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Law Firm Management Technology

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Law Firm Management Technology For Home Offices & Small Law Firms William E. Olson Home Office Technology is the name of the game. Since you are not allowed any ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Law Firm Management Technology


1
Law Firm ManagementTechnology
  • For Home Offices Small
  • Law Firms
  • William E. Olson

2
Home Office
  • Technology is the name of the game. Since you are
    not allowed any employees who arent family
    members to work in your home, at least in
    Lincoln, it becomes mandatory that you involve
    technology in your practice.

3
Required Equipment
  • Phone with Answering machine/Voice Mail
  • Fax machine
  • Voice mail
  • Copier
  • Computer with word processing/spreadsheet/e-mail
    capability.

4
Multi-Function Equipment
  • Computer with Internet Service
  • Includes answering machine
  • Voice mail
  • Voice over Internet Protocal
  • Combination printer-fax-scanner-copier
  • Bundled phone/cable/internet packages

5
Ink jet v. Laser Printers
  • Ink jet models less than 200
  • CompUSA.com - All-In-One Printers Printers
  • Laser jet versions under 300.
  • Color laser jet models are pricier at around 600

6
A Well-equipped computer is less than 1,500,
including Microsoft Office 2007 with Vista
  • Dell Computing's Web site for current prices.
  • Opt for MS Office vs. pre-loaded such as
    Microsoft Works
  • Do not rely solely on Microsoft Works to generate
    documents, spreadsheets, etc. because its files
    are not compatible with MS Office files.

7
Other Software which may be Pre-Loaded
  • Money management program, such as Quicken or
    Managing your Money, eliminating the immediate
    need for more expensive and powerful accounting
    programs.
  • Security/Anti-Spam such as Norton Internet
    Security is A MUST

8
Document Assembly Software Systems
  • Do it Yourself Systems
  • HotDocs
  • GhostFill
  • Pythagoras
  • MS Word Templates
  • WordPerfect Merge

9
Off-The Shelf Document Management Systems
  • Nebraska Probate System V
  • Wills Trusts Systems

10
High End Systems
  • May/Should include Quite a bit of Authors
    Knowledge
  • Should offer many clause options
  • Should provide support
  • May require additional fee
  • Annual
  • Up front
  • Some support provided

11
  • Wealth Transfer Planning
  • Web Site Interactive Legal Systems
  • Authors Jonathan Blattmacher and Michael Graham
  • Uses Hotdocs as its engine
  • Been around for years

12
Wealth Transfer includes extensive knowledge base
  • During Q A session, rationale behind decision
    tree is almost always available
  • Guides the user through the process
  • Pricing
  • While certainly not cheap, it seems very
    competitive with other high-end systems

13
  • Cowles Legal Systems
  • Now owned by Thompson West
  • Trust Plus Estate Planning System is the high
    end product
  • Website Thompson-West Cowles Legal Systems
  • Trust Plus includes document assembly software
    modules
  • See http//west.thomson.com/cowles/TrustPlus.aspx
    to review features

14
  • Similar Features to Wealth Transfer
  • Additionally, Cowles provides physical tools to
    make the end product appear professional
  • supporting documents
  • funding documents
  • correspondence
  • invoicing
  • custom covers and envelopes
  • documents for one-time data entry
  • http//west.thomson.com/cowles/TrustPlusDocList.as
    px

15
  • Fore! Trust Software
  • Visit http//www.4trustsoftware.com/ to see what
    this can do for you.
  • Doesnt appear to be high end since it is
    advertised as not just for the Estate Planning
    Specialist
  • Look at the compare page at http//www.4trustsof
    tware.com/compare.htm where Fore! Compares itself
    to other products

16
  • For a list of Fore!s templates, go to
    http//www.4trustsoftware.com/tw.htm
  • The basic price is 995. Pricing appears at the
    foregoing Web page, near the bottom.
  • Hotdocs driven templates.

17
  • LawFirmSoftware.com sells its systems for Wills
    and Trusts
  • Estate Planning Pro Software, Version
    5.0Promotion Price 229 95
  • If the price is right, visit the Web site at
    http//www.lawfirmsoftware.com/software/estate.htm

18
  • Wealth Counsel, LLC, which is a membership
    organizaation, offers WealthDocs
  • Web site is at http//www.wealthcounsel.com
  • High End High Price (see discussion at in
    earlier slides)

19
Build-it-Yourself with Document Assembly Engines
  • Very Time-Consuming to do more than simple
    assembly systems
  • Can be used effectively for basic forms, such as
    Deeds, powers of attorney, etc.
  • Should be very tech-savy to create systems with
    HotDocs etc.

20
Backing up Files
  • On-Line Solutions
  • For Review of Services and lists see the review
    at ConsumerSearch
  • Can be as cheap as free
  • External Hard Drives and similar media
  • Inexpensive 500 Gigabytes for 175 or less
  • Requires Due Diligence
  • For reviews of current products see PC Magazine
    online
  • Importance of testing for failures

21
Calendar Systems
  • MS Outlook as cheap solution
  • Very flexible
  • If combined in Network setting with MS Exchange,
    can be used office-wide
  • Not law-office specific
  • Case Management systems, such as Time Matters
    (now owned by Lexis/Nexis), Amicus Attorney and
    PracticeMaster, a Software Technology, Inc.
    product are law firm specific systems which
    provide extensive docket control and calendar
    functions
  • Professional liability insurance carriers require
    at least two calendar systems

22
Conflict Checking
  • New client intake should always include an
    internal conflict of interest check
  • Paper systems based on a card file or other
    means, e.g., circulation of new clients list to
    other lawyers
  • Memory systems based on asking the other
    lawyers is NOT the best methodology
  • Practice Management and document management
    systems include conflict checking

23
Time Billing Systems
  • Most important management system for your
    practice
  • Should contain the following elements
  • Keep track of time by increments, usually in
    one-tenths, and by client names, numbers and
    matters
  • Produce draft statements in variety of formats

24
Time Billing Systems
  • Produce finished final statements on a variety of
    printers and formats
  • Generate monthly billing/receipt reports by
    timekeeper tracking both billable and
    non-billable time

25
Time Billing Systems
  • Produce accounts receivable reports by client and
    attorney
  • Keep track of client billings and payments by
    client and individual client matter
  • Track and report billings and payments by
    practice area
  • Integrate with word processing programs and case
    management systems

26
Time Billing Systems
  • Timeslips which is widely available, is
    relatively inexpensive starting at 295 for the
    basic program
  • Tabs3 starts at 295

27
Trust Accounts Systems
  • Separate account required
  • Can use accounting systems and establish separate
    account, such as Quickbooks, see discussion at
    QuickBooks TimesheetTime Billing System
  • Law Firm Specific software, e.g., Tabs3r - Trust
    Accounting Software

28
Document Management
  • Create electronic versions of paper files
  • Scan incoming documents and save them to
    client/matter file
  • Save all internally created documents to
    client/matter file
  • Save incoming and outgoing e-mails to a client
    file
  • Can result if almost paperless office
  • Ability to access file from computer
  • See Open Directory - Society Law Products
    Practice Management Software Document
    Management for a fairly complete listing of
    document and case management software

29
Case Management/Practice Management
  • Case Management/Practice Management systems
    provide many of the functions of time/billing,
    docket control, document management functions
  • Can provide basis for document assembly if fully
    utilized
  • Small firm systems such as Time Matters, Amicus
    Attorney and PracticeMaster, are priced at
    around 500 for single user licenses
  • See, e.g., the Amicus site at Amicus Attorney
    Overview for a description of functionality of
    these systems

30
Litigation Management Systems
  • Defined at Legal Practice - Litigation Software
  • For a fairly complete listing of the variations,
    see Case assessment and analysis with case
    management tools from LexisNexis Litigation
    Services for Firms Serving Individuals S
    LexisNexis
  • Could include electronic discovery in the
    category
  • See Electronic Discovery Software White Papers,
    Webcasts and Case Studies for a full discussion
    of this topic

31
Legal Research Alternatives to Books
  • Westlaw and Lexis/Nexis are the Cadillacs of
    online research, but they come with a price
  • Other alternatives exist
  • The Nebraska Bar Association offers a free
    service to its members, CaseMaker, which is found
    at www.nebar.com

32
Other Sources for free research
  • Nebraska State Bar Association
  • U.S. Governments General Web Site
  • Internal Revenue Service
  • Library of Congress
  • Government Printing Office
  • Nebraska Courts Web Site
  • Nebraska State Government Web Site
  • Nebraska Legislature Web Site
  • Securities and Exchange Commission

33
And now, a word about Metadata
  • Metadata, or data about data, abound in MS Word
    files and other documents.
  • What is metadata? Microsoft explains at Find
    and remove metadata (hidden information) in your
    legal documents - Help and How-to - Microsoft
    Office Online

34
Why should you be concerned?
  • Use of prior documents/versions
  • Shared file with adverse (or friendly parties)
  • May reveal client information not intended for
    release
  • May reveal strategy of case or transaction

35
What to do about it?
  • Buy a commercial scrubber program
  • E.g., Payne Consulting Groups Metadata Assistant
  • Never send an attachment in MS Word that hasnt
    been scrubbed
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