It’s time for the legal industry’s most meaningful product awards — TL NewsWire Top 25 Products of 2017 Awards.
Why are these awards the most meaningful? Because TL NewsWire’s 11,000+ subscribers chose them free from any external influence. Each week in TL NewsWire, we report on a hot new product (subscribe for free here). When TL NewsWire subscribers click for more details about a product after reading an article, they passively cast a vote. Therefore, the winners below genuinely attracted the most interest from TL NewsWire subscribers.
This year a Microsoft Word add-in earned the top spot! Major themes among the winners — practice management (5 products, including 2 for personal injury firms), automation (4 products), legal research (4 products, including 2 that leverage artificial intelligence), litigation (3 products), and client communications (2 products).
Congratulations to all the winners!
Below you’ll find a writeup about each winner, including links to each product’s home page and the TL NewsWire article that resulted in the victory. Also below is an episode of the Apps in Law podcast hosted by Brett Burney on which I discussed the awards.
1. Word LX Professional
Lawyers spend a lot of time in Microsoft Word, not all of it productive. Word LX Professional minimizes formatting and related chores by adding a suite of tools to Word’s ribbon for tables of contents, firm-approved styles, paragraph numbering, document IDs, watermarks, and much more. Most importantly, customizable templates ensure that every letter, memo, etc. sent by a lawyer at your firm looks the same and won’t contain gaffes like an ex-partner’s name. Read TL NewsWire Article.
2. LEAP (Legal Content)
Practice management system LEAP has all the features you would expect but its second-place finish stems from its most unique selling point — thousands of forms in popular practice areas with a team of lawyers adding more every week. Additionally, you can create your own forms that can access any of the 25,000 data fields in LEAP. Although LEAP is cloud-based, a local Windows app serves as the glue that connects LEAP to Microsoft Word for generating documents from these forms. Read TL NewsWire Article.
3. Abacus Payment Exchange
Client A pays you with a run-of-the-mill Visa card. Client B pays you with the exclusive Amex “Black” Centurion card. Many credit card processors will charge a higher fee for the Amex even though you cannot control what your clients use. Recognizing this, Abacus Payment Exchange or APX charges a flat 3% rate no matter the credit card used. APX resides within Amicus Attorney, Amicus Online, and AbacusLaw, and includes legal-specific features such as compliance with ethics rules governing trust accounts. Read TL NewsWire Article.
Sports produces several phenoms each year and so does legal technology. Centerbase was one such phenom, seemingly coming out of nowhere with “the cloud version of Time Matters” (many Time matters consultants now support Centerbase too). Like all overnight sensations, Centerbase is more than 10 years old. R&D investments in legal-specific features such as accounting, automation, document management, and financial reporting have given it the panache of a startup without the risk. Read TL NewsWire Article.
5. ABBYY FineReader 14
In 2016, ABBYY drove TechnoLawyer members wild with its stealth launch of Comparator, the first new document comparison software for lawyers in ages. In 2017, ABBYY incorporated both Comparator and PDF Transformer into FineReader 14. This combination spawned a $399 three-in-one product with arguably the best OCR, Acrobat-like PDF tools, and document comparison. If you don’t need redlines, $199 gets you a two-in-one product with OCR and PDF tools. Read TL NewsWire Article.
6. SmartTask and SmartTask Pro
Choosing a specialty in law can seem like a straightjacket, especially when an adjacent area of law becomes hotter than your chosen vocation. In recent years, a number of practice guide services have sprung up to help you take on work slightly outside your comfort zone. SmartTask one-ups the competition by providing interactive guides with links to forms, government websites, treatises, etc. SmartTask Pro takes this interactivity even further by enabling you to customize these guides and even create your own using your firm’s model documents and practice notes. Read TL NewsWire Article.
7. SmartAdvocate Cloud
SmartAdvocate published perhaps the most unbiased white paper of 2017 — Cloud v. Server: What’s Best for Your Law Firm? The company offers practice management software in both cloud and on-premises versions, making it the rare company in both worlds. The cloud version launched in 2017, bringing with it time-saving features like an intake wizard, customizable dashboards, and document automation. Read TL NewsWire Article.
8. Drafting Assistant
In recent years, Thomson Reuters Legal has created first-party integrations among its portfolio of products. Drafting Assistant, a Microsoft Word add-in with tools for litigators and transactional lawyers, joined the club in 2017 with Build Document. This feature transforms customer generated templates and those from Practical Law into interactive forms using Contract Express technology. In addition, the company brought Drafting Assistant to the Mac with two of its most popular features — Flags & Links and WestCheck. Future development will bring these features to Microsoft Word Online. Read TL NewsWire Article.
2017 gave us a second practice management phenom — Case.one. Was there a common theme? Yes. A deeper set of features than other cloud options to entice users of legacy products. For example, Case.one uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to better capture billable time, includes Practice Area Libraries for automating document creation, and keeps your staff humming along with customizable workflows and reporting. But what really made heads explode is Case.one’s pricing model — as little as 39 cents per active case with unlimited users. Read TL NewsWire Article.
10. Word LX Enterprise
Pro tip — if you want to become a legal software entrepreneur, create a product that improves Microsoft Word. Infoware’s Word LX Professional grabbed the top spot while its sister product Word LX Enterprise rounds out the top 10. Enterprise offers the same functionality as Professional plus it integrates with products many large firms use such as Active Directory, Office 365, Exchange, InterAction, iManage, and OpenText. Infoware can even build custom integrations for your firm. Read TL NewsWire Article.
Today’s small litigation matter can involve more data than yesterday’s large litigation matter thanks to email, text messages, social media, etc. Everchron tracks the facts and issues in your cases, automatically creating Witness Files in the process. This enables you to review all the documents and evidence associated with a witness and their connections to other witnesses. Everchron also has tools for building case chronologies to guide you through strategic decisions from depositions to trial. Read TL NewsWire Article.
12. Actevis Collection Wizard
Chief Software Architect Martin Reich created Actevis Collection Wizard for do-it-yourself ESI collection in advance of the then proposed and now enacted amendments to FRE 902. The new rule requires proof of authentication, which Actevis Collection Wizard provides in the form of automatically generated reports that list all the settings and the file verification protocols. An expert can use these reports to testify about authenticity if challenged. Actevis Collection Wizard can collect files from any Windows PC, including Outlook while it’s running. Read TL NewsWire Article.
13. Synergy Matters 3.0
Legal Matters Software understands how recalcitrant lawyers can be about changing even an obviously underperforming status quo. As a result, its document management system Synergy Matters 3.0 goes with the flow. It looks and works like Windows Explorer, integrates with Outlook and scanners, offers built-in OCR, and uses email for collaboration but with better version control. Regarding this latter feature, instead of emailing a document, you email a link to the document. Synergy Matters creates a new version when the recipient makes edits. No wonder Legal Matters Software had a record-breaking 2017. Read TL NewsWire Article.
LEAP Executive Chairman Richard Hugo-Hamman is the rare senior executive who pens white papers, all of them good reads. In his best white paper of 2017, Hamman laid bare all of email’s problems (newsletters not among them thankfully), and then explained how client portal LawConnect addressed each problem. Our TL NewsWire article on LawConnect zeroed in on its Dropbox-like ad-hoc document sharing tools that seem much less cumbersome than those in competing client portals. Read TL NewsWire Article.
Legalinc enables you to form corporations, LLCs, and DBAs in all 50 states from your web browser. Then the fun begins. It automates related services like registered agent, certificates of good standing, and tax and other filings. Legalinc also alerts you about compliance issues. This enables you to scale up your entity management services without having to staff up. You can give clients secure access to their their documents. Truly enterprising law firms can add a white label version of Legalinc to their website — essentially your own online store. Read TL NewsWire Article.
16. Cybersecurity & Privacy Law Suite
The growing number of high profile security breaches has resulted in significant regulatory activity in the United States and abroad. Translation — cybersecurity law has become a hot practice area. Cybersecurity & Privacy Law Suite From Wolters Kluwer collects all the resources you need for a cybersecurity practice in one place — case law, statutes, regulations, treatises, news, and most importantly — Smart Charts. This latter feature enables you to compare data breach and privacy laws in all 50 states and in countries around the world. Read TL NewsWire Article.
CosmoLex believes law firms want both practice management and legal-specific accounting in the same cloud product. In 2017, the company doubled down on this bet with Bank Data Feeds and CosmoPay. With Bank Data Feeds, you download bank account and credit card transactions into CosmoLex for more efficient reconciliation and expense recording. CosmoPay is a private label version of LawPay for accepting credit cards. You can embed CosmoPay buttons on PDF invoices. CosmoPay doesn’t require a LawPay account, a savings of about $240 per year. Read TL NewsWire Article.
18. Litera Smart Send
Email attachments are a pain. The documents you want to attach may reside in different locations, and you have to think through the order in which you attach them if you care about their presentation to recipients. Smart Send’s Attachment Manager makes this process easier for Outlook users. It can fetch documents from document management systems, file servers, and local drives, and has tools for reordering the documents, converting them into a PDF binder, adding a table of contents to the email message, etc. If you often send the same set of documents, you can can save the settings for future use. Read TL NewsWire Article.
19. Lexis Answers
If you sent Siri to law school, you’d end up with Lexis Answers. Built into Lexis Advance, Lexis Answers provides definitions, cause of action elements, foundational citations, and other low hanging legal research fruit to save you time. If available for your search, these answers appear in cards above the search results. Lexis Answers uses a combination of lawyer editors and artificial intelligence to expand the number of answers available faster than people alone could manage. Read TL NewsWire Article.
Need a new website? Choosing a website developer can seem daunting but you can start your search with TL NewsWire award winner Zaliet, which specializes in law firm websites. You begin by completing a Design Brief that forces you to think about what you want on and from your site. Zaliet can provide content in your practice areas, including custom content written exclusively for your site by the Legal Writers Bureau. Websites include tools for blogging, email newsletters, and analyzing traffic. Zaliet websites are free for LEAP customers, and integrate with LawConnect for a client portal. Read TL NewsWire Article.
21. Points of Law on Bloomberg Law
Like headnotes on steroids, Points of Law on Bloomberg Law highlights legal tests, elements, and standards in opinions. Click a highlight for a definition you can use in a brief and leading citations. A corresponding citation map in the form of a bubble chart enables you to visually find the best citations for your need using criteria such as jurisdiction and most cited. You can save any Points of Law page for future reference, and also explore related Points of Law germane to your research task. Read TL NewsWire Article.
Several shortcut apps exist but only TextExpander works on Windows, Mac, and iOS tied together by the cloud. In addition to simple “snippets” like adding your signature and disclaimer to an email message with two keystrokes, TextExpander also offers advanced document automation tools. Snippets can insert conditional text, perform calculations, fill out forms, remove formatting from your clipboard, and more. Statistics rank the popularity of snippets in your firm and calculate how many hours your firm has saved, which you can tout in your marketing. Read TL NewsWire Article.
A cloud practice management system for personal injury practices, CASEpeer keeps your eye on the prize via its Settlement Tracker. This tool tracks demands, counteroffers, the status of settlement payments, liens, costs, etc. View your revenue per case or across all cases, and compare the performance of your lawyers and your marketing channels. Case Tasks consist of automated workflows that keep your cases moving along. Case Notes provide a tickler of all activity for a case, including documents, email, text messages, and faxes. Read TL NewsWire Article.
24. Page Vault On Demand
The proverbial “smoking gun” used to be more myth than reality in litigation. But social media and web pages contain many smoking guns. Page Vault On Demand enables you to capture this evidence before you lose access or it gets deleted. The files you receive look like the original web page, and include an optional affidavit for authentication purposes. Choose from same-day or next-day turnaround depending on the urgency. An itemized invoice gives you the option of treating the service as a hard cost for cost recovery reimbursement. Read TL NewsWire Article.
25. Standard Fed Plus
Walk past a tax lawyer’s office and you might think they’re watching a tennis match. In reality, they’re comparing two versions of the Internal Revenue Code. Standard Fed Plus from Wolters Kluwer saves time and relieves neck strain by creating a redline comparing two versions of a provision at different points in time with additions in green and deletions in red. Compatible with Microsoft Word’s Track Changes, you can copy and paste the redline into an opinion letter. Use the Point in Time Analysis tool above the redline to jump to any date on which the provision you’re analyzing changed. Accompanying analysis from the Standard Federal Tax Reporter helps you understand the changes. Read TL NewsWire Article.
About TL NewsWire
So many products, so little time. Each issue of TL NewsWire reports on a hot new product for lawyers and law office administrators. The innovative structure of TL NewsWire’s articles, which feature sections such as In One Sentence and The Killer Feature, enable you to quickly understand the function of each product, and zero in on its most important attributes. TL NewsWire is free. Subscribe Now.