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As with every other industry, computers and software have had a tremendously positive impact on the business of law. Despite that, some attorneys have entered this new landscape with trepidation and with a firm grip on the practices of the past. At first, the familiarity of carbon-sets is preferred over the convenience of an electronic transcript file sent by e-mail — but that doesn’t last long. A shift ensues among those law firms that have seen a glimpse of the new frontiers in legal technology. Soon, they forget all about carbon copies and they demand the new standards for receiving, reviewing and archiving the record. From electronic transcripts to discovery on compact discs, and from real time transcription to Internet delivery, the technology evolution in the legal industry has been an amazing experience. A progressive court reporting agency should be considered a part of the litigation team, and strive to not only produce a perfect record, but also to help attorneys get the most value from that record. As soon as attorneys are exposed to a few choice tools on the technology frontier, they are hooked. Those critical tools are based upon the Internet, video recording services, conferencing capabilities, and software developed for transcript and discovery management. Attorneys have discovered how easy these technologies are to use, and they enjoy adopting new practices to make them more efficient, more astute and more competitive. Whether they tackle one frontier at a time, or all at once, the technology ends up being entrenched in their routines. As a business owner, I have taken the time to evaluate various software solutions and select the products that I believe give my clients the greatest flexibility and the most functionality. This article profiles new reporting and litigation support services, and, where applicable, I will share my reasons for choosing one product over another. These high-level comparisons will involve RealLegal technology and LiveNote technology. It is important to note that some products discussed are built for attorneys, some are for production teams at reporting agencies, and others appeal to both groups. THE FIRST FRONTIER The first frontier is the electronic transcript revolution. While this practice began with sending ASCII transcripts as attachments to e-mail messages, it has blossomed into a methodology based on security, guaranteed accuracy, interactive viewing software, and high performance tools. Attorneys can now receive transcripts in the encrypted and e-mailable E-Transcript format developed by RealLegal. Within seconds of receiving the E-Transcript, attorneys are able to pinpoint every occurrence of keywords, copy and paste citations, and print a condensed copy of the transcript and word index. This software even allows redaction of confidential testimony without impacting page and line citations, and can include a verifiable digital signature to ensure the transcript is tamper-proof. The best part is that clients do not require any special software to use the E-Transcript, but just like the “old-school” ASCIIs they have replaced, attorneys can import it into their transcript management software. To my knowledge, LiveNote does not offer a product for court reporting professionals to standardize, encrypt and finalize the transcripts they take. However, for attorneys who want testimony to scroll on their screens as it is being keyed in, both LiveNote and RealLegal offer real-time software. LiveNote RT is a basic program that allows users to save and annotate transcripts they receive from the court reporter’s real-time feed. For more in-depth transcript management, like full-text searching or printing, attorneys must purchase a license of LiveNote SR. Similarly, RealLegal Binder accepts real-time transcript feed directly from a court reporter and provides baseline functions for searching and annotating real-time transcripts. RealLegal Binder also provides comprehensive transcript management capabilities for transcripts in multiple formats. Following a real-time deposition or real-time court examination, the reporter may finalize that “rough” transcript and then distribute the final version in the E-Transcript format. Regardless of the real-time software the attorney uses, any annotations made to the real-time transcript should be preserved when updated with the final. THE SECOND FRONTIER The second frontier is multimedia. Whether attorneys want the deposition to be captured on video and transmitted to remote participants, or if they want the final transcript text to be synced to the video, technology is available to accomplish all of this. One of the latest trends in litigation technology is the use of discovery bundles and hyperlinks to documents. LiveNote offers a service in which they create a LiveNote Evidence Format (.LEF) file for attorneys, on behalf of the reporting agency. LiveNote staff will embed hyperlinks between keywords in the transcript and the exhibit files that reside in the user’s LiveNote software program. For attorneys who own LiveNote software, this can be a helpful addition to a standard transcript. Since many of my clients use other discovery management software, I decided to find a discovery bundling technology that did not require my clients to own a particular type of software. I found RealLegal Publisher and I began using it nearly 2 years ago. Often provided on compact discs, Publisher Bundles include all of the transcripts (standard or synced to video) and scanned documents or exhibits from a case. My clients may own any transcript and discovery management software — or none at all — and still benefit from these discovery bundles. Many clients ask for active hyperlinks between transcript text and the actual document. My software does this for me, and by doing so, the client can search the transcript for a word or phrase (e.g., Plaintiff’s Exhibit 12), jump to its location, and click the word to open the actual exhibit that was referenced. The exhibit file resides on the compact disc I provide; it does not have to reside inside the end-user’s software program. Finally, digital audio or video files can be included in the discovery bundle, and the spoken word can be synchronized with the written word in the transcript. Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is becoming quite popular in the legal industry due to the incredible volumes of documents involved in litigation. Documents or case exhibits can be scanned into a digital format like .JPG, .TIF or .PDF. This process transforms a tangible contract or memo into an electronic image of itself. When those imaged documents are added to the discovery bundle, my software “OCRs” them so that they become entirely searchable content. Now, the client can search both the transcripts and the documents for their keywords. Upon importing a .LEF, a LiveNote user may use much of the same functionality as outlined above. However, my goal was to adopt new services that were not dependent upon the software my clients invested in. Another consideration is pricing for the two methods of creation (i.e., not their output). The reporting firm or litigation support agency must purchase RealLegal Publisher software in order to create Publisher Bundles that are given to attorneys. Conversely, the .LEF has no up-front purchase, but it requires recurring service fees to LiveNote. It is amazing to see how pleased attorneys are to review and digest discovery this way instead of by sifting through boxes and boxes of documents. In fact, discovery bundles have already evolved to become a comprehensive Case Library service. Attorneys send every document or transcript associated with a case — even depositions from other firms — so that they can be bundled and stored on a compact disc. This way, they can stow five, 10 or 15 complete cases in their briefcase and work from anywhere. A progressive court-reporting agency is able to lighten the load of busy litigators. Both RealLegal and LiveNote also develop technologies to broadcast or stream content to remote parties. This content may include the audio, video footage or text. THE FINAL FRONTIER The final (at least for now) frontier is using the Internet for immediate access to the work product produced by the court reporter. Perhaps the most revolutionary technology to the business world during the past decade has been the Internet. It has fostered an entirely new phenomenon called “e-commerce,” and it has made researching anything a snap — or a “click.” The same advancements are emerging in the legal arena. Thanks to Internet technologies, attorneys can purchase official court transcripts from places such as www.exemplaris.com, they can question deponents while on vacation in Hawaii, or they can download depositions and documents from any den, airport, or hotel room in the world. Both LiveNote and RealLegal have products that allow attorneys to access transcripts and collaborate on cases via an Internet connection. LiveNote Web and RealLegal iBinder are Web-based versions of their respective desktop products (LiveNote SR and RealLegal Binder). Both products are designed to facilitate communication among co-counsel, experts and others, while simultaneously protecting version control. Despite these strengths found in both products, I chose to use RealLegal iBinder because it is a solution designed for services agencies and law firms. This means that today’s court reporting firms may launch their own private RealLegal iBinder Web Repository to provide clients with around-the-clock access to transcripts, documents and video. As with the other services I have outlined, the attorneys do not require any special software for this access. Whether involved in complex, multi-district litigation, or engrossed in a case while on the road, these repositories have served double-duty and also performed as an attorney’s collaborative workspace. They are no longer tethered to their office, or even their computer; they can access the latest depositions from anywhere. Once attorneys realize that their case is entirely secure, confidential, and for their eyes only, any hesitation dissipates; they anxiously await the next time they can discover the merits of their case while sitting in a cyber-cabana in Aruba. All of these services — from E-Transcript files and real time transcripts, to discovery bundles and Web delivery — dramatically improve how an attorney prepares his or her case. They are also non-threatening and uncomplicated ways for attorneys to become more comfortable with technology. Who knows where the next frontier will take us. It is clear that technology will soon be ubiquitous in legal practice, and the progressive court reporter can make the transition more palatable for legal professionals. Patricia Murray is principal of Patricia Murray & Associates, a court and deposition-reporting firm with offices in Brighton and Ann Arbor, Mich. The firm specializes in automotive product liability, reporting such cases in the Detroit and Dearborn, Mich., area for the past 15 years. Editor’s note: RealLegal has a strategic advertising relationship with Law.com that in no way impacted the contents of this story. Subscribe to the Legal Tech Newsletter.

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