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Technology Committee

Techlectic ... by Pat Hoover

     In case you were wondering, today’s column offers readers a hash of Tech and should prove out the meaning of the extension, “lectic”, (eclectic, get it) read within this column’s title, Techlectic… 
     To the many lawyer pundits and prognosticators who are convinced the Internet has served to kill off the future of conventional print media, with massive losses in employees, overall readership and drastic economic decline in traditional print media to newspapers, books and the like – Law 360, http://www.law360.com/ has come to the rescue for attorneys and proves the fallacy of publishing’s death toll.


     Originally directed at IP attorneys when it first appeared in the early years, Law360 now offers something like 26 channels of subscription access for lawyers and law firms in a wide assortment of legal fields of both national and international interest. I recently tried out a free subscription to this not inexpensive, but plainly worth it, up to the minute online legal provider and have been blown away by Law360’s outstanding coverage, analysis and always-first to publish coverage, legal holdings, decisions and filings with ready access to original files, docket numbers and full cites, from Washington, DC and around the nation. A Big Law subscription for sure given its monthly costs, nevertheless, if you want to be the first, Law3460 delivers big time. When you need to know of important developments in IP, Government Contracts, Large Corp Litigation and a lot more, Law360 is your fastest, easiest and best answer. IMHO, Law360 is far faster, easier and more useful than any of its competition, Am Law, NLJ, BNA, etc.  And its fun to read, always available and first to report.
   

 If behemoths, Google and Amazon, are right (and they mostly are, IMHO) the newly released, Amazon Echo, http://amzn.to/1qrObgX may be coming to a living room or perhaps even to a law office near you. This always on, talking-tube, table top device is sort of like Apple’s Siri but on steroids and without need of any cell phone or any nearby computer. Basically, a computer without a screen monitor, the Echo requires only an electric outlet and wifi to work. It will answer your questions on the fly through its built in speaker and supposedly tell you whatever it is you want to know. The weather, traffic, your music selection, math questions, email contents, online documents–all these and a lot more are supposed to be available by simply asking Amazon’s new Echo. I’m guessing you’ll not need to be a deep Google user to realize the promise here, and oh yea, at this point you need an invitation before you can buy this $199 marvel! Let me know what you think if you try the Echo.
 

   Brightline Bags, (brightlinebags.com) offers the weary road warrior attorney a bright alternative to the usual mess seen when trying to tote around the assortment of computer, tablet, smart phone, cables, peripherals and other devices along with your active files, battery chargers, pens, biz cards, etc., etc., etc. If like me, you’re frustrated by the inevitable hassle of the usual make-do approach back packs and briefcases invariably present when having to quickly locate, pull out and actually use one or another item for use in the “field” (out of office, in court at arbitration, etc.), consider getting one of the many bags in the line of well designed and durable travel bags from Brightline. I bought the B7 Flex model and love it. Totally modular, reasonably priced and very well constructed right here in the USA, this carry all with rolling cart (purchased separately) is not large.  It is sized for carry on when traveling by air and works well. Best of the bags, it is fully configurable, expandable and shrinkable and can be fitted out to carry as much or as little, allowing you to downsize or expand your bag to just what’s needed and no more. Cost $200 for the B7 Flex model, my choice.


 Recent Tech Updates For Lawyers

“To improve is to change; 
to be perfect is to change often” 
-Winston Churchill

     The legal profession is "cautious" when it comes to use of new technology.  Our industry, perhaps much more than most major industries, has moved forward rather deliberately when it comes to even the most broadly-accepted technological tools, such as email. There are many good reasons for this hesitation (as addressed by, inter alia, our Bar Association’s many Legal Ethics articles, CLEs, etc., the prudent practitioner is well-advised to observe certain protocols and precautions in utilizing any tool or resource). This article is not intended to either endorse or recommend any particular product. The aim here is to merely touch upon some of the notable issues and/or tools which have been the subject of recent industry “buzz.”

1. Public Domain Blue Book Project
     For decades, courts all across the country have required litigants, represented and pro se, to follow the citation rules set forth in the BlueBook.  Public Resource is taking the BlueBook and putting it up on the internet, for free.  The obvious benefit is it would be free and accessible by everyone.  But additionally, by putting up an electronic version, it will make it easier to find those obscure and rare citation rules. See Mike Masnick, Harvard Law Review Claims Copyright Over Legal Citations; Now Challenged By Public Domain Effort, Techdirt, October 8, 2014.
     What you should know is that this resource is not yet available, as there is currently a legal battle between Public Resource and the publishers of the BlueBook, the Harvard Law Review Association, the Columbia Law Review Association, the Yale Law Journal Company, and the University of Pennsylvania Law Review.  The publishers of the BlueBook claim copyrights to the BlueBook, while Public Resource claims that copyrights on certain editions at least, have expired. Id.

2. PacerPro
     PacerPro is a modern interface for PACER that provides enhanced functionality that makes tracking your federal court cases significantly easier.  Some of the key features include universal search and aggregate search results, automatic updates on cases based on the frequency set by the user, one-click downloads of entire dockets, and email alerts.  Perhaps most useful is the fact that you can keep track of all your cases in one place.  As is, PacerPro provides a much more user-friendly and intuitive interface than PACER does.
     Currently, PacerPro offers two subscriptions, free and premium.  Free users are limited to four concurrent automatic case updates and four batch downloads per month.  Premium subscribers get unlimited case follows and updates, and unlimited batch downloads.  The subscription fee is $25.00 per month per user.  
     The fact that it is free makes this tool a must for anyone doing any work in federal court.  Here is their website: https://www.pacerpro.com

3. Electronic Signatures
     One of the biggest “waives of the future” is e-signing. Like it or not, it’s already here and we’ve only seen the tip of the ice-berg in demand for this capability. A recent ABA survey identified the following factors for this increasing demand: (i) efficiency and environmental consideration (avoiding printing and saving paper); (ii) time-savings (in processing and producing signatures) and (iii) complying with legal retention of records and auditing requirements (everyone is going paperless). See Eliya Fishman, Ditching Paper Signatures: Are All Electronic Alternatives Equal?, ABA, Law Technology Today, August 28, 2014.  
     90% of all digital data ever produced, was created in the last 2 years. Id. Studies have shown that a large portion of all printing and use of paper is related to obtaining signatures on documents. Id. It is apparent that the demands of convenience, efficiency, as well as conservation of resources will eventually render paper-signatures a thing of the past. For a more detailed analysis of this issue and a discussion of the various tools available for e-signing, please see the above referenced ABA article.

4. Clio
     Clio is a legal case management software.  Like many case management softwares, Clio provides time management and billing tools and a calendar.  It also provides integration with other apps such as Dropbox, Google Apps, and even PayPal. Moreover, at the Cloud Conference held in Chicago in September, Clio brought together a lot of different technologies which improves Clio's accessibility and usability.  
     For example, Clio will now integrate with QuickBooks Online, for easier accounting.  Perhaps most importantly for Maryland lawyers, Clio now integrates with Fastcase.  Users can bill time and save cases right to their client matters without having to leave Fastcase.  Members of the Maryland Bar have access to Fastcase, so Clio may be a good compliment to that.  And speaking of Fastcase, it has been voted the most popular Legal App by an ABA survey. You may refer to the ABA’s Law and Technology Today’s detailed discussion of this tool on-line.

A.P. Pishevar

Chair

A.P. Pishevar

 

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