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Millions of PACER Documents Made Free

PACER, your favorite tool for getting federal court documents, may not be your favorite for long.

CourtListener, a service of the Free Law Project, now offers every free written order and opinion that is available on PACER. And unlike the court's preferred provider, CourtListener does not require a user account with the typical conditions.

The service does not replace PACER, but it makes research a lot easier and cheaper. The Free Law Project also threw in a bonus: a legal scraping toolkit.

What Does the Future Look Like for Personal Injury Lawyers?

Personal injury attorneys, it's time to take a good look at yourselves in the mirror.

If you think a future with driverless cars and fewer accidents will kill your practice, you need to slap yourself in the face. That's not how technology works.

It's supposed to make life better, and that includes your practice. Here's how it's going to work, for better or worse.

Have you been waiting for an exciting niche area of law to take your practice to new heights? If so, and you are in any way, shape, or form technically capable, you may want to consider studying up on the laws surrounding drones.

The mass production of unmanned aircraft systems, more commonly known as drones, that exploded onto the market over the past few years, has heralded a whole new set of legal concerns for businesses, individuals, the general public, and government entities. Unfortunately, there currently are not enough lawyers to help navigate these emerging legal concerns. Even major firms are trying to enter the field, as it is just that hot.

Are Uber-Like Law Practices Coming or Going?

A few years ago, it seemed like Uber was a business model for success. Today, not so much.

But the idea of the Uber-like law practice still persists. Like, wouldn't it be great if you could pick up a new client as easy as picking up a passenger who just ordered your services on a cell phone?

On-demand lawyers may thrive in the future, but not yet. As many have learned, it's not that easy to create a new way to deliver legal services.

Social Media-Related Litigation Surges, Lawyers Report

Most lawyers say that lawsuits involving social media and mobile devices are increasing, according to a new survey.

Based on 200 telephone interviews with lawyers from the largest law firms and companies in the United States, the Robert Half survey also said that 27 percent of the respondents reported more cases with personal media devices that employees use at work.

"Electronic evidence retrieved during discovery, including emails, tweets, text messages and photos, as well as GPS and web browsing history, is often enough to make or break a case," said Charles Volkert, senior district president of Robert Half Legal.

Emergency Roadside Kit for Trial Lawyers

It may sound like a tool for ambulance chasers, but actually an emergency roadside kit for trial lawyers is a good idea.

There's nothing as rookie as having to borrow a pen from the bailiff or a notepad from the clerk in the middle of a trial. It's not a good look to have your tablet or computer -- with all your files and research -- run out of battery power in the middle of a presentation.

For those days on the litigation road, may we suggest a few things to put in your emergency roadside kit?

Law Firm Sues Insurer After Ransomware Attack, $700K Lost Billings

Like other embarrassing crimes, malware attacks often are not reported -- especially when law firms are the victims. It took a lawsuit for this one to come out.

A Rhode Island law firm has sued its insurance company for lost income suffered during a cyber attack last year. For three months, the firm's computers were held hostage by ransomware -- a form of malware that criminals use to extract ransom payments from victims.

Moses Afonso Ryan, a commercial litigation firm, says it lost about $700,000 in billable fees before hackers freed the computer system. The law firm wants Sentinel Insurance Company to pay for it.

Fitbit Tracker to the Witness Stand

First it was Alexa and now it is Fitbit -- these smart devices are going to court to catch alleged killers.

Alexa, the voice of Amazon's digital assistant, made the news last year when prosecutors subpoenaed her data to find out if she "overheard" an accused murderer. Fitbit, the fitness tracker, is at the center of a new murder case because she may reveal the victim's last movements.

Richard Dabate, the accused, said that a masked intruder shot his wife Connie Dabate. Her Fitbit, however, tells a different story.

"The Fitbit could be the star witness in all of this," reported CNN.

What's your preferred way of communicating with clients? An in-person meeting? On the phone? Over email? Through a client portal? My guess is, not the last one. But maybe it should be.

Client portals can provide a safer, easier way to keep in touch with clients, avoiding some of the dangers of email. Here's what you should know about them.

Lawyers love to get worked up about obscure grammar and style rules, almost as much as they like to get in a huff over obscure laws. (Emoluments, anyone?) There's the long-running fight pitting case law aficionados against the caselaw'ers. A recent First Circuit ruling that was decided on the lack of an Oxford comma opened up a new front in that ongoing war. But frankly, that stuff is old news.

The newest major legal writing fight revolves around one of the most pressing issues facing lawyers today: Should you put one or two spaces after a period?