For years, Texas lawyers enjoyed the humorous columns of Judge Buchmeyer. In his memory, a group of Texas lawyers has now launched OverheardInCourt.com. They invite you to submit your funny courtroom stories and are even offering some cash prizes this month for those selected among the submissions. Every trial lawyer has a few great stories, so send them in. No lawyer jokes are needed.
I never blogged about my Home Sweet Office article due to some technical issues here. But it is clear more and more lawyers are considering an office-based practice. I find it interesting that many of the success stories involve an established lawyers leaving the firm and "moving home," taking his/her existing clients and charging them a lower billing rate. Certainly it is easier for some lawyers to operate out of a home-based practice, such as a lawyer who only does appellate briefs and can met with clients in the trial lawyer's office when hired. Frankly I cannot imagine building a new family law practice, for example, out of a home unless it was part-time and limited. But I know some have done it.
In a move with possible profound implications, Google Scholar has added a dedicated search for legal journals and court opinions. Check it out here. Apparently they have the entire Heinonline database included as I located a couple of articles I wrote back in 2005 that I didn't know were available on the free web. My first guess is that this will not convince many lawyers to move from their current legal research tools, especially since so many now enjoy free legal research via their bar associations. But for those who pay for a limited plan, there may be a way to find cases outside of the plan for free. Many may now find that they have access to legal journals previously not available.
Apparently there is a fairly robust online debate about the state of the free access to the law. As we know the law is generally found in case opinions and statutes, which are, generally speaking, in the public domain by their nature. Scholarly treatises and law reviews provide analysis and commentary. Other research tools provide help in finding the applicable law.
A professor with long-term ties to West Publishing praised the free access to law movement for increasing competition, but also downplayed free legal research tools as being second rate. (One wonders if the esteemed professor has ever paid for legal research out of his own pocket.) Needless to say his statement provoked responses and you can find links to view his initial video and the responses here.
Well, the free access to the law movement is thriving in Oklahoma. Years ago, our Oklahoma Supreme Court decided that the law should be free and available in Oklahoma. The court's website, OSCN.net, has available to anyone all of the court opinions in a searchable format, back to statehood and even before. The online law library there includes the statutes as well as the case opinions, links to the administrative code, fee and bond schedules and many other resources. The largest counties already have their case files online and work is underway on the other counties.
Any citizen can also go to the local county courthouse and find the county law library and use Westlaw with a subscription paid for by the state.
For legal research in other jurisdictions, the Oklahoma Bar Association provides its member-lawyers access to Fastcase for the other states and federal courts. Last month OBA members had over 30,000 transactions on Fastcase.
There may be a debate about free access to the law in other jurisdictions, but not in the Sooner state. OSCN.net is recognized as our Website of the Week.
Mitch Jackson has been really turning out some nice tips on his Trial Lawyer Tips blog. I don't do jury trials any more, but I wanted to pass along this nice resource to my readers and encourage Mitch and co-blogger Lisa Wilson to keep up the good work.
When Law Technology News decided to let Bob Ambrogi go on vacation, they let me guest author his Web Watch column, which is a bit intimidating since Bob is knowledgeable and well respected in his field. I decided to take a new look at an old topic: Internet search. The result is Sea of Possibilities, where i came to the perhaps not-so-startling conclusion that even basic Internet searching has evolved quite a bit the last year or so.
As a former family law attorney myself, I really liked this collection of Ten Best Websites for Family Court Attorneys from Ben Stevens on his South Carolina Family Law Blog. Several of these, particularly the first one, will be useful to lawyers who never practice family law. Who knew there was a site to help you figure out how to meet halfway for visitation and other exchanges?
The Nutmeg Lawyer blog apparently just began in 2009. Some would say there are already plenty of lawyer blogs. But Adrian M. Baron, its author, can really write. His posts are entertaining, which is in many ways the most important aspect of blog posts. He can make you laugh. See the introduction to 8 Tips on Becoming a Reputable Attorney, which also includes some good advice. His writing can be sobering. See the piece on Victim Impact Panels.
Today I feel obligated to heap great praise and give an unqualified endorsement. I think TechnoLawyer’s BlawgWorld is superb. In particular I think it is a great resource for the busy practicing lawyer. Let me explain.
It can be tough being a lawyer in this, or any other, economy. Representing clients, completing projects, handling administrative responsibilities and staying current on one’s legal subject matter issues is the proverbial full time job. But in all but very large firms, where a narrow focus is still possible, a lawyer also has to be aware of technology issues, some management issues, time management, marketing and more. The days have long passed where a lawyer can be ignorant of issues like metadata, possible waiver of attorney client privilege by sending to a client’s work e-mail account, electronic discovery, the need for data backup and many other important matters.
If you are reading this blog post, you know there is lots of helpful free information about many practice management issues available online. But who has the time? That’s where the current generation of BlawgWorld fits our needs. Each Monday we can receive an e-mail with a selection of the greatest hits of technology and practice management related content selected from the last week of legal blog posts and online editions of several other publications. And that’s the first reason this is so great. In this day of disappearing newspapers and shrinking press rooms, with BlawgWorld, we can all benefit from the seasoned editorial judgment. Neil J. Squillante and his team at TechnoLawyer invest their time reading lots of blog posts and articles. And, even though you could visit the sites individually, receiving it all packed in an e-mail is very convenient.
BlawgWorld is concise, with just the post titles (or a description) and the links. There are lots of links, but you can scan all of the week’s selections in just moments. This lets the busy lawyer select and read one or two articles each week. (But don’t blame me or the Technolawyer gang if you end up reading many more.) But every week, you can painlessly devote a little time to reading about current emerging issues or how to improve your practice. You can decide if you have five minutes to invest or twenty. You can see a sample issue online here. I do have a personal interest in that I want BlawgWorld to stay just like it is—because it works for me!
I could say more, (spotlights brighten, background music rises) but you just need to believe. So….. I want you to stand up, and come forward, and click on this link. It’s time, brothers and sisters, to subscribe to BlawgWorld. What’s the risk? Just one more e-mail a week. You can easily unsubscribe after a few weeks if you wish. But as a lawyer (or other legal professional), I think you will really enjoy BlawgWorld.