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By:  Joseph Brewster – (http://www.linkedin.com/in/taxprojoe)

As a tech junkie, I regularly scour the internet looking for hidden treasures of software that can improve my office and the lives of my office staff with all of their special complexities. One attorney works mostly from his beach home more than 800 miles away, two others are often in the office, but don’t like to use a computer. If you work in the solo or small firm, keep these FREE to near free software apps at the ready. I will bypass the obvious software we all use like MS Word.

Wunderlist – FREE to tiny monthly cost (www.wunderlist.com)

This task management software is perhaps the best kept secret among legal professionals. It is cloud based, can integrate with Facebook registration (not a key feature), but it can let you create multiple lists, share them with multiple people, assign tasks, set due dates, subtasks within tasks, notes, add files to tasks and so much more. To give you some examples of how I use this beautiful app that has never cost me a dime, I will share some of the types of lists I have and how I use it. I have perhaps 20 different lists going right now.

I have one called “Joe’s Call Log”. When anyone other than me takes a call for me, they type the date, time, name, number, and message into Wunderlist in the Call Log list.  I get a little blip on my PC, my iPhone through the iPhone app, and an email alerting me to the call. I can then check mark it off as I have returned the call, cut and paste the info for a new task if needed, and as it saves your completed tasks, I can go back later to see the details of the message months later, if needed.

I have another for discovery due dates that alerts me when discovery is due back to us. You can set due dates in the task and it will send you an email, a pop up window, and a notice to my phone as due dates come, so I can follow up with a 26(f) letter if we do not yet have the responses.

I also have one for when payments are due from clients and their special payment arrangements.

You could make lists such as:

  • To Do – Priority
  • Long Term To Do List
  • Discovery Due Back
  • Clients to Charge on specific days
  • Office Bills
  • Office Supplies Needed
  • Potential Clients to follow up
  • Special Projects
  • Client birthdays
  • Corporate Minutes (we notice clients for when their minutes must be completed)
  • Bankruptcy Document Production Due

You can make all the lists you want. The nice part of this is the sharing function. Your boss and co-staff can all view what you have yet to complete and when a task is completed. If you are out, your boss or co-worker can add to your list detailed tasks. This is the best task management software I have found and it is simply amazing…best of all free.

Evernote – FREE to small monthly cost depending on usage. (www.evernote.com)

If you aren’t using this amazing program, you are wasting your time. The program itself is fascinating but the companion apps for your browser are the real gems. Evernote Web Clipper can be found on the www.evernote.com website. It is an extension that plugs into the browser you use. If you ever get to a page on the web you like, you need the info, you want to record it in any way, you simply click the little elephant button to the right of the URL bar and it saves the page as a note in Evernote that you can save in any of the notebooks you have created and with any “tags” you want to make it easy to retrieve. I have seen different attorneys use it differently depending on the kind of work they do. Some people have a perpetual note for each client so every time that client comes in, their notes are all added to the same perpetual note with all documents scanned and attached. Another attorney I know has one notebook for all notes and just created a perpetual timeline, like a giant diary, and it has basically become a book of every document in and out of the office in order by the very minute it was scanned or created. The functionality is nearly endless.

My FREE legal research works as follows (you must have web clipper installed):

  1. Go to http://scholar.google.com
  2. Type in relevant search terms and use case law for your state.
  3. Find a case you like.
  4. Click the Evernote Elephant
  5. Enter search term tags (including client name) and place in folder “Legal Research”
  6. Hit save.
  7. When you are done finding all the case law you may need, go into the Evernote App and search by tag for your client. All of the cases you clipped are there. Now you can create a new note or a word document, cutting and pasting any of your case information into the document you want. The nice part is that Scholar Google saves the correct citation for you in the title of each note so you don’t even need to go back to figure out how to cite the case.
  8. Use it to clip the relevant Statutes and Rules as well for your client.
  9. Include tags for the type of case law you are researching so if you ever need to use the same case law again, it is readily available.

Many of the apps I use are not for the PC, but for my iPad. Some of the miracle apps I have found are listed below. These are free or nearly free, so have no regret downloading these and playing with them.

iPhone/iPad Apps:

And just for fun:

Enjoy! Share your favorite legal apps that you think no one knows about. What hidden gems have you found?

Joseph Brewster is the Senior Paralegal and Tax Adviser at Gilley Cogswell LLP and The Law Office of Charles F. Braddock and owns his own company, Law Firm Support Solutions LLC in Anderson, Indiana. He is always looking to connect and expand his network on linkedin.


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