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Legal Briefs: A Quick Tour of Tech News

Legal Briefs: A Quick Tour of Tech News on bossreporting.com

Catch up on legal-related tech news from across the internet

The world moves fast these days, thanks to technology and globalization. It seems like the legal industry always has more to learn and know and do, and it can be hard to keep up with the outside world while also holding down a life and a career. However, staying abreast of legal news is part of your profession if you work in a law-related practice. We’ve collected a sampling of summarized stories about tech trends to keep track of, so you can stay on top of your professional game.

Texas ethics panel says lawyers can use Internet forums for legal questions

The State Bar of Texas’ Professional Ethics Committee recently tackled the question of whether or not seeking advice from other attorneys online followed the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct.

Because lawyers commonly have informal consultations with colleagues about client-related issues, doing so in online discussion groups, CLE seminars, or with a trusted mentor is permitted as long as the lawyer does not reveal confidential client information, which would break Disciplinary Rule 1.05 which prevents lawyers from sharing information protected by attorney-client privilege.

However, the opinion notes that disciplinary rules allow exceptions, such as Rule 1.05 (d)(1), which allows such revelations when necessary to carry out representation effectively.

“It’s a balancing situation that is very perilous because, on one hand, lawyers supporting lawyers by being mentored is strongly in a client’s best interest, but protecting a client’s confidential information is also in a client’s best interest,” said Scott Rothenberg, the Houston attorney who posed the question to the committee and teaches a State Bar of Texas CLE course on legal ethics.

He suggested that lawyers become familiar with what information is available on the district, intermediate appellate and Supreme Court websites about a case to make sure they do not accidentally reveal identity. Rothenberg also said lawyers may want to include verbiage in their employment agreement that informs clients that social media or informal consultations with other attorneys may be used to better serve their interests.

The human challenges of implementing artificial intelligence as financial services counsel

The age of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is here, but the laws are still forthcoming. Among the challenges of utilizing AI in the legal industry is the hard-to-duplicate value of the human eye. For example, if there’s a question about a subjective decision in regard to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) regulations, the governing laws are based out of wherever the decision was made – as in a physical location, with a person in charge. But what if there is no person?

Mayer Brown partner, David Beam, said, “There you have an ambiguity because the OCC rules and guidelines don’t address what happens in there. They don’t even consider the possibility that it’s a machine creating these underwriting standards.” He also pointed out that regulations predispose human error. How will that be handled when humans are no longer part of the equation when it comes to error?

Most AI systems will involve some sort of licensed software or technology, and often include a warranty that the software is in compliance with laws. However, AI evolves in a way that most software doesn’t since the machine develops protocols and algorithms as part of its process, which the vendor may not be aware of.

So, if the machine violates fair lending laws, for example by discriminating against a protected class, does liability fall with the person who licensed the technology or the person who used it?

Because of the rapid development and legal ambivalence around AI, there’s a possibility that courts will be addressing issues around artificial intelligence before legislatures even get the opportunity.

Do employers own social media accounts established as part of the job?

The Roanoke Times recently sued a reporter for keeping his Twitter account after leaving his job there, in a case that may have consequences for the future of social media accounts used for business.

BH Media Group has brought a lawsuit against a former employee and sports journalist over his continued use of a Twitter account they claim to own, citing employee contracts signed by the reporter.

BH Media charges that the reporter violated the Defend Trade Secrets Act, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and the Stored Communications Act, as well as state laws in Virginia, by continuing to use the account.

However, the reporter, Andy Bitter, claims he is the only person who has used the account since 2011 and was the only one who knew the password and login information.

The lawsuit may help define how a social media account related to a business should be treated under the law, or at least bring more awareness to employers regarding how to protect their interests related to social media accounts after employee termination or resignation.

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.

Technology, Security, and the Law: Protecting Your Clients and Their Financial Data

Technology, Security, and the Law: Protecting Your Clients and Their Financial Data on bossreporting.com

How law firms can protect the confidential data of its clients

The internet has made many aspects of life easier, including the ability to easily transfer and access information. It’s also revolutionized the business world, enabling many companies to expand upon the services they offer because of the ease of scalability online. You no longer need more brick and mortar space or staff – just more server space (and maybe not even that, thanks to cloud computing.)

However, this newfound availability comes with concerns. Thanks to numerous highly-publicized online security breaches, consumers now want to know who has access to their private information and tend to place a lot of value on confidentiality.

People understand that doing business with your company may involve sharing personal information, but the concern comes with what happens after that. Will your business sell or distribute their data to third-party vendors without consent? Is your business capable of keeping online information safe?

Consumer protection

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enacted a law to address these concerns. The Gramm-Leach-Billey Act (GLBA) was passed in November 1999 and included privacy protections such as allowing consumers more knowledge or control regarding the distribution of their private information from financial institutions to third parties. The FTC attempted to extend the GLBA to cover attorneys that practiced areas of law that involved finances, such as tax planning and preparation, real estate closing, debt collection, financial planning or management, estate planning, wills, and trusts.

The American Bar Association was eventually awarded an exemption from the GLBA for attorneys, due in part to the fact that ethical guidelines within the legal profession are already very similar to disclosure requirements of the GLBA. However, it’s still essential that law practices that handle financially-related services adhere to the GLBA’s basic tenets, and act within ethical guidelines.

Safeguarding client data

So, not sharing the data of your clients with unnecessary third-parties is the easiest and most obvious first step in protecting data. But in this day and age where everything is digital, how can you go above and beyond to safeguard the information entrusted to you?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer, and be prepared to revisit this issue constantly. As new technology continues to evolve, so do potential threats. However, some basics to consider include:

  • Email: Using a secure email account is essential. Gmail or other free services are not appropriate for transmitting client information. Encrypt all correspondence and if a subject is particularly sensitive, ask the client what method of delivery they prefer.
  • Staff: Make client confidentiality a part of your company culture. Discuss potential vulnerabilities, only allow access on a need to know basis, and change passwords frequently. Keep paper records under lock and key and store fax machines in a private area. Shred sensitive documents that are no longer relevant.
  • Security: Outsource your initial security set-up to a trusted IT professional to make sure your firm has a reliable process for blocking and responding to threats and vulnerabilities, including software updates, patch management, virus protection, firewall configuration, web and email gateway monitoring, and other technical details.
  • Vendors: Carefully research and choose potential online vendors. Read all related terms and conditions agreements and ensure that these agreements are legally enforceable. Choose well-established, fully vetted companies whenever possible.
  • Encryption and two-factor authentication: Establish that your system is fully encrypted for data in transit and employ two-factor authentication for all remote connections involving the firm’s technical infrastructure.
  • Intrusion detection: Make sure your set-up actively searches for indications of a security breach and retains system logs in case it’s necessary to recreate behavior to determine the scope of exposure.

Technology has made everyone’s life easier – including hackers. Securing your law firm’s digital data is one of the most important business decisions to be made, and then revisited often. Hire an IT expert and ask them to brainstorm all worst-case scenarios before planning to prevent or correct each possibility.

Although the GLBA isn’t necessarily enforceable, your professional ethics are, and security is particularly vital to the long-term success of law practices that handle financial-based activities. Handle your client’s data with care – in the long run, using best practices for secure technology makes your job easier.

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.

The Silver Lining: How Cloud Computing Can Increase Your Firm’s Productivity

The Silver Lining: How Cloud Computing Can Increase Your Firm’s Productivity on bossreporting.com

Cloud computing offers many benefits

The cloud gives users the ability to share and store large files, backup and sync files across multiple computers, and access, edit, or undelete content from virtually anywhere, without having storage servers, IT maintenance contracts, or even advanced technical knowledge.

Since law firms rely on filing systems full of important data and are dependent on that information being organized and accessible, cloud storage is an ideal option. Whether you prefer to go paperless or desire the convenience of having your files with you anywhere you have internet access, the cloud offers a safe and easily scalable opportunity to streamline the storage and retrieval of the information necessary to run your business from where you are.

What it is

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), gives the following definition: “Cloud computing is a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.”

In layperson’s terms, cloud computing allows you to use an Internet connection to access software that is stored on someone else’s computer systems. Then the cloud computing provider uses shared computer resources to deliver information to you, the user. The result is that you can access the same software and files found on your desktop computer on any device with an internet connection.

Most lawyers have been using cloud computing in their law offices for years. For instance, if you use Westlaw or LexisNexis for research, you’re conducting that task in the cloud. Same with web-based email platforms like Gmail. Transitioning to a cloud-based software system means you’d be using similar storage for your practice’s files.

What to know

So, what are the ethical and legal implications of storing confidential information in the cloud?

The American Bar Association published a chart of ethics opinions on whether or not lawyers can use cloud-based storage. No states have said no, many have said yes, and some are still undecided and have no official verdict. There’s an expectation that attorneys use “reasonable care” with this form of file storage but what does that entail?

For example, the Ohio Bar gives four factors for lawyers to use to determine if cloud storage is appropriate:

  1. Competently selecting a vendor: A lawyer selecting any support services should do their due diligence into the qualifications and reputation of any selected service. Do research into the longevity and professionalism of a cloud storage vendor and read terms and conditions carefully. What safeguards are in place? Is the agreement legally enforceable? Does it give any ownership of the data to the vendor? Where is the server located and is it subject to international law? How may the vendor respond to government attempts to disclose said data? Consider all the above before committing to a service.
  2. Preserving confidentiality: A lawyer must make reasonable efforts to prevent inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure of client information. Can the vendor be trusted to safeguard the information? What technology issues may put confidential information at risk and how can that be avoided? Is there an alternate plan for particularly sensitive information that could be at-risk on shared servers?
  3. Supervising cloud vendors: Law firms must make reasonable efforts to ensure that non-lawyers employed to provide a service are compatible with the professional obligations of a lawyer. The contract or terms and conditions of the cloud storage service should make it clear that confidentiality will be safeguarded appropriately and that contracts are enforceable.
  4. Communicating with clients: It’s a lawyer’s duty to reasonably consult with the client about how the client’s objectives will be met. Although it may not be necessary in every case to disclose personal information is being stored on a cloud-based server, there may be particularly sensitive occurrences where consultation and/or disclosure of cloud storage is appropriate.

The keys to successful cloud-based storage in a law practice involve finding a trusted and competent vendor and developing an organized method for storing and retrieving files. Cloud-based computing can increase productivity through increased access, safeguard information in a third-party location, and reduce the cumbersome burden of traditional paper filing systems. Explore the alternate dimension of cloud-based storage and learn how to streamline the information that powers your law practice safely.

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!

Virtual Attorney’s Office: Take Your Law Practice Online

Virtual Attorney’s Office: Take Your Law Practice Online on bossreporting.com

The benefits of going virtual

More and more aspects of life are moving into a virtual space – entertainment, education, banking, public records, shopping, and even social lives. The increasing normalcy of conducting life and business online is changing daily routines, redefining the idea of community, and revolutionizing workforces.

The legal industry places great importance on tradition and formality, and as a result, is often slow to adopt changes that involve technology or anything perceived as unconventional.

However, as the world evolves into online spaces, many law firms are seeing the advantages of a virtual practice.

Linking up

The world wide web is making the world both bigger and smaller; information is endless, the audience is vast, but all of it is so easily interconnected. Everyone and everything is online these days.

The global population of Internet users reached an incredible 4 billion as of April 2018 – there is simply no brick and mortar location with that kind of reach.

An online law practice has greater scalability, is more mobile and efficient, and significantly reduces upfront costs and monthly expenses.

Logging in

The American Bar Association’s 2016 Tech Report defines a virtual law firm as having a lack of traditional office space, heavy web-based interactions, minimal in-person client contact, unbundled legal services, and secure client portals.

Although a lack of traditional office space can seem like an intimidating and impractical shift, there are many benefits to adopting such an alternative business model, such as:

  • Scalability: Utilizing virtual space can broaden your business’s horizons. Burton Law Firm is a good case study of a successful online practice. Rather than one brick-and-mortar location, their attorneys work from virtual hubs across the country. Although the firm is based in Ohio, they have attorneys and clients in Washington, D.C., North Carolina, and Kentucky. Their ability to work from anywhere helps attract top talent and is convenient for their clients.
  • Mobility: Practicing law involves a lot of work and requires hours of research, communication, presenting, and planning. Advances in technology like cloud-based services and tablets help keep all aspects of business organized in one central location and allow accessibility anywhere from an airplane to the courtroom, improving efficiency and productivity regardless of where you are.
  • Affordability: Aside from the obvious benefit of avoiding the upfront investment of establishing a brick-and-mortar legal practice, an online practice reduces costs in small ways that add up, such as the ability to go paperless, reduce support staff, and eliminate utility bills.
  • Flexibility: Being able to work from anywhere allows attorneys to innovate and create a better work/life balance. One of the concerns about opening an online practice involves meeting clients. Virtual workspaces have gained popularity in cities across the country. These fully furnished meeting spaces often have receptionists, conference rooms, and quiet spaces to conduct business in a professional setting, so you can work from home when it’s convenient but have a more traditional space as needed.

Powering up

If you’re considering opening a virtual space, make sure you have a solid plan for streamlining client communication and securing information. An organization is key if your business is based online. Carefully research the following options to keep your virtual law practice running smoothly:

  • Cloud computing: Cloud sharing services allow users to instantly store, share, and retrieve documents from any location where they can access the internet. Think of it as a mobile file cabinet with limitless space. Find a secure service that works for you and create a workflow around filing important information.
  • Law practice management software: A secure client portal helps keep client communication organized and has the added benefit of instilling confidence about your professionalism. Exchanging documents, setting appointments, accepting online payments, and sending and receiving messages makes life easier for both you and your clients.
  • Digital records and legal tools: Gone are the days of massive physical law libraries – case law, judgments, and other legal records are available with a few taps on a tablet. Detailed data and investigative tools enable firms to build better cases anywhere and anytime with access to a range of public, proprietary, and behavioral information.

As more businesses transition from storefront to a webpage, support for online professionals continues to grow. From shared workspaces to cloud-based software, productivity is possible from anywhere on the planet. Reach a broader audience, grow without constraints, and deliver top-notch service to your clients through technology with a virtual law practice.

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

How Attorneys Can Use Social Media in Due Diligence

How Attorneys Can Use Social Media in Due Diligence on bossreporting.com

In today’s world, a lot of living is done online

People share everything from their breakfast to their love life on social media, and the collection and curation of that data can result in a fairly accurate profile regarding who a person is, what they like, where they go, when they went, and even provide insight into the lives and involvement of their friends and family.

Almost everyone these days has some sort of electronic footprint, and this trail of willingly offered and easily available information is a valuable research tool, particularly for those in the legal industry.

When it comes to proving guilt or innocence, social media can corroborate alibis, verify evidence, cross reference testimony, and vet potential jurors, witnesses, and clients.

A new use for the search bar

According to the American Bar Association’s 2017 Legal Technology Survey, 21 percent of lawyers sift through social media for evidence during case investigations. This number is expected to grow exponentially as court rulings establish precedents around the authentication and admissibility of online interactions.

The evolution of technology is assisting attorneys in the endeavor of accessing online activity, with industry-targeted software that mines social media data and makes analyses and predictions based on its findings. The resulting information can streamline the jury selection process by identifying potential bias or help to assess the veracity of evidence or testimony.

A legal proceeding’s successful outcome often comes down to who has the right information at the right time, and social media can be your best source for finding it.

Online activity as evidence

Social media accounts reflect who we are and can provide a better understanding of a person or a situation when used in legal proceedings.

Online activity had an impact on the following cases:

  • Personal Injury Claim: Opposing counsel checked the Myspace and Facebook pages of a plaintiff who was suing Weis Markets for damages over a leg injury that was allegedly impairing his health and ability to enjoy life. Photographs posted on social media proved that the employee rode and performed stunts on his motorcycle, activity that was at odds with his claims of injury. The pictures also showed the employee wearing shorts, which was significant because he had claimed in his deposition that he was too embarrassed to do so after the accident. Visible scarring in the photographs confirmed that they were taken after the injury. Ultimately, the plaintiff’s posts disproved his personal injury claim.
  • Proof of Alibi: After spending two weeks in jail for a mugging in Brooklyn, the father of a teenage defendant discovered a Facebook status update his son had made one minute before the crime. The post was written from their Harlem apartment, which was 12 miles away from the scene of the mugging. The boy’s father contacted the district attorney with the evidence, who then submitted a subpoena to Facebook to verify the location the status was posted. The time stamp and location absolved the teenager and charges were dropped.
  • Alimony Evidence: A man sought alimony payments from his ex-wife, claiming unemployment. However, his Facebook page told another story – with posts bragging about owning his own business and albums showing off trips to Las Vegas, South America, and Sea World with his new girlfriend. The ex-wife’s attorney used the posts as evidence to discredit him, and he was denied support.
  • Custody Dispute: Facebook posts damaged the credibility of a father seeking guardianship during a custody case. Crude status updates and photos demonstrated a disregard for the best interest of the child and a lack of consideration for the mother, who was eventually granted guardianship.

Send and submit

According to Jennifer Ellis of Lowenthal & Abrams PC, and Michael Maschke of Sensei Enterprises, Inc., consider the following when introducing social media as evidence: “Is it relevant? Is it more probative than prejudicial? Is there a hearsay problem or exception? And, is it authentic?” Those questions reference Federal Rules 401-402, 403, and 901-902 and are an appropriate starting point when determining admissibility.

A savvy attorney knows the value of utilizing technology to maximize productivity and recognizes the importance of being fully prepared before trial. Social media is an effective tool for performing due diligence and might end up acting as the missing piece of your client’s puzzle.

Looking for more technology tips and tricks to make your job easier? Check the Boss Reporting Blog and upgrade your practice.

Best Jury in a Hurry: Tech to Help Improve the Jury Selection Process

Best Jury in a Hurry: Tech to Help Improve the Jury Selection Process on bossreporting.com

Jury selection is a critical part of the trial process

A lot of planning and effort goes into pre-trial preparation, and the jury selection process doesn’t seem to get the planning time and thorough consideration that it deserves.

A client’s right to a jury of his or her peers is guaranteed by The Constitution, making it a sacred part of American democracy, and the members of that jury are going to have a life-changing impact once they deliver their verdict.

So, attorneys are tasked with the heavy burden of choosing the most appropriate people for the job – without having a full range of information regarding who these people are and if they are suitable for the task at hand. This is particularly difficult for two reasons:

  1. The group of prospects often wants to be anywhere but there and are often misrepresenting their true selves to avoid being part of the trial process.
  2. The attorney is pressured to make a huge decision that will affect a client’s fate with very little information to go on, thanks to random selection, reluctant prospects, and limited data.

When selecting juries, lawyers and judges use a process known as voir dire which is Latin for “to speak the truth.” The judge and both attorneys ask questions to determine the competency and suitability of prospective jurors.

The questions can include general inquiries directed at the entire pool of prospects or specific questions asked of individuals to determine potential bias.

Based on the answers, the prosecution or defense can object to a juror. Each lawyer may request the dismissal of an unlimited number of potential jurors for cause. (For example, if they have prior knowledge of the case or are prejudiced against the case in some manner.)

Each lawyer also has a specific number of peremptory challenges that allow them to excuse a juror without stating a cause.

The information gathered during voir dire is vital to the potential outcome. However, asking the right questions, or even deciding what the right questions are, and organizing the answers in a way that helps select jury candidates can be a cumbersome and timely process.

Jury profiling

In a world where marketing companies, social media platforms, and political campaigns routinely utilize personal information to learn more about their audiences, it seems that the legal industry is behind the times when it comes to using publicly available data to understand their jurors. However, the jury selection process is evolving into a more streamlined and effective experience thanks to similar data-based technology.

Data brokers buy information that private companies collect, often when customers hit the “I agree” button on a website, use a loyalty card, or agree to terms and conditions. They also mine social media activity for information based on likes, comments, follows, and engagement. This is all legal, and often creates a very comprehensive profile of the consumer.

Before a trial, both attorneys usually obtain the names of potential jurors on the day of jury selection. Cross-referencing those names with big data and predictive analytics sources can provide invaluable information about their suitability for the case.

Data delivery

Software that utilizes artificial intelligence, Natural Language Processing (NLP), and data mining from online activity can make jury selection a more precise pre-trial process. Jury Mapping and Voltaire are two options that are popular with attorneys who utilize such big data services.

A quick search of the Apple App Store reveals that there is also an assortment of apps designed for attorneys that don’t include the data component but can help with jury selection by organizing the information gathered during voir dire and rating each potential juror based on their answers.

Jury selection is important for many reasons, and any tool that enables an attorney to be more efficient and strategic is a worthy investment. To find out more technology tips and tricks for trial preparation, check out our blog.

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.

Reporting for Duty: Skills Court Reporters Need to Know

Reporting for Duty: Skills Court Reporters Need to Know on bossreporting.com

Court reporting is a job that involves a specialized skill set.

Like most positions, most of the task-based duties can (and will) be taught as part of the required education. However, certain personality-based traits are necessary for success. If those traits aren’t an inherent part of your personality, and you’re not interested in cultivating them, court reporting may not be the right fit for you.

Although at first glance the court reporter’s role may not seem all that important in the larger production of legal proceedings, their job is actually incredibly important to the process. They capture history in the making through the spoken word and create a record of an event that has significant importance to the people involved.

Character fitness

The most successful and sought-after court reporters work hard to develop or refine certain character traits and skills to perform consistently as a professional. People who are naturally inclined toward the following traits will have an easier transition, but anyone with passion and perseverance can adopt the following:

  • Discretion: As a court reporter, you’re often privy to the most interesting, explicit, entertaining, devastating, and most important, confidential details of fascinating situations several times a day. As a social being, it’s hard not to turn your work gossip into cocktail party fodder, but as a professional, it’s imperative that you honor the confidentiality of your clients. Don’t forget that professionalism is more important than popularity.
  • Objectivity: Although it may be human nature to assign blame and make character judgments, a good court reporter must be impartial and objective. Your duty is to report proceedings in a professional capacity and accurately detail what goes on. Becoming emotionally involved or distracted by a case will only do more harm than good.
  • Composure: There’s a certain degree of mental fortitude required as a court reporter. You will be exposed to evidence, testimony, and media that is both graphic and disturbing and you have to be able to carry on with your job – and your life – with composure. To carry out the work with accuracy and diligence, you’ll have to leave your emotions outside of the courtroom and be capable of mentally stepping away from whatever you witnessed at work when you go home.
  • Organized: You must be early and prepared for every single case, no excuses or exceptions. And five minutes early isn’t early enough – anything could happen to transform a five-minute head start into a fifteen-minute delay. Mornings must be planned to the minute, with every possible issue (from clothing choices to equipment failure to traffic) accounted for in order to be perfectly prepared as proceedings begin. Being a court reporter requires attention to detail, both on and off the clock.
  • Diligence: As with any new skill, becoming a court reporter requires ongoing effort. You have to be the kind of professional who perseveres and consistently works towards the goal of self-improvement. Whether it’s practicing grammar, transcription, or the stenograph machine, there’s always room for personal and professional growth, and you should value any opportunity to do so.

By the book

The items listed above are mostly character traits, and you’ll be more of a natural fit for the job if you already embody those qualities, however, with willingness and a conscious effort, you can practice those values and still excel.

There are also task-based skills that can be mastered with education, training, and practice. A court reporter always needs to improve upon:

  • Business etiquette: This is true for any line of work, but decorum is especially important in legal settings. Dress professionally, understand how to introduce yourself and others, and maintain professional conversation and composure.
  • Language skills: As a court reporter, you must produce a written transcript, so your grammar, spelling, and punctuation skills are vital to your success. You have to be able to hear what someone is saying and quickly transcribe it with few typos and proper punctuation in order to be successful. Quick thinking, good listening, and a solid understanding of language is
  • Customer service: As with any other industry, good customer service is key to getting repeat business and establishing trust. If you can anticipate the needs of your clients, arrive on time, and provide accurate transcripts, you’ll be well on your way to building good working relationships.
  • Shorthand writing skills: Writing machine shorthand is a specialized skill that requires some degree of talent for learning it. Higher levels of certification are a great way to increase your skills, as they require more knowledge and the ability to write at higher speeds accurately.

Court reporting is rewarding work if you’re ready, willing, and able to foster the skills necessary to go beyond certification and into the courtroom. If you’re interested in learning more, read more about what prospective court reporters should know on the Boss Reporting blog.

Let’s Get Technical: The Best Tech to Improve Your Law Practice

Let’s Get Technical: The Best Tech to Improve Your Law Practice on bossreporting.com

Keeping up with advances in technology is no longer optional

Technology can feel like a blessing and a curse all at once. Sure, it streamlines daily tasks and keeps information organized, but it also requires constant updating and understanding; staff needs training, new procedures must be implemented, updates must be processed, and hardware requires maintenance. And it’s all constantly evolving. As soon as you master one platform, something more sophisticated comes along.

However, one quick glance at shelves of those old school-style reference books can make you that much more grateful for the magic of the internet.

The to-do list

Successful integration of technology in a legal practice involves understanding your needs and finding what fits.

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, legal assistants and paralegal spend most of their day doing the following tasks:

  • Gathering information and facts relevant to the case
  • Researching related laws, regulations, and legal articles
  • Organizing hard-copy or digital documents
  • Finding and organizing evidence and documents for case preparation
  • Summarizing reports or information for attorney review and trial preparation
  • Drafting legal documents and correspondence to and for clients
  • Preparing affidavits and other formal statements to be used in court
  • Assisting attorneys by managing exhibits, taking notes, or reviewing transcripts
  • Filing exhibits, briefs, appeals, and other legal documents
  • Calling and transmitting messages to and from clients, witnesses, lawyers, and outside vendors

The tech toolbox

Luckily, tools exist that enable all of the above to be done more efficiently and effectively. The key is to narrow down what works for your office, integrate it into your workflow, and master its functions.

Word processing:

Although it may seem like word processing is too obvious, and ubiquitous, to include, it’s too important to leave out of a list like this. Microsoft, Google Docs, and Open Office are the more obvious choices, and all work as intended, but have your staff dig deep to learn shortcuts, formatting tips, and helpful hints like creating and working with templates. Re-inventing the wheel by formatting each form letter is a waste of productivity.

Also become familiar with adding bookmarks or comments during drafts and revisions to make editing or highlighting important points easier.

Online research:

Google is great, there’s no doubt about that. However, it’s not the end-all of research and shouldn’t be treated as such. When it comes to legal research and case law, scholarly software like LexisNexis, Google Scholar, Westlaw is invaluable tools for digging deeper into data.

Gather verified information with confidence through these sources and spend less time vetting google search results.

Billing software:

Invoicing can get complicated, particularly when you’re billing by the hour. A trustworthy timekeeping software program is imperative to your financial success. Check reviews and compare programs like Elite, Tabs3, Clio, and Abacus before making a commitment.

Although reviews from other paralegals and professionals are helpful, you’ll ultimately have to choose whichever interface and features feel comfortable.

Document management systems:

Paperwork can create a constant sense of chaos if not properly managed, even if your firm has gone paperless. Many are choosing digital documents over hard copies because they are more organized, easier to search, and saves physical space.

Another advantage is that when you’re using cloud services like Dropbox or Google Drive, important documents are also wherever you need them as long as you have an internet connection and your log-in information.

Presentation software:

PowerPoint or Google Slides are both popular choices for the creation of presentations. Although both are fairly intuitive and easy to maneuver, their abilities go much deeper than surface-level and learning what they can do adds polish and professionalism to your presentations.

Whether it’s creating 3D timelines or incorporating graphs, sometimes you don’t know which tools you need until you know those tools exist, so check out some YouTube tutorials for more tips and tricks.

It’s not really that technology is difficult, it’s more than it feels like there is a lot to learn and manage. Narrow down your job duties and maximize your skills to match what’s truly necessary and let technology help take care of your to-do list.

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

Law and Order: The Evolution of Professional Etiquette

Law and Order: The Evolution of Professional Etiquette on bossreporting.com

Times they are a-changin’ – but do manners remain the same?

There is no doubt that professional etiquette is important; a certain level of decorum is expected, particularly in the legal profession. After all, if you want to be respected, it’s important to be respectable, and manners help make and sustain a favorable impression.

However, society seems increasingly casual. Does that mean it’s acceptable to lower the standards of etiquette? In a world of smartphones, internet slang, dress down days, and digital everything, it may sometimes seem that formality and tradition make you an outsider.

Mind your manners

Generally, rules are like vegetables – good for you regardless of if you enjoy them. Etiquette is usually established to encourage a polite society; for making people feel as if they are a collaborative part of the community, and like their presence is important.

Whether you’re talking to your assistant, a prospective client, or a judge or jury, professional etiquette gives you the polish that commands attention and lays down subtle ground rules that indicate how you would like to be treated in return. Here are some etiquette rules that are non-negotiable:

  • Make an appearance: Your clothing is your first line of defense when it comes to presenting yourself as a respectable professional – dressing like a professional is also easy enough to manage. In the legal profession, overdressing is better than underdressing when you’re on the job. Establish the idea that you take your work seriously by dressing the part.
  • Solid introduction: Be bold about introducing yourself; be the first to offer up your name and a firm handshake in new social situations. Casually repeat the person’s name back to them in the ensuing conversation – not only will it put them at ease, it will help you remember it in the future. Offer a business card and pay attention when you accept theirs; hold it in both hands, and read it (polite, and again, a good mental cue for future recall) before putting it into your purse or wallet. Many may think business cards are becoming outdated in a world of digital data, but their continued use helps establish a professional impression, particularly as they become rare.
  • Respect your staff: Don’t forget that your employees make your everyday life easier through their work, which is reason enough to treat them well, but they also have inside information on the type of person you really are and can become your ally or enemy when it comes to word-of-mouth marketing. Say “please” and “thank you,” practice patience, put your earbuds and phone away in the presence of others, and be generous when expressing appreciation.
  • Phone etiquette: Not only should you handle calls professionally, but you should also manage your smartphone. Don’t check the internet, silence your ringer to avoid interruptions via notification, and give the person in front of you your full and undivided attention. One slightly evolving trend in business is the use of text messaging – for appropriate purposes (scheduling and follow-up, for instance), and with the use of professional language and grammar, text messages are no longer taboo.
  • Value time: Time is money, and as someone who likely bills by the hour, you know the full weight of that statement. Arrive early, RSVP promptly, communicate needs and expectations quickly, and understand that there is no such thing as “fashionably late.” Respect the time and attention of others, and they will be more likely to do the same.
  • Watch your words: Act with integrity both on and off the clock. Don’t gossip to ingratiate yourself to others, and proceed with great caution when it comes to getting involved in hot-button topics like religion or politics. If you participate on social media, be careful about what you post – attorneys have been fined for publicly insulting judges. Make sure what you share is informative, factual, polite, and professional; your career could depend on it. Also, be sure to carefully proofread your emails for appropriate tone, timing, and grammar. Although online communication can feel casual, email etiquette is still important.

Professional etiquette doesn’t differ drastically from the basic rules of respect you learned in elementary school: be kind, follow the rules, keep yourself tidy, say “please” and “thank you,” and respect the time, space, and attention of others.

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!

Trial and Error: Polish Up Your Presentation

Trial and Error: Polish Up Your Presentation on bossreporting.com

Practice makes perfect

The statement practice makes perfect is true in any skill-based endeavor, and being a successful attorney requires a combination of talents including knowledge, endurance, persuasion, improvisation, eloquence, and charisma.

From that initial client meeting to the culmination of events that occurs in the courtroom, there are plenty of opportunities for professional improvement, and you may be doing yourself and your clients a disservice by not challenging yourself to grow through practicing your skills.

Although it’s easy to feel like your work day is long enough, or that rehearsing may make your performance feel stale or contrived, practicing is the perfect way to polish up your presentation skills and is an investment that will pay off.

Private practice

You probably do know what to say, you most likely even know how to say it, but pushing yourself past your pre-established limits through the act of practice makes your clients safer, your cases stronger, and eventually, your job easier.

So, what are we talking about here? Practicing your closing statement in the shower? Actually – yes. Setting aside ten minutes a day where you can incorporate the improvement of your presentation skills while otherwise occupied is the perfect way to hold yourself to it. Set the timer on your phone and practice in traffic; better yet, turn on your audio recorder so you can give yourself accurate feedback afterward.

Peer pressure

More formal options for practicing your presentation would include focus groups and mock trials. Remember, practicing is not just for amateurs – every case and client is different, and each audience is unique, whether it be judge or jury. Getting feedback from a diverse group about not only the case but also your options for presenting it can be invaluable.

A focus group should be utilized early and often during trial preparation to gather information and gauge reaction, and it involves recruiting several people to provide feedback on both sides of the case being presented, as well as the methods for doing so.

Typically, participants are given the opening or closing statements, or paragraphs of information relating to the case, and asked for their informal opinion, without receiving instruction on the law in question or learning the full background of the case.

This is a casual process and can be worked on independently by the participants through reading the given data versus a full in-person production. The feedback is an important part of the preparation process and can assist attorneys in structuring their arguments.

Trial run

Mock trials are a more formal approach and are also harder to organize. Think of a mock trial as a dress rehearsal – a focus group is utilized to help you organize your strategies for maximum effectiveness; a mock trial helps you refine, polish, and predict possible outcomes.

Ideally taking place in a simulated courtroom setting, a mock trial should include acting attorneys and a judge. Participants may get to listen to opening and closing statements, hear simulated testimony from witnesses or experts, evaluate potential evidence, and deliberate on a verdict.

Afterward, participants are asked about presentation techniques, the believability of witnesses, their opinions of evidence, and what was important during deliberations. For maximum effectiveness, participants can even be split into two test groups to experiment on the appeal of different approaches to a closing statement.

Focus groups and mock trials are both excellent methods to get a preview of your presentation in front of a pretend jury of peers so you can refine your methods for maximum impact.

Of course, all the above takes time, effort, and energy – valuable commodities that seem all too scarce on top of a regular workload. In order to ease the burden of additional job duties (and decrease the dread involved with the idea of practicing), delegate the set-up of focus groups and mock trials to a staff member, recruit family members and friends, or ask for volunteers among interns and undergrads.

Make these exercises a regular part of your calendar and challenge yourself to improve on a personal level. After all, that’s why it’s called a law “practice” and not a law “perfect.”

Looking for more information to improve your practice? Check out the Boss Reporting blog for Three Ways to Hook and Capture Attention in Presentations.

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

Why Law Firms Should Consider Text Messaging to Communicate

Why Law Firms Should Consider Text Messaging to Communicate on bossreporting.com

The benefits of texting

Clear communication is crucial to all relationships, but it is particularly important in a professional capacity. A fluid exchange of ideas increases productivity, efficiency, and customer satisfaction – three key components that bring ease to any workday.

Although a certain degree of decorum is expected, effectively conveying your intended message should be more important than the medium used for delivery.

And in today’s modern world where convenience reigns supreme, text messaging is becoming more popular as a professional tool – but is it appropriate for a law firm?

The evidence

Statistics show that 81 percent of Americans use text messaging daily, with texts being twice as popular as calls. The reality is that text messaging is easier to manage than direct person-to-person contact; texting is often faster, more discrete, and easier to respond to than a phone call.

Many businesses are using that trend to their advantage, not only to make the customer experience more convenient but also to streamline their own efforts. Good communication is whatever works, right?

Emails often go unread, calls are likely sent to voicemail, but texts are usually seen immediately and are replied to faster than either.

Although it can be seen as a negative versus a positive, exchanging text messages can lend a more casual and personal feel to an exchange. That doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice professionalism – it just gives the illusion of easy access and availability.

As attorney Kendra Stephen told Forbes: “You want to communicate with your clients in a manner they are comfortable with. If your client likes texting, use it. It’s all about keeping your client happy. I would recommend discussing methods of communication in the engagement letter.”

Case in point

Now how would this work in the practice of law? The most obvious answers involve scheduling appointments, issuing updates, and sending reminders about documents that need to be dropped off or signed. Not only are you more likely to receive confirmation but there’s also something about seeing dates, time, and follow-ups in the text that may make a client more likely to remember.

It also creates an easily followed trail of data in case there’s any doubt that the information was shared.

There are also a variety of software programs for professionals that allow texts to be sent and received through business landlines, and that can sync up with appointment scheduling tools to help organize the process.

Another possibility is text message marketing. A 2015 ruling by the Florida Bar decided that attorneys could reach out to prospective clients via SMS within certain parameters such as:

  • Firms must wait 30 days after an accident to send a solicitation
  • Messages must disclose how contact information was obtained
  • Messages must state that it is an advertisement
  • The sender must pay any costs incurred by the recipient as a result of the text
  • Recipient must have the ability to opt-out of future text messages
  • Messages must instruct the recipient to disregard if they already have representation

Laws vary by state, so check with the state bar about possibilities and restrictions if you’re considering a text message marketing campaign.

The verdict

Ultimately, it’s about the client and finding the best way to communicate with them. If they prefer texting to fit their schedule, it’s best to accommodate. Finding success in business – and life – often requires meeting people where they are at and establishing a comfortable relationship through trust and availability.

The trend of communicating through text message is more deeply engrained into our culture by the day, and refusing to utilize that valuable tool may not only be doing your business a disservice, but also the very people you are trying to reach and serve. Text messaging is no longer limited to informal dialog among friends; when used with careful consideration and a focused intention, SMS can help organize your communication efforts and introduce more ease into your business and the lives of your clients.

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

There Are Many Types of Laughter, but What Causes Nervous Laughter?

There Are Many Types of Laughter, but What Causes? on bossreporting.com

Laughter is an expression of social emotion. In an embarrassing situation, that unstoppable laughter may simply be our way of communicating with others that we agree about the discomfort of the moment.

There’s nothing wrong with you. Witnessing something embarrassing happen – especially if you are in a group – may give you a case of the giggles. We don’t mean to do it, but there’s just no stopping it. One person lets a short laugh slip out, and it’s contagious. Soon we’re all cracking up. What’s up with that?

Spoiler alert: Science has yet to come up with a definitive answer. But, while the search continues, we have discovered that laughter is important to our psychological and emotional well-being – even if it remains relatively misunderstood.

Nervous laughter

According to neuroscientist Vilayanur Ramachandran, we may laugh at embarrassing things which happen to others because it’s a physical reaction that helps us decide the thing we just saw isn’t as bad as it appears. He notes that this type of laughter comes from the throat, rather than the belly. It may stem from our need to project dignity or control during a moment of anxiety.

Psychologist Alex Lickerman’s research leads him to conclude that people laugh when exposed to witnessing other’s pain because it’s a defense mechanism used to prevent overwhelming anxiety. It’s our way of diminishing the suffering caused by a traumatic event.

If this seems a bit odd, think about the last time you engaged with an obviously shy or bashful person. It’s likely that they giggled or engaged in a bit of nervous laughter. It may have been a subconscious response to help them project dignity or control because of social anxiety.

That might help to explain unintentional giggles when embarrassing things happen – but why does it seem to be amplified when we’re in a group?

It’s social

Neurologist Sophie Scott has spent her career studying laughter. Her observations have uncovered some interesting findings. One which likely wouldn’t surprise anyone is that laughter is the most easily recognizable vocal expression of emotion on our planet.

Scott has determined, though, that we tend to have incorrect assumptions about the origins of laughter. She believes most laughter has little or nothing to do with humor. We think we are laughing at other people’s jokes. Scott says that recordings of conversations show the person who laughs the most at any time is the one who is talking.

She’s concluded that laughter is what she calls the expression of “social emotion.” It brings us together and helps us bond. It may have nothing to do with something being funny. Take an embarrassing situation. That unstoppable laughter may simply be our way of communicating with those around us that we agree about the discomfort of the moment.

Mirroring

Scott believes there’s also another contributor to why we give each other a case of the giggles as a group. During her research, she gave participants fMRI scans while they responded to laughter. Laughter acts just like a physical action. It activates what’s known as the brain’s mirror regions. These areas mimic each other’s actions.

If you see someone throwing a ball, the mirror area of your brain associated with throwing a ball can also be activated. It’s the neural mimicry, Scott says, that’s responsible for contagious nervous giggles. She’s concluded that we are 30 times more likely to laugh when we are with others who are laughing than if we are by ourselves.

Nervous laughter proves that we don’t have this response because only funny or entertaining things elicit a case of the giggles. We’re just as likely to chuckle at something tragic as something hysterically funny. What we’re discovering is that laughter is more of a social form of communication than we ever considered it to be.

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!

What Court Reporters Want People to Know About Their Job

What Court Reporters Want People to Know About Their Job on bossreporting.com

Six things prospective court reporters should know about this career.

For people just entering the workforce or those looking for a new career, the law might be a good option. And while lawyers get most of the attention, they are certainly not the only members of the legal industry. One profession worth looking into could be court reporting.

Most people probably have some idea of what a court reporter does, but not the intricacies involved. For example, there are many more duties than just recording what goes on during a trial or other legal proceeding. If you’re serious about pursuing a court reporting career, here are some other things you should know:

Schooling is short

If the thought of spending four years or more in college fills you with dread, you will be happy to know that training for a court reporter can usually be completed in two years or less. Not only does this mean lower costs for tuition, it means if you do need to get loans, it won’t take you as long to pay them back.

Job security is excellent

One of the best reasons to get into court reporting now is because the demand is so high. Due in part to the fact that so many have retired recently, currently there is a big shortage of court reporters around the U.S. This means that you will almost always be able to find work. And although recording devices are sometimes used instead of reporters, you don’t have to worry about machines taking over, as most people prefer working with a human.

The pay is great

Okay, let’s get to the part you’re probably most interested in. Right now, the median salary for a court reporter is almost $56,000. The typical range is between $40,000 and $73,000, which means right out of school, you could be making good money. And it’s not uncommon for court reporters to make close to $100,000.

There’s rarely a dull moment

Court reporters may be silent participants, but they are always involved in the action. They play integral roles in an assortment of legal proceeding, including trials, deposition, or arbitrations. They are frequently used for other things too, like conferences and meetings. Not only do they have the opportunity to meet and work with top legal professionals, but they also get to learn about things most people aren’t privy to.

The work is flexible

In many cases, court reporters can work as much or as little as they would like. On a freelance basis, they often have the opportunity to take the assignments they want. And because most things involving the law operate during regular business hours, there are not usually any late nights or weekend work.

The job is important

Lawyers and judges may make the headlines, but court reporters are extremely vital to our legal system. In many instances, they are the cogs that keep the wheels of justice spinning. If you are looking for a career that is not only interesting but also important, court reporting could be just what you’re after.

Want more information on what it’s like to be a court reporter?

If you are looking to start your reporting career, Boss Reporting can offer tips and guidance. Since 1995, we have been the home of the top court reporters in Broward County and around the country. Call us at 954-467-6867 or send an email to info@bossreporting.com.

Three Ways to Hook and Capture Attention in Your Presentations

Three Ways to Hook and Capture Attention in Your Presentations

The power of the hook.

The ability to give an effective presentation is necessary for the legal field. Whether you’re presenting to a client, judge, jury or any other party, you must be able to persuade your audience that your argument is correct. It’s not an easy task, of course. Giving a presentation or speech takes special skills that must be practiced and honed. There is also a structure you must follow for the audience to grasp the most important points and come to the conclusion you desire.

Lead a speech with your hook

“The first 30 seconds and the last 30 seconds have the most impact in a presentation.” – Patricia Fripp, award-winning speaker, sales presentation trainer, and speech coach.

One of the most important aspects of a successful presentation is the “hook” or the method used to capture attention from the first sentence. If you don’t have a strong hook, you are in danger of losing your audience, no matter how powerful your argument might be. So, how do you come up with a good hook?

Let’s look at three ways to capture attention in your presentations

 1.  Tell a story

“If you don’t want to preach, put stories in your speech.” – Andy Harrington, Public Speakers University, and Professional Speakers Academy.

A Ted Talk Takeaway lists eight of the most popular hooks, and number one on that list is the “story.”

Why are stories such an effective means of grabbing attention in a speech or presentation? Well, it’s part of who we are as people. Humans are natural storytellers, whether drawn on cave walls, written on paper, or typed into a laptop. Stories teach us how to understand the world and impart important lessons and morals that we carry with us throughout our entire lives. Everything from fairytales and mythology to plays and books is meant to present ideas in a way that reaches the mind and emotions. A legal presentation is not much different. Yes, you’re presenting facts or evidence, but you’re doing so in a way that keeps your audience engaged.

2.  Show a video, image, or graphic

“A picture is worth a thousand words.” Fred R. Barnard

You’ve probably heard the quote many times before. One of the tenants of good fiction writing is a concept called, “show, don’t tell.” What it means is that writers need to “show” a character’s thoughts and emotions through dialogue, facial expressions, and body language. Rather than simply telling the reader that a character is sad or angry, authors must show the emotion.

When it comes to a legal presentation, it’s also important to “show” your facts or evidence using pictures, videos, and graphics. Plus, people process images faster than text. So, start off with a compelling image, an interesting graphic, or a video that will instantly convey your main idea or argument.

3.  Make a provocative or interesting statement

“Start with a statement that is designed to arouse curiosity and make the audience look up and listen to you attentively,” Bruna Martinuzzi, American Express Open Forum.

A provocative or engaging statement will make your audience sit up to hear what you say next. Here’s an example of an opening from a presentation by author Dan Pink in one of his TED Talks. “I need to make a confession, at the outset. A little over 20 years ago, I did something that I regret. Something that I am not particularly proud of, something that in many ways I wished no one would ever know, but that here I feel kind of obliged to reveal. In the late 1980s, in a moment of youthful indiscretion, I went to law school.”

A strong presentation starts with your first sentence. Use these three tips to create your best hook to engage your audience.

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!

TED Talk Tips to Help You Be a More Persuasive Public Speaker

TED Talk Tips to Help You Be a More Persuasive Public Speaker on bossreporting.com

Simon Sinek knows a thing or two about public speaking

More than 38.6 million views. That’s how many times people have gone to the TED Talk website to watch Sinek talk about his simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership. What makes this video so popular?

You’ll have to watch it to find out. What you’ll discover is that it isn’t just what Sinek has to say about leadership. It goes beyond his entertaining stories about the Wright brothers, Martin Luther King, and Steve Jobs. It has much to do with the fact that Simon Sinek is a superb public speaker. He’s also generous with what he knows, so he has shared his tips on how to be persuasive when speaking in public.

Here’s some of his advice.

Not so fast!

Watch what happens when Simon Sinek takes the stage to deliver his TED Talk. What happens? Well … nothing!

Sinek says it’s done on purpose. “A lot of people start talking right away, and it’s out of nerves,” Sinek told Entrepreneur magazine. “That communicates a little bit of insecurity and fear.”

He recommends that you quietly walk out on stage. Find your place, then take a deep breath. Wait a few seconds before you begin. Sinek says this shows your audience that you are totally confident and in charge of the situation.

Be a giver

This piece of advice from Sinek will resonate with you if you understand the value of advice freely given. “We’re highly-social animals,” observes Sinek. “Even at a distance on stage, we can tell if you’re a giver or a taker, and people are more likely to trust a giver – a speaker that gives them value, that teaches them something new, that inspires them – than a taker.”

Sinek recommends asking yourself how you can demonstrate that you’re not just there to sell a product or idea, or even to convince people to like you. He calls people like this “takers,” warning that your audience can see through you. When they do, he says, they disengage.

Infrastructure

Ever heard the phrase “scanning and panning?” It’s where a presenter gets up on stage and starts talking as he or she constantly looks out over the audience. “It’s your worst enemy,” says Sinek. “While it looks like you’re looking at everyone, it actually disconnects you from your audience.”

He advises that it’s much easier and effective to look directly at specific audience members throughout your speech. Deliver an entire sentence or thought just to one person, without breaking the gaze. Then move on and connect with another person.

If it’s a TED Talk, you’re certainly not going to get through every person in your audience. Sinek says that’s not the point. Making these individual connections, he explains, is like you’re having a conversation with the audience. “You’re not speaking at them,” says Sinek, “you’re speaking with them.”

Slow down

Sinek admits this may be the one piece of advice most difficult to follow because it’s rather hard to believe. You are speaking much faster than you realize. You’re nervous. Your heart is racing – and you don’t realize it but so are your words.

“The more you rush, the more you turn them off,” he says.

Sinek is fond of saying he believes it’s impossible to speak too slowly on stage. Debate that with him if you ever meet him – but watch his TED Talk and you’ll see there are times where he speaks so slowly that several seconds go by between each word. And, it won’t bother you.

Practice gratitude

The master of TED Talks wants you to remember your manners at the end of your public presentations. Did you receive applause? Sinek says that’s a gift. “When you receive a gift,” he says, “it’s only right to express how grateful you are for it.”

Which is why – no matter what Simon Sinek talks about on stage – he always ends his presentations with two powerful words: Thank you.

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!

The Danger of Recording Privileged Conversation, and the Preferred Alternative

The Danger of Recording Privileged Conversation, and the Preferred Alternative on bossreporting.com

If the recording is heard by anyone other than the client or their lawyer, both the confidentiality and the privilege has been breached.

Blame it on television. Many people think that a privileged conversation between themselves and a legal professional is a confidential conversation. These are two different concepts but recording the conversation has the same outcome.

Confidentiality is an ethics rule prohibiting lawyers from disclosing information related to their client’s representation. The attorney-client privilege allows lawyers to refuse to testify against their own clients. Both can be rendered useless if the conversation is recorded. If the recording is heard by anyone other than the client or their lawyer, both the confidentiality and the privilege have been breached.

Better than a recording

If it’s determined that there should be a record of a privileged or confidential conversation between a client and his or her attorney, a stenographer should handle it. As an agent to the attorney, they are prohibited from divulging what they record, and they cannot be commanded to testify what they have recorded in a court of law.

The decision to record this conversation means that the topic is important. Every word must be captured. Stenographic recordings can be superior in terms of accuracy. Here’s why. A stenographer will take down every word. A digital recording is only capturing sound. And there are no backups.

This means that the recording may pick up background noises that may make it impossible to make out every word that was said. All it takes is a rustling of papers or a car rumbling by in the background to make a recorded voice unintelligible. There’s also the possibility that more than one person might speak at the same time.

If there’s just a recording, that moment is lost. If a stenographer is capturing the conversation, he or she can stop the conversation and ask that it be repeated.

Back to what counts as privileged/confidential

Everything someone says to an attorney does not automatically qualify it as confidential and privileged. Only communications relating to the attorney representation are. If you consult an attorney for a divorce, everything pertaining to that is privileged and confidential. If during those conversations the client disclosed an unrelated crime, an attorney could be compelled to testify about it in court.

The privilege protects an attorney from being compelled to testify about communication with their client. That particular conversation is protected. It does not apply to facts known by others outside the conversation.

What’s more, it’s not possible to make something confidential and immune from being used in court by telling it to an attorney and then invoking attorney-client privilege.

Attorneys generally tell their clients not to assume that a conversation is protected. If it is, but it’s been recorded, the confidentially is breached if that recording is heard by anyone else. In some cases, the use of an online service to transfer, store, or send the recording can also breach the attorney-client privilege. For example, if you use your cell phone to record a conversation and it’s backed up to a cloud-based service, you may run the risk of having attorney-client privileges denied.

Contact us if you establish a true need to make a record of a conversation with a client. We can help you keep it confidential and privileged.

Try Not to Put Them to Sleep

Try Not to Put Them to Sleep on bossreporting.com

5 tips for crafting more effective legal presentations

Presentations are a way of life in the legal profession. Whether you’re arguing a case in court or hoping to land new business, it is essential that you communicate in a way that persuades the audience to your side, whether they are a jury, a judge, or a client. A good presentation can win the day; a disjointed or poorly executed one could put your audience to sleep.

Here are 5 tips to create legal presentations that work:

1.  Incorporate some of the latest high-tech presentation tools

PowerPoint used to be the only option available for creating presentations. Today, there is a host of software options and apps that can help you create more dynamic and engaging presentations. They offer better organization and eliminate the need for reams of paper. They also help you easily organize slides and give you the ability to jump ahead or go back to your presentation seamlessly.

In terms of tech tools, the iPad has revolutionized legal presentations. There is also trial software such as Apple’s Keynote and Prezi, apps like TrialPad and TrialDirector, and dozens more that can help you do everything from creating 3D timelines to research case law.

Check out these past Boss Reporting blogs for more ideas about presentation software and apps:

Modern presentation tools for the courtroom

There’s a legal app for that

2.  Tell a good story

Human beings are storytellers. We’ve been spinning tales since the dawn of time, whether they were carved into cave walls, written on Papyrus paper or entered into a computer. Legal presentations are essentially stories. You are telling the audience what happened or why they should trust you with their business. How do you tell the best story possible story?

One suggestion is to start at the end of the presentation and then work your way back, making sure that each slide leads to the conclusion you want. It’s also important to be flexible and make adjustments along the way. If you sense restlessness, boredom, or confusion in the room, change the pace or go back and explain something more clearly.

3.  Practice…a lot

Nothing will kill a presentation faster than boredom. In order for the story to flow, you’ll need to practice. Become familiar with the material so you are telling a story in a natural way. Try not to simply read the slides verbatim as this can quickly become rote.

Another tip is to be careful of using slang or phrasing that might be unfamiliar to jurors of different ages and backgrounds. What makes sense to a married, fifty-year-old man from North Carolina might mean nothing – or even be offensive – to a single, twenty-five-year-old woman from South America.

4.  Make sure your presentation is carefully designed and looks good

Poorly designed slides can kill a presentation as fast as boredom. You want to create simple, clean templates and graphics that are easy to read. It’s a good idea to create your slides and then view them as a juror or potential client would.

Here are some design tips:

  • Use section headers that clearly identify important information and let listeners know what they’re looking at
  • Choose a font that is easy to read and make sure the text is large enough to be seen from a distance
  • Keep slides simple by avoiding cluttered blocks of text or multiple photos
  • Stay away from long slides, distracting fonts, small fonts, and colors that make the text hard to see on a screen
  • Utilize Bold, Italics, and Underline to ensure your most important points stand out

5.  Incorporate different ways to communicate your story.

If you create a hundred slides filled with nothing but text, you are likely to lose your audience. Think about what happens when you visit a website that has page after page of nothing but words. Your eyes grow tired or you just get bored.

Remember…boredom is your mortal enemy.

Mix things up with key images, graphics, and videos. Try not to go crazy as too much can be overwhelming, but a blend of different elements can help emphasize a point and keep your audience engaged.

When it comes to pictures, if you don’t have original images and you can’t afford custom, professional photography, consider using royalty free stock photos from websites such as StockSnap.com, UnSplash.com, CanStockPhoto.com, iStock.com, or any of dozens of sites. Some sites offer free images, while others require a subscription that allows you to download a certain number of images.

An effective legal presentation is essential. Use these 5 tips to ensure you create an engaging and informative story that will win the case – or the client.

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!