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Many lawyers bemoan the fact that technology spending rises each year. But with the right technology choices, it’s quite possible to save money and effort on a daily basis. Let’s start with cost-effective alternatives to Adobe’s $249 Acrobat program, the preferred way to deliver documents in PDF format. Luckily, there are many low-cost PDF-makers out there: Win2PDF ( www.daneprairie.com) is a replacement for the Acrobat PDFWriter feature. However, it works only on Windows NT, 2000 and XP, and it has limited font support. Price: $10 to $35, depending on volume. Better yet is pdfFactory from FinePrint Software ( www.fineprint.com). PdfFactory offers a preview mode in which pages can be added or deleted, and you can easily combine the print output from several different programs into a single PDF file. It works with any version of Windows, going back to Windows 95. It also features superior support for fonts. Price: $25 to $50, depending on volume. Macintosh users aren’t left out: For $20, you can use PrintToPDF ( www.jwwalker.com/pages/pdf.html), a shareware Macintosh printer driver that creates PDF files. However, there’s a trade-off for the low price: Most, if not all, of these alternative programs do not fully support Acrobat’s editing and advanced functions. But if your needs are relatively simple, they work fine. Raise your hand if you have this problem: You received several important e-mail attachments, but can’t open them. Rather than purchase multiple programs for occasional use, you can install a single viewer to see and print a wide variety of data files. The venerable Quick View Plus can display more than 225 Windows, UNIX, Macintosh, DOS and Internet file formats. It’s built on the renowned “Outside In” viewer technology from Stellent Inc. ( www.stellent.com), and is sold via Jasc Software ( www.jasc.com) and Avantstar Inc. ( www.avantstar.com). Price: $25 to $59, depending on volume. If you’re looking for highly discounted items for SOHO (small office/home office) use, there are several bargain sites. DealUniversity.com, TechBargains.com and DealNews.com all serve to list other vendors’ technology wares with heavy discounts, rebates and online coupons. Great technology bargains sell out quickly online, so you’ll need to visit these sites often and order promptly. Another cost-saving use of technology is online continuing legal education (CLE). The American Bar Association offers one hour of free CLE per month for its members via audio teleconferencing, enough to fulfill the annual requirements for many states. To learn more, go to www.abanet.org/cle/connection.html. There’s also online CLE via Web sites such as: CLE Online.com ( www.cleonline.com), Law.com Seminars ( store.law.com/seminars/) and the Practising Law Institute ( www.pli.edu). However, you’ll need to confirm these sessions to qualify for CLE credit in your particular state. ( Editor’s note: law.com seminars is owned by American Lawyer Media.) If you want to save on travel expenses, sometimes the Web can be a useful alternative. There are Web-based conferencing services at Webex.com or at Microsoft’s free NetMeeting ( www.microsoft.com/windows/netmeeting/default.asp. Remote depositions from services such as iDep ( www.i-dep.com) and DepoCast ( www.depocast.com) allow others to view, hear and read live depositions from a remote location. When you do need to travel, an alternative to a $300-$500 Blackberry e-mail pager is SMS (Short Message Service). For generally less than $10 per month, short messages can be sent to your cellphone. It’s not exactly e-mail, but then you aren’t paying $40-$50 per month for the Blackberry service.

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