Do More Virtually by David Whelan I enjoyed giving this presentation – three times! – to the members of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers who came out on a Saturday morning in Las Vegas last month. They were an interesting assortment of lawyers, from solos to firm lawyers, some dedicated solely to criminal work and others doing it as part of their overall practice. Similarly, their use of technology ran the gamut and my presentation zigged and zagged through a variety of Internet-based topics.
Defend with Ingenuity: Do More Virtually (presentation screenshot)
The presentation was part of the annual DWI (Defend with Ingenuity) conference NACDL puts on, focused on the latest in drunk driving law. The benefit to someone like me is taking what is general knowledge on technology and finding ways to apply it to a substantive area. Large law firm librarians have to do this on a regular basis, because generic technology can only be so helpful. How do you take the concept of the RSS feed and make it a tool that helps in a practice – like bread and butter criminal law – that is heavily focused on the courthouse and fundamental skills.
Even criminal lawyers can benefit from technology. They were frequent denizens of my last library and what was most interesting were (a) their research techniques and (b) their practice habits. Focusing on the latter, it was clear that they had a lot of time that was unproductive. Not because they wanted it to be, but because sometimes arraignments didn’t happen as fast as they ought to, or post-conviction relief required a 3 hour drive for a 15 minute consultation. The obvious benefit is to make information more accessible, to lawyers who have large gaps of time that are currently not efficiently used. Lawyers with heavy courthouse practices can benefit from a heavy investment in mobile technology. Even if their office is across the street from the courthouse, a lawyer isn’t always going to be able to get back but armed with a laptop, PDA, wireless Internet, and the like, she can continue to be productive round the clock.