Boston — The economy didn’t slow down the scene at LegalTech 2009 in New York, although it did seem to alter the sales pitch. Vendors and service providers pitched themselves as cost-effective and budget-friendly, or adopted an as-needed, pay-as-you go sales plan.
The following are some services and products that caught our eye.
California-based CompuLaw’s Deadlines on Demand is a Web-based calendaring service that incorporates state and federal court rules.
On a per-use basis, a lawyer can run a search of a particular court system based on the type of case he or she is handling, in order to determine the appropriate deadlines and calendar dates associated with it.
A user selects a jurisdiction, picks an area of practice and then chooses a “selectable event,” such as filing a new case or a motion for summary judgment. He or she then enters the date and time the document was officially filed.
DOD will present a detailed set of deadlines based on court rules and relevant statutes, adjusted for holidays. The service includes citations to the specific rules dictating each date. Users can print the deadlines, send the file to a handheld device or download it to an Outlook calendar.
Prices range from $5 to $99 per use, with an average cost of $29. The cost varies depending on the type of case and the extent of the rules involved in the calculation of the deadlines.
DOD has expanded to include more court systems and jurisdictions, and offers a Change Notification System. When a rule change occurs that effects an existing court date, the system runs your search again and makes any updates — free of charge.
While a calendaring service may not seem particularly exciting, calendar/deadline-related errors continue to be a leading cause of legal malpractice claims.
According to the ABA’s most recent “Profile of Legal Malpractice Claims,” 16.63 percent of malpractice claims were due to not knowing or not properly responding to court deadlines.
The problem is significant enough that legal malpractice insurance carriers are offering a deal to DOD users — in California, the Egloff Insurance Agency offers a 5-10 percent discount, and the company is currently working on a deal with a national carrier as well.
Many smaller firms and solos don’t have tech support — other than a buddy who can offer advice or a child who has superior skills in all things tech-related.
If this sounds familiar, consider checking out Traveling Coaches, a national legal coaching and consulting company that offers tech support and services.
The company can guide you through the entire technological process: they can do an assessment of current skills; assess a law firm’s technology needs, consult on the best devices and software; and develop training to meet specific goals.
Traveling Coaches can also help on a piecemeal basis, providing training for specific products, such as Microsoft Office 2007.
Training is specifically tailored to different legal audiences, from lawyers to paralegals to support staff or legal secretaries.
For the lawyer on the go, iDictate offers the latest trend in dictation services: using your iPhone or Blackberry.
The service — which is transcribed by real people, not an automated system — is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year, all on a pay-as-you-go, as-needed basis.
Once the dictation is transcribed, iDictate e-mails the transcript back to you. Return time depends on the length of the transcript, but the company offers a rush service for faster turnaround.
The service allows you to use any dictation device or telephone, as well as your mobile device. The mobile feature can be especially helpful for lawyers who drive in states where the use of handheld devices is outlawed — once the software is on your phone, you simply press a button to start recording, allowing for hands-free operation.
Right now, the company is offering a free, seven-day trial to test out the service.
In addition, iDictate just launched Transcribe-a-Call, a new service that allows users to record a phone call and have it automatically transcribed into text and returned via e-mail. Currently, users must activate the call from the Web site but soon they will be able to use their own phones.
(In many states, it is a crime to record someone without his or her knowledge, so be sure that all parties acknowledge that they are aware they are being recorded.) iDictate is currently offering a 500-word free trial. Normal rates are a flat rate of 2 cents per word.
In the current economic climate, lawyers and law firms are looking to save money anywhere they can. One solution might be outsourcing your technology and renting as needed instead.
SmartSource rentals provides laptops, desktops, servers and copiers for one day or longer.
The service also comes in handy if you have a big case and need extra supplies for document review, or if you need specialized equipment for trial, like a projector or an LCD monitor to show a “Day in the Life” video, for example.
The company has 21 offices nationwide that offer on-site tech support, but they can also ship overnight to cities where they don’t have an office.
Rates vary depending on equipment and length of rental, but the Web site offers a “quick quote” service to give you rough estimate.