Technology in Law Practice


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This is a sample of the slides from one of the classes in Tech in Law Practice for the Digital Lawyering Program at the University of Dayton School of Law. I teach these classes online for the students and we also engage in different assignments through a virtual law firm simulation. The students have access to a number of cloud-based practice management systems to get hands-on experience. I'm using the frameworks in Marc Lauritsen's book, Lawyer's Guide to Working Smarter with Knowledge Tools and Richard Susskind's End of Lawyers? as well as materials from my own books and other podcasts and videos from experts.

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Technology in Law Practice

  1. 1. Technology in Law Practice(Sample Slides from Digital Lawyering Program for the University ofDayton School of Law)presented byStephanie Kimbro, M.A., J.D.Fall, September 12, 2012
  2. 2. Overview Case Management Client Communication Time Management Billing & Collections Alternative Fee Arrangements
  3. 3. Basics of Technology Selection No single product will contain every PM feature. Usability, UI counts for a lot. Look for ability to synchronize between systems to acquire all of the needed features. Keywords and phrases will differ across the legal tech industry.  Ex. A “client portal” may allow clients to pay invoices online but may not provide online delivery mechanisms.
  4. 4. Note We are focusing on cloud-based technology in this program. Why?  There are still traditional install software programs available to handle these practice management tasks.  However, many of these vendors are now scrambling to add cloud-based versions of their solutions to appeal to lawyer’s increased use of mobile devices and desire for the cost benefits of cloud computing.  It’s difficult to take a system designed for one method of storing and transferring data and switch it to another with a different UI. Often it results in a clunky product and may not play well with other cloud-based systems (refer to our data format discussion)
  5. 5. Basics of Doc Management Tech These systems replace the functions that used to be handled by word processing systems. (ex. Saving files from MS Word to folders on your hard drive.) Benefit of previous management system was that you didn’t have to make much effort to pull the document out of something or make sure to save it somewhere else…it was part of the work product system. With new systems: a database record “profile” is associated with each doc with the file name, author, type and other info. Not limited to word processing docs, but other file formats and applications like spreadsheets, doc assemblers, images, presentations, etc.
  6. 6. Basic Functionality Versions of the file may be tracked and retrieved and opened in the appropriate system. Access restrictions to control users and whether they can read, edit, and delete. Different security or sharing options: public, private or semi-private with different permissions to change the defaults Preview or download the file without opening Tracking of access and time spent viewing Naming and directory storage handled by the system but may be edited Search capabilities, field-based for dates, etc.
  7. 7. Case Management Document Management System  For storage, organizing, sharing Non-legal options:  Dropbox  Spideroak  Box  Evernote  Google Apps Features  Encrypted files  Sharing within a firm, with clients, others  Sync well with other cloud-based products  Different versions “pro”/pricing levels
  8. 8. Dropbox Pros and Cons Pros  Install apps on all your devices. Easy to drop files in from each device. Syncs.  Other third-party app development, such as with other legal SaaS products  Easy to send email link to share folders, single files and to revoke access  iPad App Cons  Each third-party app will have different user agreements to be aware of.  The SLA for those apps may not meet requirement for your firm’s tech policy or state bar requirements.  They reserve right to terminate services with or without notice.
  9. 9. Spideroak Pros and Cons Pro:  OpenSource  Not as vulnerable as Box or Dropbox Cons:  UI is clunkier  Developed primarily as a backup method rather than a document management system
  10. 10. Box Pros Pro:  Sharing capabilities; can view time and date, ISP, number of views and when docs are being edited  Admin controls; fully permissions based  Syncs with Clio  iPad App
  11. 11. Evernote Pros and Cons Pros:  Great iPad App  Autosyncs, but you don’t have to have Internet access to use the software. Can capture notes, set up to email them to you, etc. and when access is obtained, it will auto complete these tasks.  Developed more to capture, notes, ideas, thoughts than just docs Cons:  Not great as standalone doc management system  Integrates better with a more robust system with folders, subfolders, better organization tools  Sharing features limited  Too easy to mix personal and firm data and take it into and out of the firm’s control
  12. 12. Google Apps (Suite including Google Drive) Pros:  Gmail used by most law schools  Applications all talk to each other  Most legal SaaS products have Google integration  Works with all mobile devices; can easily get docs you need from any device Cons:  If you don’t use professional version, difficult to separate professional from personal  Does not disclose location of servers; will not guarantee data will not be stored overseas  Adding Enterprise Social Networking (ESN) which would add a private firm Google+/Hangouts component
  13. 13. NetDocuments Pros and Cons Pros:  New interface  Has been around longer  If a MS user, can save directly into it Cons:  Must be run off IE which is not as secure  Mac users must use less feature rich version  (should have other user interfaces this year or next)
  14. 14. MyCase
  15. 15. MyCase Pros and Cons Pros  No storage limitations  Combines social networking with practice management  Multiple document upload tools; create firm library  Share documents with clients Cons  Focus of product is on sharing and social networking  Not as robust of a document management system
  16. 16. Basic Costs for DMS Depends on  Number of users  Amount of storage needed  Additional features or higher level of services and support o SLA may also differ between each pricing structure  Be aware of “up-selling” Ex. Google Apps  $5 per user per month, includes 25GB of email storage
  17. 17. Client Communication Flexibility is important. Know your client base and their comfort level, access to technology on their end. Most popular:  Email  Cell phone/Texting  Video conferencing  Desktop sharing  Client portal access In a practice management tech tool: look for a system that integrates the form of client communication you need to have
  18. 18. Consider Security of Method From client’s side Encrypted communication? Can it be recorded, dated and stored digitally?  CYA benefits  E-discovery What ethics opinions does your state bar have regarding the use of online client communication?  Most states have ethics ops referring to the use of fax, email and a handful have more progressive opinions related to other forms of online communication such as o Contact us forms o Client portals, VLOs
  19. 19. ABA Formal Opinion 11-459 Duty to Protect the Confidentiality of E-mail Communications with One’s Client “Whenever a lawyer communicates with a client by e-mail, the lawyer must first consider whether, given the client’s situation, there is a significant risk that third parties will have access to the communications. If so, the lawyer must take reasonable care to protect the confidentiality of the communications by giving appropriately tailored advice to the client.”
  20. 20. Remember Customer Service Look for communication methods that provide auto- responders. Be prepared to switch methods of communication. Look for tech that allows you to combine several methods of client communication into a single system for easy retrieval by the firm and for the client to be able to refer back to if desired.
  21. 21. Time and Billing Clio Rocket Matter Bill4Time EsquireBilling Time59 Accounting  Quickbooks Online  FreshBooks  Zoho Books
  22. 22. Clio A full practice management system. Originally developed as time and billing. Firm and attorney users may customize how it records time whether hourly, flat fee or contingent. Can create time entries directly from tasks, calendar events or directly in the time‐recording section of the site. Customized invoicing  Different methods of delivering it to client for collections  Data (invoices and payments) exports in standard file format for accounting purposes
  23. 23. Rocket Matter Developed originally for Macs Lawyer may record time while working in the calendar, tasks and documents – bill as you work Customized invoicing and batch billing Allows you to create custom rates for matters depending upon the activity and does not just force you to use a single billing method.
  24. 24. Bill4Time Not specific to the legal profession Dedicated completely to time and billing; not a full practice management suite like Rocket Lawyer and Clio More robust reporting options and ability to track payments with each client Record time online, through a desktop widget, or a mobile app
  25. 25. EsquireBilling Time tracking, reports, legal billing, trust management, operating management and check printing Reporting options for billable activity, trust activity, outstanding balances and matter and firm summaries Focus is only on time and billing. May not integrate well with other systems.
  26. 26. Time59 Designed for solo practitioners Time and expense tracking, invoice sharing with clients Track payments and client balances, trust accounting, LEDES invoicing Mobile access
  27. 27. LEDES Legal Electronic Data Exchange Standard set of file format specifications to standardize billing and invoicing data Concerned with transfer from a lawyer to a corporate client Created by LEDES Oversight Committee formed by the PricewaterhouseCoopers Law Firm. Is a nonprofit.
  28. 28. UTBMS Law firms using LEDES may also use the Uniform Task-Based Management System (UTBMS) Codes designed to standardize the categorization and assist with analysis of legal work and expenses. Mostly for use with larger corporate clients. Task and activity codes that are included with the billing. ABA Section on Litigation was among group of nonprofits who along with a group of larger corporate clients and law firms set the standards. The standardized coding is sometimes seen in legal bills to clients.
  29. 29. Choosing a Billing PracticeAlternative Billing Arrangements Fixed Fee or “value billing” Fixed Fee plus expenses Combination BillingPart of the marketing strategy? Listing prices on your website. Explaining fee differences to in-person and online clientsRetainersPro and “low” bonoPayment PlansOnline payments IOLTA compliance and state bar regulations regarding third-party credit card processing services
  30. 30. Value Billing Review Valorem Law as a case study: Infinity Law Group legal fee calculator:How do you determine the value?Focus on client’s needs Balancing this with the need to generate revenue as a businessPotential formula to determine fixed fee Modify over time based on: ability to further streamline process, feedback from clients, changes in the legal marketplace
  31. 31. Online PaymentsPayment Card Industry Data Security (PCI DSS) compliantCompliance must occur whenever any business stores, transfers orcollects credit card information from clients.Failure to comply with these rules, set by the credit card industry, mayresult in a business no longer being allowed to take credit card purchases,in addition to multiple fines and penalties.See PCI Compliance Guide,Use of PayPal and Google Shopping CartResearch state ethics opinions
  32. 32. Ethics OpinionCA State Bar Formal Op. No. 2007-172 (2007):1. An attorney may ethically accept payment of earned fees from a client bycredit card. In doing so, however, the attorney must discharge his or her dutyof confidentiality.2. Likewise, an attorney may ethically accept a deposit for fees not yet earned from a client by credit card, but must discharge his or her duty of confidentiality.3. By contrast, an attorney may not ethically accept a deposit for advances for costs and expenses from a client by credit card because the attorney must deposit such advances into a client trust account and cannot do so initially because they are paid through an account that is subject to invasion.
  33. 33. 4 Categories of Firm IT - Susskind Client relationship system  Client access to files and communication Back-office tech Online legal services  Disruptive tech fits here Internal knowledge systems  Usually through Intranet  Less invested here than in back-office tech Competitive advantage to be ahead of other firms on the last two: the plumbing doesn’t count, it’s how the firm collects and shares its knowledge Integration of online legal services with internal knowledge systems
  34. 34. Online Hubs Need for a central location for client sharing – a hub where all the firms working for a client are able to place their status on the case, files, etc. For Knowledge Management, need another hub supposed by closed communities, mass collaboration where clients may access gathered knowledge  Provided by a third-party such as legal publishers  One hub internationally?