November 25, 2015

Long-held beliefs about arson science have been debunked after decades of misuse


 To this day, most fire investigators are not scientists. A recent survey of 217 fire investigators by a student from National University in San Diego found that only 14 percent had an advanced degree of any kind. Thirty-four percent had a college degree. But 13 percent had only a high school education. One percent had only a GED. A 2013 survey of 586 public sector fire investigators by two Eastern Kentucky University professors found that some myths are still commonly believed to be indicators of arson. Nearly 40 percent did not know that crazed glass is caused by rapid cooling, not rapid heating. Twenty-three percent think puddle-shaped burns indicate the use of an accelerant. Eight percent still believe that alligator blistering implies that a fire burned fast and hot.

If you have any interest in arson, whether criminal defense or civil recoveries, you need to read this article.

This article originally appeared in the December 2015 issue of the ABA Journal with this headline: "Badly Burned: Long-held beliefs about arson science have been debunked after decades of misuse and scores of wrongful convictions."

Choosing a Document Automation System - Attorney at Work

By  | Nov.18.15 | Daily DispatchDocument ManagementLegal Technology


Each good document automation system responds to very specific needs of its users. Imagine a single system that would significantly improve your work environment. Before worrying about "technicalia," though, start getting clear on what you want it to ideally accomplish. Here's a handy checklist, adapted from my book, "Working Smarter with Knowledge Tools."


November 24, 2015

Bankruptcy Forms | United States Courts

Revised Bankruptcy Forms Go Into Effect December 1

U.S. Bankruptcy Court filers and lawyers must use new forms beginning December 1, when the first modernization of bankruptcy forms in two decades takes effect.

The forms are available at, and contain major changes in organization, language and numbering. Because the new forms will be mandatory for all new cases, users of the bankruptcy system are being urged to read the forms before the change-over date. 

The new forms are easier for debtors to understand and complete, and are designed to work with scheduled enhancements to the federal courts' Case Management/Electronic Case Files system. Together the changes will reduce administrative strains, improve delivery of case information to judges, and protect debtor and creditor rights.

Read more about the new bankruptcy forms.

November 20, 2015

NYSBA | December 1, 2015: Dress for Success, NYC

Richard A. Klass, Esq.
Nov 19, 2015 5:02 PM
Richard A. Klass, Esq.

Dear Fellow Section Members:


On December 1st, our Section is having a fun and informative program called "Dress for Success" at the NY Hilton. We will have some good socializing as well.


Details are posted at

November 19, 2015

Improved Functionality for General Practice Community-NYSBA

From: Brandon Vogel
Subject: Improved Functionality for General Practice Community

It's now a one-step process from the Communities homepage. To log in, go to Cick "Sign In" and enter your NYSBA username and password. Under the Groups tab, there is now a link to "Modify Communication Settings." Here, you can change your email notifications to "Real Time" or "Plain Tex" to receive messages as they're posted.

Brandon Vogel
New York State Bar Association
Albany NY
(518) 487-5644

Firefox web browser on the App Store

Mozilla Firefox Icon

Mozilla Firefox Icon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mozilla Firefox has finally come to iOS, and you can sync it with your Apple and Android devices.

5 apps for better Gmail | The Download Blog - CNET

Gmail (iOSAndroid) may be a go-to email app on mobile, but I often go begrudgingly. For starters, my Gmail inbox is cluttered with myriad communication threads that are difficult to wade through, especially if they're drawn out with quotations and signatures and have multiple addressees. Sometimes I can't even tell where to respond. Gmail also lacks important features on mobile, such as quick access to contacts, one-swipe message deletion, and an easy unsubscribe or blocking solution. But you can improve your Gmail experience with the following five apps.

November 17, 2015

New York State Bar Association--Communities

Brandon Vogel
Nov 16, 2015 4:31 PM
Brandon Vogel

Section Members,

We have recently made some changes to improve the Communities experience for you.

1) Easier email address: If you would like to post a new discussion to the General Practice Community, simply send an email to this address (the old "nysba_generalpracticesectionne" address will still work, too). Also, you may not be aware that at the top of each real time and daily digest email message is a link to Post New Messages.

2) Ease of changing your email notifications settings: If you would like to receive emails as regularly as you did on the GP Section listserve, it's now a one-step process from the Communities homepage. To log in, go to, click "Sign In" and enter your NYSBA member log-in credentials. Under the Groups tab, there is now a link to "Modify Communication Settings." Here, you can change your email notifications to Real Time or Plain Text to receive messages as they're posted.

3) If you prefer to receive fewer email notifications, there is a new consolidated daily digest if you are a member of multiple sections (this will bring you to the Communities homepage to see further discussions). You can also add a weekly digest option if you want a roundup of posts you may have missed.

Please let me know if we can help you at all.



Brandon Vogel
New York State Bar Association
Albany NY
(518) 487-5644

November 16, 2015

Adobe Security Notification Service

The Adobe Security Notification Service is a free e-mail notification service that Adobe uses to send information to customers about the security of Adobe products. Anyone can subscribe to the service, and you can unsubscribe at any time.


When they publish bulletins, they'll describe the security issue, its impact, and how customers can protect themselves. The bulletins will also detail what actions Adobe has taken and additional resources that may be available.

November 12, 2015

Attorney General Tells DraftKings and FanDuel to Stop Taking Entries in New York - The New York Times

The New York State attorney general on Tuesday ordered the two biggest daily fantasy sports companies, DraftKings and FanDuel, to stop accepting bets from New York residents, saying their games constituted illegal gambling under state law.

The cease-and-desist order by the attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, is a major blow to a multibillion-dollar industry that introduced sports betting to legions of young sports fans and has formed partnerships with many of the nation's professional sports teams.

Given the New York attorney general's historic role as a consumer-protection advocate, legal experts said the action was likely to reverberate in other states where legislators and investigators are increasingly questioning whether the industry should operate unfettered by regulations that govern legalized gambling.

"It is clear that DraftKings and FanDuel are the leaders of a massive, multibillion-dollar scheme intended to evade the law and fleece sports fans across the country," Mr. Schneiderman said, adding, "Today we have sent a clear message: not in New York, and not on my watch."

November 11, 2015

ALM/Lexis Deal Good News for Some, But Not for Others - Robert Ambrogi's LawSites

Legal news company ALM and legal research company LexisNexis this week announced an expansion of their content licensing agreement that is good news for LexisNexis subscribers but not so good news for the rest of the legal community.

Since 2011, LexisNexis has had the exclusive license to archived content from all ALM publications, which include The American LawyerCorporate CounselThe National Law JournalLegaltech News, the Law.comwebsite, and a number of other regional and specialty publications.

Yesterday's announcement extends this relationship for an unspecified term and also opens opportunities for direct integration of ALM content into LexisNexis legal research products. According to the press release, the way ALM content is delivered through LexisNexis Newsdesk will be streamlined so it is delivered directly from ALM.

Direct integration will also mean that case law references within ALM online publications will link directly to the actual cases in Lexis Advance, according to the release. LexisNexis users will be able to use a single password to access all LexisNexis and ALM content.


Read all of Robert Ambrogi's report here.

November 10, 2015

Alcohol Detection Systems For Alcohol Prevention | Soberlink

Soberlink innovates and develops technology designed for monitoring alcohol use. The Soberlink System promotes accountability and connectivity through real-time mobile testing and alerts.

Soberlink, along with the Web Portal Sober Sky, is currently used in Family Law to help parents manage sobriety and in other settings where monitoring is beneficial.

Soberlink is the innovator of the first truly mobile handheld alcohol monitoring solution. The Soberlink Cellular is a patented, discreet cellular device that transmits breath alcohol tests directly from the Soberlink Cellular Breathalyzer to Soberlink's monitoring website. The Soberlink Cellular has a proven track record in Criminal Justice and Family Law with a presence in all 50 states and Canada. ($499.00)

The Soberlink Bluetooth smartphone breathalyzer offers the convenience of submitting breath alcohol tests through an iPhone or iPad's existing Wi-Fi or cell connection. Soberlink Bluetooth's versatility allows for mobile alcohol monitoring from virtually anywhere in the world.($299.00)

November 8, 2015

Real Estate Shell Companies Scheme to Defraud Owners Out of Their Homes - The New York Times

A review by The New York Times of several dozen cases, and interviews with lawyers, prosecutors and others knowledgeable about fraudulent deed transfers, suggests they are accelerating even as officials struggle to address them. The city's Department of Finance said it was investigating 120 cases, many of them hard to crack because of the role played by LLCs, officials said. Underscoring the rising alarm over the problem, the state attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, and the Brooklyn borough president, Eric L. Adams, held a forum last month to warn property owners about it.


November 6, 2015

Surface Pro 4 review: Microsoft's safer choice is a (deceptively) big upgrade

Will Shanklin:


If you've used a Surface Pro 3, then the Pro 4 is going to look very familiar. There aren't any major size or form factor changes, and its big upgrades come in subtle - deceptively so - places. Things like a slightly bigger and sharper screen, an improved cooling system (so the fan runs less frequently) and longer battery life.

In a nice change of pace from what we see from many companies, Microsoft is sharing one of the Surface Pro 4's biggest upgrades with owners of the Surface Pro 3. The new models' Type Cover, which is backwards compatible with the SP3, has snappier-feeling keys and a larger glass trackpad. The Pro 3 was already doing pretty well in this respect, but the new keyboard cover makes laptop mode a practically uncompromised experience.

There's also a (US$30 more expensive) Type Cover with an embedded fingerprint sensor on it, but that's a better fit for Pro 3 owners than buyers of the new model. That's because the new Surfaces have a front-facing camera with facial recognition capabilities, basically voiding out any need for a fingerprint sensor.


Read the entire review here.

iPad Pro - Improving Our Paperless World

Paul Unger:

This month, the iPad Pro will hit the market. It sports some pretty hefty features, not the least of which is a screaming fast A9X chip, which is almost twice as fast as the processor in the last iPad generation. It has a 12.9 inch screen, which makes it larger than the 12.0 inch Surface Pro 3. The keyboard is fantastic and doubles as a case, though is a bit expensive at $169. Perhaps one of my favorite features is the Apple Pencil for $99. 


November 5, 2015

Proposed Uniform Attorney Discipline Rules

The state Office of Court Administration seeks comments on the proposedtUniform Rules of the Appellate Division on Attorney Discipline. The proposed rules, announced November 4, 2015, offer "a harmonized approach to the attorney disciplinary process within the four Departments of the Appellate Division," according to OCA.

"Our Committee on Professional Discipline will review the proposal and make recommendations to our Executive Committee. We will submit our comments prior to the December 18 deadline," said New York State Bar Association President David P. Miranda.  NYSBA members can email comments to the Association at:

The proposed OCA rules are available by clicking here and scrolling down.

November 2, 2015

Review: Apple TV (2015 edition) - iPhone J.D.

Jeff Richardson:

The fourth generation of the Apple TV went on sale this past Friday.  I bought one and have had a chance to use it over the weekend.  If you have used either of the two prior models of the Apple TV (the second generation came out in 2010; the third generation in 2012), there is much that is similar.  You still have a home screen with icons, and you scroll down to see more icons.  Some features have barely changed at all from the prior model except for an updated interface, such as the ability to use Home Sharing to stream your music, photos and videos (purchased or home videos) from a Mac on your home network that is running iTunes.  But one thing is very different, and it has the potential to make the Apple TV infinitely better than prior models:  the ability to download apps.

Read Jeff's comprehensive review here.

October 30, 2015

MAC USER: The Apple Watch | Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division

Victoria L. Herring ( practices in Des Moines, Iowa, in an office that has used only Apple/Macs since the early 1980s.

I'm just old enough to remember the comic strip Dick Tracy and its image of the detective talking into his wristwatch, a two-way radio. The Apple Watch can be seen as something similar, but it's more than that. Plus, it's a bit weird to be talking into your wrist, even if there's an Apple Watch on it, so that is not something you'll do all that often.

I did not buy my Apple Watch immediately. I decided to wait and see the early reviews. Besides, I am not in the habit of wearing a watch and normally just look around for a clock or pull out my iPhone to check the time. However, after a few weeks I decided to go ahead and buy an Apple Watch, hoping it would be a good investment. Of course, I didn't buy the top-of-the-line model, not having an extra $17,000 for the gold Apple Watch Edition. Instead, I opted for the $349 Apple Watch Sport with a black sport band and a 38 mm space gray aluminum case. I now have some views on how the Apple Watch has already or will in the future impact my life.

Read the entire review here.

National Information Center

The National Information Center (NIC) is a central repository of data about banks and other institutions for which the Federal Reserve has a supervisory, regulatory, or research interest, including both domestic and foreign banking organizations operating in the United States. This web site provides access to NIC data, allowing the public to search for detailed information about banking organizations. 

October 27, 2015

ABA Law Student Podcast by Legal Talk Network on iTunes

Presented by the American Bar Association's Law Student Division, the ABA Law Student Podcast covers issues that affect law students, law schools, and recent grads. From finals and graduation to the bar exam and finding a job, this show is your trusted resource for the next big step.