TechnoLawyer NewsWire
So many products, so little time. TL NewsWire discusses and links to hot new products and services for lawyers and law office administrators.
Informative and jargon-free, each TL NewsWire article enables you to quickly understand the function of each product, and zero in on its most notable features. In each issue, you can easily revisit previous articles thanks to convenient links.

Every December, we publish the TL NewsWire Top 25 Products of the Year Awards as chosen by TL NewsWire subscribers — including you if you become a subscriber.

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Capture Valuable Social Media and Web Evidence Before It Disappears

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers an on-demand service for capturing social media and other web evidence in accurate and defensible PDF documents (see article below). In addition, you'll find links to the previous 11 TL NewsWire features, including our coverage of a practice management system with a large forms library that automatically captures the billable time you spend on document drafting and email, a cloud practice management and accounting system that now includes free credit card processing via LawPay, and much more. Don't miss the next issue.

Many litigation matters benefit from a treasure trove of potential evidence online thanks to human nature and the ease of publishing on the Internet. However, web pages are notoriously difficult to print or convert to PDF format, and when lawyers do this work they run the risk of being called as a witness to authenticate their screen captures.

Page Vault On Demand … in One Sentence

Page Vault On Demand (Page Vault) is a pay-per-use web-capture service designed for litigation, internal investigations, and other situations that require accuracy and defensibility.

The Killer Feature

Web designers understandably don't think much about letter-size paper when creating websites. As a result, printing a web page or saving it in PDF format often lacks any resemblance to the source. This can harm its persuasiveness when used as an exhibit.

Page Vault delivers PDF files that look like the actual web page thanks to the company's proprietary technology. Lawyer and EVP of Customer Solutions, Patrick Schweihs, showed me some examples. The PDF preserves the web page's layout and graphics, and creates intelligent page breaks that don't cut off any text.

"We've struggled with the best way to easily and defensibly capture websites the same way each time until we started using Page Vault," says Chris Bojar, Litigation Support Coordinator at Barack Ferrazzano Kirschbaum & Nagelberg LLP.

Other Notable Features

Page Vault can capture anything accessible on the web, including entire websites as well as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social media platforms. "A simple web form request initiates the collection process," Page Vault CEO and co-founder Jeff Eschbach tells me. You enter one or more web page links (URLs), and indicate whether you want an optional affidavit for authentication purposes. You can purchase the affidavit after the fact but Page Vault offers a discount when included with the initial order.

Page Vault delivers each capture with a metadata coversheet listing the document title, capture URL, capture timestamp, web browser used, etc. The optional affidavit incorporates your case caption, describes the collection process, and can be notarized.

Capture just one time, on a recurring schedule, or when a change occurs. If you need web captures to function like an interactive website, Page Vault can deliver ISO 28500 compliant WARC files rather than static PDF files. These files preserve all the interactivity such as links but function offline. Other capture options include videos on YouTube and elsewhere, web page downloads, livestreams, photo collections, etc.

"Our staff leverages the industry's most advanced and trusted web-capture technologies to complete the job," says Eschbach. "There's no new software or difficult procedures to learn." If you need several captures on a regular basis, Page Vault can set up an enterprise account for you with volume discounts. You can even request a custom integration using Page Vault's API for high-volume capture projects to streamline your workflow.

What Else Should You Know?

The quote you receive from Page Vault is exactly what you will pay, not an estimate. Pricing starts at $199. Turnaround time for a free quote is one business day and same day expedited service is available. There's no setup fee or minimum order. Page Vault provides an itemized invoice that you can use for client reimbursement. Learn more about Page Vault On Demand.

How to Receive TL NewsWire
So many products, so little time. In each issue of TL NewsWire, you'll learn about five new products for the legal profession. Pressed for time? The newsletter's innovative articles enable lawyers and law office administrators to quickly understand the function of a product, and zero in on its most important features. The TL NewsWire newsletter is free so don't miss the next issue. Please subscribe now.

Focus on Your Work, Not the Clock, With Smokeball's TimeScribe

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers a practice management system with a large forms library that automatically captures the billable time you spend on document drafting and email (see article below). In addition, you'll find links to the previous 11 TL NewsWire features, including our coverage of a cloud practice management and accounting system that now includes free credit card processing via LawPay, a cloud practice management system with a new document management component that works locally on PCs and Macs like a network drive, and much more. Don't miss the next issue.

Accurate time tracking empowers law firms. Those that bill by the hour can maximize earnings while those that charge fixed fees can evaluate their profitability and staff efficiency. But how can you prevent lost billable time given human nature?

Smokeball … in One Sentence

Smokeball is a practice management and document assembly system that recently gained a new automatic time capture feature called TimeScribe.

The Killer Feature

Product Marketing Manager Eunbin Rii walks me through a typical stretch of time in a law firm, drafting documents, sending and receiving email, etc. He then clicks on the TimeScribe button in Smokeball's toolbar.

Not only does TimeScribe capture the time spent on this work, but it creates nearly final time entries. TimeScribe itemizes each task, connects it to the corresponding matter and creates a description of the work (e.g., Letter to Law Office of Arthur Kirkland). You review these entries, make any necessary edits, and post them if you bill by the hour. Every night, TimeScribe emails you a report listing all your captured time for the previous day broken down by matter.

Rii tells me that early adopters of TimeScribe have captured 34% more time on average. TimeScribe's Performance report enables you to measure its impact at your firm, and prove time worked in the event a client transfers his case to another firm. The report breaks out time spent and cost for each employee.

"We have not only been able to take on more clients, but have also seen profits skyrocket after just a few months of using Smokeball," said Michael Rapp, co-founder of Stecklein & Rapp in Kansas City.

Other Notable Features

Smokeball is a hybrid product, combining the capabilities of a native Windows client with the convenience of cloud data storage. The Window client allows for tight integration with Microsoft Office. When you open a potential matter, choose from more than 250 Matter Types with all the information fields you're likely to need. Smokeball also runs a conflict check.

Smokeball's Workflows enable you to capture your firm's processes. A Workflow consists of a set of tasks, each of which is assigned to an attorney or staff member. You can create task dependencies, and generate due dates based on triggers.

Many law firm tasks involve document creation. Smokeball offers more than 12,000 legal forms, and can help add your own during the onboarding process. Smokeball automatically enters information from the extensive set of matter fields. You can email completed documents directly from Smokeball. A clever feature lists the contacts associated with the matter, which saves time and prevents misaddressed messages. Alternatively, you can attach documents in Smokeball from Outlook. Either way, Smokeball saves all email in the matter, including replies.

"Smokeball helps small law firms increase the profitability of their matters," said Jane Oxley, Smokeball's President. "By providing our clients with features like full visibility into matter profitability and the most robust Microsoft Outlook and Word integrations in the industry, we help attorneys spend less time on administrative tasks, and get back to practicing law."

What Else Should You Know?

Smokeball's mobile app for Android and iOS gives you access to your practice on the go. For billing, you can use Smokeball's Boost Billing or any third-party billing software. Smokeball costs $139 per user per month plus a one-time onboarding fee of $300 per user, which includes contact migration and training. Learn more about Smokeball.

How to Receive TL NewsWire
So many products, so little time. In each issue of TL NewsWire, you'll learn about five new products for the legal profession. Pressed for time? The newsletter's innovative articles enable lawyers and law office administrators to quickly understand the function of a product, and zero in on its most important features. The TL NewsWire newsletter is free so don't miss the next issue. Please subscribe now.

CosmoLex Aims to Automate Client Credit Card Payments With CosmoPay

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers a cloud practice management and accounting system that now includes free credit card processing via LawPay (see article below). In addition, you'll find links to the previous 11 TL NewsWire features, including our coverage of a cloud practice management system with a new document management component that works locally on PCs and Macs like a network drive, a new payment processor with a flat fee per transaction that deposits funds overnight, and much more. Don't miss the next issue.

No shortage of advice exists on how law firms can get their bills paid faster. Descriptive time entries, sharp graphic design, etc. can help, but nothing moves the needle like accepting credit cards. Ideally, accepting credit cards should make your life easier too.

CosmoLex … in One Sentence

CosmoLex, a popular cloud legal accounting and practice management system, recently launched CosmoPay, its new payments processing platform.

The Killer Feature

CosmoPay is a private-label version of LawPay, a payment processor designed to comply with state ethics rules. This offers several advantages. You can sign up for CosmoPay from within CosmoLex or move your existing LawPay account if you already have one. CosmoLex includes CosmoPay at no extra charge, a savings of $20 per month. "In a nutshell, you get the combined benefits of LawPay and CosmoLex, except for a lower fee," says CosmoLex CEO Rick Kabra.

After setup, you can embed a CosmoPay button on the PDF bills you generate in CosmoLex. Send these bills via email from CosmoLex or upload them to the CosmoLex client portal. Either way, clients who click this button pay the invoice on a secure web page. Additionally, you can process credit cards in person using CosmoPay's virtual terminal.

After payment, CosmoLex flexes its automation muscle thanks to its built-in accounting (no need for QuickBooks). It marks the bill paid, deducts the amount due from accounts receivable, and adds the amount paid to the applicable bank account ledger. CosmoLex can automatically adjust trust accounts if used and allocate payments if a bill contains fees and expenses (you can create a rule for allocating underpayments).

Unlike most credit card processors, CosmoPay doesn't deduct credit card fees from payments. Instead, to comply with ethics rules, it deposits the full amount into your bank account. LawPay bills you monthly for accrued processing fees. As we reported earlier this year, CosmoLex's Bank Feed feature automatically downloads transactions from your bank account for faster reconciliations.

"CosmoLex's mission is to simplify law practice management for attorneys," says Kabra. "We've built a strong ecosystem of trusted partners, and will continue to work with LawPay and others to improve the CosmoLex experience for our end users. With CosmoPay we are removing yet another barrier for small law firms, making it easier than ever for them to get paid. This is something all our users will immediately benefit from."

Other Notable Features

CosmoLex has added a number of other new financial features. The accounting system now supports the entry of vendor bills for more precise tracking of your firm's expenses as opposed to general ledger entries. You can create and send recurring office bills. For cases such as workers compensation that involve creditors, CosmoLex tracks third-party liens. The Matter Cost Statement summarizes these liens to help you with settlement negotiations.

The CosmoLex dashboard has gained interactivity. Expand a chart to view it at a larger size. Drill down into any item for details. For example, the Money Finder on the dashboard lists all events, notes, tasks, etc. not yet billed. Click on any item to create a time entry.

What Else Should You Know?

The updated CosmoLex mobile app for Android and iOS offers nearly all the practice management functionality as the desktop web app. CosmoLex costs $49 per month per user. Learn more about CosmoLex and CosmoPay.

How to Receive TL NewsWire
So many products, so little time. In each issue of TL NewsWire, you'll learn about five new products for the legal profession. Pressed for time? The newsletter's innovative articles enable lawyers and law office administrators to quickly understand the function of a product, and zero in on its most important features. The TL NewsWire newsletter is free so don't miss the next issue. Please subscribe now.

Cloud Document Management That Won't Change the Way You Work

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers a cloud practice management system with a new document management component that works locally on PCs and Macs like a network drive (see article below). In addition, you'll find links to the previous 11 TL NewsWire features, including our coverage of a new payment processor with a flat fee per transaction that deposits funds overnight, a Microsoft Word add-in for drafting litigation and transactional documents with a new document assembly engine, forms library, and machine-learning tools, and much more. Don't miss the next issue.

Cloud practice management has many virtues but concerns about document management prevent some law firms from taking the leap. These firms understandably don't want to give up their network drives and folder hierarchies, manually upload documents, or change the way they work.

Centerbase … in One Sentence

Centerbase is a cloud practice management system that now offers document management which functions like a local network drive.

The Killer Feature

CEO John Forbes tells me I'm the first person outside of the company and a few early adopters to see Centerbase's new document management technology. A product CEO who spent years as a reseller, Forbes has a Steve Jobs-like enthusiasm.

Documents in Centerbase function on your PC or Mac like a network drive even though they actually reside on secure servers in the cloud. Centerbase uses WebDAV, a standard file protocol for Internet file sharing.

During initial setup, Centerbase's support team uploads your entire document library, and can help you map document folders to the correct clients and matters in Centerbase. Forbes tells me about a firm that imported 3.6 million files.

"After setup, you use your files and folders like you always have in Windows Explorer or Mac Finder," says Forbes. Any changes to documents are automatically reflected in Centerbase and vice versa. Forbes describes this as a "1:1 correlation." An optional add-on makes Centerbase files and folders available offline with changes automatically synced when you're back online. For new matters, Centerbase can automatically generate a set of folders.

"Centerbase has made transitioning to a cloud product for document management seamless," said Tait Johnson, paralegal at Sharpe & Associates, PLLC. "We no longer have to maintain our own file server, and we can now access our documents from anywhere."

Other Notable Features

You can view documents in Centerbase from multiple locations. The Documents File Explorer gives you access to all mapped documents. Navigate your folder hierarchies or run a search. Alternatively, you can access relevant documents in other areas of Centerbase such as in Matters, Contacts, and Billing. For example, each matter contains a Documents tab listing all related files.

Centerbase's Microsoft Word integration and Workflows (document assembly combined with project management) bring further automation. Workflows take you from Centerbase to Word to automatically generate a document that gets saved to the correct matter when finished.

At your option, you can create document profiles to track type of document and other metadata to improve search results. Centerbase enables you to keep every version of a document in case you need to revert. You can restrict access to documents. Also, documents lock when colleagues work in them. If you need more robust document management, Centerbase integrates with NetDocuments.

What Else Should You Know?

Centerbase launched several additional features since our initial report. Matters Templates enable you to create customized layouts for each of your practice areas with all the requisite data fields. Thus, a bankruptcy matter can track creditors, while an accident matter can track medical records and police reports. The new Report Builder offers the ability to create custom reports. Forbes showed me a report that lists matters comprising 80% of a firm's business. Finally, Centerbase's iPhone app now includes mobile time entries for billing on the go. Centerbase costs $52 per user per month. Learn more about Centerbase.

How to Receive TL NewsWire
So many products, so little time. In each issue of TL NewsWire, you'll learn about five new products for the legal profession. Pressed for time? The newsletter's innovative articles enable lawyers and law office administrators to quickly understand the function of a product, and zero in on its most important features. The TL NewsWire newsletter is free so don't miss the next issue. Please subscribe now.

Abacus Payment Exchange Adds Payment Processing to Abacuslaw, Amicus Attorney, and Amicus Online

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers a new payment processor with a flat fee per transaction that deposits funds overnight (see article below). In addition, you'll find links to the previous 11 TL NewsWire features, including our coverage of a Microsoft Word add-in for drafting litigation and transactional documents with a new document assembly engine, forms library, and machine-learning tools, a new legal research service that use artificial intelligence to keep you apprised of new federal legislation and regulations, and much more. Don't miss the next issue.

Giving clients more options to pay you results in faster payment. Consumers like using credit cards when their checking account is running on fumes, while a growing number of businesses prefer paying by ACH (echeck) for security reasons. However, third-party payment providers often charge fees and take a few days to release funds.

Abacus Payment Exchange … in One Sentence

Launched recently, AbacusNext's Abacus Payment Exchange (APX) is a payment processing platform that works within the company's AbacusLaw, Amicus Attorney, and Amicus Online practice management systems.

The Killer Feature

APX addresses many complaints law firms have about payment providers. There's no contract, no monthly fees, no monthly minimums, and no additional fees for premium credit cards. Instead, APX charges a flat 3% of each credit card transaction. ACH payments sail through free of charge. In most cases, APX deposits payments into your designated bank account overnight.

"APX is convenient and easy to use when clients want to pay with credit card," said Ohio-based lawyer Norman J. Ullom-Morse. "It costs us substantially less than the previous vendor we used. It also works really well in the cloud environment. At this point, APX has become a necessity for my practice."

Other Notable Features

AbacusLaw, Amicus Attorney, and Amicus Online contain an onboarding wizard for APX. This wizard auto-fills much of the required information such as your firm's address. You can finish the signup process anytime in case you need to retrieve information.

The wizard verifies and authenticates your credit rating through Vantage, an independent underwriter. For example, you may need to identify previous residences or vehicles. Most applications are approved within a day. APX is not privy to any of this information.

APX supports both operating and trust accounts. Accordingly, APX can deposit payments into a trust account, and deduct the 3% fee from your operating account. APX never deducts fees from trust accounts to comply with ethics rules.

In each respective practice management system, you can store a default payment method for each client to save keystrokes. You can always override this setting. APX emails clients a receipt confirming payment. With most providers, disputed charges (chargebacks) get sent to you. By contrast, APX receives chargebacks on your behalf and offers integrated tools for responding to and resolving these disputes.

The financial reports in AbacusLaw, Amicus Attorney, and Amicus Online now include APX payment data so you can assess its impact on receivables aging. "Our clients have been telling us that that invoicing and getting paid is one of the hardest parts of a legal professional's job," said AbacusNext CEO Alessandra Lezama. "APX solves these payment and invoicing challenges within the industry-leading case management software."

What Else Should You Know?

APX is PCI-compliant and securely stores all payment information in its datacenters. No payment information resides in your practice management system. Learn more about Abacus Payment Exchange.

How to Receive TL NewsWire
So many products, so little time. In each issue of TL NewsWire, you'll learn about five new products for the legal profession. Pressed for time? The newsletter's innovative articles enable lawyers and law office administrators to quickly understand the function of a product, and zero in on its most important features. The TL NewsWire newsletter is free so don't miss the next issue. Please subscribe now.

As a fairly unsophisticated technophile, I find the TechnoLawyer Newswire helps explain new software, gadgets, and other products in language I can understand. Plus, it always provides links to a fuller explanation of the product or service. All in all, a very helpful read for an old lawyer trying to keep up.
- Jack P. Doran, Esq., Law Office of Jack Doran
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