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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Monday, October 25, 2010

Product Review: Redact-It Desktop

(this article was written for and originally published on the OLP web site)

If you find yourself redacting “live text” documents, such as PDF, TIFF or even Microsoft Office files, Redact-It Desktop (by Informative Graphics Corp. is worth looking into. If you need to redact scanned non-OCR documents, you can also do that, but without the automated processes that make this program such a timesaver.

Installation was relatively painless, optionally adding a set of Macros which may be used with Microsoft Office document files.

Launching the program brings up a screen with web links to a few key places on the site, including Getting Started, Feature Vote, Redact-It Site and Update. Selecting “Open” starts a browse dialog, which is initially set by default to a series of Test Files which may be used to quickly learn the features of the product. Each test file address an issue, which is identified in the name of the document. Each document has instructions on how to use a particular function, and has a series of searchable points which may be tested for that function. While this might sound confusing, it is actually very simple.

For instance, if we select “Drivers license number redaction sample.pdf,” we open a document that explains how Redact-It may be used to run a pre-determined script of a number of different possible ways to identify and locate a drivers’ license number (including various abbreviations), and then apply “Redactups” to each of them. There are a number of commonly used preset scripts, and of course, you can easily create your own.

Running the “Redact Drivers License” script brings up 65 hits on the sample document.

Once you have redacted as desired, you may then “Verify” the Redactups, assign issues to them, and “Finalize” the document, saving it as a PDF, Tiff or proprietary “CSF” file. The original document remains unchanged. The CSF format requires the use of their free “Brava” viewer, allowing the user to set a timer on the document, disabling it from further viewing upon reaching a pre-determined expiration date. This clever feature might be used when sending documents for review, and you want to make absolutely sure they are deleted after a reasonable review period. This feature is not available for PDF or TIFF images. Password protection is available for any saved format. Insider Tip: Don’t send the document via email, and then the password in a separate message a little while later. That’s too easy to figure out by someone looking in the email folders.

One key selling point of Redact-It is that once you save a redacted document, the text is no longer there and cannot be recovered (as it was in a certain Facebook case a few years ago).

In the event you have documents that do not have “live” text, you may either manually draw redaction boxes around an area, or for about a $50 upgrade, you may add the OCR option (Nuance OCR engine), which will then allow full-text search and redaction.

Base pricing for Redact-It Desktop is $195, or $244 with OCR capability. Server and Kofax versions are also available.

The bottom line on this product is that while it has a relatively narrow purpose, if you have the need for automation (and who doesn’t need a little help with efficiency these days), and at a reasonable price, Redact-It will likely become a valuable tool in your arsenal. For the price of the demo version (free), you can’t go wrong in giving it a test-drive.

Ted Brooks, President
Litigation-Tech LLC
"Enhancing the Art of Communication"
415-291-9900 San Francisco
213-798-6608 Los Angeles

Friday, October 22, 2010

Top Ten Trial Presentation Laptop Specs, by Ted Brooks

This topic was addressed on the LinkedIn Trial Technology Group

1. Get two identical laptops, if possible. This makes it much easier to switch back and forth, etc. Use one as a work-horse, the other as the trial machine.

2. Get the largest hard drive available. Mine are 1TB.

3. Get the fastest hard drive available. Don’t settle for 5400 rpm because it’s less expensive. Get 7200 rpm.

4. Get the fastest processor available. Mine are i7.

5. Get the most RAM available. Mine are 8GB.

6. Get dedicated video memory, if possible. Mine have 1GB.

7. Go for the wide-screen. Once you get used to it, it is far more productive, having the extra work space.

8. Get Windows 7 Pro. The Home version is for use at home. There is an inexpensive “anytime upgrade” feature built in, in case you get the home version with the laptops.

9. Run in 64 bit, not 32. With W7 Pro, you can always choose to run older software in compatibility mode if necessary.

10. I ended up getting a couple Dell Studio laptops from Costco, for an excellent deal. You’re going to be amazed – it’s like computers are fun again.

Ted Brooks, President
Litigation-Tech LLC
"Enhancing the Art of Communication"
415-291-9900 San Francisco
213-798-6608 Los Angeles

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Economic Downturn: Effects on Trial Presentation

VIDEO: Robb Helt and I just reported on the effects of the ecomomic crisis on the legal professions. The video has been posted on

This is the script I prepared for my portion of the segment:

Hi, I’m Ted Brooks with Litigation-Tech LLC, and the author and publisher of the Court and Trial Technology Blog.

I’m here today for, and I’m going to offer a brief update on how the trial presentation business has been affected by the economy over the past couple of years.
Even if you haven’t really been following current events, it comes as no surprise that the legal profession as a whole has taken a significant hit along with everyone else in the economic downturn. Law firms have slashed attorneys and staff, litigation support companies have closed their doors, and trial presentation firms have also suffered – even to the extent that the Merrill Corporation has dropped trial presentation from their list of services. Of course, that hasn’t been a bad thing for those of us who have benefited.
Looking back about 10 years ago when trial presentation was still pretty much in its infancy, once Brobeck dissolved and I started Litigation-Tech, we found ourselves primarily occupied with very large cases for very large firms. Through the years, we have been able to develop a good book of business with smaller firms, as the larger firms brought a lot of it in-house. “Innovate or die,” as the saying goes.
This brought us through a transition from working with large firms, to focusing more on the smaller firms that didn’t have the capabilities in-house, while still supporting larger firms when they saw the large, complex cases and needed some outside assistance.
Now, I’ve seen this all come full-circle. We’ve brought firms of all shapes and sizes into the high-tech trial arena, but have now seen smaller firms handing many of their cases in-house, having a paralegal or associate handle it. Large cases generally still warrant bringing in some help.
Large firms, now having cut back in staffing and in-house support costs are handling things in a similar fashion. We’re getting calls now from many large firms who no longer have the internal resources necessary to support large, complex trials.
Additionally, I have seen a big trend in getting trial presentation firms involved much earlier in the litigation life-cycle. What this means is that firms are displaying the “guns of war” during mediations and settlement conferences, in addition to arbitration and trial.
I see this as a true “win-win” for everyone – firms adapting to clients’ needs to avoid the added costs of a jury trial; Clients getting “no-holds-barred” representation early on, often resulting in a favorable settlement, and trial presentation people – both in-house and vendors keeping busy in a time where jury trials are getting rare. In those cases which do proceed to trial, opposing counsel is fully aware they are in for a fight.
Finally, it appears that many (although certainly not all) seem to “get it” that trial is not the place to train a paralegal or associate to bring up documents for the jury. If it warrants the best attorneys, it also warrants not risking compromises when it comes to trial presentation.
Thanks for listening. Now (and it’s a good problem to have), I have to get back to work, so I’ll turn it over to Robb Helt.

Ted Brooks, President
Litigation-Tech LLC
"Enhancing the Art of Communication"
415-291-9900 San Francisco
213-798-6608 Los Angeles