LEGAL INNOVATIONS TOOLBOX 1

The idea of this “Toolbox” is to pull together many of the more promising innovations in
outreach and delivery of legal services- especially those that may assist the lawyer seeking to
deliver services to the underserved client communities. We want to offer a user-friendly source
that will allow the busy practicing lawyer to efficiently learn about the innovations and move to
implementation of any tools that seem right for their practice.

On this page you will find a succinct description of each tool with a link to another page
where you can find more information about that particular tool. This format allows you to skim
through the various options more easily and dive into greater detail for any particular option that
seems promising for your practice and circumstances. That “greater detail” will typically include
a basic description of the concept, service, etc., the basic costs and benefits associated with each
tool, any ethics law “red flags” to consider, and suggested resources and next steps for the
attorney interested in implementing the tool into his or her practice.

The following concepts, technologies, and services may help you in the delivery of legal
services to underserved client communities by increasing your outreach, efficiency, and
productivity. The tools you will find here include:

• Various forms of unbundled legal services;

• Platforms to create a website;

• Guidance on participation in social media blogs and established client outreach
platforms;

• Tools to streamline initial client contact;

1 This work was primarily authored by Laura Bunting, a Pitt Law grad and experienced lawyer serving as the Innovation Fellow

at the Pitt Legal Services Incubator at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. Primary funding for this project came from the
American Bar Association’s 2014 Catalyst Grant to the Incubator. We thank the ABA for their generous support for the work.
• Online research tools;

• Software tools for practice, such as case management, client intake, conflict
checks, virtual document filing, and project management software;

• Innovations in pricing, including subscription fees and alternative forms of
pricing;

• Alternatives to conventional law firm structure and traditional law offices,
including non-profit law firms, practicing in non-traditional spaces, and
collaborative workspaces.

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Table of Contents
I. Shifting Traditional Legal Work from the Attorney to the Client .................................................................................... 4
A. Unbundled Legal Services - the Basics .............................................................................................................................. 4
1. Coaching........................................................................................................................................................................ 5
2. Limited Assistance ........................................................................................................................................................ 7
3. Ghostwriting .................................................................................................................................................................. 8
4. Attorney as a Conduit for Available Resources for Pro Se Litigants ........................................................................... 10
II. Internet Tools for Client Outreach .................................................................................................................................... 12
A. “Static” Websites and the Platforms/Tools to Create Your Own...................................................................................... 12
B. Social Media, Blogs, etc. .................................................................................................................................................. 15
C. Established Client Outreach Platforms ............................................................................................................................. 17
1. AVVO ......................................................................................................................................................................... 17
2. LinkedIn ...................................................................................................................................................................... 19
III. Internet Tools for Performing/Delivering Services .......................................................................................................... 21
A. Interactive Websites- Referrals, Intake, Forms, etc. ......................................................................................................... 21
1. Online Referral Websites............................................................................................................................................. 21
2. Client Screening .......................................................................................................................................................... 23
3. Calendaring ................................................................................................................................................................. 24
4. Pop-up Forms .............................................................................................................................................................. 25
B. Online Legal Research Tools ........................................................................................................................................... 26
IV. Software Tools for Practice ................................................................................................................................................ 29
A. Case Management Software ............................................................................................................................................. 31
B. Conflicts Check Software ................................................................................................................................................. 34
C. Virtual Document Filing Systems .................................................................................................................................... 35
D. Project Management Software/Apps ................................................................................................................................ 36
1. To Do Lists: ................................................................................................................................................................. 37
2. Time-tracking Apps Specifically for Attorneys: .......................................................................................................... 38
V. Innovations in Pricing ......................................................................................................................................................... 39
A. Subscription Fees ............................................................................................................................................................. 39
B. Consider Other Forms of Pricing...................................................................................................................................... 41
VI. Alternatives to the Conventional Law Firm Structure and the Traditional Law Offices ............................................. 42
A. Non-profit Law Firms ...................................................................................................................................................... 42
B. Collaborative Work Spaces .............................................................................................................................................. 43

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I. Shifting Traditional Legal Work from the
Attorney to the Client

A. Unbundled Legal Services - the Basics
Unbundling refers to the process of parsing out steps in the legal process and contracting
to perform certain concrete steps/tasks to assist a client, rather than the traditional process of
representing an individual throughout all stages of the matter. The client agrees to undertake
much of the “legwork,” with the attorney contributing where he or she can have the greatest and
most efficient impact.

Forms of unbundling include:

• Providing legal guidance or opinions

• Directing clients to resources and rules

• Drafting pleadings, briefs, declarations, or proposed orders

• Conducting document review

• Legal research

• Organizing discovery materials

• Drafting contracts and agreements

• Coaching on strategy

• Role playing

• Negotiating

• Online and alternative dispute resolution

• Advising on courtroom procedures or behavior

• Preparing exhibits

• Making a limited appearance(s)

• Collaborative lawyering
(Source:http://iaals.du.edu/sites/default/files/documents/publications/a_guide_for_lawyers.pdf)

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Unbundling is also referred to as limited-scope services, a la carte legal services, discrete
task representation, and disaggregated legal services. Unbundling is governed by Model Rule of
Professional Conduct 1.2(c) Scope of Representation and Allocation of Authority Between
Attorney and Client.

Various states have adopted this model rule, for example, Pennsylvania, which also
provides a specific rule for non-profit and court-appointed limited legal services programs.
Unbundled legal services helps make legal representation more affordable because an attorney is
only performing necessary legal work. Therefore, unbundled legal services can narrow the gap
between those who can afford legal representation and those who cannot. The increased number
of individuals who can afford legal services expands the potential client base for attorneys. The
ABA has a state-by-state list of rules re unbundled legal services.

An attorney-client relationship for unbundled legal services should be initiated by a
clearly worded (avoid legalese) limited-scope representation agreement. Courts have even
adopted sample forms to be used in unbundled legal service representations, including a sample
checklist form for attorneys.

Consider the perimeters of the specific situation before undertaking an unbundled
representation agreement. The use of unbundled legal services should be closely examined
where:

• The case has a lot of technical issues;

• The client does not have the time to put into educating themselves and effectively
handling the tasks that the client needs to do; or

• The client is exposed to criminal liability as the use of unbundled legal services in
criminal matters may give rise to a claim for ineffective assistance of counsel, in
violation of the Sixth Amendment

1. Coaching
Description: Legal coaching is based on the concept of the attorney as a “counselor at
law,” and refers to the process whereby an attorney provides a client with his or her advice and
knowledge, rather than performing concrete tasks, such as drafting documents. Common
coaching topics include court procedures and courtroom behavior, and litigation and negotiation
strategy. Coaching can be utilized as a discrete service, but is also incorporated into most forms
of unbundled legal services.

Benefits and potential disadvantages of the tool with ethics flags:

Benefits of coaching:

• An attorney’s coaching allows the client to better understand:

o legal issues and potential outcomes, including potential risks;

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o applicable time period and the important steps in the process; and

o arguments made and the laws cited

• May complement many attorneys’ practices because the service can be provided
primarily via the telephone, email, or videoconferencing services, at hours set by
the attorney

• Increased potential client pool for individuals who need legal advice but prefer to
undertake the task themselves or represent themselves (if matter is in litigation)

Potential disadvantages of coaching:

• A potential client may not understand which facts or details are important or
potentially relevant to his or her situation. Therefore, an in-depth intake process is
necessary for effective coaching.

• An attorney coaching a client must be adept at issue spotting so that the advice is
tailored to assist the client.

• An attorney must be able to inform his or her client of the potential outcomes, and
manage client expectations in a way that the client understands.

• A client who does not heed the attorney’s advice may compound legal issues,
which could have been resolved with less time and money if the attorney provided
a more “hands on” representation.

Samples/links:

The Alabama Family Law Center, a private law firm, provides a detailed description of
coaching services.

The United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania provides a pro
bono counsel program for pro se clients in mediation, which accepts attorney volunteers.

An attorney may also be retained to represent a client before an alternative dispute
resolution proceeding, which can take various forms including mediation, arbitration, or early
neutral evaluation. Mandatory alternative dispute resolution in some United States District
Courts, including the Pittsburgh-based District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania,
has reduced the percentage of cases that are tried by a fact-finder and has provided substantive
opportunities for attorneys.

More information:

Coaching often relies on a good interpersonal relationship with the client. This article
reminds attorneys that providing an individual with confidence is an important step, along with
four other coaching tips for attorneys.

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2. Limited Assistance
Description: Traditionally, an attorney would enter his or her appearance in a case, which
signified to the client, the opposing party, opposing counsel, and the court that he or she was
responsible for all stages of the matter. Limited assistance usually refers to representation by an
attorney solely during an in-person court proceeding, which may be only a portion of the case or
legal dispute.

Benefits and potential disadvantages of the tool with ethics flags:

Benefits of limited assistance:

• Attorneys can expand their practice to include limited assistance before
administrative agencies, such as the EEOC. Representing an individual at an
EEOC mediation increases the likelihood the attorney may be asked to represent
the client in any Federal District Court litigation for the claims.

• Representation by an attorney at a hearing will provide reassurance to the
individual and improve the likelihood of obtaining the client’s desired result.

Potential disadvantages of limited assistance:

• An attorney may have to decline limited representation cases if the potential client
contacts the attorney on short notice and the hearing cannot be postponed

• Preparation for a hearing, even if routine and short, may be extensive, as the
attorney needs to be prepared.

• An in-depth intake process is necessary to assist the attorney in gauging the
necessary preparation time.

Limited assistance is not explicitly addressed in many jurisdiction's rules or judicial
practices and procedures. In such situations, where there are no prescribed steps to publicly
confirm or define limited representation, attorneys seeking to limit their representation to only a
part of the dispute process must take special care to avoid having the court conclude that their
limited appearance signifies a more general entry of appearance. Generally, this may entail some
submission and/or notice to the court of the limited representation.

Samples/links:

Any attorney considering adding limited appearances to the list of unbundled offerings
should consult the applicable state’s ethical rules and the rules and procedures for the
jurisdiction. States that have addressed limited appearances have taken several approaches,
including: permitting an attorney to notify the Court orally of his or her limited appearance
before the hearing (Nevada Rule 5.28); filing a written document setting forth the perimeters of
the attorney’s representation (Wyoming Rule 102(a)(1)(C), Missouri Rule 55.03); or requiring
the use of court forms to enter a limited appearance (California Rule 3.36, Arizona Rule of
Family Law Procedure 9(b)).
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Pennsylvania Bar Association Advisory Opinion 2011-100 addresses the ethical
obligations of an attorney in a limited scope agreement.

The Kansas Court provides a sample form, which is required to be filed in cases where an
attorney is entering his or her limited appearance. California and Arizona (Rule 97-Form 1) also
provides a required Court form online.

Limited assistance may be provided in an appeal case. For example, the United States
Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has authorized up to $1,000 for specified expenses for pro
bono counsel to encourage representation for otherwise pro se appellants or appellees.

Abigail Salisbury in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, practices almost exclusively in the area of
limited representation. Her website provides an example of how to describe limited services.

Legal You, a Florida-based law firm, provides a great deal of information on its
unbundled services.

More information:

The American Bar Association provides a state-by-state list of the rules governing
unbundled services, including limited appearances, as well as a Handbook on Limited Assistance.

The Trial Courts of Massachusetts provide a Limited Assistance Training Manual.

3. Ghostwriting
Description: Ghostwriting is another form of unbundled legal services. In its strictest
form, ghostwriting is where an attorney drafts a document for a client to be submitted to a
tribunal, but does not sign his or her name or otherwise make others aware that he or she is
involved in the matter.

Benefits and potential disadvantages of the tool with ethics flags:

Benefits of Ghostwriting:

• If done correctly, the attorney is able to limit her responsibility and avoid entering
an appearance and assuming responsibility for the entire matter; client in turn is
thus able to pay only for the ghostwriting services needed.

• Client may be already familiar with the concept of the attorney drafting a
document on their behalf, e.g., wills, contracts.

Potential disadvantages of ghostwriting:

• Federal Courts generally prohibit ghostwriting documents, in accordance with
Federal Rule 11(a) of Civil Procedure, which requires that every pleading be
signed by an attorney of record in the attorney’s name, or by a party personally if

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unrepresented. See Duran v. Carris, 238 F.3d 13268 (10th Cir. 2001), In re Liu,
664 F.3d 367 (2d Cir. 2011)

• Attorney must be mindful of obligations under Model Rule of Professional
Conduct 3.3 Candor Toward the Tribunal, as well as Rule 8.4(c) and (d)
Misconduct, which were identified by the Court in Duran, FN 15, as potential
ethical violations as a result of ghostwriting

There are at least three distinct matters to consider when ghostwriting a document:

May you rely on the client’s statement of facts?

In any form of legal representation, an attorney necessarily relies a great deal on his or
her client to provide the facts that may set forth the basis a potential legal claim or defense.
Nonetheless, the attorney may have ethical obligations to confirm these facts to the extent
possible, including when ghostwriting. For example, procedural and ethics law generally
prohibits an attorney from bringing or defending a proceeding unless there is a basis in law and
fact for doing so that is not frivolous. Some states have directly addressed this obligation in
ghostwriting situations, including Alabama, which allows an attorney to rely on the otherwise
unrepresented party’s representation of the facts, unless the attorney has reason to believe the
representations are false or materially insufficient.

Is the attorney required to reveal his or her role in drafting the document to the Court?

Ghostwriting a document permits an attorney to assist a client without formally
representing the client. However, the attorney may be required to identify him or herself to the
Court as the author of the document. For example, Colorado and Iowa Rule 1.423 both require
that an attorney’s name and contact information be included in “ghostwritten” filings. Iowa’s
Rule 1.423 specifies that ghostwriting does not constitute an appearance by an attorney.

In other jurisdictions, the only requirement is to inform the Court that the litigant was
assisted by an attorney in drafting the pleading, without identifying the attorney. See for
example, Alabama, Kansas, and New Hampshire. These requirements are likely designed to limit
the proposition that pro se litigants are generally given more leeway in pleadings to instances
where a party is truly unassisted. Some courts have found that ghostwriting is not permissible.
See Delso v. Trustees for the Retirement Plan for the Hourly Employees of Merck & Co., Inc.
(D.NJ. March 6, 2007)
(available at:
https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=7007701358048101134&q=%22delso+v.+trustees%22&hl=en&as_sd
t=3,44).

Other courts have explicitly excused attorneys from any obligation to disclose his or her
drafting, including California Family Court, Rule 5.425 Limited Scope Representation;
Application of Rules. Missouri’s Supreme Court Rules also provide that an attorney who assisted
“in the preparation of a pleading, motion, or other filing for an otherwise self-represented person
is not required to sign the document.” The Utah State Bar issued an Advisory Opinion (No. 08-

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01) opining that a lawyer may provide assistance with written submissions without disclosing
such assistance.

Does signing a pleading, if required, result in appearance on the entire case?

The obligation to sign pleadings may result in an entry of appearance. Several states have
created an exception to blanket entries of appearances and provide that an attorney who is
providing limited services does not have an obligation to provide more expanded services than
he or she agreed to provide. For example, Wyoming Rule 102, Iowa 1.423(3), and Nebraska 3-
501.2(c).

Samples/links:

The Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility
Committee and the Philadelphia Bar Association Professional Guidance Committee have issued
a joint ethics opinion (2011-100) that addresses ghostwriting. See the Philadelphia Bar
Association on the opinion.

More information:

This paper by the American Bar Association summarizes applicable rules for unbundled
legal services, including ghostwriting, at pages 16-17.

The American Bar Association’s Unbundling Resource Center also provides a
compilation of resources on documentation preparation, including ethics opinions.

4. Attorney as a Conduit for Available Resources for Pro Se Litigants
Description: Attorneys are a knowledge source for pro se litigants and may be able to
connect individuals with judicially constructed pathways, including online dispute resolution,
self-help centers, etc. An attorney could guide a pro se individual to available resources for a set
fee or as a pro bono service.

Benefits and potential disadvantages of the tool with ethics flags:

Benefits of this tool:

• For the attorney, this initial minimal assistance could lead to further work with the
client.

• While many attorneys offer a free “initial consultation,” an attorney who is
offering to identify and guide the client to these pathways might be able to
sensibly charge a small flat fee for such a consultation.

• Assuming that many individuals are unaware of these pathways or intimidated by
them, this assistance increases access to justice

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• To the extent this assistance leads to more effective use of these pathways, courts
and other governmental or community actors might expand these services.

Potential disadvantages of this tool:

• Attorneys must be careful to use engagement agreements that make clear the very
limited nature of the assistance being rendered.

• Clients may struggle to use these pathways. For example, most self-help centers
explicitly state that they do not give legal advice and will thus be unable to
answer questions a pro se litigant might have.

Samples/links:

Many self-help centers offer a great deal of information online, some of which is more
generally useful and not simply specific to its jurisdiction. Consult the following for examples:

• Civil Law Center (Las Vegas)

• The State of California has an expansive self-help network, and includes
resources, such as live online chat with a law librarian.

• The Maryland State Law Library runs the People’s Law Library of Maryland,
which provides legal self-help in over a dozen areas.

Other centers focus on specific areas of the law, such as the Allegheny County Family
Division Self-Help Center.

More information:

• LawHelp.org

o Provides information on free legal resources by location, as well as legal
information by topic, including forms

• Law Help Interactive

o Assists users in completing legal forms

• ProBono.net

o Provides resources for attorneys who are interested in low bono and pro
bono representation, including web-trainings

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II. Internet Tools for Client Outreach
The Internet provides creative and low-cost opportunities for attorneys to market
themselves to a broad audience. However, a substantial proportion of small and solo firms do not
have a website or Internet presence, which limits client outreach. The following information
provides information on how to develop a website, and other Internet-based client outreach
options.

A. “Static” Websites and the Platforms/Tools to Create Your
Own
Description: Almost every business and service has a presence online, and individuals are
likely to search for an attorney online. Therefore, it is important for an attorney to be thoughtful
about his or her approach to a website.

Benefits and potential disadvantages of the tool with ethics flags:

Benefits of website presence:

• Increased outreach to clients, as well as referrals from other attorneys

• Clients are more likely to hire an attorney who can be found online

• Increased opportunity to be contacted for professional opportunities, such as
speaking engagements, which can bring in new business

Potential disadvantages of online presence:

• Risk of creating a bad impression for potential clients or other attorneys because
of an unprofessional website

• Exposure to potential ethics violations including:

o Model Rules of Professional Conduct:

 1.18 Duties to Prospective Client

• A website visitor who contacts the attorney through the
website to seek legal advice is likely encompassed within
the definition of a “prospective client.” The attorney thus
generally may not use or reveal any information provided
by the prospective client in the absence of the prospective
client’s consent.
• An attorney’s website should have a clear and easily-
understandable disclaimer to the effect that no attorney-

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client relationship is intended with website visitors and no
legal advice will be given through the website; the
attorney’s email signature line should also have a
disclaimer addressing confidentiality.
• A website that does not have a submission feature (ex. a
text box where the visitor can “submit a question”) likely
lessens the risk of an unintended attorney-client
relationship.
 7.1 Communication Concerning a Lawyer’s Services

• An attorney’s communications must be truthful and
accurate (ex. contact information must be kept current), and
this obligation applies to anything on an attorney’s website.
• Any content must also not be misleading. For example,
content should not lead a reader to believe his or her
outcome would be similar to previous settlements or
verdicts .
 Pennsylvania Rule of Professional Conduct 7.1
Comment 3 advises that disclaimers can limit the
risk of misleading content: “The inclusion of an
appropriate disclaimer or qualifying language may
preclude a finding that a statement is likely to create
unjustified expectations or otherwise mislead the
public.”
 7.4 Communication of Fields and Practice and Specialization

 An attorney may state areas of practice, and areas of
the law in which the attorney does not practice, but
may not state that he or she specializes in a
particular area of the law unless certified by the
appropriate state authority or ABA (if so, the
certifying organization must be stated).
 Be mindful of tag lines, slogans, client testimonials
posted on the website, etc. and other descriptions
that could be misleading and imply that you are an
expert or specialist in an area of the law
The American Bar Association has provided a paper on Ethical Web Marketing: A Key to
the Rules.

Samples/links:

Creating a website requires: a domain (the specific web address the user inputs to access
the website), a host (the service that enables the content to be viewed on the internet), and
software (how information is designed and appears on the domain), plus content. The easiest way

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for a beginner to set-up a website is by using a service that provides the domain, hosts the
website, and has ready-made templates and other designs.

The most popular examples of such services include:

• Blogger
A Google product

• WordPress

Build a WordPress Website in 5 Steps

• SquareSpace Getting Started with SquareSpace

PC Magazine has reviewed and compared its Top 10 Website Builders for 2017 and is a
good resource to compare providers.

Generally, the user of website builders first searches for a domain name for the website,
in order to determine if the desired web address is available. If the name is not available (because
it is registered with the official registry of domains), the user can create other domain names, and
may use any name that is not already registered.

Next, the user may choose a template, which will shape how the website appears. The
template design will include specific areas for the user to input text, photo, or video to create
their website. The user adds content and once complete, publishes the website using the services’
hosting feature. The user may edit the website using the service, and may also track visitor
analytics (ex. where visitor is located, accessed from laptop or mobile device, most popular
pages on the website etc.) and use the data to increase visitors.

Maintaining a website

• Ensure that the website works on various platforms, such as mobile and tablets

• Consider search engine optimization (“SEO”) so that the website is more easily
searchable

• Add the website domain name to business cards, letterhead, email signature so
that traffic increases
• Note that interactive features, such as videos, encourage deeper engagement with
a legal website than photographs alone

(Source:http://www.americanbar.org/groups/departments_offices/legal_technology_resou
rces/resources/charts_fyis/websitefyi.html)

More information:

The American Bar Association provides information on how to start a website.

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American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional
Responsibility’s Formal Opinion 10-457 on Lawyer Websites.

Google Console is a free service to optimize a website’s online presence. It can be used
to track views and may provide important information on what’s effective on the website and
what’s not. It has been reviewed by the American Bar Association’s Legal Technology Today
blog.

LinkedIn provides advice on how to use your website to attract more clients.

B. Social Media, Blogs, etc.
Description: Attorneys increasingly utilize social media to share information and to
network. Ultimately, social media use is about: relationships, reputation, and referrals. Social
media use raises specific ethical issues of which attorneys must be mindful.

Benefits and potential disadvantages of the tool with ethics flags:

Benefits of social media presence:

• Reach an existing audience, such as current and former clients, colleagues, and
personal connections

• Attract new potential clients

• Strengthen relationships with other attorneys, community groups, and resources
for clients

• Share useful information to those in need of legal information and/or resources,
without geographic limitation or significant expenditures

Potential Disadvantages of a social media presence:

• Exposure to online criticism and bad reviews

o See the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Formal Opinion 2014-200 on a
lawyer’s response to client’s negative online review

• Risk of posting content that an individual may find to be inaccurate or offensive

• Potential of revealing confidential information

o Model Rule of Professional Conduct 1.6 Confidentiality of Information

 Generally, confidential information may only be revealed by an
attorney if the client gives informed consent and/or revealing the
information is necessary for representation. Rule 1.6’s definition of
confidential information is broader than attorney-client privilege

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and has been interpreted to encompass all aspects of
representation, including even the fact that the attorney represents
the client. See Nevada Formal Opinion 09-411, in which the
identity of an individual as a person represented by the attorney
was found to be confidential.
 Therefore, an attorney may not use client names to highlight recent
successes in a blog post, etc. unless the client consents.
 Attorneys should highlight successful results through
“representative matters” that do not include any identifying client
information (for example,. “defeated a motion for summary
judgment on a claim for retaliation under the Americans with
Disabilities Act for an employee”).

Samples/links:

The most commonly used social media platforms by attorneys include:

• Twitter

• LinkedIn

• Facebook

• Blogs

o Blogs incorporated into a firm’s website increase a visitor’s potential
interaction with both the firm’s website and blog, including through
subscription options where the user will be emailed each time a new post
is published.

o Many services, including WordPress, allow a user to create a blog and/or
website and integrate features of both into the attorney’s overall design.

 Content shared via the blog is also searchable to any users of
search engines, and can be incorporated into multiple social media
platforms such as the attorney’s LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook
pages.

Other sites of specific interest to lawyers include Lawlink.com.

Consider Google Alerts to set-up prompts for specific lawyers or law firms, important
cases, a specialized area of the law, etc. to keep informed. Once a Google Alert is created, the
user will receive an email when the requested search term(s) have new results in the search
engine. For example, newspaper articles, blog posts, etc., allowing the user to be current on new
developments.

More information:

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The American Bar Association’s Legal Resource Technology Center offers significant
resources in its Social Media for Lawyers page.

The Law Technology Today Blog offers information and development news on
beneficial technology for attorneys, including social media.

The Pennsylvania Bar Association addresses ethical obligations for attorneys using social
mediation in its Formal Opinion 2014-300.

C. Established Client Outreach Platforms
1. AVVO
Description: AVVO is an online database of attorneys, which has millions of visitors
each month. Attorneys have both an AVVO rating, and client rating. The AVVO rating (from 1-
10) is based on an algorithm based on factors, including: Number of years in practice,
disciplinary history, professional history, industry recognition, including awards, and peer
endorsements from other AVVO users. Participation in AVVO, including claiming an attorney
profile, can increase the AVVO rating.

Benefits and potential disadvantages of the tool with ethics flags:

Benefits of AVVO participation:

• Increased business opportunities from individuals who search for an attorney
online

• Attorneys have measured control over their ratings through adding information to
the profile such as work experience, speaking engagements, and awards, and
receiving peer endorsements increases an attorney’s rating

 See AVVO’s information on how to increase a rating

• AVVO allows attorneys to advertise on the website. Advertisement can be
focused by location, which may build a client base for an attorney

Potential disadvantages of AVVO:

• AVVO has been sued by attorneys, who claim that its ratings are not legitimate

• AVVO creates profiles of attorneys from public records, regardless of whether an
attorney is interested in being listed. Therefore, an attorney is likely listed on
AVVO, with a rating, whether or not he or she participates

o AVVO will remove the attorney’s rating on his or her profile if requested
and the attorney has not been disciplined, but the profile will not be
removed

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• An attorney must not respond to a negative review in a manner that violates the
rules of professional conduct, including confidentiality obligations. Attorneys
must be mindful of the duty to keep information pertaining to his or her
representation confidential, unless the client gives informed consent, or certain
exceptions apply. See Model Rule of Professional Conduct 1.6. An attorney may
not reveal confidential information in responding to a client’s review. Therefore,
it is recommended that an attorney respond with a statement that does not address
the client’s identity, the scope or his or her representation, or any specific
accusations, such as:

• “A lawyer’s duty to keep client confidences has few exceptions and in an
abundance of caution I do not feel at liberty to respond in a point-by-point fashion
in this forum. Suffice it to say that I do not believe that the post presents a fair and
accurate picture of the events.” See Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Formal
Opinion 2014-200.

o See:

 See, e.g. In re Skinner, 740 S.E.2d 171, (Ga. 2013) (reprimand); In
re Tsamis, Comm’n File No. 2013PR00095 (Ill. 2013)
(reprimand); In re Peshek, No. M.R. 23794 (Ill. 2010), 798
N.W.2d 879 (Wis. 2011) (reciprocal discipline); (90-day
suspension) and In re Quillinan, 20 DB Rptr. 288 (Or. 2006).
 Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Formal Opinion 2014-200,
opining that self-defense exception to Rule 1.6 Confidentiality of
Information did not apply to online review

o Ten Tips for Responding to a Bad Online Review

o An American Bar Association article on responding to client reviews

An attorney who participates in AVVO should take steps to:

• claim his or her profile

• add all required information

• fix any errors in the profile

• add bonus materials, e.g.,. speaking engagements to improve rating

• inform clients of ability to rate his or her services

Consider participating in AVVO’s Find a Lawyer Attorney Directory

More information:

18
AVVO also has question forums. It is free to participate, and there is anecdotal evidence
that participation in the forum has increased client referrals.

An attorney who participates in the question forums must be mindful of ethical
obligations, including Model Rule of Professional Conduct 1.18 Duties to Prospective Client. An
attorney may also not reveal confidential information from other representations in answering
questions. See Model Rule of Professional Conduct 1.6 Confidentiality of Information.

“Attorney-Client Relationships in Cyberspace: the Peril and the Promise” published by
Duke Law Journal provides further information on an attorney’s ethical obligations when
participating in online forums.

2. LinkedIn
Description: LinkedIn is a networking tool to find professional connections, allowing
participants to recommend job candidates, and interact with industry experts and business
partners. Users can endorse others for skills across industries, including “litigation,” “legal
research,” etc.

Benefits and potential disadvantages of the tool with ethics flags:

Benefits of a LinkedIn profile:

• A clear profile can be helpful for building name recognition for a practice or for
an attorney in a particular area of law

• Build a network by first connecting with classmates, colleagues, opposing
counsel, etc.

• Join groups relevant to your practice, such as bar associations, substantive law
forums, etc.

• Consider publishing content to develop a reputation as a knowledgeable source

Potential disadvantages of a LinkedIn profile:

• Endorsements from other users may violate Model Rule of Professional Conduct
7.1 Communications Concerning a Lawyer’s Services. For example, a user may
endorse an attorney for “litigation.” If the attorney is in fact not an experienced
litigator, the attorney must not accept that endorsement. Further, the endorsement
could also be seen to imply that the attorney is certified in litigation, in violation
of Rule 7.4 Communication of Fields of Practice and Specialization.

o Do LinkedIn Endorsements Violate Legal Ethics? By the American Bar
Association

Samples/links:

19
Trellis, a Pittsburgh-based law firm, incorporates links to its LinkedIn page at the bottom
of each webpage.

LinkedIn also has company pages, which an attorney can utilize to promote his or her law
firm.

More information:

The New York County Lawyers Association Professional Ethics Committee has opined
that an attorney’s LinkedIn page may constitute attorney advertising, and may violate ethical
rules if the profile includes inaccurate or misleading information, such as the attorney’s area of
practice, etc. Therefore, an attorney should not incorporate anything that is false or misleading
into his or her profile, or allow others to do so on his or her profile through endorsements, or
testimonials. For example, not removing an endorsement from a user in an area of law in which
the attorney has no experience, would be a violation of the prohibition on false or misleading
communications. See Model Rule of Professional Conduct 7.1 and 7.2 Advertising, which
incorporates Rule 7.1 and 7.3 Direct Contact with Prospective Clients.

The American Bar Association’s Law Practice Today offers a LinkedIn marketing plan
for attorneys.

A LinkedIn article sets forth 5 LinkedIn Profile Mistakes Lawyers Make.

Stanford Law posted an Attorneys at Work article on LinkedIn best practices.

20
III. Internet Tools for Performing/Delivering Services

A. Interactive Websites- Referrals, Intake, Forms, etc.
The Internet provides new methods of performing and delivering legal services, affecting
how potential clients find attorneys, how attorneys screen cases, and how representation occurs
throughout the attorney-client relationship.

1. Online Referral Websites
Description: Attorneys can gain experience, provide pro bono services, and recruit clients
through the Internet. Online referral services connect individuals who use the service with an
attorney, primarily matching potential clients based on area of law and geographic area.

Benefits and potential disadvantages of the tool with ethics flags:

Benefits of online referral websites:

• Can be steady source of potential clients sent directly to the attorney

• Attorney with sufficient referrals from online services can devote time and
resources to other outreach efforts

Potential disadvantages of online referral websites:

• Client screening and consultations can be very time intensive

• Many services require a fee from the attorney to participate

• Online referral services may not be subject to any oversight, especially if not
certified by the American Bar Association

• Rate of referrals that result in actual representation may be low

• Participation in a for-profit referral business that pairs potential clients with
attorneys and that charge “marketing fees,” poses serious ethical issues. An
attorney generally may not share fees with a non-lawyer (Model Rule of
Professional Conduct 5.4 Professional Independence of a Lawyer and 7.2
Advertising), and nothing of value can be given for recommending an attorney’s
services, except for certain limited exceptions, such as normal advertising
expenses, and certified or non-profit lawyer referral services.

o An attorney considering participating in a non-bar association affiliated
referral service should begin by examining the jurisdiction’s ethical rules,
including any formal ethics opinions

21
o See the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Legal Ethics and Professional
Responsibility Committee’s Formal Opinion 2016-200

 The Committee concluded that an attorney’s participation in the
referral arrangement would violate Pennsylvania Rules of
Professional Conduct 5.4(a) and 1.15(i), and exposed attorneys to
several other potential violations

• Consultations may create an attorney-client relationship and the attorney may be
precluded from representing an individual with an adverse interest in the future if
a potential client reveals confidential information during the consultation.
Therefore, an attorney should clearly set forth in any communication, email,
website, and ideally on his or her profile on the referral website, that there is no
intention to create an attorney-client relationship unless expressly entered into,
and publicly posted information will not be deemed confidential.

o An attorney must carefully track every contact with potential clients,
record all clients he or she represents and/or has represented, and carefully
screen each interaction with a potential client through the website for
conflicts of interest.

o The following Model Rules of Professional Conduct address various
aspects of conflicts of interests:

 1.7 Conflict of Interest Current Clients
 1.8 Conflict of Interest Current Clients-Specific Rules
 1.9 Duties to Former Clients
 1.10 Imputation of Conflicts of Interest

Samples/links:

• Bidding on online legal services through crowdsourcing has been covered by the
New York Times

o Legal Services Link, lists attorneys who pay $250 a year to the site, to
respond to potential clients with a proposal of services and estimated fee
structure

o Jurbid, focuses on closing the access to justice gap

o ExpertBids, a bidding site for hiring lawyers and accountants

o UpCounsel, caters to businesses

o JammedUp, primarily for criminal matters

• Another delivery option is a flat fee for answering submitted questions

22
o An example of this model is LegalQuestion

o Just Answer allows users to submit questions, which are answered by
participating attorneys

o The Clerk in Lee County, Florida has suggested a dollar-a-minute
telephone line

 Other organizations utilize this format, including:

• Orange County Florida Self-Help Center
• The Women’s Building, San Francisco
The ProBono Partnership recruits attorney volunteers to provide services for non-profit
organizations.

Bar Associations often offer attorneys the ability to participate in lawyer referral
programs, including interactive websites. Other bar associations, such as the Allegheny County
Bar Association, offer online and telephone referral services.

2. Client Screening
Description: In many ways, screening clients is one of the most important (and time
consuming) aspects of an attorney’s practice. Technology can be used to streamline the process,
and ensure that potential clients are undertaking the majority of the work to provide the attorney
with needed information to screen clients.

Benefits and potential disadvantages of the tool with ethics flags:

Benefits of client screening:

• An attorney can spend time that would be spent on traditional screening finding
new clients or working on substantive matters, which increases his or her
efficiency and allows for lesser rates while still maintaining financial
sustainability

• A best practice is to provide client intake forms directly on the firm’s website.
Review of the form by potential clients will focus their inquiries, and an attorney
can easily direct an individual to the form for completion, rather than expending
significant amounts of time conducting in-person or telephone screening calls

Potential disadvantages of client screening:

• If screening is too rigorous, an attorney may lose out on potential clients, who are
already interested in the attorney’s services

• If screening is not robust enough, the attorney may accept cases that do not have a
high likelihood of success and have a substantial risk of low client satisfaction

23
Samples/links:

These law firms provide sample intake forms in various areas of the law, which are
available to potential clients to download and send to the firms, or to complete and submit
directly through the website:

• Bailey & Galyen (Bedford, Texas)

• Miller & Zois (Baltimore, Maryland)

• Lamberton Law (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)

• Eric Fetter (Orlando, Florida)

The State Bar of Georgia is an excellent resource for intake questionnaires and sample
forms.

The Michigan State Bar also provides examples of new client screening intake forms and
a helpful intake checklist.

More information:

Client intake software is included in many case management software systems. Separate
client intake software options include Lexicata.

Also consider making a custom form to incorporate on a website, blog, etc. Wufoo is a
web-based form-creating app. It can be used to create forms and embed them in websites or send
out links for people to fill in. Zapier is a web automation app that allows apps to work together,
including sharing information across apps. TheFormTool can be used to automate
documentation, including intake documentation, and initial documents, such as a complaint. This
article provides simple step-by-step instructions on how to build a client intake form onto an
iPad or website, which can be transferred to case management and other software.

Practitioners may find Slack helpful when communicating with clients and potential
clients during intake, or amongst other members of the firm. Slack is a free communication
application, which allows users to create threads of communication based upon specific project
(or case), direct message with invited team members, and easily transition from messaging to
audio or visual messaging without the need to schedule a set time or send invites.

3. Calendaring
Description: Attorneys can efficiently schedule client and other meetings using
technology, rather than emailing availability to each individual.

Benefits and potential disadvantages of the tool with ethics flags:

Benefits of calendaring software:

24
• Save time when scheduling appointments

• An individual may be more likely to retain an attorney’s services if able to
instantly schedule an appointment through the attorney’s website

Potential disadvantages of calendaring software:

• Potential clients may not be familiar with calendar software and may not utilize
the option

• Attorney may have to coordinate traditionally scheduled appointments, and those
booked through the software, which could create conflicts

o Risk of conflicts may be reduced when the user synchs calendaring app
with other calendar system, for example, GoogleCalendar

• Automated screening may result in appointments with individuals who the
attorney would have determined were not a potential client in an initial scheduling
phone call or email

• Not all apps require that the user (the attorney who set-up the feature) confirm the
appointment before it is scheduled

• An individual may be less likely to keep an appointment if they do not
communicate directly with the attorney

Samples/links:

The Trellis law firm allows an individual to book an appointment through its website
after participating in an interactive fee estimate.

More information:

Calendly allows a user to set availability and potential clients can view the user’s
calendar and directly book an appointment.

Schedule Thing also allows individuals to schedule appointments, based on the attorney’s
availability.

4. Pop-up Forms
Description: Website features permit pop-ups so that a visitor to the website may
automatically enroll in a newsletter, submit contact information for a consultation, etc.

Benefits and potential disadvantages of the tool with ethics flags:

Benefits of pop-up forms:

25
• Users who choose to opt-in with a pop-up can be contacted in the future

• Increased individual interaction with website features, such as a newsletter or
blog, which may provide helpful information to prospective clients

Potential disadvantages of pop-up forms:

• An uncollapsible pop-up may seem too obtrusive for users

Samples/links:

• Trellis, a Pittsburgh-based law firm, has a website that features several pop-ups,
including a prompt to sign-up for its newsletter.

More information:

• SquareSpace and WordPress plug-ins also allow users to create a pop-up
subscription box.

• MyShingle provides an extensive list of example engagement letters, fee
agreements, representation agreements, and other resources. These sample
documents can be modified to create a pop-up intake form.

B. Online Legal Research Tools
Description: There are many free research options available to attorneys online. Free or
low-cost legal research may eliminate one of the biggest expenditures in a traditional law firm.

Benefits and potential disadvantages of the tool with ethics flags:

Benefits of online legal research tools:

• Ease of access from any Internet-connected device

• Many options are free or low cost

• Reduction in overhead allows lower rates for servicing the low bono clients

Potential disadvantage of online legal research tools:

• Quality varies between sources

• Accuracy of current case history depends on the source and varies by resource

• Increased time spent consulting multiple sites, rather than one centralized
resource

• Most resources do not allow the user to save a research trail

26
Samples/links:

Primary Sources:

• LexisNexis

o offers free options for incubator attorneys

• LouisLawConnect

o offers pay-as-you-go options for access to primary legal content; may
purchase either a 48-hr, 7-day, or 31-day pass, with no contracts or
recurring payments

• National Center for State Courts

o excellent starting point for state legal opinions; many are available in PDF
form

• Congress.gov

o primary source for federal legislative material

• Library of Congress Guide to Law Online

o annotated guide to sources of information on government and law
available online. It includes selected links to useful and reliable sites for
legal information

• Google Scholar

o free access: to published opinions of the United States Supreme Court
since 1791, US federal district, appellate, tax and bankruptcy Courts since
1923; and state appellate and supreme Court cases since 1950

Secondary Sources: Journals and Forms, etc.

• ABA Legal Technology Resource Center

o free access to over 400 legal journals

• FindLaw

o provides a form directory

• GetLegal

o provides access to U.S. federal materials including the full text of the U.S.
Code and opinions of the U.S. Supreme Court, Court rules, CFR and
27
additional federal materials. The site also offers quick links to the current
authoritative versions of the state statutes, constitution, regulations and
court rules

• USA.gov

o one-stop access to all online U.S. government resources (local, state and
federal); includes topical arrangements, a useful A-Z list of government
agencies and departments and Spanish translation of several web pages

• Justia

o created with the mission to “advance the availability of legal resources for
the benefit of society.” The site provides free access to case law, codes,
regulations, legal articles and legal blog databases. The company also
publishes a variety of free newsletters, including daily opinion summaries
for all Federal Appellate and State Supreme Courts and weekly opinion
summaries on a wide range of practice areas, essentially from ‘A’
(Agriculture Law) to ‘Z’ (Zoning and Land Use)

More information:

Articles from Harvard Law School Library and George Mason University Law School
provide information and links to further free legal resources.

28
IV. Software Tools for Practice
Description: Software applications are rapidly changing and new products are regularly
available. It can be very time consuming to determine whether to utilize software tools and, if so,
which software is best for the practice. First, determine whether the practice has a need for
software (consider, personal work style, amount of cases, funds available), and then consider
available options, and whether an “all-inclusive” case management software system or
individualized apps would be most beneficial.

Benefits and potential disadvantages of the tool with ethics flags:

Benefits of Software applications:

• Increased business efficiency. For example, the software programs provide
streamlined ways for attorneys to account for their time and virtually meet with
clients.

• Automates certain ethical obligations, such as maintaining a client’s file

o See Pennsylvania Bar Association Formal Opinion 99-120 Retention of
Client Files

Potential disadvantages of software applications:

• An attorney’s practice may require multiple applications, which do not interface
with each other

• Although many quality apps are free or low-cost, many versions have an
associated cost, or there is a charge for advanced versions

• Ensure that the software has features to ensure preservation of confidential
information (especially if the program is not designed for attorneys)

o Model Rule of Professional Conduct 1.6 Confidentiality of Information

Samples/links:

The broad categories of software available include:

• Time, billing, and invoicing

o Attorneys practicing in solo and small firms are also business owners and
need to remit their time for payment and collecting debts. These services
allow attorneys to spend more time practicing law, rather than tracking
time, billing clients, and finalizing accounts.

o Examples:

29
 Timeslips
 Ebillity
 PCLaw (LexisNexis)
 Bill4Time
 Freshbooks

• Electronic Signatures

o Saves time for attorneys and his or her clients because in-person meetings
are not required to execute a document; best used for representation
documents because many courts and agencies require an original signature
for filings

o Examples:

 Capterra offers an interactive list of digital signature software
 Consumer Affairs Best Electronic Signature Software

• Document management

o Provides ability to access and share documents anytime a user has an
Internet connection

o Examples:

 iManage
 MyCase
 Uptime LegalWorks
 Worldox
 Capterra offers an interactive list of legal document management
software

• Project management (see Section IV(D))

o Used by many professions, project management software coordinates
milestones, deadlines, time entry, billing, and calendaring

• Online document storage and backup

o These services act as a second form of protection for documents, and save
data for disaster recovery purposes

o Examples:

 Chart of PC Magazine’s Best Cloud Storage Software of 2017
 Top 20 Best Cloud Storage Providers

• Remote access

30
o Services allow an individual to access everything on his or her physical
computer, including the desktop and files, as if physically in front of the
accessed computer through another computer using a network connection;
remote access is a good alternative to cloud-based storage and is thought
by some to be more secure

o Examples:

 Go To My PC
 TeamViewer
 Review of 16 Free Remote Access Software Tools

• Encrypted document and email exchange

o Ensures that communications are encrypted and thus, unreadable if
intercepted

o Examples:

 Chart of PC Magazine’s Best Encryption Software of 2017

More information:

This article by the American Bar Association’s Law Practice Magazine outlines several
options available for each of these categories, and includes links to each of the services.

The American Bar Association’s Law Technology Today blog provides a substantial
amount of information on each of the aforementioned categories of software.

The American Bar Association has a helpful paper on improving the delivery of legal
services through the Internet.

A. Case Management Software
Description: Case management software combines many of the more specific
applications detailed supra and below into one system. The best software systems manage client
and case information, including contacts, calendaring, time tracking, documents, and other
specifics by facilitating automation in law practices.

Features and functions of all-inclusive case management software include (note that
many of these features are available in separate apps):

• Case Management

o Information on all of your cases and matters is accessible through a
centralized database; Manages to-do lists; fast & flexible searching;
conflicts of interest checking; checks statute of limitations

31
• Document Assembly

o Automates drafting documents through templates and other linked formats
(ex. contracts, leases, wills, etc.); Links to word processing programs so
that documents can be uploaded into the templates

o The American Bar Association has more information on document
assembly and available services

• Contact Management

o Tracks, logs, and stores details about phone calls, e-mails, and other
correspondence; callback reminders

• Calendaring & Docketing

o Allows users to view tasks, deadlines, appointments, and meetings by day,
week, month, or year; calculates calendar dates; schedules appointments
and meetings

• Time & Billing

o Tracks billable time; generates client invoices; links to time tracking and
accounting programs; creates reports for individual billing attorneys
(Source (modified from):
http://www.americanbar.org/groups/departments_offices/legal_technology_resources/resources/charts_fyis/casemana
gementcomparison.html)

Attorneys should evaluate software using the following factors:

• Availability on multiple platforms

• Ease of entry

• Recurring tasks

• Multi-List capable

• Assign priority levels

• GTD functionality

o GTD-“getting things done;” ideally a case management system should
incorporate project management features, or be compatible with other
management programs

• Notes and attachments

32
o System should be able to able to catalogue notes on each matter and
archive emails, including attachments into separate files for individual
clients/cases

o Ability to share task lists
(Source:http://legaltalknetwork.com/podcasts/kennedy-mighell-report/2014/08/lawyer-can-control-list-task-managers-
technology/)

Benefits and potential disadvantages of the tool with ethics flags:

Benefits of Case Management Software:

• Streamlines the business side of an attorney’s practice

• Increased mobility with possible enhanced security

• The convenience and efficiency of one centralized resource for the administration
of an attorney’s practice, rather than individual applications

• Increased likelihood of being timely paid by clients if billing and invoicing
practices are automated

Potential disadvantages of Case Management Software:

• Only beneficial if incorporated into everyday practice

• Takes time to get familiar with the software’s features

• Costs can be prohibitive for some attorneys

• Software program may be discontinued or become obsolete

• Exposure to cybersecurity breaches

o See Model Rule of Professional Conduct 1.6(a) duty to protect client
confidences, including 1.6(c), which provides that “[a] lawyer shall make
reasonable efforts to prevent the inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure of,
or unauthorized access to, information relating to the representation of a
client.”

• Use of cloud-computing software raises distinct ethical obligations

o See the Pennsylvania Bar Association Committee on Legal Ethics and
Professional Responsibility’s Formal Opinion 2011-200 on the ethical
obligations for attorneys using cloud computing software as a service
while fulfilling the duties of confidentiality and preservation of client
property

33
Samples/links:

Examples of Legal Case Management Software include:

• Clio

• Houdini Esq.

• MyCase

o Reviewed by a Pittsburgh-based criminal defense attorney, Joshua
Campson, who practices criminal defense with one partner

• LexisNexis Firm Manager

• Total Attorneys

• AdvoLogix

• Rocket Matter

More information:

Information is available from the American Bar Association on ethics and cybersecurity
and an attorney’s obligations to protect client data.

The American Bar Association has provided an Appendix of Case Management Software
and Timing and Billing Applications and also provides an interactive Legal Technology Buyer’s
Guide, which features a large variety of types of software.

Capterra provides an interactive compendium of case management software options and
includes reviews and other useful information. Users can filter software by various categories,
including ratings, number of users, and features.

B. Conflicts Check Software
Description: Software programs can save client details and perform a check to see if the
representation would be adverse to any current or former clients.

Benefits and potential disadvantages of the tool with ethics flags:

Benefits of Conflict check software:

• Automates a required step for each representation

Potential disadvantages of conflict check software:

34
• Conflict check will only be accurate if information inputted is complete and
accurately reflects all individuals to whom an attorney may owe ethical
obligations

Samples/links:

Examples of client conflict software include:

• Conflict Check

• Legal Software System, Inc.

• RTG

More information:

Even if software is not utilized, remember that the key to a successful conflicts checks is
through:

• Establishing a thorough, well-maintained list of names;

• Ensuring that the conflict-checking procedure becomes a part of firm’s routine;
and

• Everyone in the firm is trained in the procedure and involved in the system.
(Source:http://www.americanbar.org/content/newsletter/publications/law_trends_news_practice_area_e_newsletter_h
ome/conflictchecking.html)

C. Virtual Document Filing Systems
Description: Virtual document filing allows attorneys to save materials by client, case
type, etc. and access documents when “out of the office.”

Benefits and potential disadvantages of the tool with ethics flags:

Benefits of virtual document filing systems:

• A well-organized virtual filing system improves an attorney’s efficiency

• Attorneys can work on files remotely, for example while waiting for a court
proceeding to begin

• Documents can be easily shared with clients and other attorneys

Potential disadvantages of virtual document filing systems:

• Anything contained on the system should be backed up through an external hard
drive and/or another service
35
• Internet accessible systems are always vulnerable to hacking

o See the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Committee on Legal Ethics and
Professional Responsibility’s Formal Opinion 2009-100 on the ethical
obligations on the transmission and receipt of metadata.

Samples/links:

Examples of virtual document filing systems include:

• Google Drive is an option for attorneys to save files, share with colleagues, etc.

o Google products, including GoogleDrive, can be integrated into other
applications, such as GoogleCalendar

• Dropbox allows for 2 gigabytes of free online storage as well as file sharing and
synchronization services

More information:

This FindLaw article provides information on why a document management system is
“critical” to a law practice.

D. Project Management Software/Apps
Description: Project management software is used to manage tasks, track deadlines and
other obligations, and is used as an administrative tool. Project management software was not
originally designed for attorneys, but many of the available features can improve the efficiency
of an attorney’s practice.

Benefits and potential disadvantages of the tool with ethics flags:

Benefits of project management and time tracking software/apps:

• Assists an attorney with meeting deadlines

• Tracked time can be used to evaluate the profitability of flat fees

• Tracked time can be used for fee petitions

• Creates good habits, tracks deadlines, and quantifies an attorney’s work

• If used properly, these tools can streamline the “business” side of practicing law

Potential disadvantages of project management and time tracking software/apps:

• The usefulness of these tools depend largely on the individual user’s personality
and work habits

36
• Some users may find that these tools are stressful and may become overwhelmed
by lists

• Attorneys must ensure confidentiality if clients’ names or other identifying
information is included on the software or app

o Model Rule of Professional Conduct 1.6 Confidentiality of Information

Samples/links:

1. To Do Lists:
As the volume of practice increases, to do lists allow an attorney to track deadlines, etc.
Lists also help attorneys prioritize their time and break time into manageable chunks.

Examples of to do list apps include:

• Remember the Milk

Remember the Milk, often just called RTM, is a web-based tool for managing tasks.
Users can enter tasks with specific due dates, tag them for easy organization, and set up
reminders via email, text or instant message. The task lists can be accessed anywhere an Internet
connection is available, and mobile apps are available for the iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch and
Android. RTM also integrates with popular email tools like Gmail and Outlook.

• Todoist

Todoist is another web-based task manager that's designed to be fast and intuitive. It
includes built-in calendaring features that allow users to set due dates and establish recurring
tasks, as well as create subprojects and subtasks to better organize their to-do list. Integration is
offered for Gmail, Outlook, Firefox and Chrome.

• Outlook Tasks

The task management features in Microsoft Outlook are often overlooked but are
convenient for those already familiar with the mail program or uninterested in moving their tasks
to the cloud. Because the features are built in, they integrate seamlessly with other elements of
the application. For example, right-click on an email and flag it for follow up in a week, and
you’ve automatically created a new item on your to-do list.

• Google Tasks

Google Tasks is a relatively bare-bones task manager that’s built into Gmail. Users can
convert emails into tasks, set due dates on tasks to have them automatically loaded into Google
Calendar, and access the tasks from the web, mobile devices and even an iGoogle homepage.
Google Tasks is a free offering, as are Gmail and Google Calendar.

37
(Modified from:
http://www.americanbar.org/groups/departments_offices/legal_technology_resources/resources/articles/youraba0711.
html)

Another option is OmniFocus, which is designed to parallel the “getting things done”
methodology created by David Allen. OmniFocus permits a user to track items, calendar tasks,
and triage items by sorting and prioritizing items.

Tip: Remember security for all software, apps, and devices: Last Pass safely stores
passwords, allowing attorney to restrict access to documents.

2. Time-tracking Apps Specifically for Attorneys:
Accounting for time is important for attorneys for many reasons and tracking time
expended assists in establishing flat rates and gauging the viability of subscription fee
arrangements (see Section V(A)).

Examples of time tracking apps include:

• iTimeKeep

• Time Master + Billing

• Bill4Time Hours Tracker

• Timewerks Pro

• OfficeTime

More information:

The American Bar Association outlines five lessons attorneys can learn about project
management, including technology.

38
V. Innovations in Pricing

A. Subscription Fees
Description: Subscription fees are part of a business model where a client pays for
ongoing access to an attorney. They are also known as: toll bridge agreements, prepaid legal, and
lawyer on retainer

Examples of services provided in most subscription fee agreements:

• document review

• drafting contracts

• legal advice via telephone or email

• demand letters

• drafting policy documents or business plans

Generally NOT covered by subscription fee agreements:

• litigation

Benefits and potential disadvantages of the tool with ethics flags:

Benefits of subscription fees as part of a practice:

• Steady stream of income for the attorney/firm

• Attractive to clients who are already comfortable paying for services via
subscription (e.g., Netflix)

• More individuals may consider an attorney who offers services on a subscription
fee basis, rather than attorneys who only utilize hourly rates, because the client’s
legal expenses are more predictable, and can be budgeted for on an ongoing basis

• Saves time for the attorney, who does not have to track time or bill for services

• Allows an attorney to build a relationship with clients, and increases the
likelihood of being the first point of contact for other legal needs, which can
generate referral fees

• A subscription fee arrangement can be pitched as “pay now to save money later”

39
• Overhead costs and administrative costs may be lower than other types of
representation as the attorney can generally repurpose materials for multiple
clients, and the majority of the interaction with clients will be via telephone or
electronic means

Potential disadvantages of subscription fee agreements:

• If utilization is too low, it is likely the attrition rate will be high

• If utilization is too high, the attorney’s model will be less profitable

• Dissatisfaction from clients who perceive that they are not receiving sufficient
services for their subscription

• Reduced ability to “turn off” outside of traditional work hours for clients who
expect 24 hour access

• A client is entitled to fire an attorney at any time for any reason. Therefore, a
client may fire an attorney who has expended a great deal of time during a certain
period of time, on the assumption that less work will be required in other months.
If so, the brief relationship may not have been profitable for the attorney

• Raises particular questions as to how a subscription fee can be cancelled

o See Model Rules of Professional Conduct 1.5 Fees and 1.16 Declining or
Terminating Representation

o The New York City Bar has issued a Formal Opinion 2015-2, opining that
non-refundable monthly retainer fees are not per se unethical, but must be
examined in each instance

Samples/links:

A carefully drafted Representation Agreement is crucial.

Variations include:

• “general counsel on demand”

• capping the number of hours a client can use services in a given month

• outlining which services are covered, and costs of additional services

More information:

The American Bar Association’s guidance on ethically billing clients and being paid on
time, as well as negotiating fee agreements.

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B. Consider Other Forms of Pricing
Description: Potential clients increasingly pay for goods and services in new ways.
Attorneys should consider forms of pricing beyond the traditional contingency fees, hourly rates,
or non-flexible flat rates.

Benefits and potential disadvantages of the tool with ethics flags:

Benefits of non-traditional pricing and payment:

• Low-income clients may not have a checking account. An attorney who accepts
non-traditional payment forms will be able to represent individuals who may not
otherwise be able to obtain legal services

o See one attorney’s experience accepting credit cards using Square

Potential disadvantages of non-traditional pricing and payment:

• Pricing model may require in-depth explanation to potential clients

• Credit card fees are charged to the attorney by many providers, which decreases
profit

Samples/links:

A chart of pricing, including hourly rates and/or fixed fees, can provide a lot of
information in an easily accessible format directly on a website. The following is a helpful
example of a fee chart.

Some law firms offer a price estimate calculator. For example, Infinity Law Group, offers
a dropdown list of questions, which results in a customized estimate of legal fees. Simplicity
Law offers a list of representative work by price. Trellis Law Firm offers a three-step “Legal
Unlocked” interactive process.

Firms should consider incorporating interactive pricing features directly into the website.
The same firm offers an app, through iTunes, to allow a client to estimate potential legal costs.

The Laffey Matrix, which has been adopted by Courts in fee-shifting cases, is another
good resource when determining where to set hourly rates.

Hourly fees may also be set in individual cases based upon income. The Community
Lawyers of Iowa offers a calculator to provide an estimate of legal fees, which is based upon a
sliding-scale income schedule. Open Legal Services offers a chart, based upon income compared
to Federal poverty rates, to estimate hourly rates, and any discounts based upon income.

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VI. Alternatives to the Conventional Law Firm
Structure and the Traditional Law Offices

A. Non-profit Law Firms
Description: Non-profit law firms are registered as 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations,
and focus on providing legal representation to those who do not qualify for traditional legal aid,
but who are otherwise unable to afford legal representation. Individuals pay for representation on
a sliding scale, based on income.

Benefits and potential disadvantages of the tool with ethics flags:

Benefits to attorneys in non-profit law firms:

• 501(c)(3) status results in lower tax rates for the firm, for example, being exempt
from employment taxes, and allows the firm to accept donations to offset costs

• Attorneys practicing at the firm may qualify for loan forgiveness under the Public
Service Loan Forgiveness Program

• Potential to partner with local government and non-profit organizations for cross-
referrals, which expands the potential client base

Benefits for the community include:

• Lessening self-representation

• Preserving legal claims from those who would otherwise be unable to afford legal
representation, and therefore, would abandon their claims

• Decreased judicial backlog from pro se litigants

Potential disadvantages:

• Unfamiliarity of the non-profit law firm business model by attorneys and clients

Samples/links:

The following chart provides an example of hourly rates offered by a non-profit law firm,
based on annual income.

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(Open Legal Services http://openlegalservices.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Hourly-Rate-Table2016_2.png)

More information:

The first known non-profit law firm was based the Open Legal Services, based in Utah.
Other examples include Access Justice in Minnesota (not currently offering services), and the
Chicago Legal Clinic. Non-profit law firms have received national coverage.

Further guidance on starting a non-profit, including information specific to non-profit law
firms, is available from:

• Foundation Center’s Grant Space

• The National Council of Nonprofits

• IRS: guidance on non-profit law firms and 501(c)(3) reporting requirements

• The American Bar Association’s coverage of Non-profit law firm model

B. Collaborative Work Spaces
Description: A traditional office space or working from home are not the only options for
attorneys. Collaborative work spaces are shared physical spaces, which are designed for
professional use. The spaces range from permanent space for each client, to spaces where an
individual can pay a daily or hourly rate to utilize the space.

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Benefits and potential disadvantages of the tool with ethics flags:

Benefits of using a collaborative space:

• Provides a professional business address for correspondence

• May be more cost-effective than traditional office setting due to shared resources,
such as a receptionist, conference spaces, etc.

• Overhead savings may be passed on to potential clients

• Increased potential for cross-referrals and collaboration amongst attorneys in an
attorney-focused space

• Interaction with potential clients from many different industries and backgrounds
in a mixed-industry work space

• Access to others with industry-specific knowledge, e.g., marketing, finance, etc.

• Networking opportunities

• May be in an area that does not have a high concentration of attorneys or law
firms, broadening a potential client pool

Potential disadvantages:

• Lack of privacy if the collaborative space does not provide discrete areas for users
(Model Rule of Professional Conduct 1.6 Confidentiality of Information)

• Must ensure physical files and documents and the Internet connection are secure

• Potential clients may not be as comfortable or confident using an attorney who
does not have a traditional office

• Distractions from other individuals

• Space may not have facilities to hold a deposition, mediation, etc.

Samples/links:

Examples of attorney-focused collaborative spaces include:

• Law Firm Suites (various locations)

• Owl Suites (Dallas)

• Dockit (Western Massachusetts)

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• Law Bank (Denver)

Other co-working spaces are female-focused, or are centered on a specific market, such
as start-ups.

More information:

Attorneys also practice in other non-traditional spaces, such as a coffee shop. Legal Grind
in California, offers initial consultations ($45 for 20 minutes) in coffee shops, or other locations
that are most convenient for clients. Other examples include law firms in yoga studios and a
barber shop.

Some attorneys have taken non-traditional work spaces to the next level and run wholly
virtual law practices. Axiom has a global presence, and all of its lawyers work remotely. The
virtual law practice has been addressed by the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Committee on
Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility, in Formal Opinion 2010-200. The American Bar
Association has addressed various ethical treatment of virtual law offices.

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