Review: Jury Selection for iPad

Fresh off my recent list of jury selection apps that left me a little bit underwhelmed, I stumbled across a brand new one in the Apple App Store: Jury Selection for iPad. Offering a free 10-day trial, I figured it was worthwhile to take a look and see if this new app offered solutions to any of the problems I identified with the other available selections. Jury Selection for iPad bills itself as being able to make jury selection “more efficient and effective!” Unfortunately, although it certainly possesses a handsome main screen of a courtroom, with several open seats, Jury Selection for iPad falls short of its claims. Jury Selection for iPad’s advertisement suggests that its features will allow users to “spend more time focusing on the panel” and less time “fumbling around with handwritten notes and/or charts.” However, in its initial offering, it falls far short of most of the other existing jury selection apps on the market. Key Feature: Main Courtroom Screen Jury Selection for iPad does boast a very nice display of the courtroom and, once you have input information about the individual jurors, a relatively handy ability to access the notes for each juror without leaving the main screen, including access to a 3-level preference indicator (like – neutral – don’t like). The panels are adjustable for size and shape, and the app also allows you to adjust the seating in the veneer from one side of the courtroom to the other, to match the setup of whatever courthouse you’re in. Fatal Flaw(s): Several 1) Juror information input is clumsy, ineffective, and buggy. First, the app itself... read more

A Better Firm Website: 4 Reasons You Should Blog!

Part IV in a continuing series on improving your firm’s website Part I: 7 Tips to Improve Your Bio Page Part II: 5 Best Practices for your Practice Areas Part III: Video is a Game Changer Part IV: 4 Reasons You Should Blog Part V: 3 Videos You Need to Have Part VI: 4 Reasons to Ignore SEO Part VII: 4 Steps to Know (and Track) Your Audience Obviously, I like blogs. I would think that it would be quite difficult to go out and actually find blog posts by writers who were anti-blogging. So, no surprise then that I would endorse the idea of adding a blog to your firm website. Now that we’ve gotten past my obvious bias on the issue, let me tell you why I’m right. You’ve taken all the advice that I’ve given you so far. Your website is sleek and elegant, with the right types of pages, the right type of language, and all of it backed up by interesting and engaging videos. Time to rest on your laurels? I think not! In today’s world, your online marketing presence requires engagement and must be constantly updated. One of the best ways to make sure that happens is to include a blog as a part of your firm’s website. Skeptical? Here are 4 Reasons You Should Blog on your firm’s website: 1) Blog posts allow personal engagement not available through a bio page. Relationships are what set one attorney apart from the rest when a client is looking for representation. A client is likely to choose someone they feel like they know, can trust, and who empathizes with... read more

7 Tips to Enhance Social Media Engagement Using Hashtags

Hashtags. They’ve become ubiquitous in our national culture. Everything, it seems, has a hashtag. Turn on the TV on Sunday and you’re likely to see “#foxsports” somewhere on the screen. Amazingly, at least to my knowledge (and given that I’m 33, I’ve probably already started missing out on some of the newest trends), we have yet to convert the hashtag into a spoken word or catch-phrase, unlike “smileyface!” Give it time. Popularized by Twitter, hashtags are now the unofficial organizational tool of social media. You find them on a significant amount of the posts on sites like Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Vine. Last, but certainly not least, Facebook announced this past summer that hashtags (and, more importantly for our discussion, the ability to search hashtags) are now a feature for Facebook users. Hashtags are even gaining considerable influence as general search tools. 9 billion searches are performed on Twitter each month. Yahoo! and Bing can’t match that total combined. (For the uninitiated, a primer) Hashtags allow you to engage online users, target your audience, and promote awareness of your firm. So here are my 7 Tips to Enhance Social Media Engagement Using Hashtags. 1) Plan and research your hashtags. The most important thing that I hope you get out of this piece is that hashtags should serve as just another piece of a well-crafted firm marketing plan. When carefully crafted and targeted, hashtags will expose a whole new group of people to your firm and what you do. However, just like everything else in your marketing plan, make sure you know what it means before you start shouting about... read more

Lawyers and The Cloud: 5 Things to Consider

(Part I in a continuing series on adoption of cloud-based services by law firms.) You hear about it everywhere. All of your tech-savvy friends talk about it with giddy excitement. Your office manager is constantly urging you to employ it in your practice. Your younger associates split time between telling you how great it would be and grumbling about the fact that you don’t have it. Yes, I’m talking about “The Cloud.” A few years ago, you may have initially thought I was talking about a comic book villain. Not anymore. We all know what “The Cloud” is, or at least we know it’s related to computers… And the Internet… Okay, we AT LEAST know that it is used in business, and that over 30% of attorneys reported using some type of cloud-based service in a recent ABA survey. Any responsible business owner should always be open to adopting new systems or practices that can increase profitability and long-term stability. So you’ve decided to investigate what The Cloud can do for your firm. However, here are 5 Things to Consider before you move your practice to The Cloud: 1) Has your state bar issued an ethics opinion on the use of cloud-based computing services? Quite a few attorneys have skipped right past the step of making sure that any practice management software complies with their state’s ethics rules. After all, a cloud-based document storage system for my practice is no different than using Microsoft Word, right? Wrong. Use of cloud-based systems for any part of your law practice puts client information under the control of a third-party. Even though... read more

The 7 Best Jury Selection Apps…

… aren’t all that good. As a civil litigator, I really enjoy selecting my jury. Apart from getting to know the jurors, jury selection sets the tone for the trial. But I hate those post-it notes! I was really hoping that a solid jury selection app could help streamline the process. Sadly, no such app exists. But, if you’re looking for an app to assist your jury selection, to compliment your gut instinct and post-it notes, rather than to replace them, here are my 7 Best Jury Selection Apps… The ratings reflect an evaluation of five criteria (4 points per criterion), all related to how effectively the app would allow me to conduct voir dire without a legal pad:   Ability to add and modify a list of questions; An interface that allows basic information to be input quickly and accurately; The ability to record responses to “group questions” without having to open every single juror’s page; Useful reporting functions (as opposed to pretty-but-pointless reports) that allow me to compare jurors on the fly; and Overall utility in selecting a jury.     1) iJuror (Front9 Technologies) – $19.99 iJuror is possibly the most popular apps available for attorneys conducting voir dire. Available on iOS since 2010, it has also been released for Android devices. With the most comprehensive set of features (in my opinion), as well as a number of useful add-ons (although it REALLY gets on my nerves when they demand an extra $5 for stuff that SHOULD be in the app in the first place!), iJuror came the closest to actually meeting my criteria of all... read more

4 Reasons Lawyers Will Love the iPhone 5s

Ok, we’ve all taken a day to cool down from the highs of Apple’s new products announcement yesterday. What’s that? You didn’t experience euphoria? Well, even if you didn’t absolutely fall in love with the products and software that Apple announced yesterday, I’m going to tell you 4 reasons lawyers will love the iPhone 5s. Or, at least, why they should. There are a number of features that the new iPhone 5s comes packed with, ranging from hardware upgrades to a full suite of free software that seem almost geared towards making the iPhone an even more obvious choice for lawyers. (Unlike the rest of the population, lawyers tend to already prefer the iPhone and the iPad to their Android counterparts by a significant margin, according to the ABA.) However, first, I will start with the one you’ve probably heard about, but is so significant for attorneys that it bears mentioning: 1) Fingerprint Reader Yes, I know that a lot of critics on the internet are calling this a gimmick, but even top-level electronic security people are saying that the new fingerprint reader gives the iPhone the potential to have two-level security that no other phone can match. The ideal electronic security system, according to Christopher Pogue, director of security vendor Trustwave’s SpiderLabs security research team, uses some combination of something you know, like a password or a PIN, something you have, like a token, or something you are, like a biometric feature, including fingerprints. The iPhone 5s is the first mobile device that will truly allow for the use of a biometric feature. So yes, although the fingerprint... read more

A Better Firm Website: Video is a Game Changer

Part III in a continuing series on improving your firm’s website Part I: 7 Tips to Improve Your Bio Page Part II: 5 Best Practices for your Practice Areas Part III: Video is a Game Changer Part IV: 4 Reasons You Should Blog Part V: 3 Videos You Need to Have Part VI: 4 Reasons to Ignore SEO Part VII: 4 Steps to Know (and Track) Your Audience You’ve taken steps to improve the content of your pages. Your attorney bio page has been shifted to make the best possible use of the real estate available. Your skills, now phrased in terms of how your skills help your client, are listed first, and your accomplishments of lesser importance to your clients have been minimized. Your firm’s practice areas have a sleek new look, with an emphasis on readability and placing the important information for your clients up front. Excellent. Your content looks good. Now, it’s time to talk about a few things that will help your website stand out. Extra content that, while not absolutely essential, will help vault your firm ahead of others by providing a more satisfying, interactive experience for clients. Today, let’s talk about what adding video can do for your website. I hate to seem redundant, but your website is an advertisement. You’re selling visitors to your sites on your ability and expertise in a certain area of law. However, as any marketing expert will tell you, the best way to sell professional services is to do so personally. Well, this is a website, so you don’t have that option. So ask yourself, what is the best way to... read more

Tweets of Wrath: This Attorney Didn’t Listen

Not long ago, I wrote a post entitled “Tweets of Wrath: Social Media and the Disgruntled Client.” In the event you choose not to go back and check it out (I wish you would, it’s one of my favorite stories), the basics of the post discuss the steps someone should take when responding to a disgruntled client’s social media posts. Remembering that the key rules STILL APPLY to social media, the biggest thing you want to make sure you do is keep confidential information… well… confidential. After that, you really need to remember NOT to injure the client by what you post. In the end, it remains my position that your best bet is to ignore the post the best you can. Well, today I saw this article, talking about an Illinois attorney who decided that she would rather respond… The facts of the case, as described by the article, and confirmed in this complaint filed before the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, are as follows: During the month of September 2012, the attorney, Betty Tsamis (“Respondent”) agreed to represent a Richard Rinehart regarding an employment dispute between Rinehart and his former employer, American Airlines. Rinehart, who had been a flight attendant, was terminated by American Airlines, reportedly due to an alleged assault by Rinehart on a coworker. Rinehart paid Respondent a retainer of $1,500. Between September 2012 and January 2013, Respondent met with Rinehart on at least two occasions, and reviewed Rinehart’s employment file, which she obtained from American Airlines. During January 2013, Respondent represented Rinehart in a telephone hearing with the Illinois Department of Employment Security,... read more

A Better Firm Website: 5 Best Practices for your Practice Areas

Part II in a continuing series on improving your firm’s website Part I: 7 Tips to Improve Your Bio Page Part II: 5 Best Practices for your Practice Areas Part III: Video is a Game Changer Part IV: 4 Reasons You Should Blog Part V: 3 Videos You Need to Have Part VI: 4 Reasons to Ignore SEO Part VII: 4 Steps to Know (and Track) Your Audience So you’ve decided that you want to improve your firm’s website, and you started by fixing the most visited section of your site, the attorney bios. You’ve found a way to optimize the pages such that the important information to your clients is accessible and in the best possible real estate. You’ve phrased your skills in ways that demonstrate your ability to help your client. Most importantly, you’ve begun the transformation of your site so that it contains what your potential clients want, rather than what you want. Now it’s time to make sure that your site contains the best information for your potential clients concerning what it is your firm does. Most firms list this information under some iteration of “Practice Areas.” Yet, you’re unsure of what the best practices for your practice areas section should be. It’s essential that your prospective clients know what you do, or more importantly, what you can do for them. So what are the best ways to communicate this information? Here are my 5 Best Practices for your Practice Areas section: 1) Be Clear Yes, my #1 Best Practices Tip is clarity. I realize that I’m probably just channeling some English teacher you had back in high school,... read more

The 8 Best Social Networking Apps for Lawyers

Human beings are social creatures; we need contact with other humans to feel fulfilled. While I’m certain that it’s not a need for “fulfillment” that drives most social media today, I thought that starting this post with something nice and philosophical would be appropriate. Now, to the meat grinder! Anyone who is advertising a good or service these days utilizes social media to some degree. (Notice that I did NOT say they utilize it effectively!) Whether simply keeping up on what your favorite celebrity is doing to destroy their own reputation, or actually seeking out new customers with innovative marketing initiatives, you’re relying to some degree on social media. Another interesting facet of modern technology is that you have to be able to both lead and follow your social media cohort from your mobile device!... read more
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