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Ten essential classes of websites for lawyers

The Internet is ubiquitous. Many of us get a growing amount of news from our favorite news sites.

For a challenge this month, I’m going to try to cover 10 essential websites (or classes of websites) for lawyers without referencing Google or some of the more obvious sites.

We will probably leave off your favorite, but hopefully you will learn of some new essential sites for your practice.

Acrobat for Legal Professionals blog

In my judgment, Adobe Acrobat Professional is an essential office tool, and the tips and free training video seminars on Rick Borstein’s Acrolaw blog can help you get the most benefit from your investment in Adobe Acrobat Pro.

Sites with tips for your smart phone.

iPhone J.D. is a blog for lawyers using iPhones published by Jeff Richardson, an attorney in New Orleans. If it deals with the iPhone, iPhone apps, or how to effectively use the iPhone in a law practice, you’ll find it here.

The Droid Lawyer™ is published by Oklahoma City lawyer Jeffrey Taylor. It contains great tips and app reviews for lawyers using that platform.

Law Practice Today

This is a great free e-zine from the ABA Law Practice Management Section. Go there once and subscribe so that you’ll be notified when the new issue is published each month. What’s an extra 12 e-mails per year in return for great, free practice management content?

You can also find the online versions of the section’s flagship publication, Law Practice magazine, at the link.

Refdesk.com

Here’s the proverbial “oldie but goodie” site. Refdesk is a classic research site with links to almost every imaginable collection of facts on the web.

Do yourself a favor and take 10 minutes to scroll down this long, long web page. You will likely find many online reference collections that you did not even know existed.

ABA Legal Technology Resource Center

This is a treasure trove of useful technology resources. From ABA Site-tation, the legal technology blog, to TechEZ training for ABA members to a state-by-state chart of metadata ethics opinions, this is a resource-rich, must-bookmark site. And most of the content is not limited to ABA members.

Lynda.com

Sitting in a classroom for software training is problematic. No one wants to be out of the office for a whole day of training, and it is hard to retain that much information. Classes at the local community college will often spend too much time on items that are not useful in a law office. Lynda.com offers on-demand videos for busy law firms to fit most every budget or need.

Meeting Wizard, Doodle, TimeBridge, Tungle, Congregar, When Is Good, and Set A Meeting

Every lawyer who has ever scheduled a deposition knows what a pain it can be to coordinate the schedules of even a small number of lawyers.

Free meeting scheduler sites are incredible time savers. You take the e-mail addresses for everyone and then propose several potential dates and times that fit into your schedule. The applications poll everyone, often even reminding them when they have not responded. The person setting the meeting then receives an easy-to-read grid with everyone’s available times.

CNET

While social media sites can be useful in finding out what technology tools your friends and contacts use and like, a professional review is still an invaluable resource. CNET has been providing great technology reviews for years, and they still do a great job. You can also check out www.pcworld.com, www.pcmag.com, www.zdnet.com/reviews and www.technolawyer.com (free registration required).

YouSendIt.com or MediaFire.com Sometimes you want to send a very large file as an attachment. Large attachments can be problematic for those on slow Internet connections or checking e-mail with their smart phone. And if you are sending the file to many recipients it can slow down your e-mail as well.

It is much better to send a link to the recipient so he or she can download the file at a time of his or her choosing. The free versions of these services allow you to do that, while the paid subscription service allows you to build permanent online repositories so people can download the files you post there at any time.

Dropbox, Box.net, SpiderOak, Sugar Sync or iCloud

Some see ethical and security issues with lawyers using the cloud. But if we step back a bit from confidential and privileged client information, there are plenty of non-privileged, non-confidential documents you would like to have safely stored and readily available.

One of the most time-saving classes of services online today is online document repositories with file synchronization. No more e-mailing a document home to work on it later with file synchronization. For articles and papers that are being created and revised, you can have the single current version available to you via several computers and your mobile phone and tablet.

Most of these services are free for a basic allotment of online storage. While one could easily upload enough pictures or music to fill the free allotment quickly, documents take up much less space and, once you have uploaded enough of those to fill your free allotment, you probably should being paying the modest monthly or annual fee anyway.

Jim Calloway is the Director of the Oklahoma Bar Association Management Assistance Program. He publishes the weblog, Jim Calloway’s Law Practice Tips. He serves on the ABA Law Practice Management Section Council and is also chair of its Practice Management Advisor’s committee.  He is a frequent speaker on law office management and technology issues.