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Pulling needles out of haystacks . . .

Last Build Date: Sun, 05 Mar 2006 22:53:51 GMT

Copyright: Copyright 2006 Kim Plonsky

New blog

Sat, 04 Mar 2006 19:19:07 GMT

My new blog is here.

Look who's back in Blogsville

Thu, 02 Mar 2006 20:25:34 GMT

After an extended hiatus--of, oh, about 3 years--I finally made it back to the blog.  Did I miss anything?  More importantly (to me, at least), did anyone miss me?  To answer my own questions:  Well, yeah...and probably not.  In any event, please bear with me while I get this thing cranked up again.

Ciao for now...


A Matter of Priorities

Tue, 18 Mar 2003 13:46:48 GMT

I didn't really intend to be away for a whole week; it just happened that way.  When your life is a juggling act (and whose isn't?), and the balls you've been tossing suddenly start hitting you on the head, it's time to reassess priorities.  I've been busy tending to prior personal commitments (you know, things like my marriage, job, health, and family), but will hopefully be back on the blogging track soon.

Just on the off-chance that someone in the blogosphere actually missed me . . .

Wed, 12 Mar 2003 04:02:02 GMT

In response to Ernie's call for assistance (thanks, Ernie), I received with gratitude the following great links:

  • From M. Sean Fosmier:  "Please visit our site, where all web sites for all courts are linked, and where we provide information on electronic filing issues and privacy issues."  This site bills itself as the "nation's court directory," and there's lots of useful information here about the courts and electronic filing.
  • From Carolyn Elefant, of  "Wendy Leibowitz, a lawyer and journalist follows electronic filing projects which also generally has information on electronic access."  I consider this site, WendyTech, a real find.  Her article, "E-Filing Projects in the U.S.," is subdivided by state and provides summaries of the status of e-filing in the various state courts.  What, no Louisiana?!  (making mental note to submit info, such that it is)  Wendy aptly cautions, however, that "[c]ompiling a list of electronic filing projects is like painting a moving train.  Assume the list below is outdated."  While some of the information provided is undoubtedly outdated (the last updates I saw were posted in April 2002), it'll be a good resource for my project.
  • Carolyn Elefant also referred me to the National Center for State Courts' website, which bills itself as "an information clearinghouse on the topic of public access to court records and the data privacy issues that arise as courts improve and expand their court information systems and increase electronic access to court information."  This site provides both official and unofficial information for federal and state courts, subdivided by state.  Another great resource.

Thanks for the mention . . .

Tue, 11 Mar 2003 04:27:26 GMT

. . . to Naked Ownership for this post, in response to my recent post about the status of online access to Louisiana state court records.  Thanks, also, to Tim Hadley, of Math Class for Poets:  Law and Life, for the info on online access to court records in Colorado and Wisconsin, which gave me the idea that I should start compiling links here to online state court resources throughout the country -- hoping, of course, that some of you blawgers across the land will help me along by punting me some more links from other states to get started (hint, hint).

RSS Search Engine

Tue, 11 Mar 2003 03:33:01 GMT

The as-yet-un-renamed search engine (formerly referred to by the working name "Roogle") created by The FuzzyGroup to monitor and index RSS feeds is up and running.  Très cool!  This was first announced on Scott Johnson's The FuzzyBlog! just Friday, March 7th, and changes and improvements have been coming at an amazing pace (do these guys ever sleep?).  And I was oh-so-pleased to find that the RSS feed for KiMformation was already found and listed.  The name thing, though, has me quite intrigued.  For my part, I suggested the name rssQueue (pronounced "rescue").  Get the RSS feed here.

Paralegal Blog Alert

Sun, 09 Mar 2003 21:04:56 GMT

Ernie introduced me (via e-mail from SXSW) to a paralegal blogger he met last night (and a weblog-award-nominated paralegal blogger, at that).  Her name is Christine Selleck, from Houston, and her blog is called Big Pink Cookie:  Taking the Blah Out of the Blog.  I visited Christine's really nice blog and was intrigued when I saw that some of her posts are restricted (you have to e-mail her for permission to read them).  I'd never seen this before, and so when I e-mailed her to introduce myself, I asked about it.  I was happily surprised to receive a prompt response, in which she said that the restricted posts were set up while she was job-hunting, to keep certain things private (makes sense).  She also said she's switched from the "web design world back to the legal world."  Wow, what a great combination for a paralegal blogger!  I later found out she's a finalist for an SXSW Web Award tonight in the Weblog category for her pixielog.  Congratulations, and good luck, Christine!

WordPerfect for Windows Bates Number Label Macro

Sun, 09 Mar 2003 18:43:44 GMT

I'm long overdue in posting WordPerfect for Windows tips, as promised.  A very good resource that you should put into WatchThatPage or bookmark (apparently, no RSS feed) is Barry MacDonnell's Toolbox for WordPerfect for Windows.  There are tons of useful tips, free downloads (macros, templates, etc.) and links.  For example, if you're still using a messy, antiquated manual Bates-number stamper (guaranteed to give you an arm ache and you and everyone working in your vicinity a headache), you should try the Bates Numbering macro, which you can download for free.  This is a "macro that creates sequential, fixed-width 'Bates' numbers (e.g., 00001, 00002, etc.), with or without preceding / following text material. Updated 12/01/02 to fix a minor menu problem."  Although I use a slightly different Bates-numbering macro (apparently no longer available online for download), I downloaded and tried this one and it works fine.  I like that you can format the font beforehand, but I don't like having to choose labels as the paper size before running the macro (although, of course, this allows the option to affix the Bates number to labels, pages, and cardstock, rather than just labels).

Here is another good Bates-numbering macro, from Karen Gibson's WordPerfect 8 Suite MIS Information.  This one automatically uses Avery Return Address Labels 5267, and it's quite flexible.  When you play the macro, a series of dialog boxes appear, where you choose such things as font and font size, leading zeros or no leading zeros (nice), across or down labels (this didn't seem to work for me), additional text to appear above Bates number (such as "Subject to Protective Order"), alphanumeric prefix, and starting and ending values.

Of course, whenever possible, I choose to Bates-number imaged documents with StampPDF Plug-In for Adobe Acrobat 5.0, rather than using stick-on labels (which are not all that much fun or easy to apply).  However, because there will be times when this will not be possible or feasible, for one reason or another (for example, in the instance of over-sized documents), you will want to have a Bates-numbering label macro handy.

Phoenix Envy

Sun, 09 Mar 2003 15:06:15 GMT

I recently worked on a civil litigation matter pending in the Superior Court of Maricopa County, Arizona.  I was amazed at the free information available on the court's website.  For example, you can search the civil litigation index* and obtain case information, party information, the docket sheet, the case calendar, and a listing of any judgments entered.  Additionally, you can access minute entries online in PDF format.  Isn't it time for the Louisiana Clerks of Court to give the public this type of free access?  Why should we have to call the Clerk of Court's Office and have someone else look up the information on a computer and relay it verbally.  What a waste of taxpayer money!  One of my least favorite tasks as a paralegal is calling a Clerk of Court's office for information from the record (such as whether service has been effected, an answer filed, etc.).  Besides having to spell my name, my boss' name, the parties' names, the information I've gotten hasn't always proved accurate (inevitably due to some type of miscommunication on one of our parts).

So, I decided to do some quick research to find out the status of online access (free or paid) throughout our Louisiana District Courts.  (I used the Lafayette Parish Clerk of Court's list of Louisiana Clerks of Court to find links to the Louisiana District Court Clerks with websites.)  Here is what I found:

In conclusion, I got even more depressed because this little project made me realize how many of our Lousiana Clerks of Court don't even have websites yet.  Well, at least we still have PACER, in federal court.  (sniff, sniff)

*I seem to recall that, the first time I performed a search, I had to supply basic identity information (which I thought reasonable, under the circumstances).

Contemplating Licensing

Sun, 09 Mar 2003 14:39:07 GMT

For a thoughtful and concise assessment of copyright considerations in general and the Creative Commons license in particular, see Tim Hadley's post, Contemplating Licensing, on his blog, Math Class for Poets: Law and Life.  This is a continuation of Tim's recent (and very welcome) series on the Creative Commons license.  Tim characterizes this post as a "draft" that will be updated in the future.  So far, he has four categories of considerations:  "Enabling the Rapid Circulation of Expression," "Retaining Control over Propagation and Association," "Academic Ethos," and "Publishing Through a Commercial Publisher."  I look forward to the continuation of Tim's discussion and analysis.

Managing Electronic Documents in Litigation: Step by Step

Sun, 09 Mar 2003 13:19:01 GMT

I put together this handout, in outline format, for a recent presentation to a group of paralegals, attorneys, and secretaries at my firm's New Orleans office.  It talks about using CaseMap 4.0 and Adobe Acrobat 5.0 to manage electronic documents in litigation.  Because it was meant to go along with an oral presentation, it could be a bit cryptic, but I thought I'd go ahead and put it out here.  I'll be updating and fine-tuning this outline (created in NoteMap) from time to time, and I'd appreciate any input, comments, or critiques anyone might have.

I'm back . . .

Sun, 09 Mar 2003 10:00:19 GMT

I'm back from my quickie trip to Florida, where I trained to become a CaseMap Certified Trainer.  (As it turns out, I will have to take a test, via telephone, in the next couple of weeks before I will actually be "certified.")  I'd never been behind the doors of a *real* software company, so it was really neat from that aspect alone.  I received a very warm welcome from the great folks at CaseSoft, and I got to meet several of the people I've heard about, exchanged e-mail with, and talked to over the past couple of years, including Jennifer, Janine, Haans, and Danielle.  I was particularly impressed that Greg Krehel, CEO and one of the founders of CaseSoft, took the time to visit with me and listen to what I had to say about his products -- very cool!

The one-on-one training was great.  I got all of my questions answered, and learned about some features I haven't been but should be using.  I learned a bit more about the upcoming release of CaseMap 4.5 that I wrote about here, featuring the new CaseMap Send to Adobe Plug-In.  With this new release, which is due out in about a month, Adobe Acroabat users will have much more flexibility in sending links to imaged PDF documents to CaseMap.  As I understand it, instead of dropping the link directly to a fact in the Facts database, a dialog box will pop up, from which you can direct the link to drop into any of the databases (Fact, Object, Research, or Issue).  How cool is that? 

As far as I'm concerned, if you're a litigator and you're not using CaseSoft's products -- CaseMap (case management), NoteMap (outlining tool), TextMap (transcript management utility for CaseMap), and TimeMap (timelines) -- you're missing the boat.  And if you're up against an adversary that does, well, you've got your work cut out for you.  These products are not only extremely well thought-out and designed, they're fairly user-friendly and intuitive.  And CaseSoft's Customer Support is the best of any software company's that I've dealt with.  So, if you have a problem, you can always reach a live person to walk you through it.  I really like their licensing, too, because it not only registers the product to the person but allows each person to register the product for personal use on up to 3 PCs (home, office, and notebook).

You can get a free CaseSoft Starter Kit here, which includes a CD with full-featured trial copies of the latest versions of CaseMap, TimeMap, NoteMap and TextMap.

Florida Bound (or Bound to Become a CaseMap Guru)

Thu, 06 Mar 2003 12:10:38 GMT

Well, I'm on the road again.  This time, I'm on my way to the offices of CaseSoft, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, for a one-day, one-on-one training session, after which I will be a CaseMap Certified Trainer.  Of all things, this opportunity grew out of my participation in the Yahoo! CaseMap User's Group over the past year or so.  CaseSoft is waiving its normal fee in order to place a CM Certified Trainer in my firm, which has generously allowed me the time off and is picking up the expenses (thanks, Ernie!).  Needless to say, I'm thrilled at the opportunity, both to meet the great people at CaseSoft and to become a real CaseMap guru.

So, I'll be away for a couple of days again.  Could someone please leave a light on for me?  Thanks!

Calling all professionals/bloggers . . .

Thu, 06 Mar 2003 04:32:36 GMT

Rick Klau wants to know, ". . . where are the other professional bloggers? How about investment bankers? Accountants? Consultants?  There are more than 200 lawyers and associated law-types (paralegals, law librarians). That's a non-trivial number.  But where are the other professions? I'd be happy to be wrong, by the way. Tell me if there are pockets of these professionals out there."  [tins ::: Rick Klau's weblog]

I've been pondering this very question lately, but pretty much concluded that the *others* must be out there somewhere, I just don't know about them.  So, it'll be interesting to see if Rick finds any "pockets of professionals."  Of course, I have my own theories (you know, the thoughts I think to entertain myself when I should be doing important stuff, like, say, packing for a trip).  Like, perhaps it's just that blogging hasn't quite gone mainstream yet, and the other professions will catch up in (over)due time.  But maybe it's more than that.

Information -- not just information, but the most current information -- is obviously vital to the practice of law.  But, isn't that true of other professions -- accountants, insurance agents, financial consultants?  So, what's different about lawyers that makes them want to be on the leading edge in the blogosphere?  To me (imho), it's their real passion for the law combined with amazing knowledge (of the law, current events), advanced education, myriad expertises (in the law, technology, life), sardonic thoughts, humor, and overall goodwill.  After all, one must be passionate about the law to practice law all day and simultaneously maintain a daily blawg.  Besides, lawyers love citations and sources of authority (links) and are used to dealing with detailed references and advanced writing on a daily basis.  It's a good fit.  (Somehow, I just can't picture, say, an accountant's blog having the kind of broad audience some of the popular blawgs have.  I mean, we tune in to our favorite cable news talking heads every evening to see interviews and reports by lawyers, because they're so interesting and the stuff they say is so relevant.)

Nope, I don't know a thing about the existence of blogs for other professions.  (I couldn't readily find a-one.)  But it seems like blogs and lawyering go hand-in-glove and are here to stay.  And I'm just happy to be riding the wave.

Addendum:  Thanks to Rick for the nod to paralegal blogs.  (How about that, Larry?)

Library Stuff

Wed, 05 Mar 2003 05:33:27 GMT

After finding out about Steve Cohen's blog, Library Stuff, in ABA Journal Online, I've been checking it out.  (According to the article, Steve is an assistant librarian with the law firm Rivkin Radler in Uniondale, N.Y.)  I really like this blog and think it's another great resource for paralegals.  And it has an RSS feed.

Rock & Roll Library

Wed, 05 Mar 2003 05:10:45 GMT

Update:  Scott Johnson announced today that the Rock & Roll Library website is up and running.  [via The FuzzyBlog!]  Looks great to me.  I'm looking forward to the Music Archive Database (coming soon, demo available).  Check it out, and don't forget to thank The FuzzyGroup for donating its web development services to this worthy cause.

Tue, 04 Mar 2003 15:29:46 GMT

Carolyn Elefant, of, not only writes great stuff for her blog (with RSS feed), which focuses on the solo and small firm lawyer, it turns out that she has a particular interest in paralegals.  I was flattered to have received an introductory e-mail from Carolyn, and learned that she was on the University of Maryland Paralegal Studies Program's adjunct faculty from 1994 through 1998.  She's interested in thoughts on solo/small firm lawyer use of paralegals, and graciously offered me the opportunity to post an article on this topic to her blog.  Thanks, Carolyn!

"Netting Information: It's Not All We Promised, But the Web Still Has Plenty to Offer"

Tue, 04 Mar 2003 14:00:57 GMT

"ABA article online. Jason Krause at the has an article on the evolution of internet legal research, with quotes by yours truly, Steven Cohen of Library Stuff, and Rory Perry. Check it out." [Inter Alia]  This article is a must-read for paralegals.  It's chockful of tips and links for doing such things as background checks and finding obscure information on the web, for free or for a nominal fee.  One tip that I'm going to start using immediately is a service that monitor web pages for changes and reports them to you via e-mail (oh, so that's how those e-mail newsletters do it!).  WatchThatPage is recommended, and does this for free.  With a service like this to complement my subscriptions to RSS feeds in Radio UserLand's News Aggregator, I ought have all of the bases covered.

General research sites recommended in the article:

"When your medical records are indexed in Google, something's wrong."

Tue, 04 Mar 2003 13:39:16 GMT

Wired: "When your medical records are indexed in Google, something's wrong." [Scripting News]  Read this article to find out how hackers are using Google to gain access to web-enabled databases.  And then check your systems for this security vulnerability.

Off to the Mardi Gras (or Revenge of the Blog Widower)

Sat, 01 Mar 2003 13:44:03 GMT

I wonder how many blog widow(er)s there are out there, and what they'd have to say if asked their opinions about blogging.  I've been lucky so far, because my husband Brent has been very supportive and understanding about this whole blogging thing.  (That is, aside from nightly attempts to lure me away from the blogosphere with reruns of favorite movies, like Pushing Tin and Best in Show.)

Well, this weekend, it's Revenge of the Blog Widower -- Brent is dragging me off to New Orleans to attend the decadent display known as the M.O.M.'s Ball (Krewe of Mystic Orphans and Misfits).  Although I'm from New Orleans, I'd never even heard of the M.O.M.'s Ball until I met Brent (I've led such a sheltered life).  Anyway, the M.O.M.'s Ball takes place tonight at Mardi Gras World in Algiers, where I grew up, and it's shrouded in secrecy.  What is widely known is, the Radiators jam all night, and the party-goers are a site to be seen, with decadence and debauchery on full display.  (I just learned the secret theme of this year's ball from the Radiators' website.)  Attendance is by invitation only, and guests are required to be in full costume!

Yup.  Paybacks are hell.  But, then again, I probably would have dressed up like Little Red Riding Hood anyway, for a chance to listen to some live Fishhead Music and party with the Radiators in New Orleans (sorry, Mom and Dad, I had no defense).

Case Map 4.5

Fri, 28 Feb 2003 05:41:44 GMT

I've been reading rumors in the CaseMap listserv that CaseSoft is already planning the release of CaseMap 4.5 (CaseMap 4.0 was released in July 2002).  Yesterday, Haans Bomberger of CaseSoft confirmed that release 4.5 is anticipated this spring.  In my office, we've been struggling with a workaround to generate links from documents in the Documents database to specific pages in Adobe Acrobat files.  The CaseMap Plug-In for Adobe Acrobat that generates image links does so by dropping them into CaseMap to associate with a fact in the Facts database (rather than dropping the image link to associate with a document in the Documents database).  So, I was quite pleased to learn that CaseSoft is revising the CaseMap-Adobe plug-in so that it will automatically create a document in the Documents database the first time text is sent from a particular Acrobat file and link the document to the fact using the CaseMap Short Name.  Haans says the Source field will only show the Short Name of the document and the page and line references, but the link will still take you back to the specific part of the document originally sent.  Cool!  This is precisely what we're looking for.  (No word yet on the cost, if any, of this upgrade.)

ALWD Citation Manual

Thu, 27 Feb 2003 23:57:45 GMT

An e-mail this week from my sister* about The ALWD Citation Manual made me realize that perhaps more lawyers than I previously thought haven't added this handy citation reference to their libraries.  It was first published by the Association of Legal Writing Directors in February 2000, "designed as a 'restatement of citation'" and to "replace" the Bluebook.  I just learned that the ALWD CM's second edition came out in December 2002 (I guess I should have read that e-mail from Aspen Publishers, after all, huh?).  I highly recommend this reference book (but I'll always keep the Bluebook handy, too).  It's spiral-bound, well-organized, and pretty thorough.  I especially like the examples and the detail.  They tell you stuff like how many spaces to put and where to put them in a citation.  See the list of law schools, paralegal education programs, law journals and publications, and courts that have (either fully or partially) adopted it here.  Buy the ALWD Citation Manual: A Professional System of Citation, Second Edition, from Aspen Publishers here.

*Getting an e-mail from my sister, and particularly an office e-mail from my sister (and nobody even died), is a Big Deal for me.  You see, my sister, Barbara Theriot Hodgson, is a super-sharp attorney (licensed to practice in Louisiana, Kansas, and Missouri) with the State of Kansas, Department of Agriculture, who only tolerates technology.  This is what she does for the great State of Kansas.  Look for a guest post from Barbara in the near future (hint, hint).

Weblog Terms for Weblog Readers

Thu, 27 Feb 2003 11:34:44 GMT

"And if all this weblog stuff is confusing.... Phil Gyford offers this nice page describing weblog terms for weblog readers. Learn more about RSS, permalinks, trackback, and more."  [Inter Alia]  This is a good starter article to read if you're new to blogging and don't quite know what such things as permalinks, RSS feeds, and trackbacks are.

"Law and Blogging in Las Workplace"

Wed, 26 Feb 2003 06:37:04 GMT

From Paul's Boutique:  "Those who regularly read this blog and/or know me well have more than likely heard me complain about my long-time essay on blogging and employment law. . . . I have completed and posted my submitted-for-publication version of the essay.   While it might be pretentious and unnecessarily legal and long, I think bloggers might find this worthwhile reading if they like their jobs."  This is an extremely well-written and well-sourced article, entitled "Did You Just Say That?: Blogging and Employment Law in Conflict," by second-year Columbia Law student Paul Gutman.  Interesting stuff.  Among other things, he suggests that bloggers might need a disclaimer to protect themselves from adverse employment actions.  It seems that some employers are taking issue with the content of their employees' personal blogs -- and sending out pink slips because of it.

Music to blog by

Wed, 26 Feb 2003 03:44:13 GMT

New Music AlertHall and Oates' first studio album in six years, Do It For Love, is now out ($13.49 at providing perfect blogging accompaniment.  Every track is delicious.  And, best of all, the song, Someday We'll Know, features one of my all-time favorite musicians, Todd Rundgren, on guitar and vocals.  You gotta love that Philly-blue-eyed-soul . . .