Technology in the Law Office: Helping Smaller Firms Compete
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Technology in the Law Office: Helping Smaller Firms Compete Digital Strategies to Keep up with the Big Boys An overview of the simple and cost effective ways to implement technology for more efficient use of time and resources and to make better presentations to the Court

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Technology in the Law Office: Helping Smaller Firms Compete

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Technology in the law office helping smaller firms compete

Technology in the Law Office: Helping Smaller Firms Compete

Digital Strategies to Keep up with the Big Boys

An overview of the simple and cost effective ways to implement

technology for more efficient use of time and resources and to

make better presentations to the Court

Justin O’Dell, Attorney at Law

Cauthorn, Nohr & O’Dell


Technology in the law office helping smaller firms compete

  • Discussion Index:

  • Technology and the Discovery Phase

  • A. Digital Discovery

  • B. E-Discovery & Digital Media

  • C. Public Records Inquiries

  • D. Adobe Acrobat

  • II. Implementation of Technology To Get Results

  • A. Brief Writing

  • B. Depositions & Mediation

  • C. In the Courtroom (Hearings & Trial)

  • III. Conclusion


Technology in the law office helping smaller firms compete

A simple process for incoming discovery

is as follows:

1) Discovery is received by law firm from client;

2) Law firm reviews materials to determine items to be produced;

  • Outside vendor (or internally) scans both the non-production

  • and production items separately and returns the same to law

  • firm with CDs containing digital images of each.

  • Opposing counsel is provided with a CD. In addition,

  • the digital items (both those produced and not) are loaded onto the law firm’s server and the CD is placed with the file.

5) The original documents are returned to the client.


Technology in the law office helping smaller firms compete

Maximizing your client’s legal Dollar:

  • In-House copy rates: $.20 - $.25 per page + TIME

  • Machine rates of 18 – 50 pages per minute

  • At an average of 34 pages per minute, a 1000 page document production would take ½ of an hour ($45 in time) and cost $200 – $250.

  • However, the same production outsourced can be imaged, Bates numbered and even made text searchable (for a small additional cost) for less than half of the in-house cost with no upfront hardware, software training or additional personnel costs incurred by the firm.


Technology in the law office helping smaller firms compete

Adobe Acrobat Index Search


Technology in the law office helping smaller firms compete

E-Discovery & Digital Media

The American Bar Association’s annual Legal Technology

Report consistently reveals low usage of laptops and litigation

software (35%) by lawyers in the courtroom, despite the fact that

93% of all evidence begins as computer data.


Technology in the law office helping smaller firms compete

Efficient Public Record Inquiries

Through Online Services

  • Business & Corporate Records (County & Sec. of State);

  • Property Tax Records (Tax Commissioner & Assessor);

  • Property purchases and sales (Superior Court Clerk)

  • Liens, Judgments and Debts (Superior Court Clerk)

  • Prior cases & lawsuits (Clerks of Court)

  • Criminal History (Clerks of Court)

  • Credit Header;

  • Prior Addresses;

  • Vehicle ownership and registration;

  • Voting Registration; and

  • 11) A “Google Earth” style view of the address & neighboring addresses.


Technology in the law office helping smaller firms compete

Using PeopleMap:


Technology in the law office helping smaller firms compete

“Web” View of Related People & Transactions


Technology in the law office helping smaller firms compete

Executive Information


Technology in the law office helping smaller firms compete

Experian Credit Header Report


Technology in the law office helping smaller firms compete

Tax Assessment Records


Technology in the law office helping smaller firms compete

Adobe Acrobat

  • Adobe Acrobat is essential to the processes of most of the foregoing and the implementation tips discussed below.

  • In most cases and for most uses, the “free” downloadable Adobe Reader will suffice.

  • However, a small firm can maximize efficiency and outputs by upgrading to Adobe Acrobat Professional.

  • The full version has more tricks and features than can be summarized in brief, however, “Redaction” and “Webcapture” are most noteworthy.


Technology in the law office helping smaller firms compete

Adobe Acrobat

  • Redaction - Most redaction can occur at the imaging phase through the outsourcing process.

  • The old way involved a sharpie marker and lots of trips through the photocopier.

  • Adobe Redaction can be used in manual or OCR format (since the entire discovery production has now been imaged and stored digitally, the redaction process is much simpler).

  • Using the OCR technology, Adobe Redaction will perform a search for names or numbers and automatically “black out.”

  • Alternatively, documents can be paged manually and the user can use an online “sharpie marker” to black out text


Technology in the law office helping smaller firms compete

In either event, the redacted images are then marked and selected and confirmed for redaction (Adobe asks if you are sure). Once confirmed, the documents are renamed, resaved as a new document and the information is permanently wiped.


Technology in the law office helping smaller firms compete

Adobe Acrobat

  • Adobe “Webcapture” is an essential feature in the world of social media and online commerce.

  • The first option is attached to your “Right Click” feature once you have Adobe Professional.

  • No matter what you are doing or what program is open, you can right click on anything (a web page, word document, etc…) and choose to “Convert to a PDF”.


Technology in the law office helping smaller firms compete

This is a great way to snag a single Facebook page:


Technology in the law office helping smaller firms compete

Adobe Acrobat

  • For more dramatic results, you can capture a whole website (subject to size restrictions).

  • By inserting the URL into Webcapture, the software then goes to the internet and takes a digital picture of every page associated with that URL, including as many subfolders as the user directs.

  • The web site is then converted into a PDF and preserved forever.

  • This protects you against someone later modifying the site to take down something offensive or, better yet, damaging to their case.


Technology in the law office helping smaller firms compete

BRIEF WRITING


Technology in the law office helping smaller firms compete

BRIEF WRITING


Technology in the law office helping smaller firms compete

BRIEF WRITING


Technology in the law office helping smaller firms compete

Trial Exhibit Photos

The intent was to shock the jury with how much of a mess they made.

None of this would have worked without the jury being able to experience it visually while the witness was testifying.


Technology in the law office helping smaller firms compete

Trial Exhibit Enlargement

The key to the case was to explain that the property was two separate units.

They evicted both, not just one.


Technology in the law office helping smaller firms compete

Google Mapping Options


Technology in the law office helping smaller firms compete

DEPOSITION

The old way would be:

IN COURT:Q:  Ma'am, it is true that you in fact did purchase items from the Estate for yourself?

 A:    No, we did not.

Q:     Are you sure?

A:    Yes.

Q:    Do you recall me taking your deposition in March and being sworn to tell the truth in that deposition?

A:    Yes.

Q:    Do you recall my asking you that same question and what you answered?

 A:    No.

ATTY:    May the Court please open the deposition of the Defendant of March 24, 2010.

LOTS OF FUMBLING ABOUT< ETC>

Q:    Now that we have the deposition, please review line 10 of page 362.

 A:    <more fumbling and mumbling>  half reading the answer

Q:    So you did in fact admit to buying some of the Estate property for yourself?

 A:    Yes.  I misunderstood/forgot/couldn't hear you, etc...

MOMENT LOST.


Technology in the law office helping smaller firms compete

The new way:

IN COURT:Q:  Ma'am, it is true that you in fact did purchase items from the Estate for yourself?

 A:    No, we did not.

Q:     Are you sure?

A:    Yes.

Q:    Do you recall me taking your deposition in March and being sworn to tell the truth in that deposition?

A:    Yes.

Q:    Do you recall my asking you that same question and what you answered?

 A:    No.

ATTY:    May the Court please open the deposition of the Defendant of March 24, 2010.

<as the Court fumbles about, the paralegal displays the deposition>

Therefore, as the remaining questions play out, the Jury has already read the truth for themselves.


Technology in the law office helping smaller firms compete

Technology in the Law Office: Helping Smaller Firms Compete

Digital Strategies to Keep up with the Big Boys

Justin O’Dell, Attorney at Law

Cauthorn, Nohr & O’Dell

The methods outlined above generally involve existing means of technology that can be obtained at little to no cost to the law firm and/or administered by outside vendors.

Certainly, more sophisticated software and devices exist. The methods and topics discussed represent a strong “first step” for attorneys and paralegals who wish to use technology more effectively in their cases.


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