Google Tools Useful to Lawyers

Most modern lawyers find occasion to use Google almost every day.  However, if you are just doing routine searches, you are missing out on some of Google’s most  useful features.  A few of my favorites are the following:

  1. Google Alerts – Get email alerts whenever something of interest to you shows up on the web. A great way to monitor clients, adversaries and areas of law.  Easy to set.
  2. Google Images – Search for images on the internet for anyone or anything– Go ahead- see if there are any pictures of you on the web.
  3. Google Maps – The best way to map out directions and share with others.
  4. Google Patents – Full text search of every US patent.
  5. Google Scholar – Looking for a specific paper or Scholarly article, find it fast.
  6. Google Translate – Provides two way language translations.

If you have a favorite Google tool not discussed above, we would love to hear about it.

Review of ExhibitView Trial Presentation App for the iPad

[Disclosure—I have been provided free evaluation copies of TrialPad and ExhibitView (PC and iPad) by their respective developers, but have not received any compensation for my review of either product].

In a previous post, I compared the three trial exhibit presentation applications for iPad on the market at that time;  TrialPad, Exhibit A and RLTC Evidence. See

My conclusion was that TrialPad while pricey for an App ($89.00) was far superior to Exhibit A ($9.99), which in turn was far superior to RLTC Evidence  ($4.99), which I could not recommend. TrialPad was the only one of the three that in the end, I considered to be a serious trial presentation application.

I am pleased to report that there is now another professional grade iPad trial presentation application on the market and it is currently considerably less expensive than TrialPad.  The App is ExhibitView  ($29.00 App Store).

ExhibitView has been in the PC trial presentation software business for a number of years.  The PC version of their software is currently priced at $499.00 and includes 4 PC licenses and the iPad application as a free bonus.  The regular price of the ExhibitView iPad application is scheduled to be $69.00, but for a limited time the introductory price is $29.00.  This compares favorably to TrialPad priced at $89.00.  While the TrialPad iPad app offers a number of features not found in ExhibitView for iPad, ExhibitView has the advantage of integrating with the robust ExhibitView PC version.  In other words, there is the option to create your presentation on the desktop and then use the “Save as iPad” feature import the presentation to the iPad— to ExhibitView and even to TrialPad.  This is a major selling point favoring ExhibitView.  The Save-as-Ipad feature will convert everything to iPad format, except audio and video files.   William Roach, the developer of ExhibitView, has informed us that ExhibitView offers reasonably priced conversion services for audio/video files. See

It should be noted that Dropbox is the only method for transferring files to ExhibitView for iPad.  In comparison, TrialPad allows transfer by Dropbox,  iTunes, email and directly from the iPad photoroll.  In addition, only TrialPad offers the ability to export exhibits to Dropbox and email export exhibits.

Both applications import files easily from Dropbox and have good folder based case organizational systems.  Both applications have highlighting, drawing, and enlargement capability.  Both can accommodate video files.  The picture quality for both is good.  In addition,TrialPad has a laser pointer function, redaction function, rudimentary video editing capability, and a whiteboard (although I am underwhelmed by this last feature).

If download speeds matter to you, in my testing, ExhibitView  was able to download a large PDF file from Dropbox almost three times faster than TrialPad, e.g., 32 seconds for ExhibitView and 91 seconds for TrialPad.  While this may not be important for small files, it could be meaningful as file size increases.

ExhibitView also has a witness mode which allows the iPad Screen to be locked on an exhibit, so the iPad can be handed to the witness, who can then annotate the exhibit if appropriate.  A screenshot of the modified exhibit can be taken from the application.  While as a practical matter this may present evidentiary issues in court, this mode could prove to be a good tool for use in witness preparation for deposition and trial.

THE BOTTOM LINE:  Having extensively tested both TrialPad and ExhibitView, my opinion is that TrialPad is the more full featured of the two applications from a stand alone perspective.  However, ExhibitView has all of the basic tools needed to make professional trial presentations on the iPad and currently costs less than half as much as TrialPad. It also has the PC integration feature.  I know the developers of ExhibitView and feel confident they are not going to be satisfied with being number 2 in this market.  TrialPad’s developer is just as determined to stay on top.  The result of this competition will be continual improvement of these two excellent products.


How to Create QR Codes for Lawyer Marketing

By now, most people are probably familiar with QR codes, such as the one below for this blog:

These codes are often found at a product point of sale or in printed advertisements.  Their purpose is to provide additional information to consumers on a product or service by taking them directly to a web address containing the information.  The customer simply scans the code with a smart phone or tablet camera (using one of the many available free QR Apps e.g., at&t code scanner) and they are taken to the web address with the information.

It may surprise you to learn that you can create your own QR codes for free. Simply go to:    Then, insert the web address where you want the code to direct the consumer. Voila- instant QR code.

The potential for the use for QR codes in your legal practice is limited only by the bounds of your imagination.  For example, you could print a code on your business cards that when scanned will open up your bio or blog site.  Similarly, you could use different QR codes throughout your marketing materials highlighting particular attorneys, services, or practice areas.

If you have come up with an interesting law related use for QR codes, we would love to hear about it.

Prominent Lawyer Sanctioned $522,000 for Instructing Client to “Clean-Up” Facebook Account

Some attorneys are still learning the hard way that spoliation of social media evidence is just like the spoliation of any other evidence.  Exhibit A– prominent Virginia trial attorney Matthew Murray has been ordered to pay over $522,000 in sanctions for instructing his client to “clean up” his Facebook page.   See    The relevant orders are linked: facebook spoliation   Lester_v_Allied_Concrete_Final_Order

The blog, reports the facts as follows:

“The court’s findings reflect that Murray told his client to remove several photos from his Facebook account on fears that they would prejudice his wrongful death case brought after his spouses’ fatal automobile accident. One of the photos depicts the allegedly distraught widower holding a beer and wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with ‘I [heart] hot moms.’ Murray instructed his client through his assistant to ‘clean up’ his Facebook account. ‘We do not want blow ups of other pics at trial,’ the assistant’s email to Lester said, ‘so please, please clean up your Facebook and MySpace!’ ”

The Court also found that Murray instructed the client to deactivate his Facebook account so that on the day that discovery responses were submitted the attorney’s response could be, and was, that the client did not have a Facebook account.

There are many lessons from this case.  The more obvious ones are:

1. Don’t post anything on any social media site that you would not be comfortable being seen by anyone in the world- now and forever.

2.  Assume that social media postings are forever.

3.  You need to pursue social media evidence in all of your litigation cases.

4.  You can assume that you opponent will be seeking social media evidence to use against your client in all of your cases.

5.  You need to review the social media sites used by your key witnesses early in the game.

6.  Counsel your clients not to post sensitive information on social media sites gong forward, but do not counsel them to remove posts already there.

7.  Don’t play cute with your discovery responses.

8.  Social media evidence is just like any other evidence and the duty of preservation applies.

9.  Don’t forget to include social media postings in your legal hold instructions.

10.  Resist the temptation to tamper with problematic evidence– this case is not worth the loss of your reputation and license.

To sum it all up– social media postings are evidence and will be treated as such by the courts.   Be careful out there!


How to Use the iPad Untethered (wireless) with VGA Projector or Smart Board

In a previous post, we extolled the virtues of using Apple TV ($99 The Hytech Lawyer Store) to enable wireless presentations with the iPad.  Imagine, a teacher being able to wander the room with a wireless iPad to check the progress of individual students while at the same time simultaneously mirroring the content of their iPad to a projector, TV or Smart Board.  For Lawyers  (who are also teachers), the ability to use an untethered iPad for presentations (which if properly prepared can be tailored on the fly) has numerous applications—hearings, presentations, mediations, etc.

There is, however,  one small technical problem with this vision of iPad presentation paradise for many users.  Most smart board systems and LCD projectors have VGA inputs and do not have the HDMI input used by Apple TV (note: HD TVs and some high end projectors do come equipped with HDMI).  The first attempt that many make to overcome this obstacle is to try a VGA-HDMI adapter cable.   Unfortunately, just using an adapter will not work because HDMI is digital, while VGA is analog.  You need a HDMI to VGA converter to convert the digital signal to analog.

On the recommendation of others, we purchased the LinkStyle HD Video Converter ($ 44.98 The Hytech Lawyer Store).  After extensive testing, we are pleased to report that it works well.  Admittedly, the picture quality is not as crisp as a digital signal using HDMI, but it compares well to the typical LCD projector image quality.  Note that VGA does not support audio.  However, there is a miniplug audio jack that takes the audio from the HDMI input and allows you to connect speakers or input to a sound system.

It may just be me, but I think that the ability to make a presentation using a wireless iPad has a serious cool factor.  Plus, you don’t have to worry about a VGA adapter falling out during your presentation.  You can also connect to power during the presentation if you are running low.  Most of all, I like the ability to change my presentation on the fly because the iPad is in my hands.  This allows the tailoring of the presentation to the audience; e.g., a judge asking questions.  Questions anyone?

How to create Your Own Law Blog (Blawg) in an Hour or Less

In December of 2010, I decided to enter the Blawg world.  At the time I had no idea how to even begin.  After some research, I found the web hosting service iPage which has great step-by-step instructional material.


With no prior experience, I was able to create a domain name and set up my account in less than an hour.  It is incredibly cheap to maintain a blog site.  I pay iPage about $4 per month for hosting my site—which includes everything basic plus some bells and whistles.  The service has been great and I highly recommend it. [Disclosure— The good news is that if you purchase iPage services by clicking on a link from my site, I receive a referral fee.  The better news is that you get a special promotional discount on the service for the first year].

Before you start the actual process you need to give some thought to the focus of your blog and what your domain name will be—e.g.,  Your domain name is like your phone number and you will be required to choose a unique one.  iPage walks you thorough the process step by step.

Then you install Word Press which allows you to build a website without knowing how to code or use HTML  (although as you blog for a while you will pick up some HTML knowledge)—just drag and drop. You basically use prepared templates and “widgets” that you customize.

Using iPage I can update my blog or even completely change the site design at will.  You will also get unlimited emails with your domain name (e.g.,

The steps in setting up a Blog using iPage:

  1. Click on this link:
  2. Choose a domain name (e.g., This is a process where you keep trying out potential names until you find one that is available.
  3. Install Word Press
  4. Build your Website using templates and “widgets”—no coding knowledge required
  5. Start blawgging.  Remember that lawyer blogs are considered lawyer advertising by most states, so be sure you review the rules.  I will be doing a blog entry on lawyer blog ethical issues in the near future.

If you have questions about the process, then comment below and I, or one of the readers will attempt to answer them, or direct you to a resource.

Send me a link to your blawg when you set it up and I will mention it on my site so all can see.

Bill Latham a/k/a The Hytechlawyer

Why Some Lawyers Blog– the need for audience affirmation

I am often asked why I spend so much time blogging- given that it seems to have done very little to advance my law practice other than to make it widely known that I am a consumer tech geek.  I think it goes back to my childhood. My Dad was in the radio and TV news business for 15 years before he became a Professor of Journalism at the University of South Carolina. In fact, he began working “on air” in commercial radio as a teenager.  He later anchored two nationally syndicated news shows in the 1970’s, before entering academia. The point is– broadcasting is in my blood– ok, at least in my Dad’s blood.

Attempting to follow in my father’s footsteps, about the time I was 12 or 13, I set up an intercom system between mine  and my younger sisters’ room– much to their dismay  I then began broadcasting to them over my imaginary radio station “WBGB” (“Where better gets better”) during most of their summer waking hours.  I played an eclectic mix of rock, jazz, country and classical records (yes– vinyl), basically the free promotional stuff that my Dad brought home from the radio station, interspersed with news and weather reports.  My Dad thought it cute, and in an act of overt encouragement had a clock made up for me emblazoned with the WBGB call sign.   Nevertheless, my “cable radio” broadcasting obsession drove my sisters nuts– although I was willfully blind to this fact.

My illusion of a receptive audience was destroyed when one day I happened to be passing by my sisters’ room and found that my radio station speaker had been covered with a large  stack of pillows and blankets to muffle the sound– it appeared to have been that way for quite some time– judging from the cobwebs. There was no more denying the audience hated my programming. Rejection is tough pill, but a good teacher.  I vowed in the future to try harder to appeal to my audience.

As time went by, I went to college, served in the Marine Corps (as a communications officer no less), and then went to Law School. Being a military officer and a litigation lawyer are protected environments for aspiring broadcasters because much of your audience is compelled (or feel compelled by your hourly rate) to listen to you– even if you bore them to tears.

With all that in mind, when I began blogging just over a year ago, my goal was to focus on technology issues of real interest to lawyers– an area of interest of mine for some time.  It seems that I have succeeded on a modest scale, as on average over 200 “unique” persons visit my website on a daily basis (See below). That may seem pathetic, but think about it, that is over 6000 “unique” visitors per month (pity the poor non-unique visitors). The dilemma is that my blog has little to do with directly marketing my practice area, (which at the risk of incurring a big yawn, I will share with you is class action defense and complex business litigation– actually fun stuff).  I suspect my partners think I’m crazy and would appreciate the conversion of blogging hours to billable hours, but they are kind enough to humor me– although they do tend to crack a smile when they mention my blogging obsession.  The truth is– I have a passion for adopting technology to make the practice of law more efficient and yes– more fun.  I also like to share my discoveries and love the occasional “ah ha” reactions of my colleagues when they discover how a particular technology can enhance their law practice.

OK, I also admit that another thing I like about blogging is the ability to broadcast to the world and see if I can attract an audience.  Admittedly, blogging is somewhat of a sport for me– it’s like fishing– without all the nature, messy bait and exposure to fresh air. It’s like running your own international newspaper– without an editor, advertising revenue, and most obviously, a proofreader.  My philosophy is to only blog on topics that I would read myself. If you do that, somebody will read your stuff.  What interests people can be a big surprise.  For example, my entry that has gotten the most hits over the past year was a piece on a $15 rubber iPad compatible key board being sold at Bed Bath and Beyond.   See   (I should get a big run up in visitors just by mentioning the rubber keyboard again :) ).

In a future entry (or two), I will lay out how to set up a lawyer blog– why?– because you can never have too many lawyer blogs (the estimate is that there are over 10,000 already). You too can join the party.

Does any other blogger care to reply share why they do it? Can any blog reader explain why they wasted the time to read this blog? Does anybody have anything profound to say about technology and the practice of law– or anything else? (I love replies!– they are a bigger catch than unique visitors).

I have an idea– I will donate $1 dollar to charity for each “unique” reply posted to this blog by midnight EST January 30, 2012– up to $500.  Follow-up replies (up to 5) will get credit as unique replies. In your reply, share your thoughts and vote for the charity you want to get the money. The charity with the most votes gets the pot. Obviously, I am quite desperate for attention and am willing to pay for it.

Until Next time–

This is Bill Latham, a/ka The Hytech Lawyer, signing off.


iPad Tips and Tricks Useful to Lawyers

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of teaching my fourth CLE class on using the iPad for legal work. At the end of each class, I share a few tips and tricks with the group. I find that many experienced users are unaware of these helpful hints. This is the first of a series detailing some of these “tips and tricks” that might be useful to lawyers.   We will start off basic and will get more advanced as the series progresses.

First, make sure you have the latest version of IOS. To do this, go to the “Settings” icon and select. Next, push the “General” icon .  Then select “About”.  Then look for the “Version” under “About.”  As of the date of this entry, the version should be 5.0.1.  Version 5.0 and 5.0.1 were major upgrades and you’re missing out on significant iPad functionality if you are not up to date.  In fact, once these upgrades are installed, future upgrades are wireless.  I have been amazed at how many lawyers I encounter are still running iPad software versions 3 or more upgrades old.

Second–have you updated all your apps? If your App Store indictor has a number on it then the answer is no.  Select the App Store icon and then select update all.  You will be asked for your Apple password, however, application upgrades are free. This is the beauty of the App Store.  You can always have the latest version of the application. It is also important to install these upgrades because this is how bugs are fixed by the developers.

Screenshots – – did you know that you can take a screenshot of whatever is on your screen?  Briefly push the home button and power button at the same time and a picture will be taken of your current screen. You can find the picture in your camera roll with your other photos.  You can then export the picture by email, insert it in other documents, Etc.  That is how I was able to insert the photo of my blog below.

Shortcuts – – do you find yourself typing out lengthy e-mail addresses, conference call instructions, addresses, or other repetitive information?  Did you know that one of the improvements of IOS 5.0 is a shortcut feature that allows you to type a few letters for a long phrase?  To activate, select the “Settings” icon.  Go to the right side toward the bottom and select “Keyboard.” At the bottom you will see “add a new shortcut.”  Select it, and then add the shortcut, (e.g., “em”  for your “longwindedemail”). Now, when ever you type “em” the long email address will pop up as choice that you can select by simply pressing the space key.

Resetting Malfunctioning Applications—No need to reset your whole iPad when an App hangs up or malfunctions.  Simple double click the home button.  Locate the offending App among the icons presented at the bottom. Push and hold the icon of the App you want to close, until the icon starts jiggling- then push the – to the left of the icon.  This closes (but does not delete) the App.

Sending multiple pictures in an e-mail:  It is simple to send multiple pictures in an e-mail from your camera roll. First, press the “Photos” icon.  If you have your photographs in albums, select the album containing the pictures you want to send.  Select the “Send” icon in the top right corner—it will turn blue.  Then tap each photo you want to send.  A check mark will appear on each selected photo. Tap share and you will be presented a menu to Email, print or message.

Do you want your iPad to read to you on occasion (for example while driving)?  Select “Settings”.  In the left hand column select “General” and then in the right hand column toward the bottom select “Accessibility.”  Then select “Speak Selection” and turn it on.  You can select the pace of speech.  Now, when you select any text (for example word documents, emails or books) you can have it read to you by tapping “Speak.”   Note, that for those that are visually impaired, the iPad can be set to read everything displayed  (Settings–>General–> Accessibility –>VoiceOver).  Be sure to read the instructions on the screen because selecting this VoiceOver option changes the iPad commands (of course you can reset them).

That’s all for now–

If you would like to share your favorite iPad Tricks and Tips, we would welcome your reply.

Use Your iPad as PC or Mac Second (Dual) Monitor

In my office, I have a dual monitor set-up that I find to be very useful.  When on the road, I carry my laptop PC and an iPad2.  Air Display ($9.99 The App Store) allows me to use my iPad as a dual monitor over a common wifi network or via an ad hoc network.

Simply install the iPad app and the companion PC/Mac software and you are ready to go.  The App allows touch screen control on the Pad when paired in dual display mode.  I have found the App to work well and recommend it for those who need a mobile dual monitor solution.