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Technology Committee

Techlectic ... by Pat Hoover



     Patrick Hoover (March 16, 2015) reporting from Austin, Texas at SXSW (South by Southwest), where everyone who is anyone in the Tech world come together to meet, present, see and be seen; to eat, drink and party in a truly awesome display of wealth and power. SXSW attendees run the gamut from the biggest guns in tech – Oracle, Sony, Cisco, Microsoft, AT&T and many others – to the newest tech team startups launching a dazzling array of new offerings in tech. 
     For one week, SXSW participants travel to Austin from every corner of the globe to hear and learn of the newest offerings in tech. Software engineers (programmers), UX architects (usability designers), VC's (venture capitalists), Designers and Developers from every tech sphere and every market segment travel to this friendly Uber hip corner of Texas. I write this after three days after witnessing but a sample of the many presentations, highly sophisticated tech seminars, elaborately staged panel discussions, highly produced, live streamed global presentations and talking with scores of tech vendors whose "booths" appear on the very large floor of the SXSW trade show. 
     I arrived in Austin Friday morning with three young, 20 something professionals. Programmer, Usability Expert and Designer, my three friends each work in the DC area and each specialize in various forms of tech, earning an excellent income while providing their different employers, the essential knowledge and market means to stay out front and in play in the breakneck world of tech development. SXSW literally takes over the Austin city limits. I’m told on good authority that up to 80% of residents flee during SXSW, many renting out their homes using Air B2B for week long rentals averaging no less than four figures. 
     Even more amazing to me was the prodigious after hours partying found in every corner of Austin, every night SXSW has run. Fantastic music, food, booze and entrainment. Forget about the stereotypical nerd from years gone by! The SXSW folk are the it crowd. No one comes close!

 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


To Be Appointed



To Be Announced