Tips on Technology: ‘Watch’ What You Ask for…

The Bencher—July/August 2019

By Richard K. Herrmann, Esquire

A judge recently asked me to devote a column to the productivity of the Apple Watch for lawyers and judges. While the current tools available are limited due to the size of the screen, I am in the process of developing a few tools just for the courts.* Some feedback would be helpful:

TimeMinder: This simple-to-use app on an Apple Watch could be controlled by the appellate bench during oral argument and connected by Bluetooth. After the first 15 minutes, you would feel a strong vibration, reminding you there is only five minutes remaining. Your next reminder would come in the form of a jolt, warning you there are only two minutes left and you need to wrap things up. The Apple Watch technology is not strong enough to deal with lawyers who exceed their 20 minutes. But as a tip, lawyer to lawyer, you would be better off keeping your iPhone on the table. I am told the court is unforgiving.

Sustained: This app would be designed for the Apple Watch, not the iPhone. It would help the busy trial judge who keeps one ear focused on the jury trial, while attempting to keep current on the constant flow of discovery motions in other cases. If the judge is asked to rule on an evidence objection that could go either way, a simple tap on the watch face would result in a ruling of “overruled” or “sustained.” In the settings menu, the judge could adjust the rotation of rulings to be more or less plaintiff oriented. There would even be a setting that syncs with the American Bar Association directory so the judge could rate the lawyer from one to five gavels. A five-gavel setting would result in that lawyer’s objections always being overruled.

InMyHonestOpinion: As a judge, did you ever want to get a read on how a lawyer is really rated (putting Benchmark, Best Lawyers in America, Super Lawyers, etc. aside)? As a member of the bench, you would be able to subscribe to this judicial app for rating lawyers. Available to judges for in-camera review only, the “InMyHonestOpinion” app would let you know what jurists nationally think of the attorney who is about to appear before you. Candid and even sordid—learn what you need to know to keep every lawyer in his or her proverbial place.

WithoutReservations: Every job should have its perks, so imagine that has created the perk of perks just for judges. The supporters of this app realize judges are underpaid and underappreciated. Accepted by more than 12,000 restaurants nationally, WithoutReservations would put every judge wearing an Apple Watch at the front of the line for lunch or dinner. If this doesn’t increase your productivity, I don’t know what will. 

JustDraftIt: While artificial intelligence has arrived, it has not made its appearance on the iPhone or Apple Watch—until now. Simply provide this app with access to the briefs on an outstanding motion and complete the “scorecard” on which arguments are winners. Once you click “JustDraftIt,” the app would draft your opinion, using syntax from your last 50 opinions. This app has received the Golden Click Award from judicial law clerks all over the country. Many of them have been beta testing it for the past year, although their judges don’t have a clue!

While some of these apps may seem a bit farfetched, I have peeked behind the curtain a couple of times during my career. I remember one judge chiding me about 25 years ago, “You don’t seriously think you can get lawyers to file their documents electronically, do you?”

*Disclaimer: The apps referenced in this article do not exist. They are offered for the sole purposes of raising ethical issues for discussion and a smile. To the extent that anyone actually creates an App from these expressions of thought, any royalties to which I am otherwise entitled are hereby assigned to the American Inns of Court.

Richard K. Herrmann, Esquire is a partner in the firm of Morris James in Wilmington, Delaware. He is a Master of the Bench member of the Richard K. Herrmann Technology AIC.

© 2019 Richard K. Herrmann, Esquire. This article was originally published in the July/August 2019 issue of The Bencher, a bi-monthly publication of the American Inns of Court. This article, in full or in part, may not be copied, reprinted, distributed, or stored electronically in any form without the written consent of the American Inns of Court.