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Prefab Modules: Legal Workspace Offers Hosted Desktop Solution for Lawyers

Legal software takes time to download. It also costs money to update. And, even if you don’t know that, your IT guy does. You know, the guy that bills you for that stuff.

But, if you want an alternative method for establishing and updating your desktop legal software platform, there is, potentially, a way to acquire the whole she-bang, with little to no effort on your part, and at a cost savings to you. Legal Workspace offers a hosted legal desktop solution for attorneys. Setup is done remotely, and Legal Workspace’s engineers won’t even need to access your computer. Maintenance of programs takes places behind the scenes, as well, again, performed by those cheerful and lovable elves (well, I guess they’re really “network engineers”; but, most people really like elves, so I went with that) at the Legal Workspace bunker. And, since Legal Workspace hosts and maintains your legal software on its own servers, that means that (in addition to taking stresses off of your own servers, or machines) you have an internet portal to access your desktop from anywhere; any place you have an internet connection, your desktop is available to you. Perhaps this is the derivation of Legal Workspace’s tagline, “Take Your Work Anywhere”.

Legal Workspace is an offering of 13-year-old IT company, Business Network Consulting. Legal Workspace advertises itself as providing a quick and effective way to implement a solid technology foundation within a law firm. They manage the backend, and support the front end; and, you, well . . . you do your work. There are no start-up costs (there is a monthly fee). There are no set-up hassles. There are no updates, or patching. There are no bugs to work out. Legal Workspace offers personalized training for staff, service for migrating your existing data and importing into the Legal Workspace systems and 24/7 support from its teams of friendly elves . . . er, engineers.

If you’ve read down this far, you perhaps have a passing interest in this product, perhaps even more than a passing interest. So, let’s talk about what you get when you sign on for the presentation of your own, little Legal Workspace-produced law firm world–the standard version, that is (tweaks can be made to this setup, as we’ll see below). For starters, you get a practice management tool (of which we’ve discussed the importance at this blog, previously, here, specifically), in this case, Amicus Attorney. You also get financial management tools, in this case, TimeSlips, integrated with Amicus, and QuickBooks. But, that’s not all: you’ll also get a document management system, including version control and powerful search features, through WorldDox. And, if you buy right now, in addition to the Slap Chop, you’ll also get Windows XP set up (with Seven being considered for inclusion as we speak), as well as TrendMicro, for virus scanning. Each specific system referenced above is a partner/referrer program of Legal Workspace, such that Legal Workspace does not only load these programs, but also has working relationships with the companies behind these programs. Furthermore, given that Legal Workspace currently offers only these systems within their tailored environment (more offerings may be coming), the Legal Workspace team knows these systems intimately. The provision of practice management, records management, financial management, security and general desktop systems, within one environment, set up and maintained by a single, penultimate provider, combines to make for a large percentage of what you’re likely to need for a technology platform for your law office. And, Legal Workspace can put it all together for you, with very little fuss, and even less muss, whatever that is.

As with any program, there are pros and cons to the use of Legal Workspace. Let’s address the advantages first, of which there are a number. Most apparent may be the ability to access your desktop from anywhere, as long as you have an internet connection. Access is by remote desktop protocol, via an on-screen icon. And, you can access Legal Workspace via any of a desktop, laptop or PDA. Obviously, this is a significant advantage in our mobile society. From the standpoint of flexibility, Legal Workspace, as a system, your system, accessed via the internet, is usable for attorneys working on PCs or Macs. This avoids the problem of seeking workarounds, and operating systems in parallel, or virtually. There is also an inherent ease of use between and among Legal Workspace environment programs, such that the systems “play nice” together. For example, there is collaboration between Outlook and WorldDox, for archiving emails. Could you set this up on your own? Sure. But, it’s easier and more cost-effective, potentially, for Legal Workspace to do it for you. And, those cost savings are represented by “hard cost” savings, like paying an IT person to do the work, and “soft cost” savings, like reducing the strain on your own systems and servers. It can be difficult for solos and small firms to create a large, or, even, appropriate, IT infrastructure. With Legal Workspace, there is a team of dedicated engineers working for you. With Legal Workspace, you’re decreasing your desktop support costs and running a system that is less taxing on your processor; and, you’re avoiding certain practical issues, like needing more servers, and hardware, leading to attendant space and cooling issues. For all these reasons, Legal Workspace may be an attractive option for an attorney establishing a new practice, which attorney has a million other worries, aside from the establishment of a basic law practice desktop platform. One other, not insignificant, benefit, of Legal Workspace, is that it provides some back-up options for your files and documents, as part of its maintenance of your systems. In addition to what I have arrayed here, Legal Workspace also offers its own lists of advantageous things about itself, at the benefits section of its website.

Standing by the side of the above-listed, and other benefits, of the Legal Workspace environment for legal desktopping, are some potential drawbacks, for your considering, as well. The first is that much of the advantage that Legal Workspace claims in not taxing your systems, and moving maintenance and updates off-site, can be acheived piecemeal, as well, through a collection of SaaS programs. (And, I should now mention that, even though Legal Workspace offers those partner/referrer programs within its standard environment, this does not mean that users have to include within each of their desktop environments a
ll of those programs; nor are they limited to those programs. In fact, beyond a base package (the inclusions for which are more fully relayed below), users can select whichever programs they wish to apply at their desktop. Of course, the theory is that LegalWorkspace has chosen for its standard environment the programs it has for a reason: because it believes they work best together; and, certainly, Legal Workspace, as well, would be most familiar with its own partner/referrer programs.) Then, it becomes a question of cost, and of which program parcels you like better. I’d also tell you, as I normally do in these product reviews, that you should check out the demos on the company website; but, the demos at the Legal Workspace website are thoroughly uninspired, and impossible to navigate. It’s a small criticism, surely, but one that reflects on the ability of a potential client to access what the program will mean to him. You can, however, contact Legal Workspace directly for a live demo and work flow audit that can be done on an individual basis, or with your entire firm. And, I’d recommend that option.

Overall, I think that Legal Workspace is an excellent product for the properly-situated attorney, and especially for those attorneys who want the technology side of their practice “just handled”, with little trouble, and at a reasonable cost.

But, this “little trouble and bother” part does not mean that Legal Workspace sets you up and abandons you. They provide live chat support via their website, one free hour of training to start and two help desks for telephone support (one in Dallas, and one in Denver). Additional technical support can be purchased for $135/hour; and, customized trainings can be created and implemented, at an additional cost.

So, let’s get down to brass tacks, here: How much does this all cost?

Here are the figures:

$90/month (for the Base Package)
-private desktop environment accessible anywhere/any time;
Microsoft Office 2007, with applicable updates (managed by Legal Workspace) and upgrades (when available)
Microsoft Exchange
-anti-virus (globally managed by Legal Workspace)
-anti-spam (featuring user control panel)
-5 gb of secured data storage (backed up nightly and redundantly for up to two weeks)

+$20/month (for Amicus license and managing links)
+$15/month (for QuickBooks)
+$20/month (for TimeSlips)
+$30/month (WorldDox)

Essentially, we’re looking at a base program per month price, with specific per month pricing for upgrades/additions. (This pricing example would represent the full, standard Legal Workspace environment, from which you may deviate as needed.)

Now, if that sounds enticing to you, but you’re not quite ready to jump, try this on for size:

Readers of the LOMAP Blog get the first month of Legal Workspace FREE, including setup.

As you may gather, this is a not insignificant risk for Legal Workspace, as setting up the system is where the bulk of the work comes in. However, the folks at Legal Workspace tell me that they are confident that new users, once set up, will stay on. I guess you’ll be the judge.

. . .

Liner Notes

This week, I made the mistake of taking suggestions for Liner Notes from my vendor contact. And, as if on cue, to punish me, God made Legal Workspace’s Jeff Nitta send to me this crazy video:

Evil Bee” by Menomena

Seriously, Jeff? What the hell?

No, honestly, it was a cool video, and I had never heard the song before. Jeff also sent me a more usual video selection, as well:

Just Breathe” by Pearl Jam

(Good tune. Theo Epstein probably loves it.)

So, in honor of Jeff’s strange tastes, let’s round this session of Liner Notes out with more songs of, or related to, bees:

No Rain” by Blind Melon

Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees (I’m Barry Gibb!!)

My Girl” by The Temptations (Thomas J. was killed by bees in “My Girl”. Alright, I gave that one to you. Oh, and sorry if I ruined that movie for you. But it came out in 1991; you should really have seen it by now anyway.)

Imma Be” by The Black Eyed Peas

Honey Bee” by Tom Petty

“Another Day”, “Down the Line” and “Iota” by The Bee’s Knees