6 Free Collaboration Tools for Lawyers
Sunday, May 2, 2010 Mohamad Mova Al'Afghani
You just start up a small law firm and can’t afford to pay expensive IT costs? No problem. There are tons of freebies out there which you can use to enhance your law firm’s productivity.
Bookmarks cluttered your browser page? Use bookmarking sites. There are many free bookmarking services including google notebook and Digg, but I prefer delicious for my bookmarks. I have been sharing these bookmarks with colleagues in other countries working on the same issue. I don't lose anything by sharing what I found in the net and they don't risk the possibility of reinventing the wheel.
In delicious, have a look at my Water Law bookmarks. If you do European Law, have a look at my EU Law bookmarks. For nanotechnology law, have a look here.
Important tip for delicious. In tagging, always use root words. Don’t use “nanotechnology+law” or “nanotechnologies”, unless you really have to.
Manymoon is a cool software for project management. It has project management features such as milestones, tasks, calendar, link sharing and progress report.
For example, if you are doing a merger, you can set the milestones into (i) Merger Plan, (ii) BoC Approval of the Merger Plan, (iii) Shareholder’s Approval for Merger and (iv) Notifications to Employees. You can add tasks to each milestones. For milestone (i) you can assign the drafting of a Merger Plan to a junior lawyer and a reviewing task to the more senior lawyer. You can set dates for these task, set a deadline and a reminder.
What I really like with Manymoon is its integration with Google Apps. Manymoon is integrated to Google Docs, Email and Calendar. It has a reporting tool too, but unfortunately, the free version only has one reporting for each projects.
Sign up to manymoon for free, here.
Oh, in case you are a time-sheet freak, yes, manymoon does track your lawyer’s time sheet.
You are a very busy person with lots of schedules, but yet, your firm can’t afford to pay a secretary? It’s OK, not a problem. Tungle will help to sort out your scheduling problem.
Tungle use google calendar to check the dates when you would be available. Clients can then propose several dates for a meeting or web conference or telephone call. Not clear enough, you can try scheduling a conference call with me, using my tungle here.
You are in Bali and too tired to go to Jakarta for a meeting, or you simply have a ‘virtual’ lawfirm and only work at the office if you have too. Besides, who needs an office these days, right?
With Dimdim, you can always hold meetings online. Share presentations, share your computer screen, hold a web conference! Dimdim can record your meetings too. Again, no need for a secretary.
The old school of doing review is by turning the track changes on and then sending it once you made the review. Well, there’s a more effective way of doing it.
Offisync, well, sync, your office files with Google Docs and allow instant, online collaboration with coworkers. However, there is a caveat. You may not be able to save the doc files in its original MS Word Format, unless you have a premium account with google apps. So, everytime you save docs in offisync, it save it in google doc format. If you have plenty of tables and footnotes, you might want to be a bit careful using the service. I hope they will sort out this problem soon. I will update you when they do.
6. Finally, Google Apps
Get 50 free (7GB each) email@example.com with google apps, integrated with calendar, docs and other google services such as video and sites. Yes, you get the email with your company’s name but using gmail services. Ain’t that cool? Sign up here.
All of the software I listed above (except for Delicious) are integrated into Google Apps. So when you sign up to google apps (the basic version) and go to the Marketplace from your domain management console, you can install those apps in your domain. Have fun!