and seemingly, on a daily basis.

3. Digital dictation tools — it’s time to cut loose of the tape

An interesting factoid disclosed to me by one of the many vendors is that micro-cassette tapes, that used to cost $2 each twenty years ago now sell for $50 each on EBay for die-hard ‘dictators’ because they are not being manufactured anymore, all because of digital technology. The gradual shift away from “dictation tape-to-secretary” to “dictation-to-automatic written text” on your computer has changed so many paradigms in the typical law office. Speed, efficiency, and cost cutting typists and transcription have been factored multiple times by the accuracy of digital dictation. And I might add, for you lawyers out there who have fantasized about writing your great novel, that is, if only you could escape the clutches of your law practice, digital dictation to automatic text is now here-to-stay for you to win your Nobel Prize for Literature.

Be aware of the several vendors who were selling pocket recorders with “Dragon Dictation Legal” software (at about $1500 per set with a pocket digital recorder) but which worked only with PCs, and not Macs, or vice-versa. There is no Dragon Dictation Legal for Macs per se, but there is MacSpeech Dictate Legal, which is made by Nuance, which coincidentally, also makes and sells Dragon Dictation Legal. There is, however, little if any marketing for MacSpeech Dictate Legal which sells for around $600. Does anyone use it and like it? If so, please let me know. A good source told me that he dictates quite a bit with the non-legal edition and he noticed no difference whatsoever between the legal and non-legal editions of the product.

For you Mac users, dictating into your computer (function key 2X) is easy enough and comes as part of your computer’s IOS software when you purchase. But, having to stop dictating mid-thought and wait for it to upload to the Cloud every thirty seconds is a buzz kill, especially when you’re ADD like I am and can’t remember my train of thought, much less an individual train car! So let’s just download the digital dictation software directly into my computer, dictate non-stop, or in my case, stream of unconsciousness, without any up-to-cloud interruptions and churn out the next best seller novel; or, at least be able to dictate 97% of a complete motion, or the responses to one, directly into text without the necessity of stopping every thirty seconds for the computer to upload, transcribe and return the text to your computer. Maybe it’s just me, but if efficiency is the goal (and it is), then it makes more sense to use the more efficient application.

4. Cybersecurity and protecting client data is vital

ABA Ethics Rule 1.05 seemed to be on everyone’s mind regarding the security of our client’s personal information and proprietary data. That’s because you are deemed knowledgeable (and hence become a prospective deep pocket defendant) of the multiple morphing technological changes in law office technology, specifically, “including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology.” M&A practices and PHI-intense practices such as personal injury and family law, may be feeling the heat of possible class actions against firms that have been hacked. Many firms have already been hacked, as have so many retail and financial institutions, though they often do not discover it until much later.

5. Paralegals and legal assistants are welcome at ABA LawTech Show

Another observation: many firms sent their paralegals and legal assistants to LawTech, only a few of whom were accompanied by their bosses, with most traveling solo. Seven out of ten attorneys are ignorant of many of the new technologies, especially the Cloud, and refuse to learn (or, perhaps are incapable of grasping the basic concepts) and thus default the learning requirements to their heavy lifters, the paralegals and legal assistants. If you are a paralegal or legal assistant reading this, this would be a tremendous learning opportunity for you; if you are an attorney, you should consider bringing your paralegal or legal assistant along with you next year.

6. Legal technology gap — generational, geographical, or both?

The younger attorneys seemed to be more plentiful than the more senior attorneys. Also, I saw a noticeable competency difference between the urban attorneys, who have more teaching resources to lean on and tend to be more technologically adept, and the more non-urban attorneys, who often find themselves in the technology hinterland.

What does this translate to? Simply put, you have non-urban attorneys and their staff probably spending two or three times the hours working on and billing for matters that their urban counterparts do, with the urban counterparts either passing the savings to their respective clients, or, more than likely, doubling or tripling their profit margins. The takeaway: technological office inefficiencies make the current practice of law difficult, unprofitable and disillusioning.

7. Practice management systems must easily integrate with other applications

When a case management system is able to work with 300+ API’s from other vendors and applications, it will be the most marketable to attorneys, even if it takes more time to master. I purchased Clio to determine the efficacy of having the choice of 300+ applications to integrate with Clio. An update on the API integrations as to which work and which do not will be following on this site, if I survive the testing process.

TechShow2016Plan Now to Attend Next Year!

In summary, you should have attended the ABA LawTech Show because you just don’t know, what you don’t know!

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

Michael Peck is an attorney practicing in Flatonia, Texas.  He can be contacted at mdpeck@mdpecklaw.com or via Twitter at @mdpeck1 

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.