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The Appellate Road Warrior: Apps for Practicing From the Road

D. Todd Smith
This is the fourth installment in my series on practicing appellate law from the road. The others are available here. This post addresses methods for continuing your daily work without access to your office or laptop computer. Highlighted below are various apps that will help keep things moving. Microsoft Office As mentioned earlier in the series, … Continue Reading

The Appellate Road Warrior: Preparing for Mobile Lawyering

D. Todd Smith
This is the second post in my series on practicing appellate law from the road. The introductory post is available here. Effective mobile lawyering requires some up-front preparation. The hardware you’ll take with you is a threshold consideration. Basic Hardware A laptop, tablet, and smartphone are the key tools for practicing remotely. The hardware needed … Continue Reading

Introduction to the Appellate Road Warrior

D. Todd Smith
Think about what Texas appellate practice was like a decade ago. Courts required paper filings, and filing fees were paid by check. Appellate records existed only in paper form. Briefs had to be completed in time for the right number of copies to be made and either hand-delivered or dropped in the mail to ensure timely filing and … Continue Reading

Talking Legal Tech on New Solo

D. Todd Smith
Anyone familiar with me as a lawyer knows I have a penchant for legal technology. It’s a regular topic of discussion around here, particularly as it relates to modern-day appellate practice. I’m always looking for ways to implement legal tech and related tools to make things run more smoothly and efficiently in my firm and … Continue Reading

How Dependent on Instant Online Data Access Are We?

D. Todd Smith
Try accessing any number of court-related websites right now, and you may be diverted to the following landing page: A Tuesday evening power outage took down Office of Court Administration servers, and OCA has had difficulty bringing them back up. Meanwhile, scores of lawyers across the state went into panic as they were unable to instantly … Continue Reading

Demystifying Appellate Law on The Law Entrepreneur

D. Todd Smith
Solo and small firm lawyers, if you’re into podcasts and haven’t checked out The Law Entrepreneur, you should. Maryland lawyer Neil Tyra has put together 69 episodes (so far) of great conversation with lawyers, tech consultants, and other professionals offering insight into the entrepreneurial side of modern-day law practice. The main reason I know exactly how … Continue Reading

[Tap…Tap…Tap] Is This Thing On?

D. Todd Smith
After a decade of blogging, I’m still amazed how one simple post can spin off new opportunities. Back in November, I wrote about how I’m using my iPad Pro during oral arguments. As a direct result of that post, I was: featured on iPhone JD (a site I highly recommend to anyone using iPhones or iPads in their … Continue Reading

More on iPads and Appellate Arguments

D. Todd Smith
Happy New Year! After seeing my recent post on how I’m using my iPad Pro for appellate arguments, the good folks at the Texas Bar Journal asked if I’d like to publish a version of it in print. That version appears in the just-released January issue, an electronic copy of which is available here. I’ve since … Continue Reading

How I’m Using My iPad Pro for Appellate Arguments

D. Todd Smith
I just completed my second Fifth Circuit argument using my big iPad Pro in a more prominent role than ever before. Inspired by Jeff Richardson’s post about how he used an iPad to prepare for and present an appellate argument, I thought I’d share how I’ve integrated the device into my preparation and presentation strategy. Documents … Continue Reading

Continuing to Evolve

D. Todd Smith
Readers may have noticed some changes around here. Allow me to tie them together with a brief explanation. New Design More and more users are accessing the internet through smartphones or tablets—a trend that is sure to continue. My friends at LexBlog have thus rebuilt the site to be mobile-friendly. I am very pleased with the simple … Continue Reading

Arbitration in Attorney Fee Agreements After Royston v. Lopez

I had the pleasure of briefing and presenting argument to the Texas Supreme Court in Royston, Rayzor, Vickery & Williams, LLP v. Lopez (Nos. 13–1026 and 14–0109, opinion available here), a case dealing with the enforceability of arbitration clauses between attorneys and clients. Earlier this week, I participated in a webcast about the case titled “Engagement Letters/Arbitration … Continue Reading

Social Media for Lawyers—and Judges

D. Todd Smith
Yesterday, I spoke to a group of appellate lawyers and judges about social media. For anyone interested, my presentation slides appear below. I always learn something new when preparing to give a CLE presentation. In this instance, it was interesting to look at Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and similar outlets from a judge’s perspective. Here are … Continue Reading

Old-School Legal Researchers: ThomsonWest Is Shuttering Westlaw Classic—and Soon

D. Todd Smith
It’s been five years since ThomsonReuters (then ThomsonWest) launched WestlawNext and re-branded the legal research database many lawyers grew up on as “Westlaw Classic.” I received notice yesterday that my firm’s access to the old version will cease at the end of March, leaving WestlawNext as the only option available under our contract. This is … Continue Reading

Texas Appellate Courts Get a Major Website Upgrade

D. Todd Smith
If you’ve received CaseMail updates this week, you’ve likely noticed something new when clicking on the link embedded in your notification emails. Last Friday, the Texas appellate courts got a major online upgrade with the launch of the new and improved txcourts.gov site. The new site is very user-friendly and much more pleasing to the eye than the … Continue Reading

Are Lawyer-Hyperlinked Briefs Headed for Extinction?

D. Todd Smith
When used appropriately, hyperlinks to specific portions of the record or to on-point authorities can be a very effective tool in the appellate lawyer’s arsenal. But are recent developments enhancing that tool or effectively taking it away? Last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit standardized the format for citing electronic official … Continue Reading

State Bar Appellate Section Launches Redesigned Website

D. Todd Smith
As co-chair of the State Bar of Texas Appellate Section’s Website Committee, I am pleased to share that the Section’s completely revamped website is now live at www.tex-app.org. The redesigned site allows visitors easy access to information about the Appellate Section, including the latest news and upcoming events, a searchable membership directory, and details about … Continue Reading

I, Juror No. 3

D. Todd Smith
Since I became a practicing lawyer, I’ve been called for jury duty four times: twice in Dallas County (where I lived from 1997 to 2003), and twice in Travis County (where I live now). This past week, I served my second stint as an actual juror. My first experience as a juror was in Dallas. … Continue Reading

Ralph H. Brock, 1948-2013

D. Todd Smith
I was saddened to learn that Ralph Brock—the first chair of the State Bar Appellate Section and one of my predecessors as editor of The Appellate Advocate—passed away on July 14, 2013. Ralph was extremely personable and was in many ways ahead of his time. In recent years, he served as chair of the State Bar … Continue Reading

Word-Count Rules Going Into Effect December 1

D. Todd Smith
A trial lawyer poses the following question: Do you know for sure whether the new appellate rules are going into effect December 1? Any thoughts on whether an appeal filed on November 29 (but not actually due until December 3) should maintain the old format or use the new rule? Per this Texas Supreme Court … Continue Reading

SCOTX Adopts Word-Count Rule

D. Todd Smith
The Texas Supreme Court has issued an order incorporating word counts into the Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure. The order amends Rules 9, 38, 49, 52, 53, 55, 64, 68, 70, and 71. Some highlights of the amendments include (for computer-generated briefs in civil cases): a minimum 14-point font (12-point for footnotes); a 15,000-word limit … Continue Reading

Lone Star Lawyers Converging on Houston for SBOT12

D. Todd Smith
I will soon be departing for Houston to attend the 2012 State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting.  This will be my third straight year to attend and my second year as a presenter. On Thursday, as part of the Computer and Technology Section’s “Adaptable Lawyer” track, Don Cruse and I will give a talk entitled … Continue Reading
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