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Archive for the ‘Legal Technology’ Category

Language Access Services

Posted by Joan Bellistri on September 15, 2017

Thanks to the Access to Justice Department of the Maryland Judiciary, the law library and the entire circuit court is able to provide assistance in many languages including American Sign Language (ASL).

We can assist speakers of just about any language including Hmong, Tagalog, Japanese and Punjabi using the Language Line service as provided by the Judiciary.  We use the service mostly for Spanish and Korean speakers in the law library.  We now have a special two-receiver phone for use with in person customers that allows for more privacy at the counter.  The court’s new phones have made it much easier to use the Language Line for those that call.

collage_language

And, now, we have a special dedicated laptop that will allow us to assist those who are hard of hearing using ASL.  We can dial up an ASL interpreter at the counter whenever needed.  The laptop will also be used in the Family Law Self Help Center.

If an interpreter is needed for a court case, the Court Administrator’s office will be able to see that one is there on the day of court. More information and a link to the request form can be found of the court’s website here.

The Judiciary’s Court Language Services has also created foreign language portals where you can find forms, brochures, and other helpful information about the Maryland Courts in five different languages: Spanish, French, Russian, Korean and Chinese. 

collage_pllThe Maryland People’s Law Library, a legal information and self-help website maintained by the Maryland State Law Library, provides many articles in other languages. Look for the “non-English Help” links in the sidebar and the”translate this” box on the pages that are available in other languages.

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Updated MDEC Manual Available Online

Posted by Joan Bellistri on August 15, 2017

MDEC_manualThe Judiciary’s August newsletter included an article on recent updates to the MDEC Policies and Procedures Manual (See page 36 in the version 1.19 regarding submissions in an envelope.)

The Manual can be found on the judiciary’s website MDEC page’s Here you can find links to information on registration and to MDEC FAQs for attorneys and the public. The link to the Manual can be found in the E-Filing Resource List on the efiling page that includes links to the e-filing brochure, MDEC Acronyms, attorney efiling codes and an overview of MDEC Rules.

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Changing Roles of Law Librarians

Posted by Joan Bellistri on July 20, 2017

MVLS_facebook

What a nice surprise to see Bonnie Sullivan’s post about law libraries on Facebook.  Her comment  on this article is proof that Bonnie Sullivan, executive director of the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service (MVLS) is a champion of libraries and recognizes their value to the legal community.

The article referred to, Law Librarian? Try Chief Knowledge Officer: Our annual survey shows that in an era of digital change, the job of law librarian is evolving rapidly written by Mary Ellen Egan for the The American Lawyer on June 30, 2017  

While this article focuses more on the changing roles of firm law librarians, I can certainly say the role of court librarians is changing as well.  Who we serve, how we work, and what we do has changed dramatically. Court law libraries are the foundation in providing access to justice through access to legal information.

In the Anne Arundel County Public Law Library, I have seen the number of non-attorneys using the library increase to the point that close to 80% of questions we get are from non-attorneys or self-represented litigants (SRLs).  We still assist attorneys and the court but how we do that has changed as well.  Attorneys are more likely to need assistance with technology.  Librarians help with formulating a search on Westlaw or Lexis; show how to email an attachment; or to use a copy machine.  The use of technology is an important tool for meeting the needs of the non-attorney, too.  There is so much information on the Internet – not all is trustworthy or reliable.  Librarians are able to direct users to the sites that will provide the right information.  We often find that someone has found “the law” online that turns out to have nothing to do with Maryland. Librarians can now curate information online for use by special user groups.  See the AACPLL FAQs as an example and the Maryland People’s Law Library.  Technology has allowed the library to expand self-help programs.  Our foreclosure program offered through MVLS suffered from a lack of volunteers and/or clients.  Now, using a webcam, Google Hangouts and scanned documents; we always have MVLS staff on hand, remotely, to assist those in need of help with the foreclosure clinic.  

Librarians have always helped with legal research but now find that they often must perform a triage to find out what library customers really need.  This means knowing what programs and services are available outside of the library.  Librarians need to be able to match the what is needed with the best resource to meet the needs of each user whether print or online.

Partnerships with our Maryland legal service providers like MVLS, Legal Aid, HPRP and the Pro Bono Resource Center are essential in bringing services to those in need, in addition to legal information.  Partnering with the public library allows us to reach more people by taking advantage of the multiple locations and longer hours.

Librarians often hear “why a library when it is all online.”  The fact that so much information is online in so many ways is precisely why librarians are needed more than ever. Maryland court law libraries are always finding new ways and services to meet the needs of all in need of legal information and referrals, now and in the future.

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Lexis Advance Now Available in the Law Library

Posted by Joan Bellistri on June 27, 2017

The law library now offers Lexis Advance for online legal research.  Lexis Advance is the new interface for searching Lexis.  It offers Google like functionality with a search box at the top of the page where you can enter your search terms.

lexis_search_bar

You do not have to choose a database for searching.  Results will be organized by database or Lexis library.  However, you do have the option of choosing the database or jurisdiction you want to search.  The old Boolean connectors are still available, too.

The sign-in process is more involved than with the “classic” Lexis.  You will first see a page with a blue box with the words “Go to my start page.” Clicking on the blue box will bring you to the start page.  You must enter your first and last name and agree to the terms and conditions.  (This information will not be used by Lexis and does not require your contact information.)

The biggest news is the additional content that Lexis Advance brings to library users.  We now have access to all, that is just about ALL, Matthew Bender and Lexis texts and treatises.  This means there is now online access to such titles as Bender’s Forms of Discovery, Collier on Bankruptcy and Rabkin and Johnson Current Legal Forms with Tax Analysis.  For Maryland, this means online access to Turnbull’s Maryland Domestic Relations Forms, a title not available on the “old” Lexis.

Please visit the law library and give this new service a try.  We will be happy to walk you through any legal research project you bring with you.

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Maryland Judiciary Data Dashboard

Posted by Joan Bellistri on May 18, 2017

Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera and Pam Harris, State Court Administrator,  announced the launch of the Maryland Judiciary Data Dashboard on May 16, 2017.

The Dashboard “is an interactive compilation of trial and appellate courts caseload and performance data.  The Data Dashboard is a user-friendly site from which to access data about total incoming and outgoing cases, clearance rates, active caseload volumes, and case processing performance measures.  Data is available county-by-county and statewide.” 

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Virtual Reality Attorney Training

Posted by Joan Bellistri on April 17, 2017

The MSBA Young Lawyers Section has a posted a number of virtual reality trainings for attorneys on YouTube @ https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLpNB33ElBfOsECWfYdilf3PRr7Pa1Zav4.

The trainings were created for new attorneys but could be helpful for self-represented litigants as well.  They were shot with a 360 degree camera and should be viewed with virtual reality headset. According to a blog post at Technical.ly Baltimore the trainings are the work of Matthew Stubenberg of MVLS and William Buschur.

The videos available include:VR cardboard

Guardianship Hearing

Consumer Protection – Intention to Defend Debt Collection

Expungement – Determination of Marijuana Weight Hearing

Expungement – Good Cause Hearing

Business Record

Photo Evidence

Family Law Divorce Settlement

The videos can be viewed without a VR headset but then the viewer will not get the full courtroom experience.  There are many models for virtual reality headsets but the least expensive recommended was Google Cardboard.  (I once got one as part of the New York Times – I will bring it to the law library in case anyone would like to try out VR attorney training.)

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Worth a read: Curfew Shall Not Ring Tonight! – the Value of Libraries

Posted by Joan Bellistri on December 6, 2016

This RIPS blogpost is a good response to why a library when “everything is online.” No matter the format of the material, it is the librarian in the library that makes the difference and the case for the library.

The struggle between librarian and technology is real, but the situation is a lot more nuanced than saying that librarians and technology are at odds. We go together. (Like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong.) Yes, there can be entire libraries available on smart phones, but guess what makes them available. Libraries. And guess who makes them navigable. Yup, librarians. Even the free stuff is there because of the efforts of libraries and librarians—both academic and local. In a time where more and more students are having difficulty navigating truth from lies or bogus stories, librarians and libraries—even the ones sans books and chock full of the latest technology—are needed more than ever.Earlier this month, fellow RIPS blogger Paul Gatz wrote about the service aspect of librarianship and how librarians are “at the nexus between the system and the user, benefiting one no less than the other.” A huge part of our service is to connect patrons to information, and not just any information, but relevant and accurate information. We are the navigators, we are the beacons, we are the silent, mostly unacknowledged, partners in research. Take away the librarians, strip down the libraries, and there will be consequences. Maybe not 80 stanzas worth of them, but consequences none the less. We are in the day and age where finding information isn’t a problem—it’s the next step that matters. No matter what you type into a search box, you’re bound to find an answer. Is it the correct answer? Is it the best possible answer?

Source: Curfew Shall Not Ring Tonight!

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Tech Solutions for Marylanders’ Legal Needs

Posted by Yelitza Conover on November 2, 2016

The trend of creating tech solutions for everyday problems has finally come to the legal world. These recent innovations signal a new model for providing legal services. One where saying, “There’s an app for that,” can truly change a person’s life.

One example is an expungement program developed by an attorney at Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service, Matt Stubenberg., as reported in the New York Times. Even though, “as many as one in three Americans have some type of criminal record,”  many are unaware that they may qualify for expungement, the deletion of their criminal records. Some may not be able to afford a lawyer to help them expunge their records.

On MDExpungement.com, users type in a case number and the program determines if a case may qualify for expungement. The program even automates and fills out a form for filing.

Beyond making expungement available and affordable, Stubenberg also developed CLUE – Client Legal Utility Engine. Used by attorneys during client intake, this program will search for expungeable records, public utility records, and documents filed by banks to help the attorney determine whether a client is also at risk of losing their home for failure to pay water bill or foreclosure. The program is unique in that it works toward solving one of the greater problems with access to justice: a person who comes to an attorney with one legal problem is likely to have another legal problem that does not get addressed.

Technology for legal assistance is new territory, but now the Maryland Judiciary has launched the Maryland Law Help app. This app helps users find a court, access forms, locate statutes, and get connected to legal assistance in the Judiciary’s law libraries and self-help centers through their mobile devices.

Civil Justice, Inc., a Maryland non-profit legal services organization, will soon release an online referral program called JusticeReferrals. Meant for attorney’s working for Maryland pro bono, reduced-fee, and legal services organizations, it helps those seeking help get effective legal representation in one place. First, a client’s answers to intake questions gets input into the system. Next, statewide attorneys and member organizations who handle the client’s type of case will be notified and determine if and how they may be able to help the potential client. This data driven, inter-agency referral process should help find the client the best fit for their legal concerns. It is also meant to solve the frustrations many people have when interacting with legal service providers: the feeling of being bounced from one referral to the next without knowing why and without getting effective assistance.

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Do you need A/V Equipment for your trial?

Posted by Chi Song on April 15, 2016

The Circuit Court’s Information Services Department is responsible for the court’s evidence presentation equipment, which is available on a first-come, first-served basis. To reserve the equipment, you can fill out an online form (available here) or call the Information Services Department at (410) 222-1484. If you are unfamiliar with the evidence presentation equipment and would like training on the equipment, contact the Information Services Department.

Are you interested in learning more about different programs and technologies available to attorneys for evidence presentation? If so, check out these articles.

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Tech Troubles?

Posted by Chi Song on March 14, 2016

If you are having tech troubles or you’re not sure if your firm’s technology is up to snuff, check out these articles.

Also, the ABA TECHSHOW, a conference and tech expo for lawyers, legal professionals and technology, is this week. You can learn more about the TECHSHOW, including CLE programming and education here.

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