What is Litigation Support?


When I was working in Tampa one of the younger attorneys came up to me and asked:  “What is it that you do here?”

There is a danger in trying to explain to someone what I do of the listener’s eye glazing over and zoning out if the explanation gets too technical.  One attorney once said that getting him coffee was a part of “litigation support” but I quickly educated him that it wasn’t.

When I started in this job is was described as “Automated Litigation Support” or “ALS” but over the years and with the increase of litigation specific technology, it has evolved into “Litigation Support” or “Litigation Technology”.

Basically, someone in this work is assisting their attorneys in using technology to help them identify, organize and present their cases in court.  I used to say that I was a hybrid of a paralegal/information technology specialist but it has gotten increasingly technical since the changes years ago in the rules of electronic discovery.

In most offices, litigation support/litigation technology is broken down into three main areas of expertise:

  1. Trial Graphics
  2. Data Management
  3. Courtroom Presentation

Trial Graphics is often the fun and creative part of the job when attorneys need help taking an idea or argument and making a graphical representation of it.  This is helpful when they have a complex issue to explain to a jury.  Many times this will involve the use of Microsoft PowerPoint.   In my opinion, PowerPoint is widely over used.   It works effectively at times but not as something that becomes a crutch for making a presentation.  Attorneys like to use a PowerPoint presentation for their closing arguments and I have seen it used successfully many times.  There are some who will use it in their opening statements but it can be very tricky to maneuver if you use evidence that you expect to come into trial.  I always caution attorneys that they need to be sure the evidence is coming in or they will have some consequences if it doesn’t.  Aside from that, I have seen the overkill in using a PowerPoint when it was routinely used for opening statements with no fewer than 100 slides.

Data Management is the management of data that we receive such as discs, flash drives or hard drives.  We analyze the data and determine the best way to process it and make it available for the attorney to use.  I used to call this area “document management” but the fact is that we don’t get as much paper anymore that requires us to scan and put into a database.  Perhaps the issue I deal with on a daily basis is helping the staff with various audio/video formats.  When I started, we only had tapes so we knew how to play those but today it could be in any kind of format.  We must also assist the staff in getting the discovery out to opposing counsel.

Courtroom presentation involves getting the software and equipment together for attorneys and paralegals to use in the courtroom.  When I started, I had to bring all the equipment such as projector, screen, cables, computers, etc.  Today we usually only need to bring a laptop to plug into the court’s presentation system.  We have software that allows us to show documents, photos, play audio and video from one software program for presentation to the jury during witness testimony.  The original is admitted into evidence and their review during deliberation but in using presentation software we are able to direct the attention of the jury especially since society now get most of their news from a screen.  It is a very effective way to communicate.

So as you can see, it is more than getting coffee.

As the practice of law gets more technical and digital, lawyers graduating from law school are becoming more tech savvy and independent on how they use it.   I would predict that in the next 10 years or so that offices will no longer need a person who specializes in litigation technology.   The software is getting more user-friendly and the technology is getting better.  Years ago I mocked people who said the law office would one day be a paperless office.  Although it isn’t totally without paper, I have to admit that it is paper-less.







Team of the Week:  Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs

One of this season’s newest hockey teams will be in Roanoke, Virginia as the Southern Professional Hockey League’s Mississippi Surge relocated there from Biloxi, Mississippi during the offseason.  

The Rail Yard Dawgs will be the fourth professional hockey team to call Roanoke home.  The Roanoke Valley Rebels played in the Eastern Hockey League/Southern Hockey League from 1970-1976.  The Roanoke Express were in the East Coast Hockey League (1993-2004).  The last team to play in Roanoke were the Roanoke Valley Vipers in the United Hockey League (2005-2006).

Roanoke will open their season on Friday night when they host the Knoxville Ice Bears in the first hockey game in ten years.  Fans have been buying up tickets to the opening game at the Berglund Center with 6,000 of the arena’s 8,000 seats have been sold. 

Sam Ftorek is the head coach.  Ftorek played 17 years in the minor leagues with 10 different teams and transitioned to assistant coach with the Kalamazoo Wings last season.

The nickname was a result of the owners wanting a unique identity and logo for the team.  The name comes from Roanoke’s train history.  

Driving 101:  What to do when you are stuck in the intersection

With the crazy way the traffic flow is designed in downtown Nashville, you will eventually be stuck in “no man’s land” as I call it.  The most awkward place you will ever find yourself in the traffic patterns when you are stuck in the intersection when the light changes.

Aside from enduring the angry drivers honking and flipping you off, what are your options when you are in that place?

This is more commonly called “blocking the box” and causes gridlock during rush hour commutes.  Some cities enforce harsh penalties for blocking an intersection.  

First, it is good driving practice to not enter the intersection unless you will be able to exit it regardless if the light is green when you enter or not.  Here’s the official rule:

“Notwithstanding any official traffic control signal indication to proceed, a driver of a vehicle shall not enter an intersection or marked crosswalk unless there is sufficient space on the other side of the intersection or marked crosswalk to accommodate the vehicle driven without obstructing the through passage of vehicles from either side.”  

Second, look for options to get out of the intersection but do NOT back up as there may be vehicles behind you or pedestrians crossing.  Try to change lanes or move out of the intersection as safe as you can.  Even if you miss your turn by doing this, you can always re-route yourself.

If you’ve driven in Nashville and exited off of I-40 to turn left onto Broadway, sometimes the left turn can stop without any notice and leave you stranded.  The most important thing is to be patient and scan ahead to assess traffic conditions in front of you.  Which means to stop texting and stay off the phone.  Also, don’t feel any pressure to enter the intersection just because there are other cars behind you – those drivers can wait and they won’t be lining up to pay your fine if you get ticketed.  

If you ignore the situation and get stuck with nowhere to go, just sit there and endure the ire of other drivers.   Enjoy the melody of horns and drivers telling you that you’re #1.

Let me say that all of these rules sound nice if you can follow them but not always easy to follow.  Yesterday, I drove from downtown via West End home after work and even with being alert and following these rules, I nearly got stuck in the intersection four times.  It’s very difficult to follow the rules when the traffic patterns and other drivers are against you.

Georgia High School Football Review: Week 9

Remember the scene in the movie “Jurassic Park” when you could hear the T-Rex coming and the water was vibrating on the dash?  

That sound you hear in Georgia High School football is the Colquitt County Packers.

After starting the season 0-4, the Packers have won four straight after winning their region opener in total domination of Camden County 56-10.  If they win their next two games against Tift County and Lowndes, they will be the top seed in their region.

Lee County spent one week at #1 in Class 6A but Northside-Warner Robins handed the Trojans their first loss, 26-7.  For the third week in a row, there is a new #1 team in the classification.  Valdosta claims the top spot this week for the first time since September 1999.   

Previous #1 Houston County lost their second straight 42-35 to Coffee County in spite of 325 yards passing from Jake Fromm.  The Bears could not stop Coffee’s Demetrius Davis who rushed for 224 yards and scored five touchdowns.

In what was supposed to be a huge region battle in Ashburn, the Clinch County Panthers had 348 yards rushing and the defense sacked Turner County quarterbacks seven times as they completely dismantled Turner County 66-20.  

Some other interesting scores from this past weekend:

  • Southwest Macon 48, Dublin 28 – The Patriots beat Dublin for the first time in team history.  Southwest is now 4-3 and a surprise team in their region.
  • Islands 13, Beach 7 – Islands improved to 2-4 with their first win over Beach.  They have already exceeded their win total from last season.  
  • Veterans 33, Thomas County Central 28 – The Yellow Jackets were derailed by the Warhawks who were 19-point underdogs in the game.  
  • Cedar Grove 49, Pace Academy 0 – Georgia High School Football Daily ranks this as the biggest upset of the weekend as Pace Academy were the defending state champions.  It is the first time that Pace Academy has been shut out since 2012 when they lost 55-0 to Eagle’s Landing Christian.

Top Teams:

  • Class 7A – Roswell (7-0) beat Walton 55-10.  Next:  at Etowah (4-3)
  • Class 6A – Valdosta (6-1) was off.  Next:  at Lee County (6-1)
  • Class 5A – Buford (6-1) beat Cedar Shoals 56-14.  Next:  at Walnut Grove (3-4)
  • Class 4A – Cartersville (8-0) beat Sandy Creek 35-21.  Next:  at Chapel Hill (3-3-1)
  • Class 3A – Greater Atlanta Christian (7-1) beat Lumpkin County 49-21.  Next:  at North Hall (5-3)
  • Class 2A – Benedictine (7-0) beat Toombs County 42-13.  Next:  at Bacon County (1-5)
  • Class 1A (Public) – Clinch County (6-1) beat Turner County 66-20.  Next:  vs. Lanier County (1-6)
  • Class 1A (Private) – Eagle’s Landing Christian (7-0) was off.  Next:  at Strong Rock Christian (3-4)

National Top Ten Teams:

  1. Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, NV)
  2. IMG Academy (Bradenton, FL)
  3. Mater Dei High (Santa Ana, CA)
  4. Allen (Allen, TX)
  5. McGill-Toolen Catholic (Mobile, AL)
  6. Dematha Catholic (Hyattsville, MD)
  7. Desoto (Desoto, TX)
  8. St. Thomas Aquinas (Ft. Lauderdale, FL)
  9. Roswell (Roswell, GA)
  10. St. John Bosco (Bellflower, CA)

Friday Flashback:  Nashville Predators’ First Game

The 2016 Nashville Predators’ season starts tonight as a sellout crowd is expected for their opening night against the Chicago Blackhawks.  My wife and I attended the opening game last year and we were hooked.  We are Predators’ fans now.  People who are not from Nashville are puzzled that hockey has been so well-received in the Music City.  The games are often sold-out and the atmosphere is electric when you get to go to a game in person.  We found that out first-hand last year.

The Predators played their first game on October 10, 1998 against the Florida Panthers in front of a sellout crowd of 17,298.  The Predators lost 1-0.   The starters for the Predators were:  Andrew Brunette (LW), Greg Johnson (C), Sergei Krivokrasov (RW), Joel Bouchard (D), Bob Boughner (D) and Mike Dunham (G).

The Predators finished their first season with a record of 28-47-7.

Why are they called the Predators?

In May of 1971, excavation began at the downtown Nashville site of what today is the 28-story First American Center.  Construction workers drilled through 20 feet of solid rock before coming to a soft muddy area.  Further digging revealed a cave containing the nine-inch fang and a foreleg bone of a saber-toothed tiger which had been extinct for at least 10,000 years.  Tests revealed that it could have possibly been one of the last of its breed to exist.

The team released the logo for the franchise before a name was selected.  In a name-the-team contest to go along with the logo, the results narrowed down to Fury, Tigers, Attack and Predators.

Driving 101:  How to Merge Onto the Interstate

Since moving to Nashville I have been taken by surprise the number of people who think that traffic on the Interstate is supposed to stop to let them on.  These people are not just irritated but totally appalled that traffic will not stop for them to get on.  Merging requires responsibility of BOTH drivers on and entering the roadway but never does it state that drivers on the interstate are supposed to stop.  Here are the correct rules about merging onto the interstate:

  1. If you are merging onto the highway, make sure you are going the same speed as the traffic on the highway.  That’s why it’s called the “acceleration lane” so you can gain speed where you’re entering the highway.  
  2. Put on your turn signal.  I know it sounds pretty obvious but the signal will get the attention of other driver’s of what you intend to do.  However, keep in mind that as the person merging, you do NOT have the right of way.  Other drivers are not expected to move out of the way.  It’s up to you to adjust your speed.
  3. Look for a gap in traffic.  Merge when you find a gap to safely do so.  Some think you are supposed to use all of the accerlation lane before you get over.  The rule is to get over when it is safe to do so.
  4. If you are on the highway, be alert to merging traffic.  Don’t be a jerk.  Create gaps in front and behind you.   This isn’t a competition or NASCAR event.  Ease off the gas a bit is someone is trying to merge onto traffic or speed up if that is the safer option.

Merging traffic does not have the right of way when entering the highway.  Many drivers are unaware that drivers currently on the highway have the right of way over cars entering it.  It is not the job of cars already on the highway to make room for cars entering.  If you happen to be entering one those lanes where the same lane is used for both entering and exiting the highway, the cars exiting the highway have the right of way over cars entering the highway.

Team of the Week:  Western New York Flash

Most of us are pretty familiar with the United States Women’s National Soccer team but very few realize that there is a professional women’s league which has just completed it’s fourth season on Sunday.  The Western New York Flash from Buffalo, New York defeated the Washington Spirit 3-2 to win their first title.

The Flash narrowly qualified for the postseason as they edged out the Seattle Reign for the last playoff spot by two points in the standings.  Once they got into the postseason, they knocked off the top-seed Portland Thorns FC 4-3 in extra time in the semifinals then beat the Spirit in the championship game on penalty kicks.

Lynn Williams scored the tying goal with a header in the 124th minute to force the deciding penalty shootout.  They got three saves from goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo in the penalty kick shootout which set up Williams for the title-winning kick.

 The last title appearance for the Flash was in the first season when they lost the final to Portland 2-0.

Williams was the leading goal scorer this season with 11.  Forward Jessica McDonald was second with 10 goals.