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How Will Lawyers Use the iPad?

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This week's Daily Record column is entitled "How Will Lawyers Use the iPad?"

A pdf of the article can be found here and my past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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How Will Lawyers Use the iPad?

Lawyers’ reactions to the iPad are mixed, to say the least.

A few, like myself, are gung ho and can’t wait to get their hands on one.

Another minority appears absolutely convinced the iPad is destined to fail from the very start, having little to no utility for the legal profession.

The rest either could care less or are reserving judgment until the dust settles.
In other words, the vast majority of lawyers are not yet sold on the idea of the iPad. Many of those same attorneys, however, have expressed frustration at having to carry around large stacks of documents while commuting or traveling, and have indicated the iPad would hold far more appeal if they could annotate and edit documents on it.

For that group of lawyers, the ability to reduce the amount of paperwork and quickly and easily edit and annotate documents, as if writing on an electronic document, would be a deal breaker.

Those lawyers do not envision creating documents on the iPad, but rather marking up a pleading or contract, making notations in the margins to a draft appellate brief, or commenting on an internal memorandum. Such tasks, currently, are not accomplished easily while on the road, since neither lap- tops nor smart phones are well suited to those types of document annotations.

The iPad — with a larger screen and unique touch screen functionality — has the potential to change all of that but the real question is, will it?

Not surprisingly, I think it will.

There already are a number of iPhone apps that permit the annotation or revision of a variety of documents. Some are quite popular, others are not — in large part because of the difficulty inherent in working with documents on a screen of such small proportions. The iPad’s larger screen will breathe new life into those applications, and other new apps will be developed to allow documents to be annotated and revised on the fly.

Let’s take a look at a few of the iPhone apps already available that permit annotation and revision of documents. Documents to Go Premium allows users to view and edit Word, Excel and Power- Point files. RightSignature allows Word or PDF documents to be signed using the iPhone app. Those files also can be uploaded to RightSignature’s Web site for distribution.

Aji allows PDs to be signed and marked up, and enables text notes, strike-through text and highlight text. Documents also can be annotated in free form; however, users can’t distribute the documents using the iPhone interface. Instead, the annotated document must be processed using Aji’s Web site on a computer, then sent.

One app goes a step further — Zosh. Zosh allows users to sign, annotate and distribute documents in a variety of formats, including .doc, .pdf, .xls, .ppt, .jpg, .png, .tif and .bmp — all from the iPhone. The app enables users to insert
free-form annotations such as a signature and text boxes. The ability to highlight text is in the works, according to Zosh CEO Joshua Kerr.

Some companies that developed the apps I’ve mentioned already have announced that iPad-compatible apps are in the works. I have no doubt other new apps will be introduced, tailor-made for the iPad. Such functionality will make the iPad a must-have for lawyers and other business users.

While I think the iPad will be used primarily as a device for media consumption, undoubtedly there is room for certain types of business use that will make it a mainstay for business travelers and commuters.


Are blogs vital to a law firm's online presence?

Drlogo11

This week's Daily Record column is entitled "Are blogs vital to a law firm's online presence?"

A pdf of the article can be found here and my past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

*****

Are blogs vital to a law firm's online presence?

One of the most effective ways to establish an online presence and showcase your legal knowledge is to start a blog.

Many who advise lawyers about creating an effective Web presence consider blogs to be the cornerstone of a law firm’s successful online presence, and for good reason. Blogs are an unparalleled tool for educating clients, indulging in intellectual discourse with colleagues, or staying on top of information.

However, in my opinion, if the very idea of maintaining a legal blog makes you groan, then it’s entirely possible that blogging is not compatible with your interests or your personality. That’s perfectly fine — there are, then, other forms of social networking that may be a better fit for you and your law practice.

In the past, when I’ve expressed such an opinion during online discussions, I’ve been met with vehement disagreement. Many assert that a law blog is a law firm’s “home base” and that an online presence is wholly ineffective without it.

I disagree for two reasons. First, there is a glut of law blogs in the online marketplace now that lawyers are finally, and quite belatedly, realizing the potential marketing value of a “successful” blog. The sheer number of new law blogs flooding the Web is overwhelming, and, as Scott Greenfield aptly explains at his very popular law blog, Simple Justice, only the best and most interesting will endure:

Only the fittest will survive, not because the others are awful necessarily, but because we would be deluged with far more than we could absorb if every blawg that came down the pike was a winner. There still would be a natural vetting process, and peo- ple would still read only the few that capture their interest best... There is a saturation point. There are diminishing returns. There is survival of the fittest.

In other words, there’s simply too much competition. New bloggers face an uphill battle for readers, and only those with a true passion for their subject matter will be able to maintain long-term interest in their blog.

Second, the importance of blogs as a firm’s online presence has decreased quite a bit due to the recent explosion of social media and the vast increase in the number of platforms from which attorneys can participate and share their legal work product. The online landscape is changing rapidly, and while blogs are still an important tool, there are others that are just as effective.

Lawyers can connect with other attorneys and potential clients on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other law-specific platforms such as Martindale-Hubbell Connected. Similarly, lawyers now have available many other means through which they can disseminate and share content via social media. Articles, pleadings and newsletters can be uploaded to JDSupra, Avvo or docstoc — all of which are well-traveled platforms that weren’t in existence just a few short years ago.

That same content then can be showcased and connected to social media profiles on LinkedIn and Facebook, as discussed more fully in my soon-to-be-released “Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier,” set to be published by the American Bar Association this spring. (You can view an excerpt of the book here and soon you will be able to pre-order the book here--just enter product code 5110710.)

The bottom line is this: An online presence is vital to success in the 21st century; however, there is no right way to create an effective online presence for a law firm. Instead, determine your goals for online interactions, then determine which platforms best forward those goals, and best fit your personality. You may find that blogging is the ideal platform for your firm. If not, don’t despair. You can create an effective online presence nonetheless.

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"Social Media for Lawyers: The Next Frontier" Preview Launch at ABA TechShow

Book coverMy new book, Social Media for Lawyers: The Next Frontier, will be published in just a few weeks. My co-author, Carolyn Elefant and I are extremely excited about it and will be launching a preview of the book at the upcoming ABA TechShow in Chicago.

Hopefully, we'll have the chance to see many of you at TechShow and discuss our book and social media issues in general!

You can catch up with us at any of the following events:

You can view an excerpt of the book here and soon you will be able to pre-order the book here--just enter product code 5110710.
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How the iPad will change the world.

Drlogo11

This week's Daily Record column is entitled "How the iPad will change the world."

A pdf of the article can be found here and my past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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How the iPad will change the world.

OK, perhaps I exaggerated just a bit in today’s headline. The iPad won’t change life as we know it, but it will revolutionize the way that we interact with various news and social media. Undoubtedly, we will look back on 2010 as the year the iPad changed the way we obtain and consume information.

How will the iPad affect our day-to-day lives? It’s difficult to say, but I’m certain that it will.

As book, magazine and newspaper publishers and third-party developers get their hands on it — and begin releasing applications made specifically for it — the tide will begin to turn. It will become clear that the iPad, and other touch screen tablets released in its wake, will become the center of our households.

The iPad will be the heart of every home — the digital media consumption hub that connects us to the information highway. The iPad will be the interface of choice for Web browsing and media consumption. Soon, it will be quite common to read books, magazines and newspapers via the iPad interface.


The iPad will be the device users turn to for Web browsing and music and video streaming. In the very near future, recorded television shows and movies will be viewed regularly via live streaming from the Internet, either on the iPad screen itself or by using the iPad as the conduit, with the images appearing on a larger television screen. Although it already is possible to stream content via a computer to a television, it isn’t commonplace. The iPad will be the device that makes it so.

My assertion that the device will usher in a new age of online content consumption is not unique. Many others are suggested it as well: Luke Hayman, for one, at www.Pentagram.com predicts the iPad will change the direction of journalism.

What will they be willing to read on their iPad? I predict the return of long-form journalism. At the same time, visual storytelling will take deeper, richer forms. Information design will be more important than ever. Something like New York’s Approval Matrix that we designed back in 2005 with Adam Moss is popular in print but will really come to life in this format. Some people might subscribe to it all by itself.
In short, the iPad is the next stage of online content consumption.

That being said, there are a lot of things the iPad won’t do.

It won’t be a portable work station. Laptops will continue to serve that function far better than the iPad. The iPad will suffice for composing e-mails and short documents but, for most businesses, laptops and desktop computers will remain the interface of choice.

Likewise, the iPad will not replace the iPhone. Smart phones will continue to function as miniature connectors to the information super highway. Their smaller size and GPS functionality make smart phones ideal for certain tasks that the larger, less portable iPad will not be able to duplicate. Applications that rely on geo-location for their functionality — such as the Zillow real estate app or the restaurant location and ratings app Yelp — still will be ideal for use on phones for people on the move. Smart phones will not be supplanted by the iPad, but instead supplemented by it.

The iPad will not fill an already existing niche — it will create a new one. It will be ever-present in our homes, during daily commutes and on airplanes. The iPad will be prevalent where people tend to read books or magazines, but will be far less visible at locations where people mostly work or socialize. It will be our conduit for media consumption and our interface of choice.

The iPad is a game changer of epic proportions — of that I am sure. One year from now, we’ll look back on its release and wonder how we functioned without it.

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Remove metadata--even when sending documents from your phone.

3bviewIn the latest episode of lawtechTalk, you'll learn all about metadata--what it is, the risks it presents, your ethical obligations and how to remove it from your legal documents, even when sending documents via email using a smart phone. During the episode I interview Cathy Brode, one of the co-founders of 3BView.

Episode #8 (Part 1 & Part 2) features, and is sponsored by 3BView, which offers metadata removal products, including a server-based option and 3BCleanDocs, which is their SaaS-based metadata removal system. 3BCleanDocs automatically removes metadata from documents sent via email, even those sent via your smart phone.

There are 2 parts to this episode, which can be viewed here for FREE: Part 1 & Part 2.

Useful programs and online tools for litigators

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This week's Daily Record column is entitled "Useful programs and online tools for litigators."

A pdf of the article can be found here and my past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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Useful programs and online tools for litigators

As I prepared to write my book about cloud computing for lawyers — which will be published later this year by the ABA— I researched different software programs that would make it easier for me to organize my thoughts and keep all of my information readily accessible as I wrote.

Ultimately I settled on Scrivener — www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.html — which is available for Mac users only.

Scrivener is a word processor and project management tool that makes all of the documentation and information that you will be using to create a document available in one application. I have found it to be an invaluable tool that is making the process of writing and organizing the information I’ve collected about cloud computing much easier.

As I was using it the other day, it occurred to me that Scrivener easily could make the process of writing and organizing a summary judgment motion simpler and more streamlined.

When I was an associate at a litigation firm, I used to find myself getting frustrated as I flipped through stacks of papers, trying to find a certain document, case or exhibit. Complex cases with large numbers of documents, deposition transcripts and exhibits in particular were difficult to manage. Scrivener, or a program like it, would have made the process so much easier.

To begin with, each portion of the motion, from the notice of motion to the supporting affidavits and the legal memorandum could be treated as a “chapter,” which simply is a folder within the document. The next step is to associate supportive documentation — exhibits, cases, deposition transcripts, etc. — with each section of your motion. While drafting the document, there is a list of associated files alongside of it that can be opened with a click. Associated files can be text files, image files, Web sites, audio files or even videos.

Another very useful resource for a litigator is CriminalSearches.com, a Web site that allows users to conduct a free search to determine whether a witness has a criminal record based on information available in public records. The results are not guaranteed to be 100 percent accurate, but the site does a surprisingly good job.

StreetDelivery — www.streetdelivery.com — is another handy service that provides lawyers with access to to almost 10 million digital images of inter- sections located throughout the United States. Although the database does not yet include photographs of every part of the United States, most of the East Coast already is available within the database. If the particular intersection or location, such as a parking lot, that you are interested in is not included, you can submit a special request for a photo via the Web site, and it will be delivered the next day. The service charges $109 per request for solos and small firm lawyers.

Finally, there are a number of smart phone applications that assist lawyers in calculating the date of a deadline. There are a number of iPhone apps of this type, which can be located in the App Store, including DaysFrom ($0.99), DateCalcPro ($1.99), DateCalc ($4.99) and Court Days ($0.99). For lawyers with BlackBerrys, DateMathica ($4.99), from Shrunken Head Software is good alternative. Another program, Date Wheel — creativealgorithms.com/date- wheel.html — is a due date calculator app that is compatible with a number of different smart phones, including Centro ($14.95), iPhone ($2.99), Pre ($14.95) and any other phone that can access the mobile Web. Finally, another app with a similar name, DateWheel, is available from Interstate Web Group users of Android ($0.99).

As you can see, there are a number of interesting programs, Web sites and services available to litigators. Those I’ve listed are just the tip of the iceberg, but hopefully they will make your life just a little bit easier.


Facebook Fan Pages, Online Collaboration and Encrypted Communications.

Facebook, Inc.Image via Wikipedia

I recently wrote the following guest post at That Credit Union Blog:

I also recently began guest blogging at the Firmex Online Document and Collaboration blog. My posts appear every Tuesday.  If you're interested in cloud computing and other technology issues for lawyers you may enjoy these posts.  Here are some of my most recent posts:

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Blawg Review #254

International Women's Day.Image via Wikipedia

I've been asked to host Blawg Review in celebration of International Women's Day, National Women's History Month and the 30th anniversary of the National Women's History Project.

When I learned of the theme for this Blawg Review, I have to admit I was less than thrilled--mainly because I'm tired of thinking about women and the law. I've given this issue a lot of thought. Although I've been blogging about it for years now, my posts have been very infrequent over the last year. Why?  Because it's downright depressing, that's why.

Things really haven't changed since I graduated from law school in 1995. Even though women have represented approximately 50% of law school graduation classes for over 20 years now, women are still underrepresented in law firm leadership positions, but it's certainly not the the law firms' fault. Of course not. It never is.

Regardless of fault, things haven't changed and are unlikely to change anytime soon. So forgive me for shifting my focus from something that is changing at a snail's pace  to something that has changed exponentially since I graduated from law school: technology. 

Birth of the Internet plaque at the w:William_...Image via Wikipedia

Internet-based technologies have affected our lives in ways that most of us never envisioned in 1995. The way that Internet is changing the world is exciting and endlessly fascinating.

That's why I co-authored the book "Social Media for Lawyers: The New Frontier" with Carolyn Elefant, which will be published by the American Bar Association this month. That same fascination is also why am in the process of writing a book about cloud computing for lawyers that will be published by the ABA at the end of 2010. 

I simply can't get enough of technology and for that reason I also blog about law and technology and write a weekly column for the Daily Record that focuses on technology issues.

A good number of my blog posts and articles focus on encouraging lawyers to accept technological change. It's not easy an easy task, however. Because, not surprisingly, the legal field, which is so fond of looking backwards and focusing on precedent, has been slow to embrace technology just as it resists any type of change, including the influx of women into our profession.

In that regard, the legal and technology fields have something in common: both have been and continue to be male-dominated. And, as explained in the following video, women in tech face challenges similar to those encountered by women lawyers:

Some contend that the male-dominated legal workplace has spilled over into the blogosphere and much has been made of the theory that that blawgs are likewise dominated by men. I wholeheartedly disagree. Women lawyers blog; they even blog about tech, as you'll soon see.

So let me show you around the blawgosphere and give you a taste of what's out there. In this edition of Blawg Review, you'll learn about 1) women and the law 2) what women blawgers have to say about law and technology, and 3) I'll throw in the kitchen sink, just to round things out.

Women and the law



Sure, it's Mad Men, and it's a parody-- but it's not inaccurate for the time and, in some circles, arguably still accurate today.

Is there gender bias in in dispute resolution? Vickie Pynchon thinks so, setting forth her proof in a series of posts, here, here, here, here and here. Diane Levin agrees, asserting that there is an implicit bias resulting in the absence of women and minorities from the prestigious ADR panels.

Just as depressing, last week, it was widely reported that the recession has hit women in minorities in law firms the hardest--but fortunately, as discussed at the Wall Street Journal blog, in response, a number of large companies announced they would collectively spend $30 million to hire minority and women-owned law firms as outside counsel. 

A number of blogs and news reports heralded the "victory" for women lawyers in Saudi Arabia--whereby women lawyers would be allowed speak in court regarding family law matters. Geek Lawyer's take on this is quite apt.

And, finally does "truth" have a gender? Rita Handrich explores this idea.

Women blawg about law and technology

Women blawg about technology, it's true. Here's my offer of proof.

Martha Sperry, one of my favorite legal tech bloggers, offers advice on free online tools, why Facebook is important to bloggers, and a free iPhone app that allows you to edit Word docs.

Lisa Solomon keeps you up to date on legal research and the Westlaw Next pricing scheme, while Carolyn Elefant discusses the ramifications of the LegalZoom lawsuit.

Steph Kimbro, the queen of the virtual law practice, keeps you up to date with virtual law practice events around the web and the country.

Tessa Shepperson reviews a mobile blogging app, Mippin, while Susan Crawford discusses patterns of broadband adoption.

Rebecca Tushnet blogs about an upcoming IP/Gender conference: Mapping the Connections-Gender and Invention. Geri Dreiling offers tips on how to make your web-based legal content better and Shireen Smith explains why you should be aware of and monitor your online reputation.

Finally, Monica Bay inquires whether suits and ties or similar attire should be required for photos at Law Technology News.

The kitchen sink and more

Kitchen sink plus tapImage by Ian Haycox via Flickr

And finally, a slice of everything else going on in the blawgosphere.

Does political reform require neutrality? Lee Jay Berman thinks so. Should California pols be concerned with something other than cursing? Madeleine Begun Kane thinks so.

Radiation level controls for diagnostic radiology are likewise being considered by our pols in Congress.

Should a pregnant man receive legal aid? Yes you read that right, and Jen Burke tells you why he should.

Finally, in recognition of Women's History Month, Vickie Pynchon calls on all bloggers to do something to help celebrate it.

That's all folks. Thanks for listening.

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Blawg Review has information about next week's host, and
instructions how to get your blawg posts reviewed in upcoming issues.

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Legal research: the good, the bad and the ugly.

Drlogo11

This week's Daily Record column is entitled "Legal research: the good the bad and the ugly."

A pdf of the article can be found here and my past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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Legal Research: the good, the bad and the ugly.

There is a grand scale transformation of legal research platforms occurring right now, which is a good thing for the legal profession as a whole.

While none of the existing services are necessarily ugly or bad, some of the most prominent platforms — ones with which we lawyers have always had a love/hate relationship — are antiquated and have been in desperate need of a re-haul for years now.

New entrants into the legal research space have caused fierce competition for customers. The increased competition has resulted in a rich variety of legal research options for lawyers. Some services provide more in-depth results than others, some have very user- friendly interfaces and some are inexpensive, or even free.

At LegalTech New York in February, the two largest, most familiar and most costly legal research platforms in the industry rolled out new products as part of an attempt to keep their offerings fresh and current.

Westlaw introduced WestlawNext, the next generation of Westlaw, a platform that had not changed substantially since its last revamp in 1998. An online brochure describes the platform: “Legal research that’s more human gives you an easier way to search, yet delivers all of what you’re looking for. ... [Y]ou can apply intelligent tools to help you work smarter and faster with total confidence you have the information you need. All of which makes life easier.”

There has been some criticism expressed in the legal blogos- phere regarding the added “premium” users must pay in order to access the new platform, and some have decried West’s apparent lack of transparency in that regard.

LexisNexis also announced plans to roll out a new version of its platform, tentatively called “Lexis New,” later this year. In the meantime, Lexis introduced Lexis/Microsoft Office inte- gration, also during LegalTech. The company’s Web site states the new product allows lawyers “reviewing a Word document or an Outlook e-mail message ... [to] seamlessly access content and resources from LexisNexis, the open Web, or their law firm or corporate files.”

LexisNexis also offers an iPhone app that allows subscribers to check case citations on the fly.

Two cheaper platforms have been around for at least a decade,Fastcase (www.fastcase.com) and LoisLaw (www.loislaw.com). Both offer subscribers the ability to access case law and statutes via user-friendly Web interfaces.
Fastcase, a 10-year-old legal research company, already serves more than 380,000 lawyers nationwide and has 17 state and local bar associations as its clients. One new notable feature from Fastcase is a free iPhone app. I downloaded the app when it was first released and, in my opinion, it’s a must-have for any lawyer who owns an iPhone. It allows users to quickly and easily search Fastcase’s entire case law database using the intuitive iPhone interface. And, you certainly can’t beat the price.

Another free legal research alternative is Google Legal Scholar (http://scholar.google.com/), which debuted at the end of 2009 and offers a free searchable database of U.S. case law from federal and state courts dating back 80 years, as well as U.S. Supreme Court decisions dating back to 1791 and law review articles. Google Legal Scholar is a great resource and, for some lawyers, may offer a good alternative to the traditional legal research platforms.

Finally, a new contender is Bloomberg Law, which will be released later this year The product has been in beta testing for the last year and is offered by the well-established and well known financial news and information services media company, Bloomberg LLC. As described at its Web site, Bloomberg Law will provide an “the all-in-one legal research platform that integrates legal content with proprietary news and business intelligence.”

Many predict that the platform will appeal mostly to larger law firms as a feasible alternative to LexisNexis and Westlaw.

There is no doubt 2010 will be an interesting, and tumultuous, year for legal research providers and the lawyers who use their services. Only time will tell which platforms will win the battle for user loyalty. In the meantime, at least lawyers have far more choices than ever before.
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