Friday, April 08, 2011

Software Review: @eGlance


£85 plus VAT a year - Class Legal

@eGlance is a piece of software that has for some years been published by Class Legal, in association with the Family Law Bar Association. Described as an "electronic toolkit and resource for money cases", and inspired by the FLBA's At A Glance "it goes one step further by allowing you to calculate a whole range of useful figures for money cases (including Duxbury), to browse for the FLR headnotes on recent cases and to check tax and benefit rates."

@eGlance has the same illustrious authors as At A Glance: Sir Peter Singer, Mr Justice Mostyn, Lewis Marks QC and Gavin Smith.

The purchase price includes updates for the rest of the year, plus access to Class Legal's website, which "will contain commentary on the new Family Procedure Rules that are relevant to money cases" when it is available, which I understand will be very soon.

Downloading & installation
The download file is just 20 megabytes, and should therefore present few problems for anyone with a broadband connection (it is not available on disk, as far as I can tell from their website). The program has very modest system requirements (it requires 64 megabytes of hard drive space), so should run on any modern PC, including netbooks.

The installation was simple, although it did throw up an error, which I understand the developers are looking into. I chose to ignore the error, and the program has run without a problem. After installation you are left with a shortcut on your desktop, with which to start the program.

@eGlance includes a large number of tools - too many to list here (a full list can be found on Class Legal's website here). Highlights include:
  • An ancillary relief timetabler, which calculates case deadlines;
  • An ancillary relief procedural table;
  • A price index calculator (CPI and RPI);
  • Child support calculators for each régime, including the 2008 régime, which hasn't yet been implemented;
  • Salary and income calculators;
  • A Duxbury calculator;
  • Tax calculators;
  • Exchange rates and
  • A substantial section of support material, including statutes, rules (yes, the FPR 2010, including a commentary) and leading cases (most of which link to headnotes or full transcripts).
Many of the tools also include their own expert commentary and guidance.

As you may already have gathered, @eGlance is certainly comprehensive - in fact, try as I might, I haven't been able to think of anything missing from it (save, of course, for a link to Family Lore in the 'Useful Websites' section!).

Most screens can be printed out, and calculation screens have the facility to add a client's name, in order to identify on the printed report for whom the calculation was prepared.

@eGlance is not the most attractive piece of software you are ever likely to use. In fact, it has a somewhat old-fashioned 1990s look and feel to it, and the 2010 - 2011 version I was given to review uses a rather lurid bright red colour (see image above) to highlight various elements. It is laid out in the fashion of many older Windows applications, with a menu across the top, an expandable 'folders' pane on the left and a main window on the right - 'functional' is the word that comes to mind.

@eGlance is, however, very easy to use. Most of the tools are set out in a similar format, so don't require individual learning.

Take the Duxbury calculator as an example. This has four tabs: one for the calculator itself, one to show male and female Duxbury tables (governed by the sex chosen on the calculation screen), one for 'information' (i.e. guidance and commentary on Duxbury calculations) and one for example calculations. There are also buttons to add the contents of a page to the Windows Clipboard (for pasting into documents), and to print the page. Using the calculator is simplicity itself: input the sex, age, type of calculation (it can do a conventional calculation, to work out the capital sum needed to fund a particular income requirement or a 'reverse calculation', which works out the income a particular capital sum would provide) and the income requirement, and the calculation is instant.

It is true that many of the tools are freely available online (for example, a child support calculator, a salary calculator and tax calculators), along with much of the support material, but even there @eGlance has the advantage of not requiring an internet connection - particularly handy when out of the office/chambers.

The expert commentaries are also very handy, as are the leading cases, saving the user the trouble of looking elsewhere for this information.

I remember that At A Glance was so useful that it was an essential annual purchase from its first publication until I stopped practising. @eGlance is the same as At a Glance, and more: packed full of similar information, but with the ease of doing all of the calculations for you.

@eGlance contains so many features that a review such as this can do little more than scratch the surface - I've not mentioned most of the calculators, for example. However, that sheer number of features makes it easy to recommend. There is, quite literally, something here for everyone, whether they deal with big-money or benefit cases.

As I have said, many of the features may be available elsewhere (although not usually so conveniently), but at this price the purchase really is a 'no-brainer' - @eGlance will surely pay for itself after just a couple of uses.

If you're still in doubt as to whether it will be useful for you, a 35-day free trial is available.

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UPDATE: The website has now gone live.

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