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There are many law technology exhibitions every year, but my two favorites are the New York LegalTech held at the end of January, and the American Bar Association’s TechShow held in March in Chicago. (This year’s TechShow will be on March 15 – 17; if you haven’t already made plans, point your browser to www.techshow.comfor further information.) Mostly, I see products and services that I’ve seen before, but usually manage to get a sense of what will be happening in law-related technology products and services in the next year or two. YEAR OF THE ASP I’ve been writing about thin-client programs accessible through the Web for a couple of years. One feature of this year’s show was a half dozen booths in an “ASP Pavilion.” An ASP — Application Service Provider — licenses its software for use for a given time period. Rather than a large up-front cost for a “thick client” program that sits on the user’s desktop or laptop computer, the typical ASP user pays a monthly fee for use of a “thin client” application that does most of its work on the ASP’s network server, downloading the appropriate user front end, as needed, to the desktop computer’s Web Browser. With the availability of inexpensive high speed “always on” alternatives to the $1000 – $2000 per month T1 lines that can handle large firms, ASP Web-based law office applications are a reality. Or at least a lot of software vendors think so. THE BIG GUYS The most powerful companies in the law technology business are, of course, West Group and Lexis. Neither is satisfied with just providing legal research facilities; both want to be involved in just about everything that a lawyer does. West Group was talking about getting WestWorks, its “thin-client” ASP law office suite announced at LegalTech a year ago, as part of the three city roll-out begun towards the end of last year. In addition, West Group was boasting of its acquisition of the FindLaw legal portal, enhanced secure Web space for lawyer collaboration, LegalEdCenter ( www.legaledcenter.com) a CLE joint venture with the National Practice Institute ( www.npilaw.com), and even had a Microsoft representative on hand to announce the “Smart Tag” facility in the next version of Microsoft Word. Smart Tag will automatically link legal citations in a Word document to Westlaw. Smart Tag was actually announced at Comdex a couple of months ago, and resembles technology long used to isolate legal citations for cite checking purposes. I was impressed, however, by the Microsoft claim that Word 10 would fix problems with number crashing and corruption we’ve learned to live with in the Office 2000 version of Word. Lexis announced “the LOOP,” the company’s attempt to recreate the Web-based discussion group “community” once available on the Counsel Connect online service, long since abandoned by the American Lawyer Media folks. [Editor's note: American Lawyer Media is affiliated with Law.com.] The LOOP currently shows 28 moderated discussion groups. I’ve already heard complaints about security and logon procedures, but assume that these will be worked out. In the meantime, if you enjoy online discussions with other lawyers, take a look. The URL is community.lexisone.com Lexis also announced a connection to the latest version of the TimeMatters time/billing/management software, available later this year. TimeMatters announced a coming Web-based thin client that replicates the appearance and functionality of and uses the same database as the TimeMatters standard thick client version. Web-based TimeMatters integrated with Lexis searching isn’t WestWorks, but sounds like a rather powerful combination, nonetheless. SNAPNAMES I most enjoy LegalTech products that solve problems that I didn’t know I had. SnapNames promises to monitor changes to domain name registration information provided to the master Internet Name Servers, in case a domain name is “hijacked” by some unscrupulous hacker, or terminated because the owner fails to pay a renewal fee. In case you or a client is lusting after a currently registered name that is apparently not being used, SnapNames will also let you know when the name becomes available for registration by someone else. I’m not certain if SnapNames is addressing a real problem, or, for that matter, if it really works. But the story seems reasonable and there clearly have been domain name problems in the recent past. A domain name can be a valuable property; $35 for three years doesn’t seem like a lot of money to protect it. The URL — assuming that it hasn’t been hijacked or cancelled for non-payment of fees — is www.snapnames.com. SECURE E-MAILAGAIN Although lawyers seem to ignore inexpensive and easy-to-use ways of sending reasonably secure documents and e-mail messages over the Web, Omtool’s Genidocs is a Microsoft Exchange Server add-on that provides substantial security for e-mail and attachments with a click of a button. I’ll be waiting to see whether this product will attract the user base that predecessors from other companies have yet to achieve. The URL is www.omtool.com/products/genidocs. SUMMARY ASP vendors, West Group and Lexis created the most noise at this year’s New York LegalTech, but a secure e-mail venture, and a service that monitors domain information changes were new to me.

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