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The Connected LawyerThe Connected Lawyer http://www.theconnectedlawyer.com Leveraging Technology to Practice Law More Effectively Mon, 13 Feb 2017 16:18:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 News I’m Not Quite Ready to Share http://www.theconnectedlawyer.com/archives/1089 http://www.theconnectedlawyer.com/archives/1089#comments Wed, 12 Feb 2014 02:43:11 +0000 Bryan Sims http://www.theconnectedlawyer.com/?p=1089 Related posts:
  1. The 5 Stages of Techno Grief
  2. Email Signatures Requiring Confidentiality
  3. Time to Register for 2008 ISBA Solo and Small Firm Conference
Today, I received received an invitation to do something that I really want to do. I am thrilled and honored to have received this invite. It is early stages right now, so I don’t want to say anything more. However, I promise to share more information later.

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Service by Email Comes to Illinois http://www.theconnectedlawyer.com/archives/1049 http://www.theconnectedlawyer.com/archives/1049#comments Wed, 19 Dec 2012 23:09:35 +0000 Bryan Sims http://www.theconnectedlawyer.com/?p=1049 Related posts:
  1. Email Signatures Requiring Confidentiality
  2. Email Importance
  3. WiFi in the Southern District of Illinois
Recently the Illinois Supreme Court adopted an amendment to Supreme Court Rule 11, which deals with service of documents to opposing parties. This amendment, which takes effect January 1, 2013, allows attorneys to serve documents by email and it requires attorneys to provide an email address for service on all appearances and pleadings.

I think this is a great change. Admittedly, I think the rule requires some refinement (e.g., what formats are appropriate, when is email service effective). However, on the whole, I think this is a great step forward.

One Laptop Per ChildNot unexpectedly, however, there has been a significant outcry from members of the bar who are raising objections to this. Some of the objections that I see include the typical claims that this discriminates against attorneys who are not technologically savvy and that it provides no exemption for attorneys who do not have an email address.

Excuse me, but that is the most ridiculous thing that I have heard. I was doubly struck by the ridiculousness of the statement when I recently read an article about the One Laptop Per Child Program. This program aims to increase education by providing educational software to children in third world countries.

I recently read an article in which OLPC distributed Motorola Xoom tablets in Ethiopian villages. Significantly, the tablets were “distributed” by leaving them in sealed boxes in the middle of the village. Further, the village was one in which the children were illiterate. In fact, neither the children nor almost all of the adults in the village had never before seen the written word.

Notably, the children were provided with absolutely no instruction at all. OLPC monitored these devices and what the learned was amazing:

We left the boxes in the village. Closed. Taped shut. No instruction, no human being. I thought, the kids will play with the boxes! Within four minutes, one kid not only opened the box, but found the on/off switch. He’d never seen an on/off switch. He powered it up. Within five days, they were using 47 apps per child per day. Within two weeks, they were singing ABC songs [in English] in the village. And within five months, they had hacked Android. Some idiot in our organization or in the Media Lab had disabled the camera! And they figured out it had a camera, and they hacked Android.

Think about it. Within 5 months, these children, who were not only illiterate, but also had never before seen the written word, were able to hack the security on the tablet to enable the camera.

I think if illiterate children in a third world country can manage to do that, then highly educated attorneys can figure out a way to obtain and manage an email address.

Although not related to OLPC project or email specifically, I find the following video on point.

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I Love Living in the Future http://www.theconnectedlawyer.com/archives/1018 http://www.theconnectedlawyer.com/archives/1018#comments Fri, 27 Apr 2012 14:47:09 +0000 Bryan Sims http://www.theconnectedlawyer.com/archives/1018 Related posts:
  1. Another Benefit of Being Paperless
  2. Are Lawyers Moving to Virtual Fax Services?
  3. ConXPoint: The Future is Here
Right now I am in California (getting ready to visit the Googleplex–feel free to be jealous). Yesterday, for the first time, I flew on a flight that had in-flight Wi-Fi. The cost was reasonable ($5) and the flight was longer than I liked, so I decided to try the Wi-Fi.

The Wi-Fi worked fine and I had no problems using it. I love the fact that I was able to keep up with my email on the flight, so that when I landed, I didn’t have to spend the first hour after arrival playing email catch up.

While working through my email, I was able to experience the benefits first hand of going paperless and using a virtual fax service rather than an actual fax machine.

While somewhere over the great plains, I received an email from a client that I had represented two years ago. She told me that she needed me to fax something to someone related to what I had assisted her with two years ago.

Fortunately, I ran a paperless office that integrates with the cloud. This means that, from the airplane, I was able to retrive the document from Spider Oak. If I had my laptop, I would have been able to retrive it directly from my hard drive. However, I am traveling only with my iPad, therefore, I had to retrive the document from the cloud.

Finding the document was easy. Once I had the document, I had to fax it to the recipient. Because I use a virtual fax service, send this email was no different from sending an email.

Despite the fact that I was 38,000 feet in the air, in about a total of 10 minutes time, I had received the email, retrieved the requested document from a case that had been closed for two years, and had faxed it to the person my client wanted to have it.

Without technology, obviously none of this would have been possible. Because of the technology, however, I was able to handle this task quickly and efficiently, regardless of my location.

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My Review of Chrometa http://www.theconnectedlawyer.com/archives/815 http://www.theconnectedlawyer.com/archives/815#comments Mon, 14 Jun 2010 16:07:42 +0000 Bryan Sims http://www.theconnectedlawyer.com/archives/815 Related posts:
  1. My Review of Pensoft Payroll 2010
  2. Back from ABA Techshow
  3. Featured in a TechnoFeature
Last week Technolawyer published my review of Chrometa. You can download a copy of my review from my Files page or download it directly here.

If you are not familiar with Chrometa, it is a utility that keeps track of active windows that you are working in and how much time you spend in each window. This is a great resource for those of us who bill by the hour. I loved this program and recommend it to anyone who has to keep track of their time. The conclusion of my article says:

If your practice involves hourly billing at all, you will benefit from Chrometa. In short, Chrometa works well, increases your revenue, and includes helpful and friendly support from its creators. I have no doubt that Chrometa will pay for itself in the first week that you own it, if not the first day.


Please note that I received a free copy of the program.

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Metra: The Way to Really Not Work http://www.theconnectedlawyer.com/archives/798 http://www.theconnectedlawyer.com/archives/798#comments Mon, 26 Apr 2010 15:47:47 +0000 Bryan Sims http://www.theconnectedlawyer.com/?p=798 Related posts:
  1. Favorites: Bug Me Not
  2. A Great CLE Idea
  3. A Great Way to Share Your Contact Info
In the Chicago metro area, our public rail transportation to and from the outer suburbs is provided by Metra. Overall the service provided by Metra is pretty good. Traffic in Chicago can get pretty congested during the construction season (approx. January through December). Metra provides a nice alternative to sitting in traffic. In general the trains run on time and are as comfortable as can be reasonably expected.

That does not mean, however, that Metra is perfect. Far from it, in fact. In many ways they are mired in the past. As an example, in September 2009, Metra took the forward thinking step of deciding to accept credit cards. It would be nice to say that Metra finally bowed to the public pressure and gave their customers what they wanted. However, it turns out that is not exactly the case. Instead, Metra now accepts credit cards because the Illinois General Assembly passed a law requiring Metra to accept credit cards.

The Chicago Tribune reports today that Metra has decided to continue down its self-selected road of remaining mired in the past. According to the Tribune, Metra won’t be providing wi-fi service anytime in the foreseeable future:

But WiFi doesn’t fly on Metra. The commuter rail agency, which still punches tickets by hand and only recently started taking credit cards, says providing wireless Internet is too expensive and technologically challenging.

A Metra spokesperson stated:

“We barely have enough money to operate let alone add such a luxury,” Metra spokeswoman Judy Pardonnet said.

That doesn’t seem to have stopped many other rail providers, who I presume are existing in the same tight economy that Metra is is. The Tribune reports that wi-fi is or soon be available on trains in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, New York City, Northern California, Boston, and Amtrak’s northeast commuter lines.

Metra seems to be quite short sighted by focusing on the costs here. Surely there is some provider who will be willing to front the cost for this. The Tribune reports:

New York’s MTA, with an $800 million budget shortfall, doesn’t plan to pay anything for WiFi installation, spokesman Aaron Donovan said.

MTA asked potential providers to pay for the equipment and service themselves. In return, MTA plans to offer incentives, such as advertising considerations. MTA’s Internet might not be free because companies may be allowed to charge customers, Donovan said.

It seems to me that the real problem here is not the cost, but rather Metra’s commitment to not providing convenient services for its riders.

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Creating and Using and Index in Adobe Acrobat http://www.theconnectedlawyer.com/archives/569 http://www.theconnectedlawyer.com/archives/569#comments Wed, 08 Jul 2009 15:57:14 +0000 Bryan Sims http://www.theconnectedlawyer.com/?p=569 Related posts:
  1. Using Adobe Acrobat in Your Legal Research
  2. Nitro PDF, A Viable Alternative to Adobe Acrobat?
  3. Adobe Acrobat Seminars
Recently I posted about an article I had published in Chicago Lawyer Magazine about using Adobe Acrobat as part of my legal research workflow. I have received a couple of questions relating to the article relating to which version of Acrobat you need and how to create an index so that the research is searchable.

With respect to the question of what version of Acrobat is needed, that depends largely on what you want to do with the research that you have. If what you are concerned with is reading your research and annotating it any of the paid versions of Adobe Acrobat will work fine. Please note that the free Adobe Reader will not work for this. You must have one of the paid versions. Alternatively, a program such as NitroPDF would work just fine for this as well. In fact, I find Nitro’s commenting and mark-up tools easy to use than Acrobat’s.

However, if you wish to make your research fully searchable by creating an index that spans multiple files or multiple folders, you will need either Acrobat Pro or Pro Extended. These allow you to create a very powerful index. Doing so is actually quite simple. Further, Rick Borstein has already done all of the work of demonstrating how to do this.

In a blog post from a couple of years ago, Rick explains how to create an index in Adobe Acrobat. Although the instructions provided are for Acrobat 8, they also appear to be the same to create an index in Acrobat 9.

Additionally, for those who learn best by watching, Rick has some how-to videos to talk about search options in Acrobat. In particular, he has one that talks about the differences between Find and Search and one that demonstrates how to build a full text index.

As you can see from Rick’s post and demo, creating an index is an easy thing to do. Further, it can certainly aid you when you want to search through your PDFs, whether they relate to legal research or not.

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Files [Page] http://www.theconnectedlawyer.com/files http://www.theconnectedlawyer.com/files#comments Fri, 14 Dec 2007 17:38:37 +0000 Bryan Sims http://www.theconnectedlawyer.com/files Below are some files that I am making available to the public. Please note that the Excel templates come from an Excel presentation that I did. They are simply samples of what can be done and should not be relied upon absent verification that the templates do what you want them to do.

PDF of Powerpoint Presentation on Metadata to the Chicago Bar Association, December 15, 2006.

My Caption Template.

Discovery Schedule Template from CBA Excel Presentation on February 22, 2008.

Case Evaluation Template from CBA Excel Presentation on February 22, 2008.

Postjudgment Calculations Template from CBA Excel Presentation on February 22, 2008.

Time Sheet Template from CBA Excel Presentation on February 22, 2008.

Expense Report Template from CBA Excel Presentation on February 22, 2008.

Presentation with Todd Flaming and Aaron Brooks at the 2011 ISBA Solo and Small Firm Conference: 60 Tips in 60 Minutes.

Presentation with Nerino Petro and Aaron Brooks at the Legal Tech for Non-Techies Presentation in March 2012: 60 Tips in 60 Minutes.

Presentation with Nerino Petro at the ISBA Solo and Small Firm Conference in September 2012: Gizmos, Gadgets & Widgets.

Integrating an iPad Into Your Practice, presentation for DuPage County Bar Association.

Gizmos & Gadgets (plus a few tips), presentation at the ISBA Solo/Small Firm Conference 2013, with Nerino Petro.


My TechnoFeature article for TechnoLawyer on My Favorite Treo Programs.

My TechnoFeature review for TechnoLawyer on the Canon ScanFront 220P.

My TechnoFeature review for TechnoLawyer on Adobe Acrobat 9.

My TechnoFeature review for TechnoLawyer on Chrometa.

My TechnoFeature review for TechnoLawyer on Pensoft Payroll 2010.

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Bates Stamping Your Documents http://www.theconnectedlawyer.com/archives/78 http://www.theconnectedlawyer.com/archives/78#comments Wed, 23 May 2007 16:00:57 +0000 Bryan Sims http://www.theconnectedlawyer.com/archives/78 Related posts:
  1. Protecting Your Bates Numbers
  2. CaseMap Seminar in Los Angeles
  3. Practicing Law Efficiently Means Using the Right Tools
Anyone who is involved in litigation is familiar with the need to Bates stamp documentsBates Stamper that are produced in discovery. Ernest Svenson of PDF for Lawyers makes a compelling case for why all Bates stamping should be done electronically.

Svenson explains:

Let’s say you have 1,000 documents to bates-stamp. I seriously doubt that any paralegal could finish the task in less than 4 hours. It would probably take at least a day, maybe more. But to scan those documents would only take about an hour, maybe two hours if you had a really slow scanner. Once you’ve scanned the documents it takes about 30 seconds to bates-stamp them using Acrobat 8.0.

Using a computer to bates-stamp ensures that you don’t miss any pages. And you can tell Acrobat to shrink the borders of the page and apply the bates-stamp in the resulting white area. This guarantees that the bates-number on every page is visible. Also you can add text before or after the bates number, (e.g. as “2nd Production – No. 000345”). Finally, if you realize you made a mistake and included some pages that should not have been bates-stamped, you can remove the bates-stamping and start over.

He then concludes:

In short, there’s a smart way to bates-stamp documents, and a really stupid way. Why anyone would want to make someone bates-stamp documents by hand is beyond me. Frankly, I think it should be considered a form of cruel and unusual punishment. Apparently, though, it’s not all that unusual.

And that is really sad.

I could not agree with him more. Jump over to PDF for Lawyers to check out the rest of his post.

Once you Bates stamp documents electronically, you will wonder how or why you ever did it manually before. Plus it is super easy to stamp documents now that the latest version of Adobe Acrobat includes the Bates Stamping ability.

If you use CaseMap to organize your case, you can use a CaseMap plugin to stamp your documents and then automatically import the Bates stamp values into the documents portion of your CaseMap file. This makes your life doubly easy.

]]> http://www.theconnectedlawyer.com/archives/78/feed 5 About Me [Page] http://www.theconnectedlawyer.com/about http://www.theconnectedlawyer.com/about#comments Wed, 03 Jan 2007 02:47:53 +0000 Bryan Sims Bryan Sims is the founder of Sims Law Firm, Ltd., where he concentrates his practice in the areas of commercial litigation and civil appeals. He is a member of the Illinois Bar and the Northern District of Illinois Trial Bar. He is also admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court, the United State Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, the United States courts in the Central District of Illinois, the Southern District of Illinois, and the Eastern District of Michigan.

Bryan SimsBryan is a member of both the Illinois State Bar Association and the American Bar Association. He is a member of the ISBA Standing Committee on Legal Technology, where he currently serves as the chair and newsletter editor. He is also a member of the ISBA Solo and Small Firm Conference Planning Committee.

Bryan has spoken on legal technology issues at the ISBA Solo and Small Firm Conferences, for the Chicago Bar Association, and the International Technology Law Association.

Bryan contributes regularly to TechnoLawyer and was recognized as the 2005 TechnoLawyer of the Year. He has also written for PDA JD and regularly wrote reviews for Law Office Computing.

Before entering private practice, Bryan worked as a judicial law clerk for Illinois Supreme Court Justice S. Louis Rathje. He has also worked as a staff attorney for the Second District of the Illinois Appellate Court.

He is a 1993 Cum Laude graduate of Wheeling Jesuit University and a 1996 Magna Cum Laude graduate of Loyola University Chicago School of Law. While in law school, Bryan served on the staff of both the Loyola Law Journal and the Loyola Consumer Law Reporter.

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