Paralegal Blog Alert
Ernie introduced me (via e-mail from SXSW) to a paralegal blogger he met last night (and a weblog-award-nominated paralegal blogger, at that). Her name is Christine Selleck, from Houston, and her blog is called Big Pink Cookie: Taking the Blah Out of the Blog. I visited Christine's really nice blog and was intrigued when I saw that some of her posts are restricted (you have to e-mail her for permission to read them). I'd never seen this before, and so when I e-mailed her to introduce myself, I asked about it. I was happily surprised to receive a prompt response, in which she said that the restricted posts were set up while she was job-hunting, to keep certain things private (makes sense). She also said she's switched from the "web design world back to the legal world." Wow, what a great combination for a paralegal blogger! I later found out she's a finalist for an SXSW Web Award tonight in the Weblog category for her pixielog. Congratulations, and good luck, Christine!
WordPerfect for Windows Bates Number Label Macro
I'm long overdue in posting WordPerfect for Windows tips, as promised. A very good resource that you should put into WatchThatPage or bookmark (apparently, no RSS feed) is Barry MacDonnell's Toolbox for WordPerfect for Windows. There are tons of useful tips, free downloads (macros, templates, etc.) and links. For example, if you're still using a messy, antiquated manual Bates-number stamper (guaranteed to give you an arm ache and you and everyone working in your vicinity a headache), you should try the Bates Numbering macro, which you can download for free. This is a "macro that creates sequential, fixed-width 'Bates' numbers (e.g., 00001, 00002, etc.), with or without preceding / following text material. Updated 12/01/02 to fix a minor menu problem." Although I use a slightly different Bates-numbering macro (apparently no longer available online for download), I downloaded and tried this one and it works fine. I like that you can format the font beforehand, but I don't like having to choose labels as the paper size before running the macro (although, of course, this allows the option to affix the Bates number to labels, pages, and cardstock, rather than just labels).
Here is another good Bates-numbering macro, from Karen Gibson's WordPerfect 8 Suite MIS Information. This one automatically uses Avery Return Address Labels 5267, and it's quite flexible. When you play the macro, a series of dialog boxes appear, where you choose such things as font and font size, leading zeros or no leading zeros (nice), across or down labels (this didn't seem to work for me), additional text to appear above Bates number (such as "Subject to Protective Order"), alphanumeric prefix, and starting and ending values.Of course, whenever possible, I choose to Bates-number imaged documents with StampPDF Plug-In for Adobe Acrobat 5.0, rather than using stick-on labels (which are not all that much fun or easy to apply). However, because there will be times when this will not be possible or feasible, for one reason or another (for example, in the instance of over-sized documents), you will want to have a Bates-numbering label macro handy.
I recently worked on a civil litigation matter pending in the Superior Court of Maricopa County, Arizona. I was amazed at the free information available on the court's website. For example, you can search the civil litigation index* and obtain case information, party information, the docket sheet, the case calendar, and a listing of any judgments entered. Additionally, you can access minute entries online in PDF format. Isn't it time for the Louisiana Clerks of Court to give the public this type of free access? Why should we have to call the Clerk of Court's Office and have someone else look up the information on a computer and relay it verbally. What a waste of taxpayer money! One of my least favorite tasks as a paralegal is calling a Clerk of Court's office for information from the record (such as whether service has been effected, an answer filed, etc.). Besides having to spell my name, my boss' name, the parties' names, the information I've gotten hasn't always proved accurate (inevitably due to some type of miscommunication on one of our parts).
So, I decided to do some quick research to find out the status of online access (free or paid) throughout our Louisiana District Courts. (I used the Lafayette Parish Clerk of Court's list of Louisiana Clerks of Court to find links to the Louisiana District Court Clerks with websites.) Here is what I found:
- The East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court offers remote access by paid subscription here (software required).
- The Jefferson Parish Clerk of Court offers free online access to its Docket Calendar (only) here. However, see "The Clerk of Court's 7-Point Plan for Reform" for what's in store for the future technologically.
- The Clerk of Court of the Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans offers remote access by paid subscription here (software required).
- The Tangipahoa Parish Clerk of Court's site states that it offers internet access to its records by paid subscription here, however, attempts to access the registration process and the log-in process both returned errors. Obviously, the site is under construction, but looks promising. There's also a notice that the only subscription available "until further notice" is a free trial membership. So, if you have cases pending in Tangipahoa Parish, you might want to check back and sign up for that free trial subscription.
For a thoughtful and concise assessment of copyright considerations in general and the Creative Commons license in particular, see Tim Hadley's post, Contemplating Licensing, on his blog, Math Class for Poets: Law and Life. This is a continuation of Tim's recent (and very welcome) series on the Creative Commons license. Tim characterizes this post as a "draft" that will be updated in the future. So far, he has four categories of considerations: "Enabling the Rapid Circulation of Expression," "Retaining Control over Propagation and Association," "Academic Ethos," and "Publishing Through a Commercial Publisher." I look forward to the continuation of Tim's discussion and analysis.
Managing Electronic Documents in Litigation: Step by Step
I put together this handout, in outline format, for a recent presentation to a group of paralegals, attorneys, and secretaries at my firm's New Orleans office. It talks about using CaseMap 4.0 and Adobe Acrobat 5.0 to manage electronic documents in litigation. Because it was meant to go along with an oral presentation, it could be a bit cryptic, but I thought I'd go ahead and put it out here. I'll be updating and fine-tuning this outline (created in NoteMap) from time to time, and I'd appreciate any input, comments, or critiques anyone might have.
I'm back . . .
I'm back from my quickie trip to Florida, where I trained to become a CaseMap Certified Trainer. (As it turns out, I will have to take a test, via telephone, in the next couple of weeks before I will actually be "certified.") I'd never been behind the doors of a *real* software company, so it was really neat from that aspect alone. I received a very warm welcome from the great folks at CaseSoft, and I got to meet several of the people I've heard about, exchanged e-mail with, and talked to over the past couple of years, including Jennifer, Janine, Haans, and Danielle. I was particularly impressed that Greg Krehel, CEO and one of the founders of CaseSoft, took the time to visit with me and listen to what I had to say about his products -- very cool!
The one-on-one training was great. I got all of my questions answered, and learned about some features I haven't been but should be using. I learned a bit more about the upcoming release of CaseMap 4.5 that I wrote about here, featuring the new CaseMap Send to Adobe Plug-In. With this new release, which is due out in about a month, Adobe Acroabat users will have much more flexibility in sending links to imaged PDF documents to CaseMap. As I understand it, instead of dropping the link directly to a fact in the Facts database, a dialog box will pop up, from which you can direct the link to drop into any of the databases (Fact, Object, Research, or Issue). How cool is that?
As far as I'm concerned, if you're a litigator and you're not using CaseSoft's products -- CaseMap (case management), NoteMap (outlining tool), TextMap (transcript management utility for CaseMap), and TimeMap (timelines) -- you're missing the boat. And if you're up against an adversary that does, well, you've got your work cut out for you. These products are not only extremely well thought-out and designed, they're fairly user-friendly and intuitive. And CaseSoft's Customer Support is the best of any software company's that I've dealt with. So, if you have a problem, you can always reach a live person to walk you through it. I really like their licensing, too, because it not only registers the product to the person but allows each person to register the product for personal use on up to 3 PCs (home, office, and notebook).You can get a free CaseSoft Starter Kit here, which includes a CD with full-featured trial copies of the latest versions of CaseMap, TimeMap, NoteMap and TextMap.