• Sherine Blackford

Between the coronavirus pandemic and our office being under construction for almost a year, Blackford Carls P.C. is seasoned in operating a law firm fully remotely. Our firm has employees across the country that work from their home states for our Montana law firm. Navigating time zones and building rapport are challenging in this system, but it is rewarding to bring different perspectives together.

The most critical element to operating a law firm remotely is maintaining effective communication within the virtual office and with clients. Zoom is undoubtedly an important tool in the new digital age and our firm frequently uses it for inter-office meetings. We also use Google Chat, which helps us keep informal lines of communication open with our team. Google Chat is a good virtual substitute for popping into an office to ask a quick question.

E-filing documents with the court helps expedite the filing process and eliminates paper copies. Confidentiality in keeping these virtual documents is achieved by using secure software and proper data storage. Saving everything in the same universal software online also ensures that all employees have access from wherever they are working.

In this new world, it is helpful when clients are willing to adapt to Zoom conferences instead of in person. When weather or traveling is a challenge, it can be more

convenient for clients to join meetings from their own homes. The evolving world also lets clients and employees Zoom into court hearings and trials that might otherwise be too far away or inconvenient.

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we are more adaptable and resilient to change than ever. The ability to switch to remote work when something unexpected happens is critical to keeping our offices open and available during interferences like long construction projects.

Blackford Carls P.C. better serves our clients by offering either remote services or in-person, whichever is your preference.

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  • Sherine Blackford

One of the hardest parts of a trial is guessing how a jury might interpret your case. This guessing game is ended by a new tool for attorneys: focus groups. With the help of Elizabeth Larrick of Larrick Law Firm P.C. in Austin, Texas, Blackford Carls P.C. often focus groups cases and learns valuable feedback from real people. Additionally, focus groups make the attorneys at Blackford Carls P.C. better advocates for our clients.

Focus groups can help at any stage of a litigation – when deciding to take a case, identifying weaknesses and strengths, and how to best argue and present the case to a jury. The participants act as a mock jury and give their opinions on a presentation about the case.

The participant selection can also be tailored to give insight on how particular jurors might lean. For example, if a case involves a lawsuit against a farmer and attorneys were worried about how other farmers would lean, the focus group can be tailored to address this.

Focus groups importantly help attorneys identify the weaknesses in the case. Based on the feedback, we then improve our presentation and argument to better communicate the case at trial.

Focus groups like those Blackford Carls P.C. has done with Larrick Law Firm make us better and more effective attorneys for our clients. The focus groups are a unique and necessary tool for complex cases. If you have a case that could benefit from our attorneys, please contact Blackford Carls P.C. at 406.577.2145.

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  • Sherine Blackford

In a major lawsuit, discovery can include a never-ending production of documents, emails, texts, and more. This can result in time consuming and expensive disputes between the parties. As the prevalence of social media grows, it can be difficult to locate all the relevant data and narrow the scope what social media litigants must produce in discovery.

Electronically Stored Information, or ESI, is anything saved digitally that could be relevant in a lawsuit. Completing a massive search and pulling information from servers produces thousands of results, which can be too dense to be useful in discovery. Key word searches and selecting specific inboxes and computers can help narrow a discovery production. Emerging technology and strategies can also help reduce data collections to manageable sizes, according to other legal experts.

The emergence of platforms like the “metaverse” and other social media make

s the landscape of ESI more difficult. Courts already require personal emails and texts to be produced in discovery, which begs the question: Can a TikTok be used in court?

Sometimes an opposing party may refuse a discovery request because it is unduly burdensome, not proportional, and will not lead to relevant materials. Courts often liberally allow discovery of contested documents because at early stages in litigation it is difficult to determine whether the information is relevant to the case. See generally Univ. of Pennsylvania v. Equal Emp. Opportunity Comm’n., 493 U.S. 182 (1990); Walker v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 2007 WL 1031576 (D. Mont. Apr. 2, 2007). Allowing a party to withhold relevant documents and information damages the litigation and judicial process. The law encourages transparent litigation, making discovery of all relevant information important.

Even with limits on which inboxes to search and relevance requirements, the discovery produced in this process can still be daunting. Tens of thousands of pages of documents and email threads produce duplicates and irrelevant information.

In complex litigation, you want attorneys that can navigate the world of eDiscovery and identify the useful information for your case. Blackford Carls P.C. has experience in this area and is standing by to help. Please contact Blackford Carls P.C. at 406.577.2145.

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