Adel-Alexander Aldilemi is a content writer at Valuer.Ai. He considers himself an avid traveler, as he has lived across two continents and is currently studying humanities at Copenhagen University. https://www.linkedin.com/in/adel-alexander-aldilemi-023157a0/
Working in the world of law, whether you’re a lawyer that works in corporate, criminal, tax, or a completely different area of your expertise, it’s important to have the right tools at your disposal in order to succeed within your field.
With the rise of technology, there are a variety of productivity tools that you can utilize in different scenarios that are suited to that specific tool. If you need tools for note taking, scheduling appointments with your clients, presenting forensic evidence in court, there’s a magnitude of possibilities and different alternatives that you can use to make your life easier.
Here are seven tools that any ambitious lawyer should use to become more efficient.
Tool for organizing
Whether you work as an independent lawyer or part of a firm, staying organized is key. No matter how proficient you are at your job, you need to organize all your cases and information in order to keep track. Failure to do so can damage your progress. While there is a variety of note-taking and managing applications out there, Evernote remains the best digital option.
They have been on the market for ten years, and are available on both mobile and desktop. Evernote offers a variety of functionalities depending on your subscription.
From incorporating apps like the cloud, outlook, salesforce and slack you’re able to manage your to-do list and projects and share it with your colleagues. Evernote is the gold standard when it comes to noting down and managing excess and crucial information ready for immediate access and use anytime and anywhere.
Evernote offers three plans. A basic, free plan. The premium plan which costs $7.99 a month and a more business-focused plan titled Evernote Business, that charges $14.99 per user per month.
Tool for scheduling
When scheduling an appointment with clients and colleagues, finding a date that works, depending on the availability of your client and yourself, can be a challenge. Thankfully, there are tools that make the scheduling of appointments a less arduous task for both parties.
Calendly is a brilliant application. It allows a potential meeting participant to pick a day out of your calendar, and schedule a meeting that works for both. It shows your availability based on the data that is in your calendar and gives them the ability to book different types of appointments.
While Calendly is a web program, it does give you the option to sync with your own personal calendar. Whether it’s Google Calendar, iCal, Outlook or Microsoft Office 365. This makes Calendly an excellent program as it does not replace your current calendar but rather improves it by giving external viewers a peek at your availability.
Calendly has different pricing plans. One free version. A second is a premium plan which charges its users $8-10 depending on whether or not they decide to pay monthly or annually. Finally, you have the pro version, which charges its users $12-15 depending on the billing method.
Tool for research
Having access to a database or a legal encyclopedia full of information such as previous court cases, legal journals or legislation is crucial. By staying up to date and educating yourself on relevant knowledge from past and on-going cases sharpens your skills, and prepares you for a potential case that may or may not have occurred in the past.
While there are a variety of databases you can use online such as Google Scholar, LexisNexis, the encyclopedia that we’ve decided to focus on, is Westlaw.
Westlaw is a global research library used by more than 60 countries. They provide information on areas such as legal, news and business. They have over 28,000 databases ranging from legislation to treaties.Research showed that Westlaw outperformed other similar services, and it’s not only popular amongst law firms, but governmental organizations, academic institutions and other professionals across the UK and the world.
Westlaw prides itself on the simplicity of its interface, its ability to update its content to stay up to date with the latest events and advanced search options for a more efficient search. All you need for Westlaw is a subscription and internet access, and you’re good to go.
While Westlaw does not disclose the pricing of its services as they are dependent on the firm applying, you are able to try a free trial version. You need to contact a Westlaw sales rep to learn more about the specific pricing options and plans.
Tool(s) for presentation
Technology has re-shaped the way we operate. Applying technology to court, for instance, is no different. Presenting evidence via a tablet, such as an iPad, is a lot more efficient than having a stack of papers. There are a few programs out there specifically designed for presenting evidence and other material during court, however, the two leading ones are Trialpad and TrialDirector.
They offer more or less the same options and functionality. They both give the option to store your documents easily, making navigation and management less of a hassle. Both tools allow you to find and select files with ease, meaning it takes less time locating the corresponding file containing the piece of evidence you need, in case of cross-examination or redirect.
The tools also allow for displaying evidence through a split screen for a side-by-side comparison, and even overlaying exhibits for simple comparisons (such as handwriting, transcript or audio files).
They both support a variety of files, both natively for mac or windows, as well as importing photographs or videos. They’re specifically designed to make presentations more dynamic, seamless and organized. A must for any attorney who wishes to make the most of their presentation during court.
Trialpad is available on the iPad and retails at $129.99 on the Apple app store. Trial director does not disclose the price on their website, however, a trial is available. You can request a purchase inquiry on their website.
Tool for security
A certain level of confidentiality follows that of being a lawyer. It’s important for lawyers to ensure that the details surrounding their clients in their case files do not fall in the wrong hands.
Hackers have different ways of accessing your personal files using certain programs, or phishing.Yahoo is an example of how a cyber-attack can compromise user information. Therefore, it’s not enough to only have a long and complex password, you also need to have several for each of your accounts and a place to store those passwords.
Lastpass is an app that essentially locks your password. It’s a virtual safe that keeps all your information secure, and only you have access. You can access your passwords from any device with the installed app. Even if the password manager gets hacked, then the hackers won’t necessarily have access to all your individual data.
LastPass has different subscription options, ranging from $3-$6 a user, LastPass is an affordable password manager, that can secure your clients’ data.
Tool Data backup
While keeping your files secure and organized is important, it’s equally as crucial to be able to restore the files you’ve lost. Nothing is perfect, neither is a computer.
Anything bad can happen, from theft to damage. Therefore being aware and taking the necessary steps to prepare for a potential loss of data collected throughout the years.
Acronis is a platform that not only saves your files, but it also comes with a variety of functionalities, versatility, and customization that can help you and your firm. It can back up your data from a mobile device, cloud platform, or virtual machine while also allowing you to back up to a different cloud storage platform.
Acronis also works with servers, meaning you can back up your information from your webpage while also making it secure. You can encrypt the backup files with three options: 128-bit, 192-bit, and 256-bit AES cipher encryption, giving you versatility in protecting your data.
A fantastic feature on Acronis is the instant recovery feature. It launches the back-up data on a server so users can still access the data while working on restoring the original server. Eliminating the downtime for the data to be readily available to users again.
Acronis retails from $99 per year.
Tool for billing
While there are many products that make billing and payment processing hassle-free. There are a few that are tailored towards attorneys specifically. Tabs3 billing is one of those products.
As stated on their website, Tabs3 is specifically designed for law firms. It has the ability to pay invoices, reconcile bank statements, time tracking, client status reports, and compensation formulas to calculate the earnings of staff, among other features.
Tabs3 does not offer a set price on their products. The pricing on their products depends on the number of users in the firm who wish to use their services. While there is a calculator for companies with less than 5 users, larger companies need to require a custom priced quote on their website.
Technology has evolved to the point that we rely on it heavily and that goes across industries too. Not using a productive tool to make your work more efficient, is like shooting yourself in the foot.
By using the right tools, you not only make work simpler and more efficientfor yourself but you also effectively become a better lawyer for the clients that hire you.