Mobile technology has changed the way legal professionals work. As attorneys move from home to the office to the courtroom and beyond, it’s more important than ever that they be able to access files from anywhere. But technology has gone beyond Cloud access, changing the face of courtrooms and law offices around the world.
Before these technology solutions can change the world, however, legal professionals must first know about them.
Attorney Tara Wilson began her career with a Blackberry and desktop PC. As OGC at a boutique law firm, however, she’s found iPads have helped improved productivity and save money.
“iPads have allowed us to go paperless, since we use our Notes app rather than a real notepad,” Wilson says. “They’ve also helped eliminate a lot of the traditional secretarial functions since we no longer need our paper notes transcribed and emailed to our team and we use our Calendar app to schedule our own meetings.”
Lastly, Wilson adds that iPads have helped her office “avoid having to search through old-fashioned legal accordion case files at a cold storage facility when an issue arises.” Wilson’s office can now perform an easy electronic search for the notes that are, all of a sudden, critical to winning the case.
Legal automation starts with the same office productivity software that powers many small businesses today. Google Apps for Business provide access to files via desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone, keeping attorneys connected wherever they go. As Inovado’s Brad Freundlich points out, Google Apps allows legal firms to save the money they once spent on expensive servers and I.T. consultants to set up and run Microsoft Exchange.
“Attorneys are moving quickly to Google Apps for Business with Google Vault,” Freundlich says. “This has provided the lawyer to access his data anytime, anywhere on any device. More importantly they are safe in knowing their content is archived and secure.”
The Virtual Attorney’s Michael Brennan has found Total Attorneys’ practice management platform invaluable to running a law practice.
“From opening a secure line of communication with a client or potential client to tracking time, sending invoices or accepting payment, Total Attorneys covers the gamut,” Brennan says. “I use its calendar feature to stay organized and set up tasks daily to stay on top of priorities. The platform links directly to my website so it’s easy for clients to access their unique accounts or potential clients to open new ones. By far, I’d say this is the nucleus that keeps my practice organized and operating.”
Dictation Software and Hardware
Digital dictation tools are gradually replacing microcassette players for transcription in law offices. Earlier this year, Pennsylvania’s Fitzpatrick, Lentz, & Bubba participated in a trial of Olympus’s DS-7000 handheld digital recorder and corresponding AS-7000 transcription kit.
“I like that the DS-7000 behaves much the same way as a traditional microcassette recorder in terms of the controls and feel,” Fitzpatrick, Lentz, & Bubba’s Joseph S. D’Amico said. “That is a big plus for us who have been practicing for a while. In legal circles, our dictation involves writing lengthy briefs and memos as we think. We’re not recording a few lines to ourselves to remember later. When you are dictating pages at a time, you need the ability to easily start, stop and correct mistakes. This hand unit provides that. Smartphone-based transcription programs are not as flexible and do not allow for quick review and adjustment.”
Discovery is an important piece of litigation, and electronic discovery has taken the process to a new level. Relativity helps attorneys process, review, analyze, and organize electronic data during litigation. Stephen Lief, practice counsel for Epstein, Becker, & Green, has found that Relativity has helped save money and improve case preparation.
“Because the platform can scale to handle big data easily, we don’t even flinch at huge cases,” Lief says in a testimony on Relativity’s site. “The system is also sufficiently nimble to manage our many smaller data sets. Our attorneys love how intuitive the software is, and that it allows them to quickly and confidently dig into our client’s data and also the data we receive from opposing counsel.”
As your law firm seeks to improve automation, these tools offer choices that can help improve preparation for trying cases. This is only a small sampling of the many apps and devices available to assist legal offices in their day-to-day operations.