Quick Hits for Your Holiday

It’s Labor Day, so hopefully you’re taking some time to kick back, relax and recharge. While you’re doing that, here are some notable blog posts and news articles you may have missed.

More Doing, Less Talking

I went to the International Legal Technology Association Conference (ILTA), and found examples of lawyers and law firms doing, rather than just talking, about the “future practice of law.” From product demos to interactive sessions, lawyers and law firms were leveraging existing technology for more efficient, profitable law practices. One firm leveraged SharePoint to answer common FAQs from homeowners associations, resulting in a profitable move to flat fees.

In the same vein of More Doing, Less Talking, two lawyers have taken it upon themselves to build applications that solve a problem for them and, in the process, a problem for consumers. One of them, David Colarusso, is a public defender (yes, really!) in Boston who participated in the ABA Journal’s first hackathon. The result was Due Processr, an app that streamlines calculating the suggested sentence for someone convicted of a crime under Massachusetts Sentencing Guidelines. That may not sound like much, but consider the amount of reference material a lawyer has to check, in addition to doing some arithmetic. In the words of Tom Gibson (played by Tom Arnold) in the movie True Lies: “Seconds count buddy.” Colarusso found a way to do just that.

The other lawyer is Terence McEnallly. Based in North Carolina, McEnally figured that there had to be a better way to connect ticketed drivers with lawyers. He also understood the fierce competition, and for new lawyers on the scene, breaking into the realm of the established guard was challenging. Lawyers in North Carolina pay for lists of drivers who have been pulled over and ticketed, and spend more money sending out blanket fliers in hopes of landing a few new clients. Inefficiency at its best, so he sought out a programmer, and together, they built BernieSez. Drivers can snap a photo of their ticket, upload it and decide which lawyer they want to represent them or otherwise handle their case.

Other News Worth Reading

There are a couple of interesting news items that came across my various feeds this week. One was in the Washington Post about rural lawyers. It’s an interesting read, pointing that small town and rural lawyers are on the verge of, or have exceeded, retirement age yet continue to work because there is no other lawyer in town. It also highlights Alissa Doerr, a second-year student at the Nebraska College of Law, who interned at the law office of John Thomas. Doerr wants to run her own law practice when she graduates, and working with Thomas gave her insight, education and experience of what that is really like. It reminded me of a conversation with Sarah Glassmeyer earlier this year about how she wished she had spoken more with adjunct law professors. They’re working professionals, and deep wells of practical knowledge often left untapped.

Both are examples of the opportunity for law students to gain experience, and learn more than “contracts, precedence,” to quote My Cousin Vinny. As another academic year begins, talk to adjuncts about their practice, law and what life is like out there.

The other story is from the University of Kansas School of Law, and the KU Court of Parking Appeals. It has online materials, including a public wiki, videos and information on court procedures. Certainly useful, but the traffic court is managed by law students, making it another example of getting practical, hands-on experience.

TechnoLawyer Editor’s Picks

If you don’t subscribe to TechnoLawyer, take a minute and subscribe. It’s an excellent source of legal information, product reviews and, well, whatever you want to know. Its newsletters often include lists of other reading, usually a list of blog posts. Two blog posts this month made an Editor’s Pick:

Both are good reads, and offer useful information.

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