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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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Master of Your Domain

Seinfeld, "The Contest"

Jerry Seinfeld reminded Kramer that we should be the “Master of our domain.” While the boundaries of our personal “domain” may have been relatively clear back in the day, technology has had a significant effect on expectations and assumptions of what we ought to be familiar with.

Carolyn Elefant on MyShingle recently shared her frustration with young lawyers who are not also experts in technology, in her Open Letter to New Lawyer. She shares that a newly-minted attorney should be up on all of the latest techie tricks, including blogging, marketing, and social media. She then goes on to challenge the young attorney by stating, “You should be able to figure out, in a snap, how to use video editing tools if you don’t already and volunteering to create cool informational videos so I can market my firm and generate more business that will support more new hires.”  While these things aren't necessarily taught in law school, she asserts that if one has grown up with technology, one should be comfortable with it.

Less than a week goes by and Josh Camson retorts on The Lawyerist in his Open Letter to Senior Lawyer, “Although I consider myself tech-savvy, I believe your expectations are unrealistic.” He adds, “…my age does not make me any more of an expert than you. Nor does it mean I should become your tech consultant.” His article suggests that even though one has been immersed in technology since childhood, it doesn’t make one an expert.

Both articles have interesting perspectives, and both include some great reader comments. While the MyShingle blog is directed more toward small and solo firms, the points made are worth considering, regardless of firm size. As a Legal Technology and Litigation Consultant having started in-house with a large firm (Brobeck), I have dealt with lawyers of all ages, and in all sizes of law firm. While there is indeed a “value-added” component to the young attorney who is comfortable with technology, it will likely be of greater value in the small firm. Larger firms are more likely to have attorneys working on cases, marketing people working on promoting the firm, and technology experts handling litigation support tasks.

Regardless of firm size, you will need to decide when to call in the experts. While you can be the “Master of your domain,” you must also be realistic about the boundaries of that domain. You might be able to learn some software well enough to cobble together a video, but you’re not likely to be nearly as efficient as someone who does it every day – nor is it likely to be of the same quality. Being a “digital native” does not necessarily make one a digital expert.

A small-firm lawyer must be proficient in law, technology, marketing and business, while a large-firm lawyer may be more specialized. Either way, the more you bring to the table, the more you’ll get to eat.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Inside Trial Technology on LinkedIn

If you are interested in the ever-increasing importance of technology in law (and who isn’t?), the Trial Technology LinkedIn group is worth visiting. Featuring current articles from many top experts, the group now has well over 3000 members. Since it is an “open” group, you do not need to join as a member to view current posts.

The Trial Technology group was started in November of 2009 as an updated and improved replacement to the Yahoo Trial Technology group. This is the case for many of the now nearly inactive Yahoo groups, which once served as the main online networking and information sharing forum. In addition to the basic forum, LinkedIn introduced a higher degree of social interaction, images, and a better overall user experience. At first viewed by some as just “another” online group, membership and activity quickly surpassed that of its predecessor group.

While one of the goals of the Trial Technology LinkedIn group remains to provide a forum for like-minded professionals to share contacts and information, another and perhaps more important issue is to offer lawyers and other legal professionals a clear view of the current state of the art in trial presentation and related technology and services. Although probably best-viewed as it appears by default, you can also run searches of group posts on any topic.

Another interesting feature of this particular group is the monthly poll question. Although the sampling size is small, the information gathered could be considered relevant and accurate. The most popular poll thus far asks, “Which software do you use for trial presentation?” Others over the past year share insight on the business climate and other professional topics.

This group is moderated, which helps keep spam and junk out of the forum. Too many groups have allowed anyone to post anything, making them little more than someone’s advertising forum – often by professional marketers, using the same post repeatedly. Promotions and Job postings are welcome on this group, but should always be posted in the proper category.

If you are interested in the demographical information of group members, you can find that here as well. While Facebook still dominates the pure social networking space, LinkedIn has done a good job at becoming the go-to place for professional networking.