A few weeks ago, Rob Dean and I hosted a CLE about using iPads in a law practice. We had a blast; Apple technology is famously fun to use. More to the point, state and federal appellate jurists are increasingly integrating iPads into their workflow. It’s worth learning to use this stuff if only to understand how judges are experiencing the briefs they read on the device.

But iPads have much more to offer lawyers. In fact, Kristian Brabander of McCarthy Tetrault is in the midst of a huge, possibly multi-year trial, and his entire trial team–even the really old senior lawyers–is using the iPad.

Kristian graciously agreed to do a guest post about his experience:

I have been a fan of the iPad since its inception. In fairness, I have been an Apple fan since, well, Apple. But the iPad really has changed things. Where I used to carry a briefcase or trial bag on wheels everywhere I went, I now carry only my iPad (and sometimes an accompanying Bluetooth keyboard). At this point most litigators will think: that’s all fine and dandy for everyday purposes but what happens when you get to trial?

The answer, as I have recently discovered, is that the iPad is every bit as useful as you hope it could be. Just as with anything else, however, it requires a bit of planning. The results are then spectacular.

I am currently involved in a massive civil trial. It is likely to last over a year and possibly more than two. The stakes are very, very high (even by whatever standards you use) and there are between 20 and 40 lawyers in the courtroom every day. I am only one of a team of lawyers representing a big commercial client.

Each member of our senior trial team is equipped with an iPad in court — and nothing else. (In fairness, this being a really big case, we also have a junior lawyer equipped with a laptop and an Internet connection to our document management system back at the office, just in case.) No huge collections of binders of documents, no stacks of note pads. This includes the really senior senior trial team members, the guys who still say things like, “Please take a letter” into a dictaphone.

Continue Reading Guest Post: Trial by iPad

I’ve enjoyed reading two short pieces in the past few days.

The first was a charming article that Shelly Collette wrote about her experiences as a young lawyer appearing in two cases before the Supreme Court of Virginia. She writes very honestly about the experience–case in point:

I was almost physically ill my first time at the Supreme Court of Virginia. I excused myself to use the restroom after an argument and discovered that you are not allowed back in the Court until after the argument is finished. I had to wait outside the courtroom and as soon as the doors opened, naturally the next case was mine.

Yikes! Experienced SCV advocates know that it’s critical to factor the Bathroom Rule into your argument prep. The bailiffs will literally lock the courthouse door.

Collette is also quite frank about how intimidating she found the Court, and about the sense of awe that she had about the experience.

Overall, she wrote a nice, feel-goody piece. I’ve always liked the way that writ arguments–and especially the annual traveling writ panel day–expose a range of lawyers to the Court, and there is something neat about hearing lawyers’ reactions to their first shot at appellate advocacy. This stuff is fun, after all.

But then I read the second article: the Curmudgeon’s Breakfast with Easterbrook.

Continue Reading The Bathroom Rule and Other Reasons to Choose Experienced Counsel

I’m fresh from the VTLA’s annual meeting at the Greenbrier, in all its seizure-inducing, Technicolor grandeur.

The event is always terrific and this year’s slate of speakers did not disappoint. Appellate topics included a panel discussion on petitions for rehearing and Justice Millette’s observations from his time on both the trial and appellate bench.


Earlier this week, we hosted the Virginia State Bar Appellate Section’s CLE on practicing before the Court of Appeals. The event was a success, but its timing was unfortunate: as James Markels noted in a comment to an earlier post, Senator Creigh Deeds just introduced SB 630, a bill to abolish the CAV.

I am told by a reliable source outside our firm that SB 630 is some kind of a statement being made by Senator Deeds, alone.

I am also told by sources closer to home that I should not make fun of legislators while Monica is a candidate for the Court of Appeals.

Ergo, I will not waste your time arguing against SB 630. (Although a person inclined to make such an argument might start with the caseload reports.)

Instead, secure in the knowledge that we’ve dodged intermediate appellate Armageddon for now, I will pass along some tips from the CLE after the jump.

Continue Reading La Fin Absolue du CAV?

A piece in the Baltimore Sun last week makes the case that the traditionally conservative Fourth Circuit is becoming increasingly progressive.

The primary support for the argument appears to be:

  1. Results in about a half dozen recent opinions, including a series of defendant-favorable Fourth Amendment holdings and the court’s rejection of challenges to the Affordable