Our top five productivity tools for lawyers

imac-606765_1280.jpg

Try these productivity apps to save time and money in your practice.

Search the term “productivity” in the App Store, and you get 250 results. There’s never been more software and apps to help people better manage their time. In addition to the many marketing and practice management tools, there’s an overwhelming list of tools claiming to boost your productivity.

We took on the task of sorting through the many amazing tools on the market. It was hard to narrow down our top choices (including some notable up-and-comers) to these five superstars that we are confident will both delight you while saving you valuable time at work.

Project management: Podio.com

Podio is one of the best project and task management tools around (and we’ve tried them all) to get your tasks, clients, and projects together in one place. You can create templates for more routine workflows or build a custom one for larger projects, and see the status of where every person working on it is in the process. And because it integrates seamlessly with Google Drive and Dropbox, you can attach documents to each project, and your support staff won’t waste time searching for them.

Podio’s versatility makes it such a great tool. In addition to managing tasks and projects, you can use it as a CRM tool, to manage follow up with leads, or even track expense reports. Notifications, of course, are built right in.

Runner-up: Monday.com. It has less functionality than Podio, but we like its clean, user-friendly design which allows you to see everything that’s happening in your projects at the micro- and macro-level. If you’re new to project management, or managing tasks on the cloud, Monday is a good place to start.

Remotely accessing documents on your desktop: TeamViewer

When you have confidential files stored on your desktop computer and need to access them quickly (say, when you’re on vacation during an emergency or forgot to bring an important document to your deposition), TeamViewer allows you to reach them from another computer. And it’s more secure than connecting over a VPN at the airport.

In addition to connecting to your desktop from anywhere, you can also use the TeamViewer app to connect your cell phone to your desktop. The display automatically resizes to fit your phone’s screen, so you can access your files and major desktop apps. You can even share the screen of your desktop to a projector or iPad wherever you are, to a projector or iPad, or print remote files from your phone.

File storage: Google Drive in G-Suite

We use G-Suite for Business here at Hire An Esquire to manage our meetings, emails, and real-time content collaboration. With 14 employees in 4 offices on 2 coasts, we need a tool that allows us to communicate efficiently—and we think G-Suite helps us do that quite well. YMMV on that one, but there’s a good list here of the how you can use G-Suite for your law firm or legal department.

For file storage, there’s likely no other cloud storage as safe as Google Drive, and your data is encrypted on its way to the cloud and when it gets there. How you store those files has to be determined - how they’re organized, when they’re uploaded, and who does it - and tools like Google Admin and two-step verification can help keep your client’s information secure and reduce human error. (If you’re still concerned about the ethics of cloud storage and attorney-client privilege, you can read some states’ opinions on the matter here.) But its ease of use and integration with other apps makes using it a real time-saver.

And if you need more than simple storage - like a process to check documents in or out, or the ability to see version histories - Vault is a Google Drive add-on that’s included with G-Suite for Business, and lets you see searches, content views, and exports. This tool preserves all that data in the event your department or firm is ever audited, or an employee takes sensitive information when they depart.

Contract signing: HelloSign

We like HelloSign because our clients can sign documents remotely, saving time for them and turnaround for us. We can onboard clients at first intake, rather than waiting for a document to come back to us, which takes our intake process from hours (or days) to minutes. And that means we don’t miss out on sales or new business.

Plus, documents signed with the service are legally admissible in court. An executed agreement comes with a time-stamped audit trail that records everyone who touched the document, including party names, and email and IP addresses.

Legal research: Casetext

Casetext is David taking on the Goliaths of LexisNexis and Thomson West. Casetext uses AI technology in the form of a legal assistant named CARA (Case Analysis Legal Research) to find the most relevant cases to any legal document. You can upload any document that contains legal text, and CARA sends back a list of cases relevant to the document but not mentioned in it ( a more in depth explanation is here). It also extracts and weighs issues such as the types of parties, the jurisdiction, and procedural posture. And we believe that the technology will only get better as it’s refined over time.

Casetext released a National Legal Resource Group study this week showing that lawyers could save hundreds of hours per year using it. While there’s been blowback over the fact that Casetext funded the study, it’s hard to argue with the finding that 75% of its attorneys preferred their research experience on Casetext over LexisNexis. Add that to the price tag - only $65 per month - and it’s definitely worth trying out their free 14-day trial.

Have a favorite productivity tool we didn’t mention here? Leave a comment, and we’ll add it to the list.