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October 2006
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December 2006

"Virtual Paralegal Services Introduces Virtual Workspace"

Well, this new paralegal business feature sounds interesting, dontcha think?

"Virtual Paralegal Services, LLC, a provider of affordable, on-demand, experienced paralegal assistance exclusively for lawyers and their clients, today introduced its new Virtual Workspace.

"VPS Virtual Workspace gives lawyers access to a highly secure collaborative environment for creating, storing and retrieving documents and records without the commitment of a capital-intensive technology investment."

To see how a sample Virtual Workspace operates, log in at the top of the site's home page with user name: llegal & password: ll1122.


Want to be more productive at work?

Well, David Allen of Getting Things Done fame recommends some very good productivity software

"MindManager Pro - Find out how mindmapping can transform the way you think about, and organize information while you collect, capture, and manage ideas. You can also view a replay of The Best Kept Secrets of Productivity, David's recent webinar on mindmapping.

"TypingMaster Pro - Gain hours of productive time by increasing your typing speed and accuracy. Working at the computer will become easy and fun as you bring your keyboard skills up to the speed of your thoughts.

"ActiveWords - Just type in an ActiveWord and instantly access folders, files, programs, and more. No more fumbling for information and programs on your desktop. Download a free trial to find out why David has been using this program for years."

Yes, it's been a while since I took a typing class (I'm not saying how long), & it shows in the number of errors I make. Check your own speed & accuracy here. And check out ActiveWords -- the free trial I downloaded is amazingly helpful!


"The Real World According to Summer Associates"

Ah, who doesn't like to work with summer associates?

"Law students today are a serious bunch. 'Although I appreciate the fancy lunches, dinners, ball games, retreats, etc., I am more interested in experiencing what life actually will be like as a first-year associate,' reads one typical remark from an intern at Heller Ehrman in Menlo Park, Calif. 'Make sure summer associates have enough work to do -- most of us would rather stay late than spend days bored,' counseled a Cahill Gordon & Reindel summer associate. They may welcome -- and even expect -- the fun and games, but they know that all the pampering goes by the wayside once they sign on as a permanent associate.

"Partners and administrators involved in the recruitment process say that this need-to-know approach is coming from a couple of places. Summer clerks today are much more knowledgeable consumers. 'Five or six years ago, summer associates would ask questions like, 'How many lawyers do you have?' or, 'What are your practice areas?'' says Jennifer Gotch, director of recruiting at Atlanta's Arnall Golden Gregory. "You never hear that anymore.' Instead, summer clerks are digging deeper, asking firms to open up their books, discuss their strategic plans, and describe their partnership track -- in detail.

[snip]

"Some firms looked better than others under the microscope. The 172 firms in the survey averaged a rating of 4.502 on a scale of 1 to 5. The highest-scoring firms included many familiar names -- 10 of the 20 best firms of 2006 scored in the top 20 last year as well, including this year's winner, Arnall Golden Gregory. But plenty of newcomers grabbed top slots, including second-place winner Nutter McClennen & Fish (up from No. 41 in 2005), and third-place Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve Franklin & Hachigian (up from No. 37 in 2005). Two of the top 10 slots were captured by firms that vaulted more than 100 spots: Dickstein Shapiro leaped from 119th to sixth, and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius shot from 122th to seventh."

What do you think of summer associates? Like seeing new people at the firm? Dislike having to answer all their questions?


'What’s in an e-mail sign-off?'

It's sometimes hard to write meaningful letters, but email communication is even more challenging:

"CHAD TROUTWINE, an entrepreneur in Malibu, Calif., was negotiating a commercial lease earlier this year for a building he owns in the Midwest. Though talks began well, they soon grew rocky. The telltale sign that things had truly devolved? The sign-offs on the e-mail exchanges with his prospective tenant.

"'As negotiations started to break down, the sign-offs started to get decidedly shorter and cooler,' Mr. Troutwine recalled. 'In the beginning it was like, ‘I look forward to speaking with you soon’ and ‘Warmest regards,’ and by the end it was just ‘Best.’ ' The deal was eventually completed, but Mr. Troutwine still felt as if he had been snubbed.

"What’s in an e-mail sign-off? A lot, apparently. Those final few words above your name are where relationships and hierarchies are established, and where what is written in the body of the message can be clarified or undermined. In the days before electronic communication, the formalities of a letter, either business or personal, were taught to every third-grader; sign-offs — from 'Sincerely' to 'Yours truly' to 'Love' — came to mind without much effort.

"But e-mail is a casual medium, and its conventions are scarcely a decade old. They are still evolving, often awkwardly. It is common for business messages to appear entirely in lower case, and many rapid-fire correspondences evolve from formal to intimate in a few back-and-forths.

[snip]

"'So many people are not clear communicators,' said Judith Kallos, creator of NetManners.com [link in article], a site dedicated to online etiquette, and author of 'Because Netiquette Matters.' To be clear about what an e-mail message is trying to say, and about what is implied as well as what is stated, 'the reader is left looking at everything from the greeting to the closing for clues,' she said."


"Free Services to Inspire Your Cellphone"

Helpful NY Times techie, David Pogue, offers up a batch of useful cell phone services:

"With every passing month, cellphones are becoming even more useful. Sure, it’s nice that they let you call people from the road. But lately, their reach has grown, thanks to clever programmers making links between the cellular world and the Internet.

"Here, for your gratitude-generating pleasure, is a rundown of some of the most exciting and powerful services awaiting your cellphone at this very moment. Better yet, at the moment, they’re all free."

Descriptions included:

§          Free Directory Assistance

§          Free Answers

§          Free International Calls

§          Free ‘Pings’

§          Free Fun

§          Free Price Comparisons

You've got to try the personalized outgoing messages from YouMail.com!


''Mock Jury' Site Readies Launch"

Found this new service on the always-informative blog, Robert J. Ambrogi's Lawsites:

"A Web site offering mock juries where lawyers can test their cases is now online and preparing for a formal launch in January. Called TrialJuries, the site will allow lawyers to submit their cases and have them 'decided' by online jurors similar to those who would serve on an actual jury at trial."

You can sign up for possible selection as a 'juror' here. Read about the founders here & how everything works here & here.


CNN's Nancy Grace Sued Over 'Grilling' that 'Led to Suicide'

When does an aggressive interviewer go too far? Guess we'll find out with this wrongful death lawsuit:

"Relatives of a mother who committed suicide after CNN's Nancy Grace aggressively questioned her about the disappearance of her son sued the network and the talk-show host Tuesday, accusing Grace of pushing the woman over the edge.

"Melinda Duckett shot herself to death on Sept. 8, one day after taping a segment on Grace's CNN Headline News show in which Grace interrogated Duckett about her whereabouts on the August day that 2-year-old Trenton Duckett was reported missing. The network aired the segment after Melinda Duckett's death.

"Investigators have since named Melinda Duckett as the prime suspect in his disappearance."

CNN has mostly supported Grace; others perhaps not so much. What do you think?


"Law Firm's 'Trial-in-a-Box' Rescues Cases"

Well, this approach to get-there-quick-litigation sure sounds smart!

"Any serious trial law firm must have the capability to 'parachute' into a problem case and try a matter on short notice. At Houston's Beirne, Maynard & Parsons, we have developed a comprehensive program to deal with remote trials, which we call 'trial-in-a-box.' This consists of custom-made cases that house separate sets of desktop computers, Internet capabilities, laptop computers, printers, fax machines, a complete wireless phone system and all associated peripheral technology and equipment.

"With this system, we can send a trial team on short notice to assist clients with emergency needs. We have established relationships with communication vendors to facilitate prompt installation of high speed data circuits and phone lines at any designated trial location.

"But you don't just need hardware -- you also need solid, user-friendly litigation support software to succeed in today's courtroom. If you, like so many of our colleagues, are just beginning to incorporate technology into your litigation practice, choosing software is a good place to start."

Read more about "what you need to know before you pack that parachute" in the balance of this article. This "litigation-only" firm is serious about technology!

Article by Martin Beirne, managing partner & Scott Marrs, partner at Houston's Beirne, Maynard & Parsons.


10 ways to train your boss

Such very helpful tips for advancing your career!

"Takeaway: If your boss routinely ignores you, withholds praise, or offers little guidance or feedback, you might need to take action. IT pro Becky Roberts looks at some ways you can get your boss on the right track.

"Got a lousy boss? Never gives you guidance or the praise you so richly deserve? Never takes you to lunch? Worse, do you sometimes get the impression that your boss doesn't even remember you exist? If you think there's nothing you can do about it, think again. Instead of wasting your energy whining to your co-workers, try some of these tips to subtly--and not so subtly--let your boss know what you need."

This article is targeted at Information Technology (IT) folks, but the advice provided is pretty universal.


"Who's to Blame When EDD Vendors Go Boom?"

I hate it when companies "go boom," but this article really discusses what happens "when vendors let you down":

"If you engage in e-discovery, chances are you depend on vendors to help you harvest, process, search and filter digital evidence. But is that a dependency that blurs the line between lawyer and service provider?

"Selecting responsive information, planning search strategies and deciding forms of production are responsibilities traditionally reserved to counsel. But confronted by the Gordian knot of electronic data discovery (EDD), lawyers now share -- and sometimes surrender -- aspects of that role to vendors and experts. When all goes well, delegation seems sensible. But what happens when a vendor error exposes lawyers to malpractice allegations, or clients to needless expense, sanctions or even an adverse judgment? Several recent cases and incidents underscore the risks.

The American Lawyer recently reported that LexisNexis Applied Discovery Inc. used software that blanked the contents of older e-mail messages. Though LNAD assured customers that the problem affected only a minute fraction of its work, the company faces questions about quality assurance and its failure to timely apply software patches.

"Flawed search methods also contributed to the $1.45 billion dollar verdict in Coleman (Parent) Holdings v. Morgan Stanley, 2005 WL 679071 (Fla.Cir.Ct. March 1, 2005). And expert incompetence drew the judge's ire and sanctions in Gates Rubber Co. v. Bando Chem. Ind., Ltd. , 167 F.R.D. 90 (D. Colo. 1996). On Dec. 1, 2006, new federal rules move EDD to center stage. For years to come, lawyers and EDD vendors will be joined at the hip in an uneasy alliance."

Read the rest of this important article for advice from three lawyers -- Michael Arkfeld, Craig Ball, & J. William Speros -- who all work as electronic data discovery consultants....