ZERO, a provider of productivity automation solutions primarily for law firms, today announced the launch of Apollo. Apollo is a software product that automatically captures lawyers’ time spent on billable work on any desktop device. According to the ZERO press release, it seamlessly integrates it into their existing billing platform. ZERO claims, “Apollo is a Desktop-based time capture automation solution that records time spent on billable activity”.

 

I have written before about how ZERO transformed itself from an email management company to an automation provider. The transformation resulted from ZEROs focused commitment to listen to its customers. And as I have noted, ZERO offers practical solutions that work.

 

ZERO’s goal is to automate the administrative functions associated with the practice of law as much as possible. By doing so, its CEO, Alex Babin, believes Apollo will free lawyers to concentrate on billable matters. Today’s announcement is yet another step in the transformation.

 

The tool is designed to capture what a lawyer is doing across all devices, including desktops

 

The tool is designed to capture what a lawyer is doing across all devices, including desktops. After the time is captured, Apollo then drafts a time entry that can be revised by the lawyer if necessary. In short, it creates a real-time time entry. Babin describes Apollo as providing “100% passive time entry contemporaneously” with the actual task being done.

 

According to Babin, it’s designed to mimic the way lawyers work. It even accounts for multi-tasking. Apollo will capture multiple activities if someone is doing tasks that can be done simultaneously, like being on a call while reading emails. But if you try to edit two documents at once, for example, Apollo says no, you can only bill for one of them.

 

It’s also designed to understand and provide time entries consistent with a client’s billing guidelines. And Apollo will learn from the human revisions to improve future automated entries.

 

And consistent with ZERO’s goal of making tools that work with the least amount of change management, Apollo is designed to work with any and all legacy systems. It sits on top of billing systems, email systems, and document management systems. Just plug it in, and it goes to work.

 

Of course, I haven’t actually used Apollo. I have no way of knowing it will do what it says other than the credibility of people like Babin. But the concept is sound.

 

ZERO appears to offer practical and workable tools that eliminate actual points of friction

 

And I’ve always been impressed with ZERO and Babin. Zero appears to offer practical and workable tools that eliminate actual points of friction. Babin knows, for example, that many lawyers try to record their time at the end of the day. Or at the end of the week. Or even at the end of a month😳. The result is often uncaptured time (according to ZERO’s August 2021 Survey, lawyers waste 30% of their time on non-billable admin tasks like tracking and reporting time). Or, maybe worse, entries that aren’t accurate. With Apollo, there is an accurate, real-time record.

 

The best interface is no interface

 

 

Babin also understands the need for systems for lawyers that just work (to paraphrase an old Apple slogan) with minimum disruption. As Babin put it, lawyers don’t deal with change management very well: “the best interface is no interface.”

 

 

I also like ZERO’s business model. Says Babin, ZERO’s goal is to “automate the business of law, not the practice itself.” This model gets ZERO away from the consternation lawyers have with products that might reduce the time spent to do a billable task. It’s just the opposite: ZERO focuses on eliminating non-billable time. Babin wants ZERO to gradually automate more and more of the non-billable functions. He hopes ZERO will someday be able to offer a complete suite of products that automate all administrative tasks. A tall order.

 

But Babin’s response to naysayers that say something is not possible? “Impossible can be done. It just takes more time and energy.” The way ZERO is going, it just might achieve the impossible.

 

 

ZERO plans to roll out the product in Q1 of 2022.

 

 

Last week I had lunch with a bunch of lawyers of different ages and experience levels. At some point, as it usually does, the conversation turned to the state of legal education in the U.S. To a person, every lawyer at the table (myself included) lamented the poor training law schools provide. To a person, every lawyer opined that law school does almost nothing to teach students how to practice law.

 

That observation has been repeated so many places and so many times that it has become accepted as gospel. And seems to be accepted that it can’t be changed. But think about what that means. You go three years of law school, accumulate thousands if not hundreds of thousands dollars of debt. When you graduate, you take an exam that’s supposed to test whether you are competent to practice law. But despite all this, you aren’t ready to do the job you have gone to school to presumably learn how to do. You have no training on how to earn a living or really how to do anything. And you have to pay off your debt. WTF???

Continue Reading It’s High Time to Reimagine Law School

60 Minutes, the CBS weekly news show, did a segment this past Sunday on the powers of so-called deepfakes. Deepfakes refers to the use of AI to alter how a person looks or sounds on video. It can also be used to make one person appear to be and sound like another.

 

According to Wikipedia. Deepfakes (a combination of “deep learning” and “fake”) are synthetic media in which a person in an existing image on a video is simply replaced with someone else’s likeness. Deepfakes use machine learning and artificial intelligence to manipulate or generate both visual and audio content.

Continue Reading Deepfakes and the Litigation Risk

A new Survey reveals that close to 70% of lawyers are not even adequately competent with technology or are at least perceived not to be.

 

On Wednesday, Relativity Fest 2021 featured a panel discussion of Ari Kaplan’s annual General Counsel Survey. This Survey is the third such Survey done by Kaplan jointly with Relativity and FTI Technology. On the panel with Kaplan were Wendy King, Senior Managing Director of FTI Technology, and Monique Ho, General Counsel of Course Hero.

 

Kaplan surveyed GCs in a wide array of companies in virtually every type of business, employee count, and revenue. Kaplan spent over 40 hours interviewing in-house counsel to complete the Survey.

Continue Reading Lawyers’ Technological Incompetence: Ethics and Clients Be Damned

A Relativity Fest Panel today provided their top takeaways of the impact of Covid on the legal profession. Here’s the Panel’s top ten and my top three.

 

Relativity Fest 2021 kicked off today. Like last year, this year’s version is a completely virtual. (Will we ever have a live conference again?). Relativity provides secure, end-to-end legal & compliance software to analyze data for e-discovery, litigation, investigations, and other uses. It’s a giant in the industry. Relativity Fest is its annual conference designed to educate and connect with customers and others in the field.

Continue Reading Top Ten Impacts of Covid on Legal: Relativity Fest Panel Weighs In

Jessie Yount of law.com posted a fascinating article about why legal talent is still flocking to virtual law firms earlier this week. It was initially assumed that virtual firms’ opportunity for remote work was the catalyst for their growth. But virtual firms remain attractive even though many traditional law firms have by now embraced, however reluctantly, remote work.

Continue Reading The Great Resignation: Will It Drive a Stake In The Billable Hour?

Level Legal today announced some impressive new hires. Level Legal provides global legal services supporting law firms, in-house legal departments, and government agencies. It specializes in privacy, compliance, regulatory, antitrust, and eDiscovery issues. According to its recent press release, “Level Legal is a modern law company delivering strategic and technological data solutions that clear the runway for attorneys to focus on their clients.” Its work is accelerating.

Continue Reading Joey Seeber and Level Legal: Going Great Guns

So recently, I won the COVID breakthrough infection lottery and got to spend ten fun-filled days in quarantine. I’m fine, relatively speaking, and thankful that the worst that happened to me was a runny nose.

 

But during that period, I did have to look for things to watch on TV since I had pretty much already exhausted the more well-known offerings. And I stumbled onto a channel showing reruns of old half-hour black and white drama series.

Continue Reading Want To Be a Good Trial Lawyer? Watch Gunsmoke

On September 14, Law360 Pulse released its annual Glass Ceiling Report. The Report summarizes Law 360’s Survey of women in law firms for 2020. Every time I hear about one of these Surveys, I hope for once, it will reveal some real progress. But they never do: just like the Law 360 Diversity Survey results previously discussed, the Glass Ceiling results are discouraging. Not just discouraging. Embarrassing. It makes me mad. It ought to make us all angry.

 

Continue Reading Law360 2020 Glass Ceiling Survey: Little Change for Women in Law Firms

“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” – Anthony Bourdain

 

So last week, I took my first business trip since March 2020. Venturing out in the brave new world to give a law practice management presentation to an industry group in Chicago. To be honest, I approached the event with excitement but not without a fair amount of fear and trepidation. I was not sure what to expect. And of course, even though I’m fully vaccinated, the threat of Covid still loomed large.

Continue Reading What I Learned From My First Trip in 18 Months