A recently released iPhone and iPad app designed for bankruptcy lawyers, Bankruptcy II, describes itself as a “complete reference for the working bankruptcy attorney.” It is an overstatement to call it complete, because it does not have cases. Aside from that, however, it has pretty much everything else a bankruptcy lawyer could ask for — the full U.S. bankruptcy code, full U.S. bankruptcy rules, local rules for almost every bankruptcy court in the United States, and contact information for all bankruptcy courts, appellate courts and trustees — all within an integrated and easy to use application.

The most impressive feature of this app is that it not only provides all this content, but that it makes it searchable, cross-indexed and hyperlinked. I have seen any number of apps for lawyers that simply load a set of legal rules but add little functionality, leaving the user to browse through them. Bankruptcy II offers true search, by key words, section numbers and rule numbers.

When you conduct a top-level search of the full code or regs, a search string can contain no more than two words. For example, you can search for “equity security” but not “equity security holder.” When you search the text of a section, there is no search-term limit.

As I said, the code and rules are all hyperlinked as well. Given that the Bankruptcy Code is full of internal cross-references, these hyperlinks are key to this app’s usability. As but one illustration, section 523, “Exceptions to Discharge,” starts with, “A discharge under section 727, 1141, 1228(a), 1228(b), or 1328(b) of this title does not discharge an individual debtor …” In Bankruptcy II, each of those cross-references is a hyperlink, allowing you to jump to the referenced section.

When you follow a hyperlink and jump to a new section, a small arrow on the page lets you jump right back to where you were, without losing your place. Another set of arrows on the page lets you browse section-by-section, backward or forward, from that place in the code or regs. When you arrive at a page by keyword search, keywords are highlighted and arrows let you jump to the next or previous occurrence of the word.

You cannot save or bookmark a search, but when you return to the search query form, your most recent search is retained there so you can easily repeat it. That means that if a search yields 10 results and you click on the first, you cannot then return to the list of results. Instead, you need to go back to the search bar, where your search terms still appear, and re-run the query.

The app has several other useful features. They include:

  • Integration with Google Maps, for finding the location of a court or trustee.
  • The ability to call or e-mail a court or trustee with one click.
  • Links to all bankruptcy court web pages.
  • Updates to the app as changes are made to any of the information it contains.

The price of the app is $29.99. That makes it the most expensive bankruptcy app for the iPhone, from what I saw. Other apps offer the bankruptcy code and bankruptcy rules, in separate apps, for as little as 99 cents each. But if Bankruptcy II is the most expensive, it is also the most feature-filled. From what I could find, it is the only one with both the code and the regs, the only one that includes the local rules, the only one that includes the court and trustee contact information, and the only one that wraps this all up in a single, integrated app, allowing quick movement from code to regs and back again.

“Why drag pounds of books to court?” asks the app’s web page. With this app, a bankruptcy lawyer can have all the essential bankruptcy law available right on his or her iPhone or iPad. And even though, as I mentioned at the outset, it doesn’t have cases, all you need is the free Fastcase app to take care of that problem.

The Bankruptcy II app is available through the Apple App Store.

My musings and those of Venkat Balasubramani over whether to shut down our blogs and start afresh with new ones garnered some attention from other legal bloggers, among them Bruce Carton today at Legal Blog Watch, Colin Samuels at Infamy or Praise, Kevin O’Keefe at Real Lawyers Have Blogs, and Ron Coleman at Likelihood of Confusion. Coincidentally, Coleman just faced a similar issue and decided to shut down one of his two blogs and focus on the other.

I also received a number of comments on my earlier post and a good number of thoughtful, helpful and kind e-mails.

I have not made a final decision, but I think Kevin made a lot of sense when he said not to focus on the name of the blog, but on the content and what you do with it. Were I to do it over again, I might choose another name. But having lived with this one for eight years, I might just stick with it.

I probably will shut down my second blog, Media Law. I may import its posts over to here or I may just leave it as is, with no further updates.

As for blogging platform, I do not intend to stay with Blogger. Instead, I will probably move to WordPress. I have used it elsewhere and really like it. The one feature of Blogger I will most miss is BlogThis!, a pop-up window that lets you grab the URL of and content from a Web page and compose your post. (Perhaps other platforms have this?)

Thanks again to everyone who took the time to write or comment. Your input has been very helpful to me.

I picked up the Boston Globe this morning and found the obituary of Dan Sharp, a friend, a lawyer and a former colleague when he and I worked together at Lawyers Weekly in the early 1990s. Seeing that his funeral was this morning, I jumped in my car and went. Afterward, when I returned to my office, I found an e-mail from the Virgin Islands bar notifying me of the death of Dave Dilts, a lawyer on St. Croix who was the first associate I ever hired when I had a law office on St. Thomas in the 1980s.

After Dan left Lawyers Weekly, he went on to establish a highly regarded law practice with his wife Elaine Whitfield Sharp. They became known internationally for their legal work on behalf of Louise Woodward, the then 19-year-old au pair convicted in 1997 in the death of the 8-month-old boy she was caring for. Dan was a tireless fighter for civil rights. Three years ago, when two of his cases were in the headlines on the same day, I sent him this e-mail:

After reading about two of your cases in the news today, it struck me how much I’ve come to respect your work as a lawyer — the cases you take, the work you put into them. Both … show the lengths you’ll go to for a client. As someone who knew you when and respected you when, I thought I’d let you know that you continue to have my respect.

Now I find out it was right around then that he learned he had a brain tumor, which he found for three years, continuing to practice law much of that time. Dan was an avid sailor, and at his funeral this morning, someone quoted him as applying to his life a lesson he learned on the water: “You can’t direct the wind, but you can adapt your sails.” A good thought to live by.

As for Dave Dilts, I know nothing more other than that he died Feb. 15 at his home on St. Croix. I hired him around 1986, when my solo practice on St. Thomas grew too busy for me to handle alone. He joined my office brimming with enthusiasm and intellect and also knew how to cook up a mean gumbo, thanks to his New Orleans roots. I last saw him two years ago, when I was on St. Croix to present a CLE program. I’m glad now that I took some time while I was there to visit him. We had beers and relived those days working together as young lawyers.

Lawyer and legal technologist Dennis Kennedy has published his annual law-related blogging awards, which he calls The Blawggies. I am happy to report that Lawyer2Lawyer, the podcast I cohost with J. Craig Williams, received the award for Best Legal Podcast — a notable achievement given that Dennis has his own outstanding podcast with Tom Mighell, The Kennedy-Mighell Report.

The honor is even greater because this is the fourth year in row that Dennis named Lawyer2Lawyer best podcast. He also awarded us Blawgies in 2008 (in a tie with Denise Howell’s This Week in Law), in 2007 and in 2006.

Both Lawyer2Lawyer and The Kennedy-Mighell Report are produced by the great folks at the Legal Talk Network.

Other Blawggie Award recipients for 2009:

Congratulations to all the honorees and thanks to Dennis. 

Back when I was a young journalism student, I handed in a story that said someone had “passed away.” My journalism professor nearly … well … killed me. “Pass away,” he bellowed, “is a weak euphemism used by those who let their discomfort with death get in the way of their reporting on it.”

“Not only that,” I remember him going on, “but ‘pass away’ suggests a transition to another place, a place that we, as journalists, are not able to confirm exists.”

Although I paraphrase, he and I really did have such an exchange. I think of it often these days because I have noticed that journalists — particularly broadcast journalists, and prominent ones at that — seem increasingly uncomfortable with saying that someone has died. Instead, they report that someone has passed away or, simply, has passed. I have even heard it used with reference to animals. Listen to the network news tonight, to NPR, or to your local news program. The epidemic use of passing away is killing off dying.

The other usage I see way too often is that someone died “unexpectedly.” Here comes that long-ago professor’s voice blasting to the surface of my memory: “While you can be certain that everyone will die, you have no way of knowing when a person will die — unless you are god. Thus, no death can be ‘expected’ and every death is ‘unexpected.’ To say so is to be redundant.”

What does this have to do with lawyers? Well, maybe I expect greater precision in language from journalists than from lawyers. But those in both professions are well advised to avoid euphemisms and call a spade a spade — even if the spade is in the hands of a gravedigger.

Thanks to the blog Social Media Law Student for the heads-up about the announcement from the New Jersey judiciary that it is adopting an array of social-media tools to keep lawyers, litigants and the public better informed of court developments.

The court system now has a Twitter feed and uses text messages to send out breaking news alerts. These cover unscheduled court closings and other high priority information. The courts also now have three RSS feeds — one for news releases, one for notices to the bar, and a third for Supreme and Appellate Court opinions.

In addition, the court system has set up a Facebook page, where it will post press releases, court information and photos of court events, and a YouTube page, where it will post videos that offer lessons in using the courts.

A few weeks ago in a post at Legal Blog Watch, I wrote about the new iPhone and iPod Touch app that ranks the 100 best law schools in the United States. The app, the Law School 100, is from LawTV Inc., the same company that publishes The Law School 100 on the Web.

Normally, the app sells for 99 cents. Today, I heard from Stan Chess, the company’s founder, that anyone who downloads the app over Labor Day weekend will get it for free. The free download starts at 12:01 a.m. Saturday and continues through 11:59 p.m. Monday.

I received an e-mail yesterday informing me of the launch of ExampleMotion, a Web site where lawyers can share — or even sell — pleadings, motions and other legal documents. Here is what the e-mail says:

ExampleMotion.com enables attorneys to share their pleadings and motions with one another online. Attorneys can log onto the site and upload their previously filed motions and pleadings, as well as download relevant samples that others have uploaded. ExampleMotion.com also allows users to store and organize their motions for free without sharing them. If a user shares uploaded documents, the price paid for any document downloaded is split between ExampleMotion.com and the attorney who originally uploaded the file, giving new value to files stored on practitioners’ hard drives.

The lawyer who uploads a document gets to set its download price, which is expected to range from free to $50. Initially, the site is focusing its efforts on California legal documents. It plans to expand into other states and welcomes attorneys from any state to upload documents now.

No account is required to search and preview documents. Documents can be searched by jurisdiction, type of law, stage of proceedings, and document type. If you choose to buy a document, you will then need to register. If you do not find the document you want, you can post a document request. It gets added to a browseable list of requests. If another user posts the document, you are notified by e-mail.

ExampleMotion was founded by two California attorneys, Valerio Romano and Daniel O’Shea.