Law Practice Technology Information Sources and Tools

INTRODUCTION

Librarians are often tasked with the responsibility of finding information about new technologies for use in the practice of law. There are distinct tech specific resources concerning legal research and office management designed to educate consumers about what's available, what's necessary and how it might be used.

The most difficult question to answer is "what's the best technology to buy"? The simplest response is "the one you'll use"? An oversimplification, but there is a kernel of truth to it. With built-in obsolescence in hardware, software and an evolving web-based environment, no one has bought their last piece of computer technology. The concern is overbuying and underutilizing expensive equipment and programs.

This article is a short list identifying some ways to learn about new technologies that apply to legal research and law practice. At the same time, some specific tools have been identified that will help manage research, communication and information-based tasks.

CURRENT AWARENESS

Here are a few of the best sources for finding information about new equipment and services for managing a law practice. These sites offer a range of updates and publications as well as links to software and applications.

  • ABA Legal Technology Resource Center
    "ABA's Legal Technology Resource Center (LTRC) is where legal professionals turn for technology information. The LTRC staff educates the legal profession on technology usage and trends. The LTRC provides a comprehensive collection of technology resources and information."

  • ABA Tech Show
    "ABA TECHSHOW is the world's premier legal technology CLE conference & expo. Nearly 1,500 professionals attended the three-day CLE conference of more than 50 legal technology CLE programs and training sessions in fifteen topical tracks. ABA TECHSHOW also featured a two-day expo."

  • ABA Tech Show 60 Sites in 60 Minutes
    "Our panelists will review the hottest new websites for lawyers and legal professionals - great web resources on legal technology, practice management, research, ethics, and they'll toss in some practical and fun stuff, too."

  • Legal Tech (Incisive Media)
    "LegalTech provides an in-depth look at what the technological world has in store for you and your practice and offers an expansive exhibit floor with the most extensive gathering of innovative products designed to meet your current and future technology needs."

  • Dennis Kennedy (Website)
    "Dennis Kennedy is a well-known lawyer, consultant, speaker and writer who is considered among the most influential authority on the application of technology in the practice of law. He is widely-praised for his ability to communicate complex technological and legal issues into language that non-experts can easily understand. His focus on practical applications and understanding of business issues have won him favor his clients and his audiences. In March 2008, Dennis joined the law department of MasterCard Worldwide on a full-time basis, where he focuses on information technology law matters and works out of the St. Louis office. As a lawyer, he is well known for both his technology law expertise and his experience in computer and Internet technologies."

WEB-TECH 2.0
This section lists articles and sites describing the various tools and services for networking and information sharing that underlie the transformative power of 2.0 technologies.


WEBSITE MONITORING
These are sites and software tools that can automatically track changes on chosen web pages and send alerts when a website has been updated with new information. This is especially helpful for monitoring blog sites and other irregularly updated sources.

  • InfoMinder
    "A hosted [fee based] subscription service that allows you to track changes to web pages, blogs, RSS feeds and wikis."

  • Google Alerts
    "Email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your choice of query or topic."

  • SurfSaver
    It "lets you save, organize, and search the information you gather on the Internet. SurfSaver is an ideal tool for researchers, packrats, and anyone else collecting information on-line."

  • Watch That Page
    "A service that enables you to automatically collect new information from your favorite pages on the Internet. You select which pages to monitor, and WatchThatPage will find which pages have changed, and collect all the new content for you. The new information is presented to you in an email and/or a personal web page. You can specify when the changes will be collected, so they are fresh when you want to read them. The service is free."

  • Website Watcher
    It "detects website updates for you and highlights all changes in the text."

CITATION TOOLS

  • Shepard's Full Authority
    "Automatically generates a Table of Authority from your brief or other legal writing.

    • Reads your document, then locates, alphabetizes and cross-references your citations.
    • Automatically sorts located cites into the appropriate category.
    • Prepares a word-processing file that contains the proposed Table with all of the appropriate formatting (e.g., underlined case names, page number leader dots, appropriate boldface type), which you can then customize to suit your specific needs."
  • West CiteAdvisor and West Brief Tools
    "Following the successful introduction of West CiteAdvisor and recent enhancements to West BriefTools, new downloads of WestCiteLink have been discontinued. You can get better results with two next-generation tools from West. Both of these software programs are compatible with Microsoft Word 2007 and WordPerfect X4, and they will be upgraded along with future versions of your word processing programs.

    • Linking citations to Westlaw – West BriefTools can find case citations in your word-processing documents and link them to the full-text documents on Westlaw. And unlike WestCiteLink, it can identify incorrect citations and check the validity of all citations. There's even an option to insert KeyCite flags into your documents
    • Creating tables of authorities – West CiteAdvisor can build an advanced Table of Authorities in your document, formatted to your liking. It can also check the formatting of your citations using The Bluebook or your local guidelines, and it correctly recognizes long and short forms of the same citation and treats them accordingly."

COMMUNICATION MANAGEMENT

Here are a few examples of tools that can improve efficiency in managing a variety of communication media and file transfer options.

  • Jott (voice to text)
    It "turns your voicemail messages into text and delivers them as text messages and emails that are actually useful. You can forward and reply to them, screen calls when you're in meetings, set call-back reminders and more."

  • Google Voice (communication management)
    "One number for all your calls and SMS. Voicemail as easy as email, with transcripts. Free calls, conference calling, and more."

  • Got Voice (voicemail to email)
    "With GotVoice, all of your voicemail gets converted and sent as text, so you get the message at a glance:

    • Read your voicemail on your cell phone
    • Read it as text and Listen to it as MP3/WAV audio in your email
    • Read it and Listen to it at GotVoice.com at any time"
  • You Send It (file transfer)
    "Send unlimited 2GB files and folders. Send files to anyone with advanced options like password protection and certified delivery. Track who has downloaded your files."