Legal

Humpty Dumpty Presentation

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It is June, which means time for my annual presentation at the elementary school about how laws are made and the role of the courts and lawyers. It is a lot of fun and the kids seem to enjoy it. After I finish my presentation, the kids have their own mini-trial where they all play roles like the judge, attorneys, witnesses, and jury. The trial is about Humpty Dumpty. We all know he fell, but why? Was it an accident? Or was it Murder! The kids conduct their own trial and the jury returns a verdict.

The presentation is built in Keynote. I use all sorts of flashy word effects and transitions. It is much more glitzy than my normal jury presentations. I think all the motion seems to keep the kids interested. I find the entire experience very enjoyable. If you would like the presentation and Humpty Dumpty materials, drop me an e-mail and I will get it to you. I even have a quicktime clickable version for those of you stuck with Windows laptops. I’ve been distributing this for a few years now and enjoy hearing about it getting used.

MacSparky at ABA TechShow 2009



Every year the American Bar Association sponsors its premier technology conference and exposition in Chicago called the TechShow. Recognizing the increasing use of Macs in the practice of law, this year they have added a Mac track where lawyers can learn the advantages of using a Macintosh in their practice along with some particular software and hardware skills.

I'm pleased to announce that I'll be teaching part of it. My fellow "Mac track" instructors are Ben Stevens from TheMacLawyer, Reid Trautz, the director of the Practice & Professionalism Center for American Immigration Lawyers Association and a frequent lecturer on law practice management, and Brett Burney from BurneyConsultants.

The legal industry has always been slow to adopt new technology. I was dragging my projector to the courthouse long before the term "PowerPoint" became a verb (i.e. "He PowerPointed me to death!") I also have been using a Mac at the courthouse long enough to witness my use of Apple hardware go from freakish curiosity to accepted alternative. I'm eager to go to Chicago April 2-4 and speak with more like minded, tech friendly attorneys and professionals. Of course, I'll be using Keynote '09.


A Lawyer's Take on Macworld

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In addition to my job at Macsparky (the business card really does say "Chief Slacker"), I have another job that actually pays money as a business attorney. So every year in addition to looking for things new and geeky at Macworld Expo, I also take a look for tools useful in the practice of law. Here is this year's take:

Daylite Touch



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Marketcircle's Daylite has become the “go to” applicaiton for running your law practice. This year they had a strong presence at Macworld including numerous demonstrations, presentations from the David Allen company, and previews of their soon to be released iPhone client. It supports full synching with your Daylite database. This is excellent news for Daylite users.

Livescribe Smartpen



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Livescribe’s Pulse Smartpen is coming to the Mac. This is, essentially, a computer in a pen. It records all pen strokes and then recreates the pages on your screen. It also records audio while you are taking notes and indexes it to your notes. You must use their paper (printed with the required microdots to give the computer context) but I could use this every day in my practice. This could also be a nice gift for any university students in your life.

FileMaker Pro 10



The new version 10 of FileMaker took several lessons from their consumer product, Bento. It still uses the same file format so the upgrade should be relatively painless. With features and improvements such as persistent sorting, dynamic summary reports, and editable table views, it is clear this upgrade is all about the user experience.

MacSpeech



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MacSpeech has now been with us a year and the software is showing its maturity through increased stability and additional features. Speaking with the developers I was most impressed with their sense of urgency. These guys are working hard to leverage the Dragon engine on your Mac. If you are practicing law without this tool, you are missing out. Give your fingers a break and check this one out. You can read my full review here.

OmniFocus



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The Mac software community has exploded with task management applications. I have been running my practice out of OmniFocus now for a year and a half and consider it the best tool for the job. It allows management of tasks by both project and context, allows for easy capture of new tasks from anywhere on your Mac, and includes a robust, syncing iPhone application. Furthermore, it is fully supported by a reputable Mac developer, the Omni Group. The cost for both a desktop and iPhone license is under $100 and while there are cheaper solutions, I've not seen anything better. You can read my full review here.

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Omni Booth at Macworld 2009

Microvision Projector



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One of the most notable new technologies was Microvision’s laser based projector. This tiny projector (about the size of an iPhone) easily fits in your pocket and projects at 10 lumens. Because it is laser based, it focuses at any viewing distance. It looks really sharp and you can get 2 hours of projection off the battery. The unit is expected to be available this summer in the $500 price range.

Timeline 3d



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While Timeline 3d has been out now a few months, BeeDocs' presence at Macworld should be noted. The developer continues to refine and polish this excellent timeline application that is extremely useful in presentation work. You can read my review here.

SMART Digital White Board



These digital white boards combine the benefits of your analogue whiteboard with the technology of your Mac. This could be useful both in the conference room and the courtroom.

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Who wrote that?

iWork 09



While a lot of people still refuse to look at iWork as a serious business tool, I continue to make other attorneys look bad using Keynote. It just about 10 years ahead of PowerPoint. The new improvements, particularly "Magic Move", will save me hours of fiddling. The increased mail merge hooks between Numbers and Pages will increase your ability to set up forms. I still must admit I do all of my serious writing in Scrivener (review here). Regardless, for me Keynote is worth the price of admission.

While Apple appears to keep focusing its energies toward the Mac as a consumer device, the third party developer community continues to develop excellent resources allowing you to get the edge in your practice with your Mac.

Return of Humpty Dumpty

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Every year, about early June, I volunteer at the local elementary school where I give a presentation about how laws are made and the role of the courts and lawyers. This all started when my oldest daughter was in fifth grade and the teachers keep asking me to come back. I love it. It is so fun going over these topics with the kids and they ask such good questions. Once I finish my dog and pony show, the kids have their own mini-trial where they all play roles like the judge, attorneys, witnesses and jury. The trial is about Humpty Dumpty. We all know he fell, but why? Was it an accident? Or was it Murder! The kids conduct their own trial and the jury returns a verdict.

In terms of Mac geekery, the presentation is built in keynote and presented off my MacBook Air into the school's projector. I use all sorts of flashy word effects and transitions. It is much more glitzy than my normal jury presentations. I think all the motion seems to keep the kids interested. I seem to have lost my third-party remote since my last trial so I had to use an Apple remote which worked fine.

It really was a blast to do it again this morning. My favorite question was one tiny little girl who asked, "Is it fun to stand up and yell objection?" to which I enthusiastically replied, "Yes!" If any of you would like the trial materials or the Keynote presentation for the fifth graders in your life, drop me a note. I even have a quicktime clickable version for those of you stuck with Windows laptops. I've seeded this out to lawyers and teachers all over the country the last few years and love to hear it is getting used.

Lawyers Jump In on the Mac vs. PC Debate

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My friend Ben Stevens over at the MacLawyer blog participated in a recent debate for the American Bar Association Journal about Macs vs. PC's. Of course Ben won the contest. As Ben explained, "Of course, I had a much easier position to argue since the facts were so strongly on my side."

The whole debate reminds me of a recurring experience I'm having with my Mac as of late. Everytime I pull it out at the courthouse or in deposition, I become the subject of curiosity and questions. It seems a lot of people in the legal profession are curious about switching. I attended a day long seminar recently in Los Angeles about a PC-only application that I use often in my practice (CaseMap). I run it in Parallels with no problems. I think I sold about 10 Macs that day. The funniest thing was the speaker hunted me down afterward and told me how funny it was for him giving the presentation and looking up at about 100 Dell logos with one shining Apple in the middle. Then he told me he wants to switch too.

Parallels on a Windows Network

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I've been in the same office for 15 years. For giggles I decided to move to another office recently. It is a little bigger and has a better view. Also, it is good to shake things up once in awhile. Unfortunately, I didn't realize until after I got all my furniture moved that there is no ethernet into my new digs and as far as the network is concerned, I fell out the window.

So my PC box sits in my computer stand with its two monitors silent while I attempt to get someone to wire it up. Mainly out of necessity but also out of Mac geekiness, I decided to see if I could exist on a windows network with nothing but my MacBook Pro. Turns out I can.

We use a specific program that is a relational database for lawyers called TimeMatters. It is PC only and although the program can be frustrating, one thing it does very well is keep all of your data on the server. So I booted up parallels and had an extended call with a very smart PC friend of mine and in about an hour we had my Mac securely on the network with TimeMatters installed on my laptop and working flawlessly in Parallels. For the last few days I've been doing most word processing in Pages and jumping over to Parallels for the database management stuff. I'm very pleased at this newfound ability and amazed why I didn't take steps to make this happen earlier.

I've frequently used Parallels for another legal PC only program, CaseMap, but interacting with the office database on my Mac seems to step it up a notch. It makes me feel a little bit of a rebel. The lone wolf.

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Okay, maybe I'm laying it on a bit thick, but I've had very few problems. Once Parallels sent one of my cores spinning up for no apparent reason. I logged out of windows and rebooted the virtual machine and everything sorted itself out. Other than that, no complaints. And the fact that my cable installer seems to be busy doesn't really bother me so much either.

A Lawyer's Take on Macworld 2008

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In addition to being an affirmed Mac geek, I am also a lawyer. So as I spent the last several days talking to developers and roaming the halls of Macworld, a few things in particular got me excited about practicing law with my Mac.

Macbook Air



Apple's new machine is a real eye catcher. It is just three pounds and manages to keep a 13 inch monitor. While this would be really nice for the roadwarrior or running around in depositions and trial, the $1800 price tag makes me look twice. If you really need thin and are willing to sacrifice a bit of functionality (no ethernet or firewire) you may want to check it out. I'm sticking with my Macbook Pro for the time being.

MacSpeech



For those of you former PC users who miss having DragonDictate in your toolbelt, fret no more. I was never a big fan of iListen, but the folks at at iListen recently acquired the license for the Dragon recognition engine for use on the Mac. Their new product, MacSpeech Dictate will be releasing next month and looks fantastic. I spent about an hour at their booth and am very impressed. I also watched David Pogue fawn over it as it produced very accurate and quick results.

I wasn't alone in my opinion that this product will change things. It was one of the "Best of Show" award winners by several publications. Put this one at the top of your list for productivity boosters.

OmniFocus



I'm a big fan of the Omni Group applications. I use OmniOutline, OmniPlan, and OmniGraffle to manage much of my caseload. I got in early on the beta of their OmniFocus task management application and it was just released as a 1.0. This application is fantastic for keeping all the plates in the air. I did an extended review of it at Macsparky.com

I talked to the folks at Omni and they are going to do everything in their power to get these applications on the iPhone once the iPhone SDK releases.

BusySync



For the small offices that don't need the expense of a server but want to sync iCal calendars between multiple desks, there is a great little application called BusySync. For a cost of $20 per computer, you get seamless bonjour and net syncing between machines. They have a new version due out soon that will also allow for Google calendar syncing.

Bento



FileMaker is the best application for database intensive solutions. If you are running a small practice, FileMaker's smaller application, Bento, looks really robust.

Billings and Daylite



Marketcircle continues its place at the top of small office management software. They had a nice booth and made regular presentations. I was unaware of some of their interesting add-on products like Daylite Delivery and the FileMaker connector. These guys fill a very particular niche.

Fujitsu ScanSnap



I love my Fujitsu ScanSnap. It is a reliable, fast scanner with a small footprint. Now they have a portable version, the S300M, that retails at $295 and looks perfect for those depositions on the other side of the country.

Smart Board



Smart Technologies has a very impressive device you install over your LCD television that allows you to create a virtual white board like you are John Madden. The price point is steep. I was told "around $5,000" but it sure is nice.

Storage - Drobo and TimeCapsule



While TimeCapsule is aimed as a consumer device, 1TB storage with a built in wireless "N" router is a pretty attractive product.

I was also impressed with the Drobo that allows you to drop up to four swappable drives in with no headache. Interestingly, if you pull out a drive while it is running (or if the drive dies), Drobo automatically moves the data around to protect its integrity. The Drobo device costs $500 without any drives.

For all of you Mac lawyers, I highly recommend visiting Macworld sometime when you get a chance. Not only will you find some great tools for your practice, you'll probably have a good time while you are at it.

Downloads Galore

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One of the benefits of having plenty of server space is I no longer have to rubber band and scotch tape together ways of getting large fils to readers. I've been doing lots of back-end work on the site the last few days rebuilding links and restructuring pages. It is not completely done but getting closer. The good news is several items are much easier to access now.

Screencasts - All Resolutions, All Day

I now have the screencasts formatted for HD, AppleTV, and iPod and all conveniently available on the screencast page

Humpty Dumpty Revisited

I've edited the Humpty Dumpty entry. That was where I gave the law talk and Keynote to my fifth grader's class. For all those teachers and parents interested in using this, I now have the PDF file, the Keynote and (for those OS X challenged) a clickable quicktime file for the Dell boxes. Who knows, when they see the fantastic Keynote transitions, maybe a few of them will come to the light side. Gone are the days of me sending these files to people via Pando. Now you can find them right here.


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Law Parents and Humpty Dumpty


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Attention All of you Law Dads and Moms...During my fifth grader’s parent teacher conference I offered to come in and help the kids learn a bit about the judicial system and how it fits into our three branches of government. I had heard about a case that one of the bar associations had put together letting the kids roleplay a trial. Well it took me some six months to track it down but I finally did get the transcript for a kids trial. Humpty Dumpty ... did he actually fall? or was he pushed? It is a great little trial where the kids play the roles of the judge, attorneys, parties, witnesses, bailiff, and jury.

I also put together a keynote presentation to give the kids before doing the trial (which has been exported to Powerpoint for those of you that are Mac challenged). The kids were very attentive during the presentation and asked some very good question. “How do you defend someone if you know he is guilty?” Since I’ve done all this work I thought I might as well share it.Below you can download "the case" along with my Keynote Presentation. For those folks still on Windows, download the Quicktime and it will work just like Keynote on your Dell. You can live life large. Grin. If you do use it, please drop me a note and let me know how it goes.

The kids seemed to have a good time and I've already agreed to go back to the fifth grade next year and do it for the next group (even though I won't actually have any kids in the class)

By the way... My daughter’s class had two juries because of size. One said he fell, the other said he was pushed. Can anyone say double jeopardy?

Download "The Case" in PDF



Keynote File


Quicktime File