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Picture a lawyer riding on the train to the office or in a limo on the way to the airport. He is tapping the screen quickly on a Palm VII wireless handheld device, collecting his thoughts for an upcoming meeting. He is jotting his ideas into the Memo Pad feature as quickly as they come up. Next he uses the pull-down menu and taps “Select all.” He copies his notes and pastes them into the iMessenger screen into the body of an e-mail. He addresses the e-mail to himself at work and sends it from the moving vehicle. As with a cell phone, the lawyer doesn’t need to be standing still to send a wireless e-mail. He will be able to print out his notes when he gets to his office. This is not a fantasy. Lawyers are doing this every day as Palm and other handheld devices appear in lawyers’ hands nationwide, making them the No. 1 tech toy for lawyers. There are 7 million Palm users worldwide, and many of them are lawyers. The American Bar Association’s 1999 Legal Technology survey showed that more than 28 percent of respondents use PDAs, which is short for “personal digital assistant.” These walletsize, handheld devices weigh a few ounces and fit into a shirt pocket. They sell for $149 for an introductory model, up to $500 for a top-of-the-line model with a color screen. A Palm handheld device will organize a lawyer’s phone numbers, update his or her calendar and become a portable “idea trap.” Depending on the model, it can hold 10,000 addresses, five years of appointments, 3,000 “to do” items and 3,000 memos. But the real reason a lawyer should get one is to be the first to say to a client, “May I beam you my business card?” There are many Palm users who have not used this feature, and clients love it the first time they are beamed. The lawyer’s business card zips electronically on an invisible infrared ray, like the one that changes TV channels on the remote control at home. Lawyers can transmit business cards, contact lists and memos without any laborious data entry, mistakes or paper. It takes five seconds. Beaming a client one’s e-card makes a lawyer look tech-savvy — and clients like that. The feature that convinces most lawyers to use a PDA is its “find” feature. It can be used when a lawyer can’t quite remember a date, name or location. A lawyer can search simultaneously across his or her calendar, address book and note pad applications. The user simply taps in a clue or partial word into the “find” feature, and the device reports every occurrence of the search term ever recorded. This is incredibly useful when a lawyer is on the road, at a meeting or just riding the train home. With a PDA, all of a lawyer’s information is with him or her wherever he or she goes. The portability of all that information, along with the ability to find and use it easily, makes the PDA an incredibly useful marketing and practice management tool. Lawyers can dump their dog-eared appointment books covered with yellow Post-It notes. A PDA holds all the information needed to answer the key questions in a lawyer’s practice: � What is on the schedule today? � What is the phone number and location of the next appointment? � What needs to be done next? SHOPPING TIPS The main thing to remember when buying a PDA is to get as much memory as possible. Eight megabytes is the absolute minimum. It’s not that appointments, phone numbers and memos will fill up the PDA’s memory. Instead, the memory will be gobbled up by the numerous applications that can be added to the handheld device. For example, there are programs that allow lawyers to keep time, download the latest news and create outlines. Other popular applications track the stock market, furnish weather forecasts, set out maps and fetch movie schedules. Another feature to look for when shopping is a built-in rechargeable battery. Some handhelds require a pair of AAA batteries, which must be replaced in less than 60 seconds when they’ve run down or else there is a risk of data loss. Buyers should also compare the rechargeable battery life with other models. Lawyers would be wise to buy a handheld that uses the Palm operating system (available on the Palm or Handspring brand). Fully 75 percent of PDAs sold are the Palm brand, according to Palm Inc. There are competing brands that run on the Windows CE operating system, but they are not compatible with Palm devices and have a small market share. Lawyers can add programs to their handheld device with the “hot sync” process. Every PDA comes with a cradle, which holds the PDA and connects to a port on the computer. To hot-sync the two machines, the user simply puts the PDA in its cradle and presses a button on the cradle. The selected contents of each machine are copied onto the other. (Lawyers take great comfort in knowing that a backup of the PDA contents is on the computer, in case the little device is lost.) LOAD UP ON FREEBIES Many programs are available by downloading from the Web, and most of them are free. The most popular of all downloadable programs is AvantGo, at www.avantgo.com. The AvantGo program will grab information from the Web and transfer it to the handheld device during the hot-sync process. For example, just before leaving the office every day, a lawyer can use AvantGo to get the latest Fox News, the Wall Street Journalreport, TheStreet.Com stock market report and Weather Channel forecast. A lawyer can read the stories on the train ride home. AvantGo users no longer need to buy the late edition newspaper and get ink all over their hands, and AvantGo is free. Another program to get is Documents to Go, at www.dataviz.com. This copies long documents and spreadsheets from a lawyer’s computer and allows the handheld device to read and search them. For example, a lawyer can put his or her entire firm’s telephone directory onto the handheld. It also checks to see if the document has been updated during every hot-sync. This program costs about $60. Vindigo, available free from www.vindigo.com, puts a list of restaurants on the handheld, covering Boston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. A Vindigo user can tap in his or her current location and select a favorite cuisine, and Vindigo will present walking directions to the closest restaurant, plus a review. Time Reporter 2000 is available at www.iambic.com. From the makers of Timeslips, this is a full-featured timekeeping program that can be made to synchronize directly with Timeslips. It tracks time and expenses in many categories and is compatible with Excel, Quicken, Quickbooks and Access. It costs about $150. Cheaper alternatives include Time Tracker, at www.inertron.comfor $20, and Time Logger, at www.responsivesoftware.comfor $90. Palm provides information about products geared to lawyers at the following sites: � www.PdaJD.com. The “handheld headquarters for lawyers,” this site covers everything from how to get started to the latest add-ons and upgrades. � www.LFMI.com. This site includes a legal marketing technology section with information on PDAs. � www.Palmlaw.com. Focusing on Palm handhelds, this site offers legal news, reference documents, articles and product reviews. � www.Nearlymobile.com. This site is perfect for nontechie and novice users. Lawyers can learn the jargon and the differences between the PDAs, and can get solutions for common newbie problems. � www.Palmgear.com. This site has scads of downloads and program updates, tips, news and newsletters to which one can subscribe. � www.Handango.com. The site for hardware and software. Handango offers maps, games, databases and user tutorials. � www.Pda-archives.com. This is a reference page that helps the user find additional Palm Web sites. It features specific sites and ranks top sites. � www.Pdapanache.com. Cool multitasking writing utensils (or “pens,” as folks used to call them). All-in-one units hold ink cartridges, a lead dispenser, a plastic-tipped stylus for PDA graffiti and highlighters. Online ordering is also available here. Larry Bodine, an attorney, is a Web marketing consultant. He is also the operator of LawMarketing Portal, at www.LawMarketing.com. He can be reached at [email protected].

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