Image courtesy of Gavel & Gown Software Inc.
Gavel & Gown Software Inc. is preparing mobile interfaces for its Amicus Attorney practice management software that targets small to mid-sized firms.
The mobile editions are HTML5 websites, not native applications, but Gavel & Gown CEO Ron Collins said users won't be able to tell the difference. The sites will have the same features as Amicus Attorney's desktop time-entry modules, except for multiple views. In addition, "It's a live connection to the database. So you see everything that's being done on your time entry back at the office," he explained.
Toronto-based Gavel & Gown developed unique versions for Apple iOS, Google Android, and Research In Motion BlackBerry devices. A version for small firms will be available on or before ALM's LegalTech New York conference January 29-31. That launch will be followed by a larger-scale version for Amicus Premium soon after, Collins said. All of the versions will be free for Amicus Attorney customers who subscribe to its annual maintenance plan, which costs $160, he said.
Collins declined to identify customers who are beta testing the mobile software. However, several notable law firm CIOs -- Andrew Adkins III, Steve Fletcher, and Chris Romano -- expressed a range of feelings about the usefulness of such applications.
"With the consumerization of mobile technology, aka BYOD, it is imperative that practice management developers, as well as other legal software developers, provide mobility for their applications. This has to be more than just a simple web browser, though. It needs to include all the basic elements of practice management," said Adkins, of Bridgeport, W.V.-based Steptoe & Johnson.
"Most attorneys realize that a mobile device is an extension of the desktop, but there are a few that are stretching that definition and using their iPad and/or Droid as a replacement for the standard desktop or laptop," Adkins continued. "While mobile app developers have focused on the iPad and Droid, it will be interesting to see who develops apps for the new Windows 8 tablets," he added.
Fletcher said the his firm is evaluating its options. [D]oes it make sense to buy software that automatically mines information and creates time entries for us, like [IntApp Inc.] Time Builder, or should we go with a mobile app that allows time entry? We're not sure which way to go at this point," said Fletcher, of Charlotte's Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein. "We don't have great demand."
Many lawyers prefer leaving time entry to secretaries, Fletcher said, but some may have to adapt because of the firm's increasing demands for more granular time keeping. Currently lawyers can use Citrix Systems Inc. software for remote access, even on their iPads, he added.
Romano, of Greenville's Ward and Smith, said some of his attorneys use Bellefield Systems' iTimeKeep application. That integrates with Amicus Premium, Thomson Reuters Elite, and several other popular systems. It's free and is a native application, but is only for the iOS devices. But Romano shares the same concern as Fletcher: "Truthfully there hasn't been much in the way of interest for mobile practice management," he said.
Collins noted that Gavel & Gown, which announced a cloud version of Amicus Attorney last year, is celebrating its 20th anniversary after a 1993 launch. There's no original code, but, "We could still today take someone who has the 1.0 version and convert them," he said. "Technology has changed but the core needs for attorneys haven't."