One of the major features of Time Matters Version 13 is its new collaboration with WatchDox – a cloud-based file sharing service with advanced security features. By combining this application with all the other features within Time Matters, users now have a secure client portal to offer their clients.
We’ve tested this feature and want to share with our readers what we found.
Why This is Useful
- Many attorneys lament that they can’t get their clients to come in to the office to sign documents. Using email to transmit them is not sufficiently secure. It can be intercepted or forwarded. And email disclaimers are not sufficient, in and of themselves, to get the senders off the hook.
- In many cases, the size of a document or documents – or even the type of file — prevents transmission through normal the normal transmission channels, email accounts and spam filters.
- Common (and sometimes free) file sharing services are also insecure.
For these and other reasons, users need a secure and ethically acceptable means of transmitting files. That solution is now found – potentially – within Time Matters 13.
In order to use the Time Matters new client portal, users should read and thoroughly understand the following ground rules for usage:
- Time Matters Version 13 must be installed
- A current Annual Maintenance Plan (AMP) subscription with LexisNexis. Be advised – if a firm cancels or does not renew its AMP, they will lose access to this file sharing portal.
- Each user who wishes to use this client portal must have an email address stored in their Time Matters User record.
- Each user’s security profile must allow access to the Document Sharing portal. If a user should not have access to all documents, individual security settings must be set up to allow/prevent access.
- Finally, if a document is to be shared, it must be done from the Documents tab within a Matter record. Therefore, it is a requirement that a Matter has to be involved with the document you want to transmit.
What We Found
We wanted to transmit some documents to an outside advisor in a secure fashion. The documents were originally associated with a Contact that did not yet have an associated Matter. It was no problem to create one for the Contact but we can think of examples, such as working with a Contact who was not associated with any Matter, where being able to share a document would be helpful.
Setting up access to the client portal and following the initial configuration instructions was a fairly straightforward process. I went to the Documents tab of the Matter in question, tagged the documents I wanted to send and clicked on the ”Share” button. A window opened, showing the names of the documents with the following options:
- Access Level – Determines whether the recipient can
- download the document;
- view and print it out;
- look at it online;
- view limited portions of it at a time to prevent screen shots.
- Setting an expiration date –If this is set up, the file is automatically deleted after the defined time frame for access. If more time is needed, the file must be re-transmitted.
- File Access – Options here are to let only the recipient(s) access/see the document or make it available to anyone within the recipients’ email domain.
- Optional insertion of a Watermark, to prevent unauthorized copying via cameras and “screen scrapers”
I entered the recipient’s email address, set the options and clicked on the button to begin the file sharing process. WatchDox sent an email to my address confirming the documents were uploaded and showed the message that my recipient received. It later sent a message confirming my recipient accessed and downloaded the documents, with date and time stamps. I have the ability to go to our account at any time to view and even manually remove the documents.
This is a simple and secure method of sharing files, and I’ll give it a B+ as a first release for Time Matters. What prevents this from getting an “A” grade is concern that shared documents are tied to the email address of the sender, and therefore only the sender can manage what happens to that document. We can easily see that if a document is shared with an appreciable time frame by a certain user, and then that user leaves a firm, the only way to modify or end sharing is to keep that email address and continue to use it for this purpose. A “dummy” email address could be set up for this purpose but it would have to be assigned to a user and that means logging out and logging back in to Time Matters to manage documents – a clumsy workaround.
We also note that sharing documents can only occur within the Documents tab of a Matter record. If, for example, a firm wished to share a client intake form with a prospective client, the prospect would have to be associated with a Matter – perhaps an internal one for Prospective Clients. It would be nice if this feature was present from the Documents tab of a Contact record.
Finally, while this feature is powered by WatchDox, LexisNexis turned off the ability to use passwords when sharing documents. If a firm subscribes directly to WatchDox, they can enable this feature through that service; however, not through Time Matters.
The lines are increasingly blurred among software solutions, with accounting programs offering document tracking and calendars, and email client applications offering project tracking and management. However, we believe that Time Matters has scored another victory in setting itself apart –and ahead – of the competition as a full-featured practice management system with this major offering.
Would you like to know more about this? Please call us at 877-ELS-0555 for a further explanation and to learn more about how the use of a secure client portal can benefit your firm.
Dana Riel is President and Founder of Business Solutions, Inc., serving the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area since 1985. Her firm is the authorized training center for the region for Time Matters and PCLaw by PCLaw|Time Matters, PLLC; Timeslips and Sage 50 Accounting by Sage Software; and QuickBooks by Intuit Corporation. She also serves as a consultant for Caret Legal (formerly known as Zola Suite), CosmoLex, Soluno & TimeSolv. As a trainer, Dana has provided training services to organizations such as the DOD Defense Logistics Agency, Judge Advocate General’s Office (JAG)/Department of the Navy, University of the District of Columbia School of Law, U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as with small‐ to mid‐size law firms in the Baltimore‐Washington D.C. area. In 2009, she participated in the series of day‐long seminars sponsored by the District of Columbia Bar Association Practice Management Section, titled “Basic Training: Learn About Running a Law Office”. Ms. Riel also served as an Adjunct Professor in Georgetown University’s Paralegal Studies Program, having taught the course, “Legal Ethics/Legal Technology” in 2009; and “Legal Technology” for the Spring and Summer Semesters of 2010. She presently serves on the Advisory Board for PCLaw|Time Matters, PLLC.