Archive for March, 2010
This week’s Daily Record column is entitled “How Will Lawyers Use the iPad?”
How Will Lawyers Use the iPad?Lawyers’ reactions to the iPad are mixed, to say the least.
A few, like myself, are gung ho and can’t wait to get their hands on one.
Another minority appears absolutely convinced the iPad is destined to fail from the very start, having little to no utility for the legal profession.
The rest either could care less or are reserving judgment until the dust settles.
In other words, the vast majority of lawyers are not yet sold on the idea of the iPad. Many of those same attorneys, however, have expressed frustration at having to carry around large stacks of documents while commuting or traveling, and have indicated the iPad would hold far more appeal if they could annotate and edit documents on it.
For that group of lawyers, the ability to reduce the amount of paperwork and quickly and easily edit and annotate documents, as if writing on an electronic document, would be a deal breaker.
Those lawyers do not envision creating documents on the iPad, but rather marking up a pleading or contract, making notations in the margins to a draft appellate brief, or commenting on an internal memorandum. Such tasks, currently, are not accomplished easily while on the road, since neither lap- tops nor smart phones are well suited to those types of document annotations.
The iPad — with a larger screen and unique touch screen functionality — has the potential to change all of that but the real question is, will it?
Not surprisingly, I think it will.
There already are a number of iPhone apps that permit the annotation or revision of a variety of documents. Some are quite popular, others are not — in large part because of the difficulty inherent in working with documents on a screen of such small proportions. The iPad’s larger screen will breathe new life into those applications, and other new apps will be developed to allow documents to be annotated and revised on the fly.
Let’s take a look at a few of the iPhone apps already available that permit annotation and revision of documents. Documents to Go Premium allows users to view and edit Word, Excel and Power- Point files. RightSignature allows Word or PDF documents to be signed using the iPhone app. Those files also can be uploaded to RightSignature’s Web site for distribution.
Aji allows PDs to be signed and marked up, and enables text notes, strike-through text and highlight text. Documents also can be annotated in free form; however, users can’t distribute the documents using the iPhone interface. Instead, the annotated document must be processed using Aji’s Web site on a computer, then sent.
One app goes a step further — Zosh. Zosh allows users to sign, annotate and distribute documents in a variety of formats, including .doc, .pdf, .xls, .ppt, .jpg, .png, .tif and .bmp — all from the iPhone. The app enables users to insert
free-form annotations such as a signature and text boxes. The ability to highlight text is in the works, according to Zosh CEO Joshua Kerr.
Some companies that developed the apps I’ve mentioned already have announced that iPad-compatible apps are in the works. I have no doubt other new apps will be introduced, tailor-made for the iPad. Such functionality will make the iPad a must-have for lawyers and other business users.
While I think the iPad will be used primarily as a device for media consumption, undoubtedly there is room for certain types of business use that will make it a mainstay for business travelers and commuters.
How the iPad will change the world.
OK, perhaps I exaggerated just a bit in today’s headline. The iPad won’t change life as we know it, but it will revolutionize the way that we interact with various news and social media. Undoubtedly, we will look back on 2010 as the year the iPad changed the way we obtain and consume information.
How will the iPad affect our day-to-day lives? It’s difficult to say, but I’m certain that it will.
As book, magazine and newspaper publishers and third-party developers get their hands on it — and begin releasing applications made specifically for it — the tide will begin to turn. It will become clear that the iPad, and other touch screen tablets released in its wake, will become the center of our households.
The iPad will be the heart of every home — the digital media consumption hub that connects us to the information highway. The iPad will be the interface of choice for Web browsing and media consumption. Soon, it will be quite common to read books, magazines and newspapers via the iPad interface.
The iPad will be the device users turn to for Web browsing and music and video streaming. In the very near future, recorded television shows and movies will be viewed regularly via live streaming from the Internet, either on the iPad screen itself or by using the iPad as the conduit, with the images appearing on a larger television screen. Although it already is possible to stream content via a computer to a television, it isn’t commonplace. The iPad will be the device that makes it so.
My assertion that the device will usher in a new age of online content consumption is not unique. Many others are suggested it as well: Luke Hayman, for one, at http://www.Pentagram.com predicts the iPad will change the direction of journalism.
What will they be willing to read on their iPad? I predict the return of long-form journalism. At the same time, visual storytelling will take deeper, richer forms. Information design will be more important than ever. Something like New York’s Approval Matrix that we designed back in 2005 with Adam Moss is popular in print but will really come to life in this format. Some people might subscribe to it all by itself.
In short, the iPad is the next stage of online content consumption.
That being said, there are a lot of things the iPad won’t do.
It won’t be a portable work station. Laptops will continue to serve that function far better than the iPad. The iPad will suffice for composing e-mails and short documents but, for most businesses, laptops and desktop computers will remain the interface of choice.
Likewise, the iPad will not replace the iPhone. Smart phones will continue to function as miniature connectors to the information super highway. Their smaller size and GPS functionality make smart phones ideal for certain tasks that the larger, less portable iPad will not be able to duplicate. Applications that rely on geo-location for their functionality — such as the Zillow real estate app or the restaurant location and ratings app Yelp — still will be ideal for use on phones for people on the move. Smart phones will not be supplanted by the iPad, but instead supplemented by it.
The iPad will not fill an already existing niche — it will create a new one. It will be ever-present in our homes, during daily commutes and on airplanes. The iPad will be prevalent where people tend to read books or magazines, but will be far less visible at locations where people mostly work or socialize. It will be our conduit for media consumption and our interface of choice.
The iPad is a game changer of epic proportions — of that I am sure. One year from now, we’ll look back on its release and wonder how we functioned without it.
This week’s Daily Record column is entitled “Useful programs and online tools for litigators.”
Useful programs and online tools for litigators
As I prepared to write my book about cloud computing for lawyers — which will be published later this year by the ABA— I researched different software programs that would make it easier for me to organize my thoughts and keep all of my information readily accessible as I wrote.
Ultimately I settled on Scrivener — http://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.html — which is available for Mac users only.
Scrivener is a word processor and project management tool that makes all of the documentation and information that you will be using to create a document available in one application. I have found it to be an invaluable tool that is making the process of writing and organizing the information I’ve collected about cloud computing much easier.
As I was using it the other day, it occurred to me that Scrivener easily could make the process of writing and organizing a summary judgment motion simpler and more streamlined.
When I was an associate at a litigation firm, I used to find myself getting frustrated as I flipped through stacks of papers, trying to find a certain document, case or exhibit. Complex cases with large numbers of documents, deposition transcripts and exhibits in particular were difficult to manage. Scrivener, or a program like it, would have made the process so much easier.
To begin with, each portion of the motion, from the notice of motion to the supporting affidavits and the legal memorandum could be treated as a “chapter,” which simply is a folder within the document. The next step is to associate supportive documentation — exhibits, cases, deposition transcripts, etc. — with each section of your motion. While drafting the document, there is a list of associated files alongside of it that can be opened with a click. Associated files can be text files, image files, Web sites, audio files or even videos.
Another very useful resource for a litigator is CriminalSearches.com, a Web site that allows users to conduct a free search to determine whether a witness has a criminal record based on information available in public records. The results are not guaranteed to be 100 percent accurate, but the site does a surprisingly good job.
StreetDelivery — http://www.streetdelivery.com — is another handy service that provides lawyers with access to to almost 10 million digital images of inter- sections located throughout the United States. Although the database does not yet include photographs of every part of the United States, most of the East Coast already is available within the database. If the particular intersection or location, such as a parking lot, that you are interested in is not included, you can submit a special request for a photo via the Web site, and it will be delivered the next day. The service charges $109 per request for solos and small firm lawyers.
Finally, there are a number of smart phone applications that assist lawyers in calculating the date of a deadline. There are a number of iPhone apps of this type, which can be located in the App Store, including DaysFrom ($0.99), DateCalcPro ($1.99), DateCalc ($4.99) and Court Days ($0.99). For lawyers with BlackBerrys, DateMathica ($4.99), from Shrunken Head Software is good alternative. Another program, Date Wheel — creativealgorithms.com/date- wheel.html — is a due date calculator app that is compatible with a number of different smart phones, including Centro ($14.95), iPhone ($2.99), Pre ($14.95) and any other phone that can access the mobile Web. Finally, another app with a similar name, DateWheel, is available from Interstate Web Group users of Android ($0.99).
As you can see, there are a number of interesting programs, Web sites and services available to litigators. Those I’ve listed are just the tip of the iceberg, but hopefully they will make your life just a little bit easier.
I recently wrote the following guest post at That Credit Union Blog:
I also recently began guest blogging at the Firmex Online Document and Collaboration blog. My posts appear every Tuesday. If you’re interested in cloud computing and other technology issues for lawyers you may enjoy these posts. Here are some of my most recent posts:
Legal research: the good, the bad and the ugly.
There is a grand scale transformation of legal research plat- forms occurring right now, which is a good thing for the legal profession as a whole.
While none of the existing services are necessarily ugly or bad, some of the most prominent platforms — ones with which we lawyers have always had a love/hate relationship — are antiquated and have been in desperate need of a re-haul for years now.
New entrants into the legal research space have caused fierce competition for customers. The increased competition has resulted in a rich variety of legal research options for lawyers. Some services provide more in-depth results than others, some have very user- friendly interfaces and some are inexpensive, or even free.
At LegalTech New York in February, the two largest, most familiar and most costly legal research platforms in the industry rolled out new products as part of an attempt to keep their offerings fresh and current.
Westlaw introduced WestlawNext, the next generation of Westlaw, a platform that had not changed substantially since its last revamp in 1998. An online brochure describes the platform: “Legal research that’s more human gives you an easier way to search, yet delivers all of what you’re looking for. … [Y]ou can apply intelligent tools to help you work smarter and faster with total confidence you have the information you need. All of which makes life easier.”
There has been some criticism expressed in the legal blogos- phere regarding the added “premium” users must pay in order to access the new platform, and some have decried West’s apparent lack of transparency in that regard.
LexisNexis also announced plans to roll out a new version of its platform, tentatively called “Lexis New,” later this year. In the meantime, Lexis introduced Lexis/Microsoft Office inte- gration, also during LegalTech. The company’s Web site states the new product allows lawyers “reviewing a Word document or an Outlook e-mail message … [to] seamlessly access content and resources from LexisNexis, the open Web, or their law firm or corporate files.”
LexisNexis also offers an iPhone app that allows subscribers to check case citations on the fly.
Two cheaper platforms have been around for at least a decade,Fastcase (www.fastcase.com) and LoisLaw (www.loislaw.com). Both offer subscribers the ability to access case law and statutes via user-friendly Web interfaces.
Fastcase, a 10-year-old legal research company, already serves more than 380,000 lawyers nationwide and has 17 state and local bar associations as its clients. One new notable feature from Fastcase is a free iPhone app. I downloaded the app when it was first released and, in my opinion, it’s a must-have for any lawyer who owns an iPhone. It allows users to quickly and easily search Fastcase’s entire case law database using the intuitive iPhone interface. And, you certainly can’t beat the price.
Another free legal research alternative is Google Legal Scholar (http://scholar.google.com/), which debuted at the end of 2009 and offers a free searchable database of U.S. case law from federal and state courts dating back 80 years, as well as U.S. Supreme Court decisions dating back to 1791 and law review articles. Google Legal Scholar is a great resource and, for some lawyers, may offer a good alternative to the traditional legal research platforms.
Finally, a new contender is Bloomberg Law, which will be released later this year The product has been in beta testing for the last year and is offered by the well-established and well known financial news and information services media company, Bloomberg LLC. As described at its Web site, Bloomberg Law will provide an “the all-in-one legal research platform that integrates legal content with proprietary news and business intelligence.”
Many predict that the platform will appeal mostly to larger law firms as a feasible alternative to LexisNexis and Westlaw.
There is no doubt 2010 will be an interesting, and tumultuous, year for legal research providers and the lawyers who use their services. Only time will tell which platforms will win the battle for user loyalty. In the meantime, at least lawyers have far more choices than ever before.