law

Technology In The Courtroom

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The statistics that support incorporating the use of technology at trial are never-ending. In the United States people spend an average of 7.4 hrs (444 mins) each day looking at a screen. Most Americans cannot go more than 10 mins without checking their phone, but in the beginning of a trial jurors lose this privilege. They are selected to participate in a process that most do not enjoy and to make matters worse they’re prohibited from using any personal electronic devices. The use of technology at trial gives the jury a screen to satisfy their urge, if nothing else.

Years ago defense attorneys avoided using technology at trial for fear that it may lead to the “Big Screen” effect. This is where a jury observes defense counsel using technology and concludes that the defendant must be wealthy because they can afford such services. The thought is that, assuming liability is proven, this could hurt the defendant when the jury is deciding damages. In 2017 this is not the case. The CSI effect is real. Americans are accustomed to receiving and experiencing information electronically, not in print or poster boards. Presenting your case in a manner that is consistent with how jurors expect to receive it renders your argument that much easier to digest.

After 72 hours a juror remembers 10% of what they’ve heard, 20% of what they’ve seen, and 65% of what they’ve seen and heard. If you want the jury to remember your arguments you must present it to them in multiple formats.

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Ill-will Not Necessary to Prove Bad Faith

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Justice-Scale-ImageThe Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently held that “ill-will” or “self-interest” is not necessary for a policyholder to successfully sue an insurer for bad faith.

Justice Max Baer writes in Rancosky v. Washington Natural, “Additionally, we hold that proof of an insurance company’s motive of self-interest or ill-will is not a prerequisite to prevailing in a bad faith claim under Section 8371, as argued by Appellant. While such evidence is probative of the second Terletsky prong, we hold that evidence of the insurer’s knowledge or recklessness as to its lack of a reasonable basis in denying policy benefits is sufficient.”

The two prong test developed in the 1994 Superior Court opinion of Terletsky v. Prudential remains. A party suing an insurer must prove “(1) that the insurer did not have a reasonable basis for denying benefits under the policy and (2) that the insurer knew of or recklessly disregarded its lack of a reasonable basis.”

For now, the precise effect of Rancosky is yet to be seen; however, what we know is that more plaintiff’s claims will survive motions for summary judgment. A significant win for the plaintiff’s bar, not so much for the defense.

See, Penn. Supreme Court: ‘Ill-will,’ ‘self-interest’ not necessary to win insurance bad-faith claim. 

 

Digital Dictation Today

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“We are stuck with technology when what we really want is just stuff that works,” said best by Douglas Adams. Today time is the most precious commodity not only for young attorneys but all young professionals. So, does digital dictation really work? A recent article posted on Attorney at Work outlines the recent improvements in digital transcription and what to realistically expect.

See, Digital Dictation and Transcription Options.

My Sweet iPhone Setup

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Every so often, the writers over at The Sweet Setup interview a featured guest on the setup of one of their devices (iPhone, iPad, or mac). I find these posts extremely interesting because they expose the reader to the different workflows of industry leaders. While brief, it is generally very enlightening. I often compare it to the simple but once iconic question, “who do you have on your ipod?”

This inspired me to create a similar “Sweet Setup” column, one that may interest young burgeoning attorneys and professionals. If I have learned nothing at all, it is that a great deal can be learned from an individual’s device workflow/setup.

With no further ado, here it is, my self-interviewed iPhone Setup:

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Andre J. Webb and I am a twenty-eight year-old attorney in Delaware. I am also lead writer and editor of The Burgeoning Young Attorney. Through blogging I use my keen interest in law to provide miscellaneous pieces for readers to enjoy. Blogging also enables me to develop a voice in the legal community for young attorneys.

What iPhone do you have?

I believe that a strong integration with technology and efficiency is what will separate good legal services from great ones in the future. As a result, I try to use the latest and greatest. I have a 32GB iPhone 5S in Space Gray.

I am a huge proponent of using folders to group similar applications used frequently. Random apps used often are placed into favorite folders. Other folders include different groups of applications whether, writing, reading, research, entertainment, or financially related.

What apps do you use the most, and why?

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2014 ABA Midyear Meeting Recap

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The ABA Midyear Meeting was an amazing experience. The Hyatt Regency Chicago and Swissotel served as host hotels, with the Hyatt set up as headquarters for the ABA Association, and Swissotel the primary meeting grounds for the Youth Lawyers Division. Wind chills left temperatures feeling near negative 20 degrees, so the underground pedway connecting the properties was nothing short of a miracle.

Prior to arriving, I reviewed the available program itenary and chose to sign up for the Anatomy of ADR and Law School to Law Practice event. I arrived at the Swissotel early Friday morning unsure of what to expect – it was my first ABA national meeting…

Law School to Law Practice:

The description, “program discusses the pros and cons of starting a solo practice, and how one succeeds after he or she has committed to the objective of making it as a solo practitioner.” Attending simply made sense. Topics discussed may be useful to any young attorney in launching their career. The program was orchestrated by the YLD Solo Practitioners. Chris Blaylock, of the Law Offices of C.W. Blaylock served as the moderator, along with Orly Ahrony, and Elizabeth “Jodi” McShan as panelist.

The program was planned for one hour, which I predicted to be quite challenging. One hour is not enough to cover almost anything in the legal profession, let alone explain how to launch and develop a firm. Nonetheless, the panelist gave it their best shot.

The material was broken down into three sections: Marketing and Accounting; Networking/Retaining a Client/Client Communications; and the Pros and Cons of Running a Small Firm. Opening slides listed basic information easily discoverable online with little research, but in the interest of ensuring that everyone was on the same page I understood the purpose. Additionally, it made it super convenient and helpful for future reference. Later slides, discussed in detail best practices for a solo practitioner along with recommended resources.

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The Stunt that Keeps on Giving…

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News of the mysterious ‘Dumb Starbucks’ coffee shop that popped up in Los Angeles over the weekend spread like wildfire. As details emerge, it appears the shop was one big stunt. As it turns out, the idea was the brainchild of Comedy Central reality-TV-show host Nathan Fielder. The networks argument against trademark infringement, parody law & free speech…

Despite threats from Starbucks that what Nathan Fielder is doing is a trademark infringement, the network’s parent company says “Dumb Starbucks” constitutes “protected free expression.”

See, Comedy Central Lawyers Approve ‘Dumb Starbucks’

Game On : PA Supreme Court Opens Door for Negligent Design Claims Against Pharmaceutical Manufacturers

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Recently, the PA Supreme Court released a ruling that is sure to shake things up involving life science matters in Pennsylvania. Read more below.

In a decision with significant potential ramifications, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has issued a ruling that pharmaceutical companies can be held liable for negligence in the design and marketing of drugs, regardless of claims that the drugs had been properly labeled and tested, as well as approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The ruling, announced January 22nd, upholds an intermediate appellate court decision against a Pfizer, Inc. subsidiary in a wrongful death action involving the diet drug Redux. In its 4-2 decision, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania rejected arguments by Wyeth Ltd. that pharmaceutical companies could only be held liable in Pennsylvania for manufacturing defects and inadequate warnings.

See, Negligent Design Claims Pharmaceutical Manufacturers