Category Archives: law

The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Law Firms

artificial intelligence

 

Artificial intelligence. Once the stuff of science fiction (who remembers Captain Kirk’s concern that he might be replaced by the advanced M5 supercomputer?), artificial intelligence (AI) is today very much a part of our reality. And while it’s easy to pick up where Captain Kirk left off and worry that the explosion of AI will take all the work and leave the current labor force with nothing to do, a report from MIT predicts that AI will actually create as many jobs as it eliminates. That goes for the legal world, too.

According to Marek Bardonski, Managing Partner & Head of AI at Sigmoidal, “AI is here to help lawyers and researchers by taking over the mundane and tedious tasks, leaving more time for business-critical procedures.” The removal of the drudgery that pervades law should be cause for celebration. Think of the inordinate number of hours law practitioners spend – and complain about!  – each month on time-intensive processes such as contract review, contract due diligence, legal research, billing, and more. Then consider what leveraging AI might open up for all of us.

Here’s a closer look at how AI is transforming the legal profession:

Contract Review
Fast, accurate, and easy contract reviews? That sounds too good to be true. Well, not anymore. AI is already working to make the manual review of contracts page by endless page a distant memory.

After working through yet another night, it finally occurred to Konrad Pola that there had to be a better way of doing this “essential, yet grueling, and time-consuming, work.” A corporate lawyer, whose experience spans securities law, corporate finance, and M&A, Pola turned his attention towards solving this problem and created Diligen Software.

Diligen’s AI technology cuts contract review time in half by streamlining the end-to-end process of sorting documents, summarizing contracts, and spotting critical provisions. A study of Diligen customers over a 12-month period revealed that the platform increases the accuracy of contract analysis by 80% compared to a lawyer manually reviewing contracts alone. And, to boot, this contract assistant doesn’t ask for vacation.

Legal Research
The practice of law inherently requires a lot of research. Basic issues research is a staple of first year associates; attorneys starting out spend their formative years learning how to conduct precise, accurate research that wins cases and positions them as experts in their field.

Finding details relevant to new cases can take days even weeks when using standard keyword search. ROSS is an example of an AI tool that augments keyword search with machine learning to both speed up the research process and improve the relevance of items found. ROSS has been widely touted for improving work processes, reducing costs, and perhaps most importantly, generating better results for clients. Ellen Gregg, Vice Chair, Womble Bond Dickinson praises ROSS for enabling lawyers “to analyze legal issues and make connections that would otherwise be invisible.” Now, that’s very smart.

Better Efficiency and Productivity
Although some in the legal community fear AI is a replacement for people’s jobs, Chris Perram is CEO of FileFacets, emphasizes that “it cannot replace the years of legal experience and real-world interactions, judgment, and knowledge of lawyers and those in the law community.” Instead, there is a complementary relationship developing that offers significant upside. “Combining human knowledge and skills with AI technology and tools can, and is proving to be, very successful in enhancing a firm’s scope of services and ultimately revenue, making processes more efficient and helping lawyers and staff get things done faster, cheaper, better—for themselves and their clients,” he says.

Kristin Johnson is an executive and corporate communications professional, and founder of KSJ Communications, a communications and public relations firm. She consults with a diverse roster of clients spanning the technology, professional services, financial services, public sector, consumer, and healthcare industries. In addition to Rocket Matter, Johnson writes for various other publications as well.

 

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Setting Your Associates Up for Success: How to Avoid the Pitfalls

setting your associates up for success

 

Picture this: You have a great, seemingly hardworking associate. However, at every review, he or she seems to be falling short on their billable hours target. The person is coming in early, working late, and even putting in time on weekends, but still can’t seem to bill enough to keep on staff.  If this is happening at your firm, you very likely have inefficiencies and roadblocks that are preventing your associate from succeeding. Here are the pitfalls…and what you can do to help:

Delegation Issues
The first step to discovering whether delegation is the culprit for lack of productivity is to have your associate keep track of all her time. Many of our Rocket Matter users will create “Non-Billable” matters for each staff member to track the activities that they do that they can’t bill clients for. From there, you’ll see what kind of tasks should be delegated to support staff that you can pay at a lower rate. If there are tasks that are being delegated to support staff, but are either coming back incorrect, poorly executed, or are taking too long to complete, you may have identified that your associate’s performance suffers because of those ill-equipped or inefficient staff members. In other words, what appears to be your associate’s inefficiencies might actually be your support staff’s.

Bad Billing Habits
Bad billing habits should be a thing of the past, but they’re very much a thing of the present. Firms are still manually billing, but there are a ton of powerful billing tools specifically for law firms, like Rocket Matter, where users can use our Bill-as-You-Work technology to easily track their time. Note that billing entries should not be assigned or delegated to another person! This can create a backlog at billing time. If you’re worried about the time it takes to properly log what you’re doing, you should look into tools like TextExpander to insert those repetitive phrases into your time and billing software to increase efficiency. Going paperless or reducing your use of paper allows your associates to work from anywhere, at any time. Our Rocket Matter users have been enjoying this flexibility for the past 10 years.

Having a Non-Flexible Work Environment
If you’re restricting all work to the four walls of your office during specific times, you may be telling your associate when and where they should be productive. Instead, try letting them tell you when and how they work best. Going paperless will help with this, as a flexible workplace allows your employees to do the work they need to in order to hit their target hours from anywhere, at the times that they’re most sharp and efficient. Plus, sometimes skipping the commute can mean putting in a few extra hours at work.

Overall, taking accountability for where you may be failing your associates will give you the power to make the changes necessary to give them the best chance of succeeding. After all, their success and happiness will only lead to a more profitable firm.

Nefra MacDonald is the Customer Success Product Manager at Rocket Matter. After working in various capacities at law firms, corporations, and non-profits, she decided to use her experience to help address the pain points that practicing lawyers feel every day. She currently co-chairs Rocket Matter’s Product Advisory Committee, which serves as a source of targeted feedback for the company’s product improvement strategy.

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Ep 26: Why Should My Firm Go Paperless?

On this episode of the 10 Minute Law Firm Podcast, Larry Port chats with Nefra MacDonald, Rocket Matter’s Business Development and Strategic Partnership Coordinator. Nefra talks about the financial and practical reasons to take your firm paperless, including some tools to help you transition to the cloud. Nefra is also the host of our Annual Paperless Law Firm Webinar, which will be held Wednesday, December 13th at 1PM ET. You’ll learn from industry leaders how to take your firm paperless and discover tools and tips that can help you along the way. Can’t make it live? No problem. A recording of the webinar will be sent to all registrants so you’ll be able to watch it at your convenience. Don’t miss out!

Click here to register for our Paperless Law Firm Webinar!

 

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How to Create and Run a Paperless Law Office in 2018—Free Webinar!

paperless_law_office

 

Want your productivity, mobility, and overhead savings to skyrocket in 2018? Join us for our annual paperless law office webinar to help you achieve all of that and more. 

Will will you learn in this webinar? You’ll find out the most up-to-date practices, must-have tools, protocols, and workflows to start and maintain a successful paperless office. You’ll also discover the benefits of creating and maintaining a paperless law office. Our experts will share practical tips on paperless naming conventions and the ideal way to store and manage your documents. And you’ll also discover the best paperless tools, cloud-based solutions, and legal practice management software to support your paperless journey.

Here are the details:

What: How to Create and Run a Paperless Law Office in 2018

When: Wednesday, December 13th, 2017; 1pm – 2pm ET.

Who: Our presenters are experts in moving firms to the cloud, so they can really help teach you all the latest tips and tricks on going paperless. Our presenters include Ivy B. Grey who is a paperless lawyer herself and the author of American Legal Style for PerfectIt, which is a proofreading and editing program for lawyers that runs inside of MS Word; Dennis Dimka, the founder and CEO of Uptime Legal Systems, North America’s leading provider of technology, cloud, and marketing services to law firms; and Nefra MacDonald, the Business Development and Strategic Partnership Coordinator at Rocket Matter.

If your resolution for 2018 is to become more productive, save money, and limit paper use, then look no further: This webinar will help you do all of that and more!

Can’t attend live? No problem! A recording of the webinar will be sent to all registrants.

Register for this free webinar today!

 

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Ep 25: The LawLauncher Legal Technology Virtual Summit

On this week’s episode of the 10 Minute Law Firm Podcast, Larry Port speaks with Andrew Cabasso, the Managing Director of Uptime Jurispage. In addition to helping law firms have a more prominent presence on the internet through web design and marketing, Andrew is the host of the LawLauncher Legal Technology Virtual Summit. The summit is a two-day online conference geared towards helping lawyers start, manage, and grow their practice. The best part? Registration is absolutely free! You won’t want to miss this!

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Legal Productivity’s Holiday Gift Guide – 2017 Edition

affordable gifts

 

Another holiday season is upon us, and it’s inevitable that at least a few people on your list will be tough to shop for. It’s no secret that picking out gifts may be one of the most stressful things about the holidays. But fear not! We’ve spent a lot of time compiling this list just to help you. The gift items run the gamut of geeky and techie to pampering and practical. We hope you find something for you and your friends, family, and colleagues! (And maybe a little something for yourself!)

Decision PaperweightCan’t make a decision? This odd desk trinket can help you answer your most challenging questions. Just give it a spin and see where it lands. Think of it as the sophisticated Magic 8 ball for today’s busy professional.

Cost: $17.64

Muse: The Brain Sensing Headband– Shopping for someone who’s into meditation or wants to be? Muse provides you with real-time audio feedback on what’s happening in your brain when you meditate, letting you know when your mind wanders so you can regain focus (Yes, it’s that smart!). Check out the product website and read about more awesome features!

Cost: On sale for $199.99 (originally $249.99)

Away Luggage– This luggage brand features unbreakable shells, interior compartments, and built-in USB chargers. Each piece is functional, minimal, and reasonably priced. Best of all? Each piece comes with a 100-day trial and a lifetime warranty. They guarantee to fix or replace your bag if there’s ever a problem, making this an incredibly sound investment for any traveller.

Cost: Pieces range from $45.00-$450.00 for an entire set

Google Home, Google Home Mini and Google Home Max– Similar to last year’s pick of Amazon Echo, the Google Home collection is made of voice-recognition speakers that incorporates the Google Assistant. They do everything from play music, launch Netflix, read your recipes, and control your smart home. What’s the difference between the regular, mini, and max versions besides price? The max has superior sound quality and only comes in black and white (our pick for the music lovers in your life). The regular size is similar to that of a standard oil diffuser and allows you to change up the base for a pop of color. The mini is a little less conspicuous and comes in three color options. So many choices!

Cost: Google Home Max: $399.00 Google Home: $129.00 Google Home Mini: $29.00

Touchscreen Gloves– Live in a cold climate and can’t put down your mobile device? Rather than having to rip off your gloves to send a text, you can purchase touchscreen gloves that allow you to work your phone or tablet without getting frostbitten fingers. With a wide assortment of colors and styles for both men and women, it’ll be easy to pick up a pair for a stocking stuffer or a Secret Santa gift.

Cost: $6.99 and up

Kindle Paperwhite Bundle– For the avid reader, consider a Kindle Paperweight (Amazon’s best-selling Kindle model.) This well-priced bundle comes with a Kindle Paperwhite ($119.00), an Amazon leather cover ($39.99), an Amazon 5W power adapter ($19.99) and a $15.00 credit to the Kindle eBook store.

Cost: $159.97

A Coffee Subscription– For the highly-caffeinated, a Blue Bottle coffee subscription is a fantastic gift. The company (Blue Bottle) is a great startup from California that sends coffee to subscribers around the world. You can choose the category, blend, size, and frequency that your coffee gets delivered. All of the coffee is sourced directly from farmers and is vetted for quality. You can cancel your subscription at any time.

Cost: $8.00 and up per shipment

BetaBrand Dress Yoga Pants– These uber-comfy crowdfunded pants combine the sophistication of dress pants with the soft stretch comfort and performance of (you guessed it!) yoga pants. The company boasts that “they’ll be the most comfortable pants you ever wear to work.” And they’re not just for women: You can also purchase flex pants for men!

Cost: $29.00 and up

A PopSocket– This little knick-knack is another stocking stuffer. What the heck is a PopSocket? It’s a collapsible grip and stand for your phone that you can reposition easily. There is also a mount accessory that will allow you to attach your phone to your car dashboard, mirror, fridge, wall, or virtually any other flat surface for hands-free viewing. There are a ton of designs to chose from, and you can even create your own!

Cost: $10.00

A Gratitude Glass Jar– “The more grateful you are, the more present you become, the more joy you bring into your life.” This gratitude glass jar made “Oprah’s 2017 Favorite Things List” and we think it belong on our list, too! It’s a beautiful glass jar that includes 365 cards so you can jot down the things that you appreciate each day. At the end of the year, you can re-read the cards and reflect on what truly made you happy. It’ll do wonders for your attitude and help you celebrate the joy of being alive.

Cost: $45.00

Happy Shopping! 

 

 

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Rocket Matter’s Legal Productivity is Among the ABA Journal’s Web 100 “Best Law Blogs”

ABA Journal's Web 100 Best Law Blogs

 

We at Legal Productivity take a lot of pride in our work. We always strive to produce content that lawyers will both learn from and enjoy. We fact-check our articles. We cover timely, important news and analyze how it affects attorneys around the world.

And now, it seems our hard work and dedication to good journalism has paid off.

The ABA Journal has included Rocket Matter’s Legal Productivity blog in their Web 100. This honor features 50 blogs, 25 law podcasts, and 25 tweeters that they recommend lawyers follow—and Legal Productivity was dubbed one of the “Best law blogs” around.

So why were we chosen? Apparently our readers wrote in and spoke highly of our Freedom Fighter series and our 10 Minute Law Firm podcast. They appreciate that our blog features posts on how lawyers can get organized, leverage technology, and market their firms. We’ve also recently covered everything from sexual harassment in the legal industry and how lawyers can help veterans to productivity in associates and how to write the perfect business email.

We thank the ABA Journal for this honor.

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Ep 24: Jeff Shavitz and the Ultimate Business Mindset

On this week’s episode of the 10 Minute Law Firm Podcast, Larry Port interviews Jeff Shavitz, the CEO and founder of LexCharge legal payment processing. Jeff talks about how he became an entrepreneur and divulges his unique mindset for taking your business to the next level. Jeff also talks about his involvement with YPO (Young Presidents’ Organization) as well as the idea of a business “Mastermind” to help foster leadership and growth for other entrepreneurs.

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Switching from an iPhone to an Android: Pros and Cons after One Week

switching from iphone to android

 

After much deliberation and soul-searching, I decided to switch to Android after being an iPhone user since 2008. The iOS 11 update rendered my poor iPhone 6 Plus virtually unusable, and it made me resentful towards Apple. The flowing display of the Note 8 and the intrigue of the S-Pen stylus were enough for me to take the leap and convert, something I had resisted for three straight phone purchases.

After finding out I made the switch, a lot of people have been asking me to share my experiences of switching to Android after being an iOS user for so long. I’ve only been using the Note 8 for less than a week, but here are my observations so far:

Things I miss about iOS:

iMessage – Text messages in general are just better in iOS. Read receipts and the lack of character limits were great to have and something I’ve grown accustomed to.

Notifications – When you get a text, email or other message a tiny one line strip appears for about one second in Android. It’s gone so fast, it’s almost impossible to take action on it. Even when you open the notification list replying to a text or message is painful and requires multiple clicks on a super tiny drop down arrow. iOS has designed this interaction really well. It just requires a simple swipe. The Android notification list in general is not well designed from a UX perspective. Its cluttered and difficult to scan quickly for the information you are looking for.

Maybe you can do this on Android but I can’t find a way to set different sounds and vibration patterns for specific notifications. With iOS, my phone would be in my pocket and I would know if I got a text, slack message, or email without taking it out.

Lock screen – iOS lock screen is better and you can access the camera a little faster.

Emojis– These Android Emojis that came with the Note 8 are AWFUL. I can’t stand them. I never even realized these weren’t standardized. I use Slack daily and they have the same emojis as iOS. Seems like a small thing but I feel my communication doesn’t quite capture the right feeling without the perfect emoji.

Unlocking the phone – Unless you use the fingerprint scanner (which is not positioned well on the Note 8), it requires pressing a button, swiping the screen, then either looking at the iris scanner (which is hit or miss) or inputting your “unlock pattern.” Too many steps. iOS is just simpler. It seems minor but this is something you are doing all day over and over again. (I will say this about Android: You can set up locations you know to be safe, like your house, where the phone will not lock. That’s really nice.)

Visual consistency – Apple has done a great job of keeping things consistent within the interface including third party developer icons. Things feels polished and refined in iOS.

Things I love about Android / Note:

Google Assistant – Crushes Siri. It’s not even close. But now you can get it on iPhone, although I don’t know if it’s a one-to-one comparison.

Multi App Display – Super sick. You can have 2 apps opened at once and have them split the screen. You can have your bank app open at the same time as your calculator, etc. I used to pull this off on the iPhone by jumping back and forth which was inefficient and annoying. The feature is well implemented too, switching which app is open in each window is easy, as is dismissing one altogether.

The S-Pen – I love it. The way you can draw and take notes is amazing. Adobe Sketchbook is a great app for leveraging this peripheral. Sketching with the pencil feels surprisingly lifelike. It’s very impressive. Taking notes in written form but having them stored in the cloud is a game changer as I’ve always preferred the handwritten medium yet succumbed to typing everything merely for persistence and cloud accessibility. The stylus is small and thus might prove easy to misplace. However the Note remembers the time and date the S-Pen was last removed so you can backtrack where you were when last using it.

Display – The Note’s flowing display is amazing and it makes using the device more pleasurable.

Unlocking the phone – The ability to set locations where the phone stays unlocked, like your house. Very convenient.

Keyboard – The swipe style typing that’s possible is a real time saver. It’s very satisfying to see the long word you were after magically appear after sweeping across the keys with minimal accuracy.  Also the long press access to punctuation and special characters is a godsend for and iOS convert.

Location based reminders – This is amazing and something I’ve thought made too much sense not to have. Reminding me to get dog food when I’m near a PetSmart is incredible. Siri tried but was awful at figuring out where the locations I was telling her were. But now that iOS has Google Assistant, you can probably do this on iPhone too.

Things the jury is out on:

Widgets – At first I thought these would be so cool and I was always frustrated that iOS didn’t allow them. After playing around with them and trying to get my widget screens just right, I’m not convinced. The info they provide is ok but opening the app is just as easy and provides the full experience. Also I wish Android had some design standard for these widgets. They all look different and have different sizes and shapes and by the time the widget screen is compiled it looks like some type of pieced together frankenstein screen which drives me crazy.

Bottom line: Early impressions

iOS is a bit more polished and attention is spent on a lot of the micro-interactions you engage in daily. There’s less friction when using the device. Android has some really nice usability additions that are helpful in the context of your daily routines outside of the phone. It alerted me to a major traffic accident I was approaching even though I was not in any active navigation route. Calendar reminders include traffic information and they let you know when you should leave to arrive on time. Google assistant is awesome, but now you can get that on iOS.

I’m still learning and experimenting with the device so we’ll see how it goes over the next few weeks. I’m certain many of my misgivings are due to being a novice on the platform. I’ll have a follow up after a month of using the Note. Stay tuned!

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Thoughts on Staying Happy and Rejecting Divisiveness on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a holiday that has the potential to change our lives for our better. For this reason, it is my favorite of all holidays. The food doesn’t hurt, either.

According to academic research, giving thanks leads to gratitude which leads to happiness. In our 10-minute Law Firm Podcast the other day, we discussed this relationship. We then went on to discuss other happiness cultivation techniques, including recognizing that contentedness is largely an internal process, tracking your achievements, and recognizing that your happiness level now is what it is likely to be in the future.

It is easy in today’s age to be anxious and angry. Our time-saving devices tend to not give us more time, but the ability to cram more activities into one day. Life is hectic and we are stretched thin. We live in a very divided age, which leads to frustration and anger. Whatever your politics, I’m sure you’ve seen something reported in your news media or social network of choice that makes you so upset you can feel it in your gut.

But can I float a couple of ideas to counter all of this stuff?

1) We do have our problems, but we live in an amazing age.

We take for granted things that people throughout human history desperately wished for. Our children typically survive to adulthood. Women typically survive childbirth. We don’t die from a variety of agonizing diseases.

Additionally, we enjoy humdrum conveniences of air conditioning, the ability to travel anywhere in the world in a day, or GPS navigation. We enjoy the freedom of unfettered access to ideas through books, Wikipedia. We communicate in real-time with loved ones in distant locations.

2) Divisiveness is profitable, so don’t be manipulated.

People are making money off of your outrage. News organizations are having a hard time making money, and they are facing competition off of their left and right flanks, so they are constantly adjusting their headlines and images to achieve a visceral reaction from people. Twitter and Facebook thrive off the discord. So the next time you see an Internet article that pisses you off, recognize that your emotions are being manipulated for profit.

And your favorite opinionated pundit on TV or radio? Find out what their salary is. They are making a lot of money stoking anger.

I don’t mean to say there are not legitimate issues taking place in our society that need to be worked on. There certainly are. But do recognize that people are making money by exploiting your anger and emotions off of issues, and the trick is to identify those instances.

3) Our digital world is making us anxious.

I highly recommend taking a day or two away from your smartphone. It is hard to put these devices down, but excessive usage of them are proven to cause anxiety. One of the antidotes to life’s stressors? Spending time in nature.

This Thanksgiving, I am grateful for the people in my life, the journey I’ve been on, and the privileges I enjoy living in the United States. I wish all of our Rocket Matter family and the larger community as a whole a peaceful, happy holiday today.

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