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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Cool Twitter Features

cool sign

A previous post LinkedIn Celebrates its 10th Year with 2 New and Cool Features detailed recent features added to the very popular social media site for business networking and sharing – LinkedIn. This post looks at 5 features on Twitter that are definitely worth utilizing.

  • Adding images to tweets on Twitter has been available for several months and is an important feature you should use because results of a study showed Tweets with images retrieve 150% more Retweets, 18% more clicks, and 89% more favorites than those without images. Caveat Emptor – make sure the images you choose are in the public domain. Check here and here for blog posts with links to sites with free images.
  • Search filters are now on Twitter – limit your search to videos, people, photos and more.
  • Advanced search is an option but is a bit hidden as you must first run a general search and then click on the Advanced Search link that appears on the left beneath the search filters.
  • The Inline Tweet composer feature on the main page of Twitter makes Tweeting a snap – no need to click the compose button in the upper right corner to launch the composer, simply start typing your Tweet in the window and click the Tweet button.
  • Twitter Analytics, the newest feature, lets you view a dashboard displaying the “performance” of all your recent Tweets – simply log in to your Twitter account and go to  http://analytics.twitter.com/ to see how well or poorly your Tweets are faring.
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5 Apps to Jump-start Collaboration Efforts


Thanks to a plethora of collaboration apps, business people can compile and share ideas, collaborate on shared documents, host online meetings, chat and more via their mobile devices. Want to collaborate on the go? Consider adding the following apps to your mobile collaboration tool set.

Dropbox is the best known app for file-sharing and document collaboration, allowing you to share PDFs, files and folders with others. It is a free app that comes with 2.5 GB of storage space, with options to upgrade your account at a flat rate of $100 per year for 100 GB of space. It is available for IOS, Droid, Blackberry and Kindle devices.

SimpleMind+ brings the old style whiteboard, aptly called mind maps, to your mobile device turning it into a brainstorming, idea collection and thought structuring tool. You even can store the “mind maps” you create in the cloud and synchronize them between devices via Dropbox to share with others.

Huddle, both Web and mobile-based, is a business project application that while not free (basic work group cost is $20/user/month), may be worth the cost, especially if your project team is spread across a large geographic area. Its suite of tools is designed to help teams share files and plan projects. Users can view, edit and annotate a document, and then save the edited version back to Huddle for team members to access. Additional features include the ability to assign tasks to colleagues, attach relevant documents, track the team members progress and automatic progress updates and reminders to help in meeting goals.

ZoHo offers a suite of apps designed to address a variety of collaboration needs, ranging from document sharing, chatting, project management, remote online discussions and hosting secure online meetings. Like Huddle, it is both Web and mobile-based and most modules have a basic free edition and more robust fee-based editions.

Quip is similar to Google Drive, but takes things a few steps further via allowing teams and individuals to comment, tag, and message each  from within the documents everyone is working on, and because it works across many device platforms it syncs across all your devices, and makes it easy for teams to collaborate using their preferred variety of mobile equipment.



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Jets, Jewelry and the Law

What do jets, jewelry and the law have to do with each other?

Taking your in-flight experience to a whole new level recently became possible via the new Delta Glass Bottom Jet feature on the Fly Delta app.  The app offers the typical features you’d expect: booking trips, destination information, and live in-flight information during your trip.  One unique aspect of the app is the Glass Bottom Jet feature, that along with other data, gives you a graphical overview of your current flight thus providing virtually real-time information about the landmarks the plane is flying over.

Imagine how cool it would be if a similar glass bottom legal developments app existed, thereby allowing for immediate response to what’s happening in the legal profession and to developments potentially affecting your clients. A real time view of these things would result in immediate calls to action for helping clients resolve legal issues resulting in quicker resolution.  Instant knowledge could also lead to faster additions of new matters for existing clients and garnering a new client based on the real-time instant information gleaned.

Speaking of instant results, the latest wearable tech to hit the market which also makes a fashion statement, is an 18K gold-plated ladies ring.  Ringly takes instant notification to a new level. Business Insider has an article  detailing how it connects to your smart phone via an app and discreetly notifies you when you receive a call or text. Now you can be certain not miss important meetings, news, texts, phone calls even if you don’t have your phone in close proximity by wearing this ring that lights up and buzzes to alert you of any number of notifications you set-up which could include legal and client news alerts.

The short answer to the question of what do jets and jewelry have to do with the law is absolutely nothing. But the bigger idea of applying technology to stay on top of game in the legal industry has everything to do with it.




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Potholes, Technology, and Preparing for the Future

Having emerged a few short months ago from one of the harshest winters in recent years, potholes have been plentiful this spring in Indiana. So what do potholes have to do with the legal profession?

Having recently read How Should Seasoned Lawyers Prepare for the Future of Law? which provides advice on what attorneys should do now so they are not caught unprepared in the future, I was reminded of a recent Indy Star news article titled Report-a-pothole app wins Indy hack competition . It discussed how 4 college students collaborated to develop an app, entered it in a contest, and subsequently won the first Indy Civic Hack Day competition with their novel interactive pothole reporting app. Thereafter, an “aha!” moment seized me.

Now onto my aha! moment to illustrate what potholes and preparing for the future of the legal profession have in common. Big data, the cloud, security are certainly on the minds of business leaders. Lawyers young and old alike must embrace the fast and furious technological changes that continue to rock the legal profession. Technology can be, and indeed is continually being put to good use to further enhance the changes we face. Witness the teamwork of the creative and resourceful college students who created an app for electronically detecting and reporting potholes that will result in quicker repair times.

Likewise, attorneys preparing for the future of legal services need to embrace a team approach that pairs resourcefulness with creativity to solve the business challenges law firms face now and will continue to face in the future. Much like the development of the pothole app, collaborating on finding novel technology applications to assist in solving legal issues and business tasks will result in quicker results for the client and a more streamlined way of  doing business.

Legal professionals need to capitalize on the opportunities new technologies offer and thereby be in charge of  transforming the way law firms do business and hopefully avoid a few potholes in the years to come.

Always one to embrace technology, I’ll be downloading the pothole app ahead of this years winter season, so to be prepared for the future potholes that are sure to crop up.  What will you do to prepare for your future as a legal professional?

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Have you Snubbed or Embraced Ned Ludd?

Are you a luddite? Have you embraced or snubbed Ned Ludd?

A recent post Lawyers Finally Forced to Embrace Technology (& Snub Ned Ludd) on the Law Practice Management Advisor blog coupled with recent changes to Comment 8 of the Model Rule of Professional Conduct 1.1 on Competence regarding technology which states (bold text is new)”To maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology, engage in continuing study and education and comply with all continuing legal education requirements to which the lawyer is subject,”got me thinking a great deal about the intersection of technology and law; and thus what actions might be necessary with respect to the new Competence rule comment as it relates to a few current trends in technology. How one responds to these trends may  indeed determine if you are a luddite, and thus in danger of running afoul of the competence rule.

Trend 1 – App use is outpacing mobile Web and PC use and this trend is not expected to abate; rather it will continue to accelerate. A recent Nielsen report found that “89 percent of our time browsing the Internet on our mobile phones (and 81 percent of our time on tablets) takes place in apps.”

Response to trend 1 – Get on board or at very minimum investigate the benefits and risks associated with apps. I expect you will find them a worthy technology to embrace.

Trend 2 – Delivering an excellent digital experience across all platforms is critical to business success, and in light of trend 1, the experience must also be accessible via an app since that is the environment in which most of your customers likely reside.

Response to trend 2 - Familiarize yourself with the benefits and risks of the multitude of technology platforms available and make sure your business’ website is available and functions well on all of them! Undoubtedly your existing and potential clients are no all using the same Web platform and you risk missing them if your business is not scattered across most of the available electronic platforms.

Trend 3 – The disconnect of traditional IT versus consumerization of technology will continue to grow at breakneck speed leading to a greater need for IT to catch up and work to create security measures around employees use of their own mobile devices.

Response to trend 3 - Investigate the benefits and risks associated with security or lack thereof for mobile devices, and then take steps to increase the security of your own mobile devices. At minimum don’t be among the estimated 44% who don’t have a pass code for accessing their mobile devices.  Take it a step further – if your IT department hasn’t already done so encourage it to promote greater security of employees mobile devices – trust me they likely want to and probably have been trying to do so anyway, thus they will appreciate your suggestion.

But most importantly, answer the opening question of this post. If the answer is yes, then do whatever it takes to turn that answer into a resounding no, and snub Ned Ludd sooner rather than later!

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