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Gadgets and Gizmos of the Year – Technolawyer NewsWire’s Top Products of 2014

Blue ribbon 2The year 2014 brought us major products like Apple’s iPhone 6 and Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3, but what about legal-specific products? Well, fortunately, Neil Squillante of TechnoLawyer has that covered. Published by Squillante and staff, TechnoLawyer is a premier publication for lawyers interested in learning about and incorporating technology in their practices. TechnoLawyer offers a variety of newsletters, as well as a massive articles archive. Each year, the TL NewsWire newsletter publishes its Top Products Awards for the year as selected by its subscribers.
In July, I talked with Neil on this episode of the Legal Toolkit about some of the technology in the running for the Top Product Awards of 2014, including practice management solutions, ediscovery tools, document automation, and more. Now that the top products have been selected, I’d like to share with you a few of those that I think have potential for solo and small firms:
NetDocuments ndOffice (ranked #10). Just this past year, the document management product, NetDocuments, launched a handy add-on integration with Microsoft Office. This add-on, ndOffice, is now deployed free with the purchase of NetDocuments. NetDocuments is a cloud-based document management system; meaning, it stores and sorts documents in the cloud, allowing for simpler and securer collaboration (documents are encrypted at rest and in transit), as well as enhanced search functionality, version control, document history, and more. With this new integration, users can access and utilize NetDoc’s functionality directly from Microsoft Office. When saving a document in Microsoft Word, for example, ndOffice saves it directly to NetDocs; thus, eliminating the extra step of uploading the document to NetDocs. Pricing is reasonable – starting at $25 per month, per user, with a minimum of 5 users. Small firms, pay attention; this is product worth investigating. Note: As far as I’m aware, as of this post, ndOffice integration is not yet compatible with Microsoft Office for Mac 🙁
PhraseExpander Professional 4.0 (ranked #13). This timesaving software automates your word processing. You can create shortcuts for frequently used phrases and build templates for easily inputing information. For example, you could build forms for your fee agreements, allowing you to then input client information and select from predefined items to customize the form quickly to the matter. All your shortcuts and templates are stored in your PhraseExpander library and easily searchable with the new Quick Find function. PhraseExpander now syncs with well-known cloud services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive. Pricing begins at $59 (a one-time fee with free upgrades for one year) for the standard version. PhraseExpander is Windows-only based. The Mac corollary is TextExpander. To see TextExpander in action, view this excellent presentation that attorney Anna Byrne gave at our June 9th, 2014 LoMac (Law Office Macs) meeting.
Veridesk Pro Plus (ranked #23). Many of the standing desks I’ve looked at come with a high price tag, unless of course you make your own (which I have indeed attempted to do using a simple computer stand; but, I found that it took too long to transform my desk for sitting to standing, and vice versa, that I stopped using it). The Veridesk Pro Plus is priced at $350 – somewhere between the free (home-made) solutions and most of the comparable alternative models I’ve seen. In my opinion, it’s not a bad price for what you get. The Pro Plus supports two monitors (or a monitor and a laptop), a keyboard and mouse tray, and provides a spring-assisted lift that allows for easy adjustment to sitting or standing position. Veridesk also offers other models starting at $275. Any of those options beat my budget setup any day.
Trial Pad 4.0 (ranked #16). Developed by Lit Software, TrialPad is a hot product for attorneys who use tech in the courtroom. The app helps you organize your case and present it at trial – all on your iPad. It integrates with third party applications, such as cloud-storage providers and email; supports multiple file formats, including video; offers annotation tools; and has multiple options for presenting in court. Version 4.0 is now optimized for the iPad Air running iOS 8 (but works with earlier models and systems as well). The price for this app is hefty at $89.99, but if you practice in the courtroom, you‘ll likely get your money’s worth.
Those products represent only a small sampling of TL NewsWire’s awarded products for this past year. You can view the full list, here. And since last year’s products certainly haven’t gone out of style yet, here’s my report on last year’s top product awards: http://masslomap.org/gadgets-and-gizmos-galore-technolawyer-newswires-top-products-of-2013-awards/.
APPropos *App recommendations for your mobile practice*
1Password: Strong passwords make secure devices. 1Password manages all your passwords. Use it on your Mac, Windows, iPhone, iPad, or Android device.
Feedly: Like to read blogs? Manage them with Feedly, an RSS reader. Aesthetically pleasing, easy to organize feeds, and plentiful share options.
Asana: Cloud-based project management tool. Collaborate with team members on projects or use it as your own task and/or project manager.