60 tips, tricks and technologies to improve your life and practice on and offline
Updated: A free artificial intelligence legal research tool, accepting cryptocurrency at your firm and a way to get your tab addiction under control were just a fraction of the 60 tips and technologies shared in the last 60 minutes of ABA Techshow in Chicago.
Hosted by Techshow co-chairs Debbie Foster and Tom Mighell alongside co-vice chairs Lincoln Mead and John Simek, the rapid-fire panel covered more ground than captured below. However, themes emerged around AI, cybersecurity, general digital well-being and practice management. Here is some of what the panel had to share:
STEP INTO AI
AI for legal briefs: EVA by ROSS Intelligence, CARA Research Suite and Judicata are just some of the options lawyers can use to leverage AI to improve their legal work. EVA, which is free, will tell a user if the cases they cite are still valid or if there are cases challenging the holding. “If you want to get a handle on your research, this is a great place to look at it,” Mighell said.
AI for conference calls: Vocera, Tetra, Jog.ai are tools to invite to a phone meeting. Some will produce transcripts, others have AI functions to determine what was important and who was speaking. However, Mighell noted that lawyers should “think first before recording confidential conversations.”
Fastcase AI Sandbox: This platform lets you experiment with your data without ceding control by letting the user bring the tools to the data—the user doesn’t upload the data to a company’s site. Simek said it’s not for the small firm, however, because the cost will start at about $75,000 a year.
Tresorit: This is an encrypted cloud storage alternative to Dropbox. Professional accounts start at $20 per user per month, and the platform provides an audit trail of who has touched a file or folder. Foster said it is a “great alternative from a security perspective for those that are looking for an online storage tool.”
Privacy screens: Foster recalled a recent flight sitting next to an attorney from a large firm, saying: “I saw every client name. I saw everything he typed.” Privacy screens are plastic sheets that sit over a computer screen obscuring its view for those not directly in front of the machine. “You never know who is watching,” she said.
Epic Privacy Browser: Based on the Chrome engine, this browser “provides a bunch of privacy and protection tools from the get-go,” Mead said. The browser has a disconnect function that will tell the user how websites are trying to gather information on you. There are also easy on- and off-switches to change the browser’s behavior.
Have you been pwned?: Simek shared the popular website haveibeenpwned.com. By going to this site, users can type in their email addresses or usernames to see if they come up in a database of publicly known hacks. If a hack has occurred but it has not been verified or made public, then the site will not have that information. However, it is a good first step to know if your passwords have been compromised.
Get more from Microsoft 365: With a push of a button, Mighell said this feature is available to all Office 365 users. With autosave on, everything will be backed up to One Drive. Similarly, Foster pointed to the delay-send feature in Outlook. She said she likes to use this feature on the weekends, so she doesn’t ruin her employees’ time off. She also liked using it for when you have to “strategically send an email.”
Tab patrol: Collapse all those open Chrome browser tabs with OneTab. Keeping all the tabs open in Chrome sucks up your machine’s memory. This plugin takes those tabs and puts them into one webpage. Mighell said he’s a huge fan of this extension and that he uses it to save the aggregated tab page for later when he is working on a bigger research project.
Virtual assistants: Foster said that “you can outsource literally anything” from paralegal work to getting your windows cleaned. Upwork, Freelancer, Guru and Law Clerk all provide freelance services. According to her, she uses one platform to get first drafts of CLE papers or website content written. “Everything is available for you at very low cost,” she said.
Turn email into task lists: Mighell liked DragApp for Gmail or G Suite to turn an email inbox into a series of tasks, like in the project management tool Trello. Flow-e is available for Microsoft 365 and Google.
Poll your clients: Foster argued that the legal profession is not doing enough to poll their clients. She recommended tools like SurveyMonkey to send a few quick questions to a client after an interaction. Her recommended asking the client what the lawyer could have done better. “We’re in the relationship business,” she said. Client surveys “could be a big game change.”
Accepting cryptocurrency: Simek said that this is a growing but nascent area in legal practice. He referenced a recent Nebraska ethics opinion on the subject saying: “I think Nebraska got it right.” The opinion recommends that if a firm accepts cryptocurrency, it should be converted immediately, because the value, regardless of the type of cryptocurrency, is volatile. He went on to say that firms should give the money back in U.S. dollars. Like anything, he said a contract should be written regarding who covers transaction fees and memorialize the value of the cryptocurrency at the time of payment.
Legal editing: Foster shared a proofreading software called PerfectIt built for professionals. Lawyers will like that it is built on Black’s Law Dictionary and enforces language and usage guidance from legal writing experts. It’s $99 a user.
Sideways Dictionary: This is a website that provides easy ways to explain complicated tech concepts. Mighell shared an example that explained two-factor authentication through the story of Cinderella.
Corrupt-a-file.net: Have a deadline? Not going to make it? Upload your file on this website and the site will corrupt the document just enough that it’s not openable. You can send the newly corrupted file to whomever needed the final product and “buy yourself that extra 24 hours,” Mead said jokingly. The inclusion of this tool was not an endorsement of any potentially unethical behavior.
Updated March 12 to reflect that the inclusion of Corrupt-a-file was a joke.
Follow along with our full coverage of the 2018 ABA Techshow