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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Friday, July 31, 2015

10 Reasons You Should NOT Install Windows 10 (yet)

1. What could possibly go wrong? Just quietly ponder that on your own for a moment.

2. Have you ever done something like this on your own before? Although Microsoft has made it appear to be a very simple process, the potential consequences are significant. Seriously – this is the Operating System for your computer. It’s like the techie version of open-heart surgery.

3. Will your mission-critical software still work? Even after success during beta testing, some software does not work properly yet with the current release. It’s only a matter of time, but don’t jump off the bridge before checking with your providers to make sure your stuff is compliant.

4. Are you concerned with privacy? If so, you might want to pay close attention to the License terms, along with some of the options and choices. Failure to do so may compromise your (and your clients’) data. In the legal profession, that may somewhat less than ideal. Pay extra attention to how (or if) you configure Cortana.

5. Do you have an extra computer? If so, this would be a good place to do your own testing and training. See if you’re comfortable with how it works before locking yourself into an uncomfortable working environment.

6. Do you have some free time? If you’re in the midst of an important project, the answer is probably no. You should expect to spend several hours with the upgrade, and then several more learning and working with it.

7. Should you accept default settings? Generally, it’s the path of least resistance, but it is also the path of most unknowns. Check out your options before merrily clicking “Next.”

8. Can you wait, or do you have to upgrade now? There is no urgent rush, although according to Microsoft “you must upgrade to Windows 10 within one year of availability.” At this point, that would appear to be July 28 of 2016.

9. What can you do if you upgrade and then find some of your software no longer works? According to the FAQ page, you will have one month after upgrading to revert back to the previous version, although I have heard of problems continuing even after a rollback.

10. Should you have someone else do this for you? If you’re in a large firm, you probably won’t see a firm-wide rollout for at least a few months – and for good reasons (see above). For smaller firms, if you have an IT person or service, you should consider having them handle the upgrade for you. If you’re independent and on your own, then you’re independent and on your own.

So, you’re not scared and you want to go for it? No problem, and you don’t have to wait for your scheduled release date. Simply use this link and let the games begin: 

I've gone through a number of major software upgrades over the years, and I would say Windows 10 is certainly going to be worth every penny - especially for those getting the free upgrade (currently running Windows 7 or 8). How quickly you jump in is up to you (or those upon whom you depend to manage these things for you). I personally found one specialized software issue which will prevent me from rolling it out to my "money-maker" machines right now, but overall, the system looks very nice and is simple to use.

Windows 10 Home Screen with Start Menu, Edge Browser

A couple of additional handy resources:

Monday, July 27, 2015

Top 3 Legal Technology Trends in 2015

A recent ThinkTank article asks several leaders in the Legal Technology space to share their big-picture thoughts on the direction we're heading. A few of the key issues mentioned are the billable hour, artificial intelligence, and smart devices. For my bit, I've included a bit on courtroom technology. Here is my Q&A. Links to the full article are below.

“What are the top three legal technology trends you have seen so far in 2015, and what do you expect to see in the near future? Why should law firms/attorneys be paying attention to these?”


1. Courtroom trial presentation systems
Many courtrooms are now equipped with trial presentation equipment, and when they have it, they expect you to use it. State courts are still a bit behind the Federal courts, but overall, the Judiciary is very supportive of its use. Two key reasons are the efficiency of evidence presentation, and the advantage of helping the jury to better understand the evidence. Some judges have estimated a trial can proceed as much as 30-50% faster.
Although this trend is generally a good thing, not every courtroom is set up with the same equipment. The newest installations are getting HDMI systems, and older courtrooms have VGA equipment and connections. Fortunately, the new systems are also including “legacy” VGA access. In any event, one should never assume that everything will work as expected. A thorough test of your actual system is a must.

2. Court Reporting options

Having a Court Reporter available for trial has been an unrealized luxury for many years. With budget cuts hitting the courts, there have been some changes to the system. For starters, you cannot assume that a Court Reporter will be provided for your trial. Some courts (and some departments of courts) still provide the service, while others require you to provide your own reporter. In some courts, only a digital audio recording is offered. If you wish to have a transcript, you’ll have to get that done on your own.
Another recent option available in some courts is “digital court reporting,” where an audio file is recorded, and voice-recognition software is used to create a transcript. Although it isn’t flawless and will not become the “official record” of the proceedings, it does a decent job.
3. Mobile devices and apps

Everyone who has an iPad raise your hands. I’ll bet more than 50% in a room full of lawyers will have one, and most everyone has some sort of “smart” device these days. I remember getting a Blackberry when they came out. It was astounding that we could actually get email while in a courtroom! My, how times have changed. This whole mobile revolution is both a blessing and a curse.
The blessing part may be obvious to some, in that you can have a 24×7 connection to anything from virtually everywhere. The curse part is that you have a 24×7 connection to anything from virtually everywhere. Throw in a dash of cyber security concern, and you have imminent disaster online 24×7 for your IT Department.
For smaller firms and solo practitioners, there is an app for nearly anything you need to do. Although it may be only a few dollars here and a few more there, it all adds up, and with the limited functionality of each app (and the iPad itself), in most cases, it really can’t completely replace a computer.
Larger firms will likely need to standardize and roll out apps in a similar manner as they’ve been doing for years with regular computers and software. There are many options out there—many with inherent risks, compatibility issues and other concerns.
Here's a link to the full ThinkTank article, Legal Tech Trends: Experts Sound Off on What to Expect in 2015 and Beyond.
Here's a link to the complete set of expert responses: Want to know more? Here are the full answers we received from our experts.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Best Courtroom Presentation Providers

Litigation-Tech has been named one of THE BEST COURTROOM PRESENTATION PROVIDERS in The Recorder’s 2015 poll! 

This is the 3rd time readers have voted for us as their favorite, and we have been informed that as a result, we will also receive the Hall of Fame Award. Thanks so much to all who voted! It is truly humbling to be recognized among the many fine trial presentation providers in the Golden State. I can say that we love what do, and we're glad others do too!

Today marks the 6th anniversary of Court Technology and Trial Presentation! We have a great collection of popular articles, many of which have been reprinted and used in other publications, various CLE programs, and have been featured as Technolawyer's LitigationWorld Pick of the Week. This blawg is written and shared with the intent of informing and educating others in topics relative to the crossroads of law and technology.

Litigation-Tech now features a mobile-friendly website, which will automatically re-size itself according to your device and browser size. Try it out on your phone or tablet. If you're into geeky things, you can re-size your computer browser to get the idea. Final tip - those who have web sites should consider updating yours to a mobile-friendly design as well.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Local Court Rules - Local Experience

Who’s in your hot-seat? When is the last time you were in trial? Was that in the Federal Court, Superior Court, or an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) provider, such as JAMS or AAA? If you are preparing for trial now, do you have someone on your trial team who is familiar not only with the latest in trial presentation and technology, but with your actual trial venue? Similar to associating Local Counsel to assist in distant venues, this can literally be the key to a smooth and successful presentation – or a failure.

As mentioned in our last article, it won’t look good if you cannot hook up to the Court’s presentation system, or if you’re always the one delaying the trial because of some technical difficulties. “I’m just a poor old country lawyer who doesn’t get all of this technology stuff” might have been cute 20 years ago, but not now. Have you looked at the average age of your jury lately? Not to mention, it would be a disservice to your client.

In many cases, we recommend booking your “hot-seat” provider at least 6-8 weeks out from trial, as the “good ones” are very busy, and you could risk settling for plan B, or worse. Beginning trial prep at an even earlier stage can help you get everything ready and organized in a manner that can easily be incorporated into mock trials, mediation, and trial. Firms that handle large and complex cases often begin setting things up properly for trial from the outset.

You should consider working with a local provider who is familiar with the local courthouse, has local connections and resources, and can also save on travel costs. With requisite skills being equal, having actual local court experience can be extremely helpful. A New York trial presentation firm would be great for a New York trial, but a Los Angeles firm would be best in their local courts.

That’s not to say a good Trial Tech can’t do a good job anywhere in the country, however. If you brought them in early and have already been working together with them for some time, it probably makes sense to take them along with you. If not, you may want to find someone local, as in most areas these days, there are decent providers available. The decision of who is in your trial hot-seat will likely be affected by when you bring them into the case.

Here is a helpful checklist of Ten Questions to Ask Your “Hot Seat” Provider.