Court Days Pro — An App with Lots of Appeal

Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

According to the Developer:

“Court Days Pro is the first rules-based legal calendaring app for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Court Days Pro provides attorneys and legal professionals with the ability to calculate dates and deadlines based on a customizable database of court rules and statutes. Once the rules are set up in the application, calculations are performed using a customizable list of court holidays.

Once you chose a triggering event (e.g., a motion hearing date) the application will display a list of all events and corresponding dates and deadlines based of trigging event (e.g., last day to file moving papers, opposition, reply briefs).  Icons on the screen show the number of calendar days and court days from the current date for all resulting events.

By default, Court Days Pro is preprogrammed with a list of all federal holidays, but is fully customizable to allow the addition or removal of any court holiday to the list (e.g., Lincoln’s Birthday in California State Court).

Adding, deleting, and modifying rules-based events  in Court Days Pro is quick and easy, and was designed to allow multi-step calculations. For example, if you are calculating the deadline for filing a regular motion in California Superior Court, you can set the application to calculate back 16 court days, plus 5 calendar days, with the last day shifting backward to the next available court day, should it land on a weekend or holiday. You can set an unlimited number of calculations to be triggered by a single event.

Date results not only appear on the screen, but can be added to the device’s native calendar app, and later revised or deleted from within Court Days Pro. Also, all results can be emailed straight from the application.

Future versions of Court Days Pro will allow the purchase of preprogrammed rules sets for certain jurisdictions by using in-app purchasing.”

EsquireTech’s Review:

Definite 4 out of 5, with room for a strong 5.

So far, so good.  I’ve gone ahead and calendared a couple of law and motion dates, trial compliance dates, and a timeline triggered by the service of a complaint.  All of the dates went to my Ipad Calendar, and, from there, to my Google Calendar.  The app crashed once in adding the dates to the calendar.  However, I did not get too upset about that since I know this is a new app.  Also, I have not yet tried it on my Iphone, but will give that a shot later today.

Compared to the costs of Compulaw, Amicus, or Abacus, this may prove itself to be a very worthwhile and easily marketable app.  Hopefully the developer has a good team of litigators who will be able to get the add-in rules for big states like New York, California, etc., into the system and available for purchase.

It would also be nice to see integration with some of the cloud-based lawyer applications such as RocketMatter, which has turned out to be an effective office management package that covers a lot of territory (calendaring, Google integration, DropBox integration, billing, invoicing, timeslips, etc.).  With Court Days Pro, FastCase, and Rocketmatter, the possibility of having a well managed office at minimal cost is becoming a positive reality for small firms.

I am excited about the prospects of this app and look forward to seeing how it develops over time.  Assuming it stays the course, I will be very happy to endorse this product within our bar association.

I’m very much looking forward to seeing this app developer do well and gain the support that they need to be able to compete with WestLaw and some of the other exhorbitantly priced calendar management software vendors.  Nobody should have to pay somewhere between $500.00 and $1100.00 for a single user limited license just to calendar dates, where cloud-computing and other developments make management of data cost-effective and user-friendly.  Hopefully this app and many others will make it easier for small firm practitioners to be the best at what we do.

Right to an Attorney…or an Attorney with an iPad?

iPad con dock y teclado inalámbrico

Image via Wikipedia

From the American Bar Association Tech Site {Author Unknown}:

Whenever I think about new technology in the courtroom, I always wonder what that technology would have been like in a famous trial.  When I think of famous trials, I always think of the Clarence Gideon trial (Gideon v. Wainwright (1963) 372, which expanded our Constitutional right to an attorney in a criminal matter.  What if Mr. Gideon’s attorney, Fred Turner, had an iPad?!  It’s a bit odd to think about, especially since most of the TV world was still black and white in 1963, but in the year 2011, it is a reality.

I just finished reviewing some of the latest and greatest trial presentation tools, and I have to admit that after a few years of things being a bit stagnant, I am excited about what is hitting the legal market this year.

The first thing that I am impressed with is Sanction and Trial Director, the two competing giants in the trial presentation world.  For a decade now, these two have gone toe to toe in this market.  You have to love competition!  If it weren’t for these two products, technology in the courtroom would be years behind what it is.  The new interface and presentation effects are fantastic.

The second area that I am impressed with is the rapid emergence of tablet computing, which is a very hot topic at ABA TECHSHOW this year.

Somewhat to my surprise, tablet/mobile computing has surfaced in the trial presentation world.  That’s right, … there is an App for nearly everything, including one for trial presentation.  It is called TrialPad.  Being a bit of a trial presentation snob, I admittedly was skeptical about this.  However, after trying it out, I found it to be pretty good.  TrialPad imports PDFs from a folder structure stored in Dropbox.  This allows you to organize exhibits on your computer and import multiple files into TrialPad, keeping the folder structure intact.  Files can also be imported from email, GoodReader, and obviously iTunes. Using a VGA adapter that I bought at the local Apple store, I was able to hook up my iPad to a projector and display documents.  I did experience a little quirkiness with the video from time to time, but nothing I couldn’t navigate through.  Cons:  (1) no video support yet and (2) knowing there are many flavors of PDFs (not all PDFs are created equal), I would be sure to give it a good test with exhibits ahead of time.

In conclusion, while the iPad wasn’t really designed for this type of application, that can be said about many technologies and developments.  The reality is that the iPad can be used for small hearings and cases, and at a minimum, TrialPad and the iPad could be used as a “paperless file” for the countless pre-trial and motion hearings that we have day in and day out … unlike all the trials that settle or get continued.

MacLawyer’s Great News about Dropbox & Rocket Matter Integration

Image representing Dropbox as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

As a happy user of Dropbox and Rocket Matter, I strongly recommend that you take a look at Ben’s article from his interview with Larry Port of Rocket Matter. The article provides what you need to know about Dropbox and Rocket Matter integration.

From my perspective, this is important news for any lawyer who wants an integrated billing, database, and timekeeping solution. Again, MacLawyer comes out with great, practical, and timely news for those who care about technology in the legal field.

Electronic Privacy: A Moderate FTC Attack on Advertisers and Commercial Exploitation of User History Information

Obviously, one of the biggest concerns for a lawyer is the confidentiality of client records and work product.

As recently reported on the Huffington Post, there are a number of major players on the Internet who see it fit to trawl for user information when visiting their sites.  While maybe not a big deal, other than the unwanted hassle of targeted advertising, other sensitive information could be a real problem where one is storing client files on the Cloud or where similar factors present themselves.

While one could say that he/she will never be using the Cloud to store client data, I think the reality is that there may be no realistic alternatives in the future for what we consider to be standard storage now (i.e., hard drives, USB drives, external drives, etc.).  It’s not all bad if we plan now and place a privacy/security infrastructure in place now.

Historically, the confidentiality between the learned professions and those are served by those professions has been largely respected and protected.  Current technology does not eliminate the legitimate public policy concerns underlying these privileges against invasion, disclosure, production, and admission into evidence before a court.  For better or worse, most public policy issues express themselves through the regulatory environment and the creation of a whole new set of laws and restrictions (as though we don’t have enough laws on the books).  This being said, until there is a way of getting people to better behave themselves, we will have to settle for making a complex legal system even more so.

Realistically, I think that we will all eventually end up storing and processing much of our information through services such as Dropbox, Windows Live, Google Docs, RocketMatter.com, and other cloud-based servers.  While it is easy to say that hard storage will never be eliminated, the same could have been said of the cassette tape, VCRs, eight-tracks, zip drives, and a whole host of other tech items that seemed to earn what we thought was a permanent place in our daily lives.  While the main focus on these forms of storage media were related to intellectual property rights, privilege issues have not been widely discussed in the legal field.  It may simply be that lawyers, as a profession, are way behind the technological curve.  However, I am fairly certain that our clients not only expect confidentiality of information, they rightfully demand it.

In a recent review by me of the Rutter Group’s treatise on Professional Responsibility, there was quite a bit of information in the privacy concerns that arise as a matter of professional ethics.  Most of the information related to state bars coming down on lawyers for advertising violations.  There was also a brief discourse on how Facebook and other social networking sites affect bias of the judiciary, public perception, and client confidentiality.  What was not provided was a solution to how attorneys can stay competitive, be environmentally friendly, and how they might protect information in a world of data retention that changes and advances by the day.  Thus, this all becomes an issue about what we are all willing to do in order to protect not only confidential client information, but our own reasonable expectations of privacy in our personal lives as professionals and regular citizens/consumers.

Notwithstanding the privacy concerns within our specific profession, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is working on some proposals designed to address the invasions of privacy occasioned by some of the sites specifically mentioned in the Huffington Post article.

In the report, the FTC asserts that, “Companies should incorporate substantive privacy protections into theirpractices, such as data security, reasonable collection limits, sound retention practices, and data accuracy,” and that, “Companies should maintain comprehensive data managementprocedures throughout the life cycle of their products and services.”  There are also a number of practical proposals set out as well:

  • Privacy notices should be clearer, shorter, and more standardized, to enable better comprehension and comparison of privacy practices.
  • Companies should provide reasonable access to the consumer data they maintain; the extent of access should be proportionate to thesensitivity of the data and the nature of its use.
  • Companies must provide prominent disclosures and obtain affirmative express consent before using consumer data in a materially different manner than claimed when the data was collected.
  • All stakeholders should work to educate consumers about commercial data privacy practices.

While I am ordinarily no fan of governmental interference with a Free Market Economy, I must say that I do agree with the conclusion that many of the cooking tracking, user-history exploitation, and unwanted targeted advertising schemes are the product of a lack of education on the part of Internet users.

Moreover, unlike the voluntary decision to go to a store or similar place, the decision to utilize the internet is one that often involves making a connection from one’s private location and the associated plethora of data that rests on our personal or business computers.  As indicated above, this is a huge concern especially for professionals who retain confidential information with respect to their clients.  One can only sadly imagine the potential liability exposure should a marketer get a hold of professional-user information that references specific clients and sensitive data associated with them.

Keeping up on these issues is a must for not only those of us in positions of trust, I strongly believe that there is a legitimate issue of safety that deserves the expenditure of governmental resources for preventative measures and, at a minimum, for the education of those who use the internet.

Noterize: Mark Up Docs with this Basic App

Noterize is an app that I have used when I’m in a pinch to mark up a pdf exhibit and just need to make some basic notes as to the document along with any high-lighting.  I have mixed feelings about this app because I do not find the user interface to be all that particularly friendly.  What is likeable about the app is the fact that it is easy to import documents from Dropbox. Also, legal notes and comments can be placed directly onto the documents.  Adding an all encompassing toolbar for easy navigation would be a great improvement to an otherwise good app.

I would recommend this app to anyone looking for an adjunct to Noteshelf, which is very user friendly and intuitive.  With respect to both apps, having Adobe‘s Acrobat Pro 10 is an absolute must.  If you are inclined to use your Mac, PDFPenPro 5 is also a great user-friendly .pdf creation, editing, and sharing program for Mac.  I would give Noterize an 8 out of 10.  It could be a near perfect app with some work on the UI.  You can click on either image below for additional reviews on this app.  The pic below these is an actual screen shot showing the high lighting function, comments, and signature ability.

Noteshelf: No More Yellow Legal Pads for Me !!!

Noteshelf is probably my most used app for taking notes at depositions, trial and client meetings. This app provides a variety of features, including writing, erasing, and the ability to create individual notebooks for each client or matter.

There are a number of formats available for your notes, including one that mimics a regular legal pad. Along with the different notebook formats, you have the choice of many colors of ink and there are symbols/images that you can use for marking up your notes.  In short, the app is incredibly simplistic and best used with a Pogo stylus for Ipad.

The only improvement that I can think of would be handwriting recognition.  However, my handwriting during trial and depositions is so bad that it probably wouldn’t work anyway.  Nevertheless, there are those who might appreciate an improvement such as this.

After writing your notes out, you can e-mail them, put them into a DropBox folder, send them to Evernote, or Itunes.  The app will convert your notes into .pdf files for easy access and viewing by others.   I have been using this app for several months now and give it a 10 out of 10 for what it does.  The simplicity of its function and the easy to understand interface make this app a standout.

Trial Technology on the IPad – Readdle Docs Handler

After being in trial for several weeks on end, I have had the opportunity to review a number of apps through a ‘trial by fire.’  This review is just one of several upcoming looks at apps used in trial by my office.  One of the outstanding apps to have survived the ordeal was Readdle.  Readdle is a documents editor, organizer and reviewer.  What was particularly good about the app is the ability to easily organize exhibits, put them in a folder, and quickly review them during trial.  In one particular matter, I had about 1500 pages of exhibits and was able to easily flip through them, label them, and coordinate them with the hard copy exhibits in the parties’ binders.  The app is compatible with Rich Text,  Word (.doc) and Acrobat (.pdf) formats.  Truth be known, however, that it does not do well with pleadings done in Word and the highlighting function in .pdf is not the easiest or best out there.  If Readdle could easily convert .pdf files to an image file, like Noterize (which makes highlighting easy on such files), this would be a nearly perfect trial lawyers’ app.  The app works with Dropbox, e-mailing, MobileMe, GoogleDocs, and Safari.  Overall, this is a very good app with lots of potential.  I would recommend this to any lawyer who needs to review txt, doc, pdf files during trials, depos, or just in an everyday context.