advice you can use — short and to the point — every Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday

technology  research  practice

All Our Practice Tips

 

  1. Slow Down.The point is to use email to increase productivity, not be the fastest to respond.  Common courtesy is to respond within 24 hours.
  1. Be Professional.Yes, that joke your buddy sent you last night was a hoot, but you should never forward such communications to business contacts.
  1. Protect Your Friends. When sending a message to a group, do not disclose your recipient’s email addresses.  Use the “bcc” (blind carbon copy) field for multiple addresses and place your own email address in the “To” field.
  1. Do Not Use “Forward to All” and “Reply to All” Functions.I have witnessed embarrassing moments of others (and recall my own painful “oops”) when messages intended only for the original sender, are, in fact, sent to everyone who may have been cc’d or even bcc’d on the original message or post. Best not to use either button at all. Ever.
  1. Do A Final Full Read of Each Email.With each email, always read through your message from start to finish before hitting “Send”. This last reading is crucial in catching any missing information or attachments and allows you to get a full understanding of the “tone” of your message.
  1. Formatting Counts.Every email message should contain proper formatting, punctuation, grammar and have a signature containing your name, email address and telephone number.
  1. Don’t Send Large Files.Sending large attachments may cause some inboxes to reach their size limit. If this happens, the recipient must log in and download or delete your message in order to receive any further emails from any source – almost guaranteeing they will not think kindly of you from that point forward.  Use a service such as www.SendThisFile.com to transfer large files.
  1. Be Polite.Do not type in CAPITALS as it is considered shouting.
  1. Be Clear.Do not use acronyms or cryptic shorthand in your messages. Not only will the recipient not understand your message, it may make the recipient feel “stupid” for not being able to figure it out!  Each message should contain enough information for the recipient to understand what you need or what they need to do in response to your communication.
  1. Leave The Subject Line Alone.When replying to messages, especially to groups and list servs, do not change the subject line. Many email applications allow a sort by subject, giving subscribers the ability to follow a particular discussion “thread”.

-Andrea Cannavina

866-848-2195 x101 andrea@legaltypist.com

 

A law firm retreat is an opportunity to bring together those most invested in the future of the firm, to discuss just that… the future of the firm.

Yes, it’s true, some firms treat it as a perk, a mini-vacation if you will. But don’t let that cloud your assessment of the true potential of a retreat.

For law firms that take the time to do it right – pre-planning, professional facilitation and action planning – a retreat can be absolutely invaluable. The clarity and insight that comes out of that single meeting can drive the firm’s plan for the rest of the year.

But a single retreat can’t drive the plan for the rest of the life of the firm.  That’s why it’s a good idea to make it an annual event.

If you’re convinced, read no further.

For everyone else, here are 11 good reasons for your law firm to commit to an annual retreat:

  1. Because having an annual retreat creates habits – the good kind – around planning and taking action
  2. Because a law firm’s challenges – financial, strategic, lifestyle – change over time
  3. Because an annual commitment builds accountability into the process, by keeping everyone up on the status of last year’s goals and action plan
  4. Because the pre-planning step gives you a chance to look at the big picture – what has gone right, what needs work…
  5. Because your goals evolve and so must your plans if they are to support you
  6. Because the marketplace, including your competition and your clients, changes… sometimes rapidly
  7. Because the actual makeup of the firm transforms over time, namely its people
  8. Because there’s never a time when you can’t make things better, whether the firm is in growth mode or just holding fast
  9. Because inertia around certain key decisions is often more easily overcome with discussion
  10. Because high level priorities require dialogue and agreement for any organized action planning to follow
  11. Because, however close you are to your firm’s day-to-day operations, there are always surprises that emerge in the pre-planning process

And beyond all the common sense, good business reasons listed above, there’s also the value of anything that gives your key stakeholders a real bounce in their step.

That’s particularly true if there’s opportunity for a ripple effect on the morale of the rest of the firm.

 

For more on law firm retreats, see these previous posts on SlawTips:

Also, see Toronto Marketing Blog for how to make the most of your retreat:

Sandra Bekhor, Toronto

 

In 2008, I attended a talk by the late (great) Eddie Greenspan, Q.C. at the Law Courts Inn. His topic was digital security, in particular public CCTV, email, and smartphones, especially those with recording devices. He despised all three. Public CCTV, because of the invasion of privacy by the state (I can get behind that to a certain extent). Email, because it meant he received so much more communication that it took ages for his assistant to print and for him to scrawl shorthand replies for her to type. Smartphones were especially problematic in his view. He suggested that a lawyer who lost a Blackberry should, without question, be cited for professional misconduct and suspended. He was totally serious.

Of course, digital data security is a serious matter. Every digital security expert will tell you that it will happen (although it might not be you, it will be someone else). Mr. Greenspan was right about the importance of maintaining digital security. But, he was not particularly well-versed in the possible security measures present.

There is a lot of effort devoted to password protection and data encryption. Both are fundamental measures. Being able to remotely “wipe” a device is also a crucial part of any security plan. But, there is not much said about physically locating lost devices.

For my Apple devices, I use its “Find my iPhone” app, which lets me track, locate, and wipe my devices so long as they are turned on.

One particular security measure I have adopted is the Tile for devices or things that do not have GPS capability built in. I first used it for my keys, but some people even use it for their dog.

The Tile is a tiny little square – a bit smaller than a book of paper matches (1.45”x1.45”x0.24”). It has a little hole for things like keychains. It connects to a smartphone or tablet through the device’s Bluetooth connection and is used through a user-friendly, proprietary app. If I want to find my phone, then I double-tap the button the tile and my phone will play a sound. To find the Tile itself, I use the app to make the Tile play a sound. I can link several Tiles to my phone, each with a description and photo of the item it is attached to. I currently have keys, a barrister’s bag, and a laptop bag with Tiles linked to my phone.

Although range is limited to Bluetooth range (about 30 feet in practice), it is effectively extended by the Tile “community”. If I lose a Tile and it’s beyond Bluetooth range, then I am immediately alerted to its location when another Tile user’s device with the app comes within Bluetooth range of my Tile. I can then use my app to go to the Tile’s location and, when within Bluetooth range, make it play a sound.
I have not tested it, but here’s some anecdotal information. This morning, when I opened my Tile app to write this piece, I was advised that there were 1,124 Tile users in downtown Vancouver. Yesterday, I was sent a congratulatory message because my app had helped another user find his or her Tile. Our paralegal was running an errand and I sent her away with my tile. About 30 minutes later, I received a notification that my Tile had been found.

She returned within Bluetooth range of my phone.

It’s certainly not perfect, but at $69.99 for a 4-pack of tiles, it can’t do any harm. At least you’ll find your keys (or your dog) faster. If you do lose something precious, then it gives you an extraordinarily better chance of finding it.

-Michael McCubben

 

Tsunami, blizzard, avalanche, flood, plague. There are many ways to describe the volume of emails that hit your Inbox every day. One aspect of the problem that is created by the flood is managing the clients’ expectations. Intellectually they might appreciate that you have more than one client and are busy but, intuitively, they expect a reply to their emails almost immediately. Here is one way to provide that reply and yet maintain the right to manage your own priorities in a meaningful way.

You know how to create a Signature in your email app – and it does not have to be just your name and address. Create this Signature:

I will have to take a look at this and get back to you in the next few days. If there is some urgency that I have overlooked, please let me know.

Thanks.

Yours truly

Once you add a Dear X, away it goes. The client is happy – you read his email! You are happy – you can reply substantively later, without rushing, and avoid putting what might be a low priority task ahead of something that is Urgent and Important. All it took was a couple of key strokes to send that Signature.

Of course, having given yourself time to reply, you must reply. Make sure you have a system in place to ensure that gets done. I like the 4D system: Do, Defer, Delegate, Dump. Take a look at a great article by Sheila Blackford in the Oregon State Bar Bulletin archives entitled Managing your Email.

-Barney (Bjorn) Christianson

 

Last week, in ‘How to Ask for Referrals – Part I,’ we heard from lawyers and accountants. This week, we will hear from consultants.

FROM THE CONSULTANTS:

Mark Federman, Ph.D
Federman – Reengagement Realized

Asking for a referral is, by definition, all about me. It’s something I want to benefit my business. A more effective ask would be to turn this around, and offer a benefit to the potential referrer first. Using your great probing and listening skills, determine what interests the other person. What problems do they have for which you might be able to offer a solution? What opportunities do they see for which you can offer an advantageous approach? By freely suggesting a new way to perceive their challenge that draws on your key business skills, you set yourself up to ask the obvious follow-on question: Who else do you know who might be facing the same, or similar situation that might also benefit from my approach? Voila! Instant, natural, and painless referral. 

Catherine Moffitt
Cosgrove 

In general, when we feel comfortable with a client, in a casual conversation when the vibe seemed right, we might mention that we would always appreciate referrals.

We also meet with our clients’ accountants to present what we do, with the sole purpose of trying to create excitement so they will refer us to others who would benefit from our services.

——

I will add that one method that has consistently worked well in my own consulting practice is maintaining visibility. I have received referrals after sharing information, ideas and insights that added value to my network at speaking engagements, on my blog, LinkedIn, Twitter or by way of my newsletter. This includes referrals from people I didn’t know, but who were somehow connected to my professional network!

For more on generating referrals, see this previous post on SlawTips:

Also, see Toronto Marketing Blog for generating the type of referrals that fit your practice:

Sandra Bekhor, Toronto

 

 

Today’s tip is simple and focused. How should lawyers ask for referrals?

I asked lawyers, accountants and consultants to share how they go about it. They shared their tips generously and, as you will see, everyone has a slightly different approach.

In Part 1, we will hear from lawyers and accountants.

This is what they told us.

FROM THE LAWYERS:

Mitchell Rose, Stancer, Gossin, Rose:

Getting to know your colleagues, both online and off, can not only lead to genuine friendships – but it can also help set the stage for referrals.

Even with lawyers that are in the same area, there is often a need to refer a file due to either a conflict or the need for a different skill, experience or hourly rate.

But, still, some lawyers are passive about this. They are shy to ask for referrals if they are not forthcoming.

It’s okay to tell people that you are looking for additional work. You just have to do it at the appropriate time and that depends on the relationship. To simply introduce yourself to someone at a networking event and ask for a referral doesn’t work. There’s a degree of emotional intelligence, luck and timing involved. Always make sure to put relationships first and referrals second.

Joseph Caprara, Caprara Barristers:

Lawyers have two key sources for referrals – professionals and clients.

You will  need to treat them differently:

  • Many professionals may get turned off if you ask for referrals outright. It’s more about setting up the relationship. Referrals will come.
  • With clients, there are two opportunities when it’s ideal to ask – at the initial intake and after the case is resolved. That’s when we can do no wrong and they will go out of their way for us. I give out my cards and tell them that if they have any friends or family that need anything to feel free to pass them along. When something comes along, you’re the first one they call. I once had someone track me down after 20 years! They remember the results. But they also remember the way we treated them.

FROM THE ACCOUNTANTS:

Ian Wollach, Collins Barrow:

How do you ask for a referral? You ask!

You have a great opportunity once you’ve done something for a client. The easiest way is to start by asking if they are they happy with the work.

If yes, ask, “Do you know anyone else who has a similar need and would you mind providing us with a referral?”

Douglas Stansbury, Stansbury & Company:

Referrals are by far my most important source of new business. When I examined the referrals I had received, it was apparent that the best referrals were all coming from a small group of select people.

These were the people that I have the strongest relationship with, and who know what I am looking for in a client. I decided that rather than asking for referrals from a wide range of sources, I would focus on strengthening my relationship with this small group of referrers (and perhaps add a couple of more to the group).

The results – my practice has grown at a rate of 30% for the past two years, and I expect to repeat that growth again this year. Roughly 90% of that growth is from referrals.

…..

In Part 2, we will hear from consultants, with more tips on asking for referrals.

Sandra Bekhor, Toronto

 

assistant

 

I started this article a while back after reviewing a NY Times article entitled: “Siri, Alexa and Other Virtual Assistants Put to the Test” (http://ow.ly/XABKz) as it highlighted the issue I have with technologies employing the words “virtual assistant” to describe their product or gadget.  More recently, a legal tech company called “Riverview” started tweeting out about the “virtual assistants” built into their product which brought this topic back to the surface for me.

First, to clarify, according to dictionary.com, the term “assistant” is defined as:

–noun

  1. a person who assists or gives aid and support; helper.
  2. a person who is subordinate to another in rank, function, etc.; one holding a secondary rank in an office or post: He was assistant to the office manager.

Did you notice the second word in each one of those definitions was “person”.  A “person” – not a gadget, not a cartoon character on your website, not an e-mail reminder service and certainly not a tech.

Just to be certain that I’m not going crazy, I checked and here’s the definition of a “person”:

–noun

  1. a human being, whether man, woman, or child: The table seats four persons.
  2. a human being as distinguished from an animal or a thing.

Don’t mean to be touchy on the subject, but I spend my days trying to help people figure out that you can’t replace the live thinking brain in the business process of having an “assistant” with some type of tech – no matter what the tech salesmen state!  If you remove the live, thinking “assistant”, chances are the software, tool or service you are being pitched will be much less effective and much more time/labor intensive than you’ve been lead to believe.

Technology purveyors are not helping the issue.  They throw the term “assistant” around on a whim.  They add it before or after their applications and processes as though any tech could take the place of a live, thinking brain.

Worse still are the ad campaigns calling out to you that if you use a real live assistant, you are “old school” or don’t have a clue about technology.  Not so!  They want to make you think you need to use THEIR tech… yeah only THEIR tech solves all your woes… and for only the low, low monthly price of ….

So, exactly when did having or being an assistant become a negative?  When did the noble profession of assisting become a badge of shame; some sort of weakness or incompetence on the part of the person using the assistant and some sort of sub-human, subservient position to hold as the assistant?

I’m not certain, but I believe it coincided about the same time that the majority of the population started typing with more than four fingers.  No, I’m not kidding.  It’s sad really.  Why? Having the skill to type relatively fast does not mean you can or should be spending the majority of your time behind a keyboard performing the administrative and secretarial functions required to run your practice.

So let me take a moment here and set the record straight. I am a legal Virtual Assistant. No – I’m not a voice trapped in your phone nor am I some technology.  I am a live, thinking brain and I say it loud and proud!

By the way, how many “successful” people do you know who do NOT have a live, thinking and without a doubt human assistant?  Presidents, celebrities, doctors, CEOs … about the only peeps who don’t have assistants are the ones who could use them the most – Moms!

-Andrea Cannavina, New York City.

 

Many I speak with have a misperception that sending an e-mail is as secure as sending a letter through the US Mail. Simply put, such is not the case. The US Mail has a secure process in place which includes controlled physical access to your sealed letters and envelopes by approved and monitored equipment and personnel.

In comparison, each e-mail message you send travels through an unknown number of servers, switches, routers and electronic equipment ~ bouncing along what I call the digital superhighway on its way to the intended recipient’s ISP for download to their e-mail application. There is no way to control over which wires, servers and equipment your e-mail goes and anyone with the applied knowledge and time can intercept, review and alter any e-mail message which touches their electronic equipment. So your e-mail touches their equipment = them able to do whatever they want with information contained in or attached to it. <-let that soak in

This is why I say e-mail is more of a postcard than it is a sealed envelope. Your information is really in the open and you never really know who may have read it along the way.

What About The E-mail You Receive?

Along with worrying about the confidentiality and security of the information and files you send in outgoing communications, you also must worry about the e-mails being received by your domain and downloaded into your e-mail application. Just one wrong “OK” by you or an employee (or anyone at any computer for that matter) can wreak havoc on the machine itself, the network to which it is connected and even worse – can potentially replicate and send itself to contacts and thereby infect them too!

Three of the most common incoming e-mail threats are:

1. PHISHING

Phishing is any attempt to fraudulently acquire sensitive information, such as passwords and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy person or business in an electronic communication. Phishing is typically carried out using e-mail and instant messaging.

You’ve probably received messages like this – from banks, credit card companies and financial institutions – many of whom you’ve never heard of or could even been one you actually have an account with (that’s why it’s called “fishing” ). These messages all look real enough, with appropriate logos and great motivational copy, almost always trying to make you think there is something wrong with your account and that you need to hurry. Don’t be fooled!

Never navigate to your bank or other on line service provider for which you need to type in a password through an e-mail you receive. Never! <-Read that sentence one more time so you don’t forget when you’re doing 100 other things! STOP AND DON’T CLICK IT!

Instead, open a new, secure browser and log in to your account to look for information from customer support about any issues. You can also call the customer support number listed right there in your on line account to speak with someone at the actual company or even advise of the phishing e-mail.

2. VIRUSES

A computer virus is a program that can copy itself to a computer without permission or knowledge of the user/owner. A computer virus reproduces by making copies of itself in the computer’s memory, storage, or over a network.

3. WORMS

A computer worm is a self-replicating computer program. It uses a network to send copies of itself to other computers on the network. Unlike a virus, a worm does not need to attach itself to an existing program. Worms typically harm the network, whereas viruses infect or corrupt files on a targeted computer.

In many instances, computer viruses and worms are an attachment to or a link embedded in an e-mail. <-Now read that sentence again and let it sink in!!

This is why you should never open an attachment or click on a link in an e-mail received from an unknown recipient. In fact, even if you do know the sender you still need to be careful and pay attention!! How else can you be certain you’re not clicking on something a contact may have sent you by mistak?! Certainly, when in doubt – opt for no and DON’T CLICK IT!

Let’s face it, e-mail is not going away any time soon.  In fact, if your e-mail is anything like mine, over time the volume of incoming only increases.

That’s why it is more important than ever for those using e-mail to understand the inherent risks of conveying personally identifiable or company information and records using e-mail.  When used properly and with a mind towards safeguarding your personal and company information, as well as the equipment you use, e-mail can be the one tech that literally sets you free – from your office, your desk and even the 9-5 grind. It’s how I got my start to full mobility.

But when not used properly – when you let e-mail take over or when social security and credit card numbers are openly e-mailed, bad, bad, bad things happen (usually to very nice people).

Don’t let that happen to you and don’t let it happen to anyone who entrusts their confidential information to you. You owe it yourself, your co-workers, your contacts and equipment to use e-mail wisely.

Now here’s a little 2minute-ish video I created out of a past presentation about security:

DSS

 

Direct link: https://tlcxn.podbean.com/mf/play/jgez6h/SecuritySalad2016.mp4

EXTRA RESOURCES:

To check to see if your connection is secure, try Shield’s Up! http://ow.ly/11vLg

FEEL FREE TO ADD YOUR OWN IN THE COMMENTS:

-Andrea Cannavina, New York City (and a Canadian!).

 

I’m going to check email for an hour until, “Oh, I have to take that call from the client. We’ve been playing phone tag. Hello?”, while I’m signing a cheque and your cell phone rings from that other client you said you would call back when you got out of the car. Back to email until I forgot to message that person back on my Facebook account about giving a quote.

Ah, the beauty of multi-tasking, says the first-born Aries!

It’s the thing that makes us all feel busy and useful and then we end our day accomplishing, nothing. Or, nothing we wanted to.

That is when I learned started to switch (no pun intended) my brain from a multi-tasking mindset to a multi-interrupting one. Multi-tasking is a myth. It cannot be done successfully if you want to complete anything.

Interruptions are generally detrimental when you are focused on one project and then you’re interrupted by something completed unrelated. You have to shift your focus, your resources and “warm up” to the new topic. It takes much longer than you think and then you have to “warm up” to the original task.

Studies show that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the original task! Okay, so what if I lose about 23 minutes every time I switch projects?

Unfortunately, the other major draw back is that it causes a significant amount more stress because you tend to work faster to try to compensate for the interruption, which fuels more stress. And then the stress of feeling like you’re not being able to keep up

Sound familiar? All too much for lawyers these days.

Some tips, which I’m trying to incorporate into my day:

1. Set a timer. I set a timer so that it keeps me focused for at least short bursts of time (maybe 20 minutes or one hour, depending on the type of “project”).

2. Do not disturb. Manage your interruptions by setting time aside to let people know that you are not to be interrupted. Stack all you interruptions together so you can deal with them in a block and then focus on some things.

3. Stop self-interruptions. Turn off your internet browser, notifications (audio and pop-ups) so that you can minimize your self-sabotage to productivity.

Did you read this whole post without looking at something else? Good start, if you did.

-Elizabeth Mah

 

I have operated my practice as a paperless one since I opened shop in November 2011. I was not a techie (nor am I). I did not have a background in science or computers other than what I needed to get through university. I much preferred reading things on paper than a screen (there are a few physiological and psychological reasons why many of us do). I printed out all my reference material when I could do so on someone else’s dime.

Organizing digital documents and prepping them for disclosure is straightforward, with commonly-accepted practices. The ISO-standardized portable document format (aka “PDF”) has become the de-facto standard. It has come to replace many of the analog equivalents of the old three-ring binder, but with more powerful tools for searching, reproduction, and ease of reference. Today, many lawyers are comfortable sharing documents as PDFs in the place of printing, binding, and couriering documents around town or across the province.

Despite its lack of security, many counsel email documents. Indeed, despite the security measures put in place by their law firms, many clients usurp those measures by using unsecure email services. Email has become the standard practice except where large volumes are involved, in which case flash drives and DVDs are sent around. I will save the security of email and couriering storage media, which are cultural ones in many respects, for another day.

What we do not have in BC (and I presume the rest of Canada) is an accepted practice for using digital documents in oral discoveries. Many stakeholders are discussing digital evidence in hearings, but I am unaware of similar discussions taking place for discovery practices. It seems, understandably, that those things are left to informal agreements between counsel.

Discoveries are far more common exercises and often more influential to the ultimate outcome of a case than a trial, but it remains that there is no accepted practice of using digital documents at discovery. I have been inconsistent myself – while I always bring my laptop and iPad, I also have, at times, printed and bound documents, especially when I want to mark exhibits put to the opposing party (of course, there is no current means of marking PDFs as exhibits although the technology exists). Of course, using digital documents in the absence of commonly-accepted practices.

The issue recently came to a head in a discovery in a comparatively document-intense wrongful dismissal matter. My client was being examined. I was taking notes on my laptop and, when opposing counsel would ask that a document be put to the witness, I would pull it up and slide my computer to the witness, much the same as I would do with a binder of documents. In one instance, opposing counsel asked to go off the record and began complaining (almost a diatribe, in fact) about how the use of PDFs was impeding his discovery and taking too much time. It became evident that this was highly frustrating to this lawyer, as the complaints evolved into a rather personal criticism of me in my clients’ presence.

Specifically, the issues raised were:

1. It was a waste of discovery time to pull up the documents – I was “trying to be paperless” with no corresponding benefit.

2. He could not see whether there were any annotations on the documents (I had previously advised him that I would be using PDFs and collapsing my annotations so the witness could not see them)

3. I was possibly feeding the witness evidence by pointing to things on the screen (I have a touch screen laptop and was flipping to the page opposing counsel to which counsel wanted to refer to save us all time).

It went on, but I will digress. It will suffice to say that the tone and nature of the comments were such that I doubt this experienced lawyer would have wanted them on the record. Nonetheless, this caused me to be introspective about an issue that I felt had no good solution at present.
Despite the expanding reliance on digital evidence in legal proceedings generally, reporting agencies are not seeing the same increasing use of digital documents at discovery. This might be for a few reasons. Reporting agencies typically follow the courts, given their role in providing services essential to the effective and just adjudication of cases. There is no accepted means of digitally marking exhibits. There is also no existing practice for displaying documents or allowing witnesses to read documents at discovery through digital media – whatever is there might not be suitable for every witness.

In that particular respect and also generally, we have to tackle cultural barriers to using digital evidence. Some people would say this is generational, but I think that the issue is really about reluctance to learn something new. Certainly, many of the leaders in legal technology were not raised in a digital age, but realized that adoption of new technology and adaptation are vital in a service-oriented industry that must conform to their clients’ practices (the ever-knowledgeable David Bilinsky was called to the bar before the PC came about, but that hasn’t slowed him, nor many others, down). Beyond that, the law is likely the fastest evolving profession in terms of substantive knowledge. Medicine, engineering, accounting, business, etc. do not see the same sea-changes occur overnight or the constant evolution of subject matter that the common law does. If we can continuously take on new substantive knowledge, which is not always easy, then why can’t we take on new technical knowledge?

There are many different solutions to these obstacles. I am sure an affective solution requires greater consultation, dialogue, and experimentation, but here is what I think we need to be able to make better use of digital documents at discovery:

1. User-friendly media to display and read digital documents: an iPad or other tablet is likely the most user-friendly media. Standard tablets are a touch too small for this. The 12.9” iPad Pro is conveniently about a half-inch larger in each dimension than a sheet of familiar A4 paper with the Apple “Pencil” allowing users to markup documents. (being half-Scottish, I think I will wait until my nearly-new iPad clunks out before making the upgrade, but we shall see).

2. A means of marking documents as exhibits by the reporter: the Electronic Transactions Act S.B.C. 2001, c. 10, allows this, but there are no reporters in BC doing so. Adobe Acrobat will create stamps equivalent to the ink-stamps we all know. While I am not sure if building a form into a stamp to make informational input faster currently exists as an option, it is certainly within the bounds of technical feasibility. For convenience, one could also hyperlink the reference to the exhibit in the transcript to the exhibit itself.

I have experimented both with my iPad Air and with my laptop as display media for my client, with one device being used for note-taking while the other is exclusively used by the client. There are pros and cons to both. The iPad has a smaller screen, but opposing counsel can (sort of) see where the client is at in the document and that there are not any annotations by counsel. Of course, the inverse is true when a laptop is used. One pro of a laptop is that I can let the client use the screen to read and I can use a Bluetooth mouse to pull up documents and jump to the right page without being on top of the client or passing the device around. This avoids the need for training or familiarization with the display app (e.g. GoodReader or PDF Expert) or how bookmarks work like tabs in a binder.

Of course, these technical solutions are only responsive to technical problems. The cultural obstacles remain.

I welcome any feedback from readers regarding their experience and ideas with digital evidence at discovery: mike@whitecaplegal.ca

  • Michael McCubbin

*I am indebted to Christy Pratt, owner of Reportex Agencies in Vancouver, B.C. for her feedback and insight to supplement my own experience (there is no way that even the most seasoned trial lawyer in BC, which I am not, has as much oral discovery experience as Christy). Reportex is, in my view, one of the most forward thinking agencies (if not, the most) and her willingness to offer her insight is really part and parcel of the progressive culture her firm maintains.