As a lawyer going Mobile – Which device should you consider?

September 2013 – Portable Workstation Review

With the wealth of mobile devices now flooding the market, it is difficult to choose which one best suits you and your mobility needs.

Each device has its place and there are essentially 3 device categories and within that, multiple flavours in each.

Tablets

Tablets are essentially portable devices with touch screens and normally on screen keyboards. I would argue that they are tempered towards the home consumer with the ability to watch videos & TV, listen to music, browse the internet and a multitude of other nifty applications available to download from their App Stores. Whilst you can read the news, check email and open PDF files and Word documents, business usage can be a bit limited and clumsy due to the lack of keyboard and mouse and limited (if any) Microsoft Office and other business applications along with  the “locked down” nature of the device.

However, Microsoft has released their Surface RT Tablet and whilst sales have perhaps been a little slow, this is the ideal consumer tablet / business tool all in one. The Surface RT is really a PC companion. Whilst it has Windows 8 touch capability, it also has a desktop mode that comes pre-installed with Microsoft Office (Outlook, Word, PowerPoint, Excel and One Note). The removable touch cover has a keyboard and mouse pad built in so you really do have a very business friendly “Nearly Notebook” style device to enjoy your personal applications and to work on business documents and emails in the same way as you would on a PC. It has great battery life and is very portable. The only downside is that you can’t install applications on it that you would normally be able to on a PC due to the different processor it uses. I however don’t see this as a downside, as long as you accept that this is not a full PC but a ‘almost a PC’ companion for working on the move.

The Apple iPad has probably been around the longest of all tablets and has grabbed its market share through being innovative and the first of its kind. If you like Apple and have an iPad then you learn to love it very quickly, however, it is not as flexible as the Surface from a business point of view, lacking physical keyboard and mouse (although you can buy add-ons that will give you this) but the lack of a familiar Windows interface for working in is arguably clunky.

Android tablets are Google’s version of an iPad but again are limited for business use. Whilst they deliver great personal usage facilities, they can also be a little clunky to use.

In summary, for the business user I’d strongly favour the Microsoft Surface RT tablet, especially if you are familiar with the Windows environment and want the capability of Microsoft Office with physical keyboard and mouse in a very well designed magnetic cover. There are 2 choices of keyboard, Touch and Click. I’d suggest paying the extra £10 and going for the click keyboard which is much easier to type quickly on.

All 3 devices are priced at a similar cost at the ‘under £400’ mark although it’s possible to get some Android tablets cheaper but with a possible compromise on specification and build quality. Both Surface and Apple and the higher end Android devices are really superb devices from a component and build point of view.

Ultra books, Notebooks & Hybrids

If a tablet isn’t for you and you want true computing power then you will probably want to look at a more traditional PC notebook. Modern notebooks, or the now called Ultra-books, come packed with power and performance. These devices will run full Windows and some are now hybrids with removable touch screens that act as tablets. You will pay a premium for the full PC tablet version but if you need raw power then these are a great choice.

There are multitudes of Traditional Windows 8 laptops with/without Touch on the market to choose from, some very slim and lightweight, others a little more bulky but at the end of the day you get what you pay for. You can’t beat going to John Lewis and choosing something you like and getting that essential peace of mind from John Lewis that you are warranty covered if anything goes wrong.

In the hybrid range, Microsoft has released the big brother to the Surface RT and called it the Surface Pro. It’s expensive, not as light as the RT and is much more bulky. Again, if you need power, it has it but I’d suggest that for normal day to day use then RT is fine.

The Apple MacBook Pro has a great reputation for elegance, power, performance, design etc… If you are an Apple fan then this may be for you. Personally for business use, I’d recommend a good old Microsoft PC.

Chrome Book is Google’s version of a lightweight laptop that runs Chrome o/s. They are much lower priced and good if you want to do browsing and light work. I’d seriously question their application for business users though.

Smartphones & PadPhones

SmartPhones are essentially a cross between a phone and a mini-PC. Nowadays they are packed with power and can do most things but the screen is much smaller and, I’d suggest, very difficult for doing any real work on. They’re great for checking your mail, small email replies, social media, looking up contact information, basic browsing and the like but they are really very limited as a tool to do any work on. Popup keyboards are small, however there are larger screen versions coming out such as the Galaxy Note 3 that could be more usable; but at the end of the day, you can’t beat a tablet or ultrabook for doing real work on.

Again there are Android Phones, Windows Phones, Apple iPhones, BlackBerry’s which are all cut down versions of the main tablet with (smartphone) operating systems optimised for small screens. The choice is yours and I’d suggest either a Windows or Android phone for reasonable and very mobile usability. Whilst I like Apple I do find that their operating system is now a little dated (though iOS7 is a facelift) and there is very limited choice on hardware. I’m afraid that I’ve never been a fan of BlackBerry but can see why some people are. Most phones will have a tethering facility where you can use the mobile internet on your phone to hook up with your tablet or notebook to get you on the Internet. Be very aware that you must understand your web allowance and how your airtime provider charges for this. Virgin do a great all round deal for unlimited Web, Phone minutes and Text for £15 per month on a SIM only deal if you own your own phone.

In Summary

Each device type and operating system choice has its place and nowadays it’s not uncommon to have a selection of each for different purposes. I personally have a PC Desktop and a Laptop for doing office or home based work on, a Microsoft Surface RT for working on the train and when I’m out of the office (as a PC companion) and a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 for very mobile quick work like checking emails and replying to messages and brief online searches. I find this combination works really well for my personal all round needs for flexibility, mobility, personal and business consumption.

However, everybody’s needs are different and there are plenty of devices out there to meet your requirements and personal taste.

If you would like any advice on mobile or flexible working, please feel free to email me and I’d be happy to offer some friendly advice warren@lawcloud.co.uk

Warren Wander is founder and Managing Director of LawWare Ltd. His work on LawCloud (Cloud based Practice Management Software for lawyers) is highly acclaimed and his business has built a solid reputation for helping lawyers do more with IT.

You can find out more at:-

Visit our web site at www.lawcloud.co.uk

Join me on linked in at http://www.linkedin.com/in/warrenwander

Visit our Blawg at www.lawcloudcomputing.com

Helpful Cloud Computing Tools for Lawyers

Guest post outlining helpful cloud computing tools for lawyers (mainly for US law firms). For our own cloud services for law firms and for advice on legal IT for UK law firms, please visit our main website at www.lawcloud.co.uk

The continued popularity and usage of Cloud computing, especially in the paralegal industry, has led to the development of a number of reliable Cloud computing tools. These applications and software assist many lawyers in delivering exceptional service to their clientele.

Many legal firms have adopted Cloud computing technologies to power their businesses. In fact, in the 16th annual survey of The American Lawyer, the online news portal revealed that 65 percent of the 82 law firms surveyed said they use Cloud computing, and 77 percent of those who use the technology say they had a positive experience. LawCloud, a leading case management software development company, proudly supports and uses this technology to host their growing number of clients. As of June 2012, they host 83 law firms on their Cloud platform and the number is growing by the week.

This immense growth creates a great need to manage the Cloud. In this article, we will feature the best and most commonly used tools to help you make the most of your Cloud computing technology.

  1. Skype

Lawyers need to be available for their clients 24-hour a day. All firms will benefit from cutting their phone bills, so Skype is ideal your current plan for reducing outgoings is by getting a SIM only deal and controlling your phone usage. Skype allows you to call, send instant messages, video-conference, and share files with your colleagues and clients all for free. You can also download Skype on your Smartphone. For an additional fee, you can add a Skype online number which will allow you to receive calls and to call non-Skype phone numbers.

  1. LawBox

For busy attorneys on the go, having LawBox on your mobile device will be a handy tool. This mobile application offers you legal references including the United States Constitution, Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, 28 U.S.C – Judiciary and Judicial Procedure and more. Consider it your built-in legal library. You can browse, read and download these state and federal codes while doing your comprehensive research. Additional 2012 codes were added to the app such as complete statute sets for states of California, New York, Texas, Illinois, Florida, and Arizona.

  1. PocketJustice

Your in-depth study wouldn’t be complete without examples. If you’re away from your computer and need to review past cases, including the US Supreme Court decisions, PocketJustice is a helpful mobile app. Developed by OYEZ Inc., this award-winning app features case summaries for your to both case summaries for you to both stream or download, access to audio transcripts of cases, and live searching for a faster case summary results. The new version now comes with the updated list of cases from 2012.

  1. CloudStack

To manage your cloud computing technology, CloudStack is a very reliable open source software. It creates, manages, and deploys infrastructure cloud services. Users can easily manage their Cloud services with its user-friendly web interface and fully featured API that is compatible with S3 and Amazon Web Services (AWS) EC2 for firms that want to deploy hybrid clouds.

  1. eFax

Important documents, especially those that have signatures, are only accepted through fax. If you don’t want to purchase an expensive fax machine, why not use eFax. This software allows you to receive fast fax messages online. With eFax, you can receive fax documents straight to your email. It has three key features: a vast inventory of fax phone numbers, efficient internet faxing and voicemail, and secured communications network. The software is free for a 30-day trial.

With reliability and convenience, Cloud computing has become the best way for new and established law firms to act smart and to make better use of technology. To jumpstart your newly establish firm or cut down on some company expenses, the tools presented above are an economical and efficient way of managing your Cloud.

About the Author

Reese Jones is a tech and gadget lover, a die-hard fan of iOS and console games. She started her writing venture recently and writes about everything from quick tech tips, to mobile-specific news from the likes of O2, to tech-related DIY.

Find more about her and her work at Reese+ and tweet her @r_am_jones.

LawCloud takes a Belt and Braces Approach

LawCloud continues to invest in its systems with the latest state of the art Cloud monitoring software to ensure its clients achieve the best performance possible.

With a reputation for innovation and quality, LawCloud continues to go from strength to strength and with such a strong uptake on LawCloud, it is essential that the LawCloud performance team has full insight into how well its systems are doing.Microsoft Cloud Partner Network

Managing Director and CEO, Warren Wander explains “This level of monitoring means that the team can respond almost instantaneously to increased server load, balancing usage and ensuring our customers experience is the best it can be at any one time.”

Again, this puts LawCloud at the forefront of Cloud technologies, reaffirming its position as one of the foremost suppliers of Cloud technologies to law firms in Scotland and the UK.

In addition to server performance monitoring, LawCloud has also implemented a resilience that maximises the utilisation of Microsoft’s latest server operating systems by implementing failover on all of its functions. Alongside choosing one of the best data centres in the UK, this means that there is now truly no single point of failure on the LawCloud system ensuring that uptime is maximised.
Data Protection Certificate
Warren Wander concludes “Our SLA states a minimum uptime but we are constantly exceeding these with one of the best track records for availability in the industry. As one of the foremost suppliers of Cloud based system for lawyers, we are constantly innovating and remain at the forefront of this technology as a leading supplier to the industry.”

LawCloud offers a data protection certification to all clients that published on the LawCloud website.

The Law Society has released its draft guidelines for procurement of Cloud and we have aligned ourselves undisputedly with this document and will publish it on the LawCloud website as soon as it is available.

Case Management Software for Law Firms: The Cloud? Down to Earth

The Cloud? It’s Down to Earth…

In a special feature on outsourcing support for the legal office, the Law Society of Scotland’s Journal focuses on a business partnership that has harnessed the latest IT to offer a platform for law firms facing the challenges of the 21st century – and some client experiences.

Outsourcing has been a much debated topic in recent times. Applied to the legal sector, it often refers to large-scale deals where city firms ship quantities of work and/or back office administration to places where it can be carried out more cheaply.

But the potential advantages can be even greater for legal practices of a much smaller scale: the technology now exists to enable the average high street firm to offload many of the tasks that otherwise eat into valuable fee-earning time, providing expert help at a level that would otherwise be out of reach to most.

Here in Scotland, legal software providers LawWare and outsourcing business The Cashroom Ltd have collaborated to offer solicitors the means to take that step into the future – a step that many predict will be essential if the profession is to meet the challenge posed by increased client expectations combined with new competitive threats in the changing legal market place.

Light through the cloud

In a nutshell, LawWare offers a cloud computing solution, which it has christened LawCloud. The uninitiated should not let the term “cloud computing” fog the brain: it’s simply the popular name for outsourcing tasks through the internet that you would otherwise have to employ people and invest in IT systems to carry out within your office.

Launched in February 2011, LawCloud offers online the top-of-the-range Enterprise version of the LawWare case management software that has been adopted by 180 law firms in Scotland since the business was established in 1998 by managing director Warren Wander. Trials in the preceding months resulted in 25 firms already being live on LawCloud by the time of the official launch.

One of them is BBM Solicitors, a startup practice established at the turn of the year by brothers Eric and Alasdair Baijal, taking on high-end commercial and litigation work at offices in Wick and Edinburgh. “When we decided to set up our own practice, we wanted an IT system that enabled us to share data and gave us easy access via a laptop if we were in court”, says Eric. “We had already decided to go for a paper-light system, scanning any mail, saving it to client files, and doing without paper file copies of correspondence. Our previous firm used LawWare. We didn’t know about LawCloud, but when we talked to Warren and had a demonstration we were very impressed – even Jennifer, our associate, who has worked in a big firm with a heavy duty case management system.”

For the rest of this article, please see the LawCloud website at http://www.lawcloud.co.uk/outsourcing

LawCloud Practice Management Image

LawCloud: Cloud for Lawyers UK