[This article originally appeared on Law Technology News, February 4, 2014]
Mobile apps are enhancing lawyer productivity and new tools are emerging to manage and integrate cloud services with existing Web-based legal technology.
Cloud adoption by lawyers and their law firms started as a trickle and is becoming a flood. This is not surprising in a field that has matured in delivery, providers, and clarity surrounding ethical obligations. Some cloud services are used with the approval of the firm’s IT group but rogue cloud adoption is also occurring.
Tools are emerging to assist users of multiple cloud apps to integrate them and improve the last mile of productivity. Larger, law-focused software as a service such as Themis Solutions Clio andRocket Matter integrate with cloud services like Dropbox, Evernote, Xero and Google Apps. They embrace the philosophy of small pieces, loosely joined.
Outside of SaaS, which provides the infrastructure to integrate Web services, are tools that can create a dashboard or other integration to easily move information around or facilitate its use. The best place to look at this: file synchronization services. Lawyers answering the 2013 ABA Legal Technology Survey Report indicated that the three most frequently used cloud services were Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud, all file storage and synchronization sites.
Cloud services like Otixo and Cloudfuze offer the ability to move files across multiple cloud storage accounts. If you use Dropbox and your firm is on Box, you can use these services to move files between two cloud accounts. This avoids synchronizing personal files to your office or firm files to your personal devices. They are also filling the cloud search niche left mostly open when services like Cue and CloudMagic either closed or changed their focus. These cloud file management tools will work with most major file synchronization services but if you’re on a lesser known one like Logmein’s Cubby, you may be out of luck.
Both have apps for mobile users who need to transfer files from Apple iOS and Google Android devices. Both are also paid services, embodying another cloud shift that is currently happening. Freemium services are going away, so lawyers who are adopting cloud services should expect to pay for enhanced productivity hosted by others.
There are also standalone apps. SanDisk has a free Android app called Memory Zone that is geared towards its own memory cards but will also enable file movement between cloud services. Apple iOS users can try apps like Cloud Commander or iStorage 2 HD. The limitation of apps tends to be the services they support, so you may need to dig a bit deeper to find one that is a match.
EleEditor takes a different tack from the cloud file management. It integrates with your Evernote account and provides some additional organizational tools. For those who have struggled with which online research notebook is “right,” EleEditor can help. While Evernote is a powerful tag and notebook driven tool, it lacks the page-level organization of something like Microsoft’s OneNote Web app. EleEditor brings page-like organization to Evernote.
The maturity of cloud computing apps will provide different ways to use familiar Web services. The trend away from freemium cloud services towards paid ones is only likely to encourage others to build their small parts and join them, loosely, to services where lawyers are already active.