One Legal Blog

7 Microsoft Outlook quick tricks all legal professionals should know

The chances are that if you work in a law office, then you’re using Microsoft Outlook many times a day. In fact, according to our email stats here at One Legal, if you’re not reading your emails on your phone (which a growing number of you are), then you’re almost certain to be reading them in Outlook.

In a busy legal office it is vital to stay organized – failing to notice an email that needs a response or missing an upcoming filing deadline just won’t do. Despite it being so commonplace, though, many people using Outlook don’t realize just how powerful a tool it can be for staying on top.

So, if you’re a paralegal or an attorney whose day starts and finishes with you peering into Outlook, this post is for you. Here are seven of our favorite Outlook quick tricks all legal professionals should know.

#1 Use the built-in date calculator to work out deadlines

The chances are that in your office you’re trying to juggle multiple deadlines, especially if your firm is focused on litigation. If, like me, you’ve ever tried to calculate the date on which a 30-day deadline expires by counting through the calendar pages, this trick is for you.

With the right wording, Outlook’s date field in tasks or the calendar can actually calculate a deadline for you. So, for example, to set a reminder task for 30 days in the future simply start a task window, go to the start date field, and type “today+30 days”, or however long you need. Outlook will automatically populate the due date.

Outlook quick tricks all legal professionals should know

#2 Automatically add public holidays to your calendar

A couple of times a year it’s inevitable that I’ll spend ages carefully scheduling a meeting, only for the first respondent to point out that the date is, in fact, a public holiday. This problem can be especially common if you’re working across a couple of countries.

This can easily be solved, however, by having Outlook automatically add public holidays to your calendar — for pretty much every country on Earth. To enable this feature just go to file > options > calendar, and then select add holidays when you’re inside the calendar options.

MS Outlook tips and tricksOutlook_Tip_2.1

#3 Unsubscribe from reply-all noise boxes

Is there somebody in your office who hasn’t yet got the memo about not hitting reply all instead of reply? Do you often find yourself trapped in seemingly endless email exchanges that long ceased to be of relevance to you?

To save yourself, and your inbox, from the noise you can use Outlook’s ignore conversation feature. Just open up the offending message and hit ignore in the delete tab. Now all messages that are part of that thread will be automatically redirected to your deleted items folder.

Outlook quick tricks all legal professionals should know

#4 Improve the efficiency of your inbox searches

So pleased are they with the effectiveness of their inbox search tools that Microsoft have long advised Outlook users not to regularly delete emails, but rather to keep them in a single archive folder. That means a big folder stuffed full of emails, though. How do you find what you need quickly?

Fortunately, Outlook has just a few keywords and search operators that, if used together carefully, can drastically improve the efficiency of your searches:

  • Want to display emails from a specific person? Type “from:Richard,” for instance
  • Want them from a specific time? Add “received:last week,” for example
  • Only want emails with attachments? Try “hasattachment:yes:”
  • Or maybe you’re only interested in specific subject lines? Type “subject:minutes,” or whatever

MS Outlook tips and tricks

#5 Show two time zones side-by-side in your calendar

Working across multiple time zones can be tricky (I’m constantly scheduling calls in Britain at 3 am their time!). When working across time zones it’s vital to be able to quickly glance at your calendar and be sure that you’re scheduling the meeting at a time appropriate for all participants.

With Outlook, you can quickly set your calendar to display two time zones side-by-side. To enable this feature just go to options > calendar > time zones > show a second time zone.

Outlook quick tricks for legal professionals

#6 Make better use of your email signature

Most people are now aware of Outlook’s ability to save an email signature – the block of info containing things like your name, company, phone number, and website – at the end of your email messages. But did you know that you can save multiple signatures and change them out depending on the type of message you’re sending?

To create an email signature go to file > options > mail > signatures. In this dialog box you can create dozens of different signatures (perhaps you want one with marketing messages for clients, but a shorter and simple one for colleagues?). Once saved, you can set one signature as your default and then, on a case-by-case basis, quickly switch in another you can click “signatures” at the top of your email window and select the saved signature you want to use.

Want to automatically include a shorter signature on replies and forwards? Just create a signature as above and simply save the shorter version as your default signature for replies or forwards.

Outlook quick tricks for legal professionals

#7 Quickly create a task from an email you’ve received

Oftentimes you’ll get an email that contains a task that you’ll need to complete at some point. It can be tricky to remember all of these and time-consuming to write out a new task each time. Fortunately, Outlook has a shortcut for you.

When you want to create a task based on an email, you don’t have to re-enter all the information. Instead, just click on the message and drag it to “tasks” on the navigation bar. The contents of the message, except attachments, are copied to the body of a new task. A task created this way is the same as if you create a task from scratch, except you save time as contents from the message are automatically added to the new task. Just like for any task, you can set a due date, add a reminder, or assign the task to someone else.

What Outlook tips do you have? Did we miss your favorite trick? Share them in the comments.

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5 tactics to manage your law office more efficiently (hint: they’re all possible with your One Legal account)

Manage your law office more efficiently

In a busy law office, it can be difficult to stay on top of everything, especially with the pace of technological change being so rapid (just look at California’s move towards electronic court filing, for example).

At One Legal, we’re really grateful to be part of the legal sector’s rapid embrace of technology, and we’re constantly on the lookout for ways to help you to be more efficient while minimizing risk.

As a result, we’re always looking at our services to make them even more useful for you. Here are the top 5 elements you can find in your One Legal account right now that we think will help you to manage your law office more efficiently.

#1 File court documents in 13 states and all 58 counties of California through a single login

Worried about having to learn and manage dozens of different case filing systems as more and more courts move to electronic filing? In California, for example, where each court is procuring their own system, things could quickly get confusing.

One Legal is the antidote to this potential confusion. With your single One Legal login, you can file court documents through the same award-winning workflow in 13 states and every county of California regardless of the system the court uses or whether they’re eFile equipped or still on the physical paper route.

#2 Seamlessly add on physical service of process when filing case initiation documents

Did you know that as well as being the go-to court filing service for California’s legal professionals, One Legal has also been voted the state’s best process server for three consecutive years?

It’s easy to take advantage of our process serving product – just select “filing with process serving” while filing a case initiation document and you can seamlessly add on a process of service order in under a minute.

With a choice of service levels to fit your needs, 24/7 access to updates, and a proven, reliable and dependable service from our licensed and/or certified servers you can let One Legal take the strain.  

Process serve with One Legal

#3 Quickly add on eService when filing subsequent case documents

Looking for a simple solution for quickly and easily sharing subsequent case filings with all parties without the need for endless printing and envelope stuffing? Look no further. With One Legal you can add on electronic service at the same time as filing your documents with the court.

Looking for a more comprehensive eService solution? We’ve built CaseLink – a comprehensive eService platform. CaseLink facilitates the seamless sharing of case documents between multiple parties via a simple login and upload procedure, creates a searchable repository of all of the documents served for each case, alerts participants when new documents have been filed, and automatically keeps the service list up to date.

eService with One Legal

#4 Add on courtesy copy delivery at the touch of a button

Does your eFiling court still require that you send a courtesy/chamber paper copy of your documents? That could be a real pain – printing, binding, tagging and delivering your filing to the court. Isn’t electronic court filing meant to save you time and paper?

Don’t worry, One Legal has you covered. At the click of a button in our workflow, you can easily add on a courtesy copy. As long as you enter the transaction in your One Legal account by 5pm, we will prepare the documents and hand deliver to chambers before noon the next day and return to you a received stamped copy.

Courtesy copy delivery with One Legal

#5 Order court papers from any courthouse in the U.S. and have them emailed to you in as few as 24 hours

More and more courts are moving their case files online, but there are still millions of potentially crucial court documents only available in paper form. Getting hold of these documents could be a real headache. With One Legal, we make it simple.

Just submit your request through our website and we’ll set our nationwide network of experts to work navigating the phone lines and corridors of distant courts – state, district, or bankruptcy – to get secure your documents. Often we’ll get your documents back to you, via email, in a little as 24 hours.

Court research and retrieval with One Legal

Over to you!

Have you been making use of these features within One Legal? Sign up or log in and start saving time in your law office today.

One Legal

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Getting to know the One Legal team

Interview: Mary Lois Rodriguez-Aspillaga, Customer Support Specialist

At One Legal, we’re a diverse team of over 150. Based across California, at our headquarters in the Bay Area and in branch offices around the state, we work together every day to ensure that we deliver a seamless and high-quality experience to our customers.

We’re really proud of our team and the broad range of skills and talents we possess. Over the next few months, we’ll be posting a series of short interviews with some of our staff so that you can better get to know the people behind One Legal.

This month we interviewed Mary Lois Rodriguez-Aspillaga, a member of One Legal’s 16-person strong Customer Support Team.

Mary Lois Rodriguez-Aspillaga

Mary Lois Rodriguez-Aspillaga

Q1: You’ve been with One Legal for three years now. What brought you into the legal sector?

Before starting out at One Legal, I was an on-call substitute daycare teacher. That was fun, but I wanted a change! I came across an office recruitment agency and submitted by resume to then. My first assignment was with a printing company, and then I got an offer to come to One Legal. To be honest, I was hesitant  at first – going from nursing school to the legal services sector. But I love to learn, and I love to talk to people, and it wasn’t long before I went from being an on-call agent to a part-time agent and then to the full-time Customer Support Specialist I am now.

Q2: What does being a One Legal Customer Support Specialist involve?

It’s our job in customer support to help our customer’s overcome their problems as quickly and as effortlessly as possible. So the job for me involves answering customer calls, watching the call queue (to ensure that we’re answering incoming calls in as few second as possible), following up with customers we have assisted earlier in the day/week to ensure that their problems are fully resolved, answering customer questions and queries submitted via email, and carefully noting any customer suggestions, comments, or complaints to ensure that they reach the right people within the company.

Q3: What’s a typical day like for you?

The beginning of every day is about getting set up for success: clocking in and then opening all of the programs that I’ll need to take calls and quickly help customers, like ShoreTel (our phone system), Desk (our knowledge base), and ServiceHub (where I can see customer accounts). Once logged in and prepared, the day is all about dealing with customers contacts as fully as possible and making sure that no one is ever waiting too long to speak with somebody.

A typical day for me will consist of the following tasks: taking calls, tracking calls, making outbound calls, sending escalations to the right people to be dealt with quickly, following up either with our customers or with our branches, etc.

Often the things that I do every day can be similar, and even repetitive but can be rewarding and humbling when you know that you helped satisfy a customer, helped them meet their needs and I’ve got to hear great and positive feedback from them.  I often really feel like I’ve accomplished something at the end of the day.

Q4: What’s your favorite thing about working at One Legal?

Working for an award-winning company like One Legal is definitely exciting. If I had to pick my number one favorite thing about working here, I would have to say it is working with such a variety of different customers.

It’s really fun to meet and talk to so many different types of customers as I find that it builds and refines my character as an individual. Also, adapting to cater to different customers with different needs, and have different levels of experience with One Legal is an important part of my job and allows me to have a variety of experiences.

I’ve grown so much since the day I started. Not only in my knowledge in the legal field but also as an individual.

Q5: You help One Legal’s customers to solve their problems every day. What’s the best thing someone has said at the end of a call?

I remember a recent call helping a customer to place a court filing order. He was an older gentleman who had less experience with computers. At One Legal we want to make sure that all of our customers can succeed. So I spent over an hour on the phone with him, carefully helping him to get his documents ready to upload, going through our workflow with him, and getting his documents successfully filed.

I’ll always remember what he said at the end of our call: “you have been nothing but patient, friendly young lady. You have no idea what you just did. You should get a raise. We need more people like you.”

Q6: Finally, can you tell us one interesting thing about your life outside of work?

In my spare time, I’m an intern youth and young adults pastor and part of the leadership of my church in Santa Rosa. I work really closely with our youth and young adults. I love to help them in any way I can, empower them that there’s always hope for change, and to share God’s love with them. My heart is to see this generation rise up and reach their God-given destiny.

Remember that at One Legal we have a California-based Customer Support Team available via phone or email every weekday between 8:15 am and 5:30 pm. Need help? Mary and the rest of the team will be happy to assist you via 1-800-938-8815 or

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What does the future hold for court filing in California?

California's court system

California is moving towards eFiling – but change is uneven, resulting in a complex patchwork of electronic courts, and those stuck on the traditional paper route. What’s going on?

Outside of California, a number of states – Texas, for instance – have now implemented uniform electronic document management systems, including electronic document filing (eFiling), throughout their courts. Likewise, the federal courts have a uniform, fully functional, integrated document management system. California doesn’t.

That California lacks a statewide solution doesn’t mean that nothing is happening. It does make the changes taking place in the state more complicated, though. In fact, in their 2014 survey of efforts by the state’s superior courts to implement eFiling, the judicial branch noted that “the results… appear as diverse as the 58 counties addressing the issue.”

So what’s going on in the Golden State’s 58 superior court systems? What does the future hold for court filing in California?

The failure of the California Case Management System (CCMS)

Recognizing that many of the state’s courts needed to replace antiquated and failing case management systems, the judicial branch began, in the mid-2000s, to develop a statewide solution.

The California Case Management System (CCMS), as it was known, had been intended to be the centerpiece of a statewide solution, providing a single system that could facilitate eFiling and electronic document management in all of the state’s 58 county-level courts.

Facing substantial budget challenges, and with the CCMS having cost upwards of $500 million to develop, the judicial branch voted to stop deployment in March 2012. With the CCMS no longer being developed and despite some courts – Orange County and San Diego, for instance – continuing to make use of what remains of the CCMS, most of California’s 58 superior courts are now managing the future of their case management systems individually.

A handful of courts already offer some eFiling

The last couple of years have seen a handful of court systems – Orange County, San Diego, and San Francisco being three significant examples – mandate eFiling for some, or in the case of Orange County all, categories of civil cases.

In Orange and San Diego Counties, eFiling is facilitated – for now at least – through the surviving version of the CCMS while, in San Francisco, an entirely different vendor has stepped in. To add to the complexity, some courts – Santa Clara, for example – have developed one-off solutions for complex cases only.

Sounds confusing, eh? The good news for you, the ultimate users of these multifarious systems, is that because One Legal provides a statewide filing service we sync in seamlessly with all 58 courts, whatever back-office system they’re using.

The future of court filing in California

About half of CA’s counties will start offering eFiling within the next two years

Around 25 superior courts, among them Los Angeles (by far the biggest court in the state, accounting for over 2 million annual filings), have opted to adopt a case management system called Odyssey, provided by government tech mega-firm Tyler Technologies.

Some of these courts have taken advantage of a Master Services Agreement (MSA) negotiated between the Judicial Branch and Tyler in 2013, which allows courts to purchase the Odyssey system with pre-negotiated terms and conditions.

This system integrates with Electronic Filing Service Providers (EFSPs) like One Legal, meaning that law firms can continue to file through a system they know and trust to get their papers quickly and easily filed at these courts.

With all of this change taking place, and little sign that the budget crisis facing our courts will end any time soon, some EFSPs have stepped in to fill another gap: support. Reaching a clerk to get a question answered or a problem solved can be hard, which is why One Legal offers clear advice, helpful hints and answers to common questions right in our workflow. We also offer regular, MCLE accredited training webinars and, crucially, a team of dedicated, California-based customer support reps.

A number of smaller courts don’t have any plans at all

Not all counties have a plan, however. A number of smaller counties (the likes of rural and mountainous Sierra County, which handles just 0.08% of all cases filed in California, for example) may not have the technical expertise or the budget to transition to an e-business infrastructure.

Responding to the Judicial Branch’s 2014 survey, Mono county (which handles fewer than 6,500 case filings a year), summed up the situation facing smaller courts: “As a very small court, we do not have the resources to implement such an ambitious project, given the cost and benefit, which is very high cost with moderate to low benefit.”

Some courts, it seems, will continue to require paper filings for the foreseeable future. With that said, we recently had a conversation with one judge at one of these smaller counties where we suggested that the effort may be worthwhile: as more and more courts close branches and reduce hours, and so become even more concerned with their constituents’ access to justice, an eFiling solution may make sense.

One Legal is a bridge across the electronic and paper divide

Given the mixture of physical-only and eFiling courts in California, it’s not surprising that things can get complicated, especially if you’re filing across multiple counties. Fortunately, One Legal – uniquely in California – offers a single, easy-to-use, online portal for filing and serving papers, whether to an eFiling court or one still on the more traditional paper path. Find out more about how we are making it easy for firms to navigate the California courts.

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7 Adobe Acrobat hacks that will make legal professionals’ lives easier

Adobe Acrobat is probably one of the most crucial tools for any efficient law office. In fact, with more and more courts moving to eFiling, it is rapidly becoming almost indispensable. Despite the reliable, space-saving, and user-friendly qualities of Acrobat, however, many legal professionals aren’t using Acrobat to its full potential.

A little earlier this year Adobe launched the latest version of their Acrobat product – Adobe Acrobat DC (where the DC stands for Document Cloud, a set of optional cloud-connected services that can add even more functionality), and it’s packed full of new features.

The new version continues Adobe’s trend of incorporating even more features tailored to legal professionals. What, though, are some of the neatest tricks for getting the most out of Acrobat, saving time, and making your work-life just a little bit easier?

Here’s One Legal’s seven Adobe Acrobat hacks for legal professionals:

#1 View your PDFs on a mobile device, wherever you are

Enabling the cloud features in the new Acrobat opens up a really neat time-saving tool: Mobile Link. By simply turning on the Mobile Link feature and installing the Adobe Reader app onto your phone or tablet you can access to all of your PDFs wherever you are. Thumb drives, massive email attachments, and bulky print-outs can become a thing of the past.

#2 Use redaction patterns to ensure you never accidently include confidential information

This one isn’t new to this version, but it sure is useful! Using Acrobat’s powerful redaction tools you can search for, and redact, patterns of information at the click of a button. Need to make sure that no confidential information like social security or credit card numbers appear in those 796 pages of filings? That’s easy: just open up the redaction tool, choose “find text” in the menu, and select the patterns you want to redact.

Adobe Acrobat redaction tool

#3 Electronically sign documents in seconds

Being able to quickly add an electronic signature to documents is one of the most powerful paper saving tools in Acrobat – printing, signing, and scanning should be a thing of the past. To electronically sign, just select the “fill and sign” tool, click “sign”, and add your signature. You can use the inbuilt fonts, draw your own with the mouse or insert a photograph or scanned image. Simple.

Electronic signatures in Adobe Acrobat

#4 Save time by adding frequently used stamps to your favorites

It’s already fairly easy to add stamps to documents in Acrobat, but it takes a few phases of clicking. You can save time, however, by adding your most frequently used stamps to the favorites menu so that they’re available as soon as you click to add a stamp. Just find your commonly used stamps and click “add current stamp to favorites”.

Using stamps in Adobe Acrobat

#5 Quickly edit the same word across multiple PDF documents

Perhaps, like I’ve once done, you’ve managed to misspell a company’s name multiple times across a dozen documents. That can be a really annoying job to fix… trust me. Fortunately, Acrobat XI and later have a neat tool that allows you to quickly perform a find and replace on all PDF documents saved within a specific folder. Just open up the advanced search box via the edit menu, select the relevant folder, and search for the offending word. A list all the documents with that word in will be returned, allowing you to quickly select each and perform a standard find and replace. Hours of work reduced to a few minutes. Phew!

Find and replace in Adobe Acrobat

#6 Allow a reader to dial a phone number directly from a PDF link

These days people often review PDFs on their phones. It’s pretty standard for phone numbers to be included, but actually extracting that number to dial it (highlighting, copying, and pasting) can be an irritating process on a small screen. Wouldn’t it be great if the number could be hyperlinked to initiate a call? Good news! It’s possible. Just highlight the phone number, right click and select “create a link”, choose “open a web page” as the link action, and then in the URL for the link type the phone number you’d like to be dialed preceded by “tel:”.

Phone number links in Adobe Acrobat

#7 Convert pictures you’ve taken on your cell phone into editable PDFs

In their review of Acrobat DC, the Above the Law blog noted one of the coolest new features: the ability to turn a cellphone image into an editable PDF that looks as though it’s been scanned. Just open up a photographed document in Acrobat and click “enhance”. Acrobat then automatically finds the edges of the document, adjusts for any odd angles, and converts it into a near perfect PDF.

Photo to PDF conversion in Adobe Acrobat

Want to learn more about using Adobe Acrobat in your law office? One Legal provides a completely free training webinar for legal professionals interested in getting the most out of Adobe Acrobat in a legal setting. Sign up for a session today.

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California court filing: 10 Top facts from the 2015 Statistics Report

California Court filing statistics

10 top California court filing facts from the 2015 Court Statistics Report

When the California Judicial Council published its annual statistics report last month, most headlines focused on the increase in the number of complex case filings. The report, which runs to some 180 pages, is a treasure chest of interesting court data, however.

The 2015 report covers court filings at every level of the state’s judicial system for the financial year that ended in June 2014. It also includes historical California court filing data going back over the last decade.

Don’t have time to work your way through the reports 80,000 or so words? Don’t worry! We’ve been through the report for you and pulled out the 10 most interesting and significant California court filing facts.

1. California has the largest courts system in the world

The report makes the bold claim in its preface that, with almost 2,500 judges, California has the largest courts system in the world. While we can find very little independent verification of this claim, and we’ve got a feeling that a massive non-federal country like Japan might have a bigger judiciary, it remains a great fact!

2. The courts system is made up of more than 500 separate buildings

You start to realize the scale of the California courts system when you consider that it comprises over 500 separate courthouses and offices. The Judicial Council is quick to point out that many of these are in a pretty poor state of repair and estimates, conservatively, that it would cost some $2 billion to bring them up to scratch.

3. There were 7.5 million cases filed in 2014 – a decline of 35% since 2010

The 7.5 million (7,488,900, to be precise) cases filed in California courts in 2014 represents the lowest number in a decade and a huge decline of 35% on the number of cases filed in the peak year in the dataset: 2010.

4. The biggest fall is in small claims – down 39% over the last decade

The largest decline in case filings in California has been in the small claims court – down from just over a quarter of a million filings in 2005 to just 155,000 in 2014. There’s little evidence of fewer renters skipping payment, fewer cars bashing into one another in car parks, or fewer people trying to avoid paying tradespeople. What’s going on then? A big push towards out of court settlements via mediation, basically.

5. Just 10 of California’s Superior Courts handled 72% of the state’s entire workload

The volume of cases is highly concentrated in just 10 Superior Courts located, as you might expect, in the heavily populated areas around Los Angeles and the Bay Area. Alameda, Los Angeles, Kern, Orange County, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, Santa Clara, San Diego, and San Francisco handled 5.4 million filings in 2014, while all other courts combined handled just over 2 million.

6. LA Superior Court alone accounted for 29% of all filings in California

With a staggering 2.2 million filings in 2014, Los Angeles Superior Court was by far the busiest court in the state. Mind you, it has the staff to handle that number; with 475 judges and over 4,000 full-time staff, LA is far and away the biggest court in the Golden State.

7. Sierra County handled just 0.08% of all the filings in California

In stark contrast to Los Angeles, rural and mountainous Sierra County (population 3,240) handled just 623 case filings in 2014, the fewest of any Superior Court in the state. Where as LA has an enormous judicial staff, Sierra County handles this caseload with just two judges.

8. 81% of case filings relate to criminal cases; just 19% are civil

Four-fifths of all of the filings in California’s Superior Courts relate to a criminal case. The ratio of criminal to civil filings (roughly 80:20), hasn’t moved at all in the last decade.

9. But 84% of all criminal case filings (69% of all filings) relate to traffic offenses

It turns out that, rather than there being an alarming crime wave taking place, the vast majority of these criminal cases relate to traffic infractions and misdemeanors. The number of traffic offenses has reduced, but by only half as much as other types of cases (by 17%, rather than 35%). The reason for the slower decline in cases? Some speculate it might be down to a proliferation in red light cameras catching out more motorists.

10. Despite the fall in case volumes, the speed at which cases are dealt with by the courts has declined since 2005

Despite the substantial decline in filings, the speed at which the courts are dealing with cases has declined across all but one case type. Fewer cases were dealt with within the maximum acceptable period in 2014 than were in 2005. This is a symptom, many argue, of the long-running budget crisis facing California’s court system, and it’s showing no signs of ending anytime soon. 

File and serve in all 58 California Courts

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One Legal named among US’s top-20 “most promising” legal tech firms

Untitled design (2)For the last couple of years, we’ve been working hard to combine our 25 years of filing and serving expertise with the latest developments in online tech (have you seen CaseLink, our tool for managing complex cases?). Now, we’re pleased to let you know that we’ve been recognized by a leading industry journal for our efforts.

A panel of industry experts, brought together by the respected technology magazine CIO Review, have named One Legal among their top-20 “most promising” legal technology firms in all of the United States. The magazine’s panel, which looked at our existing products as well as our pipeline, noted, in particular, our unique single portal for both online and offline filing, which significantly simplifies the document filing process for litigators.

The award comes on top of recent recognition by California’s legal community. In The Recorder magazine’s annual “Best of 2015″ legal products and services survey of over 3,000 legal professionals, One Legal was the overwhelming favorite for both process serving and getting documents filed at court.It is the third consecutive year that One Legal has been named top in California by Recorder readers, meaning we enter their “hall of fame” — a real vote of confidence!

In addition to looking at our popular platform for court filing and process serving, the CIO Review panel also highlighted the success that our new product, CaseLink, has had in reducing the risk of errors in the filing and exchange of documents in complex civil litigation. They noted how, in San Diego – where CaseLink is widely used for construction defect cases – the ability to quickly and easily serve documents online with all parties, via an automatically managed service list, has saved firms hours of work and stress.

In our press release highlighting the award, our VP & GM, Noah Aron, emphasized how the award recognizes the efforts we’ve been making to combine our legal know-how with the latest technology:

“This award demonstrates the strength of One Legal’s efforts to harness the incredible tech talent around our home in the Bay Area and our drive to create products that markedly improves the efficiency of law offices.

“As the California courts move toward eFiling, we’re seeing a complex landscape of electronic and physical-only courts being created. Our platform bridges this gap by providing a unique single portal for filing, regardless of whether the court is online or not.

“The next 12-months are going to be a really exciting time for One Legal as we further develop our SaaS offering which will allow firms to file, serve, research, and manage papers through a single portal. We’re honored that CIO Review has recognized our efforts to build innovative solutions  to improve how law firms work.”

You can read more about the award on the CIO Review website.

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California Civil Procedure Code changes allow for faster service of process

At One Legal we’ve long prided ourselves in being among the most successful process servers in the business. Until recently, the California Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) for service inside a gated community contained a rule hindering unannounced access to the party being served.

Service of process and gated communities

This rule (CCP 415.21, if you’re interested) required that, in addition to providing your ID and a valid Process Server Registration, servers had to identify the person(s) being served to the guard at a gated community. Some guards also insisted on being told the exact address to be served – something not required in the code.

The consequence would typically be that the guard either tipped off the person being served by calling ahead or insisted on accompanying the server to the residence. In both cases, the result was often that the intended servee was able to evade being served.

Why the 2015 rule change means faster service of process

Fortunately, since January 1st this year new rules have been in effect and we’re pleased to say that the change has made a huge difference.

The new code no longer contains the requirement that the server provide the identity of the person(s) to be served and there remains no requirement to provide an address. The code therefore effectively gives servers “unannounced access” into the gated community.

All of our servers have been working according to the new code since the New Year and have been advised to carry copies of the revised code to share with any skeptical gatekeepers. Gaining unannounced access clearly provides for a much greater opportunity to effectuate service on your behalf.

Because we provide service of process in all 50 states and the District of Columbia we take great care to stay on top of all of the various rule changes that might help us to deliver your documents faster. It’s just one reason why we’re industry leaders in process service with an enviable success rate. Find out more about process serving with One Legal.

One Legal Process Serving

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Get to know the One Legal team

Interview: Richard Heinrich, Content Marketing Manager

At One Legal, we’re a diverse team of over 150. Based across California, at our headquarters in the Bay Area and in branch offices around the state, we work together every day to ensure a seamless and high-quality experience to our customers.

We’re proud of our team and the broad range of skills and talents we possess. Over the next few months, we’ll be posting a series of short interviews with some of our staff so that you can better get to know the people behind One Legal.

This month we interviewed Richard Heinrich. Richard is One Legal’s Content Marketing Manager who is not only new to the company, but also to the United States.

Richard Heinrich

Richard Heinrich

Q1: What brought you to the Bay Area?

I moved to California, from my native Britain, earlier this year to accompany my wife who was starting a new job as a research scientist at UCSF.

Being a Londoner I’m used to living in a fast-paced city, but the Bay Area is something else. There is an infectious innovative energy and attitude that no problem should remain unsolved that is unmatched anywhere else I’ve been. It is a really exciting place to be living!

Q2: How did you come to work at One Legal?

I joined the One Legal team in August this year. My career background is as a communications and marketing professional in the professional services sector, most recently with the Law Society of England and Wales (Broadly speaking, the British version of the American Bar Association).

The opportunity presented by One Legal to combine my expertise communicating to, and on behalf of, legal professionals with the chance to be part of an innovative and growing technology company was too good to pass up.

Q3: So, you’ve experienced the legal profession in Britain and now in the United States; how do they compare?

Because of the shared common law histories, the legal systems in the US and in Britain are actually quite similar so it wasn’t too much of a culture shock! Because of this shared history, much of the specialist legal terminology is the same, many laws are very similar, and the structure of the courts system is broadly comparable.

There are other similarities too: in both countries the majority of legal professionals work in smaller firms, both are seeing rapid growth (especially in the numbers of paralegals), and both are just beginning to start realizing the efficiencies that new technology can provide.

In other ways they’re really different. Britain, in the legal profession at least, still clings on to a lot of old fashioned and arcane traditions, a lot of which are a bit silly. Not only are many of Britain’s court buildings older than the United States itself, but also many of the rules, around court dress and ways to speak when in court, haven’t advanced much either. For example, there are at least 12 varieties of court dress in Britain (including several varieties of wig), and at least 16 different ways to address a judge (The Right Honorable Lord President… etc).

British Judges

British Judges

Q4: You’re One Legal’s Content Marketing Manger. What does that involve?

It can really change day by day! Generally, it’s my job to oversee the production of One Legal’s online and offline content, which includes our blog, newsletters, social media, and product information flyers and so on. It also means I get involved in writing our in-product messages, and product guides, etc. – essentially I try to make all our content as easy to understand as possible so that our customers can get on with their day without trying to decipher our messages!

I also try to create content that our customers will find genuinely useful too: this ranges from tips and advice for getting the most out of One Legal, to sharing the latest updates about changes to court rules and procedures, and more general advice on how to be more efficient and productive in a law office.

One major challenge for me, as a Brit, has been adapting to the surprisingly expansive differences in spelling and grammar between the Britain and the US. George Bernard Shaw really was right when he said that our two countries are “divided by a common language.” I’m doing as much remedial learning of American English as I can, but if the occasional additional letter (favourite instead of favorite, for example!) sneaks in, I hope you’ll forgive me!

Q5: What have been your favorite things about the job so far?

The fantastic team here at One Legal is definitely my number one favorite thing by far. The combination of real subject-matter experts, who have years of experience of the courts and the legal profession, and enthusiastic engineers and product specialists who are buzzing to create new and innovative tools, makes for a great work atmosphere.

I’m really enjoying the pace here as well. The firm may have 25 years of experience, but it hasn’t lost its start-up energy. There’s a really infectious desire here to constantly improve and offer even more solutions to our customers. The fast pace, and exciting daily challenges, certainly mean that no day is ever boring!

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5 legal writing tips from leading legal authorities

5 Legal Writing Tips From Leading Legal Authorities

A career in the law means a career spent writing. Almost all legal work, in one way or another, boils down to some form of writing: submissions to the court, emails to clients, memos for colleagues. Yet, despite this, clear, useful, and actionable advice for improving legal writing skills is hard to come by.

There is some great advice out there, though. Here at One Legal we’re not content with any old advice, however. We’ve searched through advice from some of the legal world’s leading authorities to find the best legal writing tips out there.

Here is the results of our labor: our five top pieces of legal writing advice from the English language’s leading legal thinkers.

#1 Bryan Garner (Editor, Black’s Law Dictionary) – Be sure you understand your client’s problem

Author and legal writing guru Bryan Garner says that is it vital that you fully understand the client’s problem before beginning to write. He says: “When given an assignment ask plenty of questions. Read the relevant documents and take good notes. Learn all you can about the client’s situation.”

He concludes: “There’s almost no way to write a good memo in the abstract.” So, to write successfully, you must be fully briefed – though be warned that you may need to take the initiative here, rather than assuming all of the necessary background will be shared with you.

#2 UC Hastings – Avoid legalese

Hastings Law School, part of the University of California, warn against overuse of specialist legal words and phrases (so-called “legalese”). They advise their students to “avoid words and terms that waste words and confuse readers” and instead “use simpler, more common word alternatives.”

What should be avoided, specifically? Latin, French, and archaic English words (ab initio, inter alias, heretofore and so on) are definitely out. Uniquely legal phrasing, such as speaking in triplicate (e.g. “give, devise and bequeath”) and meaningless phrases (e.g. “the case at bar”) that are likely to baffle the general public are also discouraged.

In fact, it appears that plain language is even preferred by lawyers. A law school study that asked lawyers to rate different writing styles found that a big majority favored a simpler style:

advice on better legal writing

#3 Lord Neuberger (President of the UK Supreme Court) – Follow a clear structure

When it comes to legal writing advice, few people have more authority than Lord Neuberger. The President of the United Kingdom’s Supreme Court, says a clear structure is vital if writing is to be easily understandable.

Memos, motions, and arguments should all follow the same clear format, he says: an introductory summary that states the document’s conclusion, statement of the applicable rules, analysis of the case’s specifics, and a conclusion.

Legal writing should have clear paragraphs (each focusing only on a single topic), and be broken up with meaningful headers and sub-headers so that the reader can quickly identify the most relevant sections, he adds.

#4 Prof. Eugene Volokh (Professor of Law at UCLA) – Use the active voice and be concise

Eugene Volokh, a law professor at UCLA and blogger at The Washington Post, advises using the active voice in your writing. What does that mean? Basically, in an active sentence the subject is doing the action, whereas in the passive voice the target of the action gets promoted to the subject position.

The difference is often a clear and easy to understand sentence versus one that is unnecessarily confusing:

advice on improving legal writing

Closely related is the need to be concise and avoid verbosity. Bad legal writing, Volokh argues, contains run-on sentences containing numerous qualifying phrases. Far better to write in several short sentences, he says:

writing tips for lawyers#5 Ross Guberman (Lawyer and award-winning journalist) – Drop dead-weight openers

Ross Guberman, a lawyer and award-winning journalist, recommends that in order to be more agreeable, you should avoid dead-weight openers such as however, additionally, accordingly. These phrases can be replaced by lighter weight alternatives like thus, so, but, and also.

Chief Justice Roberts, President of the United States Supreme Court is a great example of this style, he says:

How lawyers can improve their legal writing

Have we missed some great advice? What’s the best legal writing advice you’ve seen? Please share your top tips or links in the comments.

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One Legal, formerly Fax & File, offers professional and convenient legal services including court filing, nationwide process service, courtesy copy delivery, and nationwide court research and public record document retrieval. eFiling (electronic court filing), with eService (electronic process serving), is available in courts that accept electronic court documents and eService is available for all civil actions filed in California Superior courts.