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Free and Cheap Technology for Thrifty Lawyers

During the program “Weathering the Storm: Managing Your Firm Through an Economic Downturn” Erik Mazzone and Catherine Sanders Reach presented “Free and Cheap Technology for Thrifty Lawyers“.  As law practice becomes increasingly technology-oriented, law firms spend on technology has also increased to command an ever-larger share of the budget. We can’t turn back the clock and practice without all the productivity-enhancing and risk-reducing aids we have come to depend on. Instead, this session focuses on helping you identify low-cost, high-return products and services in the technology marketplace that will help you get the job done while reducing expenses and not missing a step.

The initial presentation exceeded the allotted hour so here is a video of part 2, plus some annotations to the slide deck below.

  1. Spend on technology where it really matters. What is in your tech stack? Is there redundancy? Can you accomplish the same things with other tools you use?
  2. Reduce the spending on IT support by focusing on tools that are easy to implement and administer yourself.
  3. Automate what you can, but don’t eliminate the human touch. The ongoing question is what separates us from the robots? Don’t try to replace people with technology – replace pieces of jobs with technology.
  4. Freelancers are your friend (see I Need Some Help! Virtual Assistance for Law Firms – North Carolina Bar Association)
  5. Browse with savings:
    • In Chrome – click “Track Price” in the address bar and get email alerts when prices drop
    • In Edge – automatically looks for discount codes when you check out. In Settings under Privacy, Search, and Services make sure “Save time and money with Shopping in Microsoft Edge” is toggled on.
    • Extensions – RetailMe Not
    • Get coupons – sign up for a free account, a trial account, or stop before you finish checking out. You’ll often get emails with huge discounts. If you accept cookies even if you just revisit a site, it will offer discounts
    • Also check with the NCBA, AARP, and other associations for discounts
  6. How to scan documents for free

    • If you are using Microsoft 365 Business, get the Microsoft 365 (f/k/a Office) app, which lets you scan to PDF or Word (or Excel!). You can scan to PDF with your smartphone or tablet, create PDFs from pictures, and more. It is free with your MS 365 business subscription. It will automatically save the file to your OneDrive account, or wherever you want to save it. If you subscribe to Adobe Acrobat DC and you get the Adobe Scan (free) app you can use your phone to scan to PDF. Just take a picture, and it converts to PDF automatically. It will also save the file automatically to your document cloud library. This will keep you from having to move the file off your phone manually.

  7. Transcription Tools
    •’s free plan has 300 monthly transcriptions minutes with 30 minutes per conversation. Otter Pilot will attend your meeting for you and the free plan has limited AI summary generation. Tactiq is a Chrome extension. It offers speaker identification, 10 meetings a month and 5 AI credits with the free version. Amazing AI summary and action items. Both and Tactiq transcription tools have AI assistants, free for limited use. They can join your Zoom/Teams/Hangout/Webex meetings and create a real time transcription that you can save, edit, and share. You can highlight and collaborate. AI creates summary and action items. Integrates with Google Calendar and Outlook calendar. In MS Word Online 365 you can upload an mp3 or mp4 (or .wav or other audio/video file, including Zoom recordings) and it will create a transcript of the recording.  Transcribe is only currently available in the browser version of MS Word for Microsoft 365 subscribers. The Transcribe button is in the drop-down option in the Dictate button in the Ribbon. You take an audio file, whether a recording of a webinar, voice notes you make on your phone, recording from a deposition or even use Transcribe to do the recording, and upload it from your computer with the Transcribe tools.  For instance, if you record a Zoom meeting you can download the audio file and then upload it into Transcribe in Word online. Transcribe identifies (or tries to) different voices and labels them as Speaker 1, Speaker 2, etc.  Depending on the length of the recording it may take quite a while for the Transcription to finish. There is a 200MB limit for an uploaded file, and 300 transcription upload minutes per month. While the recording formats that Transcribe works with are listed as .MP4 .M4A .MP3 and .WAV, Office Watch discovered other formats may work including .AAC and .M4B.Once Transcribe has finished you will see a Transcribe pane that lets you edit the transcription before you add it to a document. You can change the speaker’s name and the text in the editing pane. If you have a question about the text of the transcription you can click on the “play” button for each speaker section to hear what was said and make corrections. Then at the bottom of the Transcription pane you can add all or just some of the transcription to the document. Transcription recordings are saved in MS OneDrive. If you add all the transcription to a document and then go back to make edits it will pull the audio file back from OneDrive. A link to the full transcription is inserted at the top of the document. If you open the Word document that you have added the transcription to in the Word software the link to the recording in OneDrive will still appear. You can download the recording. Microsoft has an excellent tutorial on Transcribe and Office Watch offers a tutorial as well as some trouble shooting suggestions.
  8. Google One and Google Workspace
  9. Add-ons and integrations increase efficiency
  10. Hidden Tricks in Apple Notes
  11.  Get Automated!
  12. Save time with shortcuts and Siri
  13. LawPay Announces LawPay Pro, a New Product Tier
  14. Things you didn’t realize Gmail could do
  15. Time59 is $199 per year with unlimited users
  16. Reduce your AR to $0
  17. Running your practice in MS 365 (with some help)
  18. Running your practice in Google Workspace
  19. Acrobat Alternatives
  20. Zoho Accounting
  21. Maximize your spend with Acrobat
  22. Online scheduling
  23. Fastcase “free” legal research
  24. How to make a professional website for less than $500
  25. Zoho Bigin CRM for Law Firms
  26. How to roll out a firm newsletter for free
  27. Why you need an authenticator
  28. Getting $3/month worth out of 1Password
  29. SANS Ouch newsletter for cybersecurity awareness training
  30. A $10,000 phone system for $10 per month
  31. Password protection for documents
  32. Leverage consumer technology where you can do so safely and ethically
    • Did you read the privacy policy and terms of service? Ask:
      • Who has access to your information?
      • Will they turn it over to the government or law enforcement without asking permission?
      • Do they sell your data or information about you?
      • Where is the data stored? In the US? Outside of the US?