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.

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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.

Google Chrome: One Step Closer to Paperless ?

Chrome OS Login

I just applied to be one of the test pilots for the Google Chrome OS. I am very interested in the prospect of having something that is connected to the Internet on a constant. Naturally, as a lawyer, I do have questions about security, confidentiality, practical use in the courtroom, and collaboration with staff. Hopefully, I will be one of the lucky one’s who gets to test this system in earnest.  I have tried, at various times, the Linux-Ubuntu OS, Windows (since its introduction), and Mac options since the 1980’s.  The prospect of a challenger to the old guard provides a clarion call for innovation.  I honestly hope that Chrome can drive innovation in this area — it’s been a while.

From what I can see, the upcoming Chrome OS is extremely user friendly and should be familiar to most of us vis a vis the use of “apps.” I certainly support anything that is quicker and which provides some level of long-term data integrity in terms of storage and accessibility. I am looking forward to becoming familiar with this particular OS and sharing the news as it comes in terms of strengths and weaknesses.
My guess is that the existing Google Apps will go a long way toward basic functionality. I already use Google Calendar, Google Docs, and Picasa for my photos. Each of these programs or services have improved over time and the fact that Google is way ahead with its research and development, I wouldn’t be surprised if they did not start to give Apple a real run for their money in the tablet OS arena and number of apps ultimately available. Much like in the 1980s, I think that Apple will have led the way, but may ultimately be overrun by its own innovation. Anyway, without further opining, you can check out the video showing Google Chrome in action on one of their demo units.
Just click on the video window below for a preview of the Chrome OS in action:

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.

Kno Tablet Could Prove to be Good for Lawyers Too …

Kno Tablet

While specifically designed for the educational community, this certainly looks like it could be a very good prospect for lawyers too.  The split screen could allow for the simultaneous viewing of an exhibit and notes, cases and outlines of arguments, codes, charts, timelines, mind mapping diagrams, and other documents which would otherwise have to be put side by side.

I certainly know that the single screen on the Ipad is limiting, especially while in trial or under the gun by some irritable judge who doesn’t have the patience for clicking or the old alt-tab function (even though flipping through pages would take longer and be louder anyway).  For right now I have been bringing both my laptop and my Ipad with me to evidentiary hearings.  As I have stated in prior posts, the convenience of a slate cannot be overstated.  The only improvement that I can think of is exactly what is proposed by the Kno tablet.  After looking at the specs, capabilities, and basic function, I think that this will prove to be a good addition to the tablet market — if those at Kno are able to grasp the foreseeably positive effect that this could have on the practice of law, which, for better or worse, is sometimes quite the academic venture.  I like what I see so far and hope that the folks at Kno will take a serious look at our industry and think of ways that it could improve efficiency in the courts and at our law schools.

Apple Announces New IOS 4.01 for Ipad

http://www.cnn.com/2010/TECH/gaming.gadgets/11/09/ipad.update.software/index.html

In what is anticipated to be a great improvement to the Ipad, Apple has announced that it will be releasing its IOS 4.2 platform.  The new version is supposed to include multi-tasking, folders, and printing capabilities.  There also going to be business enterprise improvements.  According to Apple, “iOS 4 is the world’s most advanced mobile operating system and includes powerful benefits for business. In November, Apple will release an iOS 4.2 software update for iPad, providing business users with additional iPad security enhancements, device management capabilities and improved enterprise integration.”

I cannot say that I am all that excited about the folders option since the folders don’t make it all that easy to immediately view what is in them, unless you remember where you placed every single app. For those of us who are a bit absent-minded when it comes to details like this, having the old interface is probably the better route.  The internal ability to print is a welcome addition though.  As of today, one has to find another app that can assist in the printing process and any particular app may be buggy at best.  For those who spend lunch playing games, Apple is bringing a gaming element that will allow you to play games online with others.

IOS 4.2 sounds like it should be a good update altogether, even though I must say that I am already a very happy customer.  The Ipad has proven to be an excellent aide in trial, great for immediate calendaring, and has proven itself as a good tool for editing/reviewing .pdf documents, Word docs, and photos.

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.