John Cord Law, LLC

Helping Lawyers Create Compelling Content

Tech Update: The Eye Mouse

Tobii Rex, courtesy Tobii

Most of my sci-fi news comes from (if you try to correct me and tell me it’s, I’ll give you an earful).  It’s not exactly on the cutting edge of science and technology news, but their report on a new type of computer pointing device was the first I’d heard.  

The Tobii Rex is what’s called a “gaze-tracker” (I like “eye mouse” better).  Basically, the computer tracks your pupils with such accuracy that it is reportedly as accurate as using a mouse.  You can use your eyes to move the cursor, select items, scroll up and down, and zoom in and out.  

With tablets and touchscreens as the growing interfaces of choice over the past few years, we are getting closer direct contact with our computers.  The Tobii Rex is one small step removed from thinking directly at the computer.  The device will certainly have profound implications for people with limited use of their arms and hands.  

Lawyer Blogging Under Attack: Virginia

I follow Ben Glass’ Great Legal Marketing business on Facebook (you should too–link here!).  He alerted followers that the Virginia State Bar, in a perplexing case, is attempting to regulate what lawyers can say on their blogs.  The case, Hunter v. Virginia State Bar, is pending before the Virginia Supreme Court.  

Ben graciously linked the briefs of the parties and the amicus briefs, so you can find them all in one location.  Essentially, the Virginia State Bar is claiming that lawyers are not allowed to reveal information about their clients’ cases without client permission–not even non-confidential information is publicly available.  Further, any discussion of a lawyer’s cases must be accompanied by a disclaimer (you know the one–these results may not be typical, every case has its own unique facts, etc., etc.).  

One Hunter’s arguments, which I don’t entirely buy for the majority of attorneys, is that this is all First Amendment stuff and meant to only be informative.  Truth be told, I think most of us agree that it is advertising. Sure, we place out in the hopes of helping other lawyers, and people with legal problems.  But if some of those people find their way to our doorstep and we get a new case out of it, that’s just great, too.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  

Take a peek at the briefs.  Want to know what to do in the meantime?  Well, it depends on your state.  Perhaps the safest course is to apply disclaimers and speak only in the most generic terms about cases you are handling (or, get client consent).  Each state will have to start identifying and addressing these problems.  Each lawyer will have to do what makes them comfortable.  

Computer Communication in 60 Seconds


I’m a sucker for the infographic.  Clearly, there is a lot of ground for lawyers and business owners to cover.  Of course, you can’t do everything.  Pick a few, and do them well.  The focus for any law firm should be the website and the blog.  From these, links can be made to social media (Twitter, Facebook, Google+), and the sphere of influence will increase, bit by bit.

Microsoft Word Tips

Head over to the Maryland Daily Record’s Generation J.D. Blog and read Digital Signatures on Word Documents.  In that post, I explain the steps to create and use a digital signature in your Word documents.  If you pride yourself on your paperless office, this will make your life even easier (no more printing, signing, and scanning).

Generation J.D. is a blog that I contribute to every other week, written by young lawyers (not sure that I qualify, anymore, but they haven’t kicked me out, yet!).

Expect the Unexpected: Trial PowerPoint Presentations

Last week Elisha Hawk and I moderated the 2012 MAJ Technology/Social Media Seminar in Columbia, Maryland.  You can see the sign-up form here, which has a list of the presentations and speakers–if you missed the seminar, you can purchase the video and handout materials directly from the MAJ office at 410.872.0990.  

The seminar was fantastic, but I was reminded of the First Rule of Technology:  Expect the Unexpected.  We were using the MAJ office’s laptop computer for the PowerPoint presentations.  I wasn’t familiar with the laptop, but we had downloaded all of the presentations onto it.  Partway through one of the presentations, I noticed that the laptop had one of those automatic shut-down messages–the kind you get when the computer tells you it is trying to install updates, and will automatically shut itself down to complete the installation if you don’t tell it to do otherwise.  

For some reason, you can never cancel those messages–you can only delay them.  So, I kept “snoozing” the message, hoping to keep it at bay for the last two hours.  The message would snooze for about 15 minutes at a time.  

Then, the unthinkable happened.  It shut down.  I’m sure I hit the snooze button, so I don’t know what happened.  But right in the middle of Carolyn Elefant’s presentation on Social Media 101 for Lawyers, the computer shut down.  Leaping to action (okay, I stood up and moved 2 feet to the computer–I’m not a superhero), I tried what I could, but the computer had to restart, then  register the updates, and blink back to existence.  It probably took about 2 minutes.  To Carolyn Elefant’s credit, she took it all in stride, and kept the audience’s attention riveted on her instead the potential disaster staring at me from behind a Windows computer screen.  

I’ve been through enough presentations (seminars and trial presentations) to know that the unexpected should always be expected.  Technology sometimes goes wrong.  Lawyers must be prepared in two ways:

  • Have a technological back-up:  Make sure you have extra batteries for the remote, a spare disc with the video deposition, and maybe even a spare laptop with everything downloaded on it, waiting in sleep mode for easy activation.
  • Have a non-technological back-up:  Keep a full paper copy of your PowerPoint so you can go through your presentation without the benefit of the PowerPoint.  PowerPoint is sometimes used as a crutch–even though it’s a terrific guide, you must know where you are and where you are going in your presentation.  Also, for trial particularly, make sure you have hard copies of important evidence–8.5″ by 11″ color blow-ups of all exhibits, and maybe a few foam-core boards of the really important exhibits.  Just in case.  

With preparation, even the unexpected problems can be reduced to minor inconveniences.  A self-deprecatory statement will endear you to the judge and jury, and you can get back on track.  These problems don’t happen often, but that preparation will give you the confidence and ability to shrug them aside.  

For more information on our trial presentation services, contact us at 443.850.4426, or send us an online request for consultation.  

Law Technology News

For those of you who have never seen it, the website Law Technology News is a fantastic source for everything technology-related.  For iPad fanboys and girls, check out the article on TrialDirector for iPad.  If you want to know how to use your iPad at trial without any cords tethering you down, see our post at the Maryland Car Accident Lawyer Blog on Using iPad Wirelessly to Present Your Case at Trial.

Law Marketing: 90% Technology?

Many of my cases come from other lawyers who I’ve met at bar association functions.  I spend a great deal of time with the Maryland Association for Justice (MAJ), some amount of time with the American Association for Justice (AAJ), and now increasing amounts of time with the Baltimore County Bar Association (BCBA).  Those contacts will allow me to keep and grow those and other “in-person” referral sources.

The majority of my marketing dollars, however, goes to technology.  Whether creating new blogs, experimenting with pay-per-click (PPC), or improving the website, my goal is for 50% of my cases to come to me referral-fee free through the internet.  This is not something that can be done haphazardly–it requires focus, commitment and a plan.  One great website for people trying to develop that plan, and trying to see what is out there, is  Most marketing brilliance is free, whether from this site or from others.  If you are a solo or small firm, you can find nuggets of wisdom from many legal technology marketing gurus.  The best advice is to blog and write regularly–spending time creating and improving your websites will pay off.  For decent websites, a solid investment of one hour every day will pay off in four to six months.  Build your website–build it.      

For help writing your blog or website content, contact us at 443.850.4426 or send an online request for more information.  We have a personal injury lawyer practice, and we can write accurate content.  Our prices are competitive with the major website companies who offer law blogging services.  Even better, our content is written by actual lawyers.  We know the law, and we know marketing.  

Maryland Electronic Filing: Coming Closer

The Maryland Judiciary is requesting public comment on MDEC (Maryland Electronic Courts), the upcoming electronic filing system.  This is meant to be like PACER of the federal courts, and will apply to District Courts, Circuit Courts and appellate courts.  The process won’t be be complete in one fell swoop, but we’re going to start with Anne Arundel County in the fall of next year.  

Here are the specific areas of court concern:

  1. To what extent should the electronic filing of documents be mandatory?
  2. What should be the requirements for a filer’s signature on electronically filed documents?
  3. Will the electronic version of electronically filed documents be the official record of such documents?
  4. What access should be allowed to the electronic record?
  5. What kinds of fees, if any, should be charged for (i) the electronic filing of documents; (ii) the filing of paper documents; (iii) remote access to electronic records; or (iv) general operation and maintenance of the MDEC system?

Written comments should be sent to Sandra F. Haines, Esq., 2011-D Commerce Park Drive, Annapolis, Md., 21401.  The deadline is September 21.  

See the Court’s public notice

My comment?  It’s about time.  


The Law and Star Trek

I’ve always wanted to do an article on how Star Trek is referenced in the law.  i09 started the process and listed some good ones in their article on 8 Ways That Judges Have Cited Star Trek From The Bench.  

I recall a Supreme Court argument from two years ago, where the issue was whether violence against non-humans in video games was regulated by a California law.  Justice Kagan observed that violence to computer-generated Vulcans would not be covered by the act, merely because of the addition of two pointy ears.  

Do-It-Yourself Trial Presentation for Under $1,200

Check out part I and part II of our article for the Maryland Association for Justice:  ”Do-It-Yourself Trial Presentation for Under $1,200.”  Most firms already have some of the technology and software, so you can probably do it even cheaper.  

If you’d rather have someone else take care of it for you, see our Trial Presentation services page, call us at 443.850.4426, or contact us for more information.