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    October 7th, 2010

    Partner let me upgrade u, flip a new page. Introduce u to some new things…

    Music & Lyrics by S.C. Carter, W.J. Clarke, M. Riddick, B. Knowles, A. Beyonce, S. Knowles, C.H. Reid, S. Garrett, recorded by Beyonce.

    New!

    With the MS Vista debacle behind us and with Windows XP aging out, many firms who held off purchasing any equipment are now looking at their next hardware and software upgrade. Whether you are replacing 10 – or 100 – computers, servers and associated hardware and software, the “spend factor” is non-trivial. Accordingly, you will want to ensure that you are getting the best bang for your buck.

    So what do you look for in terms of the newest level of technology? Here are a few things to consider:

    Paperless Office: There are multiple benefits from moving from a paper paradigm to a paperless office. Centralized document management on the network server should be a primary goal (by establishing the electronic equivalent of the paper file storage system). This allows you to have “one place” to find all records associated with the file – emails, documents, correspondence, pleadings, land title documents etc. Other benefits:

    • Remote access (allowing you to work from anywhere you have an Internet connection) since all documents are on the server and are saved on the server.
    • The electronic desktop, which places all information literally at your fingertips (no searching for the paper file).
    • Electronic practice management with all calendar dates, appointments, contacts, to-do’s etc. at your fingertips.
    • Centralized precedents (stored on the network) – searchable and customizable.
    • Dual monitors allowing you to have multiple documents open at any time (such as research and the document on which you are working).
    • E-filing in courts and LTO offices and other registries is just a click away.
    • Electronic storage of closed files becomes cost-effective.

    Scanning Technology: Searchable Adobe Acrobat PDF has become the standard for taking paper documents and bringing them into a paperless office. Scanning technologies have greatly improved OCR (optical character recognition) recognition rates, allowing scanned documents to be fully searchable on the office network. PDF/A has been recognized as an ISO archive storage standard.

    Security and Privacy: This has reached all-new importance due to the increasing number of hack and fraud attempts (phishing etc.). All systems need to be hardened and need to provide “restore” points to allow for the quick restoration of a downed computer. The appropriate handling of email spam and fraud emails are vitally important. Encryption of flash drives, laptops and any media taken out of the office should be considered.

    Voice Recognition: Dragon/Nuance has taken this technology to its highest level yet.

    Metadata: The stripping out of metadata from any office documents as well as the hardening of any documents leaving the office (to prevent their alteration) is now a new reality.

    Email Management: Email has overwhelmed many inboxes. Tools to organize, store and handle email are necessary to handle the increasing load.

    Extranets: Many firms are establishing secure areas on the web where clients can view their file and correspond with their lawyer without the need for email. Secure and private!

    Electronic Task/Project Management: Firms are moving to technologies that treat a file as a project, with timelines, task delegation and overview, budgets and more.

    Blogs and Social Media: This is the new marketing battleground. Video, blogs, podcasts and social media sites are all being used to establish reputations and garner clients.

    SO: What are some of the technologies that are worth looking at with regard to redesigning your new office?

    Here is a selection:

    SharePoint 2010: (http://sharepoint.microsoft.com/en-us/Pages/default.aspx) This is perhaps the most interesting and exciting technology to be released in the last while. SharePoint is a collaboration software package that allows a law firm to set up secure “extranet” areas on the web for clients, experts, lawyers, teams and others. Rather than have your data “in the cloud” on someone else’s server, SharePoint allows you to host all of this within your own control. It offers security and authentication and is integrated into the Office 2010 suite. This software will be one of the most important developments in the time to come.

    Office 2010: (http://office.microsoft.com/en-ca) The two new aspects to MS Office 2010 (aside from improvements to Word, Outlook etc.) are OneNote and MS Project:

    OneNote is “an electronic version of a paper notebook where you can write down notes, thoughts, ideas, scribbles, reminders, and all kinds of other information. OneNote offers a free-form canvas where you can type, write, or draw notes in the form of text, graphics, and images wherever and however you want them.”

    Project is a “project management tool that helps individuals, teams, and businesses cut costs, manage resources effectively, and streamline projects for maximum productivity.” It provides a timeline, a team planner and integrates with SharePoint.

    Windows 7: (www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-7/default.aspx) This 64-bit operating system is a vast improvement over Vista. In fact it is almost Mac-like (but not quite)!

    OS X and all things Mac: MS Office 2011 for the Mac has been announced and should be available shortly (www.macworld.com/article/146295/2010/02/office2011announced.html). Outlook will now be available on the Mac. Mac users will be able to: “Share files and collaborate on documents with other Mac and Windows users via Microsoft’s SharePoint, SkyDrive, and Office Web Apps.” Increasingly you will be able to fully use a Mac on a Windows network – giving you the best of both worlds.

    OmniPage 17: (www.nuance.com/for-business/by-product/omnipage/standard/index.htm) this OCR software preserves graphics and formatting when performing an OCR on a scanned page.

    Adobe Acrobat 9: (www.adobe.com) this software can do much more than just provide a common document viewing platform. PDF Portfolios (aggregations of PDF documents) can include video, graphics, text and more. Wonderful for presenting materials to court – all hypertext linked.

    Worldox, Hummingbird Opentext, Interwoven: (www.worldox.com, www.opentext.com/2/global/sol-products/sol-pro-docmgmt-collaboration.htm, www.interwoven.com) These document management solutions will become increasingly central to how a law firm operates as we move into the paperless office. They are the equivalent to the steel filing cabinet today.

    Tablet Computers: (iPad, Lenovo ThinkPad x200 etc.) The tablet computer will be surging ahead as the technologies continue to evolve. Whether it will be in a touch-only format (such as the iPad) or a more traditional tablet (like the X200), there is no question that tablets and touch computing is here – and will be found within the business environment.

    Rather than just upgrade your hardware and software, you now have the opportunity to flip a new page and introduce yourself to some new things.

    (This post was originally written for the Canadian Bar Association – British Columbia Branch’s newsletter “BarTalk” in the column “PracticeTalk” and “Tech Tips”).

    This entry was posted on Thursday, October 7th, 2010 at 6:07 am and is filed under Adding Value, Change Management, Issues facing Law Firms, Technology, Trends. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

    One Response to “What’s New?”
    1. Danny Johnson Says:

      I would add NetDocuments to your list of DMS providers. It is the only one of those that has both multiple small law and large law customers.

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