Thursday, October 12, 2017

Tech Is Gonna Help You to Know Your Judge

To this day -- 30 years later -- I remember a story my law school civil procedure professor told us about his first attorney job. 20 years earlier he had been hired by a prominent Wall Street firm. He was assigned to a team for work on an appeal to a U.S. Court of Appeal. For three weeks his only task was to research the lives and histories of the justices assigned to the case. Not just their written opinions, but where they went to school, who they were married to, what their children were about, what kind of food they ate. What size shoe they wore... That level of intel gathering impressed me.  The need to know your judge stuck with me.

I am a firm believer that it is only good lawyering to learn as much as you can about the judge you are litigating in front of. Venture capital and the artificial intelligence world agree with me, and their help is on the way.

Gavelytics is a start-up that focuses on gathering info about, and predicting rulings of, the judges
you are going in front of -- even in simple old family law.

Right now Gavelytics is limited to LA County and Riverside County, but that will change. It is also light on, but not without, family law judges. The user interface is pretty cool. The landing page for each judge includes where they are, who they work with, how you contact them, where they went to school, how they got to the bench. Take a look:

Click the image for a larger look


There's more. Here are some of the Gavelytics tools:

  • Judicial Workload
    • Learn how long it takes to get to trial, the average delay between complaint filing and the initial CMC, and average case length, all compared to the jurisdictional average.
  • Gavelscore
    • Discover whether a judge has ruled more often for plaintiffs or defendants in bench trials. No more guesswork about a judge's most important decisions.
  • Motion Analyzer
    • See how a judge has ruled on 100+ different types of California motions, including summary judgment, demurrers, and motions to compel.
  • Motion Details
    • Compare a judge's motion ruling tendencies to the jurisdictional average, providing crucial context so you can determine if your judge is an outlier–and what to do about it.
  • Learn how often parties make CCP § 170.6 filings against your judge
    • Take advantage of the wisdom of the crowds and see how often other parties paper your judge, all searchable by filing party and case type.
  • See crucial judge ruling and docket speed data in a single dashboard
  • The Judge Summary
    • Takes the most important judicial data points, like tendencies on summary judgment motions, discovery motions and docket speed, and puts them in a simple dashboard for easy reference.

What's it cost? $35 to $65 per month. Not bad. This is a technology that I am going to have to keep my eye on....

Please visit hardinglaw.com for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law 

#Harding&AssociatesFamilyLaw #californiafamilylaw #divorce #family law #superlawyers #americanacademyofmatrimoniallawyers #Pleasantondivorce #AlamedaCountyDivorce #ContraCostaCountyDivorce #lawyers

Thursday, October 5, 2017

What A Receptionist Should, And Should Not, Say...

Here's an interesting one for you my fellow members of the bar...

I am in the process of negotiating the settlement of a case. As with most cases, it has been a back and forth process. Last week opposing counsel sent me an email with settlement terms. On Monday I called the attorney's office and left a message asking him to call me.  No return call. Yesterday morning I sent an email to the attorney asking him to call me so that we could wrap up the settlement. No return call. Today I called his office again.

The receptionist answered. “Hello. John Harding to speak with _ _ _ please on the _ _ _ matter.”  “Are you calling in response to the last email he sent you?” “I am calling to talk about the entire case.” Then she says, “There is no need for you to talk to him unless you are calling to accept all of the terms of his email.”

Say what? Am I wrong, or is it out of line to be told by an opposing attorney's support staff when I can discuss a case with opposing counsel? Am I wrong to expect opposing counsel to return my call? Only after the receptionist emailed her boss, was I able to schedule a phone call with him for the next day. 

Unbelievable. Then again, maybe I missed something during all those lectures on courtesy and professionalism.... 

I would love some feedback from the audience on this.

Please visit hardinglaw.com for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law 

#Harding&AssociatesFamilyLaw #californiafamilylaw #divorce #family law #superlawyers #americanacademyofmatrimoniallawyers #Pleasantondivorce #AlamedaCountyDivorce #ContraCostaCountyDivorce #lawyers

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

How Much of Your Time Do You Bill For?

If you fit the norm, the answer is 2.3 hours per day.

According to an exhaustive study completed by software company Clio, 2.3 hours is the average. The study results, published by Lawyerist.com, assert that "on average, lawyers bill less than 30% of their time. And they only collect on about 20% of their time."

Interesting data. According to the study:
Hours billed—utilization rate—goes up quickly as the firm grows. For solos, it’s about 25%. In firms of 4–7 lawyers, it goes up to about 40%. Above 10 lawyers, the average utilization rate is about 50%. 
So what are lawyers doing with that unbilled time? According to the survey Clio added to its report this year, about half of that time goes to administration. About a third of it goes to business development (marketing) activities.
These numbers make sense to me. I may be doing better than 2.3 hours a day, but it still intrigues, surprises, frustrates me, how much of my time is consumed on tasks other than practicing law. Please click here to read the entire article.

Please visit hardinglaw.com for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law

#Harding&AssociatesFamilyLaw #californiafamilylaw #divorce #family law #superlawyers #americanacademyofmatrimoniallawyers #Pleasantondivorce #AlamedaCountyDivorce #ContraCostaCountyDivorce #lawyers

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Product Review: Twelvesouth Mac Book Pro case

True story. I was flying out of Istanbul, Turkey the very day that the Trump administration's laptop controls for air travel went into effect. Of course, one of the airports that was subject to the new requirement that laptops had to be checked was Istanbul's Ataturk.

With my arrival at the gate for my Turkish Air flight to San Francisco, my Mac Book Pro was bubble
wrapped, labeled, logged, and then stacked with many others into a hardshell suitcase. Some 15 hours later that suitcase was opened at the luggage carousel in San Francisco, and dozen of laptops spilled onto the floor. I was tired. I was lazy. I grabbed my Mac, opened the lid, powered it on, and saw light. It was alive. Good enough for me. I signed the receipt and headed home.

It was not until the next day that I noticed that the case on my Mac had been cracked, Too late to seek recourse from the airline. But the lesson was learned. Even with bubble wrap, my computer was not able to withstand the rough and tumble world of airline baggage handling.

That flight from Istanbul eventually led to the purchase of a beautiful new Mac Book Pro. I also became more sensitive to the handling of my laptop while in motion. Recommendations led me to the  BookBook Vol. 2 case from twelvesouth. Made of leather, with a crush proof spine, the BookBook is custom made for the Mac Book Pro. As twelvesouth describes it:

BookBook provides six-sided protection with reinforced corners on the outside, while velvety soft, microfiber lines the interior. Zip BookBook closed and now your MacBook is disguised as a vintage book that has been proven to prevent theft. How many other MacBook cases can say that?
Do I like it? Yes I do. The leather is rich. The custom Mac Book Pro fit pleases the German engineer in me. The zippers pull smooth and easy. I am confident in the rigid protection it provides, The $79.95 price isn't ridiculous for what you get.

Please visit hardinglaw.com for more information about
Harding & Associates Family Law.  

#twelvesouth #bookbook #macbookpro #Harding&AssociatesFamilyLaw #californiafamilylaw #divorce #family law #superlawyers #americanacademyofmatrimoniallawyers #Pleasantondivorce #AlamedaCountyDivorce #ContraCostaCountyDivorce #lawyers

Sunday, September 3, 2017

AI Is The New Craze!


Artificial intelligence, "AI", seems to be everywhere in the law practice discussion. But what is it? I don't really know? To resolve my lack of clarity I have been looking for the definitive summary. That has been a struggle. Much like the King's new clothes, there is plenty of buzz, but little explanation.

Above The Law is investing lots of virtual ink on the topic, and has become a preferred learning center. One article in particular that I found useful is Sterling Miller's Artificial Intelligence And Its Impact On Legal Technology. As Miller explains, AI is:

[T]eaching computers how to learn, reason, communicate, and make decisions. Cognitive tools are trained vs. programmed — learning how to complete tasks traditionally done by people, where the focus is looking for patterns in data, testing the data, and finding/providing results. Or, as I like to think about it, a research assistant who can sift through the deck and tell you what it found.
Law Technology Today gives us another explanation:
Artificial intelligence, or AI, refers to computer software and systems that don’t just do tasks they’ve been programmed for in advance—they actually learn as they go, improving their performance through feedback. These programs can quickly learn to complete data-intensive tasks that were previously relegated to bored and weary humans. By recognizing patterns in the relationships between words or data points, computers learn how to identify relevant information, recognize mistakes, and spot inconsistencies—all faster, and usually better, than humans do.

Okay, I kind of get it. But how is AI utilized by lawyers? That also seems to be a nebulous question. Here's more golden nuggets from Above The Law:
If you’ve used Google to find a song with just a few words from a lyric or searched Netflix to pick out a comedy that’s safe to watch with kids, you have used applied machine learning. Machine learning is an area of artificial intelligence that enables computers to self-learn, without being explicitly programmed, to look for specific pieces of information. 
When lawyers use machine learning for discovery or internal investigations, it’s commonly called technology assisted review (TAR) or predictive coding. Although TAR has been around for a while, lawyers and litigation support professionals still have questions about how to best use it on individual cases.

Okay, we have a vague description of AI. What are some of the actual applications for legal practitioners?  More from Legal Technology Today:
The primary areas where AI is being applied in the law, so far, include the following broad categories: 
  • review of documents for discoverable or otherwise relevant information, generally referred to as technology-assisted review (TAR).
  • legal research through automated searches of a universe of case law and statutes.
  • contract and legal document analysis.
  • proofreading, error correction, and document organization.
There's still plenty to learn, but is is obvious the dialogue has started.  Is it too early for family law lawyers to get on board? Of course not. Large marital estate generate lots of data for divorce. If I am understanding AI, the tools that are developing could be quite useful to us in wrangling all of the information and date more efficiently and effectively. We need to pay attention to this topic as family law practice continues to evolve beyond just the evolving statutes and case law.

Please visit hardinglaw.com for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law 

#AI #artificial intelligence #Harding&AssociatesFamilyLaw #californiafamilylaw #divorce #family law #superlawyers #americanacademyofmatrimoniallawyers #Pleasantondivorce #AlamedaCountyDivorce #ContraCostaCountyDivorce #lawyers

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Traveling for Work


I love to travel (even it it is for work). It is a topic we have posted on before. Here for instance. And here. Recently I have been doing more business travel (a phase that happens about every 5 years). The uptick has invited me to update my travel tips, that I would now like to share with you.

Flying

When it comes to flying my core beliefs haven't changed. Southwest and Alaska work great for California and Nevada flights. Anything longer than that, and I fully advocate traveling first or business class.

For those California and Nevada flights I have a new option. JetSuiteX. This is a regional airline that uses regional jets. Its current route map includes Concord, San Jose, Burbank, and Las Vegas. What makes JetSuiteX so great. The airports. Check-in is a breeze. The airline recommends you arrive 30 minutes before your flight. You go to their private terminals, check in with  the other dozen or so fliers, then walk to and onto the nearby jet. My closest airport is Concord. My destination airport is Burbank. Both are awesome alternatives to the frustrations of SFO, OAK, and LAX (any day I can avoid LAX is a good day!) The Concord terminal is great because there is free parking right there. Burbank requires a shuttle ride, but since I use Wingz in Southern California, parking is irrelevant. The planes are kewl, the pricing is good, and baggage, drinks, and snacks are complimentary.


Ground Transportation

Speaking of transportation, lots of fresh discoveries. Limos are out. Too expensive, and often times unreliable. I now use Wingz whenever I can. Think of Uber and Lyft, but with better pricing and better drivers. My last two trips have been in a very nice Tesla S.

Luggage

Most of the trips I am making these days, if they require an overnight, are for two or three days. On those short trips I have adopted the carry-on mantra. My carry-on equipment list includes a Travel Pro Magna 2 and an Everki Versa laptop backpack.


I like the Travelpro because of the telescoping handle, the 360 degree spinner, and the folding suit bag.  On to the backpack. Yes, yes, yes I am crazy for briefcases. However, when it comes to airline travel, the Everki really works. It has a luggage strap in the back so that I can drop it over my Travelpro's luggage handle and then just roll along. It is checkpoint friendly, so I don't have to remove devices at security and put them in storage bins, and it has an abundance of felt padding to limit scratching to protect my Mac Book Pro and iPad Pro in the rough and tumble world of air travel. Oh yeah, it also has compartments for smartphones and sunglasses. Note: When it comes to luggage, and every other piece of gear mentioned, online prices are all over the place. Make sure you shop around.

Other Stuff

Here's some other tips. Make sure you travel with a multi-outlet, multi-usb power strip with a 9 foot cord, plenty of chargers and cables, zip lock bags for cords, cables, and dirty laundry. Finally, and this a Great tip: disposable hair net bags to wrap your stinky, street grime infected shoes. You can also wrap the hotel remote and telephone handset in them for a layer of germ protection.


     

Please visit hardinglaw.com for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law

#Harding&AssociatesFamilyLaw #californiafamilylaw #divorce #family law #superlawyers #americanacademyofmatrimoniallawyers #Pleasantondivorce #AlamedaCountyDivorce #ContraCostaCountyDivorce #lawyers

Friday, August 18, 2017

Erin Levine You Are A Star!

Divorce lawyer Erin Levine is a friend. She also reads this blog. I know the latter to be true because, as a friend, she tells me that she reads this blog. On top of all that, Erin is now an internet star.  No, I am not talking about her new legal start-up, Hello Divorce. I am talking about her appearance on Lawyerist.com.

Erin's Desk!
(Didn't know if she would be happy with me putting a picture of here here?)
Lawyerist.com is one of my favorite blogs. Lots of great lawyer stuff. One of my favorite sections of the blog is its How Lawyers Work feature. Each week Lawyerist has an interview with a lawyer about his or her work space, and the technology he or she uses.  Fun stuff (with pictures).

Guess what? This week Erin is the featured star in How Lawyers Work. Yahoo!!!! Click here to check her out! Erin, when next we meet I shall bow to your celebrityness!! Way to Go!

Please visit hardinglaw.com for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law 

#lawyerist #Harding&AssociatesFamilyLaw #californiafamilylaw #divorce #family law #superlawyers #americanacademyofmatrimoniallawyers #Pleasantondivorce #AlamedaCountyDivorce #ContraCostaCountyDivorce #lawyers

Tech Is Gonna Help You to Know Your Judge

To this day -- 30 years later -- I remember a story my law school civil procedure professor told us about his first attorney job. 20 years...