I don’t cover technology here much at MyShingle. It’s not that I don’t recognize its importance to solos – in fact, more than any other tool, technology has shattered barriers to entry. It’s just that others like Future Lawyer, Ross Kodner, Victor Medina, or Greatest American Lawyer cover technology so much better that I ever could – those sites discuss new applications and also describe how they use them in their practice.
Still, I do follow trends – and recently, I’ve noticed a trend of articles and blog posts about using low cost technologies to start and run a practice. For example, at Home Office Warrior, Grant Griffiths
shares a list of must have applications for a home office – from phone service to postage to contact management. Similarly, Tammy Lenski at Mediator Tech discusses her low cost favorites for these tools as well. And just yesterday, USA today carried this article about how small businesses are using low cost Google Apps for spreadsheets, sharing files and email (disclosure: my husband works on Google, but not on the Apps project. Also, some folks have suggested that the Google Terms of Service give Google a license to use and distribute content produced by those who use Apps, but that’s not how I read the TOS). What I like about all of these articles is that they don’t just tell about a particular piece of technology, but show how it is used in the context of a suite of products.
There are other freebies on the forms and research side. Docstoc is a new site for legal documents where users can share their forms and download forms from others. The site has a decent collection of legal forms, as well as standard contracts for tasks like web development or independent contractor agreements. As with using any forms, take the time to make them your own and to ensure that they comply with the laws of your jurisdiction.
And finally, Bob Ambrogi reports on the launch of the Public Library of Law, free caselaw reseach sponsored by Fastcase.com and which offers law back to 1997 (in contrast to Lexisone.com which only goes back five years). My gripe with both of these services is that they don’t give access to federal district court reports. And they’re limited in scope so they’re not great tools for legal research. But they may prove helpful for those who can’t afford to invest in a full blown service and don’t feel like making a trip to the library to do research.
The last technology note is that I’ll be speaking on two panels at the ABA Legal Tech Show in March. Stop by and say hello if you’re there.