July 31, 2014

Jury Selection and the use of Social Media

Comment No. 8 of Rule 1.1 of the American Bar Association Model Rules of Professional Conduct provides that counsel “. . . should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology.”  California has not yet adopted similar language in its Rules, but in an article in the Los Angeles County Bar Association “County Bar Update,” October 2013, Andrew M. Vogel opines that California will recognize such a duty.  And a California Proposed Ethics Opinion No. 11-0004 suggests that such a duty exists in connection with e-discovery.

A number of commentators believe that the internet is a prime source for investigating potential jurors, judges, counsel and parties and suggest it may be a violation of an attorney’s duty of competence not to do so. (For example, see John J. Browning “As Voir Dire Becomes Voir Google, Where Are the Ethical Lines Drawn” in The Jury Expert, May/June 2013.)  The state of Missouri has concluded that failure to do a timely internet search on potential jurors through use of the State’s database results in waiver of a challenge to that juror based on information later discovered but which could have been discovered using the database. (Johnson v. McCullough (Mo. 2010) 306 S.W.3d 551.)

June 25, 2014

Trilogy Trial Consultants assists Pensacola law firm in case where jury returned verdict for $12.6 Million


(Pensacola, FL) - After 6 1/2 hours of deliberations, an Escambia County jury awarded Jerry Michael Hendrix and his wife Verna $12.6 million dollars.  The case arose out of an automobile accident that occurred in Pensacola, FL on February 23, 2011. On that day, Jerry Hendrix was severely injured when an industrial truck owned by Burford's Tree Surgeons, an Alabama based company, turned in front of his vehicle while he was traveling to work. The truck violated Mr. Hendrix's right-of-way and caused a head-on collision. However, the defense attorneys alleged that Mr. Hendrix was not wearing a seatbelt and that his injuries were primarily caused by his own negligence in failing to wear a seatbelt. The jury rejected that argument. The jury found that the Defendant was 85% at fault for Plaintiff's injuries. Dan Reyes, President of Trilogy Trial Consultants and Amy Singer Ph.D. assisted the firm utilizing an innovative method of conducting jury research. The case was tried by attorneys Troy Rafferty, Fred Levin and Aaron Watson of the Levin Papantonio, Thomas, Mitchell, Rafferty & Proctor law firm in Pensacola, FL. The Defendants were represented by attorneys Millard Fretland of Pensacola, FL, and Jeff Luther of Mobile, Alabama. Circuit Judge Ed Nickinson presided. 

June 11, 2014

Jury in Rebekah Brooks trial retires to consider verdicts

Eight-month trial over alleged phone hacking, corruption and perversion of the course of justice enters final phase.

The jury in the Rebekah Brooks trial has retired to consider its verdicts on a string of offences related to phone hacking, corruption and perversion of the course of justice.

They began their deliberations shortly after 3.30pm, bringing the eight-month trial, involving seven defendants including Andy Coulson, David Cameron's former spin doctor, to its final phase.

They will consider verdicts on seven counts facing the seven defendants, including four charges against Brooks and three against Coulson. Mr Justice Saunders told the jurors to appoint a foreman and to take the time needed to reach their verdicts.

"What you have to do is to act according to your oaths, you have to reach true verdicts according to the evidence," he said.

He told them to "put out your heads anything you heard outside of court" and to "concentrate your mind solely on the evidence".

He also asked them to put out their minds anything they had heard on majority verdicts. "It's been a privilege to work for you all," he said before instructing them to gather up their belongings and asking them to retire to the jury room.

May 28, 2014


WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- The widow of a Florida police officer killed while escorting President Barack Obama's motorcade is suing a sheriff's department, saying it bears some responsibility for her husband's death.

Jupiter Police Officer Bruce St. Laurent was killed when his motorcycle was struck by a pickup truck during a 2012 visit by Obama. His wife, Brenda St. Laurent, is suing the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office.

St. Laurent was killed while he prepared to shut down a stretch of Interstate 95 in West Palm Beach ahead of the motorcade.

May 15, 2014

GM recalls 2.7 million vehicles in US, to take charge of up to $200 million

General Motors said on Thursday it has issued five more recalls, covering about 2.7 million vehicles in the United States and as a result is expected to take a charge of up to $200 million.

Still dealing with the fallout from the recall of defective ignition switches linked to at least 13 deaths, the No. 1 U.S. automaker said, the largest of the latest recalls covers more than 2.4 million cars for tail lamp malfunctions. There are also recalls covering Chevrolet Malibu sedans, Chevy Corvette sports cars, Cadillac CTS sedans and full-size trucks and SUVs.

April 21, 2014

File Conversion on the Go

Flip document formats on your iPhone or iPad with these handy apps.

Do you need to convert that contract sitting on your iPad from Microsoft Word format to PDF format? Or perhaps move those audio notes on your iPhone into MP3 files?

If your current iOS software won't help you get the job done, you'll have to find another approach. Fortunately, there are a variety of third-party apps available that will let you convert nearly any kind of file into almost any other file format. Here's a look at the best of these utilities:

April 16, 2014

Smarter Ways to Discover

When it comes to discovery, the legal industry remains largely penny-wise and pound-foolish. Initiatives such as the American Corporate Counsel’s Value Challenge demonstrate clients’ desire for innovation, efficiency, process improvement and cost control. However, unless clients demand it, attorneys rarely seek to maximize the use of technology to facilitate efficient and cost-effective discovery. There is huge potential today for cost saving through the use of simple, easy-to-understand technologies aligned to proven workflows and appropriate resources.

April 14, 2014

When Is Social Media Discoverable?

A New York appellate court offers guidelines for when social media can be discovered.

Under what circumstances is a defendant involved in litigation allowed access to information from a plaintiff’s social media sites? In an entry on Jackson Lewis’ E-Discovery Law Today blog, shareholder Michael A. Frankel discusses a recent case that dealt with the issue.

Frankel observed that in Pecile v. Titan Capital Group, a New York state appellate court denied defendants’ request to access plaintiff’s social media despite assertions the information could contradict the claim of emotional distress because defendants didn’t offer “a proper basis for the disclosure.” He said the holding is consistent with prior court rulings: a plaintiff’s mere possession of a social media account, by itself, is insufficient to order production.

That’s not to say that information on a plaintiff’s social networking site is not discoverable. He said courts would order production, even information that is not publicly accessible, so long as there is a factual basis for requesting it. One example, he says, could be a case where the defendant has identified content contradicting the other side’s alleged claims or damages. 

April 9, 2014

Innovations in Law Firm Technology

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The past few years have been momentous for law firms and their use of technology. In the electronic discovery area alone, innovations including predictive coding have found acceptance by the courts. We turned to NLJ affiliate Law Technology News for this review of some of the latest developments in the field. Tellingly, it appears that beyond the actual technology at issue, the culture of litigation is being put to the test. 

April 3, 2014

At Harvard Law, Talk of Disruptive Innovation

Harvard Law School hosted a conference on "disruptive innovation" in legal services yesterday that included topics on alternative law firm business models and the future of the legal profession.

Talk of disruptive innovation, alternative law firm business models, and the future of the legal profession filled the venerable, 131-year-old halls of Harvard Law School's Austin Hall yesterday, as the school's Program on the Legal Profession hosted a conference on disruptive innovation in the market for legal services.

The program featured industry leaders—including William Hubbard, incoming American Bar Association president; Richard Susskind, the legal futurist; Chris Kenny, chief executive of the UK Legal Services Board; and Thomas Sager, general counsel of DuPont—alongside little-known startups such as CaseText, a crowdsourced legal research platform; DealStage, a cloud platform for managing complex transactions; and LearnLeo, a company working to change legal education through technology.

For many attendees, however, the biggest draw was the day's keynote speaker Clayton M. Christensen, the Harvard Business School professor who coined the concept of disruptive innovation and who is widely known for his seminal 1997 book, "The Innovator's Dilemma."

April 1, 2014

Don't Throw Out Your Frustrating Tech

Four tips to help you diagnose and resolve legal technology problems and irritants.

Recently, a longtime attorney friend reached out to me because she was literally ready to throw out a business application that her firm of 100+ users had invested tens of thousands of dollars in acquiring and hundreds of hours in training and implementation. Here are tips for lawyers and other firm managers, discovered as a result of the experience:

1. Knowledge is power. When defining problems, there is an important difference between real, functional product deficits and a possible need for additional user training. Sometimes, casual users have been overlooked and need basic training. Identify and engage “champions” within other departments who can help describe their issues and communicate back to coworkers the plans to resolve. For example, a document management system likely has implications to other departments, such as billing systems, so get the accounting department involved.

March 29, 2014

12 Legal Research Apps for iOS


Mobile legal research is finally reaching maturity thanks to a rapidly expanding selection of high quality iOS apps.

If you don't view iOS as a serious platform for legal research, you obviously haven't browsed through the iTunes App Store recently. Once you do, you'll discover a rapidly expanding library of legal research apps covering an impressive range of territory usefully and deeply.

While it's not yet time to start chucking conventional law books into the trash, it would be a mistake not to take advantage of the many high quality legal research apps now available to Apple Inc.’s iPad and iPhone users at prices ranging from affordable to free.

March 28, 2014

Viacom and Google End Seven-Year Copyright Battle

The titans have battled it out, but after seven years Viacom Inc. and Google Inc. have recently settled a massive copyright dispute, according to a release.

“Google and Viacom … jointly announced the resolution of Viacom v. YouTube copyright litigation. This settlement reflects the growing collaborative dialogue between our two companies on important opportunities, and we look forward to working more closely together,” the release said.

According to Diana Sanders of Chadbourne & Parke, the settlement comes on the heels of the pending appeal. Sanders explains the suit dates back to 2007 when Viacom, which owned MTV, Comedy Central and Paramount Pictures to name a few, alleged that Google, which recently acquired YouTube, used copyrighted shows without permission.  Viacom sought $1 billion in damages and Google defended itself “by seeking protection under the copyright laws and maintained that it would, and did, take down videos specifically identified by copyright owners,” says Sanders.

March 25, 2014

Best Practices for Building Your Law Firm's Twitter Following

It is pretty clear that posting relevant, consistent and interesting content is the best way to engage your Twitter followers. This is all well and good as long as you have Twitter followers in the first place. If you are new to the platform, welcome! You may be feeling a bit alone. Don’t worry. Even though you can’t make people follow you, there are some simple tricks for building a solid Twitter audience. Even better, it all starts with the one aspect you actually have control over—whom you follow.

Since whom you choose to follow influences who follows you in return, it is important to select the best possible representative group for your firm’s brand—or yourself as a representative of that brand.

March 24, 2014

Litigation Mounting Over Alleged GM Ignition Defect

A lawsuit filed on behalf of a woman who died last year pins the blame on an ignition switch defect that was the subject of General Motors Co.’s recent recalls.

Aubrey Williams, 32, was killed in a Dec. 4 accident after visiting her child’s school, said Jere Beasley, founding shareholder at Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles in Montgomery, Ala., who filed the suit on Monday in Lauderdale County, Ala., Circuit Court.

She lost control of her 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt on an Alabama highway, crossed into the opposing lane and collided into an oncoming 18-wheeler, said Beasley, who represents Williams’ father, Steve Smith, the plaintiff. Beasley blamed Williams’ death on the ignition switch’s failure, which caused a complete loss of power in the vehicle.

March 21, 2014

Use Big Customer Data for Law Firm Biz Dev

Law firms can use social media, data analytics and situational information for business proposals

As attorneys know, a company’s intellectual property is among its most valuable assets. But as Denis Pombriant, managing principal of Beagle Research Group, a customer relationship management market research firm and consultancy, explains in an entry on CRM Buyer, marketers are now developing customer IP to help expedite sales deals or, in the case of law firms, generate business.

Pombriant says not long ago basic information was enough to initiate a conversation that might lead to a sale or an attorney’s retention by a company to handle a specific matter. But today’s competitive marketplace demands a more tailored approach.

Thus, social media, data collection and analysis tools are now a given when researching a business target. In addition, he says the subject’s or company’s changing daily situation must be considered, which can be gleaned via press releases, earnings reports, news items, analyst reports, etc. Together, he says, these elements can “produce a potent combination,” approaching the value of intellectual property that can be used to make a sale or win a client.

March 18, 2014

8 Tips to Grow the Law Firm Business

Writing a winning legal ranking or directory submission can boost law firm business development.

As more legal departments comparison shop for outside counsel, firms are stepping up their marketing and business development efforts. Being singled out by one of the research-based legal rankings or directories can be a big client booster, whether it’s a practice area or individual lawyers that are recognized.

In an entry on Attorney At Work, Elizabeth Lampert, president of the legal marketing company, Elizabeth Lampert PR, and Nigel Savage, managing director of Savage Communications, which specializes in helping firms with legal directories and rankings, offer tips for making the cut.