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Technology Committee

Techlectic ... by Pat Hoover


NEWS FLASH: As your intrepid reporter of all cool things tech, I’m always searching out the latest developments in the field and so, I recently signed up for and will be going to the annual tech gathering, SXSW! I’ll be traveling with three brilliant young tech professionals from the DC area, each of whom are SXSW returnees, programmers and developers who for years have raved about SXSW. I am so Stoked! I will be reporting to you on the newest innovations in tech software and hardware development from the front lines and on the ground in Austin, Texas come next March. SXSW or South by Southwest (for my tech challenged colleagues unfamiliar with this fantastic once yearly tech bash) is the preeminent tech conference held annually every March. Think of the Sundance festival and film cinema…  I’m planning to establish a new online blog to use in reporting daily updates from SXSW, More on this in later issues...

For Apple users and with apologies to the those of you trapped in the Microsoft PC world, re­gardless of your preferred operating system, you should know of the outstanding, if pricey, online and in-person tech service offered to Apple business customers known as Apple's Joint Venture, So worth it as a business subscriber, or, simply to someone with a large family of relatives and friends. The cost is $500/year, but the savings in time and speed of response is worth it.  You can add up to 25 individuals to one’s subscriber base and then quickly use Joint Venture for any Apple issue on any Apple product. The Joint Venture subscriber gets nearly instant access to Apple’s finest programmers and techs in Cupertino. There is no more long waiting on hold navigating a phone queue menu from hell, waiting for a call back from an Apple genius, or, waiting for an appointment when taking in an Apple product for service, advice or training.  A Joint Venture subscriber can even schedule private group or individual trainings on virtually any Apple product or software. While Joint Venture runs 5X the cost of Apple's more popular consumer offering, One to One, by contrast, a Joint Venture subscription works far better, faster and easier than does Apple’s One to One plan. I should know, I’ve been using Joint Venture all year now with my staff and family and we all agree, JV rocks and is far superior in terms of quality of service, speed and performance when compared to the regular One to One consumer plan.

Recent Tech Updates For Lawyers

“To improve is to change; 
to be perfect is to change often”
-Winston Churchill

     The legal profession is "cautious" when it comes to use of new technology.  Our industry, perhaps much more than most major industries, has moved forward rather deliberately when it comes to even the most broadly-accepted technological tools, such as email. There are many good reasons for this hesitation (as addressed by, inter alia, our Bar Association’s many Legal Ethics articles, CLEs, etc., the prudent practitioner is well-advised to observe certain protocols and precautions in utilizing any tool or resource). This article is not intended to either endorse or recommend any particular product. The aim here is to merely touch upon some of the notable issues and/or tools which have been the subject of recent industry “buzz.”

1. Public Domain Blue Book Project
     For decades, courts all across the country have required litigants, represented and pro se, to follow the citation rules set forth in the BlueBook.  Public Resource is taking the BlueBook and putting it up on the internet, for free.  The obvious benefit is it would be free and accessible by everyone.  But additionally, by putting up an electronic version, it will make it easier to find those obscure and rare citation rules. See Mike Masnick, Harvard Law Review Claims Copyright Over Legal Citations; Now Challenged By Public Domain Effort, Techdirt, October 8, 2014.
     What you should know is that this resource is not yet available, as there is currently a legal battle between Public Resource and the publishers of the BlueBook, the Harvard Law Review Association, the Columbia Law Review Association, the Yale Law Journal Company, and the University of Pennsylvania Law Review.  The publishers of the BlueBook claim copyrights to the BlueBook, while Public Resource claims that copyrights on certain editions at least, have expired. Id.

2. PacerPro
     PacerPro is a modern interface for PACER that provides enhanced functionality that makes tracking your federal court cases significantly easier.  Some of the key features include universal search and aggregate search results, automatic updates on cases based on the frequency set by the user, one-click downloads of entire dockets, and email alerts.  Perhaps most useful is the fact that you can keep track of all your cases in one place.  As is, PacerPro provides a much more user-friendly and intuitive interface than PACER does.
     Currently, PacerPro offers two subscriptions, free and premium.  Free users are limited to four concurrent automatic case updates and four batch downloads per month.  Premium subscribers get unlimited case follows and updates, and unlimited batch downloads.  The subscription fee is $25.00 per month per user.  
     The fact that it is free makes this tool a must for anyone doing any work in federal court.  Here is their website:

3. Electronic Signatures
     One of the biggest “waives of the future” is e-signing. Like it or not, it’s already here and we’ve only seen the tip of the ice-berg in demand for this capability. A recent ABA survey identified the following factors for this increasing demand: (i) efficiency and environmental consideration (avoiding printing and saving paper); (ii) time-savings (in processing and producing signatures) and (iii) complying with legal retention of records and auditing requirements (everyone is going paperless). See Eliya Fishman, Ditching Paper Signatures: Are All Electronic Alternatives Equal?, ABA, Law Technology Today, August 28, 2014.  
     90% of all digital data ever produced, was created in the last 2 years. Id. Studies have shown that a large portion of all printing and use of paper is related to obtaining signatures on documents. Id. It is apparent that the demands of convenience, efficiency, as well as conservation of resources will eventually render paper-signatures a thing of the past. For a more detailed analysis of this issue and a discussion of the various tools available for e-signing, please see the above referenced ABA article.

4. Clio
     Clio is a legal case management software.  Like many case management softwares, Clio provides time management and billing tools and a calendar.  It also provides integration with other apps such as Dropbox, Google Apps, and even PayPal. Moreover, at the Cloud Conference held in Chicago in September, Clio brought together a lot of different technologies which improves Clio's accessibility and usability.  
     For example, Clio will now integrate with QuickBooks Online, for easier accounting.  Perhaps most importantly for Maryland lawyers, Clio now integrates with Fastcase.  Users can bill time and save cases right to their client matters without having to leave Fastcase.  Members of the Maryland Bar have access to Fastcase, so Clio may be a good compliment to that.  And speaking of Fastcase, it has been voted the most popular Legal App by an ABA survey. You may refer to the ABA’s Law and Technology Today’s detailed discussion of this tool on-line.

A.P. Pishevar, Chair
Technology Committee


A.P. Pishevar



To Be Announced