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Commentary: Useful online tools for litigators 

By: Nicole Black//March 5, 2010

Commentary: Useful online tools for litigators 

By: Nicole Black//March 5, 2010

Nicole Black
Nicole Black

As I prepared to write my book about cloud computing for lawyers — which will be published later this year by the ABA — I researched different software programs that would make it easier for me to organize my thoughts and keep all of my information readily accessible as I wrote.

Ultimately I settled on Scrivener — — which is available for Mac users only.

Scrivener is a word processor and project management tool that makes all of the documentation and information that you will be using to create a document available in one application. I have found it to be an invaluable tool that is making the process of writing and organizing the information I’ve collected about cloud computing much easier.

As I was using it the other day, it occurred to me that Scrivener easily could make the process of writing and organizing a summary judgment motion simpler and more streamlined.

When I was an associate at a litigation firm, I used to find myself getting frustrated as I flipped through stacks of papers, trying to find a certain document, case or exhibit. Complex cases with large numbers of documents, deposition transcripts and exhibits in particular were difficult to manage. Scrivener, or a program like it, would have made the process so much easier.

To begin with, each portion of the motion, from the notice of motion to the supporting affidavits and the legal memorandum could be treated as a “chapter,” which simply is a folder within the document. The next step is to associate supportive documentation — exhibits, cases, deposition transcripts, etc. — with each section of your motion. While drafting the document, there is a list of associated files alongside of it that can be opened with a click. Associated files can be text files, image files, Web sites, audio files or even videos.

Another very useful resource for a litigator is, a Web site that allows users to conduct a free search to determine whether a witness has a criminal record based on information available in public records. The results are not guaranteed to be 100 percent accurate, but the site does a surprisingly good job.

StreetDelivery — — is another handy service that provides lawyers with access to to almost 10 million digital images of intersections located throughout the United States. Although the database does not yet include photographs of every part of the United States, most of the East Coast already is available within the database. If the particular intersection or location, such as a parking lot, that you are interested in is not included, you can submit a special request for a photo via the Web site, and it will be delivered the next day. The service charges $109 per request for solos and small firm lawyers.

Finally, there are a number of smart phone applications that assist lawyers in calculating the date of a deadline. There are a number of iPhone apps of this type, which can be located in the App Store, including DaysFrom ($0.99), DateCalcPro ($1.99), DateCalc ($4.99) and Court Days ($0.99). For lawyers with BlackBerrys, DateMathica ($4.99), from Shrunken Head Software is good alternative. Another program, Date Wheel — — is a due date calculator app that is compatible with a number of different smart phones, including Centro ($14.95), iPhone ($2.99), Pre ($14.95) and any other phone that can access the mobile Web. Finally, another app with a similar name, DateWheel, is available from Interstate Web Group users of Android ($0.99).

As you can see, there are a number of interesting programs, Web sites and services available to litigators.

Those I’ve listed  are just the tip of the iceberg, but hopefully they will make your life just a little bit easier.

Nicole Black is of counsel to Fiandach and Fiandach and is the founder of, which offers legal technology consulting services, and publishes four legal blogs, one of which is Practicing Law in the 21st Century (http://21stcentury law.word She may be reached at [email protected]

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