Court Days Pro — An App with Lots of Appeal

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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.

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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.

ABA Releases Results of Legal Technology Survey

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By Jason Beahm (Findlaw.com)  on October  6, 2010  5:57 AM|

A new report demonstrates that attorneys are increasingly making use of technology. According to the 2010 American Bar Association Legal Technology Survey Report, attorneys are increasingly using Web 2.0 and other technologies in their practice. Attorney’s use of social networking and smart phones both grew by double-digit percentages.

The ABA survey is a project of the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center, which provides the legal community with news and information on technology and its use by attorneys. The Legal Technology Resource Center writes about technology and provides continuing legal education on practice management through the use of improved technology. The survey provides over 500 pages of detailed statistics and trend analysis on the use of technology in the practice of law. Over 5,000 ABA members were surveyed as part of the project. The Legal Technology Survey Report comes in six volumes, Technology Basics, Law Office Technology, Litigation and Courtroom Technology, Web and Communication Technology, Online Research, and Mobile Lawyers.

The report is worth taking the time to read at your leisure. In the meantime, here are a few highlights:

  • 71 percent of attorneys are using smart phones in the courtroom, up from 60 percent in the 2009 survey. 64 percent of respondents use smart phones in court to check for new e-mail, 60 percent send e-mail and 46 percent perform calendaring functions.
  • 56 percent of those surveyed maintain an online presence on a site like Facebook or LinkedIn, up from 43 percent in 2009 and 15 percent in 2008.
  • 10 percent of those surveyed have landed a client through the use of online communities or social networks.
  • 76 percent of respondents use smart phones, up from 64 percent in 2009.
  • The most popular brands of smart phones among attorneys were BlackBerry (66%), iPhone (20%) and Palm (9%).
  • 14 percent of respondents have a virtual law practice.

The Clouds are Forming: The Legal Cloud Computing Association Announces its Formation and Web Presence

(12/16/2010)  Recognized leaders in legal cloud computing announced today the formation of the Legal Cloud Computing Association (LCCA), an organization whose purpose is to facilitate the rapid adoption of cloud computing technology within the legal profession, consistent with the highest standards of professionalism and ethical compliance.

The organization’s goal is to promote standards for cloud computing that are responsive to the needs of the legal profession and to enable lawyers to become aware of the benefits of computing technology through the development and distribution of education and informational resources.

The LCCA also announced the publication of its response to the ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20 Working Group with respect to the Commission’s September 10, 2010 call for comments on Client Confidentiality and the Use of Technology.

The group, consisting of Clio (Themis Solutions Inc.), DirectLaw, Inc., Rocket Matter, LLC and Total Attorneys, LLC, will cooperate with Bar Associations and other policy-forming bodies to release guidelines, standards, “best practices“, and educational resources relating to the use of cloud computing in the legal profession.

An informational website for the group: http://www.legalcloudcomputingassociation.org

You can see the rest of their press release at: http://www.legalcloudcomputingassociation.org/Home/industry-leaders-join-to-form-legal-cloud-computing-association

Of additional note is their response to the call for comments on client confidentiality and cloud computing in the legal profession: See, www.legalcloudcomputingassociation.org/Home/aba-ethics-20-20-response

My comments:

I think that the formation of a legal cloud computing association is not only timely, but incredibly necessary.  All too often, the everyday practitioner ends up behind the ethics of a given technology and today’s way of practicing law requires vigilance in keeping up to date on the various developments in tech.

While its is often easy to employ a new technology, it does not mean that any given state bar association will understand it or make room for use of the new tech.  This unavoidable gap in communications is readily evident in recent legal treatises on the issues.  It simply may be that tech is moving so fast that there is no practical way for state bar associations to keep up with the developments.  If this is the case, then any problems arising are something that can only be prevented by realtime communication between the tech-movers and the various bar associations.  It is critically important that “cloud lawyers” have a voice in the state bar associations as well as within the tech community.

Having a voice in the tech community means that we will have ever-improving tools for our profession, movement toward an environmentally friendly practice, and better ways of enjoying solo practice.  It also probably goes without saying that we also need to maintain our competitive edge on each other and for the benefit of the clients we advocate for.

Much thanks to the LCCA for starting this up and I wish them the absolute best coming into 2011 and beyond.

Migration to Micrososft Office Said Not to be Seamless

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Forrester Research is warning business users who are ready to move to Microsoft’s Office 2010 — especially from older versions of Microsoft Office — that they may face some easily and not-so-easily remediable pitfalls.

“Forrester Research is warning business users who are ready to move to Microsoft’s Office 2010 — especially from older versions of Microsoft Office — that they may face some easily and not-so-easily remediable pitfalls.

Microsoft officials have said Office 2010 is the fastest selling consumer version of Office to date. But the Softies haven’t made the same claim on the business side, as the Forrester researchers pointed out in a December 13 research note. That’s because business upgrades typically take longer to commence and complete.”  See, ZDNet Article on Forrester Research’s Findings.

Forrester Research Chart

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.

Microsoft Office 11 for Mac — Looks Good

Office Mac 2011 is definitely an upgrade from the 2008 version.  Among other things, the user interface has improved dramatically.  The various tools and tabs on the ribbon are useful and intuitive.  In fact, I would claim that the Mac version is better than the Windows version.  I still have to figure out the ribbon UI in Windows and gave up long ago.  One of my favorite additions to the Office Suite is the “Notebook” template, which is very much like the Notebook offering made by CircusPonies.com, without any significant cost differential.  Most of the templates are more on the consumer side and I am looking forward to seeing if my Windows-based pleadings templates will be compatible with the Mac version.  Another key issue will be looking at the ease of being able to insert tables for exhibit lists, witness lists, or for demonstrative courtroom exhibits.  The Powerpoint program seems equally intuitive and the interface is clean and understandable.  Again, the templates are are little simplistic, but easily tailored to meet the needs of a trial lawyer preparing a presentation with use of video clips from a deposition, pdf exhibits, images, and interactive elements. The spreadsheet element of Office is what one would expect and offers a number of good templates, including invoicing, timesheets, and other useful tools for the legal profession.  Finally, I really like the smooth interface between SkyDrive and the Suite.  I have been using SkyDrive or its predecessors for some time and have enjoyed the remote accessibility to my files, especially during trials and travelling.  SkyDrive also makes it easy to share files with clients, which is becoming more important as cloud-based technology develops.  All in all, the suite is just one more reason to justify the transition to Mac as an office tool.  While many of us in the legal world are stuck on Wordperfect, this offering may just be the reason to finally break the chains so that lawyers can more easily interact with clients (most of whom use Word).  I give this new version of Office a 9.5 out of 10.  If there were templates for pleading, I’d give it a 10.  For additional reviews see, TechRadar.com and ZDNet.com.  For an article on whether it’s worth your time, money and effort to upgrade your present office suite, you can see this MacWorld article which does a good job of speaking to this issue.