Capture Text Messages for Use in Court

A reader recently asked for an app to capture text messages – a very understandable request. Here are some DIY options to consider.

Screenshot Method

Most everyone is familiar with this irritating and incomplete approach, which involves taking partial images of texts that end up overlapping. Screenshots are a pain, often lack date and time stamps, don’t capture contact information or other metadata, and must be combined somehow to form a PDF. Not a great way to go. Next, please.

Decipher TextMessage and Tansee for iOS

The Decipher TextMessage app uses five simple steps to capture text messages for export to PDF. Unlike the screenshot method, it automatically grabs date and time stamps, attachments, and accurate contact information for senders and recipients. It can also recover deleted conversations.

Decipher TextMessage is $29.99 and uses the iTunes interface. If you’re dubious about spending thirty bucks sight unseen, take advantage of the free trial, but this app has a lot going for it. Read more about Decipher TextMessage here.

Tansee iPhone Transfer SMS is another great DIY solution at the same price point for a three-year license. It uses its own proprietary software installed on your desktop rather than iTunes.

The clean printout rendered by (Tansee) allows for a seamless production. (Users can) Bates-stamp each PDF page and produce the thread in one comprehensive file, rather than in disjointed screenshot images pieced together in an unorganized manner. Use of this software allows for a more efficient in-house review process, as well as a more transparent production set to opposing counsel.

A disadvantage of this software is that it does not retain the actual native file, merely an organized photocopy with some of the relevant metadata attached to each message.

Cell Phone Extraction for the Small Firm.

SMS Backup+ for Android

SMS Backup+ is a free app in the Google Play Store that allows users to store texts in a gmail account. Conversations can be printed to PDF using a web browser. Sounds simple enough, but since this is a backup program it can only capture what is presently stored on a phone. There is no mechanism to restore deleted conversations. Another downside: reviewers say the app is buggy. However, as one noted: “I tried other SMS Backup apps, but they are not the same or as good! This app is significantly better (in my opinion).”

Other Options

For other print-to-PDF choices consider:

iOS

Print Utility Lite, Xerox Print Portal, To Print, Mobikin or iPhone Backup Extractor.

Android

Mobile PrintShare, Printhand Mobile, or Mobikin.

Evidentiary Concerns

The evidentiary concerns surrounding use of text messages are substantial. As mentioned, accurate date and time stamps and true identities of senders and recipients are critical. Capturing location data, attachments, and special characters can be troublesome. See How to Print Text Messages for Use as Evidence.

As this post points out, before extracting evidence from smart devices consider employing expert forensic help – not just to get it right, but to secure an independent witness if authenticity isn’t stipulated.

All rights reserved 2019 Beverly Michaelis

20 Apps for Lawyers

It’s been a while since we talked apps. From the first iPhone/iPad educational tracks at the ABA TECHSHOW, iOS apps for lawyers have only grown. We’re an attractive market with money to spend, even if our profession tends to be slow in adopting new technology.

This begs the question: which new (or newer) apps are among the best? Which of the tried and true are still worth using? Check out my curated list of the top 20 most-mentioned apps for lawyers:

Calendaring and Docketing

SmartDockets, DocketLaw, and CourtDaysPro promise to help users quickly and easily calculate deadlines using federal and state automated court rules. Choose the court, the trigger, the date and time, hit “Calculate” to get the result, and post to your calendar.

Courtroom Presentations

Looking for courtroom presentation software? TrialPad is the most popular kid on the block. The developer, LitSoftware, boasts “Whether you need to display a document in an evidentiary hearing, annotate a photo during a deposition, or compare, highlight, and call out two documents for a jury, TrialPad makes it easy. And while you can plug and play in the courtroom or the boardroom, you can also present wirelessly with AppleTV.” TrialDirector is free, and a good alternative if you have limited exhibits and no need to display video.

Credit Card Processing

SquareRegister lands high on the popularity list, but isn’t the best when it comes to trust accounting compliance. Honestly, you’d be better off with LawPay or Headnote.

Digital Signing Apps

Jeff Richardson of iPhoneJD favors SignMyPad Pro for digital signature capture. I’m a fan of DocuSign and HelloSign, which integrate with some of the more popular cloud-based practice management programs.

Encrypted Messaging for Lawyers

If you care about secure client communications (and you should), eielegal is for you. It offers “encrypted information exchange,” thus the name, and also creates an archive of conversations. As you’ll recall from a post two years ago, texts are part of the client file and should be preserved. The eielegal app solves that problem, as does Zipwhip.

File Sharing, Storage, Markup, and Management

Dropbox remains the most popular app for file sharing and storage. While the standard version will get you far, the advanced version at $20/month is a great price point for unlimited file storage. Advanced data protection is available for both.

Want to read, markup, sign, and share docs? Consider iAnnotate.

Readdle Docs and GoodReader are the kings of file management – superior to iOS’ “Files” app. Both allow users to open, access, and work with files regardless of where they are stored.

Legal Research

Everyone loves the Fastcase app but if you’re looking for an alternative, consider Westlaw or LexisAdvance.

Reminders

Sometimes free is best. The built-in iOS Reminders app does a stellar job of creating time- and location-based reminders. Tell your iPhone: “Remind me to call John Doe when I get to my office.” When you return, your iPhone will notice you’re in the office and remind you to make the call. Doesn’t get better than that!

All Rights Reserved 2019 Beverly Michaelis

 

Filing Fees and Other News

Filing Fees, Courthouse Staffing, Courthouse Projects, and Legal Aid

The July 2 edition of Capitol Insider included this announcement regarding filing fees, which increase effective October 1, 2019:

Increase in Filing Fees – HB 3447 increases most civil filing fees by six percent. Examples include filing, motion, settlement conference, trial, document, and marriage solemnization fees. The increase in filing fees will go into effect on October 1, 2019. Almost $300,000 of the increase will be directed to the State Court Technology Fund this biennium with the remainder deposited into the state’s General Fund.

In addition, public bodies and local governments will contribute to eCourt funding via “case initiation fees” effective immediately. Other good news includes increased revenue allocation for Legal Aid, courthouse staffing, and courthouse projects.

Approved Changes to the UTCR Effective August 1

The latest changes to the Uniform Trial Court Rules are now available online. The updates address the Certificate of Document Preparation, streamlined civil jury cases, consumer debt collection cases, family law procedures, exhibits in juvenile cases, filing of the DMV record, extreme risk protection orders, notice of filing expedited matters, and statewide post-conviction relief (PCR) rules.

All Rights Reserved 2019 Beverly Michaelis

 

 

21 Key Takeaways of Electronic Storage

When it comes to eDiscovery, the guru is Craig Ball.

Craig recently posted about the upcoming 2019 Georgetown eDiscovery Training Academy, a week-long, immersive boot camp in electronically stored information (ESI).

The technology of e-discovery is its centerpiece, and I’ve lately added a 21-point synopsis of the storage concepts, technical takeaways and vocabulary covered.

Here is Craig’s synopsis verbatim:

  1. Common law imposes a duty to preserve potentially-relevant information in anticipation of litigation
  2. Most information is electronically-stored information (ESI)
  3. Understanding ESI entails knowledge of information storage media, encodings and formats
  4. There are many types of e-storage media of differing capacities, form factors and formats:a) analog (phonograph record) or digital (hard drive, thumb drive, optical media)b) mechanical (electromagnetic hard drive, tape, etc.) or solid-state (thumb drive, SIM card, etc.)
  5. Computers don’t store “text,” “documents,” “pictures,” “sounds.” They only store bits (ones or zeroes)a) ASCII or Unicode for alphanumeric characters;b) JPG for photos, DOCX for Word files, MP3 for sound files, etc.
  6. Digital information is encoded as numbers by applying various encoding schemes:
  7. We express these numbers in a base or radix (base 2 binary, 10 decimal, 16 hexadecimal, 60 sexagesimal). E-mail messages encode attachments in base 64.
  8. The bigger the base, the smaller the space required to notate and convey the information
  9. Digitally encoded information is stored (written):a) physically as bytes (8-bit blocks) in sectors and partitionsb) logically as clusters, files, folders and volumes
  10. Files use binary header signatures to identify file formats (type and structure) of data
  11. Operating systems use file systems to group information as files and manage filenames and metadata
  12. File systems employ filename extensions (e.g., .txt, .jpg, .exe) to flag formats
  13. All ESI includes a component of metadata (data about data) even if no more than needed to locate it
  14. A file’s metadata may be greater in volume or utility than the contents of the file it describes
  15. File tables hold system metadata about the file (e.g., name, locations on disk, MAC dates): it’s CONTEXT
  16. Files hold application metadata (e.g., EXIF geolocation data in photos, comments in docs): it’s CONTENT
  17. File systems allocate clusters for file storage; deleting files releases cluster allocations for reuse
  18. If unallocated clusters aren’t reused, deleted files may be recovered (“carved”) via computer forensics
  19. Forensic (“bitstream”) imaging is a method to preserve both allocated and unallocated clusters
  20. Because data are numbers, data can be digitally “fingerprinted” using one-way hash algorithms (MD5, SHA1)
  21. Hashing facilitates identification, deduplication and de-NISTing of ESI in e-discovery

If you don’t follow Ball in Your Court, you should.

All Rights Reserved 2019 – Beverly Michaelis

Streamline, Organize, and Improve Your Office

Be more productive

What if you could improve workflows? Leverage technology and automation to save time? Overcome procrastination? You can with Practical Time Management. This CLE offers over 30 ideas and strategies to help you take control of your workload, manage your busy schedule, focus on your priorities, and make your workday more productive. Accredited by the Oregon State Bar and available in audio and video format here.

Harness best practices

Not sure whether your firm is applying best practices to key office operations? Learn about automating client intake, documenting representation, modernizing the engagement process, and more in Best Practices for Client Intake, Engagement & Workflow. Combine this program with Best Practices for Docketing, Conflicts, Disengagement & File Retention to cover your bases.

Watch each CLE over lunch and earn 1.0 General/Practical Skills MCLE credits. Available now at On Demand CLE..

Get jiggy with eCourt

Understand common eCourt mistakes and master electronic service with eCourt Malpractice Traps and Oregon eService. Topics include: relation back of filings, UTCR amendments, upgrades to Odyssey eFile & Serve software, 12 common eFiling errors, key eCourt resources, using eService, service of process in the eFiling world, identifying eService exceptions, service contact issues, service by email, and courthouse dos and don’ts.

Trust Accounting – basic and advanced

From managing bank charges and avoiding impermissible cushions to reporting overdrafts and addressing client fee disputes, Trust Accounting Fundamentals covers all the basics of how to properly operate your lawyer trust account.

Want to delve deeper into the ethics of IOLTA? Advanced Trust Accounting will show you how to safely manage wire and EFT transfers, use layaway payment plans, collect “first and last month’s rent,” manage evergreen retainers and hybrid fee agreements, receive third party payments, barter legal services, pass on credit card transaction fees, handle unclaimed funds, respond to garnishments and liens, disburse settlement proceeds if your client is missing, and more – believe it or not!

Lucky 13

You’ll find 13 programs and a free eBook at on demand CLE. If it concerns law office operations, you’ll likely find it covered here.

Details for the detail minded

Q:  What does my on demand CLE purchase include?
A:  MP4 (video file), M4a (audio file), written program materials with presentation slides and resources, answers to polling questions addressed during the live CLE, MCLE Form 6 for self-reporting of MCLE credits.

Q:  How are the video and audio files delivered?
A:  Digital files are delivered instantly at checkout with your purchase confirmation email (look for the link). Download, stream, save to your Dropbox account, or send files to your mobile device or desktop computer.

Q:  How much do CLEs cost?
A:  On demand CLE programs are $25. The eBook, Tips for Improving Client Relationships, is free.  All transactions are handled by Selz and protected with industry standard security, including encryption. The Selz platform is also PCI compliant. Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover accepted.

All Rights Reserved 2019 Beverly Michaelis