As I said before, none of the three is groundbreaking in and of themselves. None will change the way we fundamentally practice. But taken together and added to any number of other products that are designed to address particular pain points, they collectively move the needle in various ways from efficiency to life balance. This is what good product developers do: they find a problem and try to solve it. Forget saving the world.
In no particular order, here are the new, relevant and innovative products I found while trolling the Legalweek exhibit floor last week:
Zero has been around for a bit; I first saw it at the ILTA conference last August. Zero offers an email management system that is designed to work with mobile devices. (It also provids similar features for desktops but really shines with mobile use. Zero provides predictive filing within subject matter folders from mobile devices. So, when an email arrives in your box on your phone, Zero can suggest its importance, tell you where it thinks it should be filed and even highlight important parts of the email. Another handy feature: if you type and email address into the to line that Zero thinks might be a mistake, it will ask you before it send the email. Perhaps there are some (former?) lawyers at Wilmer Cutler who would like to try this out. Yes, there are tools that do similar things from your desktop but I don’t know of any programs that can do this from mobile devices.
Why is Zero relevant? We do more and more things on mobile devices including reading and responding to emails. And let’s face it, we get more and more emails. Something that can tell me and highlight what’s important and suggest where to file it for future reference may not save me 3 hours a day. But if it saves me 10 minutes a day over 365 days, even a mathematically challenged guy like me knows that’s a lot. And it also has a timer that records the amount of time you have an email open and work on and then groups those entities into a time file that you can paste into your bill. So, it not only saves time that is likely non-billable, it finds time you might have otherwise lost. Win-win.
Windtalker is to my knowledge a first of the kind product. It allows for the encryption and protection of information within documents; Bob Ambrogi wrote about this in a post some time ago. You basically highlight a portion of the text in a document that you want to protect and then tell the program to encrypt that portion. Then you can limit access to that portion to select people. And once encrypted, the person with permission can see the portion of the document but cannot copy it so the portion is protected from cutting and pasting.
Why is Windtalker relevant? Lots of use cases. Think of cases where some portions of a document are labeled for attorneys’ eyes only. Windtalker would insure that those portions can only be the attorneys and no one else. It you want to send your experts some materials but there are things in the materials the expert shouldn’t see, Windtalker enables you to simply and safely do it. Or you have some internal emails or documents some of which should not be accessible to everyone on the to line. Or you produce something to the other side and you are unsure of how robust that side’s security is: Windtalker will give better protection. Or you need to produce portions of a document in camera for judicial review? There are use cases galore for this product.
Are there ways to do all or most of these things already? Yes, but are those ways as efficient as the highlight and click process of Windtalker? Again, like Zero, Windtalker won’t save you 3 hours a day but it may save you 3 hours a week times 52 weeks. And much of time saved is non-billable time (or should be). The cost of Windtalker: only $40 per month per user.
LoopUp takes some of the more irritating features of conference calling away (for a really funny video demonstrating these irritations see the UTube video A Conference Call In Real Life) and replaces them with a seamless and intuitive point and click system. Here’s how it works: you send a link to the participants. They click on the link and they join the call. The participants see who has joined the call on their screen and who is speaking. No more taking roll. No more wondering who joined or who’s there. No more wondering who in the hell is talking. No more searching for the call-in number and entry code. (I know there is a function that is supposed to automatically enter the code -but for me at least the actual performance of that process is spotty. When it doesn’t work I have to take the time to go look up the number and enter in manually). With LoopUp just click and you’re in.
Why is LoopUp relevent? It takes a lot of the friction out of conference calling. It makes it easy. (Who would have thought something so simple would be so valuable?). Yes, there are services that will do similar things like Zoom. But Zoom is directed toward video calls which is great. But lots of people for all sorts of reasons shy away from or are reluctant to use video conferencing. (I find the usage rate on my calls at about 10%). So, for those people and for the times you don’t want to fool with video and the occasional distracting sound and video issues, LoopUp is for you.
LoopUp saves time. Non-billable time. The cost: based on per minute used.
And One More
So, there’s the three. But I did promise one more. The last one is a little different since it’s not a new product but an upgrade. Casepoint is an ediscovery cloud based provider that offers data-based intelligence and full-spectrum eDiscovery, including cloud collections, data processing, advanced analytics, artificial intelligence, along with review and customizable productions. It announced last week a new platform that allows a user to do more with electronic documents. Designed as an eDiscovery product which it is, I see it more as an analytics litigation tool. It doesn’t just manage documents or run searches for you. It’s much more. Let’s say you have a case that involves a product called the Acme widget. Ask the program to find you the emails that have the word Acme widget in it. It comes back with highlighted sections. Or you want to find near duplications of a product. It finds them and shows you where the documents differ. Group products by time, person subject.
Why is this important? Lots of programs do these things. But lots of programs I can’t work. I have to depend on someone else to run them. I have always said there is an inherent advantage in the lawyer who knows the case, the complexities, the issues and is in charge of creating and telling the story being able to operate the technology that helps her do that. Interestingly, the Casepoint guys kept telling me I could have the administrator run this or that or do this or that. I don’t know whether that’s because they thought I would be the administrator but I thought the tools were so intuitive that anyone- including a lawyer– could run them. And that’s the beauty of the program: as said before, after watching the demo, I actually got the itch to return to litigation just to use the tool to prepare for a document intense deposition. The point of the Casepoint product is that the software does more and more of the work.
So there’s my highlights. Again, these are just meat and potatoes kinds of products. They save time, they make our jobs easier. They don’t try to do more than the problem they are designed to solve. And its neat to see.