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, August 31, 2011

iTestimony: iPad App for Witness Management

iTestimony is an app designed to help you keep your witness information handy and updated. It is developed by Scott Falbo of Front9 Technologies, developers of iJuror, the first app designed to assist with voir dire (see review).

If you've tried iJuror, the clean and simple interface will look familiar. Like the majority of apps available for lawyers, iTestimony serves a limited, but useful purporse -- keeping track of all of the witnesses in your case. 

While you’re not going to find a long list of things that this will do, it does a nice job at organizing information about your witnesses, and allows you to sort by a few basic parameters, including whose witness it is, how helpful they are to your case, and whether you still need to follow up on something with them. You can also add your own notes, as well as filling in fields such as name, occupation, and rating their importance to your case.

If you’re on a mission to save trees and/or stop carrying lots of books and legal pads, the iPad is probably something you’re using these days. iTestimony can help  in the reduction of legal pad use by keeping all of your witness info handy. This can be very helpful – especially in larger cases and long trials. And, you can email this info as a report.

Perhaps someday we’ll see apps that cover several related purposes in one app. But then, maybe that’s just part of the simplistic beauty of the iPad. In any event, iTestimony and iJuror would be a good set for a Trial Lawyer to have on their iPad.

iTestimony, $9.99 in the iTunes Store,available for iPad only

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Five Steps to Creating a Compelling Mediation Presentation DVD

In this economy, litigants are extremely cost-conscious, and have been successful in forcing many law firms to develop creative fee structures, and driving the rates of legal fees downward, deflating what some have even referred to as a legal fee bubble (see Are We In A Legal Profession (Pricing) Bubble?, by Susan Cartier Liebel).

One way to lower the costs of litigation is by using technology every way possible for evidence management and trial presentation. Another is to avoid trial altogether, when possible -- although I generally try to encourage going all the way to trial by initiating a group-chant session with my law firm clients: “Settle is just another way to spell Sell-Out.” That doesn’t always fly with the parties in the matter, however.

So, preparing a DVD for Mediation or Settlement Conference can be a very effective method of presenting your case to opposing counsel and their client. Rules of Evidence aren’t really an issue, so you can go a little over the top, but should not over-do it. Here are a few steps to creating a compelling presentation, aimed at convincing opposing counsel that it would be advantageous for them to avoid trial. While this topic certainly includes some ideas specifically related to Plaintiffs in Personal Injury cases, many of the basic principles may be applied to most any matter.

1. Gather the Evidence: You should consider all of the available evidence in the matter for inclusion in your DVD. Although you won’t want to clutter it up with duplicative or relatively mundane exhibits, you should be sending a clear message that you are preparing to go the distance. This can even include subtle hints, such as Bates numbering of documents and the manner in which your exhibits are organized.

2. Film a “Day-In-the-Life” of Your Client: While this is not unusual for Plaintiffs in Personal Injury and Medical Malpractice suits, it can also be an effective tool for Defendants. You might obtain the entire video via subpoena, or you might even consider filming your own, so you can spin it your way. In any event, the “more is better” rule definitely applies, in order that you might have some good options to work with. An article by Robyn Weisman appeared recently in Law Technology News, Prime Time, sharing how litigators use 'Day in the Life' videos to sway insurers and jurors.

3. Edit, Edit, and Edit Some More: This is really more about art than science. Every video editor/producer has a different feel for the way things will work, what is important, and how best to present it. I have seen many “styles” of Day-In-the-Life videos. Some include music, some will have a lot of narration or witness statements, while others will appear more documentary. My personal style is the latter – I’m not generally a big fan of drama and attempts to play on emotions when it comes to legal video productions. That is likely influenced by my extensive use of media in the courtroom. I will say that you’re not going to be allowed to play “All By Myself” in court to the jury, as a series of tear-jerking images are displayed.

4. Adding Demonstratives: Although you might think it would be a bit early in the game to be developing some visuals, they can be very effective in summarizing key points, a timeline, or even testimony. The idea here is to give opposing counsel some choices, and no matter what they choose to focus on, they will be getting your message. You may add some of these into the video itself, but also include them as PDF files on the DVD.

5. Deposition Testimony: If you’ve videotaped your depos, you can easily include helpful sections of testimony via video clips. Again, you can add them to a Day-In-the-Live video, and/or you may include them as individual files. Even if you have not videotaped your depos, you can still include a PDF version of your excerpts.

Your final product might be a standalone Day-In-the-Life DVD, or it might be a collection of things, including the video, exhibits, testimony and demonstratives. The latter is generally my preference – show them what you’ve got, and don’t expect everyone to view everything. Also bear in mind that this type of project can be very complex, so allow plenty of time for gathering all of the parts, and then the production of your Mediation Package DVD.

Here are a few examples of relevant video excerpts. None of these are intended to serve as a complete package, but are shared here to help provide an understanding of the impact of video.

Title Test Mediation Video DVD Package: This shows the effective use of silence and titling to make a very powerful statement.

Day-In-the-Life excerpt 1: This allows the viewer to experience the frustration of doing simple things we take for granted.

Day-In-the-Life excerpt 2: This shows the effects of solitude, and resulting slow passage of time.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Belli Seminar: "Cutting-edge Trial Techniques for the 21st Century"

For Immediate Release:

Belli Seminar

"Cutting-edge Trial Techniques for the 21st Century"

Pass this on to a colleague! On Friday, October 14th at Lincoln Law School, Santa Clara County Trial Lawyers Association presents a plaintiff-oriented program, “Cutting-edge Trial Techniques for the 21st Century”, moderated by Melvin Caesar Belli, son of the late "King of Torts". In the tradition of the late Melvin Belli, the seminar is a venue for top trial lawyers, consultants and experts to share with plaintiff attorney’s cutting edge trial strategies, tactics and techniques. RSVP Now for early bird pricing. The 5 hour event is fast-paced. Each of the 20 presenters is given 15 minutes, 10 for the presentation and 5 for Q & A. Selected presenters will videotape an in depth one on one interview that will be given to the attendees. Learn the latest winning strategies from top presenters.

Technology consultant Ted Brooks will be one of the 20 Belli Seminar presenters. Brooks has consulted for David Boies in the divorce trial of the McCourts (LA Dodgers owners), for attorney M. Gerald Schwartzbach in the Robert Blake murder trial and has worked with many big name corporate and plaintiff law firms.

Other top presenters include:

Attorney Mark Geragos: The only lawyer besides Johnnie Cochran ever named "Lawyer of the Year" in both Criminal and Civil arenas. He has also been named as “One of the 100 Most Influential Attorneys in California" three years in a row.

Amy Singer: Jury consultant in the Casey Anthony trial. Analyzed tens of thousands highly-charged social media opinions, and used them to help the defense craft their trial strategy. The Innovative tactic shows how social media sites may revolutionize the way lawyers defend clients.

Howard Varinsky: One of the country's preeminent trial consultants. Involved In many of the nation's most well-known trials, from the defense of Bernard Goetz & Dr. Jack Kevorkian to the prosecutions of Timothy McVeigh & Michael Jackson. Learn how Engineer jurors think, what works, and what doesn't.

Attorney Tom Brandi: "Taking a New and Different Approach with Demonstrative Evidence". Brandi won a $29 million Sonoma County jury verdict In July 2011, holding the State of California accountable for a head on crash on a section of state Highway 12 that did not have e median barrier.

I truly look forward to participating in this one-of-a-kind event, and certainly feel like the little fish in the big bowl. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

iKeyboard Update: Touch Typing On Your iPad

Today's post will be a little different, in that I will be typing it entirely with my iPad 2 (first time for that, although I have written one on my old iPad before, while on a long flight), and also using a prototype (no pun intended) of the new iKeyboard.

So, how does it feel? Well, I can tell you that I am touch typing, rather than staring at the keyboard on the glass, no longer forced to having my fingers hover uncomfortably over the keys. While using the iPad for typing takes a little practice anyway, the iKeyboard is a great addition. I'm not able to type quite as fast as with a regular keyboard, but part of that is just learning how to use the iPad's keyboard properly.

As I mentioned in my recent article, comparing the iPad with other tablets and their use in law firms, I remain convinced that since the iPad enjoys the biggest share of the market, that keeps the extra innovative accessories coming.

The iKeyboard should be available for purchase (under $50) within a few weeks, and I look forward to trying the production version. If you blog or type quite a bit, and want to use your iPad, it would be worth the money, and you don't need to carry another piece of hardware.

Final note: I did have some trouble getting the image to line up correctly with Safari browser on the iPad. Copying and pasting are certainly more trouble, and scrolling the text in the Blogger window was also difficult. So, the image placement and the last three sentences are courtesy of Chrome browser on my Dell laptop.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Are iPads the Best Option for Lawyers?

Reprinted with permission from the August 11, 2011 issue of Law Technology News. ©2011 ALM Media Properties, LLC.
First, if you do enjoy this blog (and I hope that's why you're reading this now), please consider this request to nominate Court Technology and Trial Presentation to the ABA Blawg 100.
I was asked recently about my opinion and recommendations for law firms considering the purchase of iPads or Android tablets, such as the Samsung Galaxy 10.1, and the availability of apps for lawyers. Well, considering the fact that Apple just got an injunction against the Samsung Galaxy 10.1 in a German court, firms leaning toward an Android tablet standard may want to wait. While the German injunction doesn't guarantee that the U.S. Courts will follow the decision, it does mean that distribution of the device is now prohibited in the entire European Union, except for The Netherlands, and it was Britain's second-fastest selling tablet compared to the iPad 2.
Another tablet that could be considered is the BlackBerry Playbook, but even though the folks in the IT department might tell you it would be the most secure and easiest to bring into "the system," it has some serious shortcomings, such as the need for the BlackBerry phone to be near the tablet for it to view e-mail. This means if you want to read in bed, you'll be sleeping with your phone as well as the Playbook.
Even though Research In Motion has owned the legal market for many years, unless they once again begin to innovate rather than renovate, the BlackBerry's days are numbered. And that's without regard for the fact that the BlackBerry Messenger System is now being tied to the London riots, which might actually cause new security concerns.
Just as phones tend to morph into similar designs, tablets do too -- sometimes too much, according to the German Court. The way in which the devices operate is very similar across platforms. If you can operate one, you can operate another. So perhaps the choice should be based more upon other factors, such as availability of apps and accessories.
There's nothing wrong with the Android tablets, but they are so far behind in market share now that it discourages development of accessories by third-party vendors. Why spend the same amount of money developing something for a much smaller market, and for so many different devices? If you're making an accessory for the iPad, it needs to work with the iPad, iPad 2, or both. That's it.
A good case in point (no pun intended) was noted in my recent review on some innovative iPad cases, including one model that protects the iPad from dirt and dust (read: beaches, frozen drinks, and suntan oil). Another example is something I expect to be testing soon called the iKeyboard, a thin-film layer that allows you to use your touch-typing skills on the iPad without having an external keyboard, which in my opinion is getting close enough to a laptop that you might as well use a laptop. Neither of these are available on an Android tablet. Sometimes it's the extras that can influence a decision on otherwise similar products.
Although I'll admit to a love affair with my iPad, I am not a true fanboy, i.e., a zombie-like being who is convinced that anything made by Apple is better than anything made by anyone else, regardless of the facts. I use Windows on my laptops and aSamsung Nexus S phone.
There are many legal-specific iPad apps and I've reviewed several for Law Technology News and on my blog, but there are only a few available for Android. Some of these iPad apps for lawyers are TrialPad, Deponent, Exhibit A, Evidence, JuryTracker, Jury Duty, Litigator, CourtDaysPro, idoc REVIEW, and iJuror; and these are just some that I've reviewed, to name a few.
With a wide variety of accessories and legal-specific apps available from Apple and third-party vendors, the decision is not difficult. At this point, my personal choice and recommendation for anyone in the legal profession would be to go with the iPad and app-cessorize to your needs and heart's content.
Ted Brooks is a trial presentation consultant, author, and speaker, with offices in Los Angeles & San Francisco. E-mail: Blog: Court Technology and Trial Presentation.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Trial Briefs (an update on your intrepid blogger)

Trial briefs? I mean to say that I'll keep this brief, because I'm prepping for trial, working on several cases. Having to manage a lot of work is a good problem to have, generally.

So, a couple quick notes. First, if you do enjoy this blog (and I hope that's why you're reading this now), please consider this request to nominate Court Technology and Trial Presentation to the ABA Blawg 100. It’s possible that nobody else has done so yet, so I’d really appreciate it. Here's a link to my Blawg listing on the ABA site.

Next, I’ve just written a new article for Law Technology News, Is the iPad or Android Tablet Better for Law Firms?, in which tablet options for law firms are discussed, including the iPad, Samsung Galaxy, and BlackBerry Playbook.

Other items of note which I’ll cover in coming weeks include major updates to NoteTaker HD, Jury Box, and a new app called iTestimony, by the folks who brought us iJuror. Also, I should have an iKeyboard prototype to test soon, although I may not be able to review it until it’s ready for the public.

Finally, I’m giving away a Hard Candy iPad case. No big deal, not trying to gather personal info so I can spam-bomb you (that’s not my style), but just thought it would be cool to share one of the nice products I have received for review. Details are in Hard Candy: iPad Cases and Stylus.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Hard Candy: iPad Cases and Stylus

Adding to my ongoing coverage of iPad Apps for Lawyers, Paralegals and Legal Professionals, I have been testing a few new iPad cases and a stylus by Hard Candy Cases. There are a number of options available, with some offering little more functionality than a book cover. Hard Candy and their GumDrop line both offer several nice options – especially for those who are rough on their toys, or have unique uses for their iPad – some models are also available for the iPhone.

NOTE: Make sure to see how you can win one of these in a Twitter contest – details at the end of this article.

Candy Convertible iPad Case
Apple iPad Case

Candy Convertible iPad Case (Available for iPad 1 or iPad 2, $44.95)

Comparing with the Apple iPad Case ($39), although the Hard Candy case is about $6 more, if you’re into watching movies in the upright position (as depicted in the photos), the Apple case isn’t quite as stable, since the Hard Candy case has a slightly wider bend section. This extra little bit of lift angle is also nice if you lay your iPad on your lap, or maybe an airline tray. The Hard Candy does feel a bit heavier, but not by much, and has an inner pocket for a few business cards.

Bubble Sleeve iPad 2 + 1 (fits iPad 1 or 2, $49.95)

Bubble Sleeve iPad Case

I really like this case, and if you’re the type who doesn’t like to add a “sleeve” to your iPad, you will too. It is a nicely padded case, with a double zipper to keep it safe. Although you could use your iPad in this case, one of the benefits is that it is not fastened in, so removing the iPad is as easy as just lifting it out. This feels good in the hand, and would be easy to carry around, giving you a great deal of protection, if you should happen to get clumsy, have it outdoors when the weather gets ugly, etc. It has enough room for your iPad and a stylus, and there is room underneath for a few business cards and a lens cleaning cloth.

Candy iPad Stylus + Pen (for iPad, iPhone, Android Phones, etc., $34.95, shiny chrome finish, also available in white)

Candy iPad Stylus + Pen

This stylus is the nicest one I’ve seen yet. Jeff Richardson recently posted a review of several styli on his iPhone J.D. blog, and included a handy photo lineup for size comparison. Building upon his comparison, I've added a lineup here for reference. I agree with Jeff that it is not comfortable writing with a short stylus, and I will add that the thinner profile of most of them also takes some getting used to.

Top to bottom: Kensington Virtuoso, Hard Candy Stylus, Montblanc Pen

The Hard Candy Stylus includes both a pen and silicone stylus. It is the only model that protects the stylus tip along with the pen, and it has the shape and feel of a fine writing instrument, such as the Montblanc pen, as shown. It does not have a pocket clip, so it may wobble around a bit in your pocket protector, however. The end caps are both securely fitted with an o-ring seal, similar to the Kensington design.

Drop Tech Series iPad 2 Case (for iPad 2, $59.95, iPhone 4, $44.95)

Drop Tech Series iPad 2 Case

I visited my local Apple store this weekend, and purchased an iPad 2 (an extremely pleasant and brief experience, by the way), and so I was able to actually test this case. This demonstrates my love and devotion to this blawg, and to you, my reader! Although it’s not the type of case I would use daily, I can think of times I would want the added protection the Drop Tech offers. I can also think of many uses in which you don’t really want to get the iPad dirty, such as in medical, restaurants, dusty or dirty conditions, sports events, at the beach, etc. What you can see in the photo is the rubberized frame in which the iPad is securely locked in. It looks sort of like an off-road tire tread. What you cannot see is that there is a clear (replaceable, $15.95) cover over the display itself, and the iPad works just as if it weren’t there. This case allows the iPad 2 to be used in far more hostile environments, and thus, may even be a good reason for even greater adaptation among various professions. It is random innovations such as this that will keep the iPad the King of Tablets for some time to come.

Overall, this company has the right idea when it comes to unique and innovative product design. It’s all made well, and they take functionality seriously.

Twitter Contest: Win a brand-new (tested briefly by me for review purposes) Candy Convertible iPad Case for iPad 1, value $44.95! Just send out a Tweet (or as many tweets as you wish), with a description and link to this review, and include the words “iPad Case Review by @litigationtech” in the body. You must follow my @litigationtech and @ted_brooks Twitter accounts to be eligible, and the winner will be selected randomly by me from the most recent post at the time I check it sometime this week. Winner will be announced Friday, but may be selected at any time during the week. Shipping only to U.S. or Canada (sorry, this is coming out of my pocket). There's even a convenient Tweet button below this (and every) article.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Legal Technology Marches On

I recently enjoyed the opportunity of speaking to a group of Law Firm Managing Partners for the Northern California Association of Defense Counsel, a branch of the DRI (Defense Research Institute). The most impressive part of all of this to me was that these law firm leaders all attended a series of cutting-edge presentations, all designed to demonstrate some of the current trends and options available. In my experience, with a few rare exceptions, law firms have generally been closer to the knife handle than the leading edge, when it comes to adopting technology. Given the inherent risk in dealing with the property and information of others, this is understandable. A recent example was noted in Law Technology News, where a major issue was discovered in the search function of Adobe Acrobat. A “little glitch” like this can bring the litigation process to a full stop.

Peter Hart, who organized the ADC Seminar, started off by sharing the results of a poll taken by attendees. It showed that associates and paralegals were billing more, and that they were increasing in numbers – perhaps an indicator of finding creative ways to bill at lower rates.

Adrian Dayton shared how lawyers and firms can use social media to bolster their web presence, and offered several success stories. Covering Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, he demonstrated the best ways to set up a profile, and how to maintain it. Using specific terms and your real name will help. With the increasing usage of the Internet for research, news, and shopping, it is more important than ever to be “findable.” The Yellow Pages is heading out to the recycle bin, along with the Classified Ads section. Dayton shared the incredible speed in which news can spread. Although he didn’t touch upon Google+, that is certainly one to watch now, as well.

Brian Anderson, of The Performance Edge, delivered an impressive presentation on engaging with your employees and clients. Of particular interest to me was the fact that he noted you should not assume everyone is on your level of technology, when it comes to relationships. Different age groups can have varying comfort levels with all of this. He pointed out that Baby-Boomers (probably the majority of attendees) are immigrants in the world of technology. They were not born into it. While I would probably respond to a Tweet mentioning my name, others may not – especially if they’re not actively on Twitter. So, a phone call may be in order. Even though you may be comfortable with all of the latest apps and protocols in social media, don’t neglect the original form of social media – talking to one another.

I covered a few topics, including visual litigation, expedited trials, and iPad apps for lawyers. A quick “raise-your-hands” poll of attendees revealed that only a few were familiar with AB 2284 (California Expedited Civil Jury Trials Act) and General Order No. 64 (Northern District of California), and the fact that a trial could be completed in only one day. With the pressure from clients and Insurance Companies to keep the budget minimized, this was a hot topic, since it can cut trial costs by as much as 90%. Of course, I presented my topics using my iPad. It would look kind of silly, speaking about iPad apps, using my laptop.

Apparently, the entire program was well-received. A note from Peter Hart:

“I want to thank you all for your participation as speakers at the 2011 Association of Defense Counsel Law Firm Management Seminar in Monterey, California.  I say without hesitation that the presentations put on by each of you were very well received by the seminar attendees.  I reviewed the speaker evaluations and they were very complimentary of both the content of the program and the direct relevance that each program had for the attendees.  I especially liked the way that each speaker built upon prior presentations and the overall theme of the seminar.”

While I always enjoy presenting to various groups of attorneys and legal professionals, it is a special treat to present to law firm leaders, since they are the influencers and decision-makers. I also had the pleasure of meeting with Donna Seyle, who is now working with the California State Bar Technology Section. (Note: This meeting was a direct result of our prior contact on Twitter – we had never met in person). Donna has asked that I help promote her group and Annual Conference Reception. So, here’s the link for more info: CalBar Law Practice Management & Technology Section Networking Reception

And, if you’re in, from, would like to be, or just interested in California, you are welcome and encouraged to join the California Legal group on LinkedIn.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Social Media, SEO, and Haircuts: Enough Already!

Okay, so I’ll admit that you can actually get to know people as a result of using Social Media networking. I have actually met (yes, in person) several people who I first connected with online via professional networking. I’ll also admit that good SEO (Search Engine Optimization) can indeed help a website appear higher up in Google (or other) search results. However, it seems you can’t go 2 minutes without being bombarded by the next wave of “adver-articles” on the topics. And, a majority of the news I typically follow is supposedly intended for an audience of legal professionals.

What is Social Media? Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, and even blogs to a degree, are all examples of Social Media. Although there is certainly room for everyone, not everyone wants or needs to be there. What value is a continuous stream of useless information on every conceivable topic to someone who’s just not interested? On the other hand, if one is indeed interested in a specific topic, and wants to gather info and learn from a variety of sources, it can be helpful. A great analogy I’ve heard many times is that it is like a large, fast-moving river of information. If you jump in this river, you can easily be washed away. If you dip your cup and take a sip, you might enjoy it – but only if you’re thirsty.

If you are interested in learning more about social media, get some help from someone familiar with it, or search the term to get more info. One thing to remember, however, is that anything you say can and will be used against you, and that it should be considered “permanent.” Once you post something, even though you delete it, there are ways to bring it back to haunt you.

What is SEO? It is the use of search-friendly words in various places on a website, including the text you read, title of a page or article, and even “keywords,” which although not visible to the reader, are there strictly for the benefit of being “found” in a search. If you need your web site set up with SEO, get some help from someone who really knows what they’re doing -- and, make them prove it to you. Beware of overly-specific terms which will “guarantee” top placement in the search engines. Yes, I can get a #1 listing for “ted brooks litigation tech,” but what value is that? In other words, is it likely that anyone will actually search for that specific term? If so, will they follow up and contact me, based on what they were originally searching for? Try to think like your own potential client.

If you are concerned with SEO and your Google Search results, and you’re not into web development, have your web team or IT department handle it, or get someone to assist you.

If you are a practicing lawyer or busy legal professional, unless you have a lot of free time, trying to learn, master, and practice SEO might not be the best use of your time. Although I might be able to offer “Top Ten Tips and Tricks on How to Cut Your Own Hair,” you may be among the majority who would probably be better off letting someone else handle it for you.