There is probably a reason why LegalTech New York is called LegalTech and not the eDiscovery Showcase, and the logical explanation seems to be consistency. This year’s big vendor push may not be the same next year, though I’m inclined to think eDiscovery will be just as big next year but we’ll have to wait until next year.
There were some needles hidden in the eDiscovery haystack, though, which managed to make themselves known through the cluttered Twitter feed. I admit, it’s rather cool when they send you a tweet and ask you to stop by, but I couldn’t help being a bit skeptical, too. Everyone always has something to show off at a trade show, that’s the point.
Of the ones I browsed, four stick out:
As a freelancer, I spend an awful lot of time emailing or uploading documents with all kinds of edits. Articles, drafts of books and blog posts, comment letters, you name it. While Google Docs is helpful, not everyone uses it. Same with ZoHo, so I often have to resort to using OpenOffice or Microsoft Word, which creates the step of re-saving and attaching the document to an email. You see where this is going…
So I was downright excited when I was approached by the people at Nordic River while waiting for the Kroll On Track session, who proceeded to give me a demo of TextFlow. The premise is incredibly simple. Mind-bogglingly simple. You upload the original document, and an edited version or two, and TextFlow shows you each change, line-by-line. Line-by-line! In an incredibly user-friendly interface which, quite frankly, puts Track Changes to shame, not to mention the total lack of anything useful like that in Google Docs.
They do offer a free trial, and the cost posted on their website is $4.99/user/month. Not bad. Do some due diligence and number crunching though to see if it’ll work for you.
There was a fair amount of buzz before #ltny about TrialPad, with some lawyers already raving about its use in the field, also called the court room. Being a new iPad owner (though not a lawyer), I was intrigued. After TextFlow, it also struck me how mind-bogglingly simple TrialPad is by also focusing on one specific area or addressing one specific issue. That whole “do one thing and do it well” mantra at work again. And guess what? It works with Dropbox! *ca-ching*
The lawyers already using TrialPad were right on the money. It’s quite intuitive and easy to use. Nothing super fancy, nothing you don’t need. It makes good use of the iPad, from what I can tell, and rotating between documents and presentations, not to mention folders, is a fairly smooth process. Its annotation ability was pretty nifty. I can see law schools finding the app quite useful, too.
I imagine their inboxes are overflowing with feature suggestions, and it will be interesting to see if it gets adapted to other platforms, like Android.
RealPractice and MyCase, Inc.
In the interest of full disclosure, and so you don’t all yell at me, I do work for Clio as its Community Manager. That isn’t a secret. However, I attended #ltny as me, the Founder & Chief Consultant of Shadow Froggy Consulting. And if you follow me on Twitter, or read this blog, you know I’m an incredibly curious individual always looking to learn new things or engage in discussions. Both RealPractice and MyCase, Inc. did not fall short of engaging discussion. And neither did Nordic River or TrialPad, for that matter. There’s some downright awesome stuff happening in the legal field, and it’s fascinating to see it from so many different viewpoints and being able to share them on this blog.
So. RealPractice and MyCase, Inc. Both are entrants into the online practice management realm, but with a twist.
RealPractice integrates website and marketing efforts with its practice management system, simplifying the process of collecting leads and inputting them for future follow-up and/or reference. It was more seamless than I expected, and the websites are professional-looking, which is not always the case when trying to integrate separate systems. It does a fairly good job of merging the business-side of law with the actual practice/case management of law, which you don’t often see.
The website and marketing functions stick in my mind more so than its practice management system, though, as website and marketing are two areas ripe for growth, still, in the legal industry. Their demo made me think of something my dad often repeated when I first started my consulting company: build simple websites for small firms and doctors offices. They don’t have a clue, they need it and you’ll have repeat business. RealPractice is doing just that.
MyCase, Inc. had me intrigued with its “social practice management” tag line. What the heck does that mean? Turns out, it means integrating social media aspects into an online practice management application. A “social media layer,” as they say. Their website defines it as “the idea that a law firm should have a secure and accessible social network between themselves and their clients. It is the idea that clients should have this constant connection to their attorneys without having to be on the phone or in person with them.” It made me think of my open v. closed network part of an MHConnected presentation last year.
It uses a similar message/update function like Facebook, an Activity Stream, and a notice function like health care companies. You know, those emails you get about an update to an EOB or response to a message, but there’s nothing in the email notice except a link to log into the site to read the message. I personally find those annoying, that extra step just to get information, but I understand the reasoning behind it. We had a really interesting conversation about improved communication, the far too early demise of Google Wave and how document management is still annoying, not to mention there is still not such thing as “paperless.” Even Michael Rogers, the Practical Futurist, still uses paper. He was holding paper notes during his presentation!
With the continued proliferation of mobile devices, there will be dramatic change to eDiscovery in the coming years. Vendors I talked to expressed optimism that mobile platforms, like now trusty desktops, would become more standardized so data dumps will become just as routine. There is just as much activity going on outside of eDiscovery, though, that it should not be ignored.
The thing that is clear, and was mentioned more than once at #ltny, is that technology is shifting the legal landscape. Not in small areas or minor ones, but in big tectonic shifts. Like the dealing with the recession, we’re reaching the point where action is required. It will be interesting to see what happens as the year progresses.