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All Our Technology Tips

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian legal tech industry is stepping up to help.

Joining Clio and Optimize Compliance in offering generous assistance during this challenging time is Lexum, which today made the following announcement: Need to Provide Open Access to Key Documents and Materials? Lexum Will Help at No Cost.

“Lexum is waiving the fees of its Qweri product for organizations in need of quickly providing public access to any kind of reference documents. We are waiving our onboarding fees, as well as our subscription fee for the next 12 months, so that important public information can be made available online in the best possible manner even if your organization was caught off-guard or is facing financial pressure because of the crisis. “

The offer entails no obligation to continue using Qweri at the end of the 12-month period.

Learn more about Lexum’s offer here and see how organizations use Qweri here.

 

To say COVID-19 has sped up the pace of legal change is an understatement. Usually it takes months (or even years!) to make changes to Canadian laws, but now we are seeing significant amendments announced and in force on the same day. With many businesses worrying about day-to-day survival, there is little or no time to stay on top of legal compliance requirements.

We wanted to simplify this task.  So, to help Canadian businesses and law firms understand and stay on top of these quickly evolving legal changes, Optimize Compliance is offering time-limited, free access to its easy-to-use compliance app.

Optimize Compliance helps you build customized legal compliance reports — updated in real time to reflect changes across the country in response to COVID-19.

This offer is immediately available to HR, in-house legal and small law firms. To request free access, click here.

Lesha Van Der Bij (@LVanDerBij) is CEO & Founder of Optimize Legal – keeping law firms and businesses up-to-date on changes to the law.

 

Passwords. The bane of most people’s existence. So many to remember!

I know a few people who swear they have figured it all out – using some kind of mnemonic to remember all of their passwords. Apparently, I am not that clever. So I recently turned to LastPass. You remember one password and LastPass stores the rest. 

What I like about LastPass:

  • Once you’ve entered your master password, it will auto complete all the rest of your passwords for you. No need to go and look them up in a separate password keeper.
  • It syncs across my Mac, iphone and iPad. 
  • LastPass offers the option of a security review, which will identify passwords that are weak or used more than once.
  • With the Google Chrome extension, you can set LastPass to automatically log out after you have not used your browser for a specified period of time or upon closing it. This essentially logs you out of all your password protected sites in one go.
  • You can also add images (e.g., a Passport), credit cards and other financial information.
  • The free version seems to have all the bells and whistles I need.
  • And, of course, all of the data is encrypted. It is only decrypted at the device level, which means that the passwords are not  sent to LastPass’ servers.

As with all password keepers, there is some risk associated with keeping your passwords in an online database. However, if you’re comfortable with this and looking for a solution to the password conundrum, check it out.

Lesha Van Der Bij (@LVanDerBij) is CEO & Founder of Optimize Legal – keeping law firms and businesses up-to-date on changes to the law.

 

Administrator’s note: thanks to Lexum for sharing this tip.

Do you know you can save links pointing to any site of interest with Lexbox? The bookmarking feature of Lexbox is available for this purpose. The “New Bookmark” button is located at the bottom of the page of your Lexbox account.

It couldn’t be more simple: chose your preferred folder in your Lexbox account. Click the orange button titled “New Bookmark”. A dialog box appears. Copy the URL of your choice from your browser navigation bar, and paste it in the box. No more looking for your file information from one place to another. Lexbox stores your research in one place, even third party website pages.

This feature will be familiar to long time users who remember the Lexbox Google Chrome extension.

 

Nowadays, I think most transit systems probably have an app that tells you when the next bus or train is coming. Handy, but I found a new app – Citymapper – which is great for planning out how to get where you need to go.

Citymapper will help you find your away around cities across North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. Most of the time you don’t even need an address. Just type in the name of the restaurant, museum, building, etc. and the app will tell you numerous ways to get there via public transit.

And if you want to explore other travel options, Citymapper also provides walking and bike routes (including the nearest bike share location) and Uber estimates. It’s all there…in one app.

Got a favourite app? I would love to hear about it.

Lesha Van Der Bij (@LVanDerBij) is CEO & Founder of Optimize Legal – keeping law firms and businesses up-to-date on changes to the law.

 

I recently read about a great tool that helps you to simplify your writing. The Hemingway App highlights:

  • sentences that are difficult to read – yellow sentences are hard to read, while red are “egregious”;
  • use of the passive voice; and
  • phrases that have simpler alternatives (e.g., with respect to).

It also provides a grade level-based readability rating of your prose.

I tried out Hemingway by entering a legal summary that I had written for a non-legal audience. A sea of yellow and red! And a readability rating of “Post-Graduate”. Gasp!

After adding bullets and making some fairly minor revisions, I was able to resolve most of the issues. The new readability rating – Grade 8 – seemed pretty reasonable for a legal summary.

Hat tip to the Civil Resolution Tribunal (@CivResTribunal) for bringing this tool to my attention. They are aiming for a Grade 6 reading level – the average level in Canada – even for their tribunal decisions. This is a significant step toward improving accessibility of the law.

Check out the free online version of the Hemingway App.

Lesha Van Der Bij (@LVanDerBij) is CEO & Founder of Optimize Legal – keeping law firms and businesses up-to-date on changes to the law.

 

I love planning trips almost as much as going on the trip itself. So, I am always on the lookout for cool travel apps.

Ulmon CityMaps2Go is now my key tool for planning (and executing) city trips. You can use different coloured markers to map out all of the tourist attractions, restaurants and shops that you want to visit. I find the visual grouping of sites makes it easy to plan a day. Or, in the midst of a trip, to determine where to go next.

Ulmon also enables you to share your great ideas with travel companions. Once I have mapped out an upcoming trip, I send it to my spouse (who unlike me does not share my love for trip organization). She then has a quick overview of our plans for the trip and can click on any of the
markers to learn more about a particular venue.

I should also note that all of the maps can be downloaded for offline use. So, no need to incur expensive cellular charges.

I recently visited London. Here’s a quick snapshot, including our home base marked in blue.

Lesha Van Der Bij (@LVanDerBij) is CEO & Founder of Optimize Legal – keeping law firms and businesses up-to-date on changes to the law.

 

This is my second post in a series on my favourite smart phone apps.

Here’s one for folks who are seriously pressed for time (aren’t we all?) but who are still trying to keep up with non-fiction reading. Blinkist provides access to 15-minute summaries of books on a range of topics, including leadership, politics, marketing, parenting, nutrition, technology, psychology and so forth.

The summaries are prepared by Blinkist’s team of experts – they refer to themselves as “life librarians” – who read about 1000 books per year and distil each book into its key insights.

I tested it out on a book that I had already – “Bold” by Peter Diamandis – and I have to say, the summary did capture the key points of the book.

Blinkist includes both written and audio reviews of books. If you’re not sure where to start, Blinkist is continually highlighting top reads in each genre.

There is a fee, as this is a premium app, but you may find it’s worthwhile if you want to expand your options for continual learning.

Lesha Van Der Bij (@LVanDerBij) is CEO & Founder of Optimize Legal – keeping law firms and businesses up-to-date on changes to the law.

 

While smart phones are an increasingly big part of most lawyers’ practices, many lawyers only use their phones for email, text and calls. But there’s so much more you can do! This is the first post in a series on my favourite apps.

I am continually collecting receipts and Genius Scan is a great app for scanning them on the go. Using the camera on your phone, you can scan a single document or a series of documents. Then crop the scanned image or make other edits, including changing the page order. Finally, save the scanned document(s) as a PDF, and send it via email or print it.

Genius Scan’s security is probably not sufficient for scanning client documents. However, if you upgrade to Genius Scan+, there are options to encrypt PDF documents, as well as to create optical character recognition (OCR) or searchable PDFs.

In any event, if you have a use case like mine, where you need to create and edit PDFs of non-sensitive material, you may find Genius Scan to be very helpful.

Lesha Van Der Bij (@LVanDerBij) is CEO & Founder of Optimize Legal – keeping law firms and businesses up-to-date on changes to the law.

 

Cloud.

You’ve heard the term, perhaps wondered what it really meant and maybe even worried about it. ‘The cloud’ is just a marketing term that means the internet. So, if you see the term ‘cloud storage’, it means ‘store your documents on the internet’.

There are many benefits to using the cloud properly. If you pick the right providers, it will be easier to keep, manage and restore backups. You can also seriously expand your office – if you’re careful, you can have access to all your most important files anywhere you have an internet connection. And perhaps most helpful, some services will even handle security updates and patches for you.

Benefits aside, there are some important pitfalls to be aware of before you make any kind of cloud investment. Ultimately, transitioning to something cloud based involves getting many small details right. And, it is helpful to learn about best practices from people who have been through these types of business transitions before.

The Law Society of British Columbia developed guidelines for best practices in using the cloud back in 2012. The Prairie Law Societies adapted these guidelines into a checklist to help members use the cloud securely. The Law Society of Saskatchewan’s Cloud Computing Guide contains some important information, helpful best practices and a comprehensive checklist that will help you steer clear of the most common pitfalls.

[This tip by Greg Hluska originally appeared on the Law Society of Saskatchewan Library’s Legal Sourcery Blog]