TechnoLawyer NewsWire
So many products, so little time. TL NewsWire is a weekly newsletter that discusses and links to hot new products and services of interest to legal professionals.
Concise, informative, fun to read, and jargon-free, TL NewsWire enables you to stay on top of more than 225 new products and services every year. We structure each article so that you can quickly understand the function of each product, and zero in on its most important features.

Periodically, we publish special roundup issues of TL NewsWire that focus on a single product category (e.g., ergonomic desks, personalized iPad news apps, etc.). Every December, we publish a special issue listing the most popular new products of the year according to TL NewsWire subscribers.

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Recent Issues
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Lexis Advance Now Includes Insights on Judges Powered by Lex Machina

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers a legal research service that now provides insights on the judges overseeing your cases in certain federal practice areas (see article below). In addition, you'll find links to the previous 11 TL NewsWire features, including our coverage of practice management and legal accounting software that can download bank and credit card transactions for faster reconciliations, practice management software with a Dropbox-like mechanism for sharing files with clients, and much more. Don't miss the next issue.

Winning a case requires more than understanding the facts and applicable law. You also need to size up the judge, opposing counsel, and the parties. Understanding this human dynamic can tip the balance in your favor.

Lexis Advance … in One Sentence

Lexis Advance is a leading legal research service that now includes litigation analytics from Lex Machina.

The Killer Feature

When you next have a case on an antitrust, copyright, patent, trademark, or securities issue, you can use Lexis Advance to research the judge presiding over your case. Soon you'll also be able to research opposing counsel and competing law firms.

This data comes from Lex Machina, a company LexisNexis acquired in 2015. Lex Machina transforms data from federal court dockets into live charts. In Lexis Advance, you can access this data by clicking on the hyperlinked judge's name in the text of a case or in the new Legal Analytics box to the right of the case text.

This link takes you to a summary with the judge's biographical information, open cases by practice area, comparisons to other judges in the district, cases filed by year, and case timelines. These latter charts give you a sense of how long the dispute may take to resolve and the odds of a trial. Lexis Advance users can access these summaries without a Lex Machina subscription.

"With access to summary charts, graphs, and information about judges from Lex Machina, Lexis Advance users can quickly and accurately understand the justice presiding over their case, better anticipate his or her behavior and illuminate probable case outcomes — with the option to click out to Lex Machina for more detail," says Sean Fitzpatrick, Managing Director for North American Research Solutions at LexisNexis. "It is an early step in our strategy to integrate high value analytic and visualization tools directly into the Lexis Advance research experience."

Other Notable Features

For deeper insights, you can click from this summary in Lexis Advance to the Lex Machina website if you have a subscription to the latter. Lex Machina's Motion Chains enables you to analyze your odds of success for a specific type of motion based on historical data. Similarly, you can see how opposing counsel has performed on similar cases or before your judge. You can also research parties, case damages, venues, practice areas, etc. for business development purposes. As you research, you can download briefs, exhibits, and other documents from cases of interest.

Lex Machina offers a growing number of specialized apps. For example, Patent Portfolio Evaluator lists the complete litigation history for a specific patent. Damages Explorer enables you to forecast likely damages and attorney fees as well as compare damages when forum shopping. Early Case Assessor gives you an overview of the plaintiff's litigation history from recent activity to venues to counsel. Other apps consist of Courts & Judges Comparator, Law Firms Comparator, and Parties Comparator.

What Else Should You Know?

In addition to litigation analytics, you'll notice another new feature in Lexis Advance — Reason for Shepard's Signal. This provides you with instant context for each dreaded red or yellow Shepard's signal or instant peace of mind when the signal is green. Reason for Shepard's Signal is currently available for cases since 2003 with older cases coming soon. Learn more about Lexis Advance.

How to Receive TL NewsWire
So many products, so little time. In each issue of TL NewsWire, you'll learn about five new products for the legal profession. Pressed for time? The newsletter's innovative articles enable lawyers and law office administrators to quickly understand the function of a product, and zero in on its most important features. The TL NewsWire newsletter is free so don't miss the next issue. Please subscribe now.

CosmoLex's Bank Data Feed Automatically Downloads Checking, Trust, and Credit Card Transactions

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers practice management and legal accounting software that can download bank and credit card transactions for faster reconciliations (see article below). In addition, you'll find links to the previous 11 TL NewsWire features, including our coverage of practice management software with a Dropbox-like mechanism for sharing files with clients, software for managing trademarks and other IP assets, practice management software for personal injury lawyers, and much more. Don't miss the next issue.

Online banking is a modern marvel we all take for granted. However, reconciliation remains a tedious process. PDF bank statements may save trees but they don't save time. Instead, your legal accounting software should be able to download transactions directly from your bank on daily basis.

CosmoLex v4.6 … in One Sentence

Launching this week, CosmoLex v4.6 is cloud law practice and financial management software that securely retrieves checking, trust, and credit card account transactions.

The Killer Feature

CosmoLex's new Bank Data Feed technology integrates with all major banks, more than 2,000 community and regional banks, and credit card providers such as Chase and Citibank. Login verification occurs directly with each bank. Role-based permissions enable you to restrict user level access to Bank Data Feeds as well as other areas of CosmoLex for internal security.

You can review and accept transactions one at a time or in bulk from a Bank Data Feed instead of entering them manually. This may make sense for credit card statements. You can assign transactions to matters or a general ledger account.

For bank and especially trust accounts, you can instead use the Bank Data Feed for daily reconciliation. CosmoLex automatically matches the transactions your staff has entered with those from the Bank Data Feed and identifies any discrepancies.

"We identified an inability to utilize bank data feeds as a glaring weakness across the law practice management industry," says Rick Kabra, CEO of CosmoLex. "This new functionality is another example of how we continue to separate ourselves from the rest of the industry. Giving firms the ability to automatically import bank data feeds increases the value of our offering exponentially."

Other Notable Features

As Kabra intimates, CosmoLex offers general ledger and trust accounting, which obviates the need to use general accounting software. The CosmoLex Accountant Program enables your accountant to use CosmoLex for free. CosmoLex works with QuickBooks formatted checks (the company also sells its own line of checks). Financial data permeates the software. For example, the Matters Dashboard lists unpaid balances, unbilled balances, and available client advances whether in trust or operating accounts.

CosmoLex adds trust transactions as a liability as a safeguard. You can enter hard costs such as a filing fee and pay it from a trust account. LawPay integration enables your clients to pay bills or fund a trust account online with a credit card.

Several integrations enable you to access your data outside of CosmoLex. The calendar integrates with G Suite and Office 365, while the document management system can use Box, Dropbox, or OneDrive as its data store. Also, Auto-Match technology files forwarded email messages and attachments in the correct matter.

Other features include task management with automated workflows (e.g., court deadline calculations), a client portal for securely chatting and sharing documents with clients, matter notes, and conflict checking.

What Else Should You Know?

Version 4.6 includes an enhanced Data Import tool to make it easier to migrate from your existing software to CosmoLex. This free tool imports clients, matters, bank transactions, accounts receivable, and trust account balances. If you need a turn-key accounting data migration, CosmoLex certified consultants can handle it for a one-time fee. CosmoLex costs $49 per user per month if paid annually ($59 if paid monthly). Learn more about CosmoLex.

How to Receive TL NewsWire
So many products, so little time. In each issue of TL NewsWire, you'll learn about five new products for the legal profession. Pressed for time? The newsletter's innovative articles enable lawyers and law office administrators to quickly understand the function of a product, and zero in on its most important features. The TL NewsWire newsletter is free so don't miss the next issue. Please subscribe now.

LEAP Adds Secure Client Collaboration to Its Practice Management Platform With LawConnect

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers practice management software with a new Dropbox-like technology for securely sharing documents and communicating with clients (see article below). In addition, you'll find links to the previous 11 TL NewsWire features, including our coverage of software for managing trademarks and other IP assets, practice management software for personal injury lawyers, a court docket service for receiving alerts about cases of interest, and much more. Don't miss the next issue.

The ABA's duty of technology competence seems poised to become the latest regulation adopted by all 50 states. While the rule doesn't provide specifics, many law firms have interpreted it as requiring a more secure approach to client communication and document sharing.

LEAP … in One Sentence

LEAP is practice management software that recently added secure client collaboration tools.

The Killer Feature

LEAP's new LawConnect "storage and collaboration platform" enables you to securely communicate and share documents with clients. Most competing offerings (often called "client portals") require setup before you can use them. LawConnect functions in a Dropbox-like ad hoc manner. This approach means you can share a document in seconds even if you've never previously used LawConnect.

Select one or more documents within a matter, click the LawConnect button, and choose the people with whom you wish to share the document. Recipients receive an email message with a secure link to create a LawConnect account after which they can access the document. Within LEAP, icons let you know which documents are shared and whether clients have viewed them. You can revoke access anytime with or without notifying the client.

LawConnect also facilitates secure client communication. Email notifications let you know a new message exists. LEAP's in-app notification system likewise keeps you apprised of new messages.

Other Notable Features

LEAP offers integrated timers and a timesheet for capturing time contemporaneously or after the fact. A number of technologies automate time capture. For example, Auto Text enables you to store frequently used descriptions, and enter them with a few mnemonic keystrokes. Also, LEAP lists unbilled activities that don't yet have time entries. The LEAP mobile app records billable time on the go.

In addition to capturing more time, LEAP may also get you paid faster now that it integrates with RapidPay (powered by LawPay) for online credit card processing. You can add a RapidPay link to invoices you send.

LEAP also integrates with Microsoft Office for document assembly. LEAP includes many forms (a.k.a. templates) plus you can import and create your own. These forms, which work in both the Online and Windows version of Word, can pull data from any field in LEAP, and incorporate "if/then" statements and other sophisticated logic. You can link applicable forms to a Task so that those assigned the task have everything they need. When you create a document or email message, LEAP prompts you to bill for it.

In addition to capturing documents created through automated forms, LEAP can also import entire folders during initial setup. Similarly, your existing scanning workflow can be redirected to save documents in LEAP (the Android and iPhone app contains a document scanner for mobile scanning). LEAP captures email via the Outlook add-in.

What Else Should You Know?

LEAP works on all platforms. You can use your choice of native apps for Windows, iPad, iPhone, and Android. It also runs in your web browser. LEAP includes a Google- and mobile-optimized website for your law firm to help you attract new clients. Learn more about LEAP.

How to Receive TL NewsWire
So many products, so little time. In each issue of TL NewsWire, you'll learn about five new products for the legal profession. Pressed for time? The newsletter's innovative articles enable lawyers and law office administrators to quickly understand the function of a product, and zero in on its most important features. The TL NewsWire newsletter is free so don't miss the next issue. Please subscribe now.

Alt Legal Automates the Management of Trademarks and Other IP Assets

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers software for managing your clients' trademarks, copyrights, and patents from inception to renewals (see article below). In addition, you'll find links to the previous 11 TL NewsWire features, including our coverage of practice management software for personal injury lawyers, a legal research service for medical malpractice lawyers, a service that can help you add a new practice area, a Word add-in for automating exhibit references, and much more. Don't miss the next issue.

Even small intellectual property law firms manage thousands of trademarks and other IP assets on behalf of their clients. This means thousands of deadlines for replying to office actions, filing renewals, etc. Miss a deadline and you lose a client. Time to move beyond your creaky Excel spreadsheets for managing these portfolios.

Alt Legal … in One Sentence

Alt Legal is cloud software for managing intellectual property portfolios, including trademarks, copyrights, and patents.

The Killer Feature

Alt Legal crawls USPTO and TTAB dockets (and soon international trademark databases) to provide automated monitoring of changes and deadline calculations. "What you view in Alt Legal always mirrors the original source," says former big law lawyer and CEO Nehal Madhani. "Your deadlines are always up-to-date." Alt Legal notifies you of upcoming deadlines via email with live links to each filing.

Unlike competing services, Alt Legal's crawler doesn't only look for new docket entries and status date changes but all changes to each record. As a result, Alt Legal can instantly notify you of changes that don't trigger an official notification such as the appointment of a new attorney.

"Alt Legal's automated trademark docketing allows me to organize and monitor filings and keep track of dates and deadlines," says Bill Samuels, an IP attorney and the owner of W.R. Samuels Law. "The platform automatically identifies and updates my docket without manual data entry. To replace Alt Legal, I would need multiple employees to manage my clients' trademark portfolios."

Other Notable Features

You begin using Alt Legal by retrieving all the IP filings under your firm's management. Because TESS is the most modern USPTO database, you can retrieve trademarks by entering the associated email addresses or registration numbers. Alt Legal offers complimentary data migration for large IP portfolios.

The Docketing dashboard lists all IP filings under your management sorted by deadline. You can search by applicant, client, type of filing, etc., and add notes to IP filings for later reference. Alt Legal links directly to USPTO records so that you can download documents, respond to office actions, and reference applicable regulations with a click. Alt Legal automatically adds deadlines to your Clio and Outlook calendars thanks to integrations with those products.

Alt Legal enables you to generate reports using parameters ranging from Literal Element to Statutory Deadlines to Mark Type and many others. You can view reports in a spreadsheet-like table in Alt Legal or export in Excel format. If you wish, clients can gain read-only access to their portfolio.

Speaking of clients, Alt Legal's Intake tool facilities collaboration on new trademark filings. Clients receive a customizable email message with a link to a secure web intake form. The form adapts as clients answer questions such as whether they're filing individually or for a company. Alt Legal's team keeps these forms up-to-date, enabling you to populate TEAS forms without retyping. New filings are automatically captured by Alt Legal and added to the Docketing dashboard.

What Else Should You Know?

Alt Legal enables you to restrict access among your staff to filings assigned to them. Administrators can access all filings. Pricing for Alt Legal starts at $75 per month. Your cost depends on the number of filings in your account. In addition to data migration, an Alt Legal subscription includes unlimited training, live chat, and telephone support. Learn more about Alt Legal.

How to Receive TL NewsWire
So many products, so little time. In each issue of TL NewsWire, you'll learn about five new products for the legal profession. Pressed for time? The newsletter's innovative articles enable lawyers and law office administrators to quickly understand the function of a product, and zero in on its most important features. The TL NewsWire newsletter is free so don't miss the next issue. Please subscribe now.

SmartAdvocate Seeks to Take Document Automation to a New Level in Practice Management Software

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers practice management software with advanced document assembly capabilities (see article below). In addition, you'll find links to the TL NewsWire Top 25 Products of 2016 Awards and the previous 11 TL NewsWire features, including our coverage of a cloud practice management app with a robust data import tool, another practice management app with a do-it-yourself QuickBooks integration, an Outlook add-in that prevents email mishaps, and much more. Don't miss the next issue.

Much of law practice involves recurring, routine tasks. The less time these tasks require, the more time you can devote to the thorny legal issues you're hired to solve. This is especially important for those of you in personal injury practice because of the upfront financing you provide.

SmartAdvocate Cloud … in One Sentence

SmartAdvocate is browser-based practice management software for personal injury law firms that is now available in a hosted version called SmartAdvocate Cloud.

The Killer Feature

"Every time we show SmartAdvocate's Document Template Generator to lawyers, they are amazed at how much work it saves," Chief Operating Officer Arnie Baum told me.

The lynchpin for this document automation is SmartAdvocate's Microsoft Word add-in. This connects Word to your case data in SmartAdvocate. You can automatically populate Word documents with any of this data (including your own custom fields) using Merge Codes.

Out of the box, SmartAdvocate contains nearly 2,000 Merge Codes and hundreds of templates you can modify. You can also create your own templates. None of this involves programming. Instead, you select the Merge Codes you want to use and place them into the template. These templates can include envelopes. "A document that normally takes 3-4 minutes to create can be generated, emailed, and stored in 30 seconds," says Baum.

"There is simply no information you can't enter into the database and there is a merge code for everything so you can generate complicated documents and PDF forms," says SmartAdvocate user Philip L. Franckel, Partner at Franckel & Plevy. "It is highly customizable and easy."

Other Notable Features

SmartAdvocate users spend most of their time in the Case Summary. This elaborate environment contains every conceivable piece of information about a case — critical deadlines, incident details, injuries, medical providers, insurers, timeline, disbursements, notes, etc. The Case Browse feature enables you to search and filter this data, and make bulk changes across multiple cases such as assigning a new lawyer.

How often do you take notes that you later cannot find? SmartAdvocate doesn't only store your notes in the Case Summary, it also enables you to categorize notes by type and search for them with filters. Notes can contain links to related items in SmartAdvocate such as contacts or documents for quick reference.

SmartAdvocate offers two calendars — Case and Office. The former contains case-related events, while the latter contains these events plus non-case events like your vacations. The Office calendar also displays the schedules of everyone in the office. Thanks to the Outlook add-in, you can add these calendars to Outlook and your smartphone. The add-in also enables you to save client-related email in SmartAdvocate.

SmartAdvocate offers more than 20 customizable dashboards. The home dashboard — called MySmartAdvocate — lists your upcoming appointments, deadlines, tasks, and more. Other dashboards enable you to focus on specific areas of your firm such as advertising results and finances.

What Else Should You Know?

Other features of SmartAdvocate include a Case Intake Wizard for case creation from any location,, reports to which you can subscribe by email, and the ability to send text messages to clients from within the system without revealing your phone number. "Initially available only in a server-based version, SmartAdvocate Cloud provides all this functionality in a hosted platform," said Baum. Learn more about SmartAdvocate Cloud.

How to Receive TL NewsWire
So many products, so little time. In each issue of TL NewsWire, you'll learn about five new products for the legal profession. Pressed for time? The newsletter's innovative articles enable lawyers and law office administrators to quickly understand the function of a product, and zero in on its most important features. The TL NewsWire newsletter is free so don't miss the next issue. Please subscribe now.

As a fairly unsophisticated technophile, I find the TechnoLawyer Newswire helps explain new software, gadgets, and other products in language I can understand. Plus, it always provides links to a fuller explanation of the product or service. All in all, a very helpful read for an old lawyer trying to keep up.
- Jack P. Doran, Esq., Law Office of Jack Doran
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