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While attorneys benefit greatly from the marriage of technology and law, they have not been able to bridge those benefits into the holiest of holies, the courtroom — until now. The union of two technologies — the vast database archives of Westlaw and wireless handheld computers — has opened the courthouse doors, and the implications are endless. In an ideal world, a motion made to the court is accompanied by the memorandum of law in support of that motion. Both documents are served to the parties weeks before the hearing. But in the real world a motion made weeks before a hearing will not be joined with its memorandum of law until moments before oral argument is heard. Many readers remember the smell of fresh ink on a document just handed to them while walking into a courtroom. In an ideal world, a judge would grant a continuance to give time to the opposing counsel to at least read the memorandum, if not respond in kind. But let’s face it, we don’t practice law in an ideal world. Now attorneys can bring legal research tools into the courtroom with them. And I don’t mean your ragged paper copy of the rules of court or some such. I mean the whole body of law. A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to try out the new Westlaw Wireless product from West Group on a Palm VIIx wireless handheld computer. (Note that Westlaw Wireless is also available on the BlackBerry/RIM devices and on any pocket PC using the Windows CE operating system.) The occasion was a criminal trial in which I was the prosecutor. In addition to my files, I brought my 6.7-ounce, 5-inch by 3-inch Palm VIIx, equipped with Westlaw Wireless and numerous eBooks by West Group, including the Federal Rules of Evidence and the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure (which I downloaded for $12.50 each at West Group’s online store, www.westgroup.com). Currently, Westlaw Wireless offers access to the full database of reported cases and the ability to KeyCite any case (full history, negative history and citations to the case). The portion of the cases that you can download to your Palm includes a full synopses of the case and headnotes. In addition, access to the West Legal Directory lets you find a lawyer’s contact information on the go. On the Palm, you can even cut and paste the lawyer’s address right into MapQuest to get directions. THE REAL WORLD And how well does this technology work in the real world? It’s terrific. I began my morning by checking traffic conditions and weather using MapQuest’s traffic reports and Weather.com. With my office e-mail set to forward messages to my Palm.net e-mail address, I accessed all my e-mail messages. But the real benefit of Westlaw Wireless on the Palm came in the courtroom. When the defense attorney finally delivered the memo in support of his motion to dismiss — a motion made over a week before — I was able to quickly read over the memo and bring up the cases cited even as the defense attorney made his oral argument. Instead of having to say “Contrary to defense’s argument, my recollection of State v. Florenceis … ,” I was able to say “The Supreme Court held in State v. Florence… . Furthermore, the Court further clarified this holding in State v. Rud, in which it held … “ Faced with unanticipated arguments, Westlaw Wireless suddenly seemed indispensable. How did we ever get along without it? Just as it is now hard to imagine legal research without the benefit of research services like Westlaw, soon it will be true for legal research in the courtroom. Palm handhelds started as electronic planners and organizers whose versatility and convenience rested in their compact size and portability. At first they seemed like little more than glorified day planners. But with the introduction of wireless technology to the Palm VII model, they’ve become Internet browsers, e-mail terminals and information and data collectors, all in one. For attorneys, surely the most useful feature of the Palm VIIx is its Westlaw capability. How can Westlaw Wireless improve? Nothing beats the real thing. In some instances it would be useful to have access to the full text of the case. West Group assures me that this is the next enhancement to be released (with the ability to e-mail the full text of the case to any e-mail address available in early 2001). In addition, full-text searching functionality would offer significant opportunities for mobile research. At this point you can only retrieve the case with the exact citation. Searches by case name and word searches would add another level of convenience. Finally, the library accessible to the mobile attorney should include statutes, regulations, law review articles and all the databases that Westlaw has to offer. Again, West assures me all the above items are on the Westlaw Wireless development plan for 2001. Stay tuned. With noted limitations, even in its current form, Westlaw Wireless is an incredible tool for the 21st century wireless litigator. For more information on Westlaw Wireless or to download the complementary Westlaw Wireless PQA, visit www.westlaw.com/wireless. James Nephew is a criminal practitioner in St. Paul, Minn. His e-mail address is [email protected].

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