Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Mobile Practice Management

We lawyers move around. More and more we are taking our offices with us in the form of laptop computers, and apps on tablets and smartphones.  Over at MyCase my friend Niki Black has done a bit of research.  We are clearly goin mobile!

Source: via Nicole on Pinterest

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

iPad For Litigators

Family law lawyers are litigators.  Think about it...  After prosecutors and public defenders, who is in court more than family law lawyers? No one.  For today's post that means we get to talk about a book written for litigators.

The ABA  has released the latest in its popular One Hour series:  iPad In One Hour For Litigators
Written by iPad superstar Tom Mighell,  this book will walk technology novices through:
  • A New Case – Managing Details and Deadlines
  • Discovery – Documents and Depositions
  • Preparing for Trial with the Right Accessories
  • Legal Research on your iPad
  • Picking a Jury, iPad Style
  • Evidence Presentation
  • Tips for Using the iPad in Court – advice from lawyers who are using the iPad in the courtroom every day
Check it out by clicking here.

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Support AB 251

Unfortunately court reports are becoming extinct in civil courtrooms.  Repairs are in order.  Below is a message I received regarding pending bill AB 251, that would help address the court reporter problem. Please give it consideration.

Dear Family Law Attorneys -
I’m writing to ask for your support of AB 251, a pending bill that I worked on through the BASF delegation to the Conference of Delegates.  This bill would amend the Government Code to permit electronic reporting in family law cases.  This is critical to preserve the right to appeal and other due process rights of parties who are unable to afford to pay for a private shorthand reporter.
While many agree that it is ideal to have a live court reporter in every courtroom, recently courts have begun removing reporters from civil courtrooms including family law, due to budget constraints.  In San Francisco, no reporters are provided for family law long cause hearings and trials.
The absence of court reporters has a disproportionate impact in family law, because the vast majority of family law litigants represent themselves without counsel, and would not always be aware of the need for a record, or how to hire a reporter.  Many family law litigants also are without the means to pay for a private reporter.  Added to this, family law often involves fundamental rights.  Trials involving termination of parental rights, requests for permanent restraining orders, custody, support, and property are routinely taking place with no record.  This creates difficulty preparing orders, ensuring accountability for the judiciary, and most importantly, preserving the right to appeal.  It is axiomatic that “there can be no equal justice where the kind of an appeal a man [or woman] enjoys depends on the amount of money he [or she] has.”  (Douglas v. People of the State of California (1963) 372 U.S. 353, 355.)
 AB 251 would make it an option and permit, but not mandate, family courts to use electronic reporting.  This will help to ensure that a record is created in every case, and due process rights are protected.
Here is a link to the bill:
 This bill is being opposed by the court reporters’ unions and other labor representatives.  This means that without strong support by those concerned with the due process rights of litigants and access to justice, the bill will likely not passPlease consider sending a letter to support AB 251.  Letters should be sent before the hearing date of April 9th.  A sample letter is below (if you’d like a Word version just e-mail me at
Please forward this letter to anyone you believe would want to support AB 251.
Thank you for your consideration!

Michelene Insalaco


March 20, 2013

The Honorable Bob Wieckowski
Chair, Assembly Judiciary Committee
State Capitol, Room 4016
Sacramento, CA 94249-0025
Via email to:

                Re:         AB 251 (Wagner), as Amended

Dear Assemblyman Wieckowski:

                I’m writing to urge you to support AB 251, which, as amended, would permit courts to use electronic reporting in family law to ensure that there is an official record of court proceedings.

                Due to budgetary restraints, many family law hearings and trials are taking place without any record at all.   Without a record there can be no meaningful appellate review, nor oversight of the family law judiciary.  This situation also complicates the preparation of written orders. 

                This situation has a special impact in family law because these cases routinely involve fundamental constitutional rights; the vast majority of family law litigants represent themselves without counsel; and a large proportion of family law litigants are indigent.

                To ensure equal access to justice, please support AB 251.


cc:           Hon Donald P. Wagner, Author (
                Drew Liebert, Chief Counsel Assembly Judiciary Committee (
                Larry Doyle, Legislative Representative, CCBA (

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

An Exceptional Lawyer Deserves An Exceptional Briefcase

I got my first briefcase in law school.  It was a proud moment. I still have it.  Black leather.  Sharp corners.  Brass hardware.  It was a treasured possession that made me feel like a lawyer before I was one.  I have had an obsession with briefcases ever since.  Canvas cases, synthetic cases, vinyl  cases, leather cases.  Black ones, brown ones, burgundy ones.  Briefcases, trial cases, attaches. Rolling bags.  Single handles bags. Double handle bags.  Briefcases, briefcases, briefcases...

Being a lawyer is quite an accomplishment.  There is nothing wrong with spoiling yourself once in a while because of your accomplishment.  For me that self reward is the briefcase.

Finally I believe I have found The Briefcase!  The Parma Messenger from Floto Imports.  This  Italian calf-skin that has been tumbled with a special cognac vegetable dye. The result is a soft, natural leather that will get better as it ages - each bag takes on a unique look and darkens like a saddle over time. It's leather tanning the natural way.  It features:
beauty is made with premium

• 12.5" h x 5 " w x 17.5 " long dimensions
• Floto Italian Parma Leather

• Thick Khaki Stitching 

• 3 Internal Compartments

• Internal Zip Compartment - 1"

• Inside Pen and Phone Holster 

• Large Zip Pocket on Back

• Stainless Steel Hardware
• Detachable Shoulder Strap - 42/46"
• Swiss Made RiRi Stainless Zippers 
• Weight 3.5 pounds

This case smells rich, feels rich, and looks rich. After a quarter century as a Lawyer I have earned a case like this, and I am proud to show it off.

Go ahead, splurge a little. Get yourself a new, rich briefcase.  You've earned it!

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The Power Of The Doodle! More On Visual Thinking

I have an announcement to make:  I doodle in court!  Yes, that's right, in the middle of trial you can catch me making juvenile drawings of fighter jets, and fast cars, and bunny rabbits!  And I am not the only one doing it.  Quite frequently when I am trying cases I can see the legal pads of my opposites, and they are doodling as well.  Don't be embarrassed fellow doodlers.  Embrace your pens, and draw away!

Yes, yes, you have heard it all before from me.  Visual thinking.  Mindmapping.  Improved recall.  Greater brain efficiency.  And yet, when I talk with collegues about these ideas, I am still met with skepticism and doubt.

Okay, don't trust me? Than how about these folks:  Leonardo da Vinci, Samuel Beckett, Mark Twain, John Keats and Sylvia Plath.  They all let their pencils and pens wander around the page, creating all sorts of imagery when they might have been trying to concentrate on something else.  Now there is evidence that doodling isn’t the result of an idle mind, but a keen one.

An article on expounds on the value of the doodle.  For example "in 2009, research by Jackie Andrade, professor of psychology at Plymouth University, showed that doodling increases our attention span in meetings. The study made two sets of volunteers listen to a boring phone message and then asked them questions about it. Those who had been doodling had better powers of recollection."  Doodle advocates argue that ‘Doodling through classes or meetings can often result in pages, spreads or maps that have both illustrated the subject and stored it away in our memory in a much more effective way than taking down notes."

The simple doodle can now be fully exploited with technology beyond the pencil and pen.  Mindmapping software and apps can leverage the power of the doodle in new and more powerful ways.  Not only does your brain work better, but it is also fun!

Please click here to read the original article.  Also check out my other thoughts under the mind mapping and productivity topics in this blog.  Topics to the right ======>

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Friday, March 15, 2013

Samsung's New Galaxy S 4

I am a dyed in the wool iPhone devotee.  That having been said, I cannot help but take notice of the new Galaxy S 4 smartphone from Samsung.  The Galaxy line has been garnering praise since it first hit the street, and the GS4 is no exception.  No the buzz about this new phone is not overwhelming, but it is positive, and consistent with reviews of earlier models.  The consensus is that the Galaxy is a good phone that continues to get better.

Running the Jelly Bean version of the Android operating system, the GS4 features a bigger 5" HD screen.  The case of the phone has been streamlined.  Of course it will have enhanced processing power.  You can study a complete review from from by clicking here.

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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Chrome Browser for iMac

I use an iMac at home.  I absolutely love it.  So much more reliable and user friendly than the Windows machines at the office.  The one area where I was left longing though was with the web browser.  The Safari browser that came with the computer was adequate, but I felt there must be something better.

I tried Firefox.  Not much improvement.  I tried Opera.  Not much improvement.  In fact, when it came to the look of the screen Firefox and Opera were worse than Safari because the screens did not size proportionately, and there was a lot of overlapping of text and buttons when I enlarged the fonts so that I could read them.

Today I downloaded Google Chrome, and I have found what I was looking for.  Fast launching.  Easy searching.  Clean layout.  The ability to resize the screen and increase the font to readable size, without the screen looking distorted.  I am very happy.

Yes, there is the privacy/security issue.  You need to log in with your Google account to run Chrome.  That means Google gets your user history, and your password, etc., etc.  I am okay with that.  I am sure they already have reams of electronic data on me.  I am not that important that I am looking over my shoulder for Google Secret Agents.  The pleasant user experience has more value to me.  In fact, I am a bit intrigued by how Google is going to customize my user experience. . . .

Learn more about Chrome by clicking here.

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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

iWatch Watch

Our friends over at the Boy Genius Report are offering up news on the potential release of an iWatch by Apple.  As reported:
Apple hopes to launch the device later this year and is considering a variety of functionality such as voice calling, mapping features and the ability to display notifications from the user’s phone on the watch’s display. The report claims Apple’s iWatch will also include pedometer features, and it may even monitor the wearer’s heart rate.
When info like this starts leaking it is usually coming from Apple's marketing department.  As such, this is more than speculation.  The release is imminent. I am loving the idea.  Looks, reads, sounds, feels like a great gadget.  My only problem is my old eyes can barely read my iPad.  How in the heck am I gonna see the screen on an iWatch?

Please click here for the original BGR article.

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Solo nets Supreme Court win!

I know this has nothing to do with technology, but I think it is pretty cool. Andrew Simpson is a sole practitioner in the U.S. Virgin Is...