Maximizing Legal Technology for the Legal Professional – Pt. 1

At Advanced Discovery, we work day in and day out with many different job functions in the legal profession and hear a lot about legal technology. We stand on leveraging technology to ensure the success of our clients in the process of electronic discovery, data culling, analytics, workflow, and compliance for electronically stored information.  We know how much the technology we use in our everyday jobs helps us and our clients.  So, our next three blog posts will focus on how you, the legal professional, can maximize technology in your everyday life to make your life and job more efficient!

Diverge from the Path of the Paper Trail

 

2011 is forcing a focus on strategic resourcing for many law firms and general counsel, requiring re-thinking the utilization of resources, both human and technological, to enjoy more for less and ultimately pass through operational savings to clients while expanding profitability.

Electronic devices and applications have made many of the paper laden tasks of the past easier, faster and more efficient. The tools you likely already use can do more for you, but your firm or company must do some fine tuning and research to allow them to do more. This is not as difficult as it sounds, although at times those in the technology field  can make it sound that way.  With a few new “tricks,” your firm or company can become more productive, which equates to more effective use of your time and reductions in staff overtime. This post contains only a few ideas on solutions which are  nearly painless and  often free, to help  technology do  some of the heavy lifting.

Smart phones, social networking, cloud computing and virtualization offer business agility, added market penetration and cost-savings; but these also bring threats of piracy, public leaks and increasingly sophisticated cyber-theft. The migration of data to the cloud and proliferation of social media also creates a struggle to locate, preserve and collect electronically stored information (ESI) from the myriad sources that are no longer managed behind a firewall. In the past, email was the “go to” gold mine of discoverable information. Increasingly, the far more informal discussion threads, posts and tweets are being targeted by savvy lawyers and investigators as valuable sources of evidence.

The implementation and use of the technology discussed in this post must be mitigated with sound judgment and well-thought-out process.

Make better use of your iPad and “Smart” Phone.

Jurors spend much of their lives watching law shows on TV and are often unmoved by the foam core exhibits of years past. According to jurors polled, if the technology used in the courtroom appears outdated or the implementation is clunky it can negatively impact how the case presented is listened to and perceived.

The iPad trial apps iAnnotate and TrialPad are inexpensive for the value added. Both of these require extensive thought as to presentation at trial, but the results are well worth it. Trial attorneys who tested these apps reported that TrialPad offers the overall advantage when put to use in trial; its ability to stop, pause and play allows last minute changes to markups on the fly and without the delays reported when using iAnnotate. TrialPad is more expensive, but worth the cost in time to use savings and presentation flow at trial.

Each app offers the ability to mark-up PDF files for projection (iAnnotate has more markup tools, but TrialPad allows marked-up documents to be saved as hot docs for use as exhibits and preserves the original document for other witnesses or rebuttal) and each works with Dropbox (discussed more fully below), enabling users to scan documents and integrate them from the app. TrialPad integrates folders containing all trial documents in one click, whereas iAnnotate requires loading each document one at a time. Both of these apps also integrate with iTunes and other software applications, although there may be added cost.

Other law-specific apps worth mentioning are iJuror and Jury Tracker, designed to assist lawyers during the jury selection process. Remember that data privacy and encryption issues may exist when using iPad, and similar devices. Although there are data encryption options that can be applied to provide greater protection, those options may not satisfy the data privacy laws of every country or regulating body.

If you want information on-the-fly, a smart phone can integrate with your other applications to allow you access to  the information you need at any time; including your address books, e-mail,  calendars and the Internet. You can also use smart phones to access files, track time, take notes, dictate and sync (synchronize) with your computer manually or automatically (connecting with a cable or  using Bluetooth®). Become more productive wherever you happen to be.

Google Scholar is a research tool that allows lawyers to find cases quickly, employing their smart phone’s internet connection. The FastCase app allows users to conduct research from their iPhone “on the fly,” and it’s free. Social media marketing tools, such as Twitter for BlackBerry, Foursquare, LinkedIn, Facebook and Go Daddy are also helpful to smart phone users. The Twitter app notifies users to respond to messages that mention their username and having Go Daddy handy allows for the quick purchase of newly incepted domain names to maximize URLs with search engine superiority.

Advanced Discovery will continue our “Maximizing Technology – for the Legal Professional” by focusing next on your web browser, the ever growing “cloud”, and how to make your life easier and seamless by showing you how to share files to yourself (or clients) anywhere!

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