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The Ten Million Dollar Comma

The Ten Million Dollar Comma on

Here’s why you can’t put a price on quality legal writing

If the legal sphere hinges on anything, it’s the letter of the law. The highest standards of writing are a benefit in any field, but law and legislation rely on it above all other things. Whether working in a litigation or non-litigation position, a legal writer will carry the responsibility of not only helping to represent and communicate with clients, but also the integrity of their firm. Simply put, a legal writer must have precision and clarity in their work.

How precision writing can be priceless

In 1872, a rogue comma cost the American taxpayers over $2 million; more than $38 million today. Only this year, an ongoing UK legal suit was settled which saw an entire company closed down after a single mistyped letter “s”. Consider the Tokyo share trader’s numerical error which led to a blunder of 67.78 trillion yen (over $487 billion).

Precision is essential. And legal writing requires a balancing act between legal accuracy and client accessibility.

The many skills of a qualified legal writer 

The bedrock of writing is solid spelling, syntax, and grammatical structure; doubly so in the case of legal writing. Judges in particular have no patience for poor legal writing (as this archive attests).

Harvard Law School neatly summarizes the numerous tasks legal writers may execute in carrying out their duties. At the job’s core are analytical and logical strengths built upon an exceptional grasp of grammar, detail, and citation. At any given time, a legal writer may be called upon to draft a memo or brief or to foresee potential arguments from their firm’s legal opposition.

Depending on the style of writing that’s required, legal writers may also have to display rhetorical and persuasive skills. These skills flow from more than legal savvy; if a writer has to attempt to persuade a party on behalf of a client, then they must possess the ability to appreciate that other party’s situation. Likewise, in communicating with their own clients, everything should be crystal clear.

There’s no cut and paste proposal or response when it comes to legal writing. Every draft has to be tailored perfectly to its recipient.

An example of legal knowledge and client awareness

The art of addressing law in writing lies in conveying the proper legal gravity, yet not over-simplifying or allowing ambiguity. Let’s suppose that a client or another party is receiving a letter from a firm. Many recipients will have little to no awareness of legal terminology. In those instances, they’ll be hoping that everything they read will be understood, rather than muddy or confuse what may already be a distressing situation. It’s up to the writer to ensure they do.

All legal writers must be able to follow the standards for citing authority in their jurisdiction (such as this example for Florida). The contents of the highlighted source will be a matter of everyday practice for some, and indecipherable “legalese” for anybody else.

Modern media allows for the publication of citation updates to occur instantaneously, rather than printed versions being released months or years apart. As a result, it’s more important than ever for a writer to stay informed on proper citations.

Legal writing and the first impression

The power to engage as well as educate is another key aspect of legal writing. Legislative research, references, and awareness of the audience allow a writer to connect with a reader, be they a member of the same firm, a client, or a judge. A specific tone can make a good first impression and/or foster or detract from relationships.

This tone must be, first and foremost, professional. Whether conveying good news, bad news, or ongoing developments, a legal writer must choose words with care. Information and compassion are what any client would wish for from a legal firm. A legal writer can provide both.

At Boss Certified Realtime Reporting, we’ve been providing nationwide court reporting services for trials, depositions, mediations, and more since 1995. If you’d like help or more information, you can call us at 954.467.6867 or complete our contact form to let us know how we can assist.

Click Here to Like this Litigation: Social Media for Law Firms

Click Here to Like this Litigation: Social Media for Law Firms on http://bossreporting.com

7 tips for creating a more effective social media strategy

Nearly every profession has adopted social media as a way to brand companies, attract clients, and generate more income. The legal field is adapting to and using these platforms, though at times it is a struggle to pair the deeply conservative nature of law firms with the very open (sometimes too open) nature of the social media universe.

Done correctly, however, social media can become an effective marketing tool for law firms and other legal services.

We’ve put together these 7 tips to adopting or improving your firm’s social media strategy:

1. Determine your purpose for using social media.

You won’t be able to adopt an effective strategy – or improve what you’ve already started – unless you know what you want to accomplish with social media. Are you looking to attract more clients? Perhaps you want to establish your firm as an authority in a certain area of law, such as real estate, intellectual property, civil rights, workers compensation, or corporate law? Once you have established goals, you will be better able to come up with a plan to meet them.

2. Decide which social media channels you want to develop or grow.

There are many different platforms available today so you will need to decide which channels you want to use. Facebook is still a top choice. With 2.07 billion users (as of the third quarter of 2017), it provides an almost unlimited pool of potential clients. Along with a page for your firm, you can also take advantage of paid advertising through boosted posts and targeted ads. Choose to target by areas of specialty, geographic region, profession, business owners and top executives, gender, income, marital status, and a wide variety of hobbies and interests.

Another channel you should cultivate is LinkedIn. It is the world’s largest social media network for working professionals, with 467 million users. It has individual and company profiles as well as Groups formed around many different interests. Create a firm profile and use it to connect with others in your field as well as businesses in your area. Your profile should have complete descriptions of services, areas of expertise, and a method of contact. You can also list individual attorneys within the firm and include personal profiles for them. With a premium LinkedIn account, you will have the ability to contact other users directly.

Other social media channels to consider include Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr, as well as other mediums. Pick a few channels and develop them well, rather than try to incorporate all of them.

3. Always stay active and engaged.

The first word in social media is “social.” Once you have established accounts, you must keep up with them with regular updates and posts. A page that looks active will help attract new followers and keep them engaged. On Twitter, make good use of hashtags, which are basically search terms that other users type in when they want to view tweets about a particular subject. For example, you might use the hashtags #insolvency, #CorporateLaw, or #LegalNews.

You will also need to monitor your social media pages to ensure that other users don’t post anything inappropriate, controversial, or illegal.

4. Be a trusted resource, not a sales center.

The purpose of social media is not to “sell” something, at least not all the time. If the majority of your posts do nothing but try to market legal services, you will turn people off. Your posts should establish your firm as an authority and resource where people can go to find answers to their legal questions. You want to engage with followers by posting original, relevant content. You can also share content from trusted sources such as news organizations, newspapers, trade magazines, and legal publications which will be of interest to your target market. For example, if your firm specializes in real estate law, you’ll want to post content about the state of the real estate market, both nationally and in your local community. Another good idea is to post questions that encourage followers to answer and engage with you. If a follower posts a question or makes a comment, always answer, if possible. If the matter needs to be handled more discreetly, find a way to contact that person privately.

If you want a good idea of how to balance “selling” versus “engaging, follow the 80/20 rule. According to WiseStamp, “80% of the content that you share should be about your customers; answering their questions, retweeting links and sharing articles that they will find valuable. The remaining 20% can be sales oriented shares.”

5. Have a clear call to action on all your pages.

It’s all well and good to post and share great content, but remember your purpose of using social media is ultimately to attract clients. Make sure that you have clear “contact” tools on each page or ad that you have, including a website, email and phone number. Facebook pages have “contact” buttons which can be formatted to take a user directly to a website, landing page or email. Always include a direct link to your website in every post that you make or share as well.

6. Blog regularly.

Blogging is an inexpensive, easy way to speak to potential clients and establish your firm as an expert. Like Tip #3, you will need to ensure that the blog is maintained on a regular basis. You should post at least once a week. They should be educational and engaging, but never “salesy”. If you aren’t going to have a dedicated person responsible for creating posts (or if you don’t want to outsource the task) it might be a good idea to have attorneys or other legal professionals take turns writing original posts. Each person could have a designated day so the burden doesn’t always fall on one individual. Blog posts can then be used as content on all your social media channels. Followers can also share the posts on their channels.

7. Incorporate pictures and video.

We’ve all seen pictures or videos that have gone viral. Visual content tends to create higher engagement, as images are often faster and easier to absorb than written words. Channels like Facebook also tend to give more weight to visual content, meaning it is more likely to show up in people’s news feeds. You also create opportunities for your content to be shared by your followers. Video content can include interviews with attorneys, staff introductions, weekly Q&A’s, stories about the firm, community events and more. Consider starting a YouTube channel to create and collect a video library.

Social media is one of the best ways to attract and engage potential clients. Develop your policy to ensure you aren’t missing out on this important marketing tool.

At Boss Certified Realtime Reporting, we’ve been providing nationwide court reporting services for trials, depositions, mediations and more since 1995. If you’d like help or more information, you can call us at 954 467 6867 or complete our contact form to let us know how we can assist you.

Dress to Impress: What You Should Wear to a Legal Proceeding

Dress to Impress: What You Should Wear to a Legal Proceeding on bossreporting.com

Don’t let your clothes speak louder than you

There are certain professions that are synonymous with clothing. When you think about police, you probably imagine men (and women) in blue. Doctors are usually associated with white coats. But what about lawyers?

Though they don’t have uniforms per se, lawyers do have an unwritten dress code they should adhere to. And while they can wear what they like in their own offices, it’s important that they peruse their closets carefully before attending any legal proceeding and keep these five tips in mind:

Fit is important

You definitely don’t want to wear clothing that is too loose or too tight. If you will be presenting in front of a judge or jury, you’ll want to make sure you’ll be able to move around easily. If you typically buy clothes off the rack, you should think about having them tailored to fit you better.

Don’t get too comfortable

We live in an increasingly casual world. Once upon a time people would dress up before taking a flight, and now sweats and yoga pants are the norm. But anything involving the law is still extremely conservative. There’s no such thing as casual Fridays in a courtroom, so business attire should be worn at all times.

Cut out the distractions

A little bit of color can be good, but too much could just be a big distraction. The same is true for expensive accessories like purses and watches. Noise also plays a role in court, so it’s a good idea to avoid shoes with loud clacking heals or bracelets that jangle.

Keep your wardrobe updated

If you’re still wearing the same clothes you wore a decade or two ago, it is probably time to go shopping. First of all, styles change, so it’s possible you’re looking out-dated. Plus, unless you are a fitness hound, you’ve probably put on a few pounds over the years, which means those clothes aren’t fitting as well as they once did.

Be careful with how much you show

While all of the above tips apply for any lawyer, this one is mostly for the ladies. Unfortunately, because women have a tougher time establishing themselves in various fields – law included – they generally have to be more cognizant of the things they do than their male counterparts. And when in court, this means avoiding cleavage or anything that could reveal underclothing.

If you have any doubt about what to wear, there’s a simple exercise you can do: Think about how your clients would want you to dress. Or, even better, as Gary J. Ross explains, it’s always important to dress like a lawyer because you never know when you may get a client.

At Boss Reporting, we always aim to give lawyers tidbits like these to help them in their careers. This is why we have been providing court reporting services for over 20 years. To let us know what we can do for you, give us a call at 954-467-6867 or send us an email at info@bossreporting.com.

There’s a Legal App for That

There’s a Legal App for That on bossreporting.com

A look at trial presentation technology and software

Although the legal profession is steeped in tradition and precedence, the law has made plenty of room for modern advancement. Today’s attorneys have many tech tools to help prepare for trials, including software and apps that can do everything from organize a presentation to help in jury selection.

Today, we’re looking at some of the most popular tools that have made trial prep easier.

The tablet revolution

Actually, before we touch on specific software, we have to mention the one tool that has transformed trial presentations…the iPad. Tablets are now used to create dynamic, streamlined presentations that mean doing away with bringing large folders, files and boxes of evidence into the courtroom. Everything can be stored on an iPad for easy access during the trial.

Trial software

As for software, new programs have challenged the dominance of PowerPoint as a presentation tool. Apple’s Keynote and Prezi are two of the most popular ones. These programs can be created on a laptop and then transferred to an iPad or other tablet device if needed.

Apps for trial preparation

The two most popular trial apps are TrialPad  and TrialDirector. Both help organize, manage, search, annotate and store everything needed for your trial, including files, documents, photographs and videos. The programs make it easy to find and select any file, allowing you to skip back and forth in your presentation seamlessly.

TrialPad and TrialDirector capabilities include*:

  • Easy document storage, navigation, and management
  • Callout, laser, highlighting, and redacting tools
  • Display a section of a transcript for emphasis
  • Overlay exhibits for easy comparison (such as comparing handwriting samples)
  • Show split screen for side-by-side comparisons
  • Bookmark exhibits for quicker access
  • A variety of shapes, lines, and drawing tools
  • Freeform drawing on a virtual whiteboard

Allows you to import photographs and videos, as well as different types of files, including: JPG, GIF, PNG, TIF, multi-page TIF and TXT, DOCX, XLS, PPT, Keynote, Pages & Numbers

*Note: Not all features are available with both apps

Timeline 3D – Lets you create a list of chronological events, add media and then turn it into a visual timeline for a jury. It can be exported to PowerPoint or Keynote and displayed in full screen and 3D perspectives.

TranscriptPad – A full-featured app that allows you to store, organize, review and annotate transcripts. Search across an entire case or a single witness or deposition.

iJuror – This app lets you record information about potential jurors, assign scores, color codes, demographics of the jury, and even configure a seating chart.

Bloomberg Law – A free app (for subscribers) that is a great tool for legal research. Sign up to receive alerts for legal news, access articles, track dockets, opinions or bills.

Fed Courts – This app has full text of federal and local rules of procedure for every court in the country.

Picture It Settled – If you are trying to reach a settlement before embarking on a trial, this app can help analyze the positions of the litigants and develop a negotiation strategy.

TrialWorks App – A companion to the TrialWorks case management software, which provides on-the-go access to documents, notes, dates, and contacts.

See even more trial-related apps at BullsEye Legal News.

Technology has taken trial preparation into a new century. These examples are just some of the tools, which can help you prepare for trial and ensure your presentation do its job of winning the case.

At Boss Certified Realtime Reporting, we’ve been providing nationwide court reporting services for trials, depositions, mediations and more since 1995. If you’d like help or more information, you can call us at 954 467 6867 or complete our contact form to let us know how we can assist you.

Interpreter or Translator: There’s a Difference! Here’s What You Need to Know

Interpreter or Translator: There’s a Difference! Here’s What You Need to Know on bossreporting.com

Both involve translation, but one focuses only on written communication.

Come on, it’s the same thing. That’s what most people think when they’re asked to explain the difference between an interpreter and a translator. Actually—and especially in legal proceedings—they’re two different things.

Here’s your takeaway if you haven’t got time to read all of this. A translator works with written communication. An Interpreter works with spoken communication. This difference can be important for billing purposes.

Say it, or write it

Here’s a theoretical situation. You’re representing an English-speaking client who is being sued by a Chinese-speaking client. The judgement is in your favor, so you request that the plaintiff pay the fee for translating documents pertinent to the case from Chinese into English, under Title 28 U.S. Code § 1920 – Taxation of costs.

The court will not find in your favor. Taxation of costs here refers specifically to interpretation services, where a professional is retained to translate spoken communication.

Know which one you need

In the case of depositions, an interpreter is the obvious and appropriate choice. They’re going to provide you real-time translation services of the spoken communication happening the deposition. This is still a skill requiring a professional. Google hasn’t quite managed it yet.

Tips on working with interpreters

Consider this a 3-step process: Before, during, and after.

Before

  • Build rapport. There probably won’t be much time, but you must use it to your advantage. Find out the interpreter’s background so you have perspective. Reciprocate with information about yourself. This helps to establish a positive partnership.
  • Establish the purpose. Make sure the interpreter knows what you want to get from the interview.
  • Prepare for jargon. There may be slang or technical words that don’t translate well out of perspective. Make sure the interpreter is aware of this.
  • It should be understood, but don’t be afraid to request a direct translation, free of any paraphrasing.
  • Prepare the interpreter ahead of time if you intend to ask sensitive questions.

During

  • Don’t forget your manners. Introduce everyone to the interpreter and explain their role. Make sure everyone understands the process.
  • Avoid assumptions. Someone may speak a bit of English. In this case, make it clear that the interpreter is there only to facilitate the conversation.
  • The interpreter may be the person speaking the language you understand, but maintain eye contact with the person you’re interviewing. They will convey facial gestures and body language.
  • Take a Hemingway-esque approach to your interview. Long and complicated sentences may leave important things lost in translation. Short and simple sentences and questions are the best approach—especially when they’re free of slang and jargon. Neither the person you’re interviewing nor the interpreter may be familiar with this.
  • The interpreter has to translate both sides of the conversation, so give them polite pause, and don’t speak at the same time anyone else does.
  • Interpretation is a skill, not an exact science. If you believe the interpreter is summarizing or making a mistake with the translation, simply rephrase the question or approach it from a different angle.

After

  • Ask to review the interview immediately after it concludes, while it’s still fresh in everyone’s minds. Were there any parts of the deposition that confused you or caused concern? See if the interpreter has any concerns. It may be necessary for some follow-ups to gain clarification.
  • Finding a good interpreter is like gaining a good friend or ally. Give them feedback and express your gratitude if you’d like to work with them again. Set the state for a partnership.

Not sharing a common language is stressful. There are nuances and slang that simply defy word-for-word translation. The optimal way to overcome this challenge is by working with an interpreter. They may be doing the translating, but it’s still up to you to watch for emotion and body language.

At Boss Certified Realtime Reporting, we’ve been providing nationwide court reporting services for trials, depositions, mediations and more since 1995. If you’d like help or more information, you can call us at 954 467 6867 or complete our contact form to let us know how we can assist you.

What is Stenography?

What is Stenography? on bossreporting.com

Everything you ever wanted to know about stenography

Stenography is an important, but often overlooked, part of our legal system. Little is known about it, beyond noticing someone in the courtroom who is typing away on a little machine. We thought it might be helpful to explain about the history of the practice and the role played by stenographers today.

What is stenography?

Stenography is the act of recording spoken words through shorthand using a stenotype machine. A number of different shorthand systems have been used over the last couple centuries.

How does shorthand work?

According to CourtReporter.edu, “Depending on the language, a shorthand system may rely on symbols, which represent specific sounds, concepts, or letters, or it may rely on letters that have specific meanings. Some shorthand systems are even specially coded for a specific organization or company, thereby keeping sensitive information safe from outsiders.”

What role does the stenographer play in a trial or hearing?

The job of a stenographer is to attend trials, hearings, depositions or any legal proceeding relating to a case, and record (or transcribe) everything that happens to create a public record. That record is vital in order to protect both the court and the litigants. Stenographers are appointed “officers of the court” and not under the control of either attorney.

“The notes must comply with provisions requiring the stenographer to prepare and sign a certificate stating that the proceedings, evidence, and charges levied against the defendant were fully and accurately taken at the trial and that the transcript represents an accurate translation of the notes.”

When was the stenography machine invented?

Miles Bartholomew invented the first shorthand machine in 1877. He is considered the “Father of the Stenograph.” Bartholomew’s machine was still being used in courtrooms up until 1937. A later model called “The Secretarial Model shorthand machine” was the first to trademark the name Stenograph. In the 1960s, stenographs were first connected to computers, which began the era of “real-time” court reporting.

Why does the machine look that way?

If you’ve ever looked closely at a stenography machine, you’ve probably noticed that it looks a little strange. It’s smaller than a typewriter and seems to be missing some keys.

A standard stenotype machine has only 22 keys that are used to create coded numbers, phrases, words, and sounds. There are universal symbols/codes used, but some stenographers also develop their own “language” of coded letter combinations.

How fast can a stenographer type?

If you thought the lack of keys might slow a person down, think again. Experienced stenographers can “type” up to 300 words per minute. “Because the stenotype machine has just 22 keys, the stenographer often hits multiple keys at once. This process, which is called chording, may appear to be downright jumbled to an ordinary observer, but to the stenographer it makes perfect sense.”

How are the court reports generated?

Traditionally, reports have been printed out directly from the stenography machine and then transcribed later. However, modern machines often use internal memory storage like a flash drive. The report is then downloaded onto a computer and special programs generate a readable transcript. The machine might also be connected directly to a laptop to create a real-time transcript.

Do stenographers ever work outside of a courtroom?

Yes, they can. Stenographers often work for private businesses, recording important meetings or events where a public record is needed. Closed captioning services for the hearing impaired is another area where stenography skills are increasingly being used. The service might be done for both live and recorded TV shows or events.

At Boss Certified Realtime Reporting, we’ve been providing nationwide court reporting services for trials, depositions, mediations and more since 1995. If you’d like help or more information, you can call us at 954 467 6867 or complete our contact form to let us know how we can assist you.

Paralegals: What are They?

Paralegals: What are They? on bossreporting.com

Explaining what paralegals do and why they are so important

Paralegals are an essential part of the legal process. Law firms of all sizes employ paralegals, however most people outside the legal profession don’t know what the important function paralegals serve.

So, what exactly is a paralegal?

According to the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA), “Paralegals are qualified by education, training or work experience…to perform specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible.”

Paralegals can work for law firms, corporations, governmental agencies, or other entities; however, they cannot give legal advice to a client. They cannot accept a case or represent anyone. Only an attorney can do that. Their time for substantive legal work (not clerical or administrative) is billed hourly, similar to an attorney, though at a lower rate.

What does a paralegal do?

Paralegals perform many essential tasks. According to NALA, “Working under the supervision of an attorney, the paralegal’s work product is merged with and becomes part of the attorney work product for a client.”

Paralegals perform many essential duties, including:

  • Conduct client interviews and maintain general contact with the client
  • Locate and interview witnesses
  • Conduct investigations and statistical and documentary research
  • Conduct legal research
  • Draft legal documents, correspondence, and pleadings
  • Summarize depositions, interrogatories, and testimony
  • Attend executions of wills, real estate closings, depositions, court or administrative hearings, and trials with the attorney
  • Author and sign correspondence provided the paralegal status is clearly indicated and the correspondence does not contain independent legal opinions or legal advice.

One of the most important tasks of a paralegal is assisting attorneys in the preparation of a trial. According to Paralegal.edu, “A large part of this consists of conducting legal research and gathering relevant information to the case. This includes researching the facts of the case as well as identifying the appropriate laws, judicial decisions, and legal articles relevant to the case. The paralegal gathers and analyzes information, then prepares a written report that the attorney uses to determine how the case should be handled.”

Much of a paralegal’s day is spent drafting legal documents, including correspondence and pleadings, such as complaints, subpoenas, interrogatories, deposition notices, pretrial orders, and legal briefs with various parties.

Paralegals must often take on administrative tasks as well, either for the firm as a whole or a specific attorney. They might maintain the attorney’s calendar, organize files, and make phone calls to clients, attorneys, experts, or court personnel to schedule interviews or hearings.

What type of education is required for a paralegal?

There are actually a few different types of education programs to become a paralegal, although most have at least a 2-year Associate Degree.

Associate Degree – A 2-year Degree offered at community colleges, universities, and some business schools. It requires 60-70 semester units, with half devoted to paralegal-related course work and the other half including general education.

Bachelor’s Degree – This is a 4-year program, with paralegal as the declared major. It requires 120-130 semester units, with 30-60 units devoted to paralegal-related course work.

Certificate Programs – Various schools and institutions offer certificate programs. They are generally designed for people who already have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. It requires 18-60 semester units.

Master’s Degree – A few select colleges and universities now offer advanced degrees in paralegal studies.

How is a paralegal different from a legal assistant?

You may have heard the terms “paralegal” and “legal assistant”, but is there a difference? In some cases, the terms might be used interchangeably, with both performing similar duties. The main difference is that paralegals have passed the NALA certification exam, while legal assistants have not.

Now that you know more about paralegals, it should give you a greater appreciation for the role they fill in our legal process.

Boss Certified Real-Time Reporting provides court reporting services for everything from trials and mediations, to dispositions and conferences. We’re accurate, fast, and in your corner! For more information call us at 954-467-6867, or connect with us online today!

So Long, Partner: 5 Tips for Dealing with the Departure of a Member of Your Legal Team

So Long, Partner: 5 Tips for Dealing with the Departure of a Member of Your Legal Team on bossreporting.com

5 Tips that revolve around 2 words: Roles and Responsibilities.

In a perfect world, you get plenty of advanced notice. Hand-offs are planned. Caseloads are balanced. A partner’s departure from your legal team is unfortunate, but it doesn’t create chaos.

We don’t live in a perfect world. Often, there’s little notice. Opportunities come quickly, and people have to act fast. Or, it’s an unplanned, abrupt termination. In either case, your best bet is proactive planning so you can compensate for these sudden absences. Follow these 5 tips.

1. Keep a company voicemail login information sheet

The confidential nature of client information means that much of it may be exchanged using the phone. You’ll want to make sure you have access to a departing partner’s voicemail to access the messages and their chronology.

2. Have your IT department clone their email

Back to that perfect world scenario. Malice and professionalism are mutually exclusive in the legal field—so it’s unlikely that it’s much of a concern. It’s more likely that a departing colleague accidentally deletes important email content with the intent of getting rid of clutter.

It’s in your firm’s best interests to decide which email messages are important and necessary, as you’ll be taking over for the person who’s moving on.

3. Ask them to list usernames and passwords for any external sites where case and workload information is stored

Your firm may already have policies in place that determine the allowable places where partners can keep digital storage. It also means your IT department should be able to access these files if necessary. Make sure, however, that your departing colleague shares any and all sources where they may have stored client- or case-related information.

This includes popular commercial sites, such as Dropbox. Don’t forget to ask them if they’ve stored any voice memos or notes on their mobile devices.

4. Ask them to or have your IT department delegate control of their docket calendar

There are discovery deadlines, depositions, closings, and all kinds of client meetings—and many have been on the schedule for months. They can’t be missed, so you’ll need to make sure they’re assigned to other partners.

5. Make delegated roles and responsibilities clear to those who assume them

Partners are busy, and assuming the caseload of a departing colleague only adds more tasks. It’s wise not to assume that someone should know the peripherals of what’s landing on their plate—especially if your firm decides to reassign responsibilities instead of entire cases.

You’ll also want to clarify what’s allowable or permissible with ongoing communications after this partner has left the firm. Most firms opt to continue those communications only if it’s vital, and they use the ex-partner’s personal contact information. Otherwise, there can be a conflict of interest if the new firm practices similar law.

Consider giving this responsibility to a senior office administrator, or to one of the firm’s partners. It’s something that should be handled firmly and with authority.

Someone leaving your firm shouldn’t be the cause of confusion and lost revenue. If your firm doesn’t experience a regular turnover of partners, you may not have a comprehensive procedure in place. When the time comes, it ends up being hit-and-miss, rather than a comfortable rollover.

Boss Certified Real-Time Reporting provides court reporting services for everything from trials and mediations, to dispositions and conferences. We’re accurate, fast, and in your corner! For more information call us at 954-467-6867, or connect with us online today!

2018’s Hottest Legal Jobs

2018’s Hottest Legal Jobs on bossreporting.com

The best legal career opportunities for 2018

The past 5-10 years have been a bit of rollercoaster for those seeking work in the field of law. Fortunately, the legal industry is vast, with a wide assortment of roles for those with and without extensive legal educations. The trick is being flexible and knowing where to look.

Top 5 job prospects in the field of law

While many who pursuit a career in law have specific areas they want to be involved with, those willing to adapt to the job market have some exciting options. Here are five blooming legal careers – some require a JD, others don’t.

1. Court reporter. With less and less people entering this profession, a shortage is driving up demand for court reporters, and salaries right along with it. Court reporters use stenographic equipment to transcribe court testimony, speeches, and other legal proceedings at a blazing 200+ words per minute! An associate’s degree, or postsecondary certificate in court reporting and stenography is required.

2. Intellectual property lawyer. Intellectual property (IP) law is one of the most in-demand fields of law today. This is largely due to the fact that IP – a creative invention, design, work of art, etc. – drives our current economy. IP attorneys deal with trademark, patent, and copyright law, which apply to just about every industry open for business in 2018.

3. Legal secretary. As the call for legal services continues to grow, so does the need for administrative assistants, also known as “legal secretaries.” Legal secretaries have taken advantage of advancements in law office technology to enlist in greater and greater responsibilities within law firms, and the position usually only requires an associate’s degree or legal secretary certificate.

4. Compliance specialist. Remember the Enron scandal of 2001? To prevent anything like it from happening again, in 2002, Congress enacted the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX). Among the results were a litany of new regulations and one of the most in demand job markets in the legal profession today. Compliance specialists assist corporations and consulting firms in ensuring their affairs stay nice and legal. Typically a bachelors in finance, business, or another related field is required.

5. Healthcare attorneys. The Affordable Care Act has created an in-demand niche for lawyers. Debates on the new law, embryonic stem cells, end-of-life care, and what’s considered legal medicine are fueling an exciting and ever-expanding call for medically-related legal counsel.

The value of versatility

As the legal market diversifies, so are must those working in the legal profession – professional success can be had by adapting to the changing environment.

Boss Certified Real-Time Reporting provides court reporting services for everything from trials and mediations, to dispositions and conferences. We’re accurate, fast, and in your corner! For more information call us at 954-467-6867, or connect with us online today!

A Court Reporter vs. a Stenographer

A Court Reporter vs. a Stenographer on bossreporting.com

What’s the difference and what are their roles?

One role that is often overlooked in a hearing or trial is the court reporter or stenographer (sometimes called a transcriptionist). Perhaps you’ve watched a trial on TV or been in a courtroom and seen someone “typing” on a small machine off in the corner. Maybe you’ve even noticed the person in a fictional television show. So, what exactly does a court reporter or stenographer do? Are the two jobs the same and is one preferred over the other?

We’d like to clear up some of the confusion and explain the essential role they both play in our legal system.

A court reporter and stenographer defined

According to WiseGeek.com, “The terms court reporter and stenographer are often used interchangeably, although there are actually several differences between the two. In general, both occupations provide verbatim transcription services to transform spoken dialog into written legal documents.”

In other words, both people must transcribe – word-for-word – any discussion that happens in court, during a meeting, or deposition. The transcript becomes the legal record so it must be recorded accurately and completely. Once a transcript is finished, it is given to the court and will become public record. Often, the transcription takes place in real time, with the court reporter or stenographer sitting in the room. However, sometimes the proceedings are recorded and written out later. Most transcriptions are created using a stenotype machine that has shorthand codes, which are used to create a complete document. Another option is to use a stenomask, which allows the person to speak into a microphone and record what is being said.

The difference between a court reporter and a stenographer

The biggest difference between the two jobs is the amount of schooling needed. A court reporter requires 2-4 years of formal schooling. They must also pass an official exam and become licensed or certified, depending on the state. By contrast, becoming a stenographer only requires about 6 months of training.

The extra education and license for court reporters means they are able to perform other duties beyond transcription in court. They might offer closed-caption services for hearing-impaired individuals, notary services, or perform other administrative tasks. Some court reporters will often do legal research, assist attorneys or judges, and administer oaths to witnesses in court. There are even employment opportunities outside of a courtroom, including freelance work on a case-by-case basis, working for a law firm or television network.

Reasons to choose one over the other

So now that you understand the difference, the question is…which one do you need for a particular job? According to Transcription Experts, “If an audio or video recording needs to be transcribed into a text document, use a qualified court transcriptionist. A court reporter is used if someone needs to be present at a deposition, hearing, arbitration, trial, or other legal proceeding to record live and read back if necessary.”

Cost might also be a factor. A stenographer (or transcriptionist) is generally less expensive, charging by the minute only. Court reporting often comes with more fees, including appearance fees and per page fees.

Still unsure if you need a court reporter or stenographer? Perhaps we can help. At Boss Certified Realtime Reporting, we’ve been providing nationwide court reporting services for trials, depositions, mediations and more since 1995. If you’d like help or more information, you can call us at 954-467-6867 or complete our contact form to let us know how we can assist.

Is YouTube a Good Place to Market Your Law Firm?

Is YouTube a Good Place to Market Your Law Firm? on bossreporting.com

YouTube is a complement to your marketing strategy—it’s a powerful storytelling device that helps people connect with you on a human level

Lawyers win cases by presenting accurate and compelling information. It’s also how they win new clients. After all, a record of success will only get you so far. Sooner or later, clients have to decide if your personalities mesh.

How do you give prospective clients a taste of your operating style? YouTube was made for this. It’s a perfect way to demonstrate your skills as a litigator and an orator.

In good company

You can be forgiven if you think that YouTube is nothing but a giant ocean of cat videos and other such trivial digital media. It’s a communications channel not to be taken lightly. It was, after all, the venue both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton used to announce their respective bids for the presidency.

It’s unlikely that a law firm is going to amass as many followers as any of the Kardashian sisters, but subscribers shouldn’t be your objective. It’s a way for prospects to see lawyers as humans. It’s also a way talk to both prospects and existing clients about how you can add value. After all, people hire lawyers, not law firms.

YouTube is a superb way for lawyers to finally turn the tables and make their outward communications not about themselves. These can be short and informative pieces, or comprehensive interviews that cast light on areas of expertise. Your objective is to tell a story, and to explain your “why.” Ultimately, this is marketing, but at the outset, it’s simply a way for you to help people put your services into their worldview.

Why are you there?

If you don’t have expectations, you can’t measure benefits. The easiest and most productive route is to end your YouTube videos with a call to action. Make sure it’s obvious why you created the video. You’ve provided some kind of solution or shared valuable information as a subject matter expert for a reason. What is that, and how can the viewer put it to use?

YouTube continues to grow as a source for industry updates and breaking news. Videos that explain how a news event or new law will impact the public are a powerful way to connect with prospects and deepen your relationship with existing clients. It has created a new category of behavior and expectations. Is your sink clogged? Head to YouTube and find out what to do about it.

Take that analogy and put it to use for yourself. What scenarios would cause someone to seek out your services? Answer that question and you’ll never run out of ideas for YouTube videos.

High production values aren’t as important as relevance and timing. Interviews give viewers insight and perspective. Bring in outside experts to interview. It helps prospects judge your interaction skills.

It’s your style

Google gives ranking preferences to videos because it’s what people want to consume. Video engages. And, of course, there’s also the fact that Google owns YouTube. So, if prospecting is one of your marketing objectives, YouTube must become a part of your arsenal. Video that establishes you as a subject matter expert will be rich in content that highlights your SEO keywords. You’ll be found in search engines, and people will connect with you because your YouTube videos first help them validate that you understand their problem, and then that you are a solution to the problem.

Video puts lawyers in their best light, and YouTube reaches more adults during the prime time viewing hours than television. Your videos don’t have to be highly polished, but they do have to be sincere. The most popular videos on YouTube are made by nonprofessionals. The videos succeed because they were made by people who expressed passion about something they want to share.

If you’re still struggling with what your YouTube videos would be about, maybe it’s because you’re trying to make them more about marketing than storytelling. What’s the one thing you can’t wait to get home to tell your significant other about? You’ve just identified your next YouTube video subject.

At Boss Certified Realtime Reporting, we’ve been providing nationwide court reporting services for trials, depositions, mediations and more since 1995. If you’d like help or more information, you can call us at 954 467 6867 or complete our contact form to let us know how we can assist.

Want to Start a Law Firm Blog? The Dos and Don’ts of Legal Blogging

Want to Start a Law Firm Blog? The Dos and Don'ts of Legal Blogging

You’ll see a return on your investment if you focus on a niche

Go ahead. There’s no one to stop you. Starting a blog about law is an excellent idea. According to NM Incite, you’ll be joining over 6.7 million people who publish blogs on blogging websites, who are joined by another 12 million people who write blogs using social networks.

Why are they doing it? There are few better ways to establish yourself online as a subject matter expert. It’s a way to get noticed. HubSpot reports companies that blog get 434% more indexed pages and twice as much traffic from email marketing.

But, who will read it?

That depends on who you plan to reach. You have basically four audience segments:

  1. Your current clients. Start a blog to keep them updated on news and cases in their areas of interest. From a marketing standpoint, you blog provides a cost-effective way to demonstrate your value by providing them with practical information.
  2. Prospective clients. People look to blogs to find subject-matter experts. Starting a blog can help establish you as one.
  3. Lawyers in your area of practice. A blog can help establish your reputation as a trusted contributor to the field. You may discover that peers refer clients who live in your area.
  4. The general legal population. A blog with regularly published new content puts you on the radar. You’ll appear in search engine results. Lawyers may look to you for information.

Each segment offers an opportunity. Can you target them all? It’s possible. To accomplish this, you’re going to have to nail these important tasks.

Define your target audience

This is the age of specificity. What is yours?

Your opportunity to build a sizable readership depends on clearly defining who will be interested in what you have to say. This is different than marketing or advertising. You don’t have to find this audience. If your blog posts are read-worthy, this audience will find you.

However, you do have to know who they are so you can put the mechanisms in place that keep your content specific to their interests.

Give it a specific twist

Readers want to find a way to relate to you. They’re looking for a subject-matter expert, but they’re also searching for someone who has a signal that rises above the noise. What makes you uniquely qualified to write the posts on your blog?

Most likely, you’ll find the answer is entwined with your personality and perspective. Here’s an example: If you practice small business bankruptcy law, your blog will compete hundreds or even thousands of others just like it. A quick Google search of “small business bankruptcy law blog” returned nearly 7.5 million results.

But, what if you’re writing this blog from the perspective of a single parent? Strive to be unique, where you are using the accurate meaning of the word. Unique actually means one of a kind. How close can you get to being like nothing else to be found online?

Add new content regularly

 You really do have to be as dependable as the sunrise in this respect. Your growing audience needs a regular feeding of a new blog post. Your challenge is to make sure that quality doesn’t take a back seat to quantity. Each article has to cater to your niche audience, and it must communicate an aspect of the uniqueness you’re seeking to carve out for yourself.

Create a virtual village

It may be your blog, but you shouldn’t strive to do all the talking. Look for ways to facilitate interactivity. Can readers ask you questions? Can you reach out to peers and ask them to contribute? (And of course, you will reciprocate.)

Stoke this engine of interaction. Help your readers get to know each other. Make it easy for them to share your content with their own respective social networks, as well.

Are you up for the challenge?

If it sounds like a lot of work, that’s because it is. The New York Times reports that 95% of all blogs are ultimately abandoned. Maybe that’s not such a big deal if it’s a personal experience blog—but this will have an attachment to your professional reputation.

Apply the same level of research to the viability and benefit of maintaining a blog that you would do if you were researching a case. It’s a lot of work, but it’s rewarding work that offers a return on the investment.

At Boss Certified Realtime Reporting, we’ve been providing nationwide court reporting services for trials, depositions, mediations and more since 1995. If you’d like help or more information, you can call us at 954 467 6867 or complete our contact form to let us know how we can assist.

Grow Your Law Firm Using SEO

Grow Your Law Firm Using SEO on bossreporting.com

5 tips for search engine optimization in the legal profession

No industry can escape the tech revolution. Even though the law is steeped in history and precedence, law firms these days must stay abreast of the latest tools in order to remain competitive. With the proliferation of the Internet, clients can now search for an attorney in drastically different ways. Search engines like Google have become a primary source of discovery, which has heralded the need for websites to include search engine optimization (SEO). As described by Forbes, “SEO is the practice of configuring on-site and off-site elements of a website so it ranks well in search results for keyword terms or phrases.”

Nearly every industry has adopted SEO practices for their websites, however, those strategies must be geared toward the legal profession in order for them to be effective and also adhere to specific regulations. Violating those regulations could result in fines or legal action.

Here are 6 tips to remember if you are looking to optimize your firm’s website.

1. Make use of keywords

Keywords are words or phrases someone might use when searching for a product or service online, whether it’s a new car, a book, or an attorney. According to a digital marketing design firm, “In order to choose the right keyword, you need to do some research with the help of a keyword tool to discover keywords which (a) have a high search volume, (b) have a low competition rate and (c) match your area of service.”

Some tips to follow in your research according to the Forbes article mentioned above:

  •  Find terms related to your practice area
  • Compare variations of your target keyword phrases
  • Use phrases with high search volume but moderate competition
  • Find low competition keywords that can be targeted
  • Use phrases and terms related to your main target keyword phrase for a page (words that are synonymous)
  • See what phrases your competition is ranking for and try to make your content better than theirs

2. Have unique page titles and meta descriptions

Metadata is basically content that tells the search engine what a webpage is about. Title pages and meta descriptions are two types of metadata. “The titles and descriptions should be unique for each page. If you have the same metadata on every page, you decrease your chances of ranking well in search results for any of them.”

3. Use schema properly

Schema refers to HTML code that is used for website content to make it machine- understandable. This allows search engines to determine the relationships between different pieces of content. The legal profession has a specific set of schema so that search engines understand that content should be applied to law firms and attorneys. Apply schema to phone numbers, addresses, email, reviews, as well as attorney names and bios. Doing this will increase click-through rates.

4. Organize your website logically

Google is very methodical in the way it does searches. Customers like a website to be “user friendly,” and so do search engines. Organize firm websites with a page for each area of practice. Have one overall theme throughout (such as personal injury, real estate, workmen’s comp, etc.), and then whittle down to subtopics that revolve around that central theme.

5. Create a strong CTA

A call to action (CTA) should compel a customer to do something, such as pick up the phone or place an order. Your website needs a strong CTA that includes a phone number. The number should appear on every page of the site and be placed before the point at which the user would have to scroll down in order to keep reading for prime visibility. It’s best to have multiple ways to make contact, so in addition to a phone number, include an electronic contact form and a direct email. The point is to make it easy for the customer to contact you.

One more tip … Make sure your website is mobile friendly.

These days, a majority of people use smart phones and tablets to do Internet research, so make sure your website is optimized for these users. In other words, it should be “mobile friendly” so that it is easy to read the content on a phone or tablet screen.

Use this Google tool to see if your website is optimized for mobile users.

You can also find out what percentage of traffic to your website comes from devices other than computers. If you find that more users come via a phone or tablet, you definitely need to redesign for these devices.

See in Google Analytics > Audience > Mobile what portion of your traffic comes from non-desktop devices.

These are just some of the ways SEO can help grow your legal practice. Implement changes now in order to create more visibility online and drive traffic to your website.

At Boss Certified Realtime Reporting, we’ve been providing nationwide court reporting services for trials, depositions, mediations and more since 1995. If you’d like help or more information, you can call us at 954 467 6867 or complete our contact form to let us know how we can assist.

Could Webinars Be the Perfect Marketing Tool for Your Firm?

Could Webinars Be the Perfect Marketing Tool for Your Firm? on bossreporting.com

How your legal expertise can go global 24/7

When you market yourself, you want to achieve three things: get yourself noticed, establish expertise in your field, and convince the crowd you have what they need. Webinars give the modern law firm a powerful online platform for self-promotion and audience engagement/education. Unlike the traditional seminar, webinars are never over and impossible to miss: the click of a button makes it immediately available for all future viewers. They’re a finite investment of your time that, once uploaded, can be viewed anywhere, at any time.

In an ad-saturated world, webinars could be the edge you need to give the public something. There are as many ways to present one as there are personalities behind them. There are, however, key questions to ask yourself and firm rules to follow in order to make your law firm webinar a truly effective marketing tool.

Why webinars?

In the modern marketing sphere, advertising is dying as consumers are overwhelmed by more and more sales messages. In fact, as many as 84% of modern consumers don’t trust traditional advertising. When every other law firm is advertising themselves, webinars stand out from the crowd by providing something of value.

A prospective client is more likely to identify and do business with a firm that offers them information, guidance, and even a little entertainment. It’s not enough to be well-versed in your field when creating a law firm webinar. Thinking like a marketer will allow you to generate compelling content, and here’s how.

Prioritize your promotion

You don’t have to hire out a hall for a digital seminar, but you still need to initially advertise it. Promote your webinar like an effective marketer by:

  • Notifying existing clients – Let every member of your email list, Facebook page, and Twitter audience know that a webinar is on its way. A daily reminder across social media in the week before launch will keep it fresh in their minds and give them advance notice to set time aside. Note: making each successive reminder different from the last (varying graphics are effective here) will build excitement and maintain engagement.
  • Going beyond existing clients – There are online sites such as Webinar Base and Webinara which offer assistance in promoting your event, while other compelling sites provide free or affordable help. Every platform you can use will be to your benefit.
  • Creating a trailer – Your webinar is a visual event for your audience, so why not create a short advance trailer touching on the key points you plan to deliver?
  • Offering an incentive – Providing your legal knowledge and insight for free is a great way to connect with existing and potential clients, but it’s also wise to offer a further incentive in your webinar. A couple of examples here may be a download link to a free white paper, or a free in-person consultation.
  • Limiting the initial audience – A complimentary step to providing an incentive, making your initial broadcast available to a limited number of attendees can position you as an exclusive content provider.

How to craft an engaging webinar

It’s important to remember that your law firm’s webinar is a digital marketing tool and so is subject to greater consumer control than a seminar. If they don’t like what you’re saying or how you’re saying it, you’re gone in the click of a button. Clarity is key in successfully communicating your value proposition. Simplify your message down to the basics: problem/situation, solution/service, and call to action.

You may want to address a legal issue head on, or perhaps tie a legal solution into an existing problem or situation that is topical. Demonstrating awareness of the issues that can lead to litigation will prevent your webinars from becoming too narrowly focused. Yes, webinars plural. The first one will be the toughest to get right but will give you a template with which to continue marketing yourself with follow-up events. If you want to market yourself successfully you’ll have to keep the content coming.

You’ll want to be prepared on the technical side too, so check out which webinar software will help you provide not only the best audio and visuals, but open effective features such as video presentation and audience interaction.

Don’t forget the Golden Rules

Remember that your webinar is a marketing exercise. Make sure to employ the number one moves in the marketer’s arsenal. These are to put your customer first and create a sense of urgency or scarcity that will motivate your viewers to seek you out. It may seem a little manipulative, but remember you’re giving away your expertise for free so it’s OK to expect some return on that investment.

As a provider of legal services, it’s likely your viewers are either already in need of your services or are aware they may be, one day. If you’ve filled your webinar with valuable content that details what you offer and how it can improve the lives of your audience, you’ll have properly established how valuable you are and how risky it might be to pass you by.

Webinars are a very promising tool in your marketing strategy. Client centric, content focused and available around the clock, they’re ahead of traditional forms of advertising. Know your audience and what they can gain from your service. Present it well and your law firm has everything to gain from producing regular and targeted webinar content.

At Boss Certified Realtime Reporting, we’ve been providing nationwide court reporting services for trials, depositions, mediations, and more since 1995. If you’d like help or more information, you can call us at 954 467 6867 or complete our contact form to let us know how we can assist.

Client Presentations and Speaking Engagements

Client Presentations and Speaking Engagements on bossreporting.com

How attorneys can up their game

There are certain characteristics of being a lawyer that lend themselves to public speaking. After all, it’s part of the job, at least for trial attorneys. An attorney often has to present their case to an audience, and present it compellingly; convincing listeners with surety and authority. We’re only human, however, and when it comes to out of court speaking engagements, nerves can take over.

At other times, we may be calm but concerned about the quality of our presentation. From coping with performance anxiety to presenting top-flight content, here are some speaking tips for attorneys.

Step One: Dealing with physical nerves and recall

If your nerves are an issue with public speaking or presentations, you’re not alone. Millions of us deal with glossophobia, with 74% suffering from speech anxiety. Getting in tune with your body can be key to making a good physical impression. A few effective preparatory tips are:

  • Breathe slowly and deeply and move in a relaxed manner
  • Bullet point introductory, transitional and critical key words and phrases
  • Utilize bold physical gestures or hold common office items like coffee or pens to mask trembling
  • Wear dark colors and minimize layering if you’re prone to sweating
  • Avoid any foods beforehand that may have your stomach working audibly

Outlining the key points of your presentation will reduce recall stress which can make you freeze up in front of an audience. Have a well-defined but loose guide which will take you from point to point without pages of material to memorize.

Step Two: Forget about yourself and remember the story

Your whiteboard won’t be nervous. Your marker pen could do this in its sleep. If you want an effective performance, then try classing yourself as a tool in the presentation and not the center of it. The center, after all, is your audience. Think and focus on what they want to hear, see, and learn. Storifying your presentation can be an effective approach.

“Storifying” isn’t a real word but it’s a worthwhile concept to consider. A speaker who casts themselves as a storyteller automatically:

  • Renders themselves a means to an end and puts focus on the listener
  • Sets in place positive audience triggers like characters, goals, risks, and morals (the takeaways for the audience)

Not only those, but treating your presentation like a story will help you add a bit of character and avoid making it a lifeless presentation of facts and figures. Alternatively, try flipping the scene and putting yourself in the audience. Be the speaker you want to witness.

Step Three: Structure towards the destination

Structure is vital in a successful presentation. Not only will it aid your recall, it will do the same thing for your audience. Starting with an overview of the subject and gradually zeroing in on your topic can be a strong opening (so can the reverse). Make a list of all the points you want to cover in a logical progression to your final statement.

Structured content is a great compliment to adding a story element. Where story is the imaginative hook that will engage your listeners, structured content is the supporting material like graphs, fact sheets, relevant individuals, and so forth.

This may seem like a common sense speaking tip but it bears repeating: If there’s any bad news in your presentation, get it out of the way at the start and structure your engagement upward toward a positive solution.

Step Four: Include your audience

Asking questions of your audience is a great way to improve a presentation, as it has multiple benefits.

First, it includes them; elevating your listeners from a passive to an interactive position. Second, this will add an organic element to your presentation as they field their queries (without which your talk may be a simple bullet-point run to the finish line). Set the tone from the beginning of your talk, though: Will it be a “questions whenever they arise” situation, or an “allotted time for questions” approach?

Remember, we’re in the Age of Interaction. Could you add a social media angle to your presentation to encourage audience participation through Facebook, Twitter, etc.?

Step Five: Brevity and levity

Even the hardest presentation topics will benefit from a little well-placed levity; especially the harder ones. Nobody wants a non-stop negative experience. Your audience is more likely to respond well if you factor in:

  • Brevity
  • Positive emotion or humor from the outset, and occasionally throughout
  • High energy without compromising the gravity of your topic
  • Visual aids which can add color in the form of images, animations, or short films

An issue at your firm, with a client or the world at large will vary in its degree of severity, so use your judgement on where best to inject a little laughter and color.

Step Six: Remember you’re in charge

Finally, be proud of yourself for being up there and giving the presentation in the first place! All eyes are on you to pay attention, not to judge. Center stage is a position that commands audience respect and you can draw from that. The art of the perfect presentation is attainable when you follow a few simple steps.

At Boss Certified Realtime Reporting, we’ve been providing nationwide court reporting services for trials, depositions, mediations and more since 1995. If you’d like help or more information, you can call us at 954 467 6867 or complete our contact form to let us know how we can assist.

Virtual Reality and Attorney Training

Virtual Reality and Attorney Training on bossreporting.com

A growing force in the future of the courtroom

Virtual reality (VR) is living up to its name by getting set to make big changes in how we live our lives. The typical image of the high-tech headset is taking hold with major companies from Facebook to Intel, while Google and Apple work away on their own versions. Many people view VR as a way for game players to unwind or to enhance other entertainment experiences, yet in reality, VR is also looking to prepare professionals for the job ahead. The medical field is using the tech to provide training, and even as a form of medication to aid both physicians and patients.

In a profession such as law, it may seem unusual that simulations would be effective, but VR training for attorneys is gathering steam quickly. There’s already proof of it’s promise in practice. What’s exciting is just how far VR may be able to go in advancing the practice of law.

The trial of virtual reality

The Young Lawyers Section of the MSBA in Maryland has been taking its first steps into VR training. Project heads Matthew Stubenberg and William Buschur are tackling the problem of those intimidating first cases by offering virtual dry runs in family law, consumer protection, guardianship, and expungement. Their video project is intended to allow new attorneys to see procedural matters taking place inside a courtroom. The footage was taken with a 360-degree camera and is best viewed with a VR headset. The training is geared toward increasing the confidence of new and prospective lawyers in a manner that’s more effective than traditional instruction.

The experiment is a fledgling attempt that shows real promise. It hints at VR’s wider educational potential while intending to “demystify the courtroom” and inspire young attorneys to represent low-income clients. This cost-sensitive approach is thankfully also adopted by Google, whose “Cardboard” headset is very affordable for any young attorney seeking to experience VR.

How VR stresses results over tension

This interesting article similarly focuses on the stress-relieving aspects VR can provide professionals. Effective training succeeds in keeping trainees cool under fire. If VR is good enough for the military, astronauts, law enforcement, and corporate decision makers, then it’s ideal for the high-pressure environment of the courtroom. Attorney training may even take on aspects of gamification which has proven to be highly effective in communicating information and skills in a more relaxed and interactive manner.

More possible practical applications

Beyond providing VR training for attorneys, the tech has some intriguing implications for other aspects of the industry, such as:

  • Possibly speeding up the legal system by allowing attorneys and juries to take part in cases remotely or participate at more flexible times
  • Offer large-scale training to an audience of new attorneys 24/7, worldwide
  • Allow reconstructions of relevant case data in 3D
  • Greater safety for high-risk witnesses who may participate in a trial from a secure location

With the current rate of technological advancement and the legal profession’s commitment to bringing a jury into the heart of the matter, the possibilities for VR in court are potentially limitless.

The shape of future law

Truly powerful VR won’t come cheap; to outfit every courtroom with the necessary hardware wouldn’t be an overnight process. However, with technology like Snapchat’s Spectacles, Google Glass and even concepts as radical as neural implants for lawyers and the fantastic future outlined by Elon Musk’s Neuralink either here or on the horizon, VR is becoming an increasingly believable way to improve the legal profession in the years to come.

At Boss Certified Realtime Reporting, we’ve been providing nationwide court reporting services for trials, depositions, mediations, and more since 1995. If you’d like help or more information, you can call us at 954 467 6867 or complete our contact form to let us know how we can assist.

Modern Presentation Tools for The Courtroom: iPads, Apps And The Latest Technology For Legal Presentations

Modern Presentation Tools for The Courtroom: iPads, Apps And The Latest Technology For Legal Presentations on bossreporting.com

Modern technology has made its way into the courtroom, just as it has in nearly every facet of society. Advanced tools like tablets, specialized programs and apps, as well as video and audio equipment, have revolutionized the way attorneys prepare presentations for trials and other legal proceedings. We’ve put together a brief rundown of some of the tech tools that can help you close the case.

The tablet revolution

Any discussion of technology in the legal field must begin with the iPad. There is really no dismissing the impact that Apple’s tablet has had on our industry since its introduction in 2010. The iPad – along with computer programs and apps that were developed specifically for trial preparation – allows attorneys to give more dynamic, efficient presentations. These tools also allow you to go paperless. There is no need to carry huge folders, files, and banker’s boxes into the courtroom, because everything for your trial can be stored on a laptop or iPad for easy access. Along with trial preparation programs, there have been dozens of other apps developed for legal research, jury selection, social media research, word processing, note taking, dictation, and more.

The tech tools don’t stop there. PowerPoint is still a standard program, but others have upped the game in terms of presentation software, including Apple’s Keynote and Prezi.
In most cases, all of these programs can be used on a laptop and then transferred to an iPad when it’s time to go to trial.

Trial preparation apps

The two leading preparation apps are TrialPad and TrialDirector. Both programs help you organize, manage, search, annotate, and store documents, files, and videos, while leveraging the portability of an iPad. Both tools allow you to find and select any file easily, which mean you can skip from one point in your presentation to another seamlessly. So, if a question comes up later in cross-examination or redirect, you can quickly locate the corresponding file.

Why are these tools so powerful? They allow for more dynamic, seamless, and organized presentations. According to Above The Law, “Complex concepts or case theories can be distilled into demonstratives, such as graphics or animations, that can quickly convey the essence of a case. Technology lets us quickly arrange and rearrange our view of the case file by what each exhibit is relevant to: issue, standard of care, proximate cause, damages, or witness bias.”

Some highlights of TrialPad and TrialDirector capabilities include*:

  • Easy document storage, navigation & management
  • Callout, laser, highlighting & redacting tools
  • Display a section of a transcript for emphasis
  • Overlay exhibits for easy comparison (such as comparing handwriting samples)
  • Show split screen for side-by-side comparisons
  • Bookmark exhibits for quicker access
  • A variety of shapes, lines & drawing tools
  • Freeform drawing on a virtual whiteboard
  • Importing photographs and videos, as well as different types of files, including: JPG, GIF, PNG, TIF, multi-page TIF and TXT, DOCX, XLS, PPT, Keynote, Pages & Numbers

Projectors, screens and audio equipment

All the technology in the world won’t help if you don’t have the right equipment to display your presentation. Start by choosing a good LCD projector, as they produce the best picture quality. They can also be set to full brightness or dimmed to show darker colors, contrast or shadows according to the lighting conditions in the courtroom. If possible, choose a projector with a wide-screen (16:9) format, as the standard format (4:3) will leave you with a blank space at the top and bottom of the screen. Another good idea to consider is a short-throw lens, which will allow you to place the projector closer to the screen. This way, you can avoid walking in front of the projector and possibly causing a distraction.

You also need a good screen in order to display your presentation. These days, many courtrooms are equipped with built-in screens, but check the size, as they might not be big enough. You want at least a 7-8 foot screen. There are types in which the screen is stored inside a tube. The screen is pulled up from the tube so there is no need for a separate tripod or stand.

Often courtrooms will have a TV monitor rather than a screen. These are generally not big enough to be viewed very well in a large courtroom, however they do have the advantage of showing color and clarity better than a white screen. If you will be using a TV monitor, consider setting up individual monitors for the judge, jury and at the counsel tables. This ensures everyone has a good view of crucial evidence. According to Trial- Technology.com, “The added benefit is that this system may be used to preview evidence before it has been admitted into evidence, leaving the projector off. Once an exhibit has been admitted, the projector is then turned on for the jury.”

Lastly, make sure you have good external speakers if you are using video evidence or testimony. The sound will not be adequate if you rely only on a laptop or iPad.

These are just some of the latest tools available, which can enhance your legal presentations. Explore your options to ensure you are incorporating them into your trial prep so you can really make your case.

*Note: Not all features are available with both apps