InFocus

the official blog of eTrial communications

Brief-Lynx Receives Notice of Allowance for Hyperlinking Electronic Documents Patent

DENVER, May 16, 2012 — Brief-Lynx, a leading provider of hyperlinking products and services and its Brief-Lynx electronic document presentation solution for business and legal professionals, today announced that the Company received a Notice of Allowance from the United States Patent and Trademark Office for “Electronic Documentation.” The patent is part of the Company’s portfolio of hyperlinking services and cloud-based applications. The Brief-Lynxâ„¢ (http://www.brief-lynx.com) technology is used to place supporting testimony, legal authority, exhibits, analyses and much more right at the fingertips of attorneys and their clients with just the click of a mouse.

Attorneys and business professionals use the Brief-Lynx technology to create hyperlinked e-briefs as well as presentations that link to graphics, exhibits and video or have graphics directly embedded with the links going to supporting documentation. “We believe this patent covering various aspects of hyperlinking products and services will have significant value to the Company,” said David Vanderport, president of Brief-Lynx. “This is especially true given the need for courts to find new ways to cut costs while still maintaining needed services for the public. We are encouraged by the increasing value electronic versions of court documents give our clients, and our one-of-a-kind solution is powerful and cost effective.”

Brief-Lynx includes features, such as the ability to zoom and annotate to specific sections within the hyperlinked document, that not only save time for the reader, but can be used to record internal commentary right on the key aspect of the document itself. “We have been working with businesses and attorneys for the past few decades and our goal has always been to provide clear, simple and easy-to-understand presentations,” said Vanderport. “With this new development, we’re able to assist our clients at a whole new level.”

Brief-Lynx is available at http://www.brief-lynx.com or by calling (877) 760-9045.

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The appellate courts’ interest in hyperlinked briefs continues to grow

Members of the Brief-Lynx team recently attended the National Conference of Appellate Court Clerks (NCACC). www.appellatecourtclerks.org. This annual gathering of court administrators gave us the opportunity to learn how our courts across the nation are embracing new technology to effectively manage their courts in light of increased demand and decreased resources. We found that our courts are quickly moving away from paper to electronic filing and are implementing ways to more efficiently manage the access to and review of electronic court filings.

We conducted a survey of NCACC members and here is some of what we learned from the 38 court clerks who responded:

  • 79% of respondents said their court either has, or is developing, an e-filing system
  • 81% of respondents said their court requires the submission of paper copies of briefs.
    • The average (and median) number of copies required by these courts was 9. That’s a lot of paper!
    • Most respondents pointed to the short and long term inefficiencies of paper and expect changes to paper requirements as courts improve their electronic filing systems.
  • 70% of respondents said at least one of the judges in their court reviews briefs electronically.
    • Of those that gave specifics, 45% said that half or more of their judges use a screen to review some or all of a brief and its cited material. These numbers are sure to increase.
  • 50% of respondents said their court currently accepts hyperlinked briefs.
    • An additional 25% of respondents said their court would be open to receiving a hyperlinked brief if asked by a party to do so.

The creation of hyperlinked e-briefs is not difficult, time consuming or expensive. We encourage you to approach the court about their interest in receiving a hyperlinked brief, especially in document-intensive cases. E-briefs will not only save the court time and other resources, but hyperlinks also give litigators more control of what is presented at a key point in adjudication.

As the time pressure on judges, clerks and other court staff continues to rise, those that take the small step of providing a hyperlinked brief will be ahead of the curve and benefit from making it easier for the court to digest and understand the support for their case.

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Brief-Lynx Announces – New Exhibit-Lynx Simplifies Complex Task of Creating Hyperlinked Exhibit Lists

DENVER, June 23, 2011 — Well-organized exhibits are essential for winning cases, but the traditional method for making electronic hyperlinked exhibit lists, creating links in popular spreadsheet programs, is difficult to complete under tight deadlines. Now, with the new Exhibit-Lynxâ„¢ application (http://www.brief-lynx.com/ExhibitLynx.php) from eTrial Communications Inc., attorneys can easily create interactive electronic exhibit lists.

The latest variation of eTrial’s patent-pending, automated hyperlink-generation technology, Exhibit-Lynx, a cloud-based application, can quickly create, edit and package an organized, hyperlinked document directory. In fact, in a recent pilot project, Exhibit-Lynx created, organized and packaged a 500-document, hyperlinked exhibit list in less than 20 minutes.

With Exhibit-Lynx, users can develop exhibit lists, chronologies, deposition outlines, closing binders and other interactive indexes that will improve collaboration on and presentation of key documents in litigation and other legal matters. Exhibit-Lynx directories are applicable to internal teamwork, depositions, expert preparation and exhibit submissions in trial, arbitration, government hearings and other proceedings. Directories created in Exhibit-Lynx can be exported to Excel or to a PDF for delivery and further manipulation as needed.

Exhibit-Lynx complements eTrial’s Brief-Lynx™ service for creating hyperlinked electronic briefs, motions and other written presentations. Through the integration of these two applications, clients can immediately use key files such as evidence, case citations and graphics in their interactive, hyperlinked brief.

“Our aim is to streamline the entire legal presentation process,” said David Vanderport, president of eTrial. “With Exhibit-Lynx, our clients will be more effective in presenting key documents in all stages of litigation while reducing their reliance on bulky paper files.”

eTrial is a software development and presentation-consulting firm for the legal industry and was founded in 2004 with the mission of providing the best possible tools for presentations. “Information inflation in litigation, combined with budgetary constraints on all stakeholders in the judicial process, has dramatically increased the time pressure on the courts and other decision-making bodies,” said Vanderport. “Hyperlinked electronic documents reduce the time and resources needed to thoroughly review the facts and authority involved in a matter.”

Vanderport continued, “By reducing the time and cost of creating hyperlinked electronic documents, Exhibit-Lynx and Brief-Lynx will allow the greater use of hyperlinked written presentations. Judges, court staff, arbiters and government agencies will appreciate the time saved and greater usefulness of an interactive, hyperlinked exhibit list or brief.”

Exhibit-Lynx and Brief-Lynx are available at http://www.brief-lynx.com or by calling (877) 760-9045.

About eTrial Communications Inc.

Denver-based eTrial provides legal industry presentation support, with an emphasis on electronic, persuasive communication for leading law firms across the nation. The company also offers the industry’s most efficient, cost-effective electronic brief software system, Brief-Lynx™, for attorneys who want to customize their court briefs with easy-to-follow, pinpoint links to evidence, case citations, graphics and other supporting materials, including multimedia tools.

Contact:

David Vanderport
720-221-7936
dvanderport@brief-lynx.com
http://www.brief-lynx.com

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Brief-Lynx to attend International Legal Technology Association Conference

Brief-Lynx will be exhibiting at the ILTA conference in Las Vegas August 22nd-26th. Come see us at booth 229 and check out our application!

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Virtual Legal Tech

Check out the Brief-Lynx™ virtual booth via ALM’s Virtual Legal Technology conference. The booth is only staffed on show dates but you can peruse the booth at anytime. There are 4 more show dates in 2010. For more information register through the link below and check out the Brief-Lynx booth while earning CLE credits!

VLT Tip: When you participate, fire up your web cam. Using the cam creates a more “real”and interactive experience.

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History of Hyperlinks & Electronic Briefs, Plus what you should know about the production process

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www.brief-lynx.com

History of Hyperlinks & Electronic Briefs

 

History of Hyperlinks

Merriam Webster defines a hyperlink as “an electronic link providing direct access from one distinctively marked place in a hypertext or hypermedia document to another in the same or a different document.” The notion of a hyperlink was first suggested in the 1930s as a non-linear method of reviewing data but not realized until 1966 at the Stanford Research Institute – where most computing for the general public first began (i.e. mouse and interactive computing). After the creation of the World Wide Web, hyperlinks were first implemented in 1989 by Tim Berners-Lee at CERN.  Interactive computing with the ability to browse information at hyperspeed is now commonplace and a regular part of virtually everyone’s daily diet, worldwide. 

History of Ebriefs

Although the hyperlinked document has been around for some time, in the legal field the most significant use of an electronic based document is the “ebrief”: a digital or electronic version of a hard copy legal brief, typically a PDF file.  The basic form of the electronic brief is that used in the Case Management/Electronic Case Filing (CM/ECF) which first occurred in the US District Court for the Northern District of Ohio in January 1996.  As of 2003, over ten million cases in the federal court system have used CM/ECF and all federal district, bankruptcy and appellate courts now use CM/ECF.  LexisNexis’ File & Serve service alone had e-filed over one billion pages as of April 2008.

History of Hyperlinked Ebriefs

The more interactive form of the electronic brief is the hyperlinked ebrief: a digital or electronic version of a hard copy brief that incorporates the use of hyperlinks within the ebrief to reference citations and other documents and media, typically a PDF file linking to multiple, attached PDFs of citations in the brief.  The first hyperlinked ebrief was filed in the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in 1997 and the first hyperlinked ebrief was submitted to the US Supreme Court in February 1997 in Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union.  As of August 2009, eight of the US Circuit Courts of Appeal expressly permit the filing of hyperlinked ebriefs; none of the remaining Courts of Appeal have rules which disallow hyperlinked ebriefs.

Trends in Electronic Briefs

A quick look around and you can see that the Courts are increasingly moving from simply requiring the ECF filing of un-linked PDFs, to recommending or requiring hyperlinking to exhibits and other documents in the record.  There is a push by courts, clients and panels to obtain briefs electronically in lieu of hardcopy documents to reduce costs of archive and storage.  So important, in fact, that the federal courts say they are developing software for the district and bankruptcy courts to permit appellate court filers to create hyperlinks in their documents to district and bankruptcy court records. 

What You Should Know About Producing a Hyperlinked Ebrief

What do you need to know about filing your brief as a hyperlinked ebrief?  Whether you engage a vendor to do the technical heavy lifting, or choose to produce the ebrief in-house, there are a few simple things to know, and things you will need to research.

First, find out if you can file a hyperlinked ebrief in your jurisdiction.  While this is not a major concern, most federal and state courts permit the filing of linked ebriefs, check the local rules immediately.  In our experience, we have never had a court reject or refuse to accept a linked ebrief (a ‘courtesy copy’ ebrief is a great additional resource to the hardcopy version), and certain courts do permit such filings but lay out specific criteria as to the form of, or procedure for, the electronic submission.  For example, the 10th Circuit permits hyperlinked briefs, and only specifies that the brief must be a PDF file.1  The 3rd Circuit, however, while also permitting such filings, is far more proscriptive in terms of what material the hyperlinks may link to, and also requires the filing of a motion to request leave to link to and include audio and video files.2

Second, is the brief finished?  If not, don’t start work on the ebrief yet – hyperlinking a draft brief is likely to result in pagination and formatting issues and you may lose all work done on the draft.  Wait for the brief to be final, then use the native word processing document of that as-filed brief to create the ebrief.  From this point all that’s required is that your Word or WordPerfect document is converted to a native Acrobat PDF file and handed off to either your vendor or your in-house team.  Many courts allow for ebriefs to be filed several days subsequent to the brief’s filing deadline, so after your brief is ECF or hard-copy filed, you likely have a few days/weeks to complete the linking of the ebrief and all we know of accept this in way of CD or DVD (Future trends point to secure online access for download to other media.  Again, check the current local rules.

Now that the brief has been filed and you’re ready to start work on the ebrief, what next?  Hopefully, you already have all of the brief’s cited references – cases, exhibits, documents, audio or video files – already available in electronic form, preferably as PDFs (for the documents).  If not, get them organized, and use a simple and straightforward file naming schema – like “DX1.pdf”, “Smith v Jones.pdf”, etc.  Get these documents to your vendor or your internal folks.  

If you intend to highlight, annotate or otherwise visually emphasize any of underlying documents – like yellow-highlighting a paragraph in a cited case – have the appropriate attorneys or legal assistants do that on the hard copies, or better yet, apply them electronically.

Lastly, it is important in the production process to be as clear and precise as possible. There are many graphical issues that can arise in producing an ebrief that will create unnecessary distractions (think web page that looks bad and takes away from the information in it). It is imperative that you communicate upfront with the people completing the process what you’d like to see in the final product from highlights, zoom levels, customized buttons to the naming conventions of the files.  Preparing and mapping out the documents early on will make your life much less complicated and the time sensitive project will be completed on time.

1 General Order 95-01 (March 18, 2009), Section II(A): Briefs may contain, but are not required to contain, hyperlinks to cases and authorities. The brief itself must be filed in native pdf format.  (http://www.ca10.uscourts.gov/downloads/generalorder-efile.pdf)

2 Local Rule 28.3(c): Hyperlinks to the electronic appendix may be added to the brief. If hyperlinks are used, the brief must also contain immediately preceding the hyperlink a reference to the paper appendix page. Hyperlinks to testimony must be to a transcript. A motion must be filed and granted seeking permission to hyperlink to an audio or video file before such links may be included in the brief or appendix. Hyperlinks may not be used to link to sealed or restricted documents.” (http://www.vid.uscourts.gov/Rules/3ca_appellate_rules.pdf)

References A Brief History of the Hyperlink; “The Web Time Forgot,” New York Times; Wikipedia hyperlink entry; Google’s timeline history of hyperlink results; First hyperlinked ebrief ever filed, CNET, 1997; “First cyberbrief” submitted to Supreme Court; History of e-filing in federal courts, (uscourts.gov); LexisNexis press release re filing one billion pages with File & Serve service

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Colorado Court of Appeals Interim Policy Re Electronic Records and Briefs

The new policy applies only to briefs submitted under C.A.R. 28 (not motions or other pleadings) and applies only in the Court of Appeals, not the Supreme Court.  The policy is effective March 1, 2009.

 

The main features of this new policy are as follows:

 

1.  Electronic record:  When the trial court record is in electronic form, the clerk will prepare a paginated CD ROM containing the record and send it to counsel.  When citing the record in your brief, you must cite to the unique CD ROM page numbers.  [A prior policy had required citations to documents available on LexisNexis File & Serve (LNFS) to contain the LNFS transaction number. That policy has now been superseded.]

 

2.  Electronic briefs:  The court is requiring counsel to submit all briefs on CD ROMs in native PDF format.  Counsel are also required to file a single, original hard copy of the brief.  The CD ROM version of the brief must be identical to the original paper copy.

 

3.  Hyperlinks: The new policy strongly encourages, but does not require, hyperlinked briefs.  If counsel uses hyperlinks, then the authorities and record excerpts to which the brief is hyperlinked must be on the same CD ROM as the brief.

 

4.  Appendix:   A prior policy statement from the court encourages, but does not require, parties to file appendices containing key orders, instructions, exhibits, etc., but discourages appendices in excess of 25 pages.  This new policy allows appendices to be included on the CD ROM.  Based on my conversation with the Clerk of the Court, we have more flexibility (beyond the 25 pages) under this new policy.

 

Why is the court doing this?  The court is moving toward requiring all briefs to be hyperlinked.  Currently, when parties e-file hyperlinked briefs via LNFS, LNFS strips the hyperlinking.  The court is thus requiring CD ROMs as an interim step, which will make hyperlinking possible, and eventually, the court will likely require all briefs to be hyperlinked.

Policy Re Electronic Records and Briefs

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twitter.com/BriefLynx

ETC can now be followed at http://twitter.com/BriefLynx

We are using various social media websites such as Twitter and LinkedIn, as a way to keep in touch with the legal community, pass on worthy information and build relationships.

Twitter is a free service that lets you keep in touch with people through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing? Join today and start receiving eTrial’s updates.

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Geographic Information Systems and Litigation 101

Rocky Flats Plant – a basic overview of site identifying specific locations of interest at the plant site.

Rocky Flats Plant – a basic overview of site identifying specific locations of interest at the plant site. Click to enlarge.

According to GIS.com, “GIS allows us to view, understand, question, interpret and visualize data in many ways that reveal relationships, patterns, and trends in the form of maps, globes, reports and charts.”

The use of GIS information in litigation is a recent phenomenon and became widespread in the late 1980s through engineering firms. Today, people are more aware to the uses of GIS through mainstream programs such as Google Earth. GIS is important to litigation because most spatial concepts cannot be understood without a visual medium.

GIS visualizations are a powerful tool for the courtroom as they represent layers of complex data in a visual friendly way. Today’s courtrooms have moved beyond paper and two-dimensional presentations. Understanding the power of GIS information will increase your case’s persuasive power dramatically.

What makes GIS truly unique to litigation is applying graphic overlays and analysis to your data and revealing the information organically. You may be revealing a pattern, or understanding the value of a location by integrating new information about the context of a location.

Rocky Flats RAC Average Dose for Class Members – a layered GIS aerial depicting how much potential hazardous material exposure there was in the area (millerems is how you measure radiation exposure). Click to enlarge.

Rocky Flats RAC Average Dose for Class Members – a layered GIS aerial depicting how much potential hazardous material exposure there was in the area (millerems is how you measure radiation exposure). Click to enlarge.

What types of cases can I apply GIS technology? Any type of case that is tied to location or has a spatial component – environmental, medical, insurance, real estate, class action, product liability and financial cases.

Since the end product is based on data and the maps are based on fact and typically supported by an expert witness you have a recipe to create a presentation that has more intrinsic value than a graphic alone. GIS can be used to create cutting edge presentations that make the complex simple.

ETC is a full service communication and graphics consultancy ready to answer strategic questions about space, time and data as it applies to your matters. We partner with Kim Zielinski, an expert consultant from Data Display Inc, who is dedicated to GIS solutions for litigation.

Hazardous Material Shipments- Each map represents the same data, yet tells a very different story about the number of hazardous material shipments between 1948 and 1993.  The map on the left shows a "Nationwide Epidemic" while the map on the right depicts the locations of "90% of hazardous material shipments."

Each map represents the same data, yet tells a very different story. Left is "Nationwide Epidemic", right shows 90% of hazardous material shipments from 1948 to 1993.

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Welcome to InFocus, our new trial services blog

ETC has come a long way since its formation in 2005. With our expansion we are proud to present the revision of our logo, branding and website. Our logo represents the concept of making complicated facts clear, simple and  “Infocus.” When working with ETC your position is presented in focus and everything outside is open for interpretation.

Our leadership team, built of only high level consultants, makes the complex simple. By providing a unified approach to consultation, graphics and technology we are able to create trial presentations that logically persuade and produce visible results. ETC is the clear choice when you are looking for strategic communication experts with years of experience in a wide variety of cases. ETC’s consultants have worked on some of the largest trials to date. We know how to analyze your legal position and create a visual communication strategy that aligns with your goals. Based on facts specific to your case, we will develop a holistic solution that clearly presents the facts and eliminates the superfluous.

Feel free to subscribe to our RSS feed and learn about the latest happenings. The internet is about two-way discussions and we hope we can keep each other updated on the latest endeavors in trial support world.

Sign up and stayed tuned….. In 2009 we will release the latest version of our patent pending hyperlink briefing software, Brief-Lynx. This online tool will revolutionize briefing capabilities.

We thank our current clients that have allowed us to become the high level boutique consulting firm we are today. We hope we have the privilege to serve your team and bring your case next case InFocus.

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