Have you been hearing about how lawyers are working remote and have a “mobile office” but don’t know what that means? Are you thinking about starting your own mobile practice and need some tips? Do you have a law firm that could benefit from more mobile systems and tools? Well, you’re in luck! Today on The Florida Bar Podcast, Adriana Linares and Larry Port, founder and CEO of Rocket Matter, discuss remote access, cloud-based services, laptops, tablets, and smartphones, online collaboration, and what is needed to start a mobile law office.
- What it means to be “in the cloud”
- Cloud and server security
- Practice management programs
- Mobile phone systems and PVX software
- Note taking, collaboration, and communication tools
- Technology trial and error
- iPad apps, Microsoft Surface devices, and using Apple computers
- Looking first for lawyer specific products
Larry Port, CEO of Rocket Matter, is also a speaker and award winning writer at the crossroads of the legal profession and cutting edge technology. He frequently discusses marketing, design and efficiency, and quality techniques in the software industry that can be leveraged by lawyers and legal professionals. He was named to the 2012 Fastcase 50 honoring the law’s smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries and leaders.
Mentioned in This Episode
Advertiser: Welcome to the official Florida Bar Podcast. Where we cover practice management, leadership, and what’s happening in Florida law. Brought to you by the Florida Bar Practice Resource Institute. You’re listening to Legal Talk Network.
Adriana Linares: Hey! It’s time for another episode of the official Florida Bar podcast, brought to you by the Practice Resource Institute on Legal Talk Network. The Practice Resource Institute is the Florida Bar’s online center for practice management information dedicated to Florida attorneys. My name is Adriana Linares and I’ll be your host. I’m a legal technology consultant and trainer; I’ve been lucky enough to be living in Florida and working for lawyers – not just in Florida, of course, around the country – but also helping the Florida Bar out with a lot of the latest and greatest that they’ve been coming up with in technology. I’m excited today to have Larry Port on the show. Larry Port is the founder and CEO of Rocket Matter, a homegrown Florida company that has built a practice management system in the Cloud and Larry’s going to tell us a little bit about it.
Larry Port: Hey, Adriana, How are you doing?
Adriana Linares: I’m doing great! Thank you so much for coming on the show. How is life in Boca Raton?
Larry Port: Everything down here in Florida is quite good. Watching out for alligators and making software.
Adriana Linares: That’s two pretty cool things that we get to do in Florida. So I’m very excited it’s still Wintertime and we’re still basking in 70° weather; I like to rub it in every once in a while so I’m pretty happy about that. Larry, tell me about Rocket Matter.
Larry Port: Well, Rocket Matter is a company I founded in 2007. We’ve been selling it since 2008. I like to say we make the lives of lawyers a whole lot easier. One of the biggest pain points we see with law firms is getting the bills out and getting the time collected. So what we do at Rocket Matter is we try to streamline the time and billing process and help attorneys get invoices out more timely which results in better profitability and it ends up – believe it or not – resulting in better client service. So we teach a lot of attorneys how to run their business through our software.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, that’s interesting. I’ve helped lawyers run their businesses better, and number one has to be having a good practice management program and having some good processes and procedures in place. So I’m very happy that Rocket Matter was born, that it’s a Florida company and you all are also a Florida Bar member benefit. So what does that mean for our listeners if they’re interested in looking at Rocket Matter and learning about what it does, what does the Florida Bar member benefit do for them?
Larry Port: So if you’ve signed up as a Florida Bar member – and we love having local Florida firms – we give you a discount. I don’t remember the specifics, it’s like, maybe 20% or something like that. Do you have any idea, Adriana, what it is?
Adriana Linares: It’s on the website. I should not have put you on the spot like that because it’s a lot of stuff for a CEO to remember. But it is on the Florida Bar web page if you go to the member benefits it’s listed in there with all the information they need. And links-
Larry Port: Everybody gets a free car. You can sign up for Rocket Matter, if you’re a Florida Bar member you get a free car. I don’t remember specifically but yeah, it’s definitely there.
Adriana Linares: Well that’s great. The reason I asked you to come on the show is because not only are you a software developer and an expert in helping lawyers run their businesses better and get paid and do their billing better, but it all kind of wraps itself around helping lawyers also become more mobile. Because your product, like so many other tools and resources that lawyers have, is Cloud based. So our topic’s going to be building a mobile law office, so I’m going to start with just having you help me describe to lawyers that are still out there who don’t understand what something is when it’s in the Cloud.
Larry Port: Okay. So when software’s in the Cloud, it’s kind of actually poor language, I think. Really, it just means you’re able to use a computer somewhere else that you don’t have in front of you. A way to kind of describe it is you’re connected to the internet and then whatever device you have, whether it’s your mobile device or your laptop or your desktop, it connects to a computer and you’re using that computer much in the same way that in the old days, you may recall those mainframes with those black and green terminals and those terminals would connect to the mainframes and talk to them – if anybody ever remembers seeing those things. But that’s really what it is. And when you’re using a mobile device, you’re almost by default using Cloud computing because mobile devices aren’t very powerful, they don’t have that much memory. But they are connected to the internet through your data plan. So oftentimes what happens is that the processing takes place on a server somewhere and comes back to you, and that’s how Siri works. That’s why if you can’t access the internet and you try to use Siri, you can’t do it, because all that natural language processing takes place on somebody else’s server and gets sent back to you. So that’s kind of an overview of the Cloud and why it’s so critical for mobile.
Adriana Linares: That’s a great way to describe it and you’ve also brought up one of my biggest pain points. I become unglued when Siri tells me she’s having trouble accessing the internet.
Larry Port: Oh no, I don’t like hearing that.
Adriana Linares: Me neither. So just to recap, one of the ways that I describe Cloud computing as easily as I can and I think a surface that many people are used to using today is banking. When you log on to Bank of America or Chase.com, you’re basically Cloud computing. You’re connecting to their computers that they manage and they protect and they take care of. But there’s a service you’re able to access through that service, that connection, that website through any device and that is Cloud computing in a very, very, simple way. So a lot of lawyers get nervous about Cloud computing. I was actually in a law firm just yesterday where they worried. They said, “We don’t trust it. Who’s going to take care of our data? How do we know that it’s ours? How do we get it out of there if we want to get it out of there?” When lawyers have those questions for you, Larry, not just about Rocket Matter itself but in general, what do you say to them? How do you make them feel better about the fact that Cloud computing isn’t that bad? It’s not that scary.
Larry Port: Well, first of all, I understand being concerned about security. I mean, as a computer software engineer, I’m completely paranoid. So the thing though, is that I think people kind of have a different sense of risk than what’s actually really out there. So, for example, people really aren’t concerned about the physical security of their data when that’s like a ten to one margin where the theft is occurring. If you think about it, giving a credit card to a waiter or something like that and that card disappears for a while before it comes back to you, you’re at physical risk there. The people that have access to your office after hours, whether it’s a cleaning crew or a disgruntled employee, the majority of data security breaches are like very unimpressive from a technical perspective. They’re always something like somebody was disaffected and they pulled down data and that’s what you saw happen with the Edward Snowden leaks, for example. So in reality, a lot of the worst breaches that are occurring, and even if the high profile ones – if you look at them online – if you really go behind the scenes, usually it boils down to a couple of things. Usually it goes down to either a disgruntled employee or bad password policy on the part of the user. Usually that’s the case. And so what I challenge law firms to think about is are you going to be able to provide the same security we can provide to you? Can you have your servers under lock and key? Our servers are under biometric hand scanned accessors and they’re in these triple redundant data servers where you have 9 different internet service providers accessing the facility from 9 different places. So in case a truck hits one, the other one pulls up. There’s usually 3 different power grids in a data center. There’s usually a couple of weeks of backup generation. So these are things that small law firms are unable to afford.
Adriana Linares: Honestly, sometimes even large law firms can’t afford not only the security measures that good Cloud based companies put into place, but the other things I like to remind law firms too is the time and development and millions of dollars companies put into making sure that the services are secure, that connections are encrypted. It’s unmatchable by small firms without a doubt and solo especially, so that’s great. Let’s say we made lawyers feel better about just moving services and products into the Cloud, if you’re going to have a totally mobile law office or mobile firm and let’s say you’re small, you’re a solo, there’s just a couple of you. Even if you’re not, what are the other basic things you want to think about as far as really being mobile and fluid and agile and being able to practice from anywhere in the country or in the world?
Larry Port: Aside from the amazing time capturing capabilities of Rocket Matter, you mean?
Adriana Linares: Exactly. Next, so that’s number one. Number two?
Larry Port: Just checking. The one thing that I would think about is their phone systems ,because if you’re out and about on your mobile device, it would be really nice if that mobile phone could somehow be routed into your whole system. There are ways to do that, there are a couple of different ways. The first way is with software called PBX, or virtual PBX software. One of the biggest providers of that that people may be familiar with is maybe Grasshopper or Phone.com. For small law firms, that’s a great option for people. That can route calls and have phone queues and phone trees and route calls the right way. The other is to use a service such as Ruby Receptionist, which is a virtual receptionist service that can route phones the right way. So telephony and getting your little mobile device involved in that whole ball game I would say would be number one.
Adriana Linares: Number two, remember? Because number one was having a totally awesome practice management program that is Cloud based, secure, ethically compliant and ready to service your firm and your clients. So number one was having a good practice management program, which is our last episode we actually talked a lot about things to look for and things to consider in a practice management program. So one, practice management that’s mobile and secure. Number two is going to be phone system, whether it’s using a service like Ruby Receptionist – which, by the way, is also a Florida Bar member benefit – or having a service like, you mentioned PBX or Phone.com, did you say?
Larry Port: Yeah. Well, the PBX type of service, Phone.com or Grasshopper might be alternatives that people might want to look at. We used Phone.com here until we erally had to scale are system up, but it worked for ten people, it was great, but I think Grasshopper might be the market leader there. The other thing I would say that attorneys should definitely take a look at if they haven’t already is Evernote. Are you a big Evernote fan, Adriana?
Adriana Linares: No. I feel like a technology loser when I say that, but I just don’t have a need for it at all.
Larry Port: Well, if it makes you feel any better, I don’t think it’s as cool as it once was to be an Evernote user. But let me just describe what this thing does. At its core, it’s a note taking application. But what’s awesome about it is that you can send all sorts of stuff to it. So by stuff, I mean that there’s a little plugin for-
Adriana Linares: For everything.
Larry Port: Yeah, for your browser so that if you’re on a web page that you like, you can just suck this web page into Evernote and you have a perfectly preserved copy of your webpage and oftentimes it’s easy to print from there than it is to print from the web page, so that’s a great thing. And it also allows you to forward things from your email address that ends up in your Evernote account. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken a picture of something or I receive an email and I’ll forward it to my Evernote account. It does these amazing things where it can actually OCR; not just regular typed text, but it can OCR your own handwriting.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, that’s amazing, it has a ton of great features.
Larry Port: Yeah, it is amazing. You can take a picture of a whiteboard, send it to Evernote, and you can actually search some of the words on your whiteboard, provided that your writing is clear enough – which isn’t always the case. So it’s a really great tool to explore for attorneys who are always trying to keep track and organize a lot of different information, so definitely take a look at Evernote.
Adriana Linares: And I think the thing about Evernote is that it becomes a dump for data that you don’t have a better place to put. So obviously, you’re not going to put confidential client information there, you’re not going to put matter-related information there, you’re not going to use it for an email management system. You’re going to use it for maybe some research, some interesting articles, pictures, notes. It’s a digital dump. I want to mention a couple of things that we did through the ABA that Evernote For Lawyers book is available. There’s an Evernote for Lawyers group, I think, on Skype, that maybe Tom Mighell and Dennis Kennedy started, I don’t know how active it is. And when I did a search just now, Evernote for Lawyers, Larry, your LegalProductivity.com practice management Evernote for lawyers is one of the first hits on there. So if you’re an attorney that is interested about learning a little bit more about Evernote – and let me tell you, there are attorneys and other professionals out there that live and die by Evernote’s capabilities, search functions – like you mentioned, Larry, it’s got some OCR – and all the ways it can integrate your personal and business life, it’s a very great tool.
Larry Port: Just to pick up on what you just mentioned, one thing that Evernote does is it gets me out of my email and that’s something I’m trying to do more and more of. I don’t like going into my email and getting pulled into something that I don’t want to be concentrating on and that just happens too much, so Evernote’s one thing. Another tool I’ve been using to get away from email is Slack. Slack is this communication tool that runs on mobile, has a great mobile interface, also on the laptop and the desktop, but it’s a really great way for your team to keep in touch with one another. It’s kind of like an instant messenger but it’s a lot better because you can send files back and forth and reference them easily. All of your conversations are archivable and searchable. You can form teams inside your own teams, so you can have a team dedicated to your marketing team or your finance team and have different members in there. And I just can’t say enough good things about Slack, it’s really changed the way, internally, here at Rocket Matter, how we’ve done things, and it’s something that a law firm that has multiple users can definitely leverage.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, it’s definitely become a technology and productivity darling out there in the world of professional technology tools; very, very popular. That’s another great tip. So that’s a great collaboration and communication tool which has apps and desktop capabilities so whether you’re in the office, out of the office or on a ship in the Mediterranean, you’re able to communicate and collaborate with your team and any structure that you would like to organize them in. What about things like laptops and tablets, Larry? I know tablets are becoming pretty hot these days. I’ve got a couple of iPad users that have switched over to the new Microsoft Surface. Well, probably a lot of Microsoft services, but really the Surface tablet. Of course there are iPads. If a lawyer comes to you and says, “Can I get everything that I need to get done with an iPad or a tablet or should I get a laptop?” What’s your answer there or is there really an answer?
Larry Port: It’s kind of funny, because when the iPad first came out, it seemed, they were so hot. We ended up racing and we were like the first ones out with this beautiful iPad app, and by the time it was hot, most of the attorneys had given their iPads to their children. But it does seem like the Surface is really catching on and a lot of people are really in love with their Surfaces. I think the iPad seems to have become – aside from a small subset of hardcore users – mostly a consumption device. So people are really consuming content on it, maybe reading things on it, using it in that sense. Not so much for the creation of stuff. The Surface seems to be a lot more able to do that because it’s so inherently both a tablet and this laptop hybrid. So that seems to be a really successful option for people. We run all Apple stuff here at Rocket Matter. So all of our stuff is Apple stuff. But I’m really salivating over the Surface stuff.
Adriana Linares: I know, I think everybody is!
Larry Port: Absolutely, it is so cool what Microsoft is turning out, they’re actually becoming cool and relevant again. So the new Surface Book that they rolled out and that Band 2 or whatever, Microsoft is really pumping out some cool stuff.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, so I guess the answer there would be are you a lawyer whose entire life is really just focused on email. If you’re one of those that really just sends and receives emails, the iPad’s really going to be fine for you. Do you create long, complex documents with cross references and table of contents and you’ve got to have footnotes and that sort of stuff, probably the iPad’s going to be a little bit cumbersome to do that on. Go look at something like a Surface tablet, of course. Today’s laptops are great. I still have an ACER S7. It’s white, it’s thin, it’s light, it’s touchscreen, which I use a lot more than I thought that I would ever use. So I guess what it comes down to is if you want to be a really mobile lawyer, you’re going to have to do a little trial and error. Go to the Microsoft store, play with a tablet and see if you like it. Go into the Mac store if you don’t already have an iPad – I feel like most lawyers already have an iPad. For the iPad though, what is great about being a lawyer is that there are more apps, tools, resources available specifically for lawyering than on any other device. The Surface tablet is great but it’s still a Windows machine, so you’re locked down to either mobile devices or applications that have been built for Windows and there’s just not quite not as many for lawyers, legal specific, as there are for the iPad. So the answer comes down to figure out what really works for you, right?
Larry Port: Going back to what you said, the iPad is really a great device for legal if you can use it, especially in the courtroom because you can pull up so many documents and there’s a number of iPad specific trial software things that you can use; whether presenting information or picking a jury. There’s one where you can pick cute little jurors and move them around on your iPad.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, iJuror, I love that one. And we should mention another great Florida company which is Trialpad that’s based out of Miami, of course. They have built the cadillac of trial presentation software. That’s a great, great tool that, of course, many lawyers absolutely live and die by when it comes to trial presentation, Trialpad based out of Florida. Larry, you mentioned that you’re a Mac shop, and that makes sense because software development, you guys are not a law firm. But I certainly get a lot of lawyers that are either already Macs or think about becoming Macs. Practicing law with a Mac is just as easy as pie these days.
Larry Port: Oh yeah, there’s definitely a couple of resources if you want to get started with a Mac. The reason that we have Macs isn’t just because – there are plenty of software shops around Windows – but the reason that we run Macs is because we have an Apple store locally. And I just feel even though maybe we spended a little bit more on the computer’s that our downtime is reduced. But the only virus that we got in the past 8 years of running Rocket Matter was on a Windows server that we had running in the background. It’s such lower headache just for running a business we don’t have to think about that stuff. So Ben Stevens has a great blog, it’s called TheMacLawyer.com. There’s this awesome lister called MILO, Macs in Law Offices. You just do a MILO Group Google search and look for MILO Macs in Law Offices. They had that conference that you and I went to in Orlando, they do that every year: MILO Fest, which is at MILOFest.com. Do you work with Macs?
Adriana Linares: I call myself and my shop bi tech.
Larry Port: Bi tech, there you go. Because I think it’s really important for people who are trying to get a lay in the land to reach out to a resources like yourself, Adriana, and really try to understand. Because things are just maybe in a little bit different places and so forth. So it’s really worth every single minute of your time to do it.
Adriana Linares: And it’s funny because talking about Macs at the beginning of this show kind of brings us back towards the end of the show which is that one of the reasons that lawyers can so readily today practice law with a Mac is because so many services are Cloud based. And when something is Cloud based, it’s a Cloud based service or a product or a tool, it’s generally browser and device agnostic, so that means Rocket Matter doesn’t care whether you’re using a Mac or a PC, an iPad, or a tablet, or an Android. You don’t care because it’s web based. So I think that’s an important point to recognize that if you want to be a mobile lawyer and maybe you also want to do it on a Mac, taking a look at those web based tools are going to be very important because you’re not going to have an operating system issue.
Larry Port: That’s right, and you can run both at the same time. Just to tell you a little story about our history, when we first launched we made a very strategic decision to market to Macintosh using attorneys because number one, we felt that they appreciated good design and we had pride in our design. Number two is they like to evangelize, so they would tell everybody about the different software things. And number three, there just were no options for them. I mean, that seemed to work. Now it’s probably more like 60% Windows and 40% Macs, but the Macintosh attorneys were the ones who really got is going.
Adriana Linares: No, I know. They’re quite an active and passionate group of users without a doubt, which is why I’m glad we mentioned MILO here. The last thing I’m going to say about looking for services and products that will help lawyers not just in their day to day practice but in being more mobile, I like to say to lawyers, look for something that’s built for lawyers first. So products like Rocket Matter, NetDocuments, these are tools that they know what your concerns are already. Larry, can you stand one more attorney asking you if it’s ethical to use your product, if it’s secure, what kind of security do you have in place? It’s almost as if we’re tired of hearing these questions when you’re talking to a legal-specific company.
Larry Port: I’m happy to answer those questions because honestly, you see the news and you hear about what’s going on, but no. I think it’s really important to be aware of the issues and to make the best choice for you. By the way, Adriana, I was wondering: one thing we didn’t talk about – and this kind of goes back to a point you were making about document stuff on devices.
Adriana Linares: Sure. Oh yeah, let’s talk about that.
Larry Port: Because you mentioned NetDocuments. And there’s a couple of general purpose document stores and things. A lot of people feel differently about Dropbox. I don’t have a problem with Dropbox. I actually like the service and I feel confident with it. There’s Box. Now Box has gone specifically more after the legal vertical. So they seem to understand the legal vertical a little better than Dropbox does, they’ve gone a little more vertical-specific. And same with ShareFile. So I would say that Box and ShareFile are really trying to go after the legal market for Cloud document storage and they’re very economical solutions.
Adriana Linares: You’re right, and I believe – and maybe you can correct me if I’m wrong – but I believe that both Box and ShareFile have HIPAA compliant – either they’re totally HIPAA compliant or you can upgrade to a business level that is, and I think they’ve met ISIS standards at some point, so they have taken that extra step like you said in reaching out towards the legal market and meeting some of those requirements and saying, “Look, we can help you meet some of those ethical and client requirements that you have. We’re HIPAA compliant and we have met these very strict national technology standards when it comes to security and safety.” So I think Box and ShareFile have both done those things. And then Dropbox, of course everyone uses it because it’s ubiquitous and it works and it’s easy and Dropbox is a great tool. I always just remind attorneys if that’s something you’re going to use, just make sure you’re not putting anything in there that’s confidential or privileged and that you have it encrypted before you put it up into Dropbox if you’re paranoid, like many of us are and should be.
Larry Port: Yes, absolutely. And the other thing that I think people should know that is if you’re not using this stuff and you’re used to using old software or you haven’t upgraded in a while, I just can’t say enough of the things about the quality of software that’s out there right now for attorneys. We’ve been forced to be good because we have great competitors. Our competitors have driven us to excel, and what’s out there on these mobile devices is just so good. he quality control and the emphasis on user interface design has so transformed software creation in the past five to ten years that if you’re not part of this world, you will not believe what’s out there right now.
Adriana Linares: I know. I have said since I started my career at a big Florida law firm fifteen years ago, I remember saying back then, “I feel like I’m working through an amazing time, the things that are happening,” and here we are fifteen years later and I still feel that way. The tools, the solutions, the accessibility, the ease that these tools are built with, it’s amazing. You’re absolutely right and that’s a great way to bring an end to the show.
Larry Port: Aw, thank you!
Adriana Linares: So, Larry, before I let you go, tell everyone how they can stalk you on the internet and learn more about you. I think you have a Twitter feed, I think you’ve got a website. I know you’ve got a little company that people should learn more about. So tell everybody how they can keep an eye on you and Rocket Matter.
Larry Port: First of all, if you want to reach out to me directly, you can always email me at [email protected]. And you can take a look at our company, RocketMatter.com. I’m on Twitter, which I never check.
Adriana Linares: Twitter’s hard, I don’t know what people do all day that they’re on Twitter all day long. I can barely hop on there for five minutes like every other day, but it’s out there and it’s busy.
Larry Port: In my opinion it’s become the CB Radio of social media, but I’m sure other people would disagree with me. And we have a great resource for attorneys, which is our Legal Productivity blog, so check out LegalProductivity.com, there’s all sorts of webinars and free eBooks for people to download. And take a look at our website and definitely contact me. I love talking to attorneys, especially those in Florida. I just want to thank you, Adriana, this has been an awesome experience.
Adriana Linares: Thanks so much, it’s really fun. It’s always great talking to you, Larry, you’re one of my favorite people out there in the legal technology world. So for all of you listeners who would like to learn more about what you heard today, make sure you visit the official Florida Bar Podcast on the PRI section of the Florida Bar website. Of course, you can listen and look for more legal talk shows on LegalTallNetwork.com. You can follow us on iTunes, RSS, Twitter and Facebook. That brings us to the end of this show. I’m Adriana Linares and thank you for listening. Join us next time for another great episode of the Florida Bar Podcast.
Advertiser: The views expressed by the participants of the program are their own, and do not represent the views of, nor are they endorsed by, Legal Talk Network, its officers, directors, employees, agents, representatives, shareholders, and subsidiaries. None of the content should be considered legal advice. As always, consult a lawyer. Thanks for listening to the official Florida Bar Podcast, brought to you by the Florida Bar Practice Resource Institute and produced by the broadcast professionals at Legal Talk Network. Join host, Adriana Linares, for her next podcast on practice management, leadership, and what’s happening in Florida Law. Subscribe to the RSS feed on LegalTalkNetwork.com, or in iTunes.
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