TechnoLawyer Top Products Awards of 2020
August 20, 2020
Welcome to the TechnoLawyer Top Products Awards of 2020 — determined by the subscribers of TechnoLawyer. Learn about the 10 hottest products in legal technology and use this list of award winners as a buyer's guide for your law firm. This year's winners span 7 categories so it's a diverse group of products. One company took home two awards. Congratulations to all!
TechnoLawyer Top Products Awards of 2020
It's time for the TechnoLawyer Top Products Awards of 2020 — the tenth year of these awards but for the first time under our "TechnoLawyer" brand (TL NewsWire was rebranded as TechnoLawyer this year).
The TechnoLawyer Top Products Awards are grassroots reader's choice awards that capture the zeitgeist within law firms. In each issue of TechnoLawyer, we report on a hot new product. When you and your fellow TechnoLawyer subscribers click for more details about a product after reading the article, you passively cast a vote. Therefore, the winners below genuinely attracted the most interest from TechnoLawyer subscribers. No smoke-filled room required.
Before we get to the awards, let's dive into the data. You can see the breakdown by product category in the chart below. Additional items of interest:
  • Five products were essentially version 1.0 or at least relatively new to the market.
  • Five products are web apps, two are online services, two are native desktop apps, and one is a mobile app.
  • Three of the products are primarily for litigators.
  • Two of the products work hand in glove with Microsoft Word.
  • One product is for small law firms and two are for large law firms while the rest are for all law firms. This makes sense since products with the broadest appeal attract the most interest. The niche products had broad appeal for reasons that will become apparent when you read about them.
  • One company won two awards.
The TechnoLawyer Top Products Awards of 2020 spans seven product categories (click to enlarge).
Congratulations to All the Winners!
Below you'll find a summary of each award winner, including links to each product's home page and the TechnoLawyer article that resulted in the victory.
1. TrialLine
We're thrilled to win the TechnoLawyer Top Product Award of 2020. TechnoLawyer staff and readers are a discerning group and we're honored to have caught their attention! — Travis Luther, Founder & CEO, TrialLine. Congratulations to TrialLine!
If we had a most memorable product launch award, TimeMap 1.0 would win it. Reflecting the shoot-from-the-hip entrepreneurs of that era, TimeMap's creators ran weekly ads counting down to the launch over three months. One hilarious ad featured a (fake) entreaty from a graphic designer begging TechnoLawyers not to buy TimeMap because it would put him out of business. TimeMap still exists today 20 years later. However, it never made the jump to the cloud, leaving an opening for new products.
TrialLine has filled the void by offering web-based timeline creation software. The level of interest in timelines remains off the charts as evidenced by its victory. With virtual hearings on the rise, TrialLine stands to make further gains as timelines work even better when everyone can see them on their own computer screen instead of squinting at a projected image or poster board in a courtroom. TrialLine offers several views to suit your presentation needs such as Relative to show events spaced accurately, Carousel to show the sequence of events in a compact manner, and Slide for a detailed view of each event.
Read the TechnoLawyer Article About TrialLine
2. Zola Suite
When we launched Zola Suite at ABA TECHSHOW five years ago, the excitement around the platform was palpable. We are incredibly grateful to have maintained that momentum and credit that, in large part, to our amazing clients and our team's commitment to continually strengthen the platform. — Fred Cohen, CEO, Zola Media. Congratulations to Zola Suite!
Zola Suite might be the most fully formed product to ever launch in the legal market. Most companies pursue what's called a Minimum Viable Product or MPV strategy so that they can get early adopter feedback and course correct. By contrast, Zola Media CEO Fred Cohen and his team had spent five years building Zola Suite when it launched in 2016. I vividly remember the demo because I had never seen such a full-featured version 1 practice management system. Fred had the benefit of entering a well-defined product category with plenty of existing customer feedback about where established products fell short.
That first version of Zola Suite won the TechnoLawyer Top Product Award of 2017 and is now a repeat winner with its 2020 award. So what shortcomings does Zola Suite address? Two key areas of focus are email and accounting. Zola Suite integrates with G Suite and Microsoft 365 as well as RPost for encryption and proof of delivery. Most practice management software includes billing but not accounting, requiring an integration with QuickBooks and another subscription. Zola Suite includes general ledger accounting and unlike QuickBooks offers trust accounting too.
Read the TechnoLawyer Article About Zola Suite
3. Word LX
We are very excited and proud to be selected as a TechnoLawyer Hot product for the third year in a row. Our goal is to design solutions that make legal document creation faster and easier and this award clearly demonstrates that our solutions fill a critical need for law firms that want to work more productively and service clients more efficiently. — Michael Barrons, Vice President, Marketing & Operations, Infoware. Congratulations to Word LX!
Word LX is a Microsoft Word add-in that saves time and ensures consistency across your firm's documents. One of our most interesting projects involved Word LX. Infoware retained our Learnpaper research service to conduct speed tests comparing the use of a Word LX letter template to a typical law firm Microsoft Word template. We designed the test and then played referee while observing a Word expert draft a letter. Word LX won by a country mile (see results here).
In 2019, Word LX upped the productivity ante by adding document automation features. Previously, Word LX saved you time with formatting chores but now it can generate the content of documents too with its Clause Builder. Thankfully, this new capability didn't impact ease of use. Word LX still resides in the Microsoft Word Ribbon. In fact, when Microsoft redesigns its toolbars, Infoware follows suit so that Word LX looks like Microsoft's own toolbars.
Read the TechnoLawyer Article About Word LX
4. Tracers
We're thrilled to be included in TechnoLawyer's Top Products Awards of 2020. For decades, Tracers has provided attorneys with public and private records and the investigative research tools they need to save time and better manage their cases. — Chad Sands, VP of Marketing, Tracers. Congratulations to Tracers!
Searching public records is one of the most common Internet activities. Everyone is nosy and everyone is a spy. While a Google search may suffice for your personal needs, pre-engagement due diligence and case work require a more robust tool. Google has lost interest in some types of information that doesn't align with its ad business, and its search results are clogged with public records scams that appeal to base instincts.
Tracers gives each person in its database a Person ID. Once you find the person of interest, this unique identifier makes it easier to locate all the associated public records. Tracers includes assets, court records, residences, social media profiles, and more. Tracers can also fetch records from courts and government offices not yet online.
Read the TechnoLawyer Article About Tracers
5. CourtLink
The legal market's reception of our recent CourtLink upgrades has been overwhelmingly positive. We took the industry's leading docket research solution and integrated it with Lexis Advance, adding in new features and functionalities that bring greater efficiency and power into the end users' hands. — Jeff Pfeifer, Chief Product Officer, LexisNexis. Congratulations to CourtLink!
Litigators have always known about the treasure trove of data generated by courts but didn't have a productive way to leverage it until trailblazers like CourtLink digitized these records and made them searchable — no easy feat in the days before off-the-shelf web scrapers and public data APIs. LexisNexis acquired CourtLink in 2001 and has continued to invest in the service. In fact, it's one of the pillars of the Lexis Advance platform along with Lexis Analytics, Lexis Practice Advisor, and Law360.
Because of its roots, CourtLink wasn't completely on the Lexis Advance platform until 2019. This brought with it links to related material in Lex Machina and an improved notification system called CourtLink Tracks. If your clientele tends to not have existing litigation counsel, you can use these alerts to contact a defendant minutes after the filing of a lawsuit to inquire about representation. The ability to search by litigant, law firm, judge, and more makes this all the more valuable.
Read the TechnoLawyer Article About CourtLink
6. Lawyaw
We're honored to win the TechnoLawyer Top Product Award of 2020. We can't imagine the future of the legal industry without easy-to-use cloud based document automation and we are deeply grateful that Lawyaw is now the trusted solution for thousands of attorneys who want to turn their legal knowledge and expertise into seamless document workflows. — Tucker Cottingham, Co-Founder & CEO, Lawyaw. Congratulations to Lawyaw!
Lawyaw, cloud document assembly software, is a card carrying member of the golden age of legal documents (see my recent analysis). While clients care most about outcomes, the legal documents lawyers create often serve as the vehicle that gets clients from Point A to Point B.
Increasingly, clients don't want to pay as much as they used to for these documents. Fortunately, Lawyaw is a no-code product that makes document automation more accessible to law firms than legacy products that required programmers. Start with a model document, select text that will change each time, and choose the type of field in the Template Builder. Repeat until you're done. Lawyaw also saves you time on data entry by storing all previous data for reuse and integrating with Clio.
Read the TechnoLawyer Article About Lawyaw
7. Zola CRM
Congratulations to Zola CRM!
Last year I attended a talk by Salesforce executive Matthew Sweezey. One of his slides showed the dramatic growth of marketing products (MarTech) over the past 10 years — from a few dozen to thousands. Practice management software historically ignored marketing even though it makes sense to have both prospects and clients in the same database.
Zola Suite is among the few products that focuses on marketing with its Zola CRM add-on, which earned Zola Media its second award. You can also use Zola CRM as a standalone product. In terms of functionality, think Salesforce or HubSpot except with a legal focus. This means origination credit, Retainer Sent as a status in the sales pipeline, referral tracking, and integration with RMail for secure digital signatures on retainer agreements. If you use Zola Suite, converted leads become clients, eliminating duplicate data entry.
Read the TechnoLawyer Article About Zola CRM
8. Panoramic
Congratulations to Panoramic!
Panoramic is a product that makes you feel like it's 2030. TechnoLawyer subscribers noticed. One lawyer emailed me to say, "I want it for the accumulation of our firm's expertise and management of our workflow. I can't find anything else that fits the bill so perfectly." Currently, Panoramic is for 3E users. Let's hope that by 2030 it integrates with all billing systems.
So what is Panoramic and why all the excitement? Panoramic combines project management and knowledge management, including resources from Practical Law, to fill in gaps. For example, you might assign a pleading to a junior lawyer. The junior lawyer uses a workflow and accompanying templates in Panoramic to draft the pleading and accompanying documents. Because of some unique twist, the junior lawyer consults a Practical Law resource. Meanwhile, you give the client an up-front cost estimate that Panoramic derives from your firm's historical billing data. Thanks to status updates, you can track the junior lawyer's progress and make sure he doesn't exceed the allotted time.
Read the TechnoLawyer Article About Panoramic
9. Actionstep Express
Actionstep Express gets small law firms up and running quickly in the cloud with an all-in-one software platform that's easy to use and great value. Start-up law firms have embraced Express because it organizes and future-proofs their practices from day 1. Thanks to Neil and the TechnoLawyer team for the recognition! — David Hepburn, Global President, Actionstep. Congratulations to Actionstep Express!
The launch of Actionstep Express in April 2019 seems clairvoyant in retrospect. It's designed to get a law firm up and running in the cloud for billing and practice management in very little time. As these firms grow and develop new needs, they can upgrade to the Practice Pro or Practice Pro + Accounting versions of Actionstep.
Actionstep is known for workflows, which can guide people in your firm through any process no matter how complex. This includes triggers that automatically assign tasks and set deadlines. Building a workflow normally requires some work upfront. However, Actionstep Express ships with pre-built workflows for various practice areas, eliminating the setup process. Another key to Actionstep Express living up to its name is the onboarding process, which walks you through every required setting to become operational. These functions include client intake, conflict checking, document management, time tracking and billing, and much more.
Read the TechnoLawyer Article About Actionstep Express
10. PCLaw Go
Lawyers help people and we are proud to provide lawyers with the tools they need to do this as effectively for their clients and their business as possible. — Chris Stock, CEO, PCLaw | Time Matters. Congratulations to PCLaw Go!
PCLaw Go launched just a few months prior to the announcement of PCLaw | Time Matters, the joint venture between LexisNexis and LEAP. It really is a joint effort with people from both companies leaving their jobs to work at the new company. The new branding is excellent (they went with LexisNexis red rather than LEAP blue) and CEO Chris Stock has a proven track record in practice management (he previously led LEAP US). Chris stopped by my office (remember that custom?) to discuss the roadmap and strategy. I expect some major product news in the near future now that all the operational nuts and bolts are in place.
PCLaw Go delivers what PCLaw users have wanted for years — a real native app as opposed to a mobile web app for entering time and looking up client information (Time Matters Go is a similar product for Time Matters users.). Use the global search to find a matter, start a timer, and get to work. You can run multiple timers simultaneously. Time entries post to PCLaw whether it's hosted in your office or in the cloud. PCLaw Go can also remind you to enter time.
Read the TechnoLawyer Article About PCLaw Go
Additional Coverage of the TechnoLawyer Top Products Awards of 2020
We'd like to thank the publications below for their coverage of the TechnoLawyer Top Products Awards of 2020.
Top 6 Takeaways from the 2020 TechnoLawyer Top Products Awards, Attorney at Work (Aug 20, 2020)
TechnoLawyer Names Its Top 10 Products of 2020, LawSites (Aug 20, 2020)
TechnoLawyer’s 2020 Top Tech Products Revealed, New Solo (Aug 20, 2020)
Meet Neil J. Squillante
Neil J. Squillante is the founder and publisher of TechnoLawyer, an award-winning network of free email newsletters for lawyers and law office administrators. Many consider TechnoLawyer newsletters the only ones they need. A Fastcase 50 award winner, Neil has a long track record of inventing successful advertising and publishing technologies and related best practices. Previously, Neil practiced commercial litigation at Am Law 100 firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher. He received his J.D. from UCLA School of Law and his B.A. from Duke University. At UCLA, Neil served as a Managing Editor of UCLA Law Review.
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