Tag Archives: Apple

iPad Apps That Every Lawyer Needs (Especially On A Friday)

Friday—it’s full of upsides and downsides. The upside is, the weekend is approaching. The downside is, you may not leave the office in time to enjoy it.

What is it about Friday afternoons that attract last minute requests from clients, colleagues, and, especially, bosses?

Luckily, if you’re an iPad-wielding lawyer, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy your weekend and work from home. Here are some new and improved legal services iPad apps, which–like the last day of the week—yield their own fair share of upsides and downsides.

Lexis Advance HD. FREE

Upside. Add to your defense of Flex scheduling or work from home policies.

Lexis Advance is mobile app available on your iPad that gives law firm professionals the ability to conduct legal research on the go.

Whether it’s in the courtroom, boardroom, or your bedroom, you can search, view, and annotate documents while online or offline. And, you can save files in folders remotely to access alter.

Downside. Now you can’t blame travel, family events, or other out of the office excuses for tardy work product. Research remotely has never been easier (and your boss knows it!).

iTranslate Voice HD. $1.99

Upside. No more miscommunication.

“Can you imagine talking into your phone in one language and immediately hearing yourself in another language?” asks iTranslate Voice HD.

“That’s exactly what iTranslate Voice does. Just speak into your phone and it immediately replies in one of our 36 languages.”

Occasionally technology makes our dreams possible. For Star Trek fans, this is a real-life universal translator. Let’s hope that warp drive, transporters, and commercial space travel is next.

Downside. Without reasons why not, your boss may send you on more trips abroad for client meetings, which means less time at home. And, unlike Enterprise captains, you can’t transport there instantly.

TrialPad for iPad. $49.99-$89.99

Upside. Trial prep in the palm of your hand.

The top iPad app for lawyers in 2012, TrialPad and TranscriptPad are specialized iPad apps that bring productivity to its peak.

Litigants can use these apps to organize trial materials. You can highlight, annotate, redact, and zoom documents and depositions. You can add exhibit stickers to documents, create reports of all your evidence with these exhibit numbers, and process them via Dropbox and other Cloud apps. Edit video clips or take snapshots of surveillance video, then bring them to court.

Meanwhile, organize all these documents with folders with separate case and witness files.

Basically, this is a lawyer’s entire trial prep in one, small, digital box.

Downside. Only for tech-savvy legal professionals.

Fastcase. $65-95/mo

Upside. Easy to use, quick to understand.

Fastcase is another legal research app. It’s competitive advantage is the easy and quick access to the comprehensive national law library via more powerful searching, sorting, and visualization tools.

Its user-friendly design may be way many big name law firms already use it.

Downside. Must subscribe, and it can get pricey.

Readdle. FREE

Upside. Something lawyers love to keep for themselves but hate to give away to clients—this product is free.

One of the newer apps on the market, Readdle is an all-purpose app that lets you read, listen, view, download, annotate almost anything you want on your iPad. Readdle is an all-stop shop for viewing, reading and annotating documents, editing text files, viewing photos, watching movies, listening to music, managing files, sharing files remotely with others, and storing email attachments and other web documents.

Like an all-service firm, this app serves general audiences.

Downside. In a world of specialization, do we really need one more app for these things?

Have a wonderful weekend on your iPad. Whether it’s for work or play, technology certainly has a place in a lawyer’s everyday life.

-WB

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Six Reasons Why You Should Update Your Website

Almost a month after the iPhone 5 was released, customers remain impressed with the numerous upgrades to the phone’s touch screen, light weight, and high speed.

But, even such a well-received product has its flaws.

For example, critics instantly seized the opportunity to censure Apple’s foray in the navigation app market—iMaps. The search function is too complicated, locations flat-out wrong, and typos abound in place names.

Critics have also complained about wifi issues, excessive scratching on the back of certain models, and confusion over Passbook and other Apple apps.

Nevertheless, Apple iPhone 5 demand remains high ands its reception warm. Both tech analysts and the general public have welcomed this new phone with open arms and willing fingers.

Why? There’s no such thing as the perfect product or service. But, with proper updates and maintenance—like Apple iPhones have shown over time—companies (and law firms) can come close.

With this in mind, law firm managers should seriously consider the following six reasons for why it’s important to update your business website.

1. Attract more clients

If your Fall is feeling blue (not green), a change in your website may be just what you need to add some color to the firm’s billable-hour tree.

These days, legal services are found via the world wide web. Your firm’s website—specifically your home page—is akin to a first meeting with a new client. The first impression your site imparts should embody your work style and attitude.

For former or return clients, a stagnant website sends the message that your firm’s practice might be too. Instead, send the message that your firm is modern, up-to-date, and tech savvy.

Before he closes his browser, a client should feel as satisfied and confident with your legal services simply by perusing your website as if he had just been welcomed through the office door.

2. Rise in search engine index rankings

Another reason to ramp up your website is to rise in search engine index rankings.

Basically, when a person types into Goolge, “Best patent lawyer in San Francisco,” Google searches through a giant index for the most relevant webpages.

If you are a patent attorney in or around San Francisco, you want your website among them.

Believe it or not, there’s actually a way to increase your ranking on this mysterious webpage index and a method for achieving better results. It’s called, Search Engine Optimization or SEO. Your website designer is surely aware of this skill.

And, it’s time to improve your Internet visibility. Update your website to include the keywords, phrases, meta-tags, and HTML necessary to get you noticed.

These search engine indexes are constantly changing and reshuffling their content. So, why aren’t you?

3. Keep up with technology

When a professional service, like the field of law, brags about their ability and knowledge of technology today, the easiest way to verify this claim is by vetting their website.

It’s not just about first impressions. Beautiful, functional, and useful websites are also about credibility. In the 21st century, a firm’s ability to deliver high-quality, high-value services depends on its ability to master and apply new technology.

Consistently updating your website implies to clients that your law firm is constantly ready at the helm.

4. Update your business look

Update your business look with a new look on your website.

Did your law firm add a name partner? Did admin take high-res photos of your associates? Would you love to tout the legal expertise of a new hire?

Whether it’s a new logo or a new lawyer, keep your website as up-to-date as your know-how. Firm managers shouldn’t forget they’re running a legal business in addition to changing legislative bills.

5. Increase interaction

Law is an interactive industry. It requires constant communication. That’s why updating your website to include social media—blog links, Twitter, Google +, Facebook, etc.—will help your attorneys keep in touch with their clients.

It will also help your clients feel in touch with you.

You don’t have to publicize your cell phone number to make a client feel like they know who you are and trust your competency. All it takes is a photo of your warm smile on the online directory or a quick “Message from the partners” bannered on the homepage to improve the working relationship you have with both clients and colleagues.

6. Get feedback

Finally, since communication is a two-way street, add an area for comments and feedback.

Corporate clients are full of untapped resources and industry knowledge. Invite all website visitors to share their stories, opinions, and better-business suggestions with your management team.

After all these changes to your website, you may realize that’s not all your firm needs.

-WB

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Why Integrating Legal Technology Will Save Your Firm Time And Money

Although your law firm manager may not be yelling over the internal comm-system, “Time is money, people!” certainly, he or she is thinking it.

So why, exactly, does time equal money?

In purely financial terms, there exists a time value of money. Money earns interest over time. So, the value of money actually changes—for example, if invested, $100, in one year, could turn into $105 future value at 5 percent interest.

In addition, if a finite amount of money is spent to accomplish a certain task, the money is spent in place of a second, possible, alternative task. Would you rather spend $15 per hour for a paralegal to locate a physical document in the law library over 10 hours? Or, would it be more efficient and cost-effective to purchase e-document software at $150 that locates important paperwork in under 5 minutes?

These are all questions with which financial consultants and law firm administrators struggle everyday.

And, in the 21st Century, questions about the time value of money generally surround a tradeoff: investments in technology or in manpower.

The Legal Loudspeaker suggests a few reasons why technology converts time into money in the article excerpted below:

When you’re efficient, you take on less risk – Simply put, the less time you spend on a contingency case, the less risk associated with taking it on. If you lose, you’re not sacrificing as much time or revenue. If you win, you’ll make the same amount of money, but since you spent less time on the case, your margins are higher. And, if you win or lose but don’t get paid, you’re out less money.

When you’re efficient, you can take on more cases – If you can generate a Will twice as fast as your competitor, you can do twice the amount of work, right? When your process for settling civil disputes speeds up, you can twice as many disputes. In essence, the more time savings you experience, the more availability you have to generate revenue, and the more revenue you can generate.

When you’re efficient, you can spend more time on client-facing activities – I get it, just because you have more time in your day doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily have clients running to your door asking for your services. But it does mean that you can do more indirect revenue-generating activities.  Spend your new-found time meeting people, creating stronger relationships with your clients, and building value in your firm. Try to  drive in new opportunities from your current client base (maybe they didn’t know you take on divorces). Did you know that once you have a client, each subsequent sale has a close ratio of over 70%? It’s easy money!”

To read the entire article, go here.

So, are you sold on technology, but unsure where to start? Think about integrating the following products into your business systems:

iPad.

Apps for smartphones and the iPad have contributed some of the most significant improvements in efficiency and productivity within law firms recently. Get with your IT Department to brainstorm how best to implement this tool into your everyday legal activity.

Read about some of the most valuable legal iPad apps here.

Near-Field Communications (NFC) Technology.

From Google Wallet to Starbucks Mobile Payment App, NFC technology has myriad uses in law and billing arrangements.

Make sure your firm is paid on-time by reading about applications for NFC technology here.

Social Media and Blogging.

Social media sites like LinkedIn or legal recruitment web-agenices, including lawcrossing.com, are cheap and easy ways to locate qualified candidates. It saves recruiters time and money by already compiling information about prospective employees.

Even if your firm is not looking to hire, it’s certainly still looking to recruit clients. At which point, social media—blog posts, tweets, or Facebook feeds—become crucial in advertising what services your firm offers, who its lawyers are, and why a client should hire you, as opposed to another firm.

In the time it took you to read this line, I sent a tweet, then 500 people read it. Talk about a brand new, instant value for time in money.

E-Discovery Software.

Today, most law firms already use some sort of electronic discovery software. However, when did your firm last update it?

The capabilities of software and technology change rapidly each day. Thus, if you can’t remember the last time your firm updated its online systems, chances are there exists a more efficient way to organize and file e-discovery documents. 

In sum, time, money, and technology are inextricably linked. So, consider putting together a “technology team” at your law firm—to keep apprised of developments in the field of legal gadgetry—one that will ensure your associates are not falling behind or sinking your bottom line.

-WB

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When The Mind And Mobile Technology Are In Sync (And When To Disconnect)

There’s no doubt that new technology is an asset in boosting the learning curve of young associates and in increasing the survival rates of outdated law firms.

Just this morning, results about the prevalence of smartphones among lawyers were staggering. In biglaw, nearly 100 percent of lawyers use a smartphone for law-related tasks. In general, at least a majority (88 percent) of lawyers use a BlackBerry, iPhone, Android, or Windows phone each day.

And, the number of lawyers hosting a law blog is on the rise. Blogging and the use of social media makes for innovative marketing and business strategies in a tight economic climate.

Computers and mobile technology allow attorneys to keep apprised of legal developments for their clients, as well as passing litigation for legal precedent.

So what happens if you unplug, desync, and disconnect?

That’s what Keith Lee, author of An Associate’s Mind Blog, asked  his readers after an incredibly busy work week.

“It was almost with dread that I opened my RSS Reader on Monday morning. There were 300+ new blog entries, news stories, infographics, etc. waiting for me. There was a sense of obligation about the whole thing,” writes Lee.

Although, according to Lee, “With social media, blogging, etc. many people seem to think that a person needs to remain ‘engaged’ and stay on top of things 24/7 in order to be doing it properly,” Lee suggests just saying, “No.”

Unplug the Blackberry, stop monitoring emails on the iPhone, don’t update Twitter on the Android, and forget downloading the latest legal app on your iPad. Once in awhile, throw caution to the wind and mark as “read” every lingering RSS story and blog post.

Instead, spend more free time and weekends with family and friends, pursuing a hobby, or even (horror!) spend the time to cook a few healthy meals at home. Finally, get some rest and sleep well.

While Lee’s joie-de-vivre post is certainly valuable personal advice, it turns out he’s onto something professionally as well.

For decades, studies have indicated that sleep is essential to the consolidation of memories and learning. When you’re up late at night wondering why you can’t remember that research fact—after all, you just read it on your Facebook feed—it could be that you were spending too much time thinking about this information in the first place.

“People who take a nap after learning a new task, for instance, remember it better than those who don’t snooze,” reports Time Health.

Apparently, the brain is doing its best thinking while people doze off or are (seemingly) idle.

“The brain is trying to weave ideas together even when you don’t think you are thinking of anything,” notes Johns Hopkins behavioral neurologist and memory expert Dr. Barry Gordon to Time Health.

So if our brain is busy learning and needs to shut off for improved data processing, why are we so worried about disconnecting from the electronic world of law?

Give Siri, your virtual personal assistant a break once in awhile. Shut off your smartphone and computer. Believe in the benefits of technology without being a slave to it.

And, finally, never worry that “an idle mind is the Devil’s workshop” while scientists can continually confirm, there’s no such thing as a mind at rest.

-WB

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Meet Siri, Your Virtual Personal Assistant: The Case For Smartphones In Law

It wouldn’t be too surprising to hear the following conversations between a young female associate—overworked and overwhelmed—and her assistant:

“What is the meaning of life?”

“All evidence to date suggests it’s chocolate.”

Or, on especially late nights:

“Why am I here?”

“I don’t know. Frankly, I’ve wondered that myself.”

Except, these conversations occurred between a person and her virtual personal assistant—the iPhone 4S’s new intelligent voice recognition system, Siri.

In reality, Siri is designed to answer questions, such as “how much to make a photocopy at Kinkos?” “What time is my trial today?” or “where’s the nearest law library?” Siri’s groundbreaking technology in voice recognition makes Apple’s iPhone the receptacle of perhaps the most advanced artificial intelligence on the planet.

If there ever was a question about the utility of a smartphone, Siri puts it to rest.

Advances in mobile technology, like Siri, could be the reason why an increased number of law firm professionals are carrying smartphones.

A recent American Bar Association (ABA) survey conducted between January and May of this year discovered that nearly 88 percent of lawyers use a smartphone for law-related tasks while away from their primary workplace. In large firms, those with 100 or more lawyers, 98 percent of lawyers use a smartphone.  

Of the lawyers who reported using a smartphone, 46 percent were BlackBerry users, 35 percent were iPhone users, 17 percent were Android users, and 3 percent ere Windows Mobile users.

Technology is evolving everyday. So, even if you’re already satisfied with your in-house personal assistant, there are still a myriad of other reasons to own a smartphone for use within the practice of law.

Email at your fingertips.

Lawyers are always on call. That means, answering emails on the walk to work, during lunch breaks, and often right before bed.

That’s why it’s unsurprising ABA Legal Technology Resource Center survey participants reported email as the primary use for their smartphone. However, quite surprisingly, 92 percent of lawyers surveyed not only agreed that email was the primary function of their smartphone, but they also placed email in front of standard telephone functions, like making a call, in terms of importance.

It appears that these days, a phone is used less for dialing numbers and more for dealing with client inquiries.  

Legal apps.

Hands-down, the most creative and productive use of a hand-held mobile phone? Legal apps.

For the majority of smartphone users, this means BlackBerry apps, which include:

  1. The Law Pod: The Complete Federal Rules of Procedure (Appellate, Bankruptcy, Civil, Criminal, and Evidence), on your Blackberry.
  2. Family Law Reports: Allows professionals within the legal industry to access the Family Law series of Reports.
  3. Patent Reference: An On-The-Go “Patent” learning and reference App with interactive tutorial and search topics, including:  Intellectual Property, Copyright, Trademark, Patents, Patent Documentation, and the Patent Process.

Even those smartphones without Siri should be able to access the following iPhone apps:

  1. BizExpense: Legal expense reports made easy. Document your expenses via images, e-mail, currency conversion, and password protection. 
  2. DocScanner: Scan documents on the go. Take a photo of any document with your iPhone camera and this app automatically converts it to a PDF document. 
  3. Black’s Law Dictionary: One of the most comprehensive legal dictionaries at your fingertips.     

Calendars.

Punctuality is a necessity in the field of law. And, with so many court cases and client meetings to attend, lawyers will find the calendar feature of smartphones an indispensable addition to their pocket.

This year, 80 percent of ABA survey respondents listed Calendars as one of the primary uses for their smartphone, a significant increase from 73 percent in 2010. With the plethora of reminder alarms and calendar-contact coordinated options, there are no more excuses for missing an associate’s birthday or that big partner announcement (not that you would…).

Games.

Finally, while attending case-matter meetings, use your smartphone to check email, record conversations on a microphone app, and look up important trial dates to contribute productively.

But, while stuck on a interminably boring conference call in your office, take back that unrecoverable hour by playing a level or two of Angry Birds, Chess, or Sudoku. Games create the final, unspoken value-add to the even the most accomplished lawyer’s smartphone.

-WB

 

For more smartphone application ideas, read “New Whistleblowing Rules And The iPad Apps To Manage Them,” and “Lawyer App Of The Day: Smartphones, Cowboys, And Fee Payment Options.

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Commemorating Steve Jobs: Learning How To Live Fully, Work Passionately, And Hire Diversely From Apple

Even in this legal blog, Steve Jobs and his business strategies for Apple have made a profound impact (read here, here, and here). It is not surprising to find that after his death, the nation, the world, are both shocked and deeply saddened.

Thousands of commemorative articles have been written about his passing. On the White House blog, President Obama wrote,

“The world has lost a visionary. And there may be no greater tribute to Steve’s success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented.”

A particular speech by Jobs—the 2005 Stanford commencement address—has been circulating the Internet. In it, Jobs references his own death and mortality. Especially poignant considering recent events.   However, his comments on life and living from the same speech deserve equal attention.

For example, one of the stories Jobs tells is about dropping out of college. After officially unenrolling from school, Jobs began auditing only those classes that interested him. One such class—on typography and calligraphy—seemed irrelevant at the time, albeit fascinating, to all of his professional goals. Still, he pursued it.

It turns out, quite the contrary was true. Jobs mentions how this understanding of typography greatly influenced the aesthetics of Apple products when founding the company. Today, one of Apple’s undeniable legacies is the prolific use and popularity of sans-serif fonts.

In the commencement speech, telling these stories, Jobs hoped to inspire graduating students to develop those secondary and tertiary passions.

“Don’t be trapped by dogma—which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition,” said Jobs.

Other than a heart-felt reminder of the lessons Steve Jobs has offered young minds over the years, his speech has practical applications to legal minds today.

Creativity is directly linked to successful leadership and productivity. And, even though law may be your field of professional practice, it does not mean your individual knowledge of hard sciences, history, or sports will not come in handy one day.

In fact, during the hiring process, those qualified applicants who spent four years eating, drinking, and breathing law, and law only, may not be the best choices for your firm.

Here’s why. When you take on an important patent-dispute case, you’ll need the expertise of that first-year who graduated with a degree in Engineering before becoming a member of the bar.

When your next client is involved in an invasive tax audit, you’ll rely on the knowledge of the ex-Art History major when reviewing the auditors notes on family-heirloom paintings.

Finally, when there’s a second oil spill near Alaska or in the Gulf, it’ll be the paralegal who spent a summer as a Derrickhand that will become an indispensable source of information for the case.

Steve Jobs—whose company is (ironically) iconically known for its clean, white palette—was making an important point about people with colorful backgrounds. Professionally, diversified interests are valuable assets. Personally, multiple passions help a person know and love life fully.

As an attorney, strive to achieve both. As a law firm administrator or hiring partner, seek more colorful lawyers.

And, the greatest tribute that can be paid to Steve Jobs today is exactly the above: learning from his extensive knowledge and expertise.

-WB

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What If Apple Operated Like A Law Firm?

We’ve already discussed what it would be like if Apple owned your law firm. (Though people remain unconvinced that allowing non-attorneys to own stakes in law firms is a good idea).

But, what about the reverse—what if Apple was run like a law firm?

This question was answered by J. Benjamin Stevens in his article, “The Legal Mac: What if Apple Stores Billed by the Hour?” Stevens described his recent experience at a Mac Store where he bought a screen protector for his iPhone. In under 10 minutes, he had received advice and service from three Apple employees.

The first asked him if he needed help, and pointed him in the direction of the needed product. The second suggested he seek help before installing his screen protector and led him to the third employee. The third employee installed the screen protector flawlessly, and sent Stevens back on his way.

Stevens postulates what their timesheets would look like in this scenario:

  • Anil would write, “Conference with client in regards to optimal protection for said client’s iPhone 3G screen, to wit: a screen protector. Referral to Angelina for point-of-sale transaction … 0.1 hours.”
  • Angelina: “Conference with client in regards to point-of-sale transaction for one (1) screen protector for said client’s iPhone 3G (three G). Discussion in regards to additional products needed for purchase. Referral to Pam for screen-protector installation … 0.1 hours.”
  • And Pam: “Conference with client in regards to installation of iPhone screen protector. Cleaning and maintenance of said client’s said iPhone screen. Further conference with client in regards to having a nice evening … 0.1 hours.”

However, despite what Stevens considers to be three separate, helpful customer service moments, Apple earned only $14.95 in sales revenue from this interaction. And, even though Stevens spent only 6 minutes total in the store, each Apple employee would record on their timesheets 0.1 hours—three times the actual amount spent accommodating the client.

Of course, law firms have varying systems in place for double (and triple) billing by multiple lawyers, Stevens points out. The majority of firms would cut these duplicative hours before invoicing the client.

But associates are still encouraged to boost their billable hours and decrease nonbillable time.

“So if the Apple Store were run like a law firm, Anil and Pam would have been discouraged from such “nonbillable” work as helping me choose or affix an inexpensive screen protector, in favor of “billable” work like selling a new Mac Pro. If the Apple Store employees focused on selling billable hours, they wouldn’t be wasting time helping customers with little things like this,” Steven laments.

“But then again, if that had been the case, maybe I wouldn’t have returned to an Apple Store a few weeks later to buy the $2,500 MacBook Air that I wrote this article on.”

Stevens did, in fact, purchase a new Macbook computer a few weeks later. It turns out that superior customer service—essentially nonbillable time—compelled a client to seek future business, and become a loyal customer.

Stevens concludes, “In law firms where lawyers are measured by the hours they bill, they are effectively punished for nonbillable time spent helping clients. Which is why people love going to the Apple Store, and hate dealing with lawyers.”

Next time, as an administrator, you’re questioning the timesheets of associates, ask yourself what kind of experience you’re selling to the client—the Apple one, or the traditional law firm one. If you’d prefer your firm run like Apple, educated your associates on good customer service, and encourage a small amount of unbillable time to serve a greater purpose and profit.

-WB

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