Cari Pines is a Family Law attorney practicing in Southern California. If you know her, you know she’s a dynamo. Upon meeting her, you get the distinct impression that she’s unstoppable—a great asset for a family law attorney, and especially important to the clients she represents. Part of that impression comes from the huge amount of work she does, not just for clients, but for other attorneys in advancing the cause of technology and efficiency in law and client representation.
Family lawyers in California previously weren’t afforded much trial time, they worked by declarations and written pleadings. But there has been a shift over the last few years. California law now entitles more litigants to evidentiary hearings. This change has seen family law attorneys, retraining and retooling their practices. Judges in California have asked bar associations to train family law attorneys on how to introduce and use evidence during evidentiary hearings. Cari is at the forefront of that effort, as is the iPad and LIT SOFTWARE’s apps.
We talked with Cari at the ABA TECHSHOW this past spring, and then again just a few weeks ago, about her efforts in bringing technology to the practice of Family Law, and also about how she uses technology in her own practice. While it’s true that Cari uses LIT SOFTWARE’s apps in the conventional ways they were designed for, she talked to us about some of the additional ways she uses their features and capabilities to streamline her practice and her busy speaking schedule.
It all begins with DocReviewPad. First, Cari imports every single page of discovery, and assigns Bates stamps to have her own Bates control. She told us that one of her favorite things about DocReviewPad happens when she teaches people how to use it for Bates Stamping. When they see first hand how it can easily assign Bates numbers to hundreds of documents with thousands of pages in only a couple seconds, she invariably gets to watch their mouths drop. Cari recently used DocReviewPad as her main e-discovery tool to review a huge production of a party’s employer correspondence regarding compensation. She found emails that were integral to establishing the party’s value in the divorce proceeding, including documentation of payroll, insurance compensation, and even previously hidden client contracts. All of that key correspondence was assigned Issue Codes within DocReviewPad and easily exported to TrialPad, where it was automatically sorted into Key Doc folders—ready to bring up during the client conference or in deposition. Anything not imported into TrialPad is still available and searchable on her iPad anytime, and can be sent to TrialPad for presentation in seconds.
At the outset of a matter Cari is loading elements of her case into TrialPad. Cari sets up a TrialPad case not just for evidence, but also for pleadings and court orders so that the entire case is with her all the time. This allows her to move from the office to a meeting to a courtroom as needed, while still able to discuss a case and specific documents and issues with a client or associate any time by simply opening an app on her iPad—a much simpler and faster process than opening and loading a laptop. After going through DocReviewPad and finding key documents and issues, she imports them into a case that already exists. Rather than picking up DocReviewPad, and then putting it down once the case is in TrialPad, she uses the apps fluidly, going back and forth according to her need and the strengths of each app’s features.
For Cari, TrialPad is her main tool for courtroom presentation of evidence, but she also uses it to discuss a case with a client, while creating pleadings, for deposition, and to present slides at conferences. Cari constantly reviews the entire file in TrialPad, so she knows exactly where all her documents are, she has them with her at all times, and she is able to respond quickly and efficiently whenever needed. As she reviews, she organizes evidence into folders according to important issues. When there are key portions of a page or document, she uses the callout tool and snapshot tool so that the important part of the page is immediately front and center when she opens it. When it comes time to conference with the client, she knows every issue and the relevant information to discuss.
Those same snapshots come in handy again when it is time to create pleadings. Cari exports the document snapshots and pastes the images into the pleading document. She has done this with support calculations, police reports, photos, etc., often also placing two documents side by side and calling out the relevant portions of each. This practice has been key to illustrating important issues for judges as they review, for example, a Prayer for Relief. These screenshots are also pasted into slide decks for courtroom presentations of opening statements or closing arguments.
When it comes time to take depositions in a case, Cari creates a brand new TrialPad case just for deposition and includes pleadings, notes, exhibits, and anything she thinks she will use. She copies and transfers that case onto several iPads, and hands them out at deposition, one for opposing counsel, one for deponent, one for the court reporter, etc. Then, everyone can bring up the exact same documents at the same time. When the witness comments on “Exhibit 134”, Cari applies an Exhibit Sticker in TrialPad and emails the exhibit to the opposing counsel and the court reporter on the spot. No more bringing binders to deposition. She’s brought up to 6 iPads to a deposition, with every possible document she might use, and it was still lighter than one of the deposition binders she used to bring. Plus, it is faster and easier to keep everyone on the same page, looks professional, and yes, maybe a little intimidating.
After depositions and hearings, all transcripts are copied to TranscriptPad. There, she again assigns Issue Codes, and exports key pieces of testimony as PDFs into TrialPad—the hub of her case—using the Impeachment Reports. As a matter progresses, Cari continues to add evidence to the TrialPad case. If and when it comes time to create and submit an Exhibit List to the court, she saves time by simply printing the Evidence Report in TrialPad. The Evidence Report becomes her Exhibit List, and requires only a caption page before filing.
During the course of a matter, Cari’s iPad is used for case-specific client storage and is ready to refer to or to present at a moment’s notice. This efficiency is especially important, since, in addition to running her own firm, Cari does a lot more in and around the Southern California legal community. She volunteers on the board of a not-for-profit legal aid law firm, is the incoming Chair of the Family Law Section for the Los Angeles County Bar Association, serves on the California State Bar’s Law Practice Management and Technology Section’s Executive Committee, and regularly presents at family law conferences, at colloquia, and at symposia. And she uses TrialPad for those legal conferences and speaking events too. Cari creates slide show presentations, turns them into PDFs, and uses TrialPad to present them better than if she had done so in the native program, as she can zoom in, call out and highlight doing the presentation.
Cari walks the walk as she talks the talk, and if you practice in Southern California, you can watch her do it again on July 14. Cari’s efforts to bring technology to family law in California have led to the creation of FAMTech Los Angeles 2018 - Southern California’s first Family Law Technology conference. FAMTech is a full day CLE where family law attorneys will learn from judges, lawyers, and vendors how to use and incorporate technology into family law. (Monies collected from the program will go to Levitt Quinn.)
To learn more about FAMTech Los Angeles, click or tap on this link: levittquinn.org/famtech-la-2018
You can read more about Cari and her firm at her website: pineslawgroup.com