TrialPad, Exhibit A, and RLTC Evidence– A Comparison of Lawyer Trial Presentation Applications for iPad

Currently, there are three trial presentation iPad applications available at the App Store:  TrialPad ($89.00), Exhibit A ($9.99) and RLTC Evidence ($4.99).  I have tested each of them, and offer the following general observations:

(1)  All of these applications offer rather rudimentary trial presentation capabilities—far less capable than expensive and robust trial presentation software such a Trial Director or Sanction.

(2)  Trialpad is the easiest to use of the three Apps reviewed and provides sufficient trial presentation functionality that I would actually consider using it at trial.

(3)  Exhibit A provides most of the functionality of TrialPad at 10% of the cost.  However, its highlight feature obscures more than it emphasizes and the App does not retain annotations in call outs. These are big shortcomings that need to be corrected.

(4)  RLTC Evidence is sorely lacking and not in the same league as TrialPad or Exhibit A.  This application has not been updated by the developer since January of 2011. Not recommended.

TrialPad

TrialPad is pricey, although the cost is de minimis as compared to the preparation cost for even one good quality trial exhibit.  What you get for your money is a basic, but highly usable trial presentation tool.

Documents may be imported into TrialPad via Dropbox, Email, and iTunes Sync.  iPad compatible videos can be loaded into the iPad’s camera roll or photo library and then can be transferred to Trialpad.

To use the App, the first step is to set up an individual case file.  You then load documents or videos into that file.

To use the App in a presentation, one simply touches on the case file icon which opens showing the documents that are available for display.

From there you may select the document.  Once selected, you can highlight, markup, blow-up, create callouts or redact documents on the fly.

There is an “output” button that permits you to turn the display on or off. All of these features work well.  The video clip display feature also works well. (however, I could not get the video clip editing feature to work).  TrialPad also has a “laser” pointer and whiteboard feature.  Only one pen color was available for the whiteboard– multiple colors would be a good additional feature.  Also, the whiteboard pen stops functioning seconds after you lift your finger/stylus from the screen.  The pen function needs to continue until turned off.

One of the neat features of TrialPad is its “hot docs” feature which allows the designation of documents as “hot.” You can call up your list of hot documents by the push of a button.  Highlight and pen annotations are preserved for documents saved “hot docs” but call outs are not.  The preservation of call outs for hot docs should also be on the Trialpad improvement plan.

In summary, TrialPad generally does what it claims to do—provide an easy to use versatile presentation tool with very basic capabilities.  RECOMMENDED

Exhibit A

Exhibit A has much of the basic functionality as Trialpad.  Like Trialpad, you set up a case file.

Documents can be imported into Exhibit A via Dropbox, Email, FTP, or iTunes sync.  You then move the imported documents to the appropriate case file.

You can highlight, markup, blow-up, create callouts or redact documents on the fly.  You can also play iPad compatible videos.    Video file capability is also supported.

While not quite as intuitively designed as TrialPad, I found Exhibit A to be generally very easy to use.

Now the issues– Exhibit A’s highlight feature tends to color over the text instead of making it pop out. In other words, highlighting the text made it more difficult to read.

Also, annotations and highlighting on a document do not show up in callouts.  In my opinion, these are major shortcomings that need to be addressed.  On the plus side, Exhibit A has a superior whiteboard function as compared with TrialPad, with five pen colors available.  RECOMMENDED WITH RESERVATIONS

RLTC Evidence 

RLTC Evidence has only one method to import documents, by iTunes sync.  Multiple case files are not supported, i.e., you cannot set up separate case folders.

Like Exhibit A, the Evidence highlight feature does more to obscure text than to make it pop out for the jury.  There is no callout feature, although you can do a basic pinch zoom.   The underlining feature is not free hand and limited to very rigid lines.  The app has no free hand annotation capability or whiteboard.  It also has no “laser pointer” function.  There have not been any updates to the application since January of 2011. In short, I would not waste your money on this application.  NOT RECOMMENDED

Conclusion

With the minor improvements noted above Exhibit A could be a rough equivalent to the higher priced TrialPad.   However, in my opinion right now, TrialPad is the best available iPad trial presentation application and worth the extra $70.

Dropbox’s Revised Terms of Service: Are They Now Sufficient to Meet Lawyer Ethical Obligations?

In a number of previous posts,  I have written critically about Dropbox security issues and opined that the Dropbox Terms of Service (“TOS”) did not meet the minimum professional ethics requirements for the reasonable protection of confidential client communications.   Now that the Dropbox has revised its TOS , a fresh look is warranted, especially given the popularity of this service with iPad users.

ABA Ethics Opinion 95-398 (10/95) noted 16 years ago that “in this era of rapidly developing technology.  .  . lawyers now use outside agencies for numerous functions such as accounting, data processing and storage, printing, photocopying, computer servicing, and paper disposal.”  The outside service providers would be considered to be non-lawyer assistants under Model Rule 5.3 which states that lawyers have an obligation to ensure that the conduct of the non lawyer employees they employ, retain or become associated with is compatible with the professional obligations of the lawyer:

Under Rule 5.3, a lawyer retaining such an outside service provider is required to make reasonable efforts to ensure that the service provider will not make unauthorized disclosures of client information. Thus, when a lawyer considers entering into a relationship with such a service provider he must ensure that the service provider has in place, or will establish, reasonable procedures to protect the confidentiality of information to which it gains access, and moreover, that it fully understands its obligations in this regard.”

Id. (emphasis added).

Dropbox TOS Changes

The prior version of the Dropbox TOS also had the following provisions that were of concern:

 PRIOR VERSION

“Your Responsibilities

You acknowledge and agree that you should not rely on the Site, Content, Files and Services for any reason. You further acknowledge and agree that you are solely responsible for maintaining and protecting all data and information that is stored, retrieved or otherwise processed by the Site, Content, Files or Services. Without limiting the foregoing, you will be responsible for all costs and expenses that you or others may incur with respect to backing up, and restoring and/or recreating any data and information that is lost or corrupted as a result of your use of the Site, Content, Files and/or Services.”

CURRENT REVISED VERSION

“YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES

. . . You, and not Dropbox, are responsible for maintaining and protecting all of your stuff. Dropbox will not be liable for any loss or corruption of your stuff, or for any costs or expenses associated with backing up or restoring any of your stuff. .  .

Account Security

You are responsible for safeguarding the password that you use to access the Site, Content, Files and Services. You agree not to disclose your password to any third party. You agree to take sole responsibility for any activities or actions under your password, whether or not you have authorized such activities or actions. You will immediately notify Dropbox of any unauthorized use of your password. You acknowledge that if you wish to protect your transmission of data and/or files to Dropbox, it is your responsibility to use a secure encrypted connection to communicate with and/or utilize the Site, Files and Services.”

Comment:  Better!  However, note that Dropbox acknowledges that to protect the data being transmitted you must have a secure encrypted connection.  Compare this with my previously discussed favorite SpiderOak in which the data you transmit is pre-encrypted.

PRIOR

Use of the Site at Your Own Risk

Your access to and use of the Site, Content, Files and Services and is at your own risk. Dropbox will have no responsibility for any harm to your computer system, loss or corruption of data, or other harm that results from your access to or use of the Site, Content, Files or Services. ”

Limitation of Liability

IN NO EVENT WILL DROPBOX BE LIABLE TO YOU OR TO ANY THIRD PARTY FOR DAMAGES OF ANY KIND, INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, DIRECT, SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL, PUNITIVE OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES (INCLUDING LOSS OF USE, DATA, BUSINESS OR PROFITS) ARISING OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THIS AGREEMENT, OR FROM YOUR ACCESS TO OR USE OF, OR INABILITY TO ACCESS OR USE, THE SITE, CONTENT, FILES AND/OR SERVICES, OR FOR ANY ERROR OR DEFECT IN THE SITE, CONTENT, FILES OR SERVICES, WHETHER SUCH LIABILITY ARISES FROM ANY CLAIM BASED UPON CONTRACT, WARRANTY, TORT (INCLUDING NEGLIGENCE), STRICT LIABILITY OR OTHERWISE, OR ANY OTHER LEGAL THEORY, WHETHER OR NOT DROPBOX HAS BEEN INFORMED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGE, EVEN IF A REMEDY SET FORTH HEREIN IS FOUND TO HAVE FAILED OF ITS ESSENTIAL PURPOSE. YOU SPECIFICALLY ACKNOWLEDGE THAT DROPBOX IS NOT LIABLE FOR THE DEFAMATORY, OFFENSIVE OR ILLEGAL CONDUCT OF OTHER USERS OR THIRD PARTIES AND THAT THE RISK OF INJURY FROM THE FOREGOING RESTS ENTIRELY WITH YOU. FURTHER, DROPBOX WILL HAVE NO LIABILITY TO YOU OR TO ANY THIRD PARTY FOR ANY THIRD PARTY CONTENT UPLOADED ONTO OR DOWNLOADED FROM THE SITE OR THROUGH THE SERVICES AND/OR THE FILES, OR IF YOUR DATA IS LOST, CORRUPTED OR EXPOSED TO UNINTENDED THIRD PARTIES.”

NEW

Dropbox is Available “AS-IS”

Though we want to provide a great service, there are certain things about the service we can’t promise. For example, THE SERVICES AND SOFTWARE ARE PROVIDED “AS IS”, AT YOUR OWN RISK, WITHOUT EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF ANY KIND. WE ALSO DISCLAIM ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE OR NON-INFRINGEMENT. (We are not shouting- it’s just that these disclaimers are really important, so we want to highlight them). Dropbox will have no responsibility for any harm to your computer system, loss or corruption of data, or other harm that results from your access to or use of the Services or Software. Some states do not allow the types of disclaimers in this paragraph, so they may not apply to you.

Limitation of Liability

TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW, IN NO EVENT WILL DROPBOX, ITS AFFILIATES, OFFICERS, EMPLOYEES, AGENTS, SUPPLIERS OR LICENSORS BE LIABLE FOR (A) ANY INDIRECT, SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL, PUNITIVE, EXEMPLARY OR CONSEQUENTIAL (INCLUDING LOSS OF USE, DATA, BUSINESS, OR PROFITS) DAMAGES, REGARDLESS OF LEGAL THEORY, WHETHER OR NOT DROPBOX HAS BEEN WARNED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES, AND EVEN IF A REMEDY FAILS OF ITS ESSENTIAL PURPOSE; (B) AGGREGATE LIABILITY FOR ALL CLAIMS RELATING TO THE SERVICES MORE THAN THE GREATER OF $20 OR THE AMOUNTS PAID BY YOU TO DROPBOX FOR THE PAST THREE MONTHS OF THE SERVICES IN QUESTION. Some states do not allow the types of limitations in this paragraph, so they may not apply to you.

Comment:  Much shorter and removes the specific “unintended disclosure to third parties” exception.  However, still states that use of the service is at YOUR OWN RISK and  attempts to severely limit liability.  These provisions are fairly common and may or may not be effective depending upon your jurisdiction.

 

 

NEW  POLICY PROVISIONS

“Your Stuff & Your Privacy

By using our Services you provide us with information, files, and folders that you submit to Dropbox (together, “your stuff”). You retain full ownership to your stuff. We don’t claim any ownership to any of it. These Terms do not grant us any rights to your stuff or intellectual property except for the limited rights that are needed to run the Services, as explained below.

We may need your permission to do things you ask us to do with your stuff, for example, hosting your files, or sharing them at your direction. This includes product features visible to you, for example, image thumbnails or document previews. It also includes design choices we make to technically administer our Services, for example, how we redundantly backup data to keep it safe. You give us the permissions we need to do those things solely to provide the Services. This permission also extends to trusted third parties we work with to provide the Services, for example Amazon, which provides our storage space (again, only to provide the Services).

To be clear, aside from the rare exceptions we identify in our Privacy Policy, no matter how the Services change, we won’t share your content with others, including law enforcement, for any purpose unless you direct us to. How we collect and use your information generally is also explained in our Privacy Policy. . .

 

Account Security

You are responsible for safeguarding the password that you use to access the Services and you agree not to disclose your password to any third party. You are responsible for any activity using your account, whether or not you authorized that activity. You should immediately notify Dropbox of any unauthorized use of your account. You acknowledge that if you wish to protect your transmission of data or files to Dropbox, it is your responsibility to use a secure encrypted connection to communicate with the Services. . .”

Comment:  Use of services still at you own risk but nice affirmative statement about protecting customers data.  Another reminder that unencrypted data is not secure in transmission.

Dropbox Privacy Policy

“3. Information Sharing and Disclosure

. . . Compliance with Laws and Law Enforcement Requests; Protection of Dropbox’s Rights.   We may disclose to parties outside Dropbox files stored in your Dropbox and information about you that we collect when we have a good faith belief that disclosure is reasonably necessary to (a) comply with a law, regulation or compulsory legal request; (b) protect the safety of any person from death or serious bodily injury; (c) prevent fraud or abuse of Dropbox or its users; or (d) to protect Dropbox’s property rights. If we provide your Dropbox files to a law enforcement agency as set forth above, we will remove Dropbox’s encryption from the files before providing them to law enforcement. However, Dropbox will not be able to decrypt any files that you encrypted prior to storing them on Dropbox. . . . ”

Comment:  This section remains unchanged from the previous version.  Once again you must encrypt your data yourself to protect it from disclosure from law enforcement (not a particular concern of mine).  Compare SpiderOak where the encryption cannot be removed by the service provider because they do not have a key.

CONCLUSION

Whether Dropbox now meets the high ethical standards set forth by the ABA for third party vendors, I will leave for you to decide.  Clearly, the new statement that “[t]o be clear, aside from the rare exceptions we identify in our Privacy Policy, no matter how the Services change, we won’t share your content with others, including law enforcement, for any purpose unless you direct us to. . . .makes this much closer call.   Your thoughts and comments on this issue would be much appreciated.

Bill—a/k/a The Hytechlawyer

THE HYTECH LAWYER’S TOP 20 IPAD APPLICATIONS FOR SUMMER 2011

The time has come for another favorite iPad application update.  Some are in and some are out.  These are my current favorites:

Goodreader  ($4.99 App Store)

The number one selling non-Apple app for iPad in 2010.  This App allows you read and in most cases mark-up PDF and many other varieties of documents.  Also has a well designed document management system.  Aggressive development team constantly refines and updates programs.  A must have for the serious iPad lawyer.

SpiderOak  (Free upto 2 GB App Store)

SpiderOak does everything that Dropbox does and more  (allows cloud storage and the sharing of files between computers, smart phones, iPads, etc.), but is much more secure.  Your files are encrypted and SpiderOak does not have a key. SO DON’T FORGET YOUR PASSWORD.  To start out, you install the desktop app and select folders you want to backup. Once backed up, you can choose to sync them to other computers/devices or create “Share Rooms” to share files with other users.   I use SpiderOak in my practice for cloud storage (after 2 GB charges based on storage size), file transfers and collaboration with other. In my opinion a “must have” App.

Keynote  ($ 9.99.  The App Store)

Apple’s answer to PowerPoint for the iPad.  You can create presentations on the iPad, but I have found it more practical to prepare presentations in PowerPoint and then email them to my iPad.  Keynote will convert PowerPoint presentations to Keynote.  As you might expect from Apple, Keynote has some wonderful effects for transitions, etc.

Instapaper  ($4.99 The App Store)

Allows you to save for later reading those long articles and blog posts that you run across during the day, but don’t have the time to read. Saves most web pages as text only, stripping away the full-sized layout to optimize for iPad screens.  Everything you download is available offline so you can read when it is convenient.

Feeddler RSS Reader Pro ($4.99 The App Store)

Feeddler is Google Reader client that stays perfect sync with Google and presents RSS stories in a clean and organized interface.  Great for following your favorite blogs and web sites.

UPAD (4.99 App Store)

UPAD allows you to use you iPad as a notepad for handwritten notes.  I use it everyday (with stylus) in place of my yellow legal pad (although UPAD does have yellow page templates).  I have tested almost every popular handwriting Application  (Penultimate (old #1 choice), Note Taker HD, Noteability, PaperDesk, PhatPad 7Notes HD Premium) and have found UPAD to be the easiest to use with the best file storage functionality.

AudioMemos 2 ($ .99 The App Store)

Audio Memos is a professionally made audio recorder that provides great sound quality. It has an intuitive interface, which is easy to use and full of powerful features.  You can email recordings.  Caution—keep in mind the ethical issues related to recording others without their knowledge.

Dragon  (Free. The App Store)

Wonderful free Application (I use the paid version on my PC at work).  Dragon is the leader in voice type dictation, i.e., it types what you say to it with amazing accuracy.  You can then cut and paste or email the text.  Caveat—your dictation is processed in the cloud—I would be hesitant to use it for confidential information.

Fastcase HD  (Free.  The App Store)

Fastcase HD is a free legal research application, putting the American law library in the palm of your hand. Fastcase contains cases and statutes from all 50 states and from the federal government. You can search by citation, keyword (in Boolean or natural language), or browse statute collections.  You cannot print or copy in this free version, but great for on the fly research.

Pages ($9.99 App Store)

Apple’s proprietary word processing program.  Most robust word processing program I am aware of on the iPad.  Converts Word documents for editing.  Documents created in Pages can be converted to Word and shared by various means.

Dropbox (Free up to 2 GB  APP Store)—NON-CONFIDENTIAL FILE USE ONLY

In some respects, Dropbox is a wonderful App.   It allows cloud storage and the sharing of files between computers, smart phones, iPads, you name it.  With this App you can make a file available to all your devices by moving to the Dropbox on any of your other computers/devices.  Incredibly easy to use.   The problem—there are serious questions about the security of files stored in Dropbox and access to them.  Further, the terms of service are such that Dropbox can pretty much do what it wants to with your files.  Thus, in my opinion Dropbox is not suitable for storing confidential and/or privileged materials.  However, I do think that using Dropbox to simply transfer files, and then deleting the files from Dropbox post transfer presents minimal risk.  I use it frequently for transferring nonconfidential files because may applications are designed with Dropbox capability.

LawStack  (Free. The App Store)

LawStack is a portable rules library.  It comes preloaded with the following:

  • US Constitution
  • Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
  • Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure
  • Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure
  • Federal Rules of Evidence
  • Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure

You can buy additional references for a fee, e.g., USC Code.

DocScanner 5.0  ($4.99.  The App. Store)

With DocScanner, you can turn any document into a PDF by simply snapping a photo. The App can also accurately convert typed documents to text. I have found this “portable copier/scanner” to be very useful.

Skype for iPad (Free. The App Store)

The new iPad App for use with the popular video calling service Skype.  Call, video call, or instant message anyone on Skype for free. Plus, you can purchase Skype Credit enabling you to call landlines and mobiles at really low rates.

Find My Iphone (Free.  The App Store)

When activated will allow you to track and locate your iPhones and iPads.  You can remotely display a locator sound and message.  Most importantly you can remotely wipe the data from your device.  This is App. is essential for security purposes.

Teleprompt+ ($14.99.  The App Store)

Teleprompt+ is a simple yet powerful professional teleprompter for the iPad.  Perfect for use in speeches and presentations where you have a fixed script.  You control the speed of the scrolling.  I love this App but have only had occasion to use it three times in the year I have owned it.

Legal News Reader  ($ .99  The App Store)

Legal News Reader grabs the top stories from the best legal news sites and delivers them to your iPhone.

Nolo Plain English Law dictionary (Free. The App Store)

Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary defines basic legal terms and Latin phrases.  Excellent resource.

WestlawNext  (Free, but need a WestlawNext account. The App Store)

Access WestlawNext features including, WestSearch™, KeyCite™, Folders, History, document notes and highlighting, browse database content and more — all redesigned for the iPad multi-touch screen.

ABA JOURNAL  (Free.  The App. Store)

Legal news and issues from the American Bar Association.

iPad Lawyer Tools: New Handwriting to Text Application for iPad Shows Promise

I have been waiting for an iPad handwriting to type conversion application that could reliably convert my chicken scratch into typed text suitable for sharing.  My patience has been rewarded– sort of.

7Notes Premium HD ($ 8.99 App Store) does a pretty good job of converting handwriting to type. In fact, I drafted this entire blog entry in handwriting using 7Notes.  I did have to do some keyboard clean-up, but that is to be expected given the inconsistencies of handwriting styles.  I print, so I cannot comment on the App’s accuracy with cursive, but for print it does a nice Job.

 

As you write, the small bar suggests would it thinks you are writing.  If the app has it right, then you simply tap on the text and it is entered into the main document area. There are intuitive correction controls for erasing mistakes.  You also have the option of writing without text conversion or alternatively typing.

Be aware that 7Notes Premium takes a while to master.  It appears to have some sort of learning capability that allows it to improve performance as you use it. This application shows a great deal of promise.  If the developers keep working at it they will have a world-class application. For now, I would give it three stars out of five, but it is by far the best handwriting to type conversion program I have seen for the iPad.

 

Effective Use of Skype in ADR Presentations– The Virtual Expert

This week I had another opportunity to use Skype in a quasi judicial forum.   One of my partners and I represented a major corporation in an appearance before the National Advertising Division (“NAD”) of the Better Business Bureau.   The NAD is a voluntary dispute adjudication forum where national advertisers can voluntarily take disputes alleging unfair or deceptive advertising by competitors.  The process allows a rapid adjudication of claims without much of the expense, delay and monetary exposure that is typically incurred in a traditional federal court Lanham Act lawsuit.

The way the process works is that the advertising challenger pays a fee and files a detailed claim with the NAD. If the NAD accepts the claim for adjudication, then the advertiser is provided an opportunity to participate in the informal NAD process.   If the advertiser agrees to do so, then they file a response to the complaint of the challenger. The challenger is then allowed a reply in a letter format.  Finally, the advertiser, who has the initial burden of persuasion, gets a final reply. The final step of the process is that the NAD case managers will meet individually with each of the parties separately to discuss their respective positions and to pose any questions they may have.  Two weeks later the NAD provides a detailed advisory opinion.

In our particular case, there was an important expert who could provide valuable evidence on the testing process for our clients superiority claim.  However, he is a professor at a major university and had to be in town the first day of class—which just so happened to fall on the same day that our NAD presentation was scheduled.  Fortunately, the professor could be available for several hours to participate in NAD meeting process, if we could arrange to have him appear electronically.

We contacted NAD and arranged to have a high-quality wired Internet access cable available in the meeting room. We then used Skype with a standard sized Dell PC laptop in full screen mode. The laptop was placed on the table in front of a chair at the conference table just as if the witness was sitting in the room. We used two high-quality Bose computer speakers to ensure that our witness was heard by the case managers. We also used a separate USB camera (MS Lifecam 3000 w/ built in microphone) which we directed at the iPad Keynote presentation on the separate monitor.  This setup made it possible for our expert to keep up with what was going on in the presentation.  Because of the way the laptop was positioned, it was almost like the expert was there in person. It was amazing how natural the discourse was between our expert and the other participants. The meeting lasted about two hours and the expert participated throughout.  Skype performed flawlessly.

This is the second time I have used Skype in a professional setting with great results.  The key to success is testing the hookup before the presentation to work out ay bugs.

Now Skype has introduced a paid version allowing for ten person video conference calls.  I will look for an opportunity to put this new functionality to use and will report back to you as to whether it is practical for professional use.

BASIC INFORMATION– WIFI RANGE EXTENDERS

While it may be an exaggeration to state that an iPad without WIFI is nothing more than a stylish paperweight, it is true that the utility of the device is drastically reduced without wireless access to the net.  The same is true for WIFI dependent laptops, other tablets and smart phones.  While I use a mobile hotspot (Virgin Mobile MIFI Card) or my Verizon iPhone Hot Spot for access on my WIFI only iPad, I have found that in many locations, the WIFI signals are inadequate to support video and sometimes even audio.  In other words, I often need a more robust WIFI signal that my mobile wifi hotspots can provide.

When I give legal technology presentations or am using wireless devices in court proceedings, my preference is to have hardwired internet connection (coupled with my own router) to ensure “snap and pop” in my wireless presentations.   When that is not possible, I test the WIFI signal at the venue before the event.  If the signal is weak, I often use a WIFI range extender to ensure that the signal is adequate for the presentation at hand.  These extender devices are inexpensive and easy to set up.  I use a NETGEAR extender (WN20000RPT) that currently retails for approximately $70.00.  It was easy to set up and has extended the range of my router by approximately 50%.

The extender is placed approximately ½ of the distance between the router and the receiving device.  Keep in mind that the extender will only “extend” the quality of signal that it receives. Thus, it is typically necessary to arrange with the clerk of court or venue manager (or domestic partner in the case of home use) to install the extender at the appropriate half-way point between the router and the area you expect to use the wireless device.  These devices are generally equipped with security features that make them as secure as your main router.

We hope this information has proven useful.  If you have a helpful technology hint to share with the legal world, please email your proposed post to Bill@hytechlawyer,com for consideration for posting.

Making Presentations to Groups of iPad Users

A colleague recently indicated that she wanted to make a marketing presentation to a group of bank executives who were all equipped with iPads supplied by their employer. The concept was to use a traditional PowerPoint presentation, but instead of having a large screen displaying the presentation, broadcasting the presentation to each individual executive’s iPad as they sat around a large conference room table. The question was how to do it.

My suggestion was to use the GoToMeeting (GTM) conference service.  GTM offers a free iPad application available at the Apple App Store.  The actual GTM service costs about $40.00 per month, but you can try it free for 30 days to see how well it works for you. The basic service plan allows for 16 users to access the program with both audio and video.  For audio, GTM provides for a call in number, as well as a VOIP capability.   For video, GTM allows the presenter to selectively broadcast whatever is being displayed on their computer screen  (PC or Mac– not iPad), e.g., a PowerPoint presentation.

I find that the GTM iPad App works well for basic PowerPoint and screen shots. However, the video clip and host webcam features that work well for PC attendees, do not display on the iPad.    I suppose that this may have to do with the iPad’s lack of flash capability.   It should also be noted that the GTM iPad app does not have all the functionality that is available to PC attendees of a GTM presentation.   For example, control of the presentation can be transferred from the host to a PC user to make a second presentation and then transferred back to the host, but this control transfer function is not yet available for the iPad.  Also, while an iPad user can view a GMT presentation, they cannot host one. Hopefully, GTM will continue to refine the iPad application to allow it to function more like a PC using the service.

I am a big fan of video-teleconferencing.  The cost savings available from using a service like GTM can be considerable, even if you can replace just one meeting per month that would involve travel for even one person. The monthly fee gives you unlimited meetings, which can be either scheduled in advance or set up on the spur of the moment.

In summary, for presentations to groups of 16 or fewer iPad users, GoToMeeting is a good method for sharing real time what is on your PC or Mac screen, in particular PowerPoint or Keynote presentations.

The Use of Skype for Presentation of Live Witness Hearing Testimony

As most tech savvy persons are aware, Skype provides an internet communications service allowing both video teleconferencing and telephone services via the Internet. http://www.skype.com/intl/en-us/welcomeback/  The video teleconference service is generally free.  You can also use the service for VOIP calls for a nominal charge.

I first learned of Skype a couple of years ago when my family and I were invited to a traditional Italian first communion reception.  I was amazed as the Grandmother in Italy was present at the reception via Skype on a laptop with a built-in camera.  Using a WIFI setup, our hosts walked Grandmother around the reception.  It was almost like she was there.  Since then, my own children have used Skype to keep in touch with their grandparents who live in another state.   I have also used Skype to allow one of my partners to make an impromptu “live” pitch for a practice specialty that came up as a need during a marketing meeting with a client.

Last week, I represented a client in an arbitration hearing in which a number of witnesses were outside the jurisdiction and unable to travel.  Early in the case, I had negotiated an agreement with opposing counsel and the arbitrator that witness testimony for the hearing could be presented by video teleconference. At the hearing, we used Skype to present two key witnesses who were located thousands of miles away from the venue. The equipment setup included a PC Laptop and a separate HD USB Camera (Microsoft Lifecam 3000), a high quality computer projector, and a desktop speakerphone (to ensure good sound communications).  We used a hardwired high speed internet connection.

The separate camera was used to allow the camera to be focused on the person doing the questioning without physically moving the computer.  The arbitrator, who had some eyesight issues, had the laptop computer screen placed directly in from of him. Everyone else viewed the projected image of the witness on a screen in the room.  If you try this setup make sure that you turn off the Skype sound from the computer to avoid feedback.  If you want to try and use the Skype audio as well, you will need a couple of amplified computer speakers, as the volume from the PC speakers alone is inadequate.  This does not ensure the witness can hear everything in the room, although the lifecam we used does have a built-in microphone and would probably work fine.  Because this setup was experimental, I elected to use a speakerphone for the sound, both to ensure that everyone could hear, and also as a back-up in the event that we had any technical issues with Skype.

In preparation for the hearing each internet witness loaded Skype on their computer.  This setup was tested from the hearing room. The parties agreed in advance upon the exhibits to be used with each witness and these were sent to the witness in advance of the hearing. A copy of the deposition of the one witness who had been previously deposed was also provided (to allow an impeachment reference).

A robust internet connection is definitely desirable.   Remember that you need a good internet connection on both ends for Skype to work satisfactorily.  The set-up worked almost flawlessly at the hearing, with the exception that there was a buzz on phone line for one witness.  This was rectified by the witness going off speakerphone and using the phone receiver.

Lesson learned– remember to turn off your online notifications.  During one of the witnesses’ testimony, a small notification appeared in the corner of the screen indicating my son was on line. In this case, it was hardly noticed.   Fortunately, my son did not attempt to Skype me during the hearing.

In this particular application, I used a laptop PC.  However, this same setup should work with a Skype equipped iPad2 with an LCD or HDPT adapter.  The main difference would be that, to my knowledge, there is no ability to use a remote camera with the iPad2.  Thus, you would need to move the iPad in front of each questioner– cumbersome, but probably workable.  My goal was to make the technology as invisible as possible, so I went with the laptop.

The Arbitrator, Court Reporter and opposing counsel all remarked that, while they had been skeptical, they were pleasantly surprised how well the setup worked.  Everyone agreed the video/phone combination was preferable to phone alone.

I would be glad to answer any questions you might have regarding the use of Skype in formal hearings.  I would also encourage the sharing of any law technology solutions you think might be of interest to our readers.

iPad for Lawyers is Most Useful as Media Consumption Device

Michael Payne has written an informative article that succinctly answers the question I am most frequently asked by those considering an iPad or other tablet device– “I have a laptop– how will an iPad improve my practice?”

http://www.law.com/jsp/nylj/nylawyer/PubArticleNYL.jsp?id=1202498747191&rss=nylawyer&slreturn=1&hbxlogin=1