box_logoBox, formerly known as Box.net, is a cloud-based file sharing and content management platform.  While some people think of Box as similar to Dropbox, Box is better suited to enterprises, like law firms, mainly due to its superior security and management features.

Dropbox and others have made attempts to match Box’s enterprise prowess, but Box repeatedly scores higher in head-to-head comparisons, like this one from InfoWorld.  Box has, for a long time, had a great presence outside of large law firms, capturing the business of more than 90% of Fortune 500 companies.

Full disclaimer: I’m familiar with Box because earlier this year, I joined a group of other law firm KM and technology folks on Box’s legal advisory board.  This is an uncompensated role, so don’t think there is an ulterior motive here.

I am happy to learn that Box was, in fact, listening because today, Box is announcing even greater strides toward becoming the go-to cloud-based file sharing and content management platform for law firms.  There are a ton of new features and integrations listed in the official announcement and  I encourage you to read it.  I also encourage you to read the very thoughtful piece by Ron Friedmann over at Prism Legal about the future of such cloud services and where and how they fit in with legacy systems at law firms.  Ron is also on the Box legal advisory board, and I can tell you that we’ve all had some very interesting discussions about this future.  I personally think that the cloud is the future.  Among the many advantages are the anytime-anywhere-any device access to your content.  But getting there will not be easy due to the deep hooks of various legacy systems, like DMS and other essential systems that have been around law firms for many years.

To that point, I think one of the more interesting aspects of what Box is doing, as announced today, is the integration (via Intapp) with some legacy systems, like iManage’s DMS.  This part of the official announcement says it all: “With the Box iManage integration via Intapp’s Integration Builder, law firms can extend their on-premise document management system to the cloud, access content through mobile devices and collaborate externally.”

Another great part about these recent efforts is that Box has joined the the ABA Advantage program, which provides members with 50GB of of cloud file sharing for free.  Check out the offer in the official announcement.

See Nearby HoB MembersLegalTech NY is next week and it’s time to network.  Over the years, I’ve grown more interested in the easy networking opportunities (since I live in NYC) than the content at this event (I find it a little too e-discovery heavy).  As I was planning my week, I was reminded of a new iPhone app that I recently downloaded.  It’s called Here on Biz.

In a nutshell, the Here on Biz (HoB) app adds location awareness to your LinkedIn account allowing you to connect — and meet up — with people around you.  So, say you’re on a business trip (maybe for a legal trade show in New York) and you want to kill some time by finding other business folks who would like to meet up for some networking.  Here on Biz provides you the way to find others looking to do the same.

How to use Here on Biz. Download the app (link) and sign up by connecting it to your LinkedIn account.  When you launch the app, Here on Biz locates you and shows you fellow Here on Biz users in the area.   Check out the profiles and if you find someone interesting, click the plus sign to add them to your HoB network.  When they accept the invitation, you can start a chat and arrange a meet up.  HoB has been described as Foursquare for business.

As the iTunes page for the app says, “Never miss another business opportunity around you. See other LinkedIn members around you who use Here On Biz and connect/chat with them. Be alerted when other group members or those in your network are nearby while you travel.  No more unproductive evenings alone at the hotel lobby bar while traveling on business. Here On Biz allows you to easily network with professionals around you in real time.”

Another nice feature, that should be applicable to the LegalTech crowd, is the ability to check in at a nearby event.  I haven’t used this feature yet, but When I get to LegalTech, I’ll do so.  I invite you to connect with me on Here on Biz.  And maybe we can connect (for real) at LegalTech.

 

Note: This post is cross-posted in my new blog, iPad4Legal, which I co-publish with Michael Aginsky.  In fact, you can continue reading this post there.  And follow iPad4Legal on Twitter.

On a recent visit to my favorite local coffee shop, I pulled out my netbook (this was before I got my iPad) to do a little surfing.  The server told me that they had instituted a new policy: No Computers.  The strange thing is that this place had previously embraced the ‘net crowd (or at least I thought it did because they offered free WiFi).

They Giveth and they Taketh Away

How strange: free WiFi, but no computers allowed.  I understand why they implemented this new policy: they didn’t want me buying a $2 latte and occupying a seat for 4 hours.  Not good for business. If this catches on (as it may be), it may become an issue for virtual law office lawyers and mobile lawyers, like Niki Black, who — based on her tweets — often gets work done at coffee shops.  (Niki also writes about iPadding lawyers at Legal iPad).

What’s a Computer?

I was really devastated.  I loved that coffee shop — in part because of the free WiFi (they have good cappuccino, too).  My gut reaction to the news was, “Umm. OK. Can I use my iPhone?”  Thankfully, the answer was yes, so I used the WiFi to surf on that for a while.  And that got me thinking: What’s a computer?  My netbook (a Toshiba Mini NB205 Series 10.1-Inch Netbook (160GB Hard Drive) isn’t a “full powered” laptop, but it is definitely a computer.  My iPhone 3GS can do almost anything my netbook can do.  Why is it OK to surf on my iPhone, but not my netbook?  I’m still filling up a seat at a rate of fifty cents an hour.

At that point in time, I had already mentally committed to getting and iPad.  I just had to figure out if it as going to be the WiFi-only version or the WiFi+3G (I subsequently decided to get the 64GB WiFi-only version for reasons that I’ll probably write about).  But, prior to the big announcement about the iPad, I was considering an Amazon Kindle.  I never got one (the iPad obviated that for me), but that day at the coffee shop, I wondered: would they let me sit there with a Kindle?  I could read a book on one of those for hours and still slowly sip that latte.  For that matter, I could do the same thing with a paperback.

Of course, my current, real-life concern is whether they’ll let me use my new iPad while enjoying a cup of joe.  I haven’t been there since I acquired it, but I’ll keep you posted.  If challenged, I think my response will be, “This is not a computer, it’s a magical and revolutionary product at an unbelievable price.”  And what if I just use my iPad to read an iBook? (see Kindle issue above).  I’m so confused.

Are they Luddites?

Perhaps people tend to stay planted in coffee shop seats longer if they are surfing the web than when reading an old fashioned book (I haven’t done the research).  If that’s the case, then I get it.  If not, then what’s next: banning all devices and media?   Absent any evidence to the contrary, there is only one conclusion: coffee shop owners are a bunch of Luddites.

What do you make of all this?

Are you running into the same problems at your local caffeine supply place?  How will this  affect the mobile lawyer?  Perhaps more importantly, will judges start allowing iPads in their courtrooms?  The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York has started to allow personal electronic devices under certain conditions.  You can see Standing Order M10-468 In The Matter of Electronic Devices and General Purposes Computing Devices here (opens PDF).  It’s a start.

Knowledge Management, Technology & Social Media for Lawyers and Law Firms

The take away: Location-based social networking is about “assisted serendipity” – using technology to turn an otherwise chance encounter into a real business opportunity.

Location-based social networking (LBSN) applications are becoming quite popular.  They are not entirely new, however.  Here’s a nice list of LBSN sites – some of which have been discontinued, including the Google-owned Dodgeball (replaced by Google Latitude).  The most hyped LBSN app is Foursquare.  If you follow me on Twitter or are a Facebook friend, then you know that I’ve been experimenting with Foursquare for several weeks now.

location-locationWhat is a LBSN?

We’ve barely wrapped our heads around Twitter, and now we’re expected to adopt yet another new-fangled social media phenomenon.  To help explain why you might want to do this, I’ll use Foursquare as an example. Here’s how it works:

Much like any social network, Foursquare members start by creating profiles and adding friends or contacts.  But unlike most SN sites, Foursquare is meant to be used on the go – from a mobile device (I use Foursquare’s iPhone App, but there are apps for BlackBerry and Android too).  Using a mobile device’s GPS or cell tower triangulation technology, Foursquare suggests nearby locations — perhaps a bar or museum or sporting event venue — where a user can “check-in.”

Users can view details about nearby places, including tips left by previous Foursquare users (e.g., “Try the bacon cheeseburger…”).  Users can also see who else has checked-in recently.  Local businesses take advantage of location-based data to help lure customers with special offers.

tasti-dFor example, on a recent trip to The Shops at Columbus Circle in New York, the nearby Tasti D-Lite shop “noticed” I was there and offered a discount on an ice cream cone if I stopped by.

There is also a “game” aspect to Foursquare.  Users collect “badges” and points for various activities like checking in to ten or more locations in a week, or for checking in to different types on places.  My favorite is the “Jobs” badge (awarded for checking in to three or more Apple Stores), which entitles you to a free “iHoverboard” if you show the badge to an Apple Genius at the store.

Foursquare also lists the times and locations where your friends check in.  If you’re really in to it, you can get an alert every time someone checks in to any location (I don’t recommend this because it will drive you crazy – especially if your Foursquare friends are active users).

Finally, you can opt link your Foursquare account with your other social networks so that your Foursquare updates appear on your Facebook wall or in your Twitter stream.  Fair warning: this might irritate your Twitter followers and Facebook friends – especially if you’re an active user – because they will be inundated with messages like “Patrick just checked in at the Apple Store…” all day long.  Rather than setting Foursquare to automatically update your other networks, set it to prompt you to choose whether to do so on a case-by-case basis.

OK….so why would I want do that?

This is the same question that we asked about LinkedIn, then Facebook, then Twitter before millions of people signed up.  There are lots of theories about why we do this social networking stuff.  But do we need yet another social network; one that lets everyone know where we are – all the time?  Well, this may fall under the Steve Jobs category of “a lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

Do you want to let everyone know where you are all the time?  Probably not.  But that’s not the question.  The question is: Would you like a unique opportunity to connect with your contacts — in real life?

Location-based social networking is not about restaurant recommendations, or discounted ice cream, or badges.  It’s about “assisted serendipity.”  Never before have we been able to help along a chance encounter, or to take advantage of an opportunity that we didn’t even know existed.

For example, let’s say you’re traveling and have some time to kill while you wait for your flight at the airport.  Little did you know, one of your contacts–a business prospect–is there too.  You might happen to run into your contact, but given the conditions (the size of the airport, the number of people, etc.) the chances are slim.  More than a mere catalyst that simply hastens an inevitable chemical reaction, a LBSN, like Foursquare can create an opportunity — turning a potential chance meeting into a sure thing.

So, will you use a LBSN application, or is it just too much too soon?

LawyerKM :: Knowledge Management & Technology for Lawyers and Law Firms

“Location” Photo Credit: http://www.vegsource.com/talk/humor/messages/99895680.html

NewsGator announced NewsGator Go! for BlackBerry, which is an RSS reader for your BlackBerry mobile device. It claims synchronization “across NewsGator’s entire suite of products,” which would seem to mean (for those lawyers with NewsGator Enterprise Server and MS Outlook) that your feeds will now appear in NewsGator folders on your BlackBerry, as well as in your Outlook folders on your PC. We hope that this will eliminate the problem of BlackBerry batteries draining more quickly due to the BlackBerry scanning NewsGator feed folders even though (up until now?) those folders — when accessed from the BlackBerry — remained empty.

This certainly has the potential to eliminate one more excuse for not knowing everything there is to know about everything as soon as it is knowable. The “inundation of information” increases. Scary.

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