Richard Gurfein—New York Trial Lawyer
“I no longer prep a case without doing a timeline!”
Three different witnesses, three different stories… In a medical malpractice case, distilling complex facts clearly can mean the difference between convincing the jury or simply confusing them. New York trial lawyer Richard Gurfein knows that the key to winning cases is organizing the facts presented by witnesses into a clear story.
When Mr Gurfein recently tried a medical malpractice case involving an injury during a birth, he used the Bee Docs Timeline to organize the medical story of the witnesses so that he could help the jury understand sequence of events.
“The records in that case came in three separate forms. There were the doctors notes during labor and delivery; the nurses’ computerized observations and the computerized fetal monitoring strips which included selective notes by the nurses. In order to be able to examine each witness on what was happening at any given time, I needed to be able to reference all three sources in one simple to read display. I used Timeline to record each entry of interest according to it’s entry time and was able to visually see the interplay, both as confirmation or as conflict, between the various people making recordings.”
The unique features of Bee Docs Timeline allowed Mr Gurfein to make a visual exhibit of the complex witness testimony without having to worry about the details of timeline layout and creation.
“The best feature is the way it automatically sets up relative times for all the entries. I also like the ability to color code entries so that each “speaker” gets their own color. In the example timeline, the doctor’s progress notes were blue, the nurse’s notes were red and the monitoring strip entries were in green.”
We asked Mr Gurfein to tell us about how he uses technology in his law practice:
BD: As a trial lawyer, why do you choose to use a Macintosh?
RG: On trial, the Mac is simple, reliable and able to handle complex jobs quickly and efficiently. One of my many hobbies is digital photography. The marriage of demonstrative evidence and digital photography allows me to take photos of the scene of an accident on my way into the office in the morning and have printed copies of the scene ready for a 10:00 AM deposition or even a trial (assuming you could introduce last minute pictures never before disclosed).
I use indexing programs like “Ready for Trial” (classic OS) and Sonar Image for finding testimony in ASCII transcripts of depositions or overnight trial testimony, Now Up-to-Date and Contact, Omni Outliner for witness testimony outlines and a host of other related and not-so-related software.
BD: How do you see technology affecting / changing legal work both now and in the future?
RG: I don’t see technology changing legal work per se. However, it does and will change the way we do that work. Today, it takes a lot of preparation to use technology in the courtroom. Some PC programs like Trialworks and Sanction are making demonstrative evidence more instantaneous, but there is still a lot of preparation. I can foresee a time when the preparation becomes automated with the trial lawyer being more and more the director of the production and not the director/editor/producer/etc.
Speed will need to increase so that the technology works as fast as the lawyer’s mind when cross examining the witness, etc.
BD: What are your favorite activities, outside of your work?
RG: I have a lot of hobbies! A partial list includes, photography, astronomy, astrophotography, amateur radio, digital video (home movies) and digital video editing, golf, sailing, computers, rollerblading, working out, etc. etc.
Right now I just bought a new single lens reflex Nikon digital camera and am experimenting with a format known as “Raw” which gives professional digital photographers greater control of the image. So I guess presently digital photography is my favorite (especially since I just became a grandpa for the first time)!
BD: Do you have any personal or legal web sites to share?
RG: Trial1.com, Inc. was created in 1997 and still designs and hosts web sites for lawyers and non-lawyers. We have links to research sites that help determine if a doctor has been disciplined, if the state has licensed the professional and other useful links.
My lawfirm site has been the source of a dozen excellent cases.