Whether looking for tools to run a solo practice or just looking to get organized, there is no shortage of mobile applications to help manage time, streamline communication or do research. This list of tech tools might help with any of those. Not all of them are specifically built for the law but can still be useful across industries.
Identify individual tasks, set timelines, assign points of contact, provide itemized resources and track everything at a glance.
Track your billable hours and projects with this time management tool. You can specify what is or is not billable time and reference which tasks within a project are taking up the most effort.
Manage and organize cases while automating documents and billing. You can also use this as a contact manager for firm or case organization and management.
Record your hours and bill in one program. Set which hours are billable, select clients in a built-in CRM and schedule events and deadlines to stay on top of invoicing and project management tasks.
Research Find Law for Legal Professionals
This free website includes tools to search for cases, codes and legal tech.
This paid caselaw research platform allows users to drag and drop informational documents into the engine and then enter in whatever keywords you need. The built-in AI software will find cases, precedents, jurisdiction and other facts to help build a case.
Black’s Law Dictionary
Black’s Law Dictionary was first published in 1891, so it’s far from being a new tool, but the free online legal version is more user friendly than the hard-bound book.
For $5, this mobile application provides access to more than 600 constitutional law case summaries and hundreds of hours of Supreme Court oral arguments.
Casemaker4 helps with research on laws in 50 states. The tool also includes alerts for new developments in targeted areas of interest.
Leveraging the best tech available is a way that many new lawyers are finding the step into the professional realm to be more palatable. The shift toward tech use in law is automating some tasks which gives new lawyers the opportunity to avoid splitting their focus.
In particular, many new lawyers may find their invoicing and time tracking to be cumbersome when they are working odd hours or performing research in spare time to prepare for litigation or ADR efforts. Using a mobile system that tracks your time like Clockify may decrease human error when reporting time spent on cases. Additionally, invoicing for time or expenses may be easier on a platform like PracticePanther where you can easily itemize and integrate hours into a single invoice.
Building up a toolbox of well vetted resources is typically done over the course of a long and varied career but here are some additional resources to help:
Digital media Lawyerist blog
Access a wealth of varied information from specifics to more general law topics.
ABA Legal Technology Resource Center
Access a tech blog, webinars, publications and a robust website with info on tech to stay updated on the latest and greatest.
CBA My COBar
Colorado Bar Association members can access their account to gain full access to the bar association’s resources and update a community profile and licensed lawyer profile.
Events/conferences to lookout for in 2020
• ABA Techshow
• CodeX FutureLaw
• Evolve Law
• ABA Midyear or Annual Meeting
• Subscribe to periodicals and news outlets that relate to your practice area or your local community.
• Draft documents using templates, then use cloud storage, e-File, Secure File, Dropbox or Google Drive.
• Network whenever you can: Go to the cocktail hour your office hosts, go to all the events you can and most importantly get out in your community.
• Have some business cards made, if they’re not provided to you, and get in the habit of carrying them with you and handing them out.
STUDENT LOAN DEBT
Law degrees are one of the most expensive higher education pursuits and may cost upward of $150,000. While some programs offer scholarships, grants and low-interest loan options, the bill is hefty for a young professional to start out with on their shoulders.
Some little-known student loan resources:
Nitro (student loan debt calculator)
In case you haven’t checked on your student debt in a while, or ever, calculators like Nitro can show where payment levels should be in order to pay off the full amount in a set amount of time.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program
Access this program through a qualified employer after making 120 on-time payments against your student loan. This federal program is only available for those working full-time in a position that is considered public service.
John R. Justice Student Loan Repayment Program
This program is only for full-time state or federal public defenders or prosecutors who agree to remain in that position for three years. The program offers up to $60,000 total to go directly toward FFEL and direct loans in good standing.
Some more general advice for those who are starting to take a fresh look at their student debt:
• Depending on where you land, your employer may offer student loan support or assistance.
• Deduct all of your student loans on your taxes each year.
• Look into the Revised Pay As You Earn program to help you lower your payment amount based on your income.
• Make a 10- or 15-year budget plan for your student loans, factoring in your minimum costs per month plus a little extra.
ON THE TOPIC OF MENTAL HEALTH
Mental health has become a major subject among professionals in all fields but might be even more important within the legal profession. For lawyers, the burden is primarily in their caseloads, corporate struggles or the general burden of being someone’s last line of defense or offense and going up against well-respected colleagues in difficult cases.
“There’s this kind of angst around new attorneys trying to figure out the lay of the land.” said executive director for the Colorado Lawyer Assistance Program, Sarah Myers. She noted that isolation may prove to be particularly damaging when a lawyer begins their career and that having a network of resources is critical for new lawyers. Myers said that it’s critical to “plan the self-care – because if you don’t plan it it’s not going to happen.”
Compiling some of our best advice in each area, there are several places to turn to for mental health, or general wellness help, when tackling career hurdles:
Colorado Lawyer Assistance Program
Provides free and confidential assistance to the Colorado legal community. Offers a variety of services to support and assist with any personal or professional issues.
ABA Commission on Lawyer
This service provides support to state and federal programs that offer services and resources to lawyers struggling with mental health issues.
Lawyers Depression Project
An online peer support group for legal professionals, LPD hosts an online forum that talks about various mental health issues where users support each other and learn about mental health.
ABA Working Group to Advance Well-Being in the Legal Profession
This group was formed to advance well-being in the legal sphere. They have a well-being pledge campaign and host a national workshop.
ABA Well-being Toolkit
This downloadable guide offers a variety of tools for legal employers to further the mental health and well-being movement in the legal profession.