Entries in e-Brief (3)

Tuesday
Mar272012

Wait, eBriefs are how easy?

So you made the decision to submit a hyperlinked eBrief. Now what? First of all, congratulations on helping your judge, clerk or other trier-of-fact easily review your filing.

In most cases, you and your team have put in countless hours actually writing the brief, and the thought of now preparing an eBrief is probably not very appealing.  Enter the eBrief provider.

Choosing a provider doesn’t have to be a difficult decision. You primarily want to ensure that the end product will be intuitive and easy for both you and the court to use, so be sure you have the chance to view a demo from any company you are considering.  Costs can vary and should not be the only deciding factor.  A more expensive provider doesn’t always mean a better product. 

Once a provider is chosen, there are just a few steps you’ll want to follow right away (1 and 2 below), and then you can get some sleep!

1)      Let your provider know your filing date and inform them who their main contact will be in case they have questions along the way.

2)      Once you have filed with the court, send the materials to the provider. Anything that is cited will need to be sent. This includes all exhibits, transcripts, case law/authorities as well as any other cited document. In most cases the files are already in electronic form and can easily be transferred via an FTP or other file sharing program.

3)      Depending on the size of the filing and your provider’s resources, you may see a draft of your eBrief the next day.  Good companies will do an initial quality control check and should also provide a proof for you to review. It’s always a good idea for those who prepared the brief to check the links and ensure they are directed to the correct documents.

If you have a couple of changes, the provider should be able to implement them quickly. They can then either send you the final version electronically for you to burn the disc(s) then deliver to the court or they can create the final discs and courier or ship them for next day delivery.

Pretty painless, right?

Creating an eBrief should never become a difficult and time-consuming process.  In fact, choosing the right provider should result in a great experience that will lead you to have eBriefs created for all your filings!

Thursday
Mar012012

eBriefs - Novelty or Necessity?

One response I often hear from attorneys regarding why they don’t submit eBriefs is, “My brief doesn’t warrant an eBrief”.  I used to just accept this at face value, but then I began asking myself, “What kind of brief does warrant an eBrief?”  eBriefs have been around for quite some time, and in their infancy, like many new technologies, they were considered a novelty.  However, now that courts are becoming more tech savvy and younger clerks are coming in, not to mention the pure volume of material being submitted to an already overloaded system, the use of technology in briefing is starting to become more of a necessity.

Appellate Briefs

Submitting an eBrief is practically a no-brainer for appellate briefs. The record is usually already in place and the issues raised are really narrowed down.  Most Federal appellate courts are aware of the eBrief technology and accept it with no issues.  If you are uncertain whether your court accepts eBriefs, the information is typically easily found in the rules on each court’s website.

Post-Hearing Briefs

Post-hearing briefs also lend themselves to eBriefs, as they usually contain many cites to the hearing transcript as well as the exhibits used in the hearing. Having all of those cites hyperlinked directly to the page of the transcript along with links to the exhibits makes the triers-of-facts’ lives so much easier. The eBrief eliminates the need to browse through a disc of PDF files searching for an exhibit or page through a transcript that in some cases  may be 1000’s of pages long just to find the citation.

Trial Briefing

Last but not least, eBriefs are great for Motions for Summary Judgment, Class Certification and Claims Construction. The judge can easily navigate the argument and will have all of the motions in one package for easy review.

A common misnomer is that a brief needs to be over a certain number of pages for it to be worthwhile. In my numerous years of experience, the average page length of a hyperlinked averaged brief is between 35-65 pages.  However, I have created eBriefs for motions that were only 5 pages long because the attorney recognized the value that creating links to key evidence could bring to his/her filing.  At the end of the day, creating an eBrief for any key submission, regardless of page length, is worth the time and cost involved.

Sunday
Jan012012

eBriefs - You Don't Know What You're Missing Until You Know What You're Missing

I heard this statement over the holidays – “You don’t know what you’re missing until you know what you’re missing.” It was actually part of a really great sermon, but it also got me thinking about … eBriefs.

I remember when I first got a BlackBerry. It was amazing! I could receive and respond to e-mails all the time and not be tied to my computer. Sure I had a brick strapped to my waist, but I didn’t leave home without it, and I don’t remember what I did before I had it. Fast forward a few years, and I am now an iPhone addict. Not only can I check and send e-mails, but I can surf the web, watch a movie, listen to music, take pictures, shoot movies, and of course play Angry Birds. I didn’t know what I was missing until I knew what I was missing.

After more than 10 years of creating eBriefs and seeing the overwhelmingly positive reactions from lawyers and triers-of-fact, I firmly believe these hyperlinked gems also fall into this category. Shockingly however, there are still many myths surrounding the eBrief:  it is too much work, I can’t consider doing one while I’m writing my brief, it is too expensive, or my client doesn’t see the value are just a few of the more common statements.

Believe me, I have heard all of the reasons not to do one.  In 2012, I encourage you to step a little out of your comfort zone and submit an eBrief. Either hire a vendor to create one (prices vary, but typically range from $2,000-$6,000+ for a 50-page brief) or learn how to make one yourself. In almost every instance, the eBrief is submitted as a supplement to your hard copy or e-filed brief, so you don’t even need to start preparing it until after you have filed.

With every key cite being hyperlinked to the relevant material, it is hard to believe that the end user will not find this technology invaluable. The clerk and/or trier-of-fact can review your brief quickly with the click of a mouse, rather than searching through boxes of paper or a list of PDF files to find the cited document.  You may actually be helping to speed up the deluged court system!

EBrief creation is not a new technology, but it is a technology that is grossly underutilized. If you’re on the fence about giving it a try, talk to someone who has submitted or received one.  I venture they will tell you they didn’t know what they were missing until they knew what they were missing.