mobile computing

Round Up: Legal Innovation, Law Firm Billing, Legal Tech Gadgets, and More

SpiralI often write articles and blog posts for other outlets and am going to post a round up here from time to time (but won't include my weekly Daily Record articles in the round up since I re-publish them to this blog in full). Here are my posts and articles from August and September 2018:


ABA survey shows lawyers are more mobile than ever in 2018

Stacked3Here is this week's Daily Record column. My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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ABA survey shows lawyers are more mobile than ever in 2018

The iPhone was released in 2007, and it revolutionized the way that we communicate and access information. Smartphones, once a novelty, are now commonplace, in the legal profession. This is because, unlike other types of technology, lawyers jumped on the mobile bandwagon fairly quickly.

As evidenced by the results of the 2017 ABA Legal Technology Survey, lawyers are more mobile than ever before. The reasons are many: mobile computing offers convenience, flexibility, and 24/7 access to important information. Given all the benefits, it’s no wonder that lawyers have taken to mobile devices like a fish takes to water.

According to the survey results, lawyers use a number of different types of mobile devices for law-related tasks while away from their offices. Smartphones are the most commonly used, with 96% of lawyers reporting that they used smartphones while outside the office. Lawyers from firms of 10-49 and from firms of 100-499 used them the most often, with both sets of lawyers reporting usage levels at 98%. Next up were lawyers from firms of 500 or more (97%), followed by lawyers from firms of 50-99 (96%), 2-9 (95%), and solos (93%).

Laptops are also popular, with 81% of lawyers using them for law-related purposes while away from the office. Lawyers from firms of 500 or more reported the greatest use of laptops while out of the office (94%). Lawyers from firms of 100-499 were next at 89%, followed by lawyers form firms of 50-99 (85%), 2-9 (83%), 10-49 (82%), and solos. (74%).

Lawyers were the least likely to use tablets for mobile access while away from the office, with 50% reporting that they did so. Lawyers from firms of 500 or more used tablets the most often (61%). Next up were lawyers form firms of 2-9 (52%), followed by lawyers from firms of 10-49 (51%), solos (49%), lawyers form firms of 50-99 (46%), and lawyers form firms of 100-499 (36%).

According to the lawyers surveyed, they used mobile devices from a variety of different locations.The most common place that lawyers used their mobile devices was their home (96%), followed by hotels (93%), while in transit (89%), airports (85%), clients’ offices (75%), in the courthouse (70%), and other attorneys’ offices (71%).

When it comes to courtroom usage, according to the survey, 57% of lawyers who appear in court have used laptops in the courtroom, up from 46% in 2014. Tops uses for laptops include email (34%), accessing key evidence and documents (33%), legal research (29%), accessing court documents and dockets (27%), calendaring (24%), and delivering presentations (23%).

80% of lawyers who appear in court report using their smartphone in court. Some of the most popular uses include: email (72%), calendaring (58%), real-time communications (44%), legal research (24%), accessing court dockets and documents (15%), and accessing the firm’s network (14%).

When it comes to tablets, 38% of lawyers who appear in court reported using them in court. Tablets were used to accomplish a number of tasks, including email (29%), legal research (25%), calendaring (21%), accessing court documents and dockets (16.5%), and accessing key evidence and documents (15%).

So that’s how lawyers are using mobile devices to practice law in 2018. How does your mobile device usage compare? If you use your mobiles devices less often than your colleagues, perhaps you’re not fully taking advantage of the many benefits the mobile computing offers.
Then again, there are undoubtedly drawbacks to the mobile age, not the least of which is the psychological impact of the perception of 24/7 availability. While it’s not always an easy juggling act, the benefits of mobile access are many, both for lawyers and their clients. The key is to find the right balance between the convenience of easy access to information and maintaining the necessary boundaries between work and your home life. Once you’ve found a balance that works for you, you’ll reap the benefits of the flexibility of mobile computing.

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney, author, journalist, and the Legal Technology Evangelist at MyCase, intuitive, powerful law practice management software for solo and small law firms. She is also 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 can be reached at niki.black@mycase.com.

 


iPhone health app data used in murder prosecution

Stacked3Here is this week's Daily Record column. My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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iPhone health app data used in murder prosecution

If, like me, you’re a fan of the Netflix series, Black Mirror, then you’re well aware of the many ways that our digital footprints can potentially be used against us. In this series, the writers envision futuristic timelines where technologies currently available are taken to their extreme, resulting in disturbing, dystopian story lines, some of which have since come to fruition in one way or another.

The message of this series is clear: technology can greatly benefit our lives, but also creates the potential for unbridled violations of our privacy by governmental and corporate entities. It’s a delicate balance of interests that can easily go awry in the absence of careful, thoughtful regulation. And unfortunately, technology is moving so quickly that legislators simply can’t keep up.

One area where we’re seeing this delicate balance play out is in the courtroom. Data from mobile and wearable devices is increasingly being used in both civil and criminal cases.

For example, in mid-2015 I wrote about an emerging trend where data from wearable and mobile devices was being used in the courtroom (online: http://nydailyrecord.com/2015/08/14/legal-loop-wearable-tech-data-as-evidence-in-the-courtroom/). In that column I discussed two cases where Fitbit data was used: one where it was offered as evidence to support a personal injury claim and the other where it was used to disprove a complainant’s rape allegations.

Then, in early 2017, I wrote about another case where Fitbit data and other digital evidence was used to support the prosecution of a criminal matter (online: http://nydailyrecord.com/2017/04/28/legal-loop-fitbit-data-other-digital-evidence-used-by-prosecution-in-murder-case/.) In that case, a wealth of digital data was used by the prosecution to refute the defendant’s version of the events leading to his wife’s death, including cell phone records, computer data, text messages, information from Facebook, and his wife’s Fitbit data.

More recently, data from the iPhone Health App was used in court in Germany as part of a murder prosecution. In this case, the defendant was accused of murdering a medical student. The investigators were able to access his phone and obtain data from its Health App. Data collected by that app includes the number of steps taken, nutrition and sleep patterns, and a range of body measurements including heart rate. The app also provides geolocation data regarding the movement of the phone.

The data collected from the app corresponded to the prosecution’s theory of the case and its timeline of events leading up to and following the murder. The geolocation data provided evidence of the defendant’s movements throughout the evening in question, while the heart rate data indicated two different periods of “strenuous activity” which the app suggested involved the climbing of stairs.

A police investigator who was of similar size to the defendant recreated the events as it was believed they occurred and then compared the investigator’s Health App data to the defendant’s. The prosecution alleged that the similarities in the data indicated that the defendant was likely dragging the victim’s body down the stairs when his app indicated he was engaged in strenuous activity involving the climbing of stairs, thus supporting their theory of the case.

Once again digital data gleaned from a mobile device was used in court in an attempt to convict an accused rapist and murderer. The use of digital data for this purpose is something most people would likely agree with. However, there is a very real potential for abuse of the data our devices are collecting about us, as the Black Mirror series points out. Where we, as a society, choose to draw that line remains to be seen.

In the meantime, astute lawyers will educate themselves about the types of data available to them and will likewise be cognizant of the ways that data can be used in the courtroom to forward their client’s interests. In 2018, anything less would arguably be malpractice.

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney, author, journalist, and the Legal Technology Evangelist at MyCase, intuitive web-based law practice management software for solo and small law firms. She is also 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 can be reached at niki@mycase.com.


Must-have Apple Watch and iPhone apps for lawyers

Stacked3Here is this week's Daily Record column. My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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Must-have Apple Watch and iPhone apps for lawyers

The iPhone celebrated its 10-year anniversary this year. In 2017, a decade after its release, it’s still the most popular smartphone with lawyers according to the recently released American Bar Association’s 2017 Legal Technology Survey Report. Of the lawyers surveyed, 96% used smartphones for law-related purposes while away from their office. And, the iPhone was the most popular smartphone by far, with 75% of lawyers surveyed using an iPhone rather an Android.

The Apple Watch, on the other hand, just celebrated its 2-year anniversary. Although I’ve not yet encountered any data on the percentage of lawyers using smartwatches, over time I’ve noticed more and more Watches appearing “in the wild,” including on the wrists of lawyers. So I wasn’t surprised to learn last month that since its launch, more than 30 million Apple Watches have been shipped.

Of course, there are hundreds of thousands of iPhone and Apple Watch apps to choose from, and I’m sure you’ve already got more than a few favorites. But you could always use more, so here are my choices for apps that are must-haves for lawyers.

First, if your practice areas require you to interact with people who speak a different language, a translation app is a must. For your iPhone, consider Speak and Translate, a free app that automatically translates what you say into the spoken word one of of 54 different languages. It also supports text-to-text translations between 117 languages. For your Apple Watch, there’s iTranslate Converse. This app ($4.99/month) allows you to translate conversations in over 100 languages.To use it, you simply speak into your Watch, which then automatically translates your spoken word into the appropriate language.

Another Apple Watch app to consider is Just Press Record ($4.99). This is a very useful app for recording and transcribing conversations and meetings. It allows you to record for an unlimited amount of time and then transfer the recording to your iPhone for transcription.

Another iPhone app that will appeal to lawyers is the free Time & Date Calculator app. Because we spend so much time calculating dates - such as due dates for a motion determining how long ago an incident occurred - a time and date calculator app is a must-have. This app provides a lot of flexibility and built-in tools to help you calculate dates across time zones and even down to the second.

My favorite iPhone scanning app is Scanner Pro. It costs $3.99, and lets you scan a document using your iPhone and then upload it as a PDF. The app also formats the uploaded document with OCR (text recognition) so that you can easily search the text of the document.

And last but not least is the Overcast podcast app for both the iPhone and Apple Watch. Ever since the Serial podcast took the world by storm, lawyers have become huge fans of podcasts. If you’ve jumped on the podcast bandwagon, then you need an intuitive, easy-to-use podcast app like Overcast. It’s a free app that is ad-supported, but you can have an ad-free experience, for $9.99/year. With the iPhone app you can play podcasts right on your phone and the Watch app allows you to choose and control the podcasts playing on your iPhone from across the room.

So there you have it: a few of my favorite iPhone and Apple Watch apps for lawyers. There are plenty more, of course, so don’t let me selections limit you. And if you don’t already own an Apple Watch, what are you waiting for? Add it to your wish list for the holidays. I assure you, you won’t regret it!

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney, author, journalist, and the Legal Technology Evangelist at MyCase, intuitive web-based law practice management software for solo and small law firms. She is also 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 can be reached at niki@mycase.com.

 


9 iPhone Apps For Lawyers

Stacked3Here is this week's Daily Record column. My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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9 iPhone Apps for Lawyers

According to the results of the American Bar Association’s latest Legal Technology Survey Report, six out of 10 lawyers use an iPhone. Since the majority of lawyers use iPhones and it’s been a while since I wrote about iPhone apps for lawyers, I figured it was high time I shared some of my latest discoveries. So, without further ado, here are 9 iPhone apps developed for lawyers that you may find to be useful in your law practice.


Lawstack is a free app that provides access to, among others, the U.S. Constitution, the Federal Rules of Civil and Criminal Procedure, the Federal Rules of Evidence. Certain state codes, including New York, are also available for purchase.


With SignNow, a free app, documents can be signed anywhere by simply uploading a PDF or Word doc via email, Dropbox, or by using your iPhone’s camera. This is a really useful app for busy lawyers who often need to obtain signatures from clients and others while on the go.
Livescribe Smartpen is a digital pen that captures your handwriting and sends it directly to your phone. You can then save the searchable document as a PDF and export it to other programs. The various pens start at $129.95, so they’re not cheap, but may just be worth the cost, depending on your needs.


Mobile Transcript is a free app that enables paperless depositions by storing digital transcripts received from a court reporter in the cloud, which can be accessed from any compatible device. You can then annotate, mark up, and share the transcripts with others. There is also a paid version of the app available for $29 per month, which allows you to upload your own transcripts into the app in either Amicus or Summation format.


Dictate+Connect is an app that turns your iPhone into a dictaphone. Once you’ve recorded dictation, you can rewind and overwrite your dictation in the app and then send the sound file to your assistant as a verbal memo. You can also use the app to record meetings. There is a free trial version of the app available but in order to record more than 30-second sound clips you’ll need to purchase the full-fledged version of the app for $16.99.


The Courtroom Objections iPhone app is your go-to objections guide. This app assists you with making and responding to objections in court by providing a useful list of common objections and responses. It’s not free, but at $2.99, it may just be worth the small price you’ll have to pay.


Courtroom Evidence is a mobile reference guide for courtroom evidentiary foundations. It assists you in laying the proper foundation for entering common types of information into evidence. The app is available in the App Store for $1.99.


DocketLaw is a free app that calculates event dates and deadlines based on the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Also available for an additional monthly fee are subscriptions to rules-based calendars for specific state and federal courts. For example, you can access all New York court data for $49.95 per month.


Using Timeline 3D you can create a list of events and then add any relevant media. Once you have done so, you can present your visual timeline using a full screen and with a 3D perspective. You also have the option to export your timeline into PowerPoint and Keynote format. This app costs $9.99.
Your iPhone can be a great tool for your law practice; you just have to know how to use it! So what are you waiting for? Download a few of these apps and start practicing law on the go.

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and the Legal Technology Evangelist at MyCase, intuitive web-based law practice management software for the modern law firm. She is also 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 niki@mycase.com.


Second Circuit upholds New York’s bonafide office requirement

Stacked3Here is this week's Daily Record column. My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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It’s been a long road for New Jersey attorney Ekaterina Schoenefeld, who has, for years now, sought to practice law in New York without maintaining a physical office in the state. Her attempt to overturn New York’s “bonafide office” rule was, after multiple appeals, proven to be unsuccessful by the Second Circuit Court of Appeal’s decision in Schoenefeld v. Schneiderman,
Docket No. 11‐4283‐cv.

In this decision, which was handed down on April 22nd, the Court rejected her arguments in favor of invalidating the bonafide office rule, concluding that: “§ 470 does not violate the Privileges and Immunities Clause because it was enacted not for a protectionist purpose to favor New York resident attorneys but, rather, to provide a means whereby nonresidents could establish a physical presence in the state akin to that of residents, thereby resolving a service concern while allowing nonresidents to practice law in the state’s courts.” 

According to the Court, the prohibition on allowing nonresident attorneys to practice in New York in the absence of an in-state office, even though resident attorneys can use their home address as their office, was not unduly prohibitive, in part because “New York’s in‐state office requirement for nonresident attorneys admitted to the state’s bar, N.Y. Judiciary Law § 470, was not enacted for a protectionist purpose disfavoring nonresident admitted attorneys but, rather, for the nonprotectionist purpose of affording such attorneys a means to establish a physical presence in the state akin to that of resident attorneys, thereby eliminating a court‐identified service‐of‐process concern.”

In other words, the rule was purportedly enacted—not to discourage nonresident attorneys from practicing in New York—but to grant nonresident lawyers the privilege of establishing costly office space in New York, just as their New York resident counterparts have, even when their New York counterpart’s office consists only of their residence.

However, as Judge Peter Hall—the lone dissenter—points out, the Court’s assertion that this rule was not intended to prevent nonresident attorneys from practicing in New York is disingenuous at best: “It is undisputed that, at the time Section 470 was enacted, it was part of a larger statutory scheme designed to prohibit nonresident attorneys from practicing in New York.  See Richardson v. Brooklyn City & N.R. Co., 22 How. Pr. 368, 370 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Feb. 1, 1862) (noting that the court “ha[d] always required that an attorney should reside within the state”).” 

He also disputes the validity of one of the main assertions in the majority’s opinion: that the in-state office requirement is necessary to ensure that lawyers can be served with judicial process. “Regarding the issue of service, the Court of Appeals itself observed that, although “service on an out‐of‐state individual presented many more logistical difficulties in 1862, when
[Section 470] was originally enacted,” today there are “adequate measures in place relating to service upon nonresident attorneys,” including the methods of mail, overnight delivery, fax and (where permitted) email, as authorized by the 5 CPLR, and the requirement under 22 N.Y.C.R.R. § 520.13(a) that nonresident 6 attorneys designate an in‐state clerk of court as their agent for service of process in order to be admitted in New York.  Schoenefeld, 25 N.Y.3d at 28, N.Y.S.3d at 8 224–25.”

In other words, the majority’s holding is self serving, and, if nothing else, serves to stifle innovation in the delivery of cost-effective legal services to legal consumers. These consumers who are increasingly unable to afford the high prices charged by traditional law firms who charge such high rates, in part, to recoup the significant overhead costs of running a brick and mortar law firm.

It is indisputable that the legal landscape is changing—especially for transactional lawyers. For these attorneys in particular, virtual law firms offer a feasible alternative to traditional law firms and allow for the provision of affordable legal services. And, with virtual law firms, the lawyer’s physical location is often irrelevant since all communication occurs using technology.

Using convoluted rationales to uphold antiquated rules that prevent lawyers with New York law licenses from providing much-needed legal services to underserved populations does a disservice to New York’s legal consumers and discourages innovation in the delivery of legal services. This disappointing holding is a giant step backward at a time when lawyers facing an increasingly competitive legal landscape should be encouraged to use new tools and office structures in order to improve client service and provide more effective, responsive representation.

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and the Legal Technology Evangelist at MyCase, intuitive web-based law practice management software for the modern law firm. She is also 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 niki@mycase.com.


My latest iPhone app discoveries

Stacked3This week's Daily Record column is entitled "My latest iPhone app discoveries."  My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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My latest iPhone app discoveries

 

I readily admit it: I’m a tech geek. And one of my favorite things to do is to discover and try out new iPhone apps. Not all of them are keepers, but I often find a few worth holding onto.

It’s been a while since I shared my favorite apps, so I figured it was high time I wrote about some of my latest discoveries. So, without further ado, here are a few of my new favorite and often-used iPhone apps.

First, if you travel often, make sure to download FlightBoard. This free app provides instant access to all flights and their assigned gates at any given airport. So as you are waiting to deplane, you can access your connecting flight’s gate information. Then open the GateGuru app to view a map of the airport, so you can locate your next flight’s gate and any restaurants you’ll encounter as you make your way to your next flight.

Another travel app I’ve mentioned in the past that I can’t live without is TripIt. I use this app to store all of my travel itineraries in one place. Another benefit is that the app also automatically adds my flight and hotel information to my calendar.

Next, my favorite news app. For a while now I’ve been searching for a news app that provides quick access to the headlines I want to see and recently discovered SmartNews. This is a free app that offers news stories from a variety of sources and allows you to tailor the topics and sources that appear in your news feeds. It’s a very good news app and I highly recommend it.

Next up, two media apps. First, there’s Amazon Music. If you’re an Amazon Prime member, then you have to download this free app, which provides you free access to the Amazon music library as part of your Prime membership. You can play music by certain artists or albums or access Prime Music Custom stations or Playlists. You can also create your own playlists using content from the Amazon music library.

Another media app that I really like is Google Photos. This app was just released and automatically backs up and provides free online storage for all photos taken using your iPhone and other devices. The photos are automatically organized by people and location and you can search the photos by typing in the subject of the photo you’re seeking. So for example you can enter “dog” to locate all photos taken of dogs.

Two contact management apps I use often are CircleBack and Brewster. CircleBack is a free app that collects all of your contacts and then searches through its data in the cloud to provide you with the most current information for your contacts. The data is obtained from other users address books, which are then synced in the cloud with current records and anonymized. You receive notifications whenever one of your contact’s information includes updates, which you can then download to your iPhone. Of course, the tradeoff to be aware of is that you’re providing your contacts’ information to this service in exchange for the benefit of receiving updated information about your contacts.

Another free contact management app is Brewster. This free app syncs with your contacts on your iPhone and also collects all of your social media contacts into a fully searchable database, so you can easily search for contacts living in a certain area. Brewster also automatically categorizes your contacts and allows you to create custom categories as well. So, for example, categories automatically created by that app that appear on my iPhone include “law practice,” companies for which I’ve worked, and schools that I’ve attended. This is a great app that makes it even easier than ever to stay on top of your ever-growing list of contacts.

So those are a few of my favorite apps. Download a few of them and give them a try. Hopefully you’ll find a few of them to be as useful as I do!

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and the Legal Technology Evangelist at MyCase, intuitive web-based law practice management software for the modern law firm. She is also 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 niki@mycase.com.


Will the Apple Watch be a game-changer?

Stacked3This week's Daily Record column is entitled "Will the Apple Watch be a game-changer?"  My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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 Will the Apple Watch be a game-changer?

As the Apple Watch is about to hits stores, the question remains: will lawyers use the Apple Watch? Or are we already too overloaded with devices, gadgets and distractions? My prediction is that the legal profession will take to the Apple Watch like a fish takes to water.


The reason is simple. The Apple Watch won’t clutter our digital lives; it will streamline them. This wearable technology will serve as an unobtrusive, immediate link to the truly important information that we need to know while filtering out the digital noise for later when we have time to sift through it.

Here’s the killer feature that will sell lawyers on the Apple Watch: the subtle notifications. Because of the unobtrusive notifications, many lawyers will quickly begin to use Apple Watches as part of their day-to-day routine. The watch will serve as a digital filter, allowing through only the most important notifications from their iPhones. Lawyers will be able to program their watches to permit notifications about phone calls or messages from only the most important people in their lives: their assistants, their work colleagues, their spouses, or a time sensitive call from a specific person.
Currently, with iPhones, it’s pretty much all or nothing. You either receive notifications or you don’t. So if you’re in court or in a meeting and are expecting a phone call, you’re forced to leave your phone on the table lest you miss the call. When you do this, you send the message that you’re not paying attention. Every buzz causes you to look toward your phone, creating a distraction and breaking the flow of conversation.

With the Apple Watch, you’ll be able to set notifications to vibrate and only allow specific calls through from your phone. That way, the watch will only vibrate when you get that call and you’ll be able to sense the vibration without even having to glance at your watch. And then, when there’s a break in the proceedings or the meeting, you can step out of the room and return the call.
Women attorneys will appreciate this feature even more than their male counterparts. Unlike most men, professional women don’t carry their iPhones in their pant pockets or in the inside pocket of their suit jackets. The pockets are simply too small. Instead, we place our phones in our purses or in our briefcases. This means we don’t feel the phones when they vibrate and oftentimes can’t even hear them when they ring. So in order to avoid the appearance of being rude, we tend to miss important calls altogether.

The Apple Watch offers the perfect solution to this dilemma. It will provide women lawyers with the ability to receive important notifications right on their wrist, even if their iPhone is tucked away and out of sight. So while it seems like such a simple fix, it’s an important one and one that will truly make a difference in the lives of women lawyers.

Of course, there will be many other uses for the Apple Watch, both for lawyers and the public as a whole. Importantly, the Apple Watch is in its infancy and its features will evolve over time, defined in part by the ways that we choose to use it. But I predict that it’s the filtered, silent notifications that will be the killer feature that makes it so appealing right out of the starting block. From there, who knows where it will take us? I, for one, am looking forward to finding out.

 

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and the Legal Technology Evangelist at MyCase, intuitive web-based law practice management software for the modern law firm. She is also 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 niki@mycase.com.


The courts on mobile devices in the courtroom

Stacked3This week's Daily Record column is entitled "The courts on mobile devices in the courtroom ."  My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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The courts on mobile devices in the courtroom 

In 2007, the iPhone was launched. Thus began the mobile revolution. Now, 8 years later, 77 percent of lawyers use smartphones for law-related tasks, according to the results of the American Bar Association’s 2014 Legal Technology Survey Report. This, even though lawyers are traditionally slow to incorporate new technologies into their work flows. Mobile devices have been the exception, however, and lawyers have latched onto them and embraced them from the very start.

The courts have been much slower in their response to, and acceptance of, mobile tools, as evidenced by the recent policy on mobile device use by lawyers promulgated by the United States Fifth Circuit. As Jeff Richardson recently reported on his blog, iPhone J.D., the federal court recently released new rules, which were approved on Jan. 15, and impose fairly strict limitations on mobile device usage by lawyers appearing in Fifth Circuit courtrooms.

Importantly, the rules require that smartphones and tablets be turned off completely at all times, except when an attorney is presenting an oral argument before the court or is sitting at the counsel table. Even then, the devices can only be used for limited purposes and lawyers are expressly forbidden from using cameras or other recording devices and may not use social media while in the courtroom.

The new policy in its entirety is as follows:

POLICY ON ADMITTANCE OF ELECTRONIC DEVICES INTO THE JOHN MINOR WISDOM UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS BUILDING

A. Cameras and recording devices are not permitted in the John Minor Wisdom United States Court of Appeals Building (“Building”) without the court permission. Laptops, tablets, cell phones, and other similar devices that contain cameras or recording functions are exempt from this subsection but are still subject to (B)—(D).

B. After visual inspection and X-ray by a Court Security Officer, electronic devices may be admitted into the Building.

C. Unless prior court permission is obtained, all electronic devices must be turned off (not “vibrate-only” mode or airplane mode) when inside a courtroom where a Fifth Circuit argument is being held. However, an attorney presenting argument or assisting at counsel table may use a laptop, tablet, or similar device. If the laptop, tablet, or similar device has a camera or recording device, those functions may not be used inside the courtroom. At no time may anyone use social media inside a courtroom.

D. Under no circumstances will disruptive behavior be tolerated in any courtroom where a Fifth Circuit argument is being held. Violators will be promptly removed.

This policy, while very restrictive, is more expansive than other jurisdictions. For example, Maryland State Court Rules explicitly forbid the use electronic devices in a courtroom absent express permission from the sitting judge.

Of course, there are also courts that are more liberal in their view toward lawyers using these devices in the courtroom, such as the Vermont Supreme Court Rule, which allows lawyers to use mobile devices while presenting to the court and while waiting for their cases to be called, as long as the devices are in “silent mode” and aren’t used for oral communication. Other forms of communication are acceptable, such as texting, as long as the judge has not prohibited said use. 

A partial list of the rules promulgated by different courts across the country on these issues can be found at the National Center for State Courts Website. According to this list, 12 state courts have addressed the use of mobile devices in the courtroom, along with six federal courts, not including the Fifth Circuit, as discussed above.

In other words, many jurisdictions have yet to issue policies regarding the use of mobile devices in the courtroom despite the proliferation of these devices and their wide scale use by both lawyers. Hopefully the courts will catch up with the times sooner, rather than later. After all, lawyers rely on mobile tools to help them practice law more efficiently, allowing them to present their clients’ cases with greater clarity and simplicity. So allowing them to use these devices while in court will benefit not just their clients, but also the judges and the court system as a whole.

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and the Legal Technology Evangelist at MyCase, intuitive web-based law practice management software 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 niki@mycase.com.


A look at 4 of my favorite apps and extensions

Stacked3This week's Daily Record column is entitled "A look at 4 of my favorite apps and extensions."  My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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A look at 4 of my favorite apps and extensions  

I’m a big fan of technology and am always looking for new ways to incorporate technology tools into my daily workflow. As a result, I often find myself experimenting with new apps and browser extensions. Here are a few of my latest discoveries, including iOS apps and browser extensions that simplify my life and streamline my workflow.

First, there’s the GoogleNow iOS app. This app is an intelligent personal assistant that responds to voice commands and also provides “information cards” catered to your needs. The information is gleaned from your phone’s GPS data and the data that Google has collected from your search history and your Gmail account. It then personalizes the results and predicts which “information cards” will be most useful to you, such as traffic directions and conditions from your current location to your home, information about the delivery status of packages, the status of flights you’re scheduled to take, news items of interest, the weather for your current location, restaurants and attractions located nearby, and more.

Of course, in order to increase the usefulness of the app, you must necessarily give up some of your privacy to Google. But even so, for many, myself included, the convenience and utility of the app may outweigh that concern.

Next, the Tempo smart calendar iOS app. After much searching, this is my smart calendar app of choice. This app connects with the native iOS app, Google calendar, or any other calendar that you’ve set up on your mobile device. Once installed, it’s a simple matter to input an event. You simply type in “Meeting with Mary Smith at 3 at Mac’s Diner” and the app does the rest. It automatically creates an event at the specified time, locates and links to the contact(s) you’re meeting with, and suggests businesses that match the location, giving you the option to include a map with a navigation button, so that you can then pull up turn-by-turn instructions via Google Maps.

It also includes a reminders feature, allows you to search for and link to emails that might be connected to the event, offers the ability to include a free conference call link with just the touch of a button, and allows you to send a pre-written text message to the contact you’re meeting with indicating that you’re running late. There are other smart calendar apps that include many of these features, but I prefer Tempo because it includes a search function and has a clean, intuitive interface that permits the calendar views I find to be most useful.

Next, there’s Oyster, an iOS, Kindle and Android app that offers a reasonably priced e-book lending service. For the small monthly subscription fee of $9.95 per month, you receive unlimited access to over 1 million titles. There are a handful of other similar services out there, but I prefer Oyster because of its simple reading interface. And, the app does a great job of suggesting books that might be of interest to you based on your past reading habits.

Finally, there’s my newest email add-on, MxHero, which works with both Gmail and Outlook. This is a free tool that adds all sorts of optional features to each email that you send. You can track emails to see if and when the recipient opens them, you can schedule emails to be sent at a later date and time, you can send self-destructing emails, and you can send group emails that, to the recipient, appear to have been sent to only him or her. It’s a great tools that gives you lots of control over the emails that you send.

So those are some of my latest discoveries. They work for me, but you won’t know if they’re a good fit for your needs unless you give them a try. So why not download a few to them today and see?

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and the Legal Technology Evangelist at MyCase, intuitive web-based law practice management software 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 niki@mycase.com.