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, fun to read, informative, 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

Below you can see some recent issues of this newsletter.

Return to List of Recent Issues

Smokeball: Read Our Exclusive Report

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers a practice management system that integrates with Microsoft Word for document assembly and Microsoft Outlook for email (see article below), an iPhone app that enables you to chat using email, a budget Android smartphone, and a dashboard for iPhone and Apple Watch. Don't miss the next issue.


Even small law firms have many moving parts. This explains the word "system" in the term "practice management system." When shopping for these products, lawyers don't just want features. They want integrations and help setting up and using the integrations. In short, they want a "system," not just an app.

Smokeball … in One Sentence

Launched recently, Smokeball is a practice management system with integrated document assembly, document management, and email, as well as accompanying setup and training.

The Killer Feature

Smokeball integrates with Microsoft Outlook and Word via add-ins. For example, using client and matter data in Smokeball, you can auto-populate a Word template. Smokeball saves the draft and final document in the applicable matter after which you can email it to your client via Outlook. Smokeball likewise stores this email message and all future related email and attachments automatically.

"Smokeball integrates case management with sophisticated document automation," Smokeball president Jane Oxley tells us. "This means that while we help small law firms get more organized, we also genuinely empower them to get more done every day.

Other Notable Features

Every matter in Smokeball has an associated Matter Screen, a dashboard listing a snapshot, recent documents and email, upcoming appointments and tasks, and notes. Each Matter screen displays different information specific to the type of case. Smokeball offers a variety of matter layouts that get added to your account at the time of setup. For example, the snapshot for a real estate matter can list the buyer, seller, and property details. Meanwhile, a criminal DUI matter can list key information such as arresting officer, blood alcohol level, ticket numbers, and prior convinctions. You can drill down from a Matter Screen to whatever you need.

The document assembly templates in Smokeball can generate any type of document — agreements, briefs, court forms, deeds, letters, trusts, etc. The company helps you set up your first 15 templates. During this process, you learn how to create your own so that you can continue to build your library.

In addition to storing all documents it helps you create, Smokeball can store all your firm's other documents too. You can import entire folders or one document at a time. You can also scan directly into Smokeball through its integration with ScanSnap scanners.

Similarly, Smokeball can save email that originated in Outlook. You tag the email thread with the appropriate matter after which these messages and attachments appear in Smokeball along with threads that you began in Smokeball. As with email, Smokeball's calendars and tasks also integrate with Outlook via the add-in. This enables you to enter appointments and tasks just once in either application.

Other features include contact management, full-text search, and document versioning so you can revert to earlier versions.

What Else Should You Know?

Smokeball runs as a Windows desktop application with your data synced to Smokeball's cloud, enabling you to access your account from any PC as well as from your iPhone and iPad via the free iOS app. With Smokeball's cloud serving as your back end, you don't need a server in your office. Smokeball costs $69 per user per month. The cost of setup and training depends on the size of your firm. Learn more about Smokeball.

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.

Lexis Advance Tax: Read Our Exclusive Report

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers a new online tax research service with flat pricing for full access (see article below), a foldable Bluetooth keyboard, a wireless flash drive, and a mobile app for capturing your billable time on the go. Don't miss the next issue.


When conducting tax research, sometimes you want a simple search box while other times you want a helping hand. Most importantly, you want peace of mind that you're searching all the relevant sources you could possibly need. A new online tax research service aims to offer this at a flat, all-inclusive price.

Lexis Advance Tax … in One Sentence

Launched recently, Lexis Advance Tax is an online tax research service for tax lawyers and other tax professionals.

The Killer Feature

Lexis Advance Tax consists of nearly 1,400 sources, including primary law, treatises, and news. Regarding the latter, the service includes exclusive access to tax news and analysis from Tax Analysts. You can create customized email alerts for tax issues of interest to you. For example, you can create an alert for a section of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), a client, etc.

Three daily publications — Tax Notes Today, State Tax Today, and Worldwide Tax Daily — enable you to monitor developments in federal, state and local, and international tax law respectively. Each publication has a corresponding daily email alert that you can elect to receive with headlines and live links to the most notable 6-8 stories.

Other Notable Features

Lexis Advance Tax enables you to search the Lexis Tax Advisor — Federal Code Reporter by IRC section. The text of the code section occupies most of the screen, while a vertical navigation bar on the left provides immediate access to key related content (both primary law and analytical sources). Related content includes proposed, temporary and final Treasury regulations, legislative history back to 1954 (including excerpts from key Congressional committee reports explaining each change), explanations of each subsection and tax-planning tips written by Matthew Bender authors, case annotations, and more.

Among the content highlights, Lexis Advance Tax includes administrative decisions and case law, Lexis Tax Advisor — Federal Topical (a 550-chapter treatise on federal taxation), Shepard's Citations Service, and a forms library with sample documents for use in estate planning, probate, and estate administration. It also includes more than 80 treatises from Matthew Bender and others covering specific areas of tax law such as Rhoades & Langer, U.S. International Tax; Federal Income Taxation of Corporations Filing Consolidated Returns; and Federal Taxation of Inventories. If needed, you can add CCH tax materials and Law360 to your Lexis Advance Tax plan.

When you conduct a search, you can restrict the results to one or more sources or search the entire federal, state and local, or international databases. Designed with the help of a committee of leading tax lawyers and beta tested by a team of 15 tax lawyers, Lexis Advance Tax works in all major desktop and mobile web browsers. Additionally, you can access it through the Lexis Advance iPad app if you prefer. Lexis Advance Tax uses the same login credentials as Lexis Advance, enabling you to seamlessly switch between the two services.

What Else Should You Know?

"Getting tax ramifications right every time is absolutely vital for a tax practitioner's success," LexisNexis Managing Director of North American Research Solutions Sean Fitzpatrick tells us. "Lexis Advance Tax gives them the confidence to deliver advice thanks to its current industry news and vast collection of federal, state, and international authorities in one convenient platform — a combination you can't find anywhere else." Learn more about Lexis Advance Tax.

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.

DocReviewPad: Read Our Exclusive Report

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers an iPad app for reviewing and producing discovery documents (see article below), a virtual private network service, an app for finding someone to make a court appearance on your behalf, and a business intelligence add-on for LexisNexis InterAction. Don't miss the next issue.


Many PDF apps offer Bates stamping but stop there in terms of litigation support. Litigators who want more tools for reviewing and producing documents face the prospect of software that requires a subscription or a charge based on the size of the dataset. An opportunity exists between these two options that a company specializing in iPad apps seeks to address.

DocReviewPad … in One Sentence

Launched earlier this week, Lit Software's DocReviewPad 1.0 is an iPad app for reviewing and producing discovery documents.

The Killer Feature

DocReviewPad costs just $89.99 in the App Store. You need not worry about an ongoing subscription or any in-app purchases. Once you load all the documents you need for a matter, DocReviewPad works offline such as on an airplane or in a location that would otherwise require paying roaming charges.

"We created DocReviewPad because so many lawyers were trying to use TrialPad for document review," Lit Software Founder and CEO Ian O'Flaherty tells us. "It was time for a high quality, purpose-built, mobile document review tool. DocReviewPad puts enormous power in the hands of lawyers and legal professionals, increasing their productivity and saving firms and their clients thousands of dollars."

Other Notable Features

DocReviewPad offers the same overall user experience and interface as Lit Software's TrialPad and TranscriptPad apps to flatten the learning curve. You organize matters in folders that you can color and sort.

You import documents directly from your Mac or PC, cloud services Box, Dropbox, or Citrix ShareFile, a WebDAV file server, or from a Transporter. DocReviewPad supports PDF and TIFF for documents, JPEG and PNG for photos, and TXT for deposition and trial transcripts.

You can apply Bates numbers during the import process or anytime thereafter. The settings for Bates numbers include a prefix, the starting number, a separator, three sizes, three border options, and eight page locations. A live preview enables you to assess your settings before you finalize them.

You can search across an entire matter or limit searches to a specific folder or document. The document review interface resembles email with documents listed on the left side and the selected document to the right. For each document in the list, you can view at a glance the number of pages, whether it's searchable, and the Bates number range. You can sort documents by name, Bates number, review status, or a custom parameter.

DocReviewPad offers various swipe gestures and controls for navigating documents. Review tools include tags (issue codes) and annotations. DocReviewPad includes several common issue codes such as Confidential and Privileged. Additionally, you can create an unlimited number of custom issue codes to suit your needs. Annotations can consist of highlighting and drawing. The Flag tool enables you to add a note to a document.

You use Bates numbers, issue codes, flags, etc. to generate reports and production sets. For example, you can omit all documents marked confidential or privileged. Reports generated for opposing counsel such as a list of deposition exhibits can omit your annotations and tags.

What Else Should You Know?

You can export documents to TrialPad with all of your issue codes intact. The app includes a five-minute Quick Tutorial video that you can play anytime. You can also download a free user guide specifically designed for Apple's iBooks app. Learn more about DocReviewPad 1.0.

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.

Spark: Read Our Exclusive Report

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers an email app for the iPhone with automation features and desktop-class attachment handling (see article below), a cloud practice management application for litigators, a combination battery charger and solid state drive for iPads and iPhones, and a Microsoft Word add-on for repairing documents. Don't miss the next issue.


The smartphone has become an efficient tool for reviewing email when not at your desk. This common activity prevents your inbox from getting out of control. However, Apple Mail on iOS lacks advanced features such as switching among multiple email signatures. Its attachment handling abilities also fall short. A more advanced app would enable you to clear through even more email than currently possible.

Spark … in One Sentence

Launched last month, Readdle's Spark is an email app for the iPhone with a focus on automation and attachment handling.

The Killer Feature

Spark offers desktop-class attachment handling. It can open just about any document you receive. You can search for attachments (and links) using natural language (e.g., Word documents from Joe Smith this year). Spark enables you save frequently-used searches.

Spark supports Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, iCloud Drive, and other cloud services. This means you can save attachments to these services, and also tap into them for emailing one or more documents. You can also attach any locally stored documents and photos. You need not start from the document as is the case with Apple Mail.

Thanks to Readdle's PDF pedigree, you can convert email messages into PDF format. Once converted, you can save these messages in any supported cloud service or send them to a local app such as Adobe Acrobat or Readdle's PDF Expert.

Other Notable Features

Spark's unified inbox works across all your email accounts. It groups related messages into three groups — Personal, Newsletters, and Notifications. Spark uses an algorithm to figure out which messages qualify as notifications. It should alert you to questions from clients for example.

Speaking of notifications, Spark can let you know when a recipient reads your message. You can "pin" important messages that you don't want to forget about. Pinned messages appear in their own section. Similarly, you can "snooze" messages to make them disappear now and reappear later.

Quick Replies enable you to respond to email without having to spend time writing. With one tap, you can send customizable canned responses such as "Thanks" or an emoji. Another timesaver, Spark supports multiple signatures. You swipe through them, and then tap on the signature you want to use.

Spark offers a number of widgets that you can toggle on or off. For example the calendar widget enables you to accept or reject meeting invitations. Another widget lists only attachments. Also on the customization front, you can change the function of swipe gestures much like with mouse buttons on your PC.

What Else Should You Know?

Spark supports Exchange, Gmail, iCloud, Outlook, Yahoo, and IMAP. If you have an Apple Watch, you can install the Spark extension. Once installed, you can reply to email via dictation or Quick Replies. The Spark Glance shows you how many unread messages you have and lists your most recent email message. Spark is free for now. Learn more about Spark.

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.

SWING Porter for Outlook: Read Our Exclusive Report

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers an Outlook add-on that exports messages and attachments into PDF format for document management and other purposes (see article below), a legal research service with a new online publishing tool for showcasing your legal expertise, an e-ink reader with a high-resolution display, and a WiFi security camera. Don't miss the next issue.


Many of email's pain points no longer exist thanks to accounts accessible from multiple devices, push notifications, robust searching, and effective spam filters. However, one pain point remains for lawyers in particular -- getting email messages and attachments out of Outlook and into PDF format for archiving purposes, ediscovery, and sharing with clients.

SWING Porter for Outlook … in One Sentence

Launched recently, SWING Porter for Outlook is an add-on that automates exporting email from Outlook and converting it into PDF format.

The Killer Feature

SWING Porter for Outlook resides on the Outlook Ribbon after installation. If you have many users, you can also perform a network installation of the software. Once installed, you can export one or more messages, folders, etc. In addition to exporting email messages and their attachments to multiple PDF files, you can also export to PDF Binders or PDF Packages.

When you create a PDF Binder, SWING Porter for Outlook converts all the email messages or folders you select into a single PDF file. Inside, a table of contents mimics your organizational structure in Outlook's Navigation Pane. "In this way, you can conveniently create an electronic closing binder with just one click on the SWING Porter for Outlook export button," SWING CEO David Jakelic tells us.

A PDF Package provides an alternative method of saving multiple email messages and attachments in a single PDF file. Each message exists as an attachment within a PDF Package. A built-in navigation pane enables you to browse, search, and sort these messages by date, sender, etc. "Coupled with the ability to import Office and other types of documents, a PDF Package provides an ideal way to save your client matter data all in one place," says Jakelic.

Other Notable Features

Dynamic Conversion Profiles enable you to apply different conversion settings to each PDF export. The default profiles should cover "90% of use cases" according to Jakelic, but you can customize these defaults or create entirely new profiles. Settings include the context in which a profile should appear (e.g., single message selected, folder selected, etc.), the format of the export (multiple PDF files, Binder, or Package), the file naming convention, and the destination for the file.

File names can match whatever system your firm uses thanks to the ability to create a formula from all the data fields available in Outlook. For example, you can use date and time sent or received, the sender and/or recipient's name, the name of the folder in which the message resides, etc.

Instead of manually invoking SWING Porter for Outlook, you can automate exports by setting up a rule on a timed schedule.

What Else Should You Know?

SWING Porter for Outlook starts at $99 per user. Volume discounts exist. For example a 5-user pack costs $420. A license includes all updates for the current version and email support. You can try the software for free. Learn more about SWING Porter for Outlook.

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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