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What Lexis giveth, Lexis can take  away. And then replace with an alternate tool.

portal-change

As you may be aware, Lexis somewhat abruptly and unexpectedly ended their relationship with Watchdox, the “client portal” application that had been bundled into the Time Matters application since Version 13. Apparently this application had very low utilization rates among Time Matters customers. With Blackberry’s recent acquisition of Watchdox, the application has been plagued with service interruptions and other technical issues for those few customers using the service. According to a statement released at the end of March, Lexis was “unable to reach a mutually satisfactory level [of resolution] for our customers.”

Recognizing that document sharing between law firms and their clients, co-counsels, and other key parties  is becoming an increasingly indispensable practice management tool – commonly referred to as a “client portal” – Lexis has announced that, with the release of Time Matters 15.1, their practice management software will offer full integration with Microsoft OneDrive.

OneDrive is the Cloud-based storage application bundled into Microsoft Office 365 subscriptions, or otherwise available on a separate subscription basis from Microsoft. Office 365 OneDrive users have access to their Cloud storage from within any Office 365 application, seeing the service as simply another “drive” on their desktop. Time Matters extends this functionality, by adding OneDrive as a default storage location on the TM document form. This will allow Time Matters users to upload, view, and synch documents from within Time Matters directly to OneDrive. Auto-naming, if configured in Time Matters, will continue to function as previously, including folder naming, but will place the folder and the document in the Cloud within OneDrive.

OneDrive offers its own set of security options for sharing folders and documents with external users, and reads your Outlook contact list to simplify with whom to share specific folders or documents. In this manner, documents created in Time Matters, via either the merge function or the Formattable Clipboard, can be automatically uploaded to OneDrive, and then shared with specific clients (or other external users) on a document-by-document basis.  Creating “sharing groups” in OneDrive can make this even easier, by making a client’s OneDrive folder accessible to everyone who has involvement in that client’s matter.

I am not convinced that this new capability in Time Matters 15.1 will completely remove the need for a true client portal application integrated with Time Matters. Applications such as Legal Anywhere Connect (more to come on that promising application soon) offer a much more robust solution for firms that do a significant volume of document sharing with clients. For the “casual sharer” who only occasionally needs to send a “review and approve” document to outside parties,  however, this “marriage of convenience” between Lexis and Microsoft, plugging the hole in Time Matters left by the disappearance of Watchdox, should address that need quite nicely.

Need to understand the ins and outs of client portals, how they work, who offers them, etc. etc.?
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