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More Federal Court Judges Viewing Legal Briefs on Tablets


iPads and tablets - it seems like just about everyone has one these days. It's therefore only fitting that this technology is finding its way into courtrooms, and specifically into the hands of judges. Tablets give judges the freedom to review briefs from anywhere, not just within the confines of chamber walls. In fact, a 2012 survey indicated that 58% of federal judges were using an iPad. If you are filing in federal court, you are most likely utilizing the electronic filing system, and because your brief may be read on an iPad, perhaps you should be thinking about how to make your documents tablet friendly. posted an article recently highlighting some tips to write better briefs for tablets. Some of those tips include:

  • Use hyperlinks. Hyperlinks allow the judge to jump directly to the authority you are citing. The 5th Circuit court loves hyperlinks so much, in fact, that they have developed an application that will automatically covert citations into hyperlinks! Other courts have not been as proactive, but always check your local rules. Hyperlinks may not just be a preference, it might be a requirement in your particular court.

  • Use more lists. Rather than forcing the judge to read lengthy paragraphs packed with information, instead put the important stuff into a list or bullet point format. It's much easier to read and digest the information on a tablet when it is provided in a clear and concise layout.

  • Use charts, pictures and infographics. Visual aids are another way of making the information provided easier to digest and it is aesthetically pleasing when reading a brief on a tablet.

It may take some getting used to, but as technology improves the legal world evolves and adjusts to the times. It only makes sense that the manner in which a brief is written changes with them as well. Have you changed the way you write briefs to accommodate those who view them on a tablet?federal court, legal brief, eFiling

Is Technology Transforming Litigation and the Law Firm?


According to the whitepaper - "Future Law Office:  Technology's Transformation of the Legal Field" published by Robert Half Legal, it definitely is!  At One Legal, we're big fans of utilizing technology to transform the legal support world.  As a long time legal support professional, however, I believe that law firms generally do not embrace new techology very quicky.  Now, I know that's not necessarily the case with most of you, because every day (or close to it) you upload your legal documents via our portal in order to effect service of process, file in a California superior court or eFile & eServe.  I tip my hat to you technology savvy individuals!

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Photo credit:  Sean MacEntee

Okay so now that I've buttered you up a bit, I'd like to share some things I gleaned from Robert Half's whitepaper:

  • Dennis Kennedy, information technology lawyer and legal technology advisor says:  "The best approach law firms can take is to ask clients what would help them most and then base a substantial part of their technology strategy on client-focused inititiaves."  Interestingly, starting with our Orange County Superior Court eFiling deployment in 2010, we did exactly that!  We talked to many of you, our clients, about what you liked and didn't like.  Because of this interaction, we built a superior product! 
  • "According to the 2011 ABA Legal Technology Survey Report, LinkedIn and Facebook are the most popular social media tools among legal professionals (used by 96 percent and 34 percent of respondents, respectively)."  We've got a presence on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter so perhaps there are some ways we can help each other!
  • "To ensure that they'll be able to used the sophisticated electronic presentation it may have taken them days to create, lawyers should notify the court and opposing counsel in advance about their intention to use digital presentation technology, the ABA advises."  Funny...just yesterday, during a presentation to the Alameda County Legal Secretaries Association, I talked about knowing the rules of the court from where the process originates (I was presenting our MCLE accredited course "Who's at the Door?).   
  • 83% of respondents of a survey of 175 lawyers from the largest law firms in the U.S. and Canada are using e-Filing systems.  79% are using meeting or audio-conference tools and 58% are using document storage sites.  When I began my career, state of the art was a pager, map book and an IBM Selectric and when we finally added two-way radios we thought we had really arrived!
  • "According the the National Center for State Courts [NCSC], one quarter of state courts have e-filing at the municipal level and at least 25 states have adopted e-filing in some form."  Okay, so California is not an early adopter.  The writing is on the wall though...With the continuing cuts to our courts, something must be done.  Perhaps eFiling is that something (or at least part of it).  We think it is!

The whitepaper makes several conclusions:

  1. "Technology will reshape client expectations."
  2. "Law firms will take a more proactive approach to technology."
  3. "More legal services will be delivered via the internet".
  4. "Tech advancements could curtail the billable hour."
  5. "New practice areas will emerge with social media."
  6. "Demand for e-discovery expertise will increase."

Here are some of our previous posts about iPad and smartphone adoption too:

What do you think?  We'd like to know!


Attorneys Embracing Smartphones without IT Support of Their Firms


Attorneys in the United States have embraced Smartphones, but are only scratching the surface of these devices' capabilities, because of their firms' inability to offer IT support for these devices.

According to an ALM Legal Intelligence survey of 266 lawyers at both private firms and corporations, nearly 9 in 10 of the attorneys surveyed use a smart phone for work purposes and 40 percent use tablets.

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Photo credit: Ramon Vasconceles

Unfortunately, only 13 percent of the respondents are using Smartphones in lieu of their PCs. It turns out most just use them to check email when they are out of the office. This is surprising since, as mentioned previously in our blog, tablets are finding a role in the courtroom in voir dire (attorneys checking out prospective jurors' social media profiles) and exhibit management and presentation.

ALM says a major factor hindering the adoption of Smartphones and tablets for more robust use is the lack of technical support from law firms or in-house law departments.

"As a group, lawyers have not won fame as evangelists of technology," said Nigel Holloway, vice president of research at ALM Legal Intelligence. "But they have been using mobile tools long enough to know two things: don't expect miracles and any feature that can spur productivity should be leveraged for all its worth."

Surprisingly, only 18 percent listed business development as one of the three functions they use Smartphones and tablet computers. That means less than one-fifth of attorneys surveyed are using mobile devices to access social media sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter to connect with clients and colleagues quickly.

Security seems to be an issue surrounding lawyers' use of mobile devices. Nearly a quarter of respondents don't use a password and 17 percent couldn't state if or how their mobile device is secured. Less than 40 percent say their device can be wiped remotely, a key security measure.

The survey revealed that, although Smartphones and tablets are finding a role in the courtroom, they aren't always welcome. More than 40 percent of those surveyed said they have faced limits on smart phone or tablet use in the courtroom, including being told to turn off the devices. Attorneys say that even when rules permit use, judges sometimes discourage the use of mobile devices.

Massachusetts District Court Encouraging Blogging from the Courtroom


Quincy District Court is embracing social networking by allowing journalists, bloggers and anyone with an iPhone to use WiFi to create real-time updates from the courtroom as part of its new OpenCourt experimental program.

Photo Credit Jasperdo resized 600

Photo Credit: Jasperdo

Yahoo News notes that most courts in the nation have been trying to find way to bar electronic comunication from the courtroom. The use of Twitter and Facebook has even resulted in some mistrials. Quincy District's OpenCourt is intended "to foster the openness of the American courts with the idea that more transparent courts make for stronger democracy." The OpenCourt Live website operated by Boston's NPR station even has Tweets from the Court as the day progresses.

Not everyone is excited about this new program. Brian Dodge, who was at the court facing charges of disorderly conduct, told the Associated Press, "People at home being able to watch this and know my business -- I don't like that. Why does everybody need to see my case online? It's nobody else's business." (Mr. Dodge apparently didn't have the realization that giving an interview to an Associated Press reporter might have a similar result.)

Richard Sweeney, a local defense attorney, said he's "not overly fond of the idea. I think there are a lot of pitfalls. I understand and respect the concept -- they want an open court. In this era of everyone having cellphones and videos, I can understand that, but it's fraught with perils for attorneys with conversations that can be picked up."

The presiding judge retains the right to turn off the video stream and limit multimedia coverage of cases. Restraining order sessions and juvenile sessions will be kept private, and no information that could harm witnesses of victims will be broadcast.

Could Liking Justin Bieber on Facebook Keep You Off a Jury?


Potential jurors are increasingly being labeled and categorized by their online activities, according to a recent article in the American Bar Association Journal titled "Google Transforms Jury Selection Process."

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Photo Credit: Mark Wilkinson

The article states that lawyers surreptitiously searching sites to uncover the personal details of potential jurors are sparking a privacy debate that's raising questions about whether this social media vetting process is getting enough court supervision.

"Jurors are like icebergs -- only 10 percent of them is what you see in court," said Jason Bloom, a Dallas-based jury consultant in the article.

According to a recent ABA Journal online post, Cameron County, Texas prosecutors are actually using iPads in the court room to search the Facebook profiles of potentials jurors. That means when you are in a jury pool Big Brother isn't only watching, he's sitting about three rows in front of you. Rueters Legal has labeled the process "voir Google" instead of "voir dire."

Court rules on the topic of online vetting of jurors are either non-existent or murkey in courts as technology is outpacing the rules-setting process with smart phones and tablet computers. Information is instantly available to and from today's court.

So, the next time you decide to post on Facebook just how irritated you were when that police officer gave you an unfair ticket, keep in mind that the assistant district attorney might be reading that post the next time you are sitting in a jury pool.

Will the iPad See Its Day in Court?


Is Apple's iPad for entertainment or is it a tool for litigation? A few of the legal technology blogs are starting to grapple with that very question.

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Photo Credit: Louis Abate

Two developers recently introduced iPad applications for trial presentation. LitSoftware introduced TrialPad, which sells for $89.99, and Rosen Litigation Technology Consulting introduced Evidence, which sells for $9.99. You can see screenshots and an overview of each at Ted Brooks Trial Technology Blog.

Developers have also recently rolled out iPad applications for Jury Selection and Observation, such as JuryTracker and iJuror.

This has us wondering if the iPad has potential for our court filing and process serving customers. Could the iPad end up being a courtroom Swiss Army Knife for sole practitioners that must quickly locate information without the aid of large support staffs? Could it end up being a powerful two-way communciation and information sharing tool for a process server? It's not hard to picture a process server accessing directions and specific service instructions and then confirming service of process has been completed using an iPad. Then again, one would have to value the convenience of an iPad versus a SmartPhone in that type of situation.

It's hard to say whether the iPad will complete its attempted migration from the sofa to the bench, but it will be an interesting trial technology trend to keep an eye on in 2011.

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