Friday 5: Apps We Could Really Use
As we race through our cyber-driven lives, we cling desperately to our smartphones and tablets, entrusting more and more of our brain functions to “apps.” Besides all the mass-market apps we use to buy stocks, hire dogsitters, “mingle,” etc., innumerable apps have sprung up specifically for us as lawyers. I’ve been pitched on apps to simplify my billing practices, supercharge my legal research, even negotiate settlements.
While I’m not convinced any of the apps I’ve seen so far are necessary, they have inspired me to visualize apps that truly would help with problems we lawyers face daily. Here are a few:
Approximately 150% of all email I receive is from someone begging me to sign up for a CLE, usually on some topic I have not encountered in 22 years of practicing law. CLE-minator would search out and destroy every trace of advertising for CLE-related material from your email, social media and text streams. (Not affected: ads from WSBA-CLE, of course.) Then, during the last month of your CLE credit reporting period, CLE-minator would automatically disable itself, freeing you to stoop however low you need to grab those last few desperation credits.
This app would let you pretend you have cool stuff and fancy places to go (like lawyers are supposed to), when in fact you’re too broke to afford anything because of student loans, having your job outsourced, or working for the government. For example, LBLD would insert fake luxury spa or personal trainer appointments in your calendar and send you emails reminding you of your (fictional) upcoming yacht hull cleaning, Michelin three-star restaurant reservation, etc. LBLD would include BlingMeUp, a plug-in that would automatically replace photos of your 1996 Volkswagen Jetta with those of a 2013 Porsche 911 Carrera in your Facebook and other social media photo albums.
With everything else you have to do, you shouldn’t need to waste precious time devising excuses for your occasional lawyerly slip-ups. Excusez-what? would combine common lawyer excuses with up-to-the-minute real disasters to instantly generate credible reasons other than your own fault for what went wrong. For example, simply type or speak “two weeks late on promised reply to client” and Excusez-what? responds with, “My paralegal was stranded on a sewage-flooded cruise ship and just got the letter draft to me today,” “Our cloud-computing uplink was disrupted by that meteor in Russia,” or, “Unfortunately, that letter was one of the more obscure victims of federal budget sequestration.”
A sophisticated search engine and algorithms based on the Rules of Professional Conduct would scan all your correspondence, monitor your in-person and phone conversations, and warn you of potential disciplinary violations. At the first sign of trouble, RPC-Nanny would instantly produce an audible alert, e.g., a cash register sound for trust account violations, cricket sounds for failure to keep a client adequately advised, or a whispering sound for disclosure of privileged information. The app also would generate a monthly summary of your potential transgressions and, as an option, draft a response to the grievance you could expect to receive via the WSBA disciplinary system.
Especially helpful for newer practitioners, StoryWarrior would generate credible “war stories” and display them discreetly on your smartphone or tablet screen as you’re talking to clients or others you wish to impress. Stories would be specific enough to pertain to a given topic, yet vague enough to avoid claims of fabrication. (“We had a case like this one a few years ago. It was a real battle, but we came out of it all right.”) Story Warrior also would send emails and texts to your phone containing the names of prominent individuals (e.g., “From Chris Hansen, Subject: Need your thoughts on Sacramento Kings proposal”), and generate fictional incoming calls, which you could subtly show your client before declining the call and announcing, “She always calls me back.”