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Unsent Text Message Is Valid Will, Court Rules

Perhaps the cycle of life is the same as the cycle of law when it comes to wills.

In Queensland, Australia, a court has accepted an unsent text message as a valid will. The text was found in the deceased man's phone after he committed suicide.

As in any probate case, it marked the sad end of a life. But it happened at a time when informal wills are making a comeback.

E-discovery has come a long way since it first debuted. Papering your opponent has never been easier and no longer requires spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on copying and a crosstown courier. Now, it is routine for document dumps to be fully contained on a single flash drive, or DVD-ROM, or even in an email.

However, while digitization makes e-discovery easier, the age of the internet has brought with it an entirely new language that lawyers and discovery professionals from coast to coast must learn to understand: Emoji.

Should I Use Emojis in Court?

An emoji is worth a thousand words, and that's a legal problem.

According to a Santa Clara University Law School professor, emojis and emoticons have popped up recently in at least 80 U.S. court opinions. The problem is they can be misunderstood.

"As emoticons and emojis play an increasingly important role in how we communicate with each other, they will increasingly raise legal issues," says professor Eric Goldman.

Is It Fair Game to Use Your Smartphone Against Opposing Counsel?

Basically, it was a high tech way of spying.

According to reports, the Red Sox baseball team was stealing hand signs by watching video replays of the game off the field and then texting the information live to a staffer's smart watch in the dugout. Cheating or gaming?

Not that we should ever think like that, but couldn't an attorney use similar technology to outplay opposing counsel in the courtroom?

Can Hurricane Lawsuits Be Based on Climate-Change Science?

If necessity is the mother of invention, could a hurricane be the mother of new litigation?

Apparently so. In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, attorneys have already filed lawsuits on behalf of homeowners and businesses that were deluged. They could open a floodgate of, well, you know the story.

According to reports, climate-change science may also lead to pioneering lawsuits.

While courts surely derive some sick and twisted pleasure by forcing attorneys on opposite sides to file joint pleadings, how you go about handling those logistics can have a big impact on your case.

Since the great word processor schism, Microsoft Word has emerged as the dominant program, trouncing Word Perfect in its widespread adoption by both lawyers and courts. However, one of the potentially fatal flaws of Word involves one of the best features: Track Changes. If you're not careful, your opposing counsel will be able to gain valuable insights based on your assumedly private edits.

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.