THE AMERICAN LAW INSTITUTE Continuing Legal Education. Cool Technology for Today's Lawyers

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1 1 THE AMERICAN LAW INSTITUTE Continuing Legal Education Cool Technology for Today's Lawyers Cosponsored with the ABA Law Practice Management Section August 28, 2013 Telephone Seminar/Audio Webcast Cloud Computing for Today s Lawyer By Nerino J. Petro State Bar of Wisconsin Madison, Wisconsin 2013 by Nerino J. Petro. All rights reserved.

2 2 Cloud Computing for Today s Lawyer Nerino Petro Practice Management Advisor State Bar of Wisconsin Law Office Management Assistance Program 3

3 3 1. Intro Use the phrase "cloud computing" in a group and you will get as many definitions as there are people in the room. Some ascribe cloud computing to delivering Software as a Service ("SaaS") wherein all users of that service or product access the same tools sharing a common interface and providing little or no customization capabilities. One example of this would be any of the free services such as Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo! Mail. Why you can generally change the appearance of move columns around every user shares very much the same interface with little ability to provide a significant customization to the service. Others describe cloud computing as any service or product outside your firewall delivered across the Internet including traditional off-site or remote hosting of applications and data. An example of hosted services would be buying copy of exchange server but rather than installing it on a server in your office, you have a company in the Internet install it on one of their servers. You have full control over the features and settings in the product and share it with no one other than those in your office. Luckily, for the purposes of this paper and session, we do not need to make this determination: the ultimate goal should be finding products or services that work for you. Ideally, these products or services will allow you to access your tools and data anywhere you have an Internet connection. Solos and law firms are using these tools to connect all of their users and staff whether located in a single office or geographically dispersed locations. For our purposes, probably the biggest difference between true SaaS products and services vs. Hosted products and services is whether it involves a desktop tool that allows you to work off-line without an Internet connection. Chad Burton, one of the authors and presenters for this session, provides a mind map below (Image 1) detailing the relationship between the various cloud based tools and services used to run his office. 4

4 4 Image 1 Burton Law Technology Structure for Attorneys and Virtual Assistants Bryan Sims also provides a mind map below (Image 2) detailing the relationship between the various cloud based tools and services used to run his office. Image 2 Sims Law Office Technology Structure 5

5 5 2. Practice Mangement Practice management tools are a terrific tool for any size legal practice. However, up until about five years ago, lawyers could only chose traditional practice management software. These were great products, but this industry had undergone significant change when West and LexisNexis purchased major players in this market space. While this had the benefit of giving these products more money for research and new features, the legal world also experienced significant price increases. Much of the practice management software available five years ago grew so complex that firms attempting deployment without the help of a consultant often ran the risk of having their investment fail. This changed a few years ago with the introduction of the first cloud-based practice management products. Today, cloud-based practice management tools are available from a number of different vendors providing different levels of content and flexibility. In the solo and small firm environment, two of the more popular products are Clio (www.goclio.com ) and RocketMatter (www.rocketmatter.com ). However, these two services no longer have the cloud-based practice management arena to themselves: new competitors have entered the market space in the last 12 to 24 months and cloud-based practice management solutions are available for offices as small as a solo attorney with no staff to firms numbering 50 or more attorneys and staff. At a minimum, solid practice management tools need to provide you with the ability to keep contacts, calendars and to-do lists as well as cases/matters, track time, add notes, ideally link to documents all while keeping all of these items associated to the relevant client and matter. Here is a list of many of the cloud-based solution providers whose products include most, if not all, of the basic requirements. As a note, this list is extensive, but by no means exhaustive and failing to note any provider or service is not intentional. A. Cloud Based Products: i. Clio (www.goclio.com ). Clio is a cloud-based practice management product which provides the ability to maintain contacts, matters, calendars and to-do items, time and billing as well as the ability to store unlimited documents online using Clio's integrated service as well as sharing these documents with clients through Clio Connect. Clio integrates with popular programs as well as allowing synchronization with Outlook and off-line access to calendars contacts and tasks. Clio also integrates with Google apps. Price per month is $49 per attorney and $25 per staff member. ii. ActioStep (www.actionstep.com) ActionStep comes to the to the US from the land downunder after successfully helping lawyers in Mew Zealand and Australia for many years. ActionStep is different in that it offers integrated accounting as well as integration with Xero online accounting. ActionStep includes matter management, document 6

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