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
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MetaJure ILLUMINATE Seeks to Become Your Document Management System's BFF

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers knowledge management software designed to supplement your document management system (see article below), a Microsoft Word add-in with tools for drafting and proofreading contracts, a rear camera system with an accompanying smartphone app for older cars, and an iPhone app to help you achieve goals. Don't miss the next issue.

In theory, a document management system should contain all the content in your law firm, including email. In practice, this goal remains elusive. Accordingly, your firm would benefit from a tool that can find documents outside of your document management system.

MetaJure ILLUMINATE … in One Sentence

Launched this month, MetaJure ILLUMINATE is knowledge management software designed to supplement a document management system.

The Killer Feature

"In most firms, more than 50% of their knowledge is stuck in email and file shares that never make it into the document management system," MetaJure President & CEO Rob Arnold told me. Arnold and his team refer to this content as "dark data" because lawyers and staff often have trouble finding it or forget it exists.

ILLUMINATE connects to the repositories of dark data such as the firm's Exchange server and your assistant's hard drive. It also connects to popular document management systems such as iManage and Worldox. Connecting these data sources doesn't require any changes to your firm's infrastructure according to Arnold. Built-in OCR technology makes scanned documents searchable.

Once up and running, ILLUMINATE enables you to search all of your firm's accumulated knowledge from one screen. "With ILLUMINATE, firms can finish the job their document management system started and unify 100% of their knowledge into a single system that's as easy to use as Google," adds Arnold. "Firms can cost-effectively unlock email and legacy repositories, discovery files, and other sources of structured or unstructured data. That's their competitive advantage."

Other Notable Features

As Arnold notes, ILLUMINATE offers a Google-like search box that you access in a web browser. ILLUMINATE supports Boolean operators, wildcards, fuzzy searches, and proximity searches. However, most customers use natural language searches because of ILLUMINATE's algorithm and relevancy ranking. This technology removes duplicates from search results, and understands both context and content. For example, if you represent the Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) and search for "path agreement," ILLUMINATE ignores generic uses of the word "path."

Along the left side, three filters enable you to narrow your searches by source, file type, and date. Search results display the document path for quick access to any folder. The built-in document viewer supports many file types and highlights your search terms. From the document viewer, you can open a document in its native application. If necessary for discovery or other purposes, you can export all the documents listed in the search results with one click.

The Sharing Center in ILLUMINATE enables users to share documents and email with individuals or groups. A dashboard displays the percentage of sharing taking place. Regarding security and privacy, ILLUMINATE honors any restrictions already in place. Additionally, you can create rules that limit users to specified data sources and create ethical walls when necessary.

What Else Should You Know?

You can deploy ILLUMINATE in your firm on your own server or on the private MetaJure cloud. MetaJure recently partnered with LexisNexis for its hosting service. Pricing for ILLUMINATE starts at $2,500 per year. Learn more about MetaJure ILLUMINATE.

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.

Firm Manager 2.0 Broadens Its Appeal With Features Requested by Larger Small Firms

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers cloud practice management software with process automation tools that comes in two versions (see article below), a privacy tool for deleting your Google footprint, a note-taking app for Android and iOS, and a desktop scanner that offers more than double the speed of the ScanSnap iX500. Don't miss the next issue.

Process automation — streamlining routine tasks with the help of technology — has caught the attention of law firms. Who wouldn't want improved productivity, a better work product, more satisfied clients, and higher employee morale? The logical location for process automation is your practice management software.

Firm Manager … in One Sentence

Launched this week, LexisNexis' Firm Manager 2.0 is cloud practice management software with process automation technologies among other new features and key integrations.

The Killer Feature

Firm Manager's new customizable templates help get new cases off the ground and keep them on track. Matter Intake Templates contain practice-area specific fields for information you need to perform work. You can add custom fields and even create your own templates. Checklist Templates are designed to prevent errors and reduce time spent providing oversight. Each checklist template consists of a group of related tasks for one of your firm's workflows.

When you assign tasks, you can track their status in the Matter Status sidebar. The progress bar turns red when a task is overdue so you can quickly spot problems. If you assign a budget to a matter, a similar status bar displays how much of the budget remains as you and your team work on the matter.

Other Notable Features

The Home dashboard in Firm Manager keeps you apprised of your events and tasks, which you can sync with Google Calendar and Office 365. The dashboard can also list other information depending on your role such as recent activities from across your firm. With the new role-based permissions, you assign one of three roles to each user in your firm, two of which limit access. For example, you can prevent lawyers and staff from changing billing rates or viewing firm revenue.

Speaking of revenue, Firm Manager has beefed up its financial tools. Most notably, Firm Manager integrates with both the desktop version of QuickBooks and QuickBooks Online. Creating an invoice in Firm Manager automatically creates the same invoice in QuickBooks.

Also new, batch invoicing enables you to create a workflow that comports with your firm's controls for processing and reviewing time entries. You can write off time, apply discounts to invoices, pay invoices from one or more trust accounts, and customize the design of invoices.

Firm Manager also offers financial reporting, including aging, billing and payment history, trust account summary, and productivity summary. The Money Finder feature lists all unbilled activities so that nothing falls through the cracks.

What Else Should You Know?

Firm Manager comes in two versions — Starter ($29 per user per month) and Essentials ($44 per user per month). The latter includes intake and checklist templates, role-based permissions, QuickBooks integration, and reporting. "Solo and small firm attorneys can now choose the Firm Manager software package that squarely fits their business needs based on their firm's size and complexity," Director of Product Management Wes Gillette told me. "Whether a solo is looking to get more control over the practice as a whole, or a larger firm wants to chart productivity and grow its business, these new package options provide a tailored range of features and benefits." Learn more about Firm Manager 2.0.

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.

Amicus Cloud Adds a Client Portal to Deepen Client Loyalty and Exceed Expectations

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers a cloud practice management system with a new client portal (see article below), PDF software with legal features, an iOS calendar and task management app, and a cloud storage service with an iPhone scanner. Don't miss the next issue.

Clients want good outcomes for their matters, but that's no longer enough. They also want to access their file and communicate with you when convenient for them. This level of attention requires a client portal but not just any portal. Your client portal should work with your existing software, and offer deep functionality that you and your clients won't outgrow.

Amicus Cloud … in One Sentence

Amicus Cloud is a practice management system that now includes a secure, customizable client portal.

The Killer Feature

After you enable the client portal in Amicus Cloud, you can link to it from your website. To create a seamless experience for your clients, the client portal features your firm's name and logo. Even the login and password reset pages contain your firm's branding. Like the rest of Amicus Cloud, the client portal works in all desktop and mobile web browsers.

After the initial setup, you can invite clients to create an account. You can share just about anything in Amicus Cloud — documents, calendar events, notes, tasks, etc. Amicus Cloud displays a different icon for shared items so that you know their status at a glance. You can view all shared items in a list in the new Portal tab.

In addition to sharing information, you can also collaborate and communicate with clients. For example, you and your clients can exchange notes. You can also assign tasks and create custom records for clients to fill out. A dashboard and email notifications keep you and your clients apprised of these communications and other activity. Also, Amicus Cloud contains a client portal audit trail, and can send you a daily email message showing all client portal activity.

"Clients today have different expectations," Abacus Data Systems' Vice President, Software Engineering Chris Cardinal told me. "They want the ability to send you documents, review documents you've drafted, and receive updates. They also want secure electronic communications. With the new Client Portal, you can give all of this to them. Not only will this profoundly impact the way law firms operate, but also clients will feel more connected and in control of their legal work."

Other Notable Features

According to Cardinal, Amicus Cloud sets itself apart from other cloud practice management applications through its desktop-like features. For example, cloud applications typically limit you to one screen at a time. By contrast, Amicus Cloud's multitasking technology enables you to open and resize multiple windows all within the same browser tab. You can minimize tabs along the bottom of Amicus Cloud for fast recall.

Another example — Amicus Cloud's Precedent Workflows combine document assembly with project management. This enables you to automate any process in your law firm, including generating Word documents with client information and stored clauses.

What Else Should You Know?

Amicus Cloud uses integrations to extend its abilities. Key among these is Microsoft Exchange, Office 365, and Dropbox as they enable you to store all client-related email and documents in Amicus Cloud without changing any of your current habits. Amicus Cloud costs $49.95 per user per month ($45 if you're on an annual contract). Learn more about Amicus 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.

Exterro Project Management for Law Firms Standardizes Your Firm's Processes for Optimal Client Service

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers cloud project management software designed for law firms (see article below), a document management tool for Office 365 users, a document management tool for Google Apps for Work users, and an ad blocker for iOS. Don't miss the next issue.

Every law firm has mission-critical processes but most law firms don't document them let alone manage them through software. This dramatically increases training costs for new employees, and inhibits the productivity of your most seasoned veterans. Even in a small firm, it's impossible to personally supervise every employee every minute of the day. The answer to this problem lies in project management software but most products on the market don't cater to the unique needs of law firms.

Exterro Project Management for Law Firms … in One Sentence

Launched recently, Exterro Project Management for Law Firms is project management software designed specifically for managing law firm projects and their corresponding workflows.

The Killer Feature

The folks at Exterro like to talk about "user defined process orchestration." Translation — Exterro Project Management for Law Firms centralizes your firm's processes and accompanying documentation. Here's how it works. You begin by creating a Workflow or tweaking one of the many templates that Exterro includes. A Workflow consists of connected "Activities." Each activity can contain checklists, tasks, and/or instructions. A Project such as matter intake, appellate brief, litigation hold, document production, estate planning package, real estate closing, etc. can consist of one or more workflows.

You begin a new project from within the software or by sending an email message. This initiates the corresponding workflows. Activities are automatically assigned to the appropriate person based on the workflow, but you can modify them as needed. Completing an activity triggers the next activity in the workflow. In addition to assigning activities to employees, you can also assign them to clients or third party service providers.

You can adjust projects and their workflows on the fly. This can entail removing activities you don't need, adding one-off activities, changing the order of activities, reconfiguring dependencies, and noting an Issue (a problem blocking an activity). Most importantly, you can "Push" an activity to accelerate a project (e.g., review a custodian's documents for an upcoming deposition).

"Exterro has a long history of enabling legal teams to apply the discipline of process optimization and project management to work smarter," Exterro Chief Marketing Officer Bill Piwonk told me. "Exterro Project Management for Law Firms continues this legacy, as we've architected it specifically to enable law firms of any size to easily tailor tasks, activities, and workflows to match their unique ways of managing projects across their firm."

Other Notable Features

The main dashboard lists all existing projects to which you have access and their status. You can toggle between a card view and list view. The card view lists the status in percentage terms with a visual progress bar. Projects tagged as a "Favorite" appear above all the other projects for fast access.

Another dashboard exists for viewing all tasks assigned to you across multiple projects and activities. You can add your own ad hoc tasks here and thus use Exterro Project Management for Law Firms to manage all your tasks in one place.

Three key reports — Project Tracker, Resource Utilization, and Project Analytics — keep your projects on track. Project Tracker displays the progress of each project by client or across all clients. Resource Utilization offers charts to assess how your team is being deployed across all projects and how well each person is performing. Project Analytics enables you to zero in on overdue and blocked projects.

What Else Should You Know?

Exterro Project Management for Law Firms is priced on a per subscriber basis. It runs in all web browsers. Learn more about Exterro Project Management for Law Firms.

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.

TimesManager Legal Adjusts to Your Law Firm's Billing Practices Rather Than Try to Change Them

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers cloud time billing software with mobile smarts that integrates with QuickBooks and ebilling systems (see article below), software that enables you to scan to Dropbox and other cloud services, a free project management app for Office 365 users, and wireless noise-canceling headphones. Don't miss the next issue.

The less time spent capturing your billable time and expenses, the more time you can spend practicing law. That's the theory behind legal billing software, but it's really just table stakes. Your billing software must also accommodate the many fee arrangements lawyers negotiate with clients and one other, integrate with accounting systems, and support ebilling standards such as LEDES.

TimesManager Legal … in One Sentence

Launched earlier this year, JDi Data's TimesManager Legal is a cloud billing application with Android and iPhone apps.

The Killer Feature

Billable time and expenses that occur out of the office risk being forgotten if not captured immediately. The Android and iPhone TimesManager apps enable you to create a time slip with a few taps. The Android app can even interview you to ensure you haven't overlooked anything. When you create an expense, you can use your smartphone's camera to scan the receipt, store a linked copy in PDF format, and attach it to an invoice. You can search all client records and documents in the mobile app.

Other Notable Features

JDi Data has long served the insurance and legal markets with its ClaimsManager and PolicyAdministrator products. Because an increasing number of lawyers used ClaimsManager, JDi created TimesManager to serve a larger portion of the legal market. "Like many of the products we have created over the past 20 years, TimesManager was developed in response to customer needs," Founder and Chairman James DeRosa told me. "It was specifically designed to reduce recording inaccuracies and increase the productivity of legal professionals."

Setting up TimesManager involves entering or importing your existing clients and matters, timekeepers (including their access rights), and preferred billing arrangements. TimesManager accommodates the many fee arrangements law firms use nowadays. You can assign rates for timekeepers and matters, use activity and blended rates, implement ABA, LEDES, and UTBMS as well as your own custom billing codes, etc. If you don't specify a rate for a matter, you can add the rate during the first time entry.

When you're in the office, a customizable dashboard provides you with key performance indicators. TimesManager can start a timer automatically when you start work thanks to macros that integrate with Microsoft Office. You can backfill any missed time as well as override a timer if necessary. The Outlook add-in enables you to convert an email message into a time entry. As with expenses, TimesManager stores a copy of the email message in PDF format and links it to the time slip for future reference.

TimesManager supports common billing workflows. You can route pending fees and expenses electronically to those in your firm who need to approve them or print reports for review on paper. Billing partners can reject line items, apply write-offs, and split bills using dollars or a percentage with Times Manager handling the math.

TimesManager integrates with ebilling systems such as Legal Tracker (formerly Serengeti) and TyMetrix. You can alternatively email and print invoices. TimesManager integrates with QuickBooks (Windows), Tabs3, and other popular accounting systems.

What Else Should You Know?

Other features include Google-like global search, document management with built-in optical character recognition (OCR), speech recognition for data entry, customer relationship management (CRM), calendars, trust accounting, and task management. TimesManager Legal costs $29 per user per month, including unlimited telephone and email support. JDi Data offers optional back office bookkeeping and other services through its Shared Services program. Learn more about TimesManager.

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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