standin- app logo 1

It’s true that law practice may be more challenging than it’s ever been. And yet I marvel at the ingenuity some have brought to the profession, finding ways to automate the parts that should not require a graduate education to master.

So as we work on our October issue at Arizona Attorney Magazine, dedicated in large part to law office management, my radar is up for tools that take the arrggh out of an attorney’s day.

The smartest tools do not seek to do everything a lawyer does. Instead, they identify a single element of practice that could be improved. And that’s what a new app called “StandIn” appears to do.

How many of you have appeared in court or in chambers for another lawyer on her or his case? I recall doing that in California as a part of my solo practice. The money could be pretty good, and the work was flexible.

Plus, if you were lucky, a standard status conference might yield a few challenging questions from the judge—and who has graduated from law school and not yearned for a little of that? You had become familiar with the case file, so you could handle it, and it definitely got the blood pumping to: (1) interact with an inquiring judge while (2) not royally screwing up another lawyer’s case on what was supposed to be a 10-minute appearance.

But the cost of those great minutes as an oral advocate for your client was often an organizational headache. Getting hired for the appearance required significant back-and-forth with the attorney hiring you, especially if you didn’t yet know each other. It involved phone calls, faxing (remember that?), negotiating your fee, ensuing you knew which court to go to and what time. Plus, of course, getting photocopies of the case elements that were relevant to that day’s hearing. (And don’t get me started on finding a pay phone the day of when something went amiss. That used to be something lawyers had to do.)

Well, all of those concerns may not be eliminated for the lawyer doing appearances, but a recent essay pointed me to a solution to some of them. “StandIn” is called a replacement lawyer app, and it’s described well here by Cathy Reisenwitz. As she says, “StandIn lets lawyers who can’t make it to a court appearance find a stand-in for them. Lawyers log in and see who is available near the courthouse they need to be at. They can sort by experience, expertise, and availability.”

capterra logoLike other location-based apps you’re probably already familiar with, StandIn will also process payments and allow reviews of the hiring and hired attorney.

More about the product itself is on their website. It is based in Canada, but it’s moving into U.S. cities (and you can urge them to come to yours).

Even if you have no need of such an app, I recommend reading the essay anyway. And even though it’s not (yet) in Arizona, I commend the article to you. Why? Well, it’s well written, plus it probes these inventive people for their views of the future of the legal profession. Whether you’re doing appearances for others or writing wills or arguing zoning cases—or whatever—that future should interest you.

I also recommend following Cathy Reisenwitz and her firm Capterra (deets here). She covers many topics that might help your law practice, with just the right amount of snark to make law practice management less legally snoozeworthy. In fact, as we work on our October issue, I was pleased to see that one of our authors is a fan of an infographic that emerged from Capterra. That’s cool, as I am a fan too. You can see the graphic here.

And a final bit of pleasure for my blogging day: I was pleased to see that one of the StandIn founders came out of the Michigan State Reinvent Law initiative. I’ve written about it before, and I’m intrigued at the smart ideas that percolate up from entrepreneurial centers like this one. As I mentioned before, you really should follow their work; if you do that often enough, you’ll probably find other lawyers are following you.

Advertisements

Convention app social media screenshot

Good news: The State Bar of Arizona has launched an app to help you navigate the annual Convention. Well, it’s more of a mobile-friendly web page than an app, but I won’t quibble. It is totes better than flipping through reams of paper as you wander the Arizona Biltmore hallways.

You can read more about it here.

Or, even easier: With your cellphone, just navigate to this page. Here are some screen shots of what I found (there’s a lot more than the few I show).

The Arizona Attorney booth is circled in red (Booth # 10!).

The Arizona Attorney booth is circled in red (Booth # 10!).

Click to biggify!

And just to show you how helpful the site is, I’ve highlighted on the map exactly where the Arizona Attorney booth is located. We’re in the Frank Lloyd Wright Ballroom, booth 10. When you enter the building, turn right, and we’re next to the Ladies bathroom. (I know, I tried to think of an elegant way to put that.) We’re not far from the Cyber Café. So after you check your email, stop by to say hi!

The Arizona Attorney Convention booth

The Arizona Attorney Convention booth

State Bar of Arizona SBA_Logo_ColorGood news: The State Bar of Arizona has launched an app to help you navigate the annual Convention. Well, it’s more of a mobile-friendly web page than an app, but I won’t quibble. It is totes better than flipping through reams of paper as you wander the Westin La Paloma hallways.

You can read more about it here.

Or, even easier: With your cellphone, just navigate to this page. Here are some screen shots of what I found (there’s a lot more than the few I show).

Click to biggify!

State Bar of Arizona Convention app opening page

State Bar of Arizona Convention app choices page

State Bar of Arizona Convention app social networks

State Bar of Arizona Convention app exhibitor map

And just to show you how helpful the site is, I’ve highlighted on the map exactly where the Arizona Attorney booth is located. We’re on the lower level, booth 30, across from the Cyber Café. So after you check your email, stop by to say hi!

App exhibitor map AZAT location

Not only is this a Change of Friday, but it’s also the last day of the month. And on that doubly good occasion, I decided to try something different: I made a video.

Don’t get too excited; Martin Scorsese doesn’t have to worry about me upending his legacy. Instead, I got to try some funky animated functionality to convey some good news, which is: We at Arizona Attorney Magazine are going to improve even more our digital offerings. That’s right, an app is on your way.

Our digital edition already can sense (through computer magic, I guess) when you reach the site through a mobile phone. At that point, it opens up a version that is extremely readable. Still, we thought we could do better.

The app will be accessible via many devices, both iPhone (and iPad) and Android. And it will include not just the content from the print magazine, but feeds from a variety of our news channels.

I’ll send out more information as we get closer to our launch. But for now, enjoy a brief video that has two lawyers (O’Connor and Simpson) explaining the new effort.

Go on; click to watch the video. You can afford the minute and a half on a Friday!

Have a great—and animated—weekend.

Mobile lawyer stories welcome here.

Should your lawyer app be here?

That’s the idea, anyway, for some upcoming articles we’re seeking for Arizona Attorney Magazine. This fall, we’d like to run content on:

  • Mobile lawyering
  • Lawyer and law firm apps

Is your practice improved by these tools? Have you had law practice success due to developing new mobile skills? Or has your firm developed an app that’s altered how you do business?

Contact me with your thoughts on app success (or its opposite). Write me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

Do you have a great story to tell but no time to tell it yourself? Contact me. Let’s talk. We may agree that the magazine should write a story about your topic, all without your lifting a finger (to type or even text).

And on a broader scale, we’d appreciate your thoughts on:

  • The role of apps in law practice
  • Ethical pitfalls to avoid in a mobile practice
  • How mobile tools have leveled the playing field between big firms and everyone else

See? So much to cover. Call, text or post; I’d love to talk with you.

Do you want One Really Good Idea Every Day? Who doesn’t?

That is the genius behind a blog from the folks at Attorney at Work. They have stumbled on the brainy notion that busy people may skip all kinds of content, even if it’s valuable. But if you promise to provide one genuinely good thing once a day—and then leave them the hell alone—people may sign on. Hence, their cheeky six-word motto.

And so I did. And I haven’t been sorry.

And it was yesterday, therefore, where I read an insightful post regarding the new Android app for the Fastcase legal research tool. You should read it.

Catherine Sanders Reach

The post was (very well) written by Catherine Sanders Reach, of the Chicago Bar Association. I had the opportunity to meet and learn from Catherine in November 2010, when she presented at a State Bar of Arizona Solo and Small-Firm Conference. At that time, she headed up the American Bar Association’s Legal Technology Resource Center.

Besides the good writer, the app is also a product worth your attention.

Arizona-admitted lawyers have free access to the Fastcase library, as it is a State Bar member benefit. Given that, there is no reason at all for Android users to pause before giving this new web app a try.

Once you do, let me know what you think. Does it—and Fastcase generally—help to meet your research needs?