For the convenience of those in attendance, here are my slides and the list of apps from today’s “30 Apps in 30 Minutes” presentation at Minnesota CLE’s “New Lawyer Experience” seminar.Security
Where Microsoft’s core Office apps have been free for iOS for a couple months now, Android users have had to cool their heels until yesterday, when Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint finally showed up on the Google Play store. There is limited functionality unless you opt for a Microsoft 365 subscription, but you should still be able to view, edit and create documents on your Android tablet. (You are forgiven for wondering if this is old news, since the previews of these apps appeared in the Android store back in November, but these are apparently the finished deal.)
Microsoft also dropped the Outlook app for both iOS and Android yesterday, but in true Microsoft fashion, that sounds much more complicated.
Microsoft today launched Outlook for Android and iOS phones and tablets, based on the application it acquired when it bought Acompli last December. […]
In the long run, these new apps will replace all of Microsoft’s current (and somewhat confusing) range of Outlook-branded apps, including the Outlook.com app for Android and the rather limited OWA apps for Android and iOS that only work for paying Office 365 subscribers.
Got it. Maybe.
If you needed another reason not to put smiley faces in your correspondence, besides the fact that you are a grown person and you just shouldn’t, witness the Silk Road trial. Ross W. Ulbricht is charged with being the delighfully named Dread Pirate Roberts and running Silk Road, a sort of eBay for all things illegal. During the trial, the lawyers actually had to spend valuable court time arguing about emoji.
At issue was a piece of information that Mr. Ulbricht’s lawyer suggested was critically important, yet was omitted by federal prosecutors: an emoji. […]
The unusual debate, taking place out of the presence of the jury in Federal District Court in Manhattan, arose after a prosecutor finished reading the text of an Internet post. “I’m so excited and anxious for our future, I could burst,” the prosecutor had read to the jury, making no mention of the smiling symbol that followed.
Eventually, the judge, Katherine B. Forrest, instructed the jury that it should take note of any such symbols in messages.
Isn’t this what everyone dreamed of when we thought about becoming a lawyer?
There are those people that will tell you that any tattoo for a lawyer is ill-advised, as it does not fit the nobility of our profession. I am more in the “as long as it is covered at work” camp of tattoo thought vis-à-vis attorneys. But what if, for some inexplicable reason, you decided to get a tattoo that reflects your love of the law? Should you flaunt it?
There are scores of scales of justice and Lady Justice tattoos, but those are far too common for our purposes. We are talking about those law- and lawyer-related tattoos that are embarrassingly on point, be they too sincere or too ridiculous. Tattoos like the ones that follow.
Over at Concurring Opinions, Gerard Magliocca links to a treasure trove of tapes of LBJ’s catastrophically unsuccessful attempt to make Abe Fortas the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
President Johnson: Look at it from my standpoint, of knowing me as you know me, and what I want. I want somebody that I’ll always be proud of his vote. That’s the first thing. I may not be proud of his opinion, but I want to be proud of the side he was on. He may not be as eloquent as Hugo Black, or you, or somebody. But I want to be damn sure he votes right. That’s the first thing.
While the calls are notable for exactly the kind of cronyism LBJ was accused of engaging in, they are also notable for the sheer amount of half-folksy/half-belligerent swearing that LBJ does throughout. No one — before or since — has ever said “goddamned New York Times” like LBJ said “goddamned New York Times.”
Over the last few months, Google has rolled out its alternative Gmail interface, Inbox, in dribs and drabs. Perhaps you started out clamoring for an invite and got one, or perhaps you just forgot all about it. Google would like you not to forget all about it, of course, so today (which not coincidentally happens to be the launch of Microsoft’s Outlook for iOS), Google is offering 24 hours of guaranteed invites, beginning at 12pm Eastern.
Anyone who emails firstname.lastname@example.org from a personal Gmail account between 12 PM ET today and 12 PM ET tomorrow will receive an invite.
Related “Inbox Zero for Lawyers”
Google Inbox gives you a fancy new front end with reminders and snoozing and bundling tweets and suped-up labels. In theory it will help you get to the vaunted Inbox Zero state, but your mileage may vary.
Want to give clients the feeling that they are extra special to you by sending a handwritten note? Have a job interview where you still feel duty-bound to send a thank-you letter in the mail like it is still the 1800s? Need to do these things but do not want to actually, you know, have to physically write anything? Bond has you covered. Bond is a robot that will use a fancy fountain pen and send handwritten (well, robot-written) letters to the people you want to impress. You can choose one of their pre-designed handwriting styles or you can give them $199 to make their robots learn your horrible scrawl or for $499 they will sit you down with a handwriting expert so that your chicken scratch is less scratchy and then turn their robots loose on that.
Learn more by watching the somewhat overly fawning video.
I am mocking this, but since it involves fountain pens and robots, two of my twin obsessions, the chances I will end up giving Bond some of my money is high.
The other day, a Pennsylvania lawyer asked members of a trust and estate listserv whether they follow up with clients a few years after they deliver a will or trust. All 70 lawyers who responded said no. But I’d bet plenty that if you asked the same 70 lawyers if they spend money on online marketing, you’d get at least a few yes responses.
So let’s back up. Before you spend a single dollar on online marketing, make sure you’ve done the following.1. Check Your Intake Procedures for Leaks
Make sure every phone call gets answered. Enlist the help of a virtual receptionist, if necessary, and consider whether you ought to be answering your own phone. Don’t lose out on clients because you didn’t answer the phone in time.
Adopt a similar policy for emails — including people who fill out the contact form on your website. Make sure they get answered promptly.
When you answer or respond, use an intake form to make sure you get the essential information you need, but take whatever time you need with the potential client to make sure he or she feels comfortable with you. And if you handle contingent-fee matters, make sure you take the time you need to explore the potential claims. Don’t miss out on a good case because you didn’t take enough time.
More importantly, once you know you have a potential client you can help who is someone you are interested in representing with a case you are interested in handling, make sure you are able to convert them into a client. If you are losing out on business because you can’t close the deal, you might want to read up on selling.2. Make Sure You Are Taking Great Care of Your Current Clients
The best way to make sure your clients turn into repeat business — either themselves or by telling people about you — is by making sure they are thrilled with the service they get from you. But don’t kid yourself. If none of your current clients are complaining, it doesn’t mean a thing. Meeting with clients a few times doesn’t mean you have a relationship with them.
How do you welcome new clients? Do you just dive into the representation, or do you give them a welcome packet and a token of your appreciation for hiring you? Do you at least sit down with them for an orientation session and make sure they know what to expect?
Related “Don’t CC Clients on Emails”
Do you communicate regularly with your clients to update them on their legal matters? Do your updates provide context and an explanation, or do you just CC the client on everything?
In short, you should give all your clients top-shelf service. In almost every practice area, satisfied current and former clients will be one of your best referral sources.3. Don’t Close Relationships When You Close Files
It’s tempting to close a file with little more than a letter that says you are closing the file and you would love to receive referrals in the future. Of course, that’s a pretty cold way to do it.
Instead, call the client before you send that letter. See if they have any remaining concerns. And — this is important — ask what you could have done better. You will get much better answers over the phone than if you try sending a web form. Let the client know you will be sending a letter, explain what will be in the letter, and thank them for hiring you.
It is a small thing, but closing the file with a personal touch can go a long way to predispose former clients to refer more business your way in the future.4. Have a Plan for Staying in Touch with Former Clients
Finally, this is the issue that prompted this post in the first place.
Stay in touch with your former clients. And no, adding them to your email list and sending a holiday care do not constitute staying in touch (although they are better than nothing, if only a little). Take some time to consider what you could do for former clients that would keep them connected to you and your firm.
Maybe you could start a Scotch club that is exclusively for current and former clients. Or host a holiday party in January. Monthly networking events? Seminars to help clients deal with their finances, find a job, run their businesses, or something else relevant? Offer them the use of your conference room. Or just make a point of inviting a former client out for coffee every week. Be familiar enough that when they need more legal work or when someone asks them for a referral, you are the first person they think of.
Heck, you might even make some new friends.
But whatever you do, don’t spend money getting new clients before you take steps to leverage your existing client relationships.
Featured image: “Silver metal bucket full of holes” from Shutterstock.
Attorney is #4, costing up to $47.07 per click, and lawyer is #6, costing up to $42.51 per click.
If you are a California attorney with even the remotest bit of blogging savvy, it may be time for you to respond to this Request for Comment from the the State Bar of California. We already know that most legal marketing ethics rules are a hot over-regulated mess. California’s State Bar wrote a far-too-many-words position paper with a draft formal opinion of what a law blog is and when they get to regulate it.
Under what circumstances is “blogging” by an attorney subject to the requirements and restrictions of the Rules of Professional Conduct and related provisions of the State Bar Act regulating attorney advertising?
1. Blogging by an attorney is subject to the requirements and restrictions of the Rules of Professional Conduct and the State Bar Act relating to lawyer advertising if the blog expresses the attorney’s availability for professional employment directly through words of invitation or offer to provide legal services, or implicitly through its description of the type and character of legal services offered by the attorney, detailed descriptions of case results, or both.
2. A blog that is a part of an attorney’s or law firm’s professional website will be subject to the rules regulating attorney advertising to the same extent as the website of which it is a part.
3. A stand-alone blog by an attorney that does not relate to the practice of law or otherwise express the attorney’s availability for professional employment will not become subject to the rules regulating attorney advertising simply because the blog contains a link to the attorney or law firm’s professional website.
Now, the bar’s proposed categories of lawyer blogs aren’t terrible, but you know there is going to be a pile of stupid coming their way on this, so you best get writing.
Featured image: “arrow with Blog on grunge textured concrete ” from Shutterstock.
You may think this is just simple pudding, but you know what they say: pudding … has some proof in it.
Techdirt reports that the TSA is kind of sad that more of you haven’t thrown down money to get your private life inspected to enough of a degree that you are now allowed to be (relatively) waved through airport security.
In true Kafka-esque fashion, the TSA is going to solve this problem by putting it out for bid and allowing the third-party contractors to dig up even more of your personal data, because that will certainly make the whole endeavor more appealing.
PreCheck applicant screeners have all this stuff available to them:
For purposes of this private sector enrollment initiative for the TSA Pre?® Application Program, “commercial data” includes: public record data, such as criminal history and real estate records produced by federal, state, and local governments; other publicly available information, such as directories, press reports, location data and information that individuals post on blogs and social media sites; and wide ranging data such as purchase information, customer lists from registration websites, and self-reported information provided by consumers that is obtained by commercial data sources such as data brokers.
What could go wrong, really?
Don’t look now, but maybe you should rethink typing your own documents and switch back to dictating. Now, reading this, you fall into two camps: the people that grudgingly learned how to type after years of dictating and the people that never learned to dictate in the first place. Likely only one set of you is happy about this development.
Now, you can mercifully take this all with a grain of salt, because the study was conducted by, surprise surprise, a company that handles digital dictation. And an external partner might very well be likely if you switch over to dictation but do not have on-site support staff to actually transcribe your dictation.
That said, their benchmarking tests do show a significant speed increase in switching back.
(Chart courtesy of bigHand)
Oh wait. That is only four lawyers that were tested. And no mention of the productivity cost gains you lose when you turn around and pay someone else to transcribe your dulcet tones.
So let’s face it: if you are itching to dictate again, you can wave this study around. If you refuse to ever do so, you can waive this study around and point out the fact that its methodology is sorely lacking. Either way, everybody wins.
TrialDirector is a simple, cost-conscience solution for effective iPad trial presentation. Unlike some of its competitors, TrialDirector is free to download from the App store. It also has multiple methods for getting evidence into the app and provides lawyers with intuitive feature controls.
In this article, I will show you how to use TrialDirector for iPad for your next trial.Index
The first step in using TrialDirector is getting your evidence into the app. TrialDirector provides two options for this task: Dropbox and iTunes. However, when it comes to ease of use, these methods are not equals.Using Dropbox
Dropbox is undoubtedly the easier method and there are two reasons why:
To use Dropbox for importing your evidence, you simply save your evidence to a folder of your choosing in Dropbox. This is where you save all of your evidence, e.g., PDFs, pictures, video, audio, etc.1 Then, once you have added all of your evidence to the designated Dropbox folder, open TrialDirector, and click on the plus sign in the bottom left corner. Clicking this will present you with an option to import from Dropbox.
At this stage, you will be asked to type your email address and password to link your Dropbox account. The screen that will follow is a snapshot of your Dropbox account. In the below screenshot, you will see an evidence folder called “Faux v. Real Evidence,” which has been created for illustration purposes. Clicking on the folder containing your evidence will automatically start the download.
Note that the names of the pieces of evidence have a sampling of the different types of nomenclature you can assign to the evidence before importing. The most common naming system uses the document’s anticipated trial exhibit number followed by a brief description.Using iTunes
If Dropbox is not an option and you must use iTunes to get your evidence into TrialDirector, the first step is to create a folder on your computer as you normally would and put all of your evidence in that folder.
Once all of your evidence is loaded into the evidence folder, you connect your iPad to your computer, open iTunes, and cue the evidence folder for syncing with the iPad. Below is a screenshot from iTunes where there are four steps to readying the “Faux v. Real Evidence” folder for syncing.
After your computer and iPad sync, the evidence folder (including all of the discrete pieces of evidence) will appear when you open the TrialDirector app.Viewing Evidence
Now that all of your evidence has been loaded into TrialDirector, it is time to learn how to use it.
Inside your case folder, you will see all of your evidence listed in alphabetical order on the left. Depending on the types of evidence in the folder, TrialDirector will assign different icons. PDF evidence bears an icon with the familiar red Adobe logo; the picture evidence icon has a small picture with the file extension; audio evidence has a speaker and the video evidence icon is a film strip. This makes it easier for you to present the desired piece of evidence to a jury.
You can also quickly access one of four categories of evidence:
As you would expect, when one of the categories is selected, TrialDirector filters the evidence and displays only those files that meet the parameters of the filter. With the click of a single icon, you can filter evidence and find the audio file you need to impeach a witness and do so without ever leaving the lectern.Presentation Tools
In addition to the features that are designed to make accessing your evidence easier, TrialDirector has several great trial presentation tools. The toolbar is located below the main display box and has nine markup tools, as well as icons for side-by-side display, accessing a whiteboard, undoing the last edit, and clearing all edits.
TrialDirector’s markup tools are simple, easy to use and do a fantastic job of replicating the kind of markups lawyers routinely do during trial. Here is a short description of them ordered from left to right:
The below screenshots shows how each of the markup tools look when put to use.
And, unlike some of TrialDirector’s competitors, the markup tools work even on a callout. The markups on the callout example below were made after the callout feature was applied. This unique feature to TrialDirector is great because it allows the user to progressively narrow the focus of a piece of evidence.
Another terrific feature of TrialDirector is the side-by-side display option. This feature allows the user to select two different documents for display at the same time. This feature is a terrific tool for showing consistencies or inconsistencies in two different documents.
All lawyers know that evidence cannot be published to a jury until he or she is given permission to do so by the judge. And a violation of this well-established rule can land you in hot water. Therefore, learning how to use the publication features of TrialDirector is an absolute must.
The first step is to activate Airplay on your iPad. This is done by accessing Control Center from the bottom of the iPad screen. Once Control Center is displayed, click on Airplay and select your Apple TV. You will also need to activate the Mirroring feature.
Once Airplay is enabled, a narrow blue line will appear at the top of your iPad; TrialDirector will also reveal a new icon in the top right corner. Clicking on this icon will put TrialDirector into publication mode and reveal three options: clear, pause, and show.
These three options are used to control what the jury sees on the TV screen. Selecting “Clear” will display a black screen, removing whatever had been previously displayed. Selecting “Pause” will freeze the display to the jury, while allowing you to navigate to the next piece of evidence. And finally, “Show” will display the selected piece of evidence to the jury.
Obviously, your level of familiarity with these options will dictate how seamlessly you can move from one piece of evidence to the next. Therefore, it is a good idea to use TrialDirector in your trial preparation.Who Should Use TrialDirector
TrialDirector for the iPad is the perfect app if you want to ease into presenting with an iPad without breaking the bank. Further, the array of tools offered are familiar and easy to use. Even if you are a novice user, TrialDirector is not going to overwhelm.
Featured image: “Businessman standing posture hand holding blank tablet (modified)” from Shutterstock.
Go ahead and give these files meaningful names. This will make it easier to find what you’re looking for while in the midst of battle. ↩
From Legal Skills Prof Blog, reporting on an informal survey of Pennsylvania trust and estate lawyers:
After you write a will or trust, do you contact the client in a few years to see if the client needs an update? Seventy lawyers responded. How many responded “yes”? The answer: ZERO.
Oh for fuck’s sake, people.
Featured image: “Portrait of a thoughtful businessman” from Shutterstock.
A new class at the Michigan State University College of Law is going to try to combine machine learning with legal skills and applications. Machine learning is the science of creating algorithms that will allow a computer to learn from existing data and make predictions or decisions about the future.
The Legal Analytics course will talk about how machine learning can be used for legal functions like predictive coding in e-discovery, case assessments and predictions, forecasting staffing needs, and predicting future judicial behavior from past judicial decisions. It is basically a less-threatening Skynet.
You can watch the class introduction slide show below.
Featured image: “Robot working on laptop (done in 3d)” from Shutterstock.
I never did doc review, but it doesn’t sound like I missed out on much. As I understand it, some firms keep armies of junior associates around so that when a partner wants to see all the choice-of-law provisions related to a merger, the associates can stay up all night to give her the answer the next day.
Or you could just check a few boxes, click a few buttons, and get the answer immediately for a fraction of the cost. That’s what eBrevia does.
When you see it in action, it seems like a simple thing. After all, with OCR and a scanner, how hard is it to search a document? Well, a bit harder than you think, because of OCR errors and the likely possibility that you will miss something if you don’t read the whole thing. eBrevia accounts for OCR errors and uses pretty sophisticated machine learning to understand what sorts of provisions are relevant to, say, jurisdiction (they may not use the word jurisdiction, for example).
eBrevia founder Ned Gannon was hesitant to discuss the cost with me. That’s because they are still figuring it out. But, he said, the ballpark cost is around $12–30 per document. It depends on what you need (i.e., do you need eBrevia to add a new type of provision to its capabilities). But even at the top of that range, it’s almost certainly less than paying a junior associate to spend a half hour reading and summarizing the document for you.
If you do any litigation in federal court, you are already locked into the deathless embrace of PACER to file your documents, see your opponent’s filings, and conduct research. Since PACER has an interface that appears to have last been updated circa Netscape 3.0, a cottage industry has arisen (see PacerPRO, for example) to create a front-end research overlay that makes the PACER experience less terrible. The latest entry in this effort is DocketFish.
Like PACERPro, DocketFish gives you a friendlier interface that will automatically log you in and saves your searches. DocketFish also caches documents on their own servers so that you are not paying for documents twice or more when you look up the same things on PACER again and again. Think you don’t do that? Docketfish’s research says that 40% of firm downloads from PACER are duplicates. That can add up. Cached documents from DocketFish are always free. It also batches documents for you so you can bulk download rather than engage in the painful and tedious document-by-document format PACER uses.
DocketFish has a free plan (though you will still pay your PACER charges, of course) but you will need the premium plan to get those bulk downloads. The premium plan also gets you things like case alerts. Unfortunately, you will need to hit up DocketFish to find out how much that will run you.
We talk a lot about how encrypting your files is ethically and professionally critical, but the truth is that sometimes it is much easier to trade convenience for safety. Often, it is so much easier to bring your iPad to a meeting or a coffee shop rather than lugging around a laptop.
Insight Notes aims to make using your iPad a bit more secure by locally encrypting your notes and allowing (if you want to pay the extra $14.99 for cloud storage) you to back them up to a secure, encrypted server. It was designed for healthcare professionals to take notes in the field, but could work for attorneys as well.
Besides being encrypted, Insight Notes looks fancy. You can type, draw, or scan notes on the iPad and it will organize the records by date and client. It bulk exports notes (and keeps them encrypted while it does) and will put your note on letterhead with signature and contact info if you like.
Insight Notes is $9.99 in the App store. (Sorry, no Android version.)
This week Aaron and I cover non-lawyer ownership, non lawyers, and access to justice. Also — GOOD NEWS! — We also learn that every lawyer should be bringing in at least $200,000 because statistics.
For the interview, Fastcase CEO Ed Walters and I talk about law and robots, which will not necessarily help you get your $200,000, but is a pretty interesting discussion of the law of robots and the role artificial intelligence may play in the future of law.Why Do PI Lawyers Hate Non-Lawyer Ownership?
Do alternative business structures actually increase access to justice when it comes to personal injury? This article from the Law Times discussion personal injury lawyers’ opposition to non-lawyer ownersip comes from Canada, but seems relevant to the US legal industry.Should Non-Lawyers Practice Law?
In a post on LawSites, Bob Ambrogi took a look at the arguments for and against non-lawyer practitioners made on Above the Law, including Shannon Achimalbe’s argument that clients who fall into the gap probably don’t deserve lawyers, anyway, or something to that effect.Here’s Your Windfall
Lawyers who are considering starting their own firm frequently want to know how much they can expect to make. Well, now you have an answer. If you add up the legal market and divide the dollars by the number of solo and small-firm lawyers, it looks like you can expect to make a bit more than $200,000 a year.
(h/t Business of Law Blog)Interview: Ed Walters
Last semester, Ed taught the “Law of Robots” course at Georgetown Law, and because I’ve always enjoyed Ed’s thoughts on technology’s influence on the future of law (see my “Will Computers Become Better Lawyers Than Humans?” article, for example), I used that as an excuse to talk about robots and the future of law.
First, we talked about the law of robots. Robots are already here in the form of drones and self-driving cars, and they are raising legal issues like which of two possible people it should avoid in a no-win traffic accident situation.
Then, we talked about the role computers may play in law practice. When you consider Moore’s Law, it’s hard to imagine computers not doing some legal work in the near future. Students in Toronto are already trying to put IBM’s Watson to work doing legal research, and that is surely just the tip of the iceberg.
Ed and I explored some of the roles computers may play — not all of which endanger lawyers’ jobs. In fact, some of the roles computers may play could actually make law practice a lot more rewarding.Listen and Subscribe
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