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10+ Online Tools (Not Zoom!) To Help You Practice Social Distancing, Be Productive, and Stay Happy

May 1, 2020

By Maggie Patel

In March, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us found ourselves working remotely even though legal services are considered essential. It can be a struggle to work without access to many of the in-person tools we have at our offices. Luckily, many legal publishers and collaboration platforms are making their resources freely accessible and are extending their trial periods. Hopefully, social and work distancing will be over soon. In the meantime, use the following tools to manage your firm’s services, perform legal research, collaborate with your team, and even keep up your mental well-being.

Collaboration Tools

Collaboration platforms allow you to work as a team remotely. They allow your team to share files, meet through video conferencing and share messages in one place. There are a few that are developed for the legal industry.

  • Slack is a communication and collaboration platform. It is designed to reduce email as a communication method and replace it with chat rooms. Its workplaces organize communications by channels for group discussions and provides a space to share information, files, and more in one place. It is free for small teams and the price goes up to less than $13 a month for larger teams with administrative needs.
    Visit slack.com
  • Legaler is a collaboration platform specifically designed for legal professionals. It encrypts private and group chats, making it more secure for your clients. Additionally, it lets you set communications to private. It provides the ability to organize communications and documents by client matter. Its drag-and-drop feature for files is convenient and easy to use. For firms of 10 people or less, Legaler has expanded its active paid plan to a year. Visit legaler.com. 
  • Workstorm is another online collaboration platform that can help a firm facilitate remote work with integrated video conferencing, file sharing, and enterprise messaging. Currently, Workstorm’s free trial period is extended to 60 days. Visit workstorm.org.

Firm Administration and Billing

Several online tools have been made to help accomplish your administrative tasks such as document review and billing as well. 

  • TimeMiner is an online billing app that gives users the ability to go back and find billable activity, including calls, texts and emails, and creates time entries for everything they do. It automatically generates a report of your billable hours. Users can try it out with a free seven-day trial. Plans start at $12.99/month. Visit timeminerapp.com. 
  • MobileHelix’s Link is a mobile workflow app. Users can review, annotate, edit and email documents easily from smartphones and tablets. It is encrypted and can be integrated with other document management tools such as iManage, NetDocuments, and even your firm intranet. It is currently available for a free 90-day trial.
    Visit mobilehelix.com. 
  • Donna is a contract writing plug-in for Microsoft Word. It highlights and links relevant information and suggestions as you work on an agreement. During this time, it is offering a free three-month trial to homeworking attorneys. Visit donna.legal. 

Legal Research

Remote/Online research tools have been available freely to the public since before COVID-19. Several more have brought tools out from behind their paywall, such as COVID-19 legislative and court trackers. Here are some good blogs and resources if you don’t know where to start. Links to the resources are provided in the sidebar.

  • Dewey B Strategic covers many of the legal publishers that are providing new free resources in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
    Visit deweybstrategic.com.
  • Jenkin’s Law Library provides an excellent overview on where to access free online federal research materials.
    Visit jenkinslaw.org.
  • Franklin County Law Library provides all of the free online Ohio legal research materials. Visit fclawlib.libguides.com/freewebsites/ohi
  • Hamilton County Law library is a great place to start for local court information and legal research. Visit libguides.hamilton-co.org.

Productivity

While working remotely, it can be challenging to keep yourself productive throughout the day. There are several tools that can help you track your time and clients, as well as keep you accountable for getting things done.

  • Focusmate is a service that helps increase your productivity by connecting you to other professionals who have committed to being accountable for finishing their most important work. You choose a time to work, and Focusmate pairs you with an accountability partner for a live, virtual coworking session that will keep you on task.
    Visit focusmate.com. 
  • StayFocusd is a productivity extension for Google Chrome that helps you stay focused on work by restricting the amount of time you can spend on time-wasting websites. Once your allotted time has been used up, the sites you have blocked will be inaccessible for the rest of the day. You can also configure it to work on other browsers. 

Wellness

There are several reasons why this challenging time can take a toll on our mental well-being. Take a mental break and care for yourself with these tools. 

  • Headspace is an online meditation and mindfulness platform. They are currently offering free support through their “Weathering the Storm” site. Visit headspace.com/covid-19. 
  • Calm is an app that teaches mediation, sleep improvement, mindful movement, and even provides relaxing music to listen to while working. It has a free seven-day trial. Visit calm.com. 


Maggie Patel is the Business and Data Analytics Librarian at University of Cincinnati.

 

 

 

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