Archive for July, 2009

Blackberry Apps for Lawyers

Posted on July 21, 2009. Filed under: Productivity |

Drlogo11

This week’s Daily Record column is entitled “Blackberry Apps for Lawyers.”

A pdf of the article can be found here and my past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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After reading last week’s article about iPhone apps for lawyers, a regular reader e-mailed me to request a similar article for Blackberry owners.

As the familiar expression goes: “Ask and ye shall receive.”

After some research, I located a number of Blackberry applications that would be useful for attorneys; but, it wasn’t easy.

I was happy to discover how easy it was to locate the “Blackberry App World,” the official Blackberry app store. My happiness quickly turned to consternation, however, when I realized I could only peruse the app store if I downloaded the app store program — using only Internet Explorer or a Blackberry. Unfortunately, I’m a Mac gal and had access to neither.

Nevertheless, I managed to unearth an assortment of Blackberry applications that would benefit just about any law practice.

First, there a number of apps consisting of databases of federal and state laws, which allow lawyers to carry relevant laws and rules in their pockets in an easily accessible format.

From the developer “The Law Pod,” lawyers can purchase the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, Federal Rules of Evidence and the U.S. Constitution.

Also, lawpda.com provides state statutes for California, Texas and Florida.

There is a legal dictionary —Beiks Bouvier’s Law Dictionary, for $19.95.

And there are a number of apps that, while not targeted specifically toward lawyers, could prove very useful.

First, for managing and creating documents, there’s the eOffice 4.6 Mobile Office Suite. It costs $29.95, and allows you to work with Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files. Files you’ve created can be shared using the Bluetooth File Sharing app, which costs only $9.99.

The RDM+:Remote Desktop for Mobiles app costs $39.99 and allows remote access to your desktop via your Blackberry, dates, DateMathica, from Shrunken Head Software, a date calculator that costs $9.99, is worth a look.

Another useful product from that same company is BizTrackIt, at $39.99, which allows you to track billable/unbillable time by project and e-mail time record reports in CSV file format or synchronize them to your PC using Desktop Manager.

With Viigo RSS Reader, a free app, you can keep up with all the news as it comes in.
Skype, the well-known VOIP software that provides unlimited long distance phone calls, now is available for Blackberrys as well, and it’s free.

Winscribe dictation software also is available, and provides online and offline functionality with secure data and voice transmission.

Last, but not least —a number of assorted apps of interest. The Wikipock Basic Edition, at $9.99, allows you to have access to all of Wikipedia, even if you have no internet connection.

Another popular online service, Evernote, is now available for Blackberrys. The free application allows you to capture photos, notes and voice memos, which then can be synced with your desktop Evernote client.

Finally, a free and very popular online application, Pandora, is available to Blackberry owners. Pandora is your very own personalized radio that streams music directly to your Blackberry. Radio stations can be created and tweaked to suit your
preferences by indicating which songs you like best, and least.

So, if you’re a diehard Blackberry fan, or simply own a Blackberry because you have no other choice, there are apps out there that can improve your Blackberry experience, increase your efficiency and improve your law practice.

Give them a try!

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Getting Things Done Productivity System-The Weekly Review

Posted on July 17, 2009. Filed under: Practice Management |

RocketMatter Today, I bring you a guest post from my good friend, Larry Port, Founding Partner and Chief Software Architect for Rocket Matter, LLC (http://www.rocketmatter.com), a web-based law practice management system.  You can follow him on Twitter here: (http://www.twitter.com/rocketmatter).

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GTD For Legal: The Weekly Review

As part of our weeklong legal efficiency-fest, we’re discussing the Getting Things Done productivity system in the context of a law firm.  Each day this week, we’ll write guest posts at prominent legal blogs exploring the system in more detail.

A perfect way to wrap our Legal Getting Things Done Week is a discussion of the Weekly Review, one of the most important ideas in the GTD system.  In fact, I would argue that if you were going to take away one thing from GTD, implementing the Weekly Review will keep you in touch with your priorities and prevent your organizational system from coming unhinged.

What is the Weekly Review?

It’s a simple concept, but harder than it sounds.  You need to find an hour or two each week.  Block off time on your calendar where the phone can’t ring and the door can’t open.  For a busy attorney this can be very difficult, since deadlines, opposing counsel, and judges can pop in at any time.  We have some ideas about scheduling later on in this post.

In these review sessions, you must clear your head and process everything that happened that week.  Any notes jotted on legal pads, calendar appointments, or loose ideas need to be gathered up and captured.  It’s also a good time for a mini Mind-Sweep (click here to read our post on Mind-Sweeps).

Once you capture all of your loose ends, take a look at upcoming calendar events and determine any actions they need.  Then, organize your inbox into lists and review everything.  According to the GTD book, you’re done with your Weekly Review if you can say “I absolutely know right now everything I’m not doing but could be doing if I decided to” (Getting Things Done, Chapter 8).

Review your projects and take note of their status.  Examine your Next Action and Waiting For lists to check off anything completed and note supporting actions that might need to occur.  Look at your “Someday/Maybe” lists and see if you’d like to promote a project or remove ones that no longer hold your interest.  If you missed our discussion on some of these list categories, click here for an explanation.

Why is the Weekly Review of such paramount importance?

Busy lifestyles aren’t the problem.  It’s when an individual has a constant whirlwind of activity and doesn’t take time to organize action based on priority.  Attorneys, who live under the threat of looming deadlines, get called away to handle emergencies, and have family commitments, can quickly become overwhelmed by responsibilities. The result is that individuals constantly find themselves in “reaction” mode, leaving the individual unfocused, and when the dust clears, there’s not a system in place to handle activities in an organized way.

The Weekly Review allows you to operate as your own CEO.  Your Next Actions will descend from your priorities, and you can see each project or matter from a clear perspective.  You will also permit yourself to play catch-up with all of the incoming bits of information you collect throughout the week (that you can’t possibly deal with as they stream in).

I’m so busy.  How and when could I possibly schedule a Weekly Review?

Since the Weekly Review is very important to your organizational life, you’re going to want to make a positive habit out of it.  Even if your life seems too crazy to accommodate a couple of hours a week, it helps to recognize “the value of sacrificing the seemingly urgent for the truly important” (Getting Things Done, Chapter 8).

For attorneys, who often deal with mission-critical situations, you may need to find islands of time beyond normal work hours.  If you can swing Friday afternoon from 4-6PM or early Saturday morning, the extra time investment will pay dividends in the rest of your weekly operations.  At those periods at the end of the week, fresh from the week’s battle, you allow yourself to clear your mind, set up your next week, and focus on the weekend.

Thanks For Reading!

We hope our legal GTD week blog posts are beneficial to you.  For a list of all five posts for the week, click here for your future reference.  And thanks to our host bloggers, The Mac Lawyer, Grant Griffiths, Sam Glover, and Niki Black for allowing us to guest post on their sites this week!

Purchase “Getting Things Done” at Amazon.com.

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Start a blog-get a job

Posted on July 13, 2009. Filed under: Misc. |

Start a blog–get a job

Checkmark I’m proud to announce that I’m now a contributing blogger at one of my favorite law blogs, Lawyerist.

My first post, “Start a blog-get a job,” explains how blogging can help attorneys who were recently recently laid off, are new graduates, or are returning to the law after a planned hiatus, get a job.

I was also recently interviewed at Law.com’s legal tech blog.

Check it out!

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Practicing law: There’s an iPhone app for that.

Posted on July 13, 2009. Filed under: iPhone | Tags: |

Drlogo11

This week’s Daily Record column is entitled “Practicing law: There’s an iPhone app for that.”

A pdf of the article can be found here and my past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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Practicing law: There’s an iPhone app for that

In June, the latest iPhone, the 3GS, was released. The new features, including video capability, voice control, and increased speed make the iPhone all the more competitive with other smart phones.

Third party applications have been available at Apple’s App Store for over a year now. There are currently over 55,000 apps, a number of which are specifically tailored toward lawyers.

Many of these apps consist of databases of federal and state laws, thus allowing lawyers to carry relevant laws and rules in their pockets in an easily accessible format.

From the developer “The Law Pod,” lawyers can pur- chase the following apps for just 99 cents: The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Federal Rules of Criminal
Procedure, Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, Federal Rules of Evidence and the U.S. Constitution.

There are a number of legal database apps available to New York attorneys as well. For just $5 to $7 each, lawyers can purchase New York’s Penal Code, the CPLR, the Vehicle & Traffic Law, the Estates, Powers & Trusts Law and the Domestic Relations Law.

Similar apps are also available for the following states: California, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Michigan, Florida, Arizona and Washington.

The entire U.S. Tax Code can be purchased for $14.99. The following useful apps are similarly available for federal criminal defense attorneys: The Federal Sentencing Guide and the FBI Handbook.

Other federal law apps of interest are the U.S. Code and fed- eral patent, securities and copyright statutes, both of which can be purchased for $4 or less.

There are a number of legal dictionaries available as well, including Black’s Law Dictionary for $49.99, the Essential Law Dictionary for $9.99 or Nolo’s Plain English Law Dictionary, which is free.

The Legal News Reader app, which costs 99 cents, conve- niently aggregates all recent legal news in one place, for those not interested in taking the time to do so themselves.

Finally, there are a number of iPhone apps that are not targeted specifically toward lawyers that I have found to be indispensable.

First, there is the free Conference Call app, which allows you to schedule outbound conference calls using your iPhone.

DocScanner, available for $9.99, is another great app for lawyers.  With this app you can scan a document to your iPhone by taking a photo of it. It is then converted to a .pdf file that can either be e-mailed or saved to your phone.

Since lawyers are constantly calculating filing and due dates, DateCalcPro and DaysFrom are two very useful apps. DateCalcPro costs $1.99 and allows you to calculate the time between two dates. DaysFrom costs 99 cents and enables you to calculate a date for a number of days in the future or past. 9- Toolbox, discussed below, also includes two date calculators and is free.

If you travel frequently, Kayak, FlightTrack, and AroundMe are must haves. Kayak, a free app, simultaneously searches multiple travel sites for the cheapest hotel rates and airfare. FlightTrack, which costs $4.99, provides real-time status for flights.

Finally, AroundMe, a free app, provides you with stores, restaurants and other businesses in your immediate area.

Last, but not least —a number of assorted apps of interest. First, AT&T GPS Navigator. The app is free, but the service costs $9.99 per month. This is an amazingly accurate GPS system that provides you with spoken turn-by-turn directions and, like most GPS devices, re-routes if you miss a turn.

Amazon Kindle is a great, free app for long, unexpected delays in court. You can download books, some for free, directly to your iPhone and peruse them in an easy-to-read format at your leisure.

9-Toolbox, a free app, offers nine useful tools, including two-date calculators, a tip calculator, a currency converter and a unit converter.

Finally, Bump is a free app that enables iPhone users who have downloaded the app to exchange contact information by simply opening the app and “bumping” hands. Voilà, contact information is exchanged instantaneously.

Bottom line — if you don’t already own an iPhone — now is the time to buy one. The apps alone will make the purchase well worth your while. You’ll increase efficiency, thus saving time and money.

How can you argue with that?

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Start a blog, get a job

Posted on July 7, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

checkmarkI’m pleased to announce that I’m now a contributing blogger at Lawyerist, one of my favorite law blogs.

My first post is entitled “Start a blog, get a job.”  In it I discuss why blogging is the perfect way for the legal job seeker to stand out from the crowd and ultimately get that dream job.  Check it out.

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