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Mac Wares for the Jurisprudence Crowd

By Erika Morphy MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Jul 24, 2008 4:00 AM PT

"The Jury Loved My iBook" is how Peter Zavaletta begins his testimonial on MacLaw Online. A personal injury and medical malpractice attorney in Brownsville, Texas, Zavaletta attributes his victory in an obstetrical negligence case in part to his array of Mac tools.

Mac Wares for the Jurisprudence Crowd

He edited his video depositions in iMovie (for OS X) on his PowerMac G4 733, burned them onto DVDs with iDVD 2, and played them on his iBook 600, which was connected to the courtroom's built-in Epson projector.

"The beauty of iDVD is that it allowed me to break up rather longish (even after editing) testimony into shorter, more manageable blocks organized by subject," Zavaletta explained. "The longest clip was about 21 minutes. Later in the trial, I would call the same witness by videotape on another subject. The jury commented afterwards that offering the testimony this way kept them focused and attentive."

Other points in the Mac platform's favor, according to Zavaletta's post: "My iBook was running OS X 10.1.2 and never, ever either in court or at the office during the long nights did it crash. I also used PowerPoint v. X (part of Office X) in a way I hadn't before -- creating bullet charts capsulating and highlighting a witness' live testimony 'on the fly' -- while the witness was on the stand. ... Then during one part of my closing I showed the jury the slide 'we' had created together, and it really hit home."

MacLaw Online is an e-mail discussion group of lawyers linked together by their love of -- or, more specifically, their use of -- Apple's Macintosh in their practices. Zavaletta's post describes typical Mac tools that translate well into the office or courtroom environment.

What he neglects to mention is that there is also a rich array of software applications designed specifically for attorneys who -- like the MacLaw Online regulars -- are loath to give up their beloved Macs just because the rest of the legal community is married to the PC.

Following is sampling of some legal applications that can be run on the Mac.

Keeping Accounts

Brief Accounting, a Brief Legal Software product, offers time & billing, trust accounting, accounts receivable, invoicing and general office accounting functionality -- all of which is integrated into a general ledger. It also incorporates bank reconciliation, check writing, sales tax tracking, and file opening/file maintenance features. It complies with GAAP requirements and State Bar guidelines.

Offered by Rippe & Kingston, LMS V-Enterprise Edition is a financial and practice management system developed by CPAs specifically for use in law offices.

Bill Handling

Bill4Time is a time- and expense-tracking and billing application that offers related functions, such as project management and scheduling.

There is also an accompanying mobile application, Bill4Time Mobile, that can be installed on a variety of platforms. The entries are wirelessly uploaded to the Bill4Time servers in real-time.

Marketcircle, another time and billing software, allows users to not only track time and manage expenses but also customize reports to see which clients haven't paid their bills.

Office Management

HiPerSoft has recently upgraded Practice Information Powertool 2008, its core case management-calendaring-time and billing-document management system. The v 2.0 feature set includes enhanced reports, customs forms and billing. Next up in upgrades, according to the company, is integration with Outlook, iCal and Address Book.

LawStream Law Office Management is an integrated financial and practice management application for law offices. Its feature-set includes timekeeping, billing, disbursement-tracking, scheduling (including rules-based reminders), general ledger, trust accounting, receivables, general management, conflict avoidance and contact management.

Specialized Applications

DepoSmart, Clarity Legal Software's flagship product for MacIntel systems, lets users annotate transcripts. Users can also connect to and import real-time transcripts from a court reporter during a deposition.

Another Clarity Legal Software product, TrialSmart, reviews, analyzes and presents electronic legal transcripts. The application supports solo practitioners or larger firms, as well as judges and clerks. One item in the feature set lets users attach video that can later be synchronized to the transcript and presented to a jury using Clarity's video editor. Video clips can also be exported to Keynote or PowerPoint.

Transcript Manager Pro, a 1360 Studios product, is a real-time transcript management tool that not only connects to court reporters, but also searches for, highlights and annotates deposition or court transcripts.

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