A Solution in Search of a Problem – Paper Software

Paper Software (for the Mac) from Turner (Contracts Made Easy) (www.paper-software.com) is a solution in search of a problem.  On encountering the product at LegalTech New York 2014, I asked myself how this tool would improve either legal document drafting or document analysis.  I was told there was a new “document assembly” tool that work on a Mac.  What I found was fascinating, but really a niche product.

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ActionStep – First Looks

In the past few years there have been a number of entrants into the area of Cloud-based practice management.  These companies offer the promise of practice management Nirvana — run your practice on any device, from anywhere with no software installation, no server, and even no network.  ActionStep, which has an installed base in New Zealand and Australia, has adapted its practice management system for the U.S. law market.  I am going through their training curriculum this summer and will be releasing a formal review on TechnoLawyer’s SmallLaw newsletter in September.  For now, here are a few highlights.

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The Document Butler – The Meaning of Document Management

The “Value-Add” in Document Management goes well beyond storage and backup.  Steve Best, in an article in Law Practice Today (“Document Management: Finding it in the Cloud“) captures the essence of what distinguishes a document management system from mere cloud storage when he uses the term, “The Document Butler”.

I can picture The Butler scurrying around to make sure everything is in its proper place.  I can envision the document appearing by “automagically” as my fingers reach for it, courtesy of my butler.  It is always the RIGHT document that I need at the exact moment I reach for it.  And more importantly, when I am finished with the document, it automagically gets filed in the right place where others can find it.

So what is this Butler worth to you?  Is it worth $38/month to have him (or her) at your beck and call 24 hours a day?  That rate is equivalent to 1/10 of an hour of an attorney’s time a month or 1/3 of an hour of a paralegal’s time.  Just on document search and retrieval, many multiples of that amount are wasted each month.

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TheFormTool Pro 2.0 – Document Assembly Lite

Matthew Berg recently reviewed TheFormTool Pro in the BigLaw newsletter distributed by TechnoLawyer.  Having read the review and the videos of TheFormTool website, I applaud some the technology used by the developers of FormToolPro.  It seems to make the “simple things” easy, and gives you somewhat more functionality than Merge Fields.  The support for conditional fields and live variable edits is more than what you would expect from a cheap utility. It may be adequate for some of your needs; but not for all of your automation needs.

Don’t be deceived.  Document assembly tools like HotDocs, XpressDox, DealBuilder and Exari offer a wealth more features.  Handling of REPEATS or COLLECTIONS; seamless integration with databases, and support for nested levels of conditional logic are assumed in these systems.  Check out the tool of course, but you will soon want to take automation to the next level of efficiency.

TotalAttorneys – Cloud Based Practice Management for $1

Total Attorneys advertised practice management in the cloud for $1/month per user.  I recently came across Josh Campman’s review (Choosing Practice Management Software Part 1.5 of 2) and checked out their website  (TotalAttorneys.com).  I have not had a chance to review the offering, but plan to in the future.  For now though, I wish to note that price-points are not what they seem.

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KRONOS Watch – Copy2Contact Review

In an old post I set forth my standard for evaluating software (See KRONOS – Evaluation Criteria for Software).

.  Keystroke Count
.      Return on Investment
.          Opulence and Intuitiveness
.              Networkability and Integration
.                   Options and Customization
.                        Suitability for the Task.

W  * A * T  * C  * H

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Forrester Report – ROI of Cloud Apps

The Forester Reasearch released to the public (via TechRepublic.com) a June 23, 2011, white paper titled: “The ROI of Cloud Apps: A Total Econimic Impact(TM) Analysis Uncovers Long-Term Value in Cluse Apps.” Below I will quote and highlight some key conclusions of this report.

Recognize that the report: analyzes the longer-term, five-year cost of ownership and value for cloud applications across four categories: customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), collaboration (including email), and IT service management.”

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Cloud to Desktop – Connecting XpressDox to Advologix

Salesforce is a powerful tool for practice management.  It’s implementation by AdvologixPM brings that power in a digestable form to attorneys.  Until now, your main option for document assembly has been to create basic merge templates.  The DrawLoop addin allowed you to create packages; multiple templates with designated outputs.  But in the end, you were still restricted to Word-Merges.

XpressDox 4.0 introduces the Salesforce.com Data Source Configuration Tool

Now there is another option, XpressDox.  This tool is a power document assembly engine (with most everything you would expect from rival products), but at a very competitive price point.  What I want to show here is live and dynamic connection between the desktop version of XpressDox (NOTE: it also works with the Server version as well).

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