Tools at Work:
How Lawyers Are Using a Few of Their Favorite Things
tell us how they are working smarter, faster, better - giving themselves and
their clients the best edge in a changing world.
lawyers are using tech tools to synthesize their practices in new ways.
From e-mail, the Internet and customized matter management to
multimedia presentations and litigation Web sites, lawyers are putting to use
an exciting array of legal technology options every day.
Here's a look at some favorite tools a few practitioners are using
innovatively. While some of the
tools, or their uses, may be new, their end use is a time - honored goal:
to practice well and meet clients' needs.
These practitioners' stories may just inspire you in your own practice.
The Power of "Virtual Teams"
else are tech tools taking lawyers in their practices? Samuel A. Guiberson is
a Houston-based attorney whose national criminal defense practice focuses on
complex cases involving immense volumes of documents, electronic surveillance
and undercover operations. His practice has become so widely known for its
innovative technology uses that his firm now consults with other lawyers on
developing turnkey litigation computing operations. (He designed and managed
all litigation computing resources used by the defense during the Oklahoma
City Bombing trial of Timothy McVeigh).
Today he's working with a new type of tool: Web sites that synthesize
"virtual teams. '
consults on cases of such scale or complexity that handling the information
mandates the design and management of litigation support and courtroom
presentation technology. "We're looking at multidimensional information
sources in scales that boggle the mind. We need to use systems to let lawyers
be lawyers and deal with the dynamics of the case. That means systems that
help the mind master the multitude of facts, especially in cases that involve
Guiberson explains, "The Web metaphor is about the free association of
ideas through linking, as well as the multimedia of images and sounds. It
provides deeper insight into information no matter how great the
own trial practice and the consulting cases usually involve a group who are
scattered geographically. "The
Web allows us to pull together, to truly implement the team concept even
across several states." The focus is on collecting and distributing
information. Each case site holds the collective product of everyone on the
goes in to the Web site is all case information, all litigation support,
information logistics on all aspects of the case. What comes out of the site
is all briefs, pretrial documents, in‑court presentations‑any
output needed for resolution.
did he come to developing Web sites? In essence, "I've simply translated
through several generations of litigation applications to come to this point
with Web tools."
a way, it's equivalent to combining the case management system with the
litigation support database on a law firm's LAN, Guiberson explains,
But because it incorporates everything from everyone, from the
first note about the case in your PaImPilot to the last word spoken in
court‑it's a total continuum. " And because it's on a Web site,
it's accessible from anywhere there's a computer, including the courtroom.
and his team look at information tactics not as technologists, per se, but as
litigators. The purpose is to use
technology, Guiberson says, "as a means to organize people to a common
task, to bring to it all the minds of the people involved, regardless of where
they are physically at any time.
using the media of the technology to teach ourselves the multiplicity of all
aspects of the case. So the site
becomes 1) the trail of bread crumbs, 2) the card file and 3) the crystal
allows him and others on the case team to see the pattern of the case that
develops from the information. An outgrowth is that "as we teach
ourselves, so we teach the jury. They really see our perspective of the facts
in the same way that we first saw them.