Law and Technology: The Cutting Edge
As a small and specialized firm, we are committed to constantly improve our practice through technology. Since 1993 the firm has been a “Mac office.” Apple Computer’s products and software are especially suited for small law litigation firms. Attorneys interested in the use of Apple and Mac products should join the MacLaw user group and visit MacAttorney.com. and Apple’s product guide wepage. A January 2005 article in Trial touts the real advantages of using a Mac in a litigation practice.
The firm hosts and manages (in-house) its own webpage and email server with an Apple xServe server. US LEC provides internet access with a 1.54 megabit T-1 internet connection. With the use of Adobe Go-Live software the firm authors, edits and manages its own website with real-time data and instant posting to the world wide web.
Apple’s Airport hardware allows wireless laptop computing in the office,in coffeshops nearby, and anywhere wireless web connectivity is available.
In a litigation practice document management is essential to organization and success. Digital document management is achieved by scanning documents (that are not in digital form) to 300dpi images as a PDF document with a Kyocera copier/scanner. This allows documents be scanned as Adobe PDF files at 35 pages per minute and be on the file server or the world wide web in a matter of minutes. Once a document is scanned as a PDF file it can then be included in an electronic brief for filing as a CD-ROM “corresponding” brief or available for download on the web.
Adobe Acrobat & Adobe PDF
The firm is a leader in the use of the Adobe PDF techonology in litigation. Mr. Smith was a speaker on the use of Adobe Acrobat in Litigation at the nation’s largest law technology convention, LegalTech (New York, NY, Feb. 2002). Adobe Acrobat and Adobe PDF allow, for example, a 90 page brief and 100,000 pages of documents or deposition pages to be placed on a single CD-ROM. The PDF format also enriches the document by allowing hyperlinks, bookmarks and digital signatures. The PDF format and Acrobat software also allow detailed document retrieval and search cabability with full text searches where “hits” are placed directly on the images. Unlike TIFF image files Adobe PDF can be searched because the technology can store the image information on one level and maintain a text version of the document on another, hidden layer. Acrobat also allows encryption and password protection. Adobe Systems has prepared a complete discussion of the legal solutions and benefits with Adobe Acrobat and Adobe PDF. A February 2005 article in ABA LawPractice Management praises the virtues of Acrobat.
Increasingly courts permit (and in some cases require) electronic filing. The firm has filed electronic briefs in a number of state and federal courts. The advantage Adobe Acrobat and Adobe PDF is that the format is free and does not require a particular computer platform or software.
DVD, PowerPoint, & Keynote Presentations
By appproaching all cases with an eye toward digital formats, depositions, documents and photographs are presented at mediation or in court with eye-popping clarity and organization in DVD, Powerpoint or Keynote formats. In the NHC Fire Litigation, for example, over 60 depositions were taken with digital video cameras recorded directly to a hard drive. This allowed seamless editing and incorporation into a powerful Keynote presentation on a 50″ Plasma TV at mediation.
The firm has video conferencing in-house with a Tandberg video conferencing system and the ability to stream or broadcast proceedings over the web in QuickTime.
Depositions have traditionally been taken on VHS and then “digitized.” The use of digital cameas for depositions, however, makes it much mores efficient to take the deposition in digital video to DV tape or directly to a hard drive. Apple’s I-Movie, I-DVD, and Final Cut Express software allow the firm to edit and produce in-house digital video for CD-ROMs, DVDs and web streaming.