Top 10 2014 Blog Posts

Top 10Year-end top ten posts are common and popular this time of the year!  For your reading enjoyment here are the 2014 top ten posts from The Bose Law and Technology Blog.

  1. 8 Great Legal Research and Writing Resources and Blogs
  2. 4 Unique Websites for Research
  3. Part 1 – Legal Research in Your Pocket: Fee-based Services
  4. 5 Quality Business Development Blogs
  5. Part 2 – Legal Research in Your Pocket: Free Non-Subscription Services
  6. Potholes, Technology, and Preparing for the Future
  7. Cool Apps Roundup
  8. Are You Cut Out for Social Media?
  9. Impact of PACER Changes: It is not Good News
  10. Quick Update re/PACER Issue: Good News

Click here to sign-up to receive notifications of new posts for this blog by email or add this blog to your RSS Feed-reader? Very much looking forward to what trends and hot topics 2015 brings!

 

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Part 2 – Legal Research in Your Pocket: Free Non-Subscription Services

Apps for accessing fee-based services which were covered in Part 1 – Legal Research in Your Pocket: Fee-based Services differ greatly from the ones covered here, in that subscription services usually offer a greater breadth of content. Nonetheless, for mobile research on a shoe-string budget, free is good, and the seven apps below are good starting points.

  1. dLaw (formerly DroidLaw) is a free Android app that comes preloaded with the text of the U.S. Constitution and many federal court rules and in-app purchase options including State Code, United States Code, United States Supreme Court opinions, Code of Federal Regulations, Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP) and the Uniform Commercial Code. Keyword searching and the ability to limit searching to specific chapters and titles plus offline saving make this the go-to legal research app for Android devices.
  2. LawStack is a free iOS app that comes preloaded with the text of the U.S. Constitution and multiple federal rules effective as of December 1, 2013. Additional in-app purchases for a small fee allow downloads of the Code of Federal Regulations, the U.S. Code, and statutes from a number of states. Offline access, full-text search capabilities, and more make this a must-have app for your legal research needs.
  3. LawSauce a very inexpensive app ($1.99) billing itself as a “GPS for lawyers” is an e-resource locator designed to quickly find the right web resource for your legal tasks. It will locate both free and fee-based services (i.e. Westlaw, Lexis) that meet your legal research needs. The content is organized by broad geographical areas (United States, Canada, UK, Europe) and it provides access to over 8,000 records including case-law, legislative materials, legal journals and more. Regularly updated content and prompts to sync your device when updates are released makes this a great app for finding the sources of information on the Web for national and international legal research.
  4. FedCourts app provides access to the federal rules, local rules for all U.S. federal courts, and PACER. In addition, the app provides turn-by-turn directions to any federal courthouse in the U.S. The app is $2.99 and may be downloaded from the iTunes App Store for iOS devices and from Google Play for Droid devices.
  5. ISCOTUSnow is a free app available for iOS and Droid devices that provides details on all U.S. Supreme Court cases accepted for review or decided by the court in both the current and immediately preceding terms.
  6. LawBox  is a legal reference and search utility app for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. It is billed as the fastest full text legal search engine on any mobile device. The built-in library allows users to download state and federal codes as needed. It offers  both free and low-cost content. Individual code items are $4.99. For those who need wide-ranging reference for a given jurisdiction, they offer a bulk purchase option that includes the entire law for any given state, or the entire U.S. Code, for just $24.99. Free downloads are offered for federal rules and the United States Constitution.
  7. LawGuide is an Android app developed by the creators of the TheLaw.com legal website. It is free and provides access to a legal dictionary, legal forms, case reviews, job post board, the New York Code and more. The app may be downloaded from Google Play.
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Microsoft (Finally) Makes Office for iOS Functional and Free

You may want to sit down for this one, because I’m about to praise Microsoft, a company whose products typically draw my ire multiple times per day…

Last week, Microsoft updated its Word, Excel, and PowerPoint apps for iOS, allowing basic editing of documents without having to have an Office 365 subscription. MS also added in Dropbox support for their iOS apps and made stand-alone Word, Excel, and PowerPoint apps for the iPhone, which replaces the lousy and unusable “Office Mobile” app for iPhone they previously put out. The iPad apps are worth the price: free. The iPhone apps are a little more cumbersome to use due to smaller screen sizes, but they’ll do in a pinch.

If you want advanced editing features like Track Changes in Word or PivotTables in Excel, however, you’ll need to have an Office 365 subscription, which MS has recently made more appealing by offering unlimited online OneDrive storage with an Office 365 subscription. Dropbox is still the superior service, but OneDrive going unlimited makes it a bit more attractive.

But the good news is that MS has apparently realized that making people pay for functionality that other mobile apps—such as Apple’s excellent Pages, Numbers, and Keynote apps—have, for years, offered for free didn’t make a lot of sense. I’m all for a MS that is more focused on users instead of just protecting its two big cash cows: Office and Windows.

In any event, keep copying Apple, Microsoft, and you may eventually get it right…

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Part 1 – Legal Research in Your Pocket: Fee-based Services

research photo

The reasons for using apps or mobile optimized sites for your legal research needs are plentiful and getting comprehensive and quality research done while on-the-go is easy with the following eight subscription services apps or mobile optimized sites.

  • Bloomberg BNA On the Go is a free app available only to subscribers and requires an existing username and password. The app gets you access to your Bloomberg BNA Resource Centers from your mobile device.
  • Bloomberg Law (BLaw) offers a free app to select content, but a better option is to access the beautifully rendered mobile optimized site for Droid and Apple devices. A subscription is required and the interface is exactly like the desktop platform. Content includes legal and news searches, tracking of dockets, ability to view and share legal documents, news and company information, legal treatises, and more. Uniquely BLaw offers access to the entire breadth of content for subscribers and any new content added is available automatically.
  • Bloomberg BNA Law Reports app delivers original, authoritative and timely reporting and analysis that includes key legal, legislative, regulatory or business developments for all the BNA newsletters to which you subscribe. As such it requires a username and password for access.
  • CCH Intelliconnect offers subscribers the free IC Mobile app which provides direct access to your IntelliConnect content when you are on the go. You can search, read customized news and alerts, email and save documents to research folders for easy access between the desktop and mobile platforms. For lovers of the Smart Charts and rate tables those too can be accessed for quick answers to your state law questions, and citation templates make it a snap to get the full text of primary source documents.
  • Fastcase offers a free app for Apple and Droid devices; access to the content via the app is also free. The free access on the app lets the researcher quickly pull cases, statutes etc. while in court, on the road, or at home. Access on the desktop site is not free, but is an attractive alternative legal research service that lets you search case-law and statutes at a fraction of the cost of Westlaw or Lexis, and thus especially useful for firms that pass through the costs of Westlaw and Lexis to clients.
  • HeinOnline app is free but you need a subscription to access the content. It is largely a resource for accessing archival digitized legal documents including bar journals, superseded state and federal statutes and regulations, and more. Features include the ability to view the image-based PDFs, access content by citation, browse by volume, navigate a volume with the electronic table of contents, and use full advanced searching techniques.
  • Lexis Advance offers a free app, but you must have a current Lexis Advance subscription and valid ID/password to access the content. Lexis Classic users can access the  mobile optimized site here, which is compatible on all mobile devices. Both offer features similar to the desktop version for searching cases, statutes, secondary resources, etc. available from Lexis.
  • WestlawNext offers a free app available for Apple and Droid devices; you must have a current subscription and valid ID/password for access. Additionally, there is a mobile optimized site for it here. Both of these platforms offer access to cases, statutes, secondary materials, and more, plus most of the features available in the desktop version.

Happy researching! And be on the lookout for Part 2 covering free (non-subscription) legal research apps.

 

 

 

 

 

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Cool Apps Roundup

Cool apps

The sheer number and types of apps is unlimited! The nine apps profiled below fit the category of cool apps that you should consider adding to your arsenal.

  1. Humin is a free, very smart iOS app! By combining your phone, Facebook and LinkedIn contacts and calendar, email and v-mail it is able to connect the many dots between you and your contacts. Instead of presenting your contacts alphabetically, Humin adds context to the relationships you have with your contacts by displaying personal details about each individual, and organizing contacts based on their relationship to you. For example, when viewing a contact, you’ll see a menu of friends you both have in common or if you’re visiting a new city it will serve up contacts in that location first. If you meet someone new and add them to your contacts it allows you to add personal details such as how and where you met and what interests you have in common and then search by those contact details. All in all a really cool human-like app to help you stay organized.
  2. Mailbox is a free app that is currently only available for Gmail and iCloud accounts that lets you quickly swipe messages to your archive or trash, view emails in a chat-like view, snooze emails with a single tap, all while learning from your swipes and snoozes to automate your common actions.
  3. Timeful is a free smart calendar and to-do list app that syncs with Google Calendar, Microsoft Exchange and Apple iCal, bringing all your calendars and tasks lists together in one place so you can quickly see where you need to be and what you need to be doing. Like Mailbox it also uses smart technology to learn from your responses and makes suggestions for the best times to schedule your future tasks and appointments, so the more you use the app the better it knows your routine, thereby creating a better schedule for you.
  4. Quip is a free productivity app that combines chat, documents, and task lists in one app enabling quick and easy collaboration. Create, share, and edit documents all while chatting and messaging with your project team without having to switch to email. It syncs across all your devices and is also available in a desktop version.
  5. Slack is a free team communication and collaboration app for the iPhone and iPad.  A unique feature is the ability to message entire channels of people chat-room style. Alternatively you can send private messages to individuals. You can create as many channels as you need and organize them by topic. Uploading, sharing, and collaborating on files is easy and you can even see who added the file, when it was added and to which channel. Don’t need or want to collaborate? As long as you don’t upload your documents to a channel, Slack let’s you keep your files private.
  6. Talko is a free app that promotes the value in people actually talking to each other individually or in groups, albeit not face-to-face, rather using technology to do so. An interesting feature of the app is the ability to instantly share photos, documents and more while chatting with people.
  7. Prizmo At only $9.99 this app is a real gem. It let’s you scan and OCR (full text index) text based documents, business cards and images using your mobile device and then export them as PDF/text, vCard, or JPEG. For an additional fee you can add the cool text-to-speech feature with 65 high-quality voices in 20 languages that will read your scanned texts.
  8. CircaNews is a free app touted as the best way to read both breaking and customized news on your phone, and will soon be available for your computer. Designed to save you time and keep informed it delivers important news in a clean and easy to read format to your phone the minute it happens.
  9. AP Mobile is your free go to app for Associated Press news. It includes breaking news from the AP, national, international, and local news from your area.
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Quick Update re/PACER Issue: Good News

My recent post titled Impact of PACER Changes: it is not Good News lamented the fact that a great trove of court filings had been removed from PACER, but now some clarification is in order. Indeed, the court dockets for the affected courts are still currently not available, however, according to the PACER Website the bulk of the affected courts dockets did not include the filings anyway.

Here is the latest update regarding the courts filing for the affected courts:

“In virtually all instances, the only information electronically available in the legacy systems was docket sheets, not the case file itself. There has not been any change or interruption to PACER access to the documents in the more than 42 million cases residing in the courts’ CM/ECF system and no case documents, opinions, or filings have been lost or destroyed.”

Further PACER states that the missing records will be fully restored by the end of October 2014. That is good news indeed. In the interim, other than contacting the court directly there are some options available. Coverage of this content on Lexis CourtLink and Westlaw dockets has apparently not been affected, as both have retained previous versions of affected dockets as well as many of the underlying court filings which they already had in their respective systems. Of course, these services require subscriptions and are more costly than PACER.

Full details from the PACER announcement is available here.

 

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Impact of PACER Changes: It is not Good News

Recently PACER announced significant changes regarding the unavailability of older docket filings in several courts. A post from the University of North Carolina Law Library blog succinctly lays out exactly what has happened to the information removed from PACER and provides guidance on where and at what cost the removed information can be secured. And the news is not good! Although the docket sheets themselves are not affected and will still be available, getting the courts filings is, and it will be much more cumbersome (users will have to contact the affected courts directly) and expensive (cost will include both a per case fee plus a per page photocopy fee) to get these filings, which seems outrageous to me as they would simply be providing the electronic copy they already have to the requester.

Unfortunately, it is a sad state of affairs that this trove of electronic filings is disappearing from PACER, but alas as we all know sometimes information technology becomes impediment technology. That appears to be the case here as the legacy systems for the filings affected are not compatible with the soon to be released next generation Case Management/Electronic Case Files System. Technology improvements thus impede access to information.

Who can or will step in to fill this void? A start-up company? A legal vendor such as HeinOnline? Hopefully someone will and sooner rather than later!

 

 

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