Mobility: Faxing

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metrofaxlogo It’s amazing what can be done with technology these days! One of the neat tricks-of-the-trade for mobile attorneys is being able to fax from your mobile device!

Most of the Internet-based fax services come with their own mobile apps. Even if they don’t, however, you can get to their website on any mobile device. After trying several services over the years, I stuck with MetroFax. It’s been a reliable service and is a good value, especially with the number of base pages you get with the various plans. I have a toll-free fax number that comes with a 1000 pages before I incur any additional per-page charges. I have not gone over that limit in a few years. MetroFax has cheaper and more expensive plans to suit your faxing needs. My mobile devices are an iPhone and an iPad. MetroFax has an iOS app.

Real-World Use Examples

Let me give you two examples of how I have used Internet faxing from a mobile device. The first happened when I was at an out-of-town ABA conference. I still had to file a motion, proposed order, and notice of hearing, while also serving opposing counsel. In the morning before the conference activity began, I finished preparing the documents.

Quick aside…
Because I have an electronic signature (electronic image of my actual signature in blue “ink”), I am able to electronically sign my documents in Microsoft Word and thus avoid the infamous “/s/Benjamin K. Sanchez” that so many attorneys do these days. I save my Word documents to Adobe PDF format and they are ready for faxing, emailing, electronic filing, etc. My pleadings are electronic but with the true signature feel.

Back to the Examples

Now that my documents were ready, I e-filed them with the county clerk. Afterwards, I was able to use the MetroFax app to fax my documents with a cover page to my opposing counsel and then get my fax confirmation via e-mail. (For every fax I send out, I get an e-mail confirmation that the fax succeeded or failed.)

Although I didn’t describe every single movement I made to effectuate the above fax, it truly was very simple. Once you understand how to do it, you’ll be wanting the opportunity to arise when you can fax from the road!

In the second example, which happened just a week ago, I was out of town filing a new petition and application for temporary restraining order (TRO). I had to file everything in person (rather than e-filing) because my client and I needed to see a judge after the pleadings were filed in order to obtain the TRO. While the district clerk was in the process of filing the documents, she asked if I had a cover letter setting forth the instructions on who to serve, where to serve, and how to serve. Although this information was clearly spelled out in the petition itself, I obliged her and asked if I could send a fax rather than a completely separate letter. When she said that was fine, I pulled out my iPhone, went into my MetroFax app, and whipped out a fax with the information she needed. While we were standing there, the fax came through her fax machine!

Moving to Electronic Documents, Filing, and Faxing

I don’t have to tell you what you already should know: each day we are moving closer to electronic documents, electronic filing, and electronic faxing. The Texas Supreme Court has instituted a plan that will transition every court in Texas to an electronic-filing court and requires attorneys to e-file all documents as early as January (the plan is being phased in over the next two years based on county size). I have been using electronic faxing (and more specifically, Internet-based faxing as opposed to server-based faxing) for six years now. I rarely have to print anything that I create, but I still do so for affidavits and verifications, where I have to sign in front of a notary. But there again, in Texas we now have “Unsworn Declarations” that need no notary as long as you follow the language of the statute and swear under penalty of perjury! Although I prefer to use a notary for most things, I find myself using the unsworn declaration more and more to verify routine documents such as a motion for continuance.

It’s important that attorneys and their staff know how to be nimble regarding our new electronic world. I guaranty you that attorneys who fax from their mobile device for the first time get a tingling sensation all over! Try it; you just might like it!

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FedEx Office v. Harris County Law Library

logo-header-fedexIn addition to my regular clients who retain me as their attorney of record in particular matters, I also have law firms and lawyers who hire me to appear for them in court. Most of the time, they are out-of-town and thus are unable to attend, but sometimes they are local attorneys who simply have a conflict in their schedule.

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On a recent morning, while I was sitting in Starbucks, drinking my coffee and preparing for the morning hearings in three difference courts in the Harris County Civil Courthouse, I realized that one of my appearance clients had not filed the motion they emailed to me and thus I might need to file a hard-copy of the motion with the court. This is not necessarily a big deal, but for the fact that I try to be as paperless as possible. Whenever I or an appearance client have filed pleadings and evidence in advance of a hearing or bench trial, I tend to bring only my iPad to court. I see no sense in needlessly wasting paper. However, for New companies around Oakland and San Franscisco contact SPZ Legal Startup Law over here.

After e-mailing my client to confirm that they had not yet filed the motion, I used my iPhone to find the nearest FedEx Office with a computer/printer bank and then headed on over. Once I arrived at the FedEx Office, I jumped onto a computer, opened my e-mail, and printed off the motion that the client had sent to me. Unfortunately, through computer usage fees and printing fees, I ended up paying about $25 for less than 5 minutes of computer time and 41 printed pages.

I made it to the courthouse with more than enough time to file the motion with the court clerk. Only one problem: when I handed the clerk the motion, she handed it back and noted that it was for a different case in a different court. I immediately realized that I had printed the wrong motion (it was for one of my other hearings that morning). Frustrated, I had to think fast. I then realized that the newly-renovated Harris County Law Library was just two blocks from the courthouse. So I walked on over to try this again.

Although I have visited the Law Library several times over the years as I needed to get information for my lawyer, it wasn’t really updated for technology until the recent renovation that was completed earlier this year. Now, the Law Library has more than enough computers to go along with the books. The Law Library also has an independently-contracted printing shop inside to allow for printing, copying, and other services. There are more than enough tables and electrical outlets that one could bring his or her own laptop and camp out without disturbance.

I thus get on one of the public computers, again go to my e-mail, and print out the correct motion this time. I head over to the service cashier to pick up the printed pages and pay. Total bill: $3.10! No charge for use of the computer and only 10 cents a page for the print. The obvious light bulb went off in my head! No more FedEx Office during normal hours (FedEx Office will still come in handy in the evening when the Law Library is closed). Lesson learned, and now you know as well!

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Being a good Golfer

Part of being a better golfer is becoming more comfortable on thegolf course. And being comfortable on the golf course will help you at the range more often.
Once you get off the putting green at the water course, you will find that you are not as easy to read as you were at the putting green. This is a result of taking off at an angle and not traveling in a straight line. You are more likely to start a hole hit into the water, from the wrong side of the water. And this is because you are going to have to work your way up on the putting green, from the higher step or putter’s cradle, back towards the fairway.
However, even if you miss the hole, you are still just as comfortable hitting the ball the other way. There is a little more risk of something happening, but you will get your ball out quicker, and if you’re serious about golf you can also get equipment like at prices like $1,999 or even less so you can enjoy this sport a lot.
A great way to work your way back to the putting green is to hit with the same putting technique you used to get to the putting green. When you are putting with proper technique, you will not end up coming off the putting green much different than when you are putting with poor technique.
If you’re the kind of person who struggles to get to the water course to play golf, it’s easy to see how golf will be difficult at times. If you find it difficult to approach the water course to get on the greens, you’ll find it even more difficult to shoot a fair amount of shots from there.
As an extension of this, your water course scoring will probably suffer. When you are trying to hit the ball far out of bounds, or out of bounds of the greens, you’re not taking full advantage of your fairways and putting greens. You’re only using the greens for leverage when hitting the ball into the water.
As you get the hang of the water course, the very reason it can be difficult to get on the greens, and that it can be difficult to pull down a fairway, will change. Golf will be easier than it was the first time you played at a water course. You’ll be much more comfortable hitting the ball with the same precision as you did playing with your club.
You’ll be more comfortable hitting the ball from deep inside the fairway. And you’ll have a better idea of what’s coming in your blind spots.
The Routine and the Practice
What would a golfer practice after being thrown out of the water? Unfortunately, you cannot practice what you don’t know. So how would you practice doing what you did yesterday? That’s a good question.
What would a golfer practice if he had a spare golf club, a spot to work on, and a water course to practice on?
I imagine he would stop doing those things, so he could focus on what he knows how to do. But he would need to stop working on the routine and start working on the practicing. That might mean changing the club he chooses to use, or adding another putting surface,

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Say Hello to My Little Friend!

I am glad to welcome this blog back to my life. I’ve missed it. I had it for a brief time when I bought my first iMac, which had iWeb included as part of the iLife software suite. Although I had used Microsoft Frontpage to develop my business website, I decided to take the plunge and do something a little more personal on the iMac. That blog was sorely neglected and ultimately died, even long before MobileMe died yesterday.

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In trying to figure out what to do with the domain name that I had bought and used for the prior blog, I decided that I really did want to write a blog about the intersection of the practice of law and the living of life. I’ve explained what a “law affair” is here, but suffice it to say that law doesn’t always play well with others. I hope that my readers will come to understand just what a lawyer’s life (especially one of a litigator) is like and how the legal profession tends to monopolize a lawyer’s life if he or she isn’t careful and steadfast to guard against that.

May the games begin…

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