LegalTech NYC 2011 – Law practice gets cloudy

There seemed to be more of a focus on solos and small firms for practice applications at this year’s LegalTech Show 2011 in New York City.  There were a couple of newcomers to the practice application arena (MyCase and MyRealPractice) and LexisNexis also unveiled Firm Manager. All three applications are hosted in the ‘cloud’.

From the research perspective, WestlawNext is expanding the content as they try to convert customers from the old version of Westlaw to this new version.  Lexis is offering a Solo search product.  The New York Law Journal touted expansion of their SmartLitigator – a local legal research and case law tool.

eDiscovery ran rampant again over the majority of the show.  The buzz was that education was required on all levels, attorneys, paralegals, judges, etc.  Another outcropping was emphasis by some vendors on a proactive approach by lawyers and corporate counsel on instituting governance and compliance methods to cut down on indefensible discovery.  If you want to read more about the eDiscovery aspects, visit Sean Doherty’s column in Law Technology News.

Here are some specific highlights from the exhibitors at LegalTech 2011:

Practice management in the Cloud:

MyCase – Some young dudes from San Diego launched a cloud application called “MyCase”.  One of the dudes is a DUI defense lawyer who thought of a better way of keeping his clients informed about what he was doing for their cases.  The concept is to offer solos and very small firms a way to manage their cases through an application that also has some social networking capabilities.  The client can log into MyCase and find out the status of their case and what their lawyer has been doing for them.  They can also have a discussion with their lawyer on line (who wants to see their lawyer’s face anyhow?). MyCase uses the tag line “social practice management”.  You can store cases and matters, contacts, calendars, documents and tasks & to-dos. The time and billing has an ecommerce element so that you can actually have your clients pay their bill online using the interface (now that would be a great selling point for lawyers).  According to MyCase there are no limits to the number of cases, documents or clients.  The charge $39 per lawyer per month and $29 per non-lawyer (secretary/paralegal) per month.  It’s also available on the iPad.  You can visit their site at http://mycaseinc.com.

Lexis Firm Manager – So after seeing MyCase in action, Lexis Firm Manager seemed stiff and less useful to a solo or small law practice.  There was no ecommerce module for the clients to pay their bill.  You have to export your time to MS Excel or Quicken.  No client interface yet (it’s coming according to the rep).  They do have a mobile app for virtually all the leading devices, iPad, iPhone, Droid, etc.  They did have a nice interface to MS Outlook and that was a differentiator.  They have CRM, case and calendar management, and time tracking.  They also have a timer that you can click on when you start talking to you client, to time the conversation.  You just have to remember to click it off.  Lexis Firm Manager goes for $59.00 per user, per month – no contract.  But here’s the kicker, there is absolutely no connection in this product to LexisNexis content. What???

MyRealPractice – These guys have a lighter version of the two products mentioned above.  They are using the “get more clients” angle.  They offer an easy Web site template to front the firm’s practice with a Web site.  When potential clients make an inquiry, the lawyer is notified via mobile text and they are automatically put into the firm’s MyRealPractice database.  The Web sites are designed for $199 and they charge a $49.00 monthly hosting fee.  Their actual practice application seems to be a loss leader for their Web site hosting fee.  They claim the application is free.  In addition to ‘lead management’ they offer matter management, bill tracking and the ability to send invoices and manage and track marketing campaigns.  The application appeared a bit lame to me and not even close to the two described above. http://my.realpractice.com/

TrialPad – An Irishman, who has spent the last fifteen years or so assisting lawyers with automated trial exhibits in the courtroom (here in the states), received the backing of an accounting firm to launch a small, but mighty product.  TrialPad is a courtroom trial exhibit product for the iPad and works completely off of PDFs.  TrialPad can be bought on iTunes along with will all the other iPad and iApps.  It’s meant for smaller trials but does a fine job of showing exhibits to a jury or a judge on a computer monitor that can be marked-up, circled, zoomed and according to Ian (the Irishman) is about 95% of what a trial lawyer would need to persuade a jury.  It’s a one-time fee of $89.00 to download the app.  It’s a very powerful little app.

http://www.trialpad.com/

Legal Research

SmartLitigator – Hand it to the New York Law Journal to offer a Web based legal research tool that incorporates case law (from FastCase), Jury Verdicts through VerdictSearch (only one year is available), statutes, NY and US Code, forms and checklists, judicial profiles and their own analysis ala the New York Law Journal.  Web links are also included to government and court sites. The cost is $795.00 if you are a NYLJ subscriber, $995.00 for non-subscribers.   Visit the site at http://www.smartlitigator.com/jsp/nylitigator/index.jsp?slreturn=1&hbxlogin=1

LexisNexis Advance for Solos – I thought that the interface for Solos was pretty easy to use – probably a predecessor to the new search engine/faceplate that Lexis plans to roll out later this year.  It had the simplicity of WestlawNext.  According to the latest press release – I was right – “…a web-based interface to the New Lexis 1.0 platform, which serves up LexisNexis content in XML markup language over a .NET architecture.” You can take a look at their interface at http://www.lexisnexis.com/newlexis/advance/.

Lexis Search Advantage – Lexis was pushing their search engine that not only rides over their content, but can also ride over the law firm’s content at the same time and combine the results.  It is an enterprise knowledge management tool.  They offered two flavors in the demo – one for litigators, one for corporate counsel. http://www.lexisnexis.com/law-firms/practice-management/large-law/search-advantage.aspx

WestlawNext – Not a whole lot of movement on this product other than dumping more data from Westlaw into WestlawNext to covert customers to the new product.  I was told it was a four-year plan.  They showed me the folder thing again.  I call it the ‘folder thing’, but basically it allows you to store results of WestlawNext searches into folders and share some of those folders to others in the firm.  Not a real wow, but the actual product was the real wow at last year’s show.  I would put Westlaw ahead of Lexis in the arms race right now.

Westlaw Litigator Tools – Question:  What do you get when you slap four different products together from recent acquisitions?  Answer: You get four different products slapped together.  That’s basically what I witnessed with Westlaw Litigator Tools – the most recent acquisition being CaseLogistix, a document review software package acquired from a California ediscovery company. The package also includes Westlaw Drafting Assistant, West Case Notebook (formerly Live Notebook) and West km.  I’m not sure if they are marketing these together with the intention of keeping them separate or if there will be some assimilation to come.

Document Security

Biscom – Biscom is gaining some traction – secure document exchange between lawyers and clients.  Why this concept has taken so long to catch on, I have no idea.  Since most of the work between a lawyer and a client is confidential and privileged it would make sense to secure the exchange.  It’s a nightmare just thinking about both clients and lawyers keeping multiple versions of documents (emailed) on their hard drives or servers.  Since there is a huge emphasis on compliance these days, i.e. Sarbanes-Oxley, eDiscovery, etc., wouldn’t it be wise to secure these docs and keep them in one place?  Some firms are still actually using CDs and DVDs to send documents back and forth. Huh? Biscom offers a sensible, easy and most importantly secure solution to file transfer (documents stored in the secure cloud).  If you’re not using them or someone like them, shame on you. www.biscom.com

DocSolid – On the document exchange front, DocSolid offers an enterprise scanning solution.  They like to use the phrase “scanarchy” to describe how most law firms handle their scanning at the firms.  DocSolid enables any scanner in the firm to scan to an individual’s document folder (on their PC or a firm server) automatically.  It works by placing a postage-size stamp with a bar code on the first page of the scanned document.  I was impressed with the ease of use to employ this technology that can eliminate the nightmare of having to reset each scanner to point to your particular document folder.  www.docsolid.com

That’s a wrap of the highlights from the show.

DG

~ by CDLB on February 10, 2011.

One Response to “LegalTech NYC 2011 – Law practice gets cloudy”

  1. The cloud is picking up steam and the legal community is embracing faster than ever. I believe in the next 2 years cloud technology will out number the in house systems.

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