Years ago, “legal technology” seemed like an oxymoron for many attorneys, but now more than ever, advanced technology is becoming commonplace in the legal industry for two main reasons: Recent technological advances have given rise to inexpensive, stable and secure software product options, and the present economy has forced attorneys to search for ways to cut overhead costs, such as excessive in-house staffing and added office space. In the past year, “Software as a Service” (or “SaaS”) and “cloud-based software” have become buzzwords on legal blogs, listservs and newsletters.
Whereas other software models require users to load programs directly onto each computer, cloud-based software provides a few benefits, such as automatic updates and security patches, compatibility across multiple operating systems, easier collaboration and remote accessibility. If your law office thinking about taking a jump onto the cloud, here are a few reasons why you should incorporate web-based technology into your legal practice:
- Web-based storage applications, such as DropBox and Mozy, allow users to store and sync files online between computers and share files and folders with other people via a centralized, online location. These services work across Linux, Mac, Windows, iPhone and other smartphones, allowing attorneys to access and edit files from any location. In addition, these services support revision history so that attorneys can recover deleted or changed files.
- Online notebooks, such as Evernote and UberNote, can be used to corral and organize personal notes, pictures, graphics, and links all in one place. These notebooks will also sync with you smartphones or iPhone, and the application have search engines that make it much easier than sifting through notebooks and paper napkins when you want to recall notes and ideas.
- Web-based time and billing software, such as Toggl and Zoho, can help attorneys manage time wisely and take guesswork out of billing by providing services such as time-tracking, invoicing, client deposit management and payment recording.
- Online case support services, such as Ringtail Legal and Total Attorneys Case Support, allow attorneys to manage, review and analyze legal documents together via one, convenient interface. Attorneys can organize files, review PDFs, manage evidence, and collaborate with off-site legal assistants and attorneys to quickly fill out forms, gather client information and prepare for transactions and trial.
- Virtual law office service providers, such as VLOTech, allow attorneys to save money on overhead and increase revenue by eliminating the need for physical office space and allowing attorneys to work with clients across their entire state, not just within driving radius of the physical office. From each attorney’s virtual law office homepage, he or she can contact clients, create attorney-client agreements, organize case files, provide clients with a centralized location to access forms and contracts, manage calendars, and even provide methods for attorneys to accept payment over the web.