You may know Stephen Embry from his blog, or you may have seen him speaking at a legal conference recently, or you may even know him from listening to several legal podcasts. If you know Steve, you know he’s the consummate professional, an experienced trial lawyer, and a former big firm partner. Steve reached out to us a couple of weeks ago to talk about what he has been up to since his decision to leave big firm life and enter private practice, and to discuss our apps, and how he uses them now.
To start, Steve had some great things to say about his former firm and his former partners. His decision to leave was led by a desire for personal growth and changing interests, not any sort of large-firm litigation-induced torpor. He had reached a great point in his career, and some of the technology interests that had driven him to be a highly productive and effective mass torts lawyer had begun to be even more interesting than aspects of his practice. Steve now speaks, consults, teaches, blogs, and tweets about that technology, and how to actually use it in practice.
When it comes to implementing a tech-savvy practice, Steve is not just preaching. He has lived it. Even packing up a practice of many years was a straightforward proposition for an attorney who was already paperless and mobile. Steve told us that even before his decision to go into private practice and blogging he hadn’t picked up a briefcase in years, having long ago supplanted it with iPads and apps like ours.
One of Steve’s main insights into using technology effectively is that you have to actually use the technology. There is a lot on offer in the legal tech world, but if you don’t use it, or can’t use it to make your practice more streamlined, it is worthless. Steve told us that he found the iPad “perfect for the profession of law”. Many lawyers bill by the hour and even those that don’t are still precious with their time. Devices and software must be simple and intuitive to use. In short, lawyers need tools that just work.
As an example from his own practice, Steve went from presenting with boards to presenting with TrialPad. This wasn’t because there weren’t other options, and other software available, and it wasn’t because he wasn’t aware of the other options. It was because nothing worked intuitively enough that he was convinced he could use it quickly and effectively. Presentation software must complement the presenter, not get in the presenter’s way.
While he used TrialPad for courtroom presentations, Steve used TranscriptPad for the enormous amount of transcript review required of every mass tort lawyer. Stephen describes TranscriptPad as a “beautiful app that enables you to do a better job as a lawyer and makes you more efficient.”
In addition to his speaking engagements and blogging, Steve is Chair of the Data Breach, Privacy, and Cyber Insurance section of the Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel (an invitation-only premier defense trial lawyer association). Through the FDCC he also helps run a trial technology course FDCC Evolve, that includes two and a half days of intensive hands-on presentation training. The goal of the course is 1) to enable lawyers to function in the courtroom with technology, and without anyone else’s help 2) to show lawyers taking the course how persuasive technology can be when appropriately incorporated into their presentation 3) to show lawyers the best way to prepare a case and fact pattern for presentation to a client, for mediation, and for trial. Note that his course is not iPad training or iPad app training. Stephen has purposely chosen hardware and software that is so intuitive it doesn’t need training so that he can teach the presentation piece with the technology as its complement.
Steve has now taught the FDCC Evolve course for several years running. In his time teaching, his attendees have run the gamut of age and technical competence. His advice for the least technically confident is to learn TrialPad first. He says TrialPad is the critical piece of software for his course because “TrialPad is a very intuitive app that becomes a gateway tool to using other tools, as well as to using the iPad itself effectively.” Steve said that because mastering TrialPad is simple, it is a good starting place to build confidence in the iPad as well as the electronic presentation of evidence. Past attendees have told Stephen that TrialPad “changed their outlook on presentation and how to persuade in court.”
Even though he’s no longer in courtrooms, Steve is still using and recommending LIT SOFTWARE apps. He found TrialPad so useful and practical that he uses it as his main tool in presentations. No longer in the courtroom, he uses TrialPad for speaking engagements and presenting at various legal conferences because, as he puts it, “there is no other tool that is this good.”