The Court Technology and Trial Presentation Blawg features articles, reviews and news of interest to lawyers and other legal professionals. This blog is published by Ted Brooks, a Trial Presentation and Legal Technology Consultant, Author and Speaker. Ted's trial experience includes the Los Angeles Dodgers divorce trial, People v. Robert Blake murder trial, and a hundreds of high profile, high value and complex civil matters.

All materials © Ted Brooks, unless otherwise indicated.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

YesLaw: Netflix for Lawyers?

A recent article in Law Technology News covers the cloud-based deposition video storage, display and designation clip-editing service provided by YesLaw. It is a browser-based repository system, offering differing levels of functionality based upon the detected device. You can prepare depo clips from your PC, while you cannot with the iPad. YesLaw shared that they are using Flash for the PC and MPEG-4 to play on the iPad. In addition to depo video, they offer a document repository service.

The video quality is pretty good, but everything depends on your internet connection speed. While you could certainly host everything and make it available to anyone needing access prior to trial, when you actually begin preparing for trial, you'll need to get the entire files one way or another. Simply grabbing a few clips won't work - you will need all of the video files. One last-minute ruling can put an end to your movie-time if you cannot edit it immediately. And, you surely won't want to display it in court while depending on an internet connection.

That stated, as long as the pricing makes sense for the amount of access and number of users required, it eliminates the need for multiple mass coffee-coaster (DVD) distributions. For a case that doesn't go to trial, this may save quite a bit of money, along with filing space. On the other hand, for the case that does go to trial, it may increase overall costs, since now you've added a period of hosting fees to the balance sheet.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Screenzilla Assists DOJ in US v. AUO

After deliberating only two hours, the jury in the US v. AUO Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) price-fixing litigation brought a guilty verdict for the Department of Justice in Judge Susan Illston’s San Francisco Federal Courtroom. A key factor, according to Ted Brooks of Litigation-Tech was the DOJ’s decision to once-again utilize the game-changing massive exhibit display provided by Brooks’ company – the 12’ “Screenzilla” screen and projection system. Okay, maybe it wasn’t really a key factor for the verdict during deliberations, but it certainly does help to ensure that all jurors are able to see the evidence in the large District Court. A typical 7 or 8 foot screen would look like a postage stamp in comparison. The use of a large screen was certainly helpful, even though the courtroom is wired with small monitors in the jury box.

I (yes, that’s me in the picture) am 6’3”, if that helps put things in perspective a bit. While a screen this size won’t fit in many smaller courtrooms, it has certainly found a comfortable home in the USDC Northern District.

Regardless of the size or layout of your courtroom, it can be very helpful to set up a central point of focus for your evidence display, allowing everyone the opportunity to follow additional queues, such as a laser pointer. Counsel can then stand next to the screen, pointing and directing attention to a specific section of an exhibit, thus further emphasizing the point. Making sure that the equipment is properly suited for the courtroom and set up correctly can help give the appearance of a well-organized trial team. For more on this topic, also see Courtroom Projectors, Screens, and Monitors.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

iPad Apps for Lawyers: MobileLaw and Rulebook

There are many good ways to lighten your burden created by carrying things like books and documents these days – one of them certainly being the iPad. A couple of nice weight-reducing apps are Rulebook (currently at version 1.3.1, released 9/20/2012) and MobileLaw (currently at version 1.2.1, released 11/2/2012). Both have been out for a while now, and either will do a nice job of getting Federal, State, and Local Rules in your hands, and in an easily searchable and workable format.

Jeff Richardson shares a nice review of each on his iPhone JD blog:

MobileLaw features a clean and simple interface. Highlighting text is easily done (this feature has been added since Jeff’s review), using the iPad “copy/paste” feature, which adds an option to add or remove the highlights. When I emailed the rule to myself, it did not include the highlights, however. You can add notes to any Rule, and have the option to include them for emailing or printing. Another option when a single word is selected is “Definition.” This is a convenient feature which could be helpful in the right circumstances.

It should be noted that the Rules are not downloaded until clicked on, so if you’re going to be in Court with a weak or non-existent broadband or wireless signal (depending on your device), you may want to download everything you might need ahead of time. This will also affect your search results. If you have not downloaded all applicable rule sets, your search will not bring “potential” results. Although only 10 States are currently included along with the Federal Rules and Laws, there is no extra charge to get these. So, if you need State Rules for California, Alabama, Alaska, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, New York, Texas, Washington or Wyoming (as of this writing), you’re good to go.

Rulebook begins downloading all available rules once you start the app. I watched the download process roll along for a bit, so again, it’s always a good idea to make sure you have everything loaded and ready before you actually need it. You’ll also want to take a look in the “Library” section for any available updates, and will need to select each one manually. The Library icon will be a gold color when updates are available.

Although Rulebook offers some extra features and a great deal of content including the Bluebook®, it is available via in-app purchase. Pricing for books ranges from $1.99 to $4.99, and the Bluebook goes for $39.99.

Rulebook does not support emailing or printing your selections, nor could I figure out how to even copy the text to the clipboard so I might paste it into an email, although the app help menu states that you can. As you can see from the image, it does not appear as an option, and it did not copy when selected.

Searching in Rulebook delivered far more content “hits” than MobileLaw. For instance, when I searched for the word “probative,” MobileLaw delivered 5 California Evidence Code hits, and 7 Federal Rules of Evidence hits. Rulebook nailed the same 5 California Rules, but then had 44 hits in the Federal Rules. This is certainly a more powerful search function, and could become a major decision factor.

MobileLaw Search Result: "Probative"
Rulebook Search Result: "Probative"

These two apps are free, and both are very capable of keeping Court Rules available to you at all times. If you need an accurate and powerful search tool, or the added content available in Rulebook, that’s the app for you. If you’re able to work with what is available in MobileLaw, the price is right. Either one is quicker, easier, and lighter to carry than the text books.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

TrialDirector for iPad

Released just today, TrialDirector for iPad is a free app, available now at the iTunes store. Once you’ve started your download, come on back and read the rest of my review. I’ll assume you don’t need to spend a lot of time comparison-shopping before making this decision – even if you already own another trial presentation app. Did I mention that it is free?

With the earliest entries in this category (TrialPad and Evidence) being released back in December of 2010, TrialDirector for iPad is certainly a little late to the table -- but then, they’ve brought the dessert (since all of their competitors offer their apps at a price). Other apps available for trial presentation I’ve reviewed include TrialPad (currently at version 2.2.5, release date 5/29/12, version 3.0 just submitted to Apple for approval and release), ExhibitView (currently at version 3.1, release date 8/20/12), Exhibit A (currently at version 2.0, release date 9/18/12), and Evidence (recently discontinued). Each has its own strengths and weaknesses (follow links to in-depth reviews).

If you go to iTunes, you’ll find the following product description:

TrialDirector for iPad is a simple, easy to use evidence management and presentation tool designed specifically for use with the iPad.

With TrialDirector for iPad, you can create a case folder, add exhibits to
your case through a Dropbox™ or iTunes® account and interact with your evidence using the annotation and presentation tools.

For a more professional and feature-rich experience, users can prepare exhibits in TrialDirector 6 (such as editing closed-caption video clips, pre-treating with annotations or creating workbooks) and export to TrialDirector for iPad for presentation.

* Create and manage multiple case folders
* Import a single file or an entire folder structure with exhibits from Dropbox
* Markup and annotate using some of the most popular tools from TrialDirector 6, including:
- Callout/Zoom
- Freehand writing
- Highlight and redaction
- Laser pointer
- Freeform drawing on a virtual whiteboard
- A variety of other shapes, lines and drawing tools
* Bookmarks for rapid call-up of key exhibits
* Ability to present and annotate two exhibits side-by-side
* Ability to freeze output on the external display while you prepare the next exhibit on your iPad
* Supports industry standard video formats, including H.264 up to 1080p, MPEG-4 and QuickTime
* Supports Retina Display
* Supports AirPlay Mirroring with Apple iPad 2 and 3 devices
* Present wirelessly using AirPlay Mirroring and AppleTV
* Import custom workbooks (ie opening, witness, closing, etc.) from TrialDirector 6
* Import closed-captioned video depositions from TrialDirector 6
* Import exhibits pre-treated with advanced annotations from TrialDirector 6
* Free telephone access to inData’s top-rated technical support team.


One of the best features of TrialDirector for iPad is its integration with the full PC software version of TrialDirector. TrialDirector now has a feature which allows you to create a Workbook to export your case exhibits and clips to TrialDirector for iPad. It will even automatically convert your depo clips to MPEG-4 format for iPad video compatibility, and will load your all of your exhibits into one easy file, which may then be imported via Dropbox to your iPad. You could also export as a standard Workbook for compatibility with other apps, without the “automatic” database creation feature.

If you import a case from a TrialDirector Workbook, and then add individual exhibits, you can create multiple copies of an exhibit with the same file name, so you should be careful with your organization. In this case, sorting is chronological in the order in which data is imported, and then alpha-numeric. If you’re just importing exhibits manually, they will be over-written with the latest copy.

If you don’t already have Dropbox, you should get it now, since it is the most popular app for moving data between your computer and iPad. Since this article is about free things, you can get 2 GB free, and you may use this link for an extra 500 MB of space.

Exhibit organization and annotation features are typical, and what you’d expect to see in a trial presentation app. If you’re already familiar with another trial presentation app, this will look similar. If not, you’ll  be up to speed in short order. It is very simple and basic, for the most part.

Although you can remove exhibits from an existing case, the process is not yet documented. In order to do so, simply swipe (left or right) an item in the exhibit list to bring up the “Delete” button, in the same manner as you would with an email message.

Presentation Mode

When you connect your iPad to an external cable, TrialDirector for iPad automatically sends a signal, displaying an icon on the presentation screen. Wireless connections via Apple TV are also supported. 

You may show an exhibit, or an exhibit plus the exhibit list. You can display two exhibits side-by-side, and may use multiple callouts. There is also a whiteboard feature.

Overall, TrialDirector for iPad is a decent app for trial presentation. Although the app works well, and is priced right, there are a few areas ripe for improvement. For instance, the highlighter tool gives that semi-opaque (e.g., PowerPoint) yellow overlay, which actually makes the text harder to read. The callout zoom tool doesn’t expand beyond the width of the document. If you’d like to zoom in on a full-width paragraph, the level of magnification will be minimal. Other than that, everything seems to work well, and given the cost factor, and especially if you already use the full-featured computer software version of TrialDirector, might as well get it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Print from iPad, iPhone, Android Phone & Tablets

There are several apps available produced by some of the major printer manufacturers, including HP, Epson, Canon and Brother, which will enable printing directly from your wireless device to one of their wireless printers. You can easily find these by entering “print” in the iTunes or Google Play app search. These proprietary apps are available at no cost, and there are other “universal” apps available – some free, and some for a price. There are limitations with these apps, however. For instance, while the HP ePrint for Android app does a nice job of printing documents and photos, printing an email is not an option. In any event, if you already have a wireless printer, you may want to check out these apps, since the printer-specific apps are free, and certainly worth a try – especially if you only need to print to a single printer.

HP, Epson, and Lexmark also offer a series of AirPrint-ready printers, which will directly connect and print wirelessly from your iOS (iPad, iPhone, Mac) devices. If you’re in the market for a new printer anyway, you might as well take a look.

There are several apps available which will connect to your wireless network, and then print through your networked printer. Printopia, Printer Pro, and Print & Share are a few popular choices in iTunes. Be careful if you’re looking into these, as some are Mac-only apps (e.g., Printopia), which won’t work in a Windows computer environment. The downside of this scenario is that you are actually printing through a computer, which is in turn connected to your printer. So, you’ll need to have your computer online any time you want to print. While it works well, it adds a level of dependency on a computer.

One of the coolest printing solutions I’ve seen recently is a hardware device which eliminates the need to feed your signal through another computer -- the xPrintServer by Lantronix, which I first read about on iPhoneJD, in the weekly “In the News” column. The link there takes you to a luke-warm review, found in the New York Times tech section.

After trying out the xPrintServer, I’d have to say this is one very slick, well-designed device. I opened the box, didn’t bother reading any of the literature (one should only refer to instructions when/if absolutely necessary – sort of like asking for directions when traveling), plugged in the device, connected to my network via the included cable, and then printed an email from my iPad – all in around 5 minutes. It works.

Some of the major benefits of the xPrintServer are computer-independence (you don’t need to have a networked computer running in order to print), platform independence (works on both iOs and Windows networks), thousands of printer choices (over 4000 printers currently supported, others available upon request), and it allows you to keep and use whatever printers you already have. Additionally, the Home version features a USB input, allowing you to connect your printer via a USB cable, meaning you can "network" your standalone printer. xPrintServer doesn’t support Android devices at this time, although Lantronix is a networking solutions company, and I’d hope/expect to see it at some point.

You’re able to print wirelessly from your Mac or Windows laptop to a networked or USB printer connected to the xPrintServer by using the Apple Bonjour Printing service – again without requiring running your print job through another computer, and without the necessity of a wireless printer. The Mac OS allows you to simply add a new printer. If you have a Windows system, you can get additional info and download the Bonjour Printing here. Printing from my Windows laptop through the xPrintServer was as quick as printing directly through my network. This makes setting up portable (war room) wireless printing for a trial team simple. Since it connects via a standard network cable (included) to your network, security exists via your network. In other words, if your iPad is on the same wireless network as your printer (wired or wireless), you can print, without the need to log in to anything else. If you're not logged in to the network, you will not have access to the printer, or data sent to it.

There are a couple of options available – the Network Edition, and the Home Edition, which I tested. For small and home Offices, the Home Edition should fit the bill. For larger installations with several users, the Network Edition will work. One main difference is the USB interface, currently included only in the Home Edition, although the Network Edition should include this in the future.

1)      Home Edition – Designed for consumers / home use
a.     Supports USB printers (turns any USB printer into a networked printer that can be shared by all users)
b.      Supports networked printers
c.       Wired or wireless printers.
d.      MSRP = $99.95

2)      Network Edition – Designed for small to medium sized businesses. 
a.      Supports a virtually unlimited number of network-connected printers (wired or wireless)
b.      MSRP = $149.95

Admittedly, the xPrintServer is a bit pricier than your average app. However, you are getting a piece of hardware, which in effect, can eliminate the need for using a computer to enable printing. Rather than comparing the cost with that of an app with only part of the functionality, the fairer comparison might be the cost of a computer or a new printer. This device can easily be used at home, in the office, and easily set up in remote locations. Rather than a single specific function, the xPrintServer can be adapted to a wide variety of current and future situations.

Feel free to post any questions in the Comments section below.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Best LinkedIn Groups for Attorneys and Legal Professionals (Part 2)

Last week, we featured 7 top entries in the first of a two part series, “Best LinkedIn Groups for Attorneys and Legal Professionals (Part 1).” This week, we’ll conclude in alphabetical order by adding 8 more, for a total of 15. As indicated by running a search with this link, you’ll find a total of 1,382,598 groups, as of 8/13/2012 (for an increase of 7200 over just last week). I’m not claiming these are the best of all 1.4 million, but they’re a few of my favorites in the law & technology categories.

Feel free to add your suggestions for other groups you enjoy in the Comments section at the end of this article. In case you missed the first half, you can get to it with this link.

Group Title:

Membership (as of 8/13/2012):

Group Established: 

March 25, 2008

Group Description:

This is a group to provide assistance and access to professionals working at the intersection of law and medicine. Whether you are in the counsel's office, a risk manager, in compliance, an attorney, in insurance, or in human resources, this group is for you.


This group features a nice collection of articles, and also serves a secondary role as an informal Medical Expert Witness referral/search system (via member posts). A great deal of current events with respect to Legislation and other breaking news are also covered.

Group Title:

Membership (as of 8/13/2012):

Group Established: 

December 3, 2007

Group Description:

Innovation, Inventions, and patents. 

Focus on the technical, engineering, and scientific aspects of patents. Patent litigation, Invalidation, Prior Art, Claim Charts and Obviousness. 
Open discussion on Patent Infringement cases in high tech.


If IP is your thing, this is your group. Content found here is representative of its members, who come from all sides of the table – including lawyers and inventors. Interestingly, the largest percentage of the demographic is from the San Francisco Bay Area (New York City tops most other Legal groups). Also, in the Job Function category, “Legal” is at the top, but then followed by “Research” and “Entrepreneurs.”

Group Title:

Membership (as of 8/13/2012):

Group Established: 

May 22, 2008

Group Description:

This is a professional network for personal injury lawyers. Connect with and learn from top PI attorneys from across the country. 

Discussions include: 
- how to make referrals to other PI attorneys 
- latest trends in product liability cases 
- new drug cases 
- what top PI lawyers are doing to generate more and better referrals 
- proven strategies for marketing a personal injury law firm. 

Contact group moderator Stephen Fairley for admission:


This group was started by Stephen Fairley, of the Rainmaker Institute. This is typically a well-moderated group, featuring a great deal of content from many related professionals, including lawyers, nurses, doctors, and researchers. There are also a number of questions posted by members, which often get numerous and helpful responses. A few posts here and there do lean a bit toward advertising, but certainly not to the point of becoming a real nuisance, like I’ve seen in some other groups.

Group Title:

Membership (as of 8/13/2012):

Group Established: 

February 7, 2009

Group Description:

Welcome to the Product Liability Defense Alliance! This is a network of risk and safety professionals who work in claims-handling, risk management, legal defense and safety innovations in the realm of product liability. We welcome insurance claim people and TPA personnel who handle product liability claims, defense attorneys specializing in this litigation field, self-insured claim and risk management personnel, product safety specialists, consultants, etc. 

The aims of this group are to: 
• Exchange ideas on improving product liability claim-handling and defense 
• Discuss new and emerging areas of product liability trends and law 
• Exchange ideas on product liability risk management and safety 
• Provide a counterfoil to the well-organized plaintiffs’ bar 
• Offer networking opportunities for product liability professionals 

To join, go to Search Groups and type in that field, “Product Liability Defense.” This group’s name (“Product Liability Defense Alliance) should appear as an option. 

There should be a link, "Join this group… " 

Click there and I think it should be straightforward from there.


Although the group’s demographic fits the mold of many other legal-centric groups, content includes current and recent cases, CLE opportunities and conference info, and also features in-depth technical info from products experts. Interestingly, several of the top (most popular) articles were posted over a month ago, showing a slower rate of digestion than many other groups. One possible reason for this might be that Products Liability Defense lawyers are one busy bunch of folks – certainly not a bad thing these days, but it can cut into the recreational reading time.

Group Title:

Membership (as of 8/13/2012):

Group Established: 

September 20, 2008

Group Description:

EDRM – the Electronic Discovery Reference Model – was created in May 2005 to address the lack of standards and guidelines in the electronic discovery (e-discovery) market – a problem identified in the 2003 and 2004 Socha-Gelbmann Electronic Discovery surveys as a major concern for consumers and providers alike. 

The completed reference model provides a common, flexible and extensible framework for the development, selection, evaluation and use of electronic discovery products and services. The completed model was placed in the public domain in May 2006. 

In its on-going effort to provide standards and guidelines, EDRM is updating and expanding the original model to include six projects: EDRM Evergreen, EDRM XML, EDRM Metrics, EDRM Model Code of Conduct, EDRM Search and EDRM Data Set. 

Understanding how to deal with electronically stored information (ESI) has become everyone’s problem. Join EDRM and be a part of the solution. Everyone involved in e-discovery can benefit from joining EDRM. As an EDRM participant, you can share best practices for managing the e-discovery processes from the initial management of electronically stored information all the way to the ultimate presentation of that information. You can offer insights to others and help improve the e-discovery processes as well as the entire industry.


If you know what EDRM (Electronic Discovery Reference Model) stands for, of if you’ve heard of, read, or participated in the Socha-Gelbmann Electronic Discovery Surveys, you are probably already a member of this group. If not, and you are interested in a “Google Earth” perspective on the litigation lifecycle, you will find it here, and on the EDRM site. The surveys have been instrumental in gathering information on issues associated with electronic discovery, and how to deal with them, including in-house and outsourced options. The majority of posts stick with the e-discovery topic.

Group Title:

Membership (as of 8/13/2012):

Group Established: 

May 27, 2008

Group Description:

Networking group for trial lawyers and attorneys interested in civil and criminal practice before the court. Join and learn from top trial lawyers what they are doing that's working right now. 

Discussions include: 
- Trial strategies for both civil and criminal cases 
- Marketing strategies for a litigation law firm 
- Building a referral based law practice 
- How to manage and run a litigation boutique law firm 
- Strategies for differentiating your practice from competitors 

Contact moderator Stephen Fairley to request admission to the group: 

Enter email: to connect.


This group’s demographic and content are similar to the Personal Injury Attorney Network (see above), with a notable exception that a greater percentage of members of this group are at the “Senior” level, with a slightly lesser amount at the “Owner” level in comparison, perhaps suggesting a difference in firm size.

Topics include a nice variety of “how-to” articles, recent case updates, member questions, and CLE opportunities. Currently, the most popular topic is “What was the best piece of advice you received before your first trial?,” with 64 responses posted. It is certainly encouraging to see this level of dialog and response to a member’s question, and there are many notable and quotable responses. In fact, since this is an open group (you can read and post without actually joining the group), I’d recommend spending some time reading this little gem.

Group Title:

Membership (as of 8/13/2012):

Group Established: 

September 8, 2009

Group Description:

Trial Technology Group is a Professional Network of interested individuals, where they may share information and request the assistance, advice and/or other related information of its members. 

Attorneys, Paralegals, legal professionals, law students, vendors, legal recruiters and others interested in discussions, news and jobs related to the use of technology for purposes of trial prep and presentation are encouraged to join. 

Standard courtesies with respect to spamming this group are appreciated and will be enforced.


I may be a bit biased in favor of this group, as I am the founder and moderator. The demographic features a blend of attorneys, paralegals, in-house litigation support, and consultants. Topics are loosely focused around technology used in trial, and cover a good variety of related subjects.

There’s also a monthly poll open to members, offering insight into various topics, and featuring a number of member comments. If you’re interested in trying cases with the tools of today, or are a provider of those tools and services, this group should be on your list.

Group Title:

Membership (as of 8/13/2012):

Group Established: 

December 15, 2008

Group Description:

The White Collar Criminal Defense Attorneys Group is for attorneys who specialize in representing corporations and individuals in government criminal and civil/regulatory investigations and who advise companies and individuals about related corporate compliance and governance issues.


One thing that makes this group different than many is its choice to include news items, which are automatically posted via an RSS feed. For the reader, that can mean finding out about current relevant news long before someone else has time to find it, read it, and then share it. It also means a larger number of posts, with some being more relevant than others. Overall, it can be a good feature when set up properly, and in this case, it seems to work.

As one might expect, there is a great deal of content related to current events from members and other sources including the SEC, USDOJ, New York Times, and Wall Street Journal.


If you missed the first half of this two-part series, you can get to it with this link. Feel free to add your comments or suggestions for other groups you enjoy in the Comments section below.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Best LinkedIn Groups for Attorneys and Legal Professionals (Part 1)

LinkedIn is like Facebook for grown-ups – or at least for those who are interested in following people, news, and discussions with like-minded professionals. While there are many sources of great information on the Internet, the place I find some of the best content online is through the LinkedIn Groups.

No matter which topic you’re interested in, chances are there are one or more groups you’d be interested in. Groups can be “Open,” meaning anyone can view and post, or “Closed,” requiring membership for access. 

I’ll share fourteen of my personal favorites in two installments, listed in alphabetical order, all focusing on various aspects of law and legal technology. I tried to go with ten, but just couldn’t cut four of these. There are 1375398 groups on LinkedIn as of 8/6/2012, which you can search for and locate by topic with this link. Feel free to add your suggestions for other groups you enjoy in the Comments section at the end of this article.

See Part 2: Best LinkedIn Groups for Attorneys and Legal Professionals

Membership (as of 8/6/2012):
Group Established:
January 14, 2008
Group Description:
The Association of Litigation Support Professionals is the only organization whose members comprise the full range of individuals involved with litigation support. ALSP is dedicated to advancing the profession and contributing to the career development of practitioners around the world.
The ALSP is actively involved in setting standards for many facets of Litigation Support. The group features a good variety of topics, along with news on upcoming seminars and educational opportunities.

Membership (as of 8/6/2012):
Group Established:
June 5, 2009
Group Description:
This site will facilitate discussion, networking, and collaboration about applied research into jury / juror behavior and trial advocacy. Members who may find they have something to share or to learn here include: lawyers, trial consultants, judges, law students, litigation support professionals, and paralegals... but we are not exclusive... Anyone with a hankering to understand how people and justice interact are more than welcome.

Topics covered here can span from pre trial jury research to change of venue studies to witness preparation... to anything about advocacy technique and lore. Juror behavior and decision making is always of interest.

We will share info and opinion about nearly any subject that informs those of us who work within the system and those who are just plain interested about what happens when the doors to the jury room close and everythng that happens from filing to verdict.

You needn't be a professional to follow or participate... an interest in the behavioral side of the law and legal system will do!

ASTC's Professional Visibility Committee welcomes you!
Although this group is relatively small, it is comprised of many (likely most) of the top Jury Consultants in the nation. Membership also includes Trial Presentation Consultants and Graphics Professionals. Some excellent topics may be found here.

Membership (as of 8/6/2012):
Group Established:
November 23, 2008
Group Description:
DRI - The Voice of the Defense Bar is the world's largest organization of 22,500+ attorneys defending the interests of business and individuals in civil litigation. DRI provides numerous educational and informational resources to DRI members and offers many opportunities for liaison among defense trial lawyers, Corporate America, and state and local defense organizations. DRI also has an international presence, seeking to enhance understanding of the law among members of the defense community who have reason to be concerned with the expanding globalization of litigation defense. The following are DRI's goals:

Education: To teach and educate and to improve the skills of the defense law practitioner

Justice: To strive for improvement in the civil justice system

Balance: To be a counterpoint to the plaintiff's bar and seek balance in the justice system in the minds of potential jurors and on all fields where disputes are resolved

Economics: To assist members in dealing with the economic realities of the defense law practice, including the competitive legal marketplace

Professionalism and Service: To urge members to practice ethically and responsibly, keeping in mind the lawyer's responsibilities that go beyond the interest of the client to the good of American society as a whole
The online group of Defense Research Institute. This group features a great deal of consistently good content from a nice variety of sources, along with updates to the DRI calendar. The group’s most recent “Manager’s Choice” post shares the following:

DRI LinkedIn Group accepts 10,000th member!
I wanted to send a note to announce that the DRI LinkedIn group has surpassed 10,000 members. Over the last four years we have been one of the fastest growing groups on LinkedIn, and we now are the largest civil litigation group on LinkedIn.

I would like to think that the success of this group is attributable to the same factors that make DRI the largest organization for lawyers who defend the interests of businesses and individuals in civil litigation: great cutting-edge content, opportunities for education and advancement, and great networking. As you know, we protect the integrity of this group by closely monitoring the content to make sure that discussions are focused on issues of importance to civil litigators, and not just an opportunity to market services or products.

Group Title:
Membership (as of 8/6/2012):
Group Established:
November 21, 2008
Group Description:
#1 Group For Lawyers Attorneys Corporate In-House Counsel Paralegal Law Students School Firm Recruiters Lawyer Attorney Trial Case Legal Technology e-Discovery Forensics Compliance Governance Litigation IP Intellectual Property Trademarks Patent Finance Real Estate Contracts Jobs Careers
This is the grand-daddy of them all, at least in the legal professions. The demographics are equally as broad, with global membership. Recently, I suggested this site to someone with a legal question specific to the U.K., since there are nearly 2000 members from the U.K. With such a large membership, there is also a massive amount of great information from all corners of the world. The potential downside is that you might be trying to sip a bit of water from a fire hose.

Membership (as of 8/6/2012):
Group Established:
June 12, 2009
Group Description:
KNOW, The Magazine for Paralegals is designed for paralegals in law firms, in-house legal departments and government agenices. The group is for paralegals of all specialties and levels of experience from the U.S. and abroad.

We discuss careers, trends, job opportunities, current issues, success stories, substantive issues and more.
This group is operated by Chere Estrin of the Organization of Legal Professionals, another group involved in the education and establishment of standards in the legal support professions. This is another great resource with a good variety of content for paralegals and litigation support professionals, including educational opportunities and event updates.

Group Title:
Legal IT Network
Membership (as of 8/6/2012):
Group Established:
November 27, 2007
Group Description:
Legal IT Network is the global virtual community for people working in the legal technology industry like law firm IT staff, legal software vendors, legal IT consultants, but also paralegals, knowledge management specialists, and lawyers interested in the technology that facilitates their work.

Many topics are discussed in this group, all related to how technology supports the law firm practice. Various region- and topic specific subgroups facilitate networking with people sharing similar regions or interests.

The reason why this is a members-only group is because we want to keep the quality of discussions at the highest level. Feel free to join and become part of LinkedIn’s preferred Legal IT Network!
In addition to a large amount of content (from such a large group), many of the most popular postings are questions by members posed to the group, resulting in some great dialogs. Although topics and content vary, topics can get pretty technical at times, as the title suggests.

Membership (as of 8/6/2012):
Group Established:
February 22, 2008
Group Description:
Litigation Support Professionals is a controlled circulated group for qualified litigation support professionals, legal assistants/paralegals, technology specialists, recruiters and other legal support staff.

This group was established for knowledge advancement in the area and to network with fellow peers. Please do not post advertisements on the discussion board, if there are any advertisements posted I will remove you from the group.
This group’s description also states its spam policy – something that some other groups could learn from. The larger the group (and this is another big one), the more potential for posts about non-specific jobs or other promotional drivel, which gets annoying very quickly. This group features a nice variety of content, and is obviously moderated closely, keeping the information quality standard high.


Monday, July 30, 2012

Why You Should NOT Use Technology in Your Trial

This article should help clear the air on some of the most common arguments against the use of technology in trial. Please share your thoughts, opinions and questions in the Comments section at the end of this article.

1.       It Costs Too Much
There are indeed added costs to consider when deciding whether or not to use technology to assist with your evidence presentation. In most cases, cost alone should not be the deciding factor  - especially when it can help in the outcome of the trial. You may request an estimate from any trial presentation firm, or if handling it in-house, have someone figure out how much money needs to be added to the trial budget. Depending on the length of the trial, this might amount to only a few thousand dollars, or can run into the tens of thousands or more.

2.       The Jury Will Think We have deep pockets
It is a fact that your jury notices the difference between boxes and binders, or a projector and screen. But, does it really look more costly? If the jury believes your client has deep pockets to spend on litigation, it is more likely they will attribute these expenses to legal fees of counsel than to how they choose to present their evidence. (Also see Courtroom Projectors, Screens, and Monitors)

3.       Our Client Doesn’t Want It
When a client is against using technology in litigation, there are likely no solid arguments to this. It is often more a lack of knowledge and understanding of the options than actual fact-based opinions. To simply accept your client’s decisions as to how you should try their case could be problematic in this, or any other trial-strategy decision. Clients may need to be reminded that is your duty to do everything you possibly can to help persuade the jury to rule in your favor, and that you are responsible and accountable in that regard.  

4.       I Don’t Know How To Use It
Learning to properly use trial presentation software can take time, and unless you work with it often, you may not be comfortable enough to bring it to trial. If you’re willing to invest a little bit of effort in training and practice, however, you can certainly learn to handle the basics. Additionally, there is no requirement that you personally learn and operate the software. This is something you can have someone else from your firm or an outside professional trial consultant take care of for you, if you prefer, letting you focus on trying your case. (Also see Trial Presentation in Large and Complex Cases)

5.       I’ve Never Used it Before
A large percentage of trials today do not utilize technology, and a large number of attorneys have yet to try it for their trial presentation. While I cannot speak to the qualifications and experiences of others, I can tell you that every attorney I’ve worked with who had never used technology prior to working with me will never go back to the old way of doing things. I will add that as an attorney, you should be able to try your case in the same manner, regardless of whether or not technology is used to present your evidence to the judge and jury. If you don’t feel comfortable operating everything yourself, have someone else do this for you.

6.       It Looks Too Flashy
This argument may have had some validity 20 years ago, when much of this was new, and considered on the cutting edge of litigation. Today, it would be difficult to find a juror who is not familiar with the Internet and other forms of electronic communication. Although trial presentation software is a powerful database application, to the viewer, it looks like little more than a PowerPoint ™ presentation. Again, these days, you’re going to have a tough time finding jurors who are truly “impressed” with the way this all looks. (Also see Top Ten Tips for Creating Professional Trial Presentations Using PowerPoint)

7.       What If it Fails?
It’s really not a question as to whether something will go wrong when you are depending on technology to present your evidence, but when – and then how quickly you can recover, before anyone else even realizes there was even a problem in the first place. You should always have a backup plan in place. This might be a backup laptop, a document camera, or even the hard copy trial exhibits.

8.       The Court May Not Allow It
You should make sure the Court will allow you to present your evidence electronically before trotting in your portable drive-in theater kit. With that, our judicial system is spending a great deal of money equipping our courts with technology at the State and Federal levels. Rather than discouraging the use of technology, you are more likely to find a judge encouraging you to use it – especially if the equipment is already available and provided by the Court. In these “wired” courtrooms, all you need to bring is your laptop or iPad in order to connect to the courtroom system. You should also try to work together with opposing counsel if you will be bringing in your own equipment. (Also see Judiciary Opinions on Technology in Trial)

9    The jury appreciates handling the actual hard-copy exhibits
Jurors can often appreciate the opportunity to hold the actual exhibit in their hands, and they may even view it as “more genuine” than the same exhibit projected on a large screen. In some instances, this can be true. Now if all of the evidence is presented electronically, and then one exhibit is physically handed to the jurors to inspect, that would certainly have a greater impact than passing every exhibit to them. Additionally, post-verdict juror surveys confirm that they appreciate the effort involved and resulting efficiency of using technology in trial – especially when contrasted to opposing counsel who insisted on doing their trial presentation without any technology.

10.   This case is too boring for technology
Some cases may certainly benefit more than others by presenting the evidence electronically. However, document-intensive cases might actually benefit more than those with a number of photos and other visual evidence. Of course, without showing your photos and other demonstratives to the jury, they can only speculate as to what your witness might be describing. But, when “boring” documents such as contracts are displayed, zooming in on a key paragraph and then highlighting the critical language can help bring that exhibit to life in front of your jury.

I would be happy to send you a list of typical trial support and presentation services and equipment, including actual rates and pricing upon request. You may send me an email request using the link at the top of this page.

Your opinions, questions and thoughts are welcome and valued here. Please share yours by posting in Comments box below. Thank you!

Friday, June 29, 2012

TranscriptPad: Of Bricks and Hammers

If you’re in need of a quick and easy method of reviewing depos, running searches, assigning issue codes, adding notes and marking designations with your iPad, Lit Software, makers of the popular TrialPad app, have another nice app for you. In addition to managing the transcripts, TranscriptPad allows you to import related depo exhibits, so you can take a look at them as well. “You can drive in a nail with a brick, but a hammer will do a much better job” according to Ian O’Flaherty, Managing Partner at Lit Software, LLC.

One thing Lit Software has figured out is how to make it easy for the first-time user. Sample case data and an excellent Help system (including an iBook and online tutorials) will get you up to speed in no time. First released in January 2012, TranscriptPad is now in version 1.5.5, and sells for $49.95 on iTunes. While it’s not at the bottom end of the pricing scale, the applications it is intended to replace sell for much more – and often with a required annual maintenance renewal fee.

There are several options for reading transcripts. While a full set of features is available along with the transcript in landscape mode, rotating the iPad to portrait mode shows only the page, thus filling the entire screen, making it easy to read. You may still bring up the tool options if desired.

Navigating through the transcript is possible by flipping through the pages, using the page up or page down arrows, or dragging the slider, which then also shows where you are in the transcript.

Additionally, you can “play” the transcript, scrolling along at the speed you select. This works great, as long as you don’t have too many distractions to deal with. You might also be able to use this feature to practice your speed-reading.

Another great feature is the ability to view the associated document exhibits, which are imported to the case folders just like transcripts. This means you don’t have to open another app for this, or have yet another collection of documents to do so. You cannot annotate the exhibits, however. This would be a nice feature to add.

TranscriptPad features an efficient simple search tool, which can be set to search the active transcript, or the entire case. If you’re searching for a number, it won’t bring up every page or line number either, which is a nice touch. Although complex or Boolean searches are not supported, you can do literal strings of two or more words, and it will capture only the entire string – not every time each word shows up separately. This too, is a good feature. It will also catch a word within a word, such as the singular form of “exhibit” found within the word “exhibits.”

You may want to use your search results to assign an issue code to all of your hits. This is easily done once you have the search results, by selecting the icon in the lower left corner and assigning a new issue code. You cannot assign an existing code to your search results.

When you are reviewing a set of search results, the up and down page navigation arrows on the right side of the transcript jump to the next hit, rather than the next page. You may also jump to any hit by clicking it in the results display.

Choosing from six available colors, and assigning any number of issue codes, you are able to dissect your transcript into topics, which can then easily be reviewed, saved and shared. You can also choose to apply highlighting or underline your selection, although these are not associated with issue codes. It does allow you to share part of your work, without showing all of your work-product, however. Many of the features in this app might seem limited, but if you think them through, there seems to be a great deal of consideration given to the legal process and sharing just a part of what you’ve done – whether for your client, trial team, the Court, or even opposing counsel.

You can also add notes to a selection you have flagged, although you’re restricted to 140 characters, like Twitter. That should be enough for a brief note in most cases, however.

As I mentioned above, once you’ve annotated and issue-coded, you have several options as to what to do with your work.  You can select all of your issue codes, or just the ones you want. You can also choose to save a highlighted PDF version of your transcript, and you can even save the ASCII text file (not annotated). You can also choose a report version that includes only the selected issue codes, and not the entire transcript.

Issue codes appear as plain text with a colored stripe on the left, while highlighting and underlining are actually applied to the text.

Now if your case has outgrown the iPad, and something like TrialDirector or Sanction will be used, you also have the ability to export any set of issue codes as a clip script. This allows you to easily import all of your designations into your trial presentation software, and then edit them for playback in court. While you don’t have the option to choose which ones you  export, the resulting report groups them for you and identifies which issue(s) they belong to. Just make sure your transcripts are named identically, or you may use the text of the resulting report in a copy/paste manner.

TranscriptPad could use a few improvements. While the search is quick and simple, not having the ability to form complex searches is a fairly significant limitation – at least when comparing with the computer-based applications. Other issues I identified during my review process include the import dialog process, which doesn’t offer any way of previewing your transcript or verifying that the date and other information are correct. I would highly recommend checking the file either before or immediately after importing to make sure everything was captured correctly (i.e., name, date, page numbering, volume, etc.). Page numbers were captured correctly when importing later volumes of a depo. Although the first page did show as page one in my test, all the rest were correctly identified (in my test Volume 3, beginning with page 367).

With TrialPad’s ability to export to TrialDirector, I would also love to see it import a clip file from TrialDirector, completing the link between the two programs. This feature could also be extended to exporting and importing between two iPads.

Another item I’d like to see would be the ability to limit your highlighting and underline to a partial line. This can be very helpful when preparing designations. You cannot simply copy and paste the transcript text, although you can designate the desired lines and then send it to email, and work with it from there.
Overall, TrialPad is an excellent app, and can make dealing with depos and designations a quick and easy task – especially those times when you’d rather whip out the iPad than work on your computer or laptop. Compared to apps which simply view files, this is indeed a hammer, rather than a brick. With apps like this, the iPad really is becoming a productive tool.

And finally, am I the only one who noticed that the firm identified in the sample transcripts is Richard and Cranium? Some of you may have to think about this one for a bit…