Thursday, February 1, 2001

Palm solutions for lawyers


By Ury Fischer

I'm a litigator at Lott & Friedland, P.A., (at an intellectual property law firm located in Coral Gables, FL. South Florida. The region where I live and work, has been dubbed "silicon beach" due to the large number of Internet start-ups headquartered here. For better or worse, this has meant daily interaction with clients who are, for the most part, early adopters and heavy users of technology designed to make them as efficient as possible with their time. My clients, in turn, expect me to rival their use of this technology in delivering legal services. After all, the more productive I am with my time while I'm "on the clock," the more money my client saves.

My goal is to provide some insight into how I've incorporated the use of a Palm device into my practice to achieve the level of productivity demanded by my clients. My hope is that other lawyers will put some of my ideas to work in their own practices, or, better yet, that I can convince someone who has never used a Palm device to give it a try.

In my experience, PDAs are the most useful when I'm out of the office. About 90% of the time I'm out of the office, I'm in one of three places: at the courthouse, at a deposition, or visiting a client. My Palm device comes in handy at each one of these places.

The courthouse

One thing you learn early on as a litigator is that no matter how much stuff you put in your brief bag, you always miss something you'll need in court. Wouldn't it be great if you didn't have to worry about making sure you have every document you need for a hearing? I use Documents to Go from DataViz at There are a great number of document editors and viewers available, including QuickOffice at With this type of software, you can set up your Palm device to automatically upload files in supported formats every time you HotSync with your desktop computer.

To use Documents to Go, you simply designate the directories on your hard drive that you'd like to copy to your PDA. The program then automatically converts all files it can recognize within those directories into a Palm-compatible format and uploads them during the next HotSync. This is great when you want to make sure every document in a particular file is at your fingertips at all times. You simply point Documents to Go to the directory where the files reside, and all the work is done for you in the background every time you HotSync.