Portable Productivity: Lawyers on Integrating Tech Into Practice
“What is one implementation of tech into your firm or practice that has changed everything for the better?”
The responses were overwhelming!
We curated those responses into this blog post to make them accessible to everyone, hoping it will serve as a valuable resource to enhance lawyers’ practices by making them more nimble, advanced, and adaptive to a quickly changing technological world.
We broke the excellent responses and suggestions into two categories: “Hardware” and “Software and Apps.” Thanks to all the lawyers who contributed to this thread. Where possible, we attributed each of you with your responses.
You may never use paper again…
Many lawyers praised the iPad Pro as a source of portable productivity. Paul-Erik Veel said that even when a trial is not paperless (which is often), the iPad allows him to find things faster, and carry around a lot less than he otherwise would. Michael Lacy uses the Microsoft Surface for this purpose, as does David Quayat. Jennifer Hunter uses a second screen for her laptop that is a touch screen, which “finally let me go all the way paperless for discoveries, whether examining or defending.”
Also in the interest of going paperless, Saba Ahmad uses her iPhone camera to take photos of IDs, cheques, and cash receipts, as well as short documents, like handwritten endorsements from the court. She then drags the images to the relevant file, which saves her time from scanning paper documents. Tom Curry added the BlackBerry KeyONE to the list of phones to use for these purposes, praising its battery life.
In her practice, Jennifer Reynolds uses ScanSnap, acuity insurance, Clio payments for credit cards, and zapier to link everything together. Pamela Munn, Gib van Ert, and Heather Vaughan are also fans of ScanSnap. For Oscar Strawczynski, putting a ScanSnap on his desk made it easier to scan all things directly to cloud storage. An added bonus, he says, is to “OCR everything” – that is, to use the optical character recognition feature, which “reads” the printed text on scanned documents to either create searchable PDFs, or convert scanned documents into editable Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint files. Along the same lines, Sean suggested that Dropbox had a very good phone scanner in its mobile app.
To work remotely, Jane Scholes uses VPN. She says: “Being able to remote-in and use your work computer as if you were at your office desk, no matter where you are (as long as you have an internet connection) has gone from ‘amazing!’ to ‘vital; couldn’t live without it.’”
And for those long days at the office, David Shulman recommends a good Bluetooth headset, such as the Plantronics Voyager 5200, which he says is great to free up your hands and reduce head and neck strain.
Finally, in his day-to-day, Edward Prutschi uses a point-of-sale terminal, noting that “adding credit and debit cards to my practice reduced bad receivables substantially, nearly overnight.” The Criminal Lawyers’ Association point-of-sale deal was heralded as one of the best.
Frances Mahon loves the Clio mobile app in particular. But we musn’t forget the other options. Harrison Jordan suggests ULAW for practice management. Lorna Yates suggests CosmoLex, which she describes as a “fantastic practice management and accounting software.” Ryan Breedon agreed with Lorna, adding that it has “full accounting functionality built in which eliminates the need to also use Quickbooks or another accounting program.”
Jennifer Reynolds suggested using Vonage for business cell phones, which integrates with Clio to create a docket for every call received, and every call made. Erin Durant uses InTapp’s mobile docketing app for this purpose.
Many lawyers use iPhone dictation (Siri) to make quick notes while on the move. When she gets into the office, Stephanie DiGuiseppe emails the notes to herself and copies and pastes them directly into the matter she is working on. David Sterns added DragonDictate for voice dictation on a desktop, suggesting that its most recent versions were an improvement upon old ones. Jordan Lester agreed, stating that it had been a “game changer for productivity.” Sean uses iPhone voice memos to record instructions from clients, after getting their consent. In his words, “A lot of nuances on instructions are lost on paper. Save VM to file. Done.”
For litigation document management, Heather Vaughan uses Primafact. Cheryl Siran suggests the Worldox document management system. Paul J.I. Alexander suggested the use of Microsoft OneNote. All of his notetaking and file management happens there, and it’s also where he maps out his facta and oral arguments. On hearing day, Paul shows up to court with his submissions in OneNote and the transcript, facta, and authorities in Acrobat.
Michael Lacy also uses OneNote, for recording court proceedings, time stamping notes, and allowing management of disclosure, exhibits, and witness testimony. He uses PowerPoint for cross-examination to broadcast prior statement in its original form (video or audio). Michael also uses Wondershare and Adobe Pro.
Kevin Wiener uses Acrobat Pro to put all his court materials together. At less than $20 per month, this allows him to run a largely paperless practice. Kevin also digitally signs his letters. Gregory Pang suggested HelloSign as a good e-signature service.
For document management on iPads, Phil Brown suggested LitSoftware, which has iPad apps called TrialPad and TranscriptPad, all designed for paperless trials and courtroom presentations. Sean and Sana Halwani suggested the app iAnnotate. While not as specialized as other litigation apps, it’s inexpensive and powerful. iAnnotate also has many integration options with popular apps such as Dropbox, EverNote, Google Drive, and Box.
Finally, for email management, Oscar Strawczynski uses SimplyFile with Outlook, while Andrea Girones uses Mail Manager. Stephanie DiGuiseppe loves the maildrop feature from Clio to save emails to a matter. When opening a matter, she creates a contact in Outlook for the client’s maildrop address and then she can forward important emails directly to the matter.