How to Use Evernote to Make Business Cards Useful Again

Welcome to the first episode in my new video series Tech Tools & Tips, offering some simple technology solutions to life’s little inconveniences. Using video demonstrations of some of my favorite technology tools, I’m going to show you how easy it is to improve your practice through the technology you already own. On today’s menu: business cards. Business Cards – so useful, but so useless! Today, I’m tackling an issue that I’ve had for quite a while: what the hell do I do with all of the business cards that I’m handed at events. They disappear SO FAST! Plus, the ones I have tend to be of little value when I’m digging them out of my bag or my desk several months later. So I needed a way to save the information on those business cards, and in a timely fashion. It turns out that the key is to use Evernote. 1) So, in short, this is all you have to do when someone hands you a business card:Take a picture of the card – a good one, because sometimes the text isn’t that easy to read. (While Evernote does have a spot for front and back photos, it’s not designed for you to take them both right away, like FullContact is.) 2) Save the image in Evernote as a “Business Card” – as opposed to a photo or a document. Wait while Evernote converts the business card into a contact. This takes seconds. While it does that Evernote also checks to see if the person is on LinkedIn. If they are, the person’s LinkedIn information, including photo, are added to... read more

10 Innovative Project Management Tools for Lawyers

Earlier this week, I gave you several reasons why your law firm needs to implement a project management system. Presumably, you understood and agree that existing market pressures and client demands mean law firms need to streamline processes to be more efficient. Along the way, you’ll also get superior work product with fewer mistakes as a little side benefit. I also listed four key elements that a good project management tool needed to have to be effective in a law firm. The right project management tool has: 1) Adjustable Workflows 2) Secure Communication 3) Real-Time Collaboration, and 4) Detailed Analytics. However, there are literally hundreds of project management tools available. So here are my recommendations – 10 Innovative Project Management Tools for Lawyers. Project Management Tools – The Basics Ok, I’m not going to just throw you in. There’s far too much information to do that to you. These are complex systems designed to do a number of different things, while keeping you connected to your team. So, for that reason, here are a few things that all of the project management tools on this list do: Task Management – Each one of these tools allows you to set project goals, broken into its component parts. Those parts can be divided into tasks and subtasks, and the completion of those tasks can be seen and tracked by most/all users. Task Assignment – They also all let you assign various tasks or sub-tasks to other users. Users will all know when they’ve been assigned a task, and can see the overall progress in the project. Basic Collaboration – All of these tools allow users to... read more

Data Visualization: Inside Ravel Law’s Research Revolution

Special Guest: Daniel Lewis Download this Episode: Download Audio Research is one of those time-honored traditions in the legal profession. Time honored in that it takes a lot of time. Honored in that the most junior associate should feel “honored” to have been assigned the research. Yep, it’s the double-edged sword of the profession – necessary and widely despised. But if research is so crucial to the proper working of our profession, why does it suck so much? Daniel Lewis, co-founder and CEO of Ravel Law, has a theory: it’s not the research, but the process, that people hate. Legal Research – In Need of a Revolution Despite the fact that the practice of law has changed considerably in the past 20 years, the major tools for legal research have remained largely the same. Although Westlaw and Lexis Nexis, the two major players in legal research, have responded with some new innovations in the past couple of years, their preference has been to add content, primarily secondary source content, to their offerings. Well, since 80% of legal research is case law and primary source material, Dan believed there was a better way – revolutionize research through data visualization. By re-inventing the way we perform legal research, Daniel believes that he can make lawyers happier in their work, while giving them a serious competitive advantage. Data Analytics Isn’t New One truly begins to understand the “competitive advantage” that Daniel talks about through the lens of history. As Daniel explains, in the 1948 Texas senatorial election, Representative Lyndon Johnson was embroiled in a difficult race. Allegations of voter fraud resulted in... read more

6 Excellent Timekeeping Apps for Lawyers [Updated]

No one task is more essential for law firms, and yet more universally loathed among lawyers, than recording time. Writing down the value and effort that make up your legal advice, in six-minute increments, is an irritating experience shared by almost any lawyer in private practice. One attorney I know equated recording time to clicking on the meter in a taxi cab. Another attorney proudly announced that, as part of a switch to being a government attorney, she would never have to record time again. Basically, it sucks. Although alternative billing structures are out there, the bill-per-hour is still the most widely accepted way for an attorney to charge a client, especially when you include some of the hybrid models being used today. Therefore, it’s incredibly important that time is recorded accurately, and as soon after the task is completed as possible. Not the easiest of tasks while in the office. Much more difficult when you’re not. Here are 6 Excellent Timekeeping Apps for Lawyers, whether you use iOS or Android, to help you accurately track your time while you’re on the go. 1) iTimeKeep by Bellefield Systems, LLC (iOS, Android) I’ll admit right from the start that I’m a little biased on this one. iTimeKeep is the app I use most regularly, and it is my favorite of the timekeeping apps for lawyers. Offering two options for use, the free “stand-alone” time recording functions, or using the Bellefield Connect system to integrate with your firm’s billing or matter-management software, iTimeKeep works for anyone. Record your time on the go, and either enter the information manually when you return to... read more

12 Awesomely Funny Gifts for Lawyers (with Issues!) Vol. 2

12 Awesomely Funny Gifts for Lawyers (with Issues!) – Vol. 1 12 Awesomely Funny Gifts for Lawyers (with Issues!) – Vol. 2 (You’re here) 12 Awesomely Funny Gifts for Lawyers (with Issues!) – Vol. 3 We approach that most American of two-day holidays: Thanksgiving/Black Friday. Nowhere else in the world is there such a display of unbridled overeating followed immediately by aggressive, sometimes violent, capitalism! Once again, you might be searching high and low for the perfect gift for your attorney spouse (or parent, or friend, or whatever). Trust me when I tell you, this is NOT the place to find the perfect gift. On the other hand, if, like last year, you’re looking for something interesting and entertaining at the same time, you’re in the right place. (For additional gift ideas, check out Volume 1!) Here is my list of 12 Awesomely Funny Gifts for Lawyers (with Issues!) Vol. 2: 1) Legal Decision Maker – $25.00 (affiliate link) Life is full of difficult decisions, and the practice of law is certainly no exception! Oftentimes we turn to a trusty, reliable source to help us make sound decisions: a mentor, a law school classmate, the guy next to us on the bus. But sometimes there just isn’t anyone around to bounce ideas off of, and your Magic 8 Ball never recovered when it answered your last question wrong. Thankfully, we have the Legal Decision Maker! Whether you’re deciding on how to proceed in your case, or whether you’re going to drown your sorrows in bourbon or vodka, you’ll get a quality answer here! No need to worry about ethics,... read more

7 Ways Google Inbox Can Boost Your Firm’s Productivity

In my most recent edition of the Best New Apps for Lawyers, I discussed the most recent email offering from Google – Inbox by Gmail.  Some speculate that this app may eventually become the preferred email client for Google, replacing the iconic Gmail system.  While that particular decision is still a long way off, Inbox already offers several tools that lawyers may find useful. The tech guys at Gizmodo offered 7 Tips to Unlock the Potential of Google Inbox, which I have updated to more specifically outline the benefits that lawyers can derive.  So here are 7 Ways Google Inbox Can Boost Your Firm’s Productivity: 1) Snooze Emails for specific period of time. Let’s be honest, some emails just arrive at the wrong time.  If you’re like me, the best time for you to respond to an email is immediately after it pops up.  My next option is to leave it unread, which might not be acceptable, but at least the email stays highlighted.  Admittedly, it’s not the best system.  Inbox addresses both of those issues by allowing you to have the email pop back up after a designated period of time – be it 10 minutes, 12 hours, or the next day. Basically, Inbox archives the email (so it is still accessible at any point in time), but pops back up in your Inbox as indicated.  Have a hearing coming up, but want to make sure that you address three of your incoming emails at lunch? Set them to appear at 1:00. Need to respond to your client’s most recent screed, but need a few minutes to cool... read more

7 Most Effective Presentation Apps for Lawyers

The importance of making an effective presentations as an attorney extends far beyond the courtroom. Given the historic decline of jury trials, legitimately effective presentation apps for lawyers needs to have applications outside the courtroom. Arbitrations, motion hearings, mediations, client presentations, corporate counsel boardrooms… these _ apps have tools that allow attorneys to make stunning presentations. Here are the 7 Most Effective Presentation Apps for Lawyers:  TrialPad by LIT Software, LLC, $89.99 (iOS only) It’s almost cliche, in my opinion, to put this app at the top of the list, but there’s no denying that no app designed for lawyers can compete with its toolset. Combining a trial management system with a telestrator that would make John Madden proud, TrialPad has everything you need to effectively manage your in-court presentation. Within the app, you can organize your exhibits, then using one of several options, display the exhibits using a television or projector-based system. View your documents side-by-side, add comments, highlights, and even arrange multiple call-outs within one document. Edit video, redact inadmissible portions of evidence, and create reports of all the activity your case has. Expert witness in your trial? TrialPad allows you to hand your iPad to the expert and allow them to mark up the exhibit right from the witness stand – keeping the jury’s focus on the evidence. However, it does have the steepest price tag of all the apps on this list. Additionally, if you had TrialPad before, you’re not going to be able to upgrade to 4.0 without paying that lovely $89.99 all over again! Keynote by Apple, Inc., $9.99 (iOS only) Keynote is Apple’s... read more

7 Outstanding Contact Management Apps for Lawyers

Ever since I got my first smartphone, it was an iPhone 3, I’ve been incredibly impressed with the functionality of the devices. They keep getting faster, have better cameras, and have better screens. I used to remark with a chuckle that the only thing those earlier iPhones really didn’t do well was the actual “phone” part. However, that wasn’t entirely true. One of the other things it really didn’t do well was put my contacts into an easy-to-navigate list with an intuitive interface. With a long list of names, displaying duplicates if my home computer and my office Exchange had the same name, I’ve never found the stock address book to be a very effective way to manage my contacts. Particularly as an attorney, I was always a bit nervous about having the names of my clients mixed right in with my family. What I needed was a contact management app that had a truly intelligent design, one that allowed for grouping of contacts in ways beyond those contemplated by the original designer of the Rolodex. What I’ve found is pretty cool. Here are 7 Outstanding Contact Management Apps for Lawyers: 1) Tacts: Smart Contact Manager Developer: TernTek Platform: iOS Price:$1.99 Tacts is an intelligent contact management app with an incredibly user-friendly interface and impressive functionality. As soon as you import your contacts from your iOS device, Tacts will begin organizing your contacts into Smart Groups based on various criteria, such as hometown. Tacts also comes equipped with a Groups Management feature that allows you to send group emails and text messages and a Top Contacts section based on... read more

6 Excellent Mind-Mapping Apps for Android & iOS

I’m a visual person. My office includes two large white boards that I constantly fill with my thoughts, take a quick photo to upload to Evernote, then wipe clean just so that I can fill it right up again. To me, it’s part of the brainstorming process – new ideas emerge as part of being able to see what ideas I already have. I never thought much about mind-mapping apps, though, until someone recommended that I try out iThoughtsHD. It was an absolute revelation. The ability to track my thoughts and ideas in a visual thought tree was so much more helpful than any note taking app had ever been. I’ve used my mind-mapping apps for deposition notes, trial preparation, eDiscovery organization, and, most importantly, organizing my thoughts for this blog. For those lawyers who, like me, prefer to be able to visualize your brainstorming or notes, here are 7 Excellent Mind-Mapping Apps for Lawyers: 1) iThoughtsHD Developer: CMS Platform: iOS Price: $9.99 iThoughtsHD is my preferred mind-mapping app. With all the basic tools you would expect with mind-mapping software, iThoughtsHD allows the user to create mind maps based on a wide variety of different template options. Additionally, iThoughtsHD comes with a massive toolbox that allows the user to enhance and share the maps they create. Dozens of icons are available, and nearly everything is customizable, allowing the user to be incredibly creative, producing unique-looking maps each time out. iThoughtsHD’s sharing capabilities are impressive as well. The app comes with built-in support for both Box and Dropbox, and supports direct export in PDF and OPML file formats. iThoughtsHD also... read more

The 7 Best Jury Selection Apps…

… aren’t all that good. As a civil litigator, I really enjoy selecting my jury. Apart from getting to know the jurors, jury selection sets the tone for the trial. But I hate those post-it notes! I was really hoping that a solid jury selection app could help streamline the process. Sadly, no such app exists. But, if you’re looking for an app to assist your jury selection, to compliment your gut instinct and post-it notes, rather than to replace them, here are my 7 Best Jury Selection Apps… The ratings reflect an evaluation of five criteria (4 points per criterion), all related to how effectively the app would allow me to conduct voir dire without a legal pad:   Ability to add and modify a list of questions; An interface that allows basic information to be input quickly and accurately; The ability to record responses to “group questions” without having to open every single juror’s page; Useful reporting functions (as opposed to pretty-but-pointless reports) that allow me to compare jurors on the fly; and Overall utility in selecting a jury.     1) iJuror (Front9 Technologies) – $19.99 iJuror is possibly the most popular apps available for attorneys conducting voir dire. Available on iOS since 2010, it has also been released for Android devices. With the most comprehensive set of features (in my opinion), as well as a number of useful add-ons (although it REALLY gets on my nerves when they demand an extra $5 for stuff that SHOULD be in the app in the first place!), iJuror came the closest to actually meeting my criteria of all... read more
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