Let me preface this post by stating that technological advances have made practicing law and running a law practice much easier than when I started 20 years ago. I hate to think what it would be like to go without things like scanned documents, electronic filing and practice-related software. It’s great.
But lately, I’ve noticed more and more headaches associated with modern technology. For instance, Anderson blogged last week about the issue of whether to use footnotes in briefs. It’s an issue that lawyers have strong–and often differing–opinions. Judge Griffis at the Court of Appeals has even weighed in.
For instance, Anderson doesn’t like using footnotes for citations in briefs. I do. To me, this should be a picayunish issue that no one should ever win–kind of like fonts.
But it’s not. Apparently, for reasons Anderson explains in his post (go read it), the anti-footnoters win. Why? Because technology is making reading footnotes harder–not easier.
Unless, I guess, the IT guy is the one writing briefs. From Anderson’s post:
So, what is to be done? One can create internal hyperlinks in a Word or WordPerfect document which will then carry over when the document is published to PDF. But that increases the file size of the PDF and thus may not pass muster with the clerk’s office (or the electronic filing software, which may strip your links).
Another option might be to have the note appear in the text, as a note (indented and single-spaced)….
Or, as Anderson concludes, it’s probably just easier to say “to hell with that” and just stop using footnotes.
The problem for a long-time footnoter like me is old habits die hard. It’s not so much writing the brief without the citations in footnotes, but the proofing and revising. It’s much easier for me to read my briefs without cites clogging up the text.
But it’s not just footnotes. We’re also now supposed to proof our briefs on tablets, since judges like to read briefs on their tablets. Why? Because that great looking paper copy we spent so much time formatting may look like crap on a tablet.
If you’re like me, you’re scared to even start proofing briefs on tablets for fear of being pulled into a huge time-suck vortex.
I may start my briefs: “I’m begging you judge, please don’t read this on your tablet.” Or at least drop it in a footnote for old times sake.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg. It seems like everyday I have at least a hiccup with hardware, software, internet connections, or some other technology issue. Have you ever spent an hour writing a blog post and then lost it because of some glitch that wasn’t your fault? Well, it’s a wee bit frustrating.
Sometimes it’s more than a hiccup. Like in November, when my laptop’s hard drive crashed.
If you’ve never had your hard drive crash, let me fill you in. It’s worse than the hard drive crash doomsdayer’s describe. You wander around in a mourning stupor for days on end wondering whether you your precious data is going to make it. “For god’s sake Mr. IT guy, tell me straight, is it a goner?” Now I look at my server like a ticking WMD bomb.
Then you might run into things like your IT guys not backing your computer up. Or, as in my case, not remembering that they were, or where they were, backing it up. And then making comments like, “wow, we really should have been backing that up.” It comes off a bit like telling your client, “gosh, we really should have answered that complaint. Sucks for you for hiring us.”
Going in search for your missing data is an Easter egg hunt you don’t ever want to go on.
Bottom line is that for all the technology we have, it’s not working together that well. And it’s getting worse.