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Posts Tagged ‘technology’

National Consumer Law Center: Access NCLC Titles Digitally in the Library!

Posted by Joan Bellistri on August 10, 2018

NCLC

You may already know that the Law Library has an extensive collection of National Consumer Law Center titles on our shelves. But did you know the library also offers these same titles online?

Easily navigate a wealth of information regarding Debtor Rights, Credit and Banking, Consumer Litigation, and Deception and Warranties using the Law Library’s digital subscription. Enjoy the functionality of speedy, thorough searches for information, as well as the hassle-free ability to copy, paste, email, and share texts with the click of a mouse.

This digital subscription includes not only the standard 20 titles, but web links to primary sources, related court decisions, forms, links, and a plethora of other useful resources. The NCLC website also has free webinars, information on NCLC legal assistance programs, consulting services for attorneys and legislation/rulemakings on consumer topics.

Visit the Law Library to access these valuable information resources.

 

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Blockchain and Pamela Ortiz–The New Trends in State Courts 2018 is Out!

Posted by Jean Stephens on August 7, 2018

Have you ever experienced a sinking feeling when the word Blockchain  comes up in a news report or a conversation–unsure exactly what it is, let alone what implications it might have for you? There’s an refreshingly clear analogy for Blockchain in an article by Di Graski and Paul Embley titled “When Might Blockchain Appear in Your Court?” featured in the new issue of Trends in State Courts 2018.

“Before paper ledgers, medieval Europeans used tally sticks to record transactions by notching a piece of wood with marks to signify the amount of a transaction, and then splitting the wood lengthwise, with each party taking half. Neither party could change the value by adding more notches because corresponding notches would be missing from the other party’s stick. No central authority was required to validate the transaction because the uniqueness of the stick’s natural wood grain ensured that only the two original pieces would align perfectly when reunited,” say Graski and Embrey.

Key here is the idea that the tally sticks require no central authority. The same goes for Blockchain which uses cryptography to achieve similar autonomy with no central data bank and no ledger-keeper. From this set-up emerge applications such as “smart contracts”, i.e. contracts which activate a remedy, such as a transfer of funds to the violated party, automatically in response to an embedded “If/Then” facility.

Hmn . . . On second thought, this explanation may not be as clear as I hoped. If that’s the case, please check out the Trends in State Courts 2018 in the periodicals section at the law library. Smart contracts are already on their way to a court near you.

Also . . .

Maryland’s own Pamela Cardullo Ortiz is the author of “Developing a Research Agenda for Access to Justice” also in the current issue of Trends. “What factors affect the quality of judicial decisions?” she asks, then proposes a response based on research from Harvard and Stanford, and design thinking techniques borrowed from technology industry start-ups. Broad-based teams, strategic data collection, and decisions grounded in social context are key to her recommendations.

Pamela is Director, Access to Justice Department, Maryland Administrative Office of the Courts. She is the recipient of the 2015 Benjamin L Cardin Distinguished Service Award. Yes, she’s that Pamela Ortiz who fronts the Pamela Ortiz Band that rocks Chestertown!

Trends in State Courts is a peer-reviewed journal, published once a year. You can access its monthly online edition here: http://www.ncsc.org/trends.

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Pro Bono Made Easy: MVLS Introduces the Pro Bono Portal

Posted by Joan Bellistri on July 31, 2018

News from Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service (MVLS):

Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service (MVLS), the largest provider of pro bono civil legal services to low-income Marylanders, unveiled the new Pro Bono Portal to easily connect volunteer attorneys with vulnerable Marylanders who need legal help. Through a mobile-friendly and optimized user interface, attorneys can quickly identify individuals and families who need their expertise. The Pro Bono Portal displays cases in real time using a color-coded system that organizes cases by type and geographic region.

“We are always looking for ways to increase the speed at which we can match Marylanders in need with the generous support of volunteer attorneys. Our refreshed Pro Bono Portal is a wonderful example of how we are evolving our technology to help more people,” said Bonnie Sullivan, executive director, Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service (MVLS). “Now, attorneys can easily check available cases from any mobile device and no matter where they are in their daily activities. We look forward to continuing to leverage technology to expand the reach of our services and the commitment of our volunteers.”

During an initial trial with current volunteer attorneys, MVLS’ new Pro Bono Portal received positive reviews. According to Richard (Ricky) L. Adams, associate at Rosenberg Martin Greenberg LLP, the new Pro Bono Portal is “very easy to understand and determine which cases might be interesting to me as an attorney. Hopefully this tool will make it easier for attorneys to volunteer and to share cases with colleagues they know might be looking for such opportunities!”

While the Portal works for all attorneys, it’s particularly ideal for new attorneys to be able to see all the available cases (sortable by case type and geography) and to find a case to jump into to start building their legal skills.

If you are an attorney and want to make an impact in the Maryland community, please visit www.mvlslaw.org/probonoportal to identify a case that aligns with your professional skillset and geographic location

 

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Security Planner for Online Safety

Posted by Joan Bellistri on May 24, 2018

computerSecurity Planner by Citizen Lab is an online tool that provides information on improving online security.  It is described on the site’s “about” page like this:

Security Planner is an easy-to-use guide with expert-reviewed advice for staying safer online. It provides recommendations on implementing basic online practices, like enabling two-factor authentication on important accounts, making sure software stays updated, and using encrypted chats to protect private communications. More advanced users can receive advice on where to go for more help.

Security Planner is a project of the Citizen Lab, an interdisciplinary group based at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto. It was incubated by Jigsaw (then known as Google Ideas) and handed off to the Citizen Lab in December 2015.

Security Planner recommendations are made by a committee of experts in digital security and have gone through a rigorous peer review evaluation, led by the Citizen Lab. We’re supported by a community of organizations, including non-profits, educational institutions, and foundations, and never accept funds or services in exchange for making a recommendation.

The Law Librarians Working Group of the Self Represented Litigation Network recently had the opportunity to hear about this service on a recent conference call meeting.  As a result we will be doing what we can to get the word out about this tool.  Please share with those who might benefit.

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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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Ask a Lawyer In the Library and MVLS Foreclosure Clinic – Wednesday Wrap-Up

Posted by Joan Bellistri on July 19, 2017

Dan_Mellin

Dan Mellin

Today, Wednesday, July 19, 2017, the Law Library hosted the “Ask A Lawyer In The Library” program and the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service (MVLS) Remote Foreclosure Clinic. Daniel Mellin of Hillman, Brown & Darrow helped three people with issues such as real estate, a quit claim deed, and a trust. The next program date is Wednesday, July 26, 2017.

Today was also the first remote MVLS Foreclosure Clinic.  A couple came to the library for the “Ask A Lawyer In The Library” program with a foreclosure issue.  We are able to scan their documents and program agreements and email them to Ellyn Riedl, an mvls-logoattorney with MVLS.  The couple was able to talk with Ellyn face-to-face using a webcam with Google Hangouts. Ellyn was able to review their documents and advise. Their first language is Korean so we were able to use the Language Line so that language would not be a barrier to getting the help needed.  The couple was very happy with the attention and help.  The remote access MVLS Brief Legal Advice Foreclosure Clinic will continue on the 3rd Wednesday in the law library from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. More information can be found here: http://aacpll.pbworks.com/w/page/99877141/Foreclosure%20Clinic

The Ask a Lawyer In the Library program is a civil, non-family law, self-help program sponsored by The Anne Arundel Bar Association and the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service. Every Wednesday, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., you can talk with a volunteer attorney for up to 20 minutes. No appointment is necessary, but sign-up is required at the law library’s information desk. Sign-up begins at 10:45 a.m., and time slots are determined by a lottery. In addition to the weekly program, the Ask A Lawyer In The Library program is held monthly at two Anne Arundel County Public Library branches: Glen Burnie Regional Library on the 3rd Wednesday (except for the months of June and July) and Eastport-Annapolis Neck Community Library on the last Tuesday. For more information, please see http://circuitcourt.org/legal-help/lawyer-in-the-library.

 

 

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WIFI!

Posted by Joan Bellistri on June 20, 2017

wifiThe law library along with other public spaces in the court like the Jury Office now has WIFI.  After waiting for years, it is exciting that we can now answer the question – “do you have WIFI?” – with a “YES.”

Many thanks to our Court Administration, JIS and the Court’s IT Department.

Registration is required as is a Username and Password:

  • Select the “Judiciary Public” WIFI network.
  • Click on the “Don’t have an account?” option.
  • Create an account by entering information in the form.
    • Fields marked with a * must be filled in.
    • Be sure to choose your cell phone provider in order to get a text message.
  • Once registered, a Username and Password will be sent via text message or email.
    • Username and Password will work for 60 days.
  • Enter your Username and Password.
  • Finally, “Accept,” the “Acceptable Use Policy” and you should be connected.

I had trouble accessing the registration form using Chrome.  Edge worked fine as might Firefox.  There are instructions at the information desk and we will be happy to help you connect in any way that we can.

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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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Maryland Judiciary Launches Comprehensive Attorney Information Database

Posted by Joan Bellistri on April 24, 2017

Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera and Pam Harris, State Court Administrator,  announced the launch of the Attorney Information System (AIS):

AIS is a comprehensive database that brings together information about Maryland attorneys maintained by the court-related agencies that support the Court of Appeals in its role regulating the legal profession in Maryland.  AIS represents a significant investment by the Judiciary to improve the internal management of attorney records.  Beginning this month, each Maryland attorney will receive a letter from the Maryland Judiciary with information about AIS and how to activate his or her account.

More information about AIS be found in this press release dated March 23, 2017: http://www.mdcourts.gov/media/news/2017/pr20170323.html

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