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Pre-trial iPad apps for lawyers

Stacked3This week's Daily Record column is entitled "Pre-trial iPad apps for lawyers."

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

*****

Pre-trial iPad apps for lawyers

As I discussed in last week’s column, iPad apps for lawyers is a burgeoning arena and there are new apps released every day. For that reason, I figure it was high time to highlight both newer apps and some of the more popular standbys that have been around for a few years now.

Last week, I wrote about litigation and trial iPad apps for lawyers. This week, I’ll focus on pre-trial iPad apps for lawyers, starting with the lowest priced apps first.

First, there’s the DocketLaw app. This is a free iPad calendaring tool that allows litigators to easily determine court deadlines. Using this app you can calculate based on the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Events can be created based on a trigger, a review of actual rule text, and via calculation logic. Once you calculate the date you can then email the results, add events to your calendar, and assign a matter description.

Mobile Transcript is another app that is free at its most basic level, although you can upgrade to more advanced versions for $29 or $39 depending on the features that you desire. This app facilitates the review and annotation of deposition or court transcript files. With this app, you can highlight important text and then share either the highlighted text or the entire transcript via email.

The iPleading app is another interesting pre-trial app, which costs $4.99. This app is a mobile litigation template generator which makes it easy to create litigation documents on the fly. Using this app you enter your name, bar number, address, phone and fax.

After you’ve done this, you select an email address to which you would like to send the completed templates. You’ll then receive an email attached to which is a custom template that includes a fillable PDF template for the first page of the pleading, and a second, which is the remainder of the document formatted as a proper pleading. You then use this to draft the rest of the pleading.

Next, there’s the Deponent app, which costs $9.99. This app aids lawyers in preparing for depositions by providing an interface designed to facilitate the creation of question and exhibit outlines. The app provides over 150 categories of deposition questions and you can also customize this feature by creating categories of your own choosing. Another useful feature is that each question that you draft can be linked to an exhibit.

Finally, there’s TranscriptPad, which costs $49.99. TranscriptPad makes it easy for lawyers to review and organize transcripts, right on their iPads. Using the app you can create color-coded designations, search for specific phrases, flag important sections, generate reports, and share the reports or flagged portions of the transcript via email.

Just like the apps I covered last week, these apps are wonderful tools for the busy litigator on the go. Using these apps you can handle pre-trial matters from virtually anywhere as long as you have an Internet connection and your iPad. So if you have an iPad, make sure to take a look at these apps and see which ones will fit best into your practice and allow you to join the mobile computing revolution.

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and the Vice President of Business Development and Community Relations at MyCase, an intuitive cloud-based law practice management platform for the modern law firm. She is also a GigaOM Pro Analyst and is the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a West-Thomson treatise. She is the founder of lawtechTalk.com and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. She publishes four legal blogs and can be reached at nblack@nicoleblackesq.com.


Litigation and trial iPad apps for lawyers

Stacked3This week's Daily Record column is entitled "Litigation and trial iPad apps for lawyers."

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

*****

Litigation and trial iPad apps for lawyers

Although I’ve written about iPad apps for lawyers in the past, the number of apps designed specifically for attorneys is always increasing. For that reason, I figured it was high time to revisit this topic so that I could cover most of the legal apps available, including some of the more recent releases.

One of the most popular and rapidly growing categories of apps for lawyers are those developed for use in trial and litigation. Within this subset of apps, there are generally two different types: apps for use during trials and apps for use during the pretrial discovery phase. In this article, I’ll highlight apps developed for use during trial and next week I’ll discuss the pretrial apps.

First, there are the apps that assist with jury selection. At the most basic level, these apps allow you to keep track of jurors’ responses and reactions during voir dire.

The least expensive of the bunch, at just $4.99, is the Jury Tracker app. This app was created by an attorney and is designed to aid lawyers during trial by providing an easy way to keep track of observations regarding jurors by organizing notes and predictions regarding each juror throughout the course of the trial.

Next up is iJury at $14.99, an app that facilities the analysis of juror responses. After inputting the jurors’ voir dire responses into the app, you can score their responses as either negative or positive and then the app generates metrics about your prospective jury.

Not to be confused with iJury is the iJuror app. This app costs $19.99 and allows you to add jurors to a configurable seating chart. You then add information and notes about the jurors by tapping the juror’s location on the seating chart. When jurors are dismissed from the panel, you simply drag them off of the seating chart.

Another voir dire app is the JuryStar iPad app, which was developed by an attorney and costs $29.99. This app has a number of built-in features designed to make it easy to assess your jury panel at a glance, including color codes for the gender of jurors and the ability to add a custom color code for another category of your choosing. It also allows you to create custom fields so that you can easily track the factors that are most important to your case.

Finally, JuryDuty is another app designed to assist with voir dire. This app costs $39.99 and allows you to enter unlimited data about each juror. Once you’ve entered notes about a juror, that juror’s icon changes from white to blue, thus making it easy to determine which jurors you’ve already addressed.

Now, on to the trial apps. First, there’s the newly released TrialDirectory app, the only free app in the bunch. With this app you create case folders and then add exhibits via your Dropbox or iTunes accounts. You then work with your evidence using the annotation and presentation tools.

Next up is the Exhibit A trial presentation app, which, at only $9.99, is also a bargain. This app allows you to import your documents, photos, etc., via Dropbox, iTunes, WiFi, FTP or email. You then organize your files into “projects” and can highlight and mark your exhibits, which are shared with the jury using your iPad and an external monitor or by a projector using a VGA or HDMI adapter, or by connecting wirelessly using AirPlay and Apple TV.

Finally, there’s the ever-popular TrialPad app, which costs $89.99. TrialPad was one of the first trial presentation apps to be released and has thus had time to fine tune and perfect its app based on user feedback. With TrialPad you import files into the app via a large number of interfaces, including Dropbox, WebDAV, email, iTunes, Photos app, or other iPad apps. You can highlight, annotate, redact and zoom in on your documents and compare documents side by side. There is also a whiteboard available so that you can draw freehand as you speak.

The wonderful thing about all of these apps is that they are both affordable and innovative. The jury selection apps streamline and simplify the process of voir dire while the trial apps level the playing field and offer all lawyers access to tools and features that were once only available to large firms with thousands of dollars available to spend on costly trial presentation software programs.

So, just as the iPad is revolutionizing the consumer content consumption experience, it is likewise improving the experiences of trial lawyers and jurors alike. Not bad for a device that many naysayers used to call an unnecessary and unimpressive oversized iPod. Not bad at all.

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and the Vice President of Business Development and Community Relations at MyCase, an intuitive cloud-based law practice management platform for the modern law firm. She is also a GigaOM Pro Analyst and is the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a West-Thomson treatise. She is the founder of lawtechTalk.com and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. She publishes four legal blogs and can be reached at nblack@nicoleblackesq.com.


WIN a copy of the JURYSTAR iPad app!

Each month at the MyCase blog, we hold a giveaway. Last month two IPEVO iPad cases were up for grabs. This month it’s two copies of the JURYSTAR iPad app from the good folks at Litigator Technology. This app was nominated by the National Law Journal as the 2012 Best Trial Prep iPad app. It was created by an attorney and is designed to offer lawyers a 21st century alternative to the traditional method of selecting jurors.

If you’d like a chance to win, head on over to the MyCase blog and sign up!

And, while you’re at it, check out my past posts there about law practice management and legal technology issues, including mobile computing and cloud computing for lawyers.


Tips and tricks to get your legal blog started

Stacked3This week's Daily Record column is entitled "Tips and tricks to get your legal blog started."

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

*****

Tips and tricks to get your legal blog started

Recently, I’ve had a number of lawyers approach me for career advice and during the course of our conversations, I sometimes suggest that the lawyer consider starting a law blog. Oftentimes I’m met with a somewhat terrified look or am peppered with questions about how to go about doing so. So, I figured it was high time that I wrote an article about the process of creating, and maintaining, a legal blog.

First things first, make sure that you enjoy the writing process and that you can decide on a topic or topics about which you are passionate. This is important because if you don’t enjoy writing or the topics about which you write, your blog will fall flat.

The next thing you’ll need to do is determine your goals. Why are you writing the blog? To showcase your writing skills and your expertise? To meet and network with other lawyers? To attract media attention? To reach potential clients? To improve search engine optimization for your blog and/or website? To expand your online presence? Or perhaps a combination of some of these goals?

Next, once you’ve established your goals, you’ll need to decide which topic(s) you’d like to write about. Obviously, your chosen topics should further your goals. So, for example, if one of your primary goals is to reach potential clients, then your topics should be of interest to them and written on a level that is understandable to them.

Alternatively, if connecting with other lawyers and showcasing your knowledge are two of your goals, you should focus on topics of interest to lawyers who may ultimately become referral sources.

Once you’ve settled on a few topics, you’ll need to choose a blogging platform. Many people use WordPress (wordpress.org), a free and easy-to-use blogging platform. My preferred platform is Typepad (typepad.com), which costs just $8.95 per month for a single blog. It’s intuitive, is easily customizable, and integrates well with other Web-based tools and platforms.

Next you’ll need to create a daily reading list of sites that post about content relevant to your chosen topics. That way you can keep up on the topics you’ve decided to write about and will thus have fodder for your blog posts. The easiest way to do that is to use an RSS feed reader. RSS feed readers are Web-based applications through which you can subscribe to the RSS feeds of various websites and blogs. Feed readers are important because they simplify your life and bring information relevant to your interests directly to you, in one place.
Many people use Google Reader (google.com/reader). I prefer Feedly (feedly.com).

Feedly is a browser add on. Once installed, you are able to subscribe to blogs (and/or import your Google Reader subscriptions) and can then organize your subscriptions into different categories. Your chosen content then appears in an easy to read, magazine-like interface.
And, as you open up each item you have the option of sharing it across your various social networks. Also helpful is that Feedly “learns” as you interact with it and serves up the most relevant content based on your usage habits.

Another option is to use a mobile app, such as Zite, which imports your Google Reader subscriptions and then, like Feedly, provides you relevant content in an easy to use magazine-like interface based on your interactions with the app.

The last thing you’ll need to simplify your blogging experience is download Zemanta, a blog publishing aid (zemanta.com). Zemanta is a browser add-on that is designed to supplement and assist bloggers.

Once you install the app, it appears as an overlay to your blogging platform and suggests images with understandable license details (obtained from Wikimedia Commons, Flickr and various stock photo providers), links, tags and related articles. The suggestions made are based on based on a contextual analysis of the text of your post.

That’s it! Once you’ve followed these steps, you’ll be all set to blog. Best of luck and I’ll see you around the blogosphere!

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and the Vice President of Business Development and Community Relations at MyCase, an intuitive cloud-based law practice management platform for the modern law firm. She is also a GigaOM Pro Analyst and is the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a West-Thomson treatise. She is the founder of lawtechTalk.com and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. She publishes four legal blogs and can be reached at nblack@nicoleblackesq.com.

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