LawOnMyPhone Launches Its Redesigned Website and Blog

LawOnMyPhone is excited to announce the launch of its redesigned website and blog. Please take a look and let us know what you think about it. Also, if you are subscriber to the former blog feed (via Blogger) you may need to resubscribe to the new feed.

The new website is just the start of good things to come this year from LawOnMyPhone. We are currently working on a major update to the Court Days legal date calculator for the iPhone, myMCLE applications for several more states, and applications for the upcoming release of Apple's iPad.


New Update to the myMCLE California iPhone Application

myMCLE California, LawOnMyPhone's iPhone application that helps lawyers keep track of their California mandatory continuing legal education credits, has now been updated and can be downloaded to your iPhone from the iTunes Store. The update addresses a bug that prevented the application from recognizing the new compliance period for attorneys in the A through F compliance group.


Google Enters Into The Realm Of Legal Research And Adds Legal Opinions To Google Scholar

Is this the beginning of the end for Westlaw and Lexis? Today, Google added the ability to search legal opinions through Google Scholar. As a litigator, I rely quite heavily on Westlaw to conduct online legal research and have become quite proficient at creating searches that will quickly and efficiently get me good results. (I have used Lexis as well, and don't intend to debate the differences between the two services.) But, as good as Westlaw's database is, their searches are slow and their web interface is cluttered.

I was wondering when Google was going to enter the legal research field and was excited to hear that the day has finally come. Considering that Westlaw and Lexis have had a monopoly over online legal research for the last 20 years, I was curious to see Google's take on legal research. After all, who knows search better than Google?

After playing with Google Scholar for a couple of hours, I am very impressed with the service. It is nothing short of amazing and will create some serious competition for Westlaw and Lexis. It is important to note that, as of today, only legal opinions and journals are available through Google's database. In that sense, and until statues and regulations and included, it is not yet a comprehensive research tool for attorneys. I wouldn't think this would be very difficult for Google to add and, as is evident from the way Google treats case citations and references related cases (see below), statutory annotations and links to citing cases should follow.

In order to get the full benefit of Google Scholar's legal search capabilities, searches should be conducted through the Advanced Search page. Scroll to the bottom of the page to select your jurisdiction. You may also want to increase the number of returned search results to 50 or 100 in the upper right hand corner of the page or in your search preferences. Once your jurisdictions are selected, the various search fields at the top of the page provide a lot of flexibility in specifying search parameters.

Once you hit the search button, the beauty of Google Scholar become apparent. For example, my search for cases in California containing the phrases "breach of fiduciary duty" and "exemplary damages" produced 90 case results. [my search] The same search in Westlaw produced 96 results. Once you click on a link to a case citation, Google Scholar displays the text of the opinion in a clean, well organized, format. [link to cited case] The case name and citation are displayed at the top of the page, search terms are highlighted, and links to inline case citations are provided. One feature I really like is that pagination is displayed in the left margin, rather than within the actual text. Also, you can print the text of the opinion directly from your browser, unlike Westlaw, which requires you to jump through hoops to print.

The other noteworthy feature of the "How Cited" tab at the top of the results page. This tab takes you to a page with three sections: "How this document has been cited," "Cited by," and "Related Documents." [link to "cited" tab] Each of these sections contains links to the citing authority or document.

Another benefit of Google's simple web-based format is that the search and result pages are easily and quickly displayed on mobile devices, such as the iPhone and Blackberry. I conducted a few searches from my iPhone and was pleasantly surprised with the results.

As I mentioned earlier, until Google includes statutes and regulations in their databases, Google Scholar is not yet complete as a research tool for lawyers. It is, however, a promising tool for conducting case law research.

I am interested in hearing others' opinions on Google Scholar for purposes of conducting legal research.


How Lawyers Will Use Google Wave

I was one of the luck few (100,000, give or take) to receive an invitation to participate in the Google Wave preview. I started a wave discussing how lawyers will be able to use Google Wave in their daily practice of law. For those of you who are not yet on Wave, I have posted the initial text of the wave below. If you are fortunate to be a participant in Wave, you can find the wave here.

Here is the wave:

How Lawyers Will Use Google Wave

Google Wave offers lawyers some terrific new tools for collaboration in both the transactional and litigation settings. It provides opportunities for better attorney-client communication, efficient interoffice collaboration, and even negotiation between adversaries. But, along with those new tools come some challenges that will have to be addressed before Google Wave is adopted by lawyers as part of their daily practice.

I am interested in others' ideas for how Google Wave can be incorporated into their law practices. Here are some of my ideas:

Enhanced Attorney-Client Communication
A great example of how Google Wave can enhance the attorney-client relationship is in responding to discovery requests, such as interrogatories, from opposing counsel. If the attorney were to start a wave containing the interrogatories, the client and attorney would be able to work on the responses and objections concurrently, thereby providing the client the opportunity to ask questions regarding specific interrogatories in the course of providing answers. Similarly, in a transaction setting, such as the drafting of an agreement, the attorney could put the text the draft agreement in a wave for the client's review and comment. If the client suggests changes or asks questions, the attorney can address them directly in the wave.

Of course, so long as the attorney and client are the only participants in the wave, the attorney-client privilege is preserved. Care has to be taken, however, with adding additional third-party participants and destroying the privilege. Here, we can capitalize on one of Google Wave's great features and design a robot to keep track of the participants and issue a warning if someone is trying to add a third-party to the wave.

Interoffice Collaboration
Google Wave makes interoffice collaboration easy. Let's say you have a complicated factual scenario and three distinct legal issues that need to be researched. You start a wave with the underlying facts, and then assign the individual research topics to a few associates. Each associate then updates the wave with their research, rather than preparing three separate research memos. As questions arise and are added to the wave, all participants can benefit from seeing the question and its resolution. All participants can track the revisions as they are made. Once the research is completed, just copy it to a new wave and add the client as a participant.

Negotiations Between Lawyers
Here is where it all comes together. The attorney and client prepare a draft agreement as discussed above and copy the text of the agreement to a new wave. The attorney then adds opposing counsel as a participant. Opposing counsel reviews, revises, modifies, comments, etc., and the process continues on the other side until a deal is reached. Copy it to a new wave for the client's review, comments, and questions. Add the Ribbitt extension and set up a conference call to discuss the changes. The process continues until the final document is completed.

Other Examples
Without a doubt, there are many other examples of how lawyers can use Google Wave in their law practices. I am interested in hearing about other ways to use Google Wave and invite you to add to this wave. Also, maybe someone will be kind enough to write a robot or gadget to address the attorney-client privilege issue.

Thank you in advance for your collaboration.


Workdays App Updated to Version 1.1

The Workdays business date calculator for the iPhone has been updated to version 1.1.  In addition to a minor interface tweak, this version adds a new feature: you can now email your date calculations directly from the application. I will be adding this and several other new functions to the related Court Days application for lawyers.

You can also read a review of Workdays by Jeff Richardson at iPhone J.D.

Finally, myCLE Illinois should be released this month.