• Custom Short URL Generator

    UMKC School of Law URL ShortnerHaving a short URL generator was among the features I planned to implement for the University of Missouri – Kansas City School of Law website. However, I didn’t anticipate the high number of requests I received for this service. In 2016, I decided to dedicate the built-in URL shortner feature in the website (WordPress plugin) to internal links within the website. Links to sub-categories or articles that the default URL will be too long to easily remember. In addition I installed an open source URL Shortner platform on a different server with a new domain name For this platform I used YOURLS, an open source PHP and MySQL based application to create short urls. This application is accessible through the web interface and also through plugins for Chrome and Firefox browsers. It is now available for staff and faculty, and it has been used to generate short urls for events, RSVP forms, scholarship applications, and other temporary links.

  • Attendance System That Works - Converting Critics to Champions

    UMKC Attendance App

    Several years ago, I was introduced to a home-grown mobile application that allowed students to check in to classes and allowed instructors to keep track of attendance in a paperless format. The application back then had horrible reviews and no further efforts were made to improve it.

    Recently, due to staffing changes among other things, I was asked to figure out a better way to manage attendance for the law school. Per the American Bar Association standards, regular class attendance is required as a condition for receiving course credit. So, having a good attendance tracking process is a necessity for law schools.

    There are several off-the-shelve products to manage attendance. Some of them are embedded with learning management systems. Others are stand-alone programs. But none of them answered all our needs:

    • Allow self-checking,
    • Allow support staff to manage classes,
    • Generate real-time attendance reports,
    • Little or no maintenance is required,
    • And finally, a system that can also work for those who prefer to take attendance on paper.

    Instead of investing in a commercial solution that might not work well for us, I decided to bring the existing application and work with the original developers to improve it.

    In the first semester we used the new attendance system, it was a disaster. It was buggy. Attendance records were inaccurate. We were spending more time recording attendance using the application than we did with paper. Overall, it was not going to work and something needed to be done. Purchasing an existing solution was out of the question. Our only solution was to fix what we have.

    With the support of my Dean and the original development team, we dedicated two improvement sprints to fix the existing issues and add much-needed improvements.

    As of this time, we have a functional system and I haven’t heard a single complaint.

    The Attendance App development by UMKC IS team is composed of two platforms. A dedicated mobile application is available for Apple iOS and Google Android that students can use to check in to classes as well as check their attendance history. And an online platform that allows instructors and authorized users to manage their class and track attendance.

    Most of the work was done on the online platform and so far we have been able to accomplish the following:

    • Custom check-in time for classes.
    • Possibility to cancel a class time or add a new one.
    • Possibility to set a maximum number of absences allowed and send email notification when a student reaches that number and another email when they pass it.
    • Possibility to update attendance records in bulk.
    • Classes and users are synchronized daily with the campus registrar system.
    • Quick preview of total absences for the entire class.
    • Detailed report of attendance for each student.
    • The overall report of attendance for all students and all classes (available only to the Deans).

    In the future, we hope to be able to add additional improvements such as adding a class roster and a seating chart.

    What made this project challenging and also exciting is that changes were made in real-time. For some, the process was stressful, and opted out of the real-time tracking features.  to Others were more engaged with the process and didn’t hesitate to share their feedback with the developing team.

    One thing for sure is that users appreciate when they are consulted and given the opportunity to participate in the development of solutions that they (alone) will be using. This strategy allowed me to convert the most critical members to champions knowing they can trust me on making sure their needs and concerns are being met.

  • Being (law) technology competent

    technology competence

    The following is a summary of a continuing legal education class on ethics of law and technology I was invited to co-present:

    Lawyers (in the US) are bounded by the rules of the American Bar Association known as ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct. They prescribe the standards of legal ethics and professional responsibilities for lawyers such as conflict of interest, fees, confidentiality, scope of representation , and of course competence (Rule 1.1.)

    In the past, lawyers were evaluated on their competency based on their experience and knowledge of the substance of the law in their practice areas. As technology evolved, so did the rules and the scope of competency.

    In 2012, the ABA modified Rule 1.1 to require lawyers to stay abreast of changes in the law and its practice including the benefits and the risks associated with relevant technologies. As of 2019, 36 states adopted the ABA section regarding the need for lawyers to maintain their technology competency.

    While the Model Rules do not require lawyers to be technological experts, all lawyers are required to have at least a basic understanding of technologies they and their clients use.

    Furthermore, lawyers should differentiate between technology-related security measures that are ethically required and security measures that are merely considered best practices.

    Being hang-up on best practices, may result in unnecessary expenses that will be passed on to clients or worse, decide to abandon the idea of adopting new technologies that can potentially improve processes and provide better services to clients.

    My reasoning is based on my personal experience talking to lawyers and other professionals on this topic. The common example I hear is the use of encrypted emails. Email is the less secured mean of communication and best practices is to avoid using it when sending sensitive information. One solution to mitigate this risk is to install an encryption system to secure the transfer of messages and eliminate the risk of having them intercepted in the process. However, email encryption is a complicated process and constitute a huge inconvenience that most people either not use email for this purpose at all or use it and shift the risk to the client through disclaimers as an example.

    This is where training and staying abreast with changes in technologies become necessary. In the past years, several secure and affordable alternatives became available to allow users to engage in secured communications without breaking the bank while still having an pleasant experience.

    There are several ways lawyers can learn about new technology trends and learning opportunities. The most common ones is to check continuing education programs offered by community colleges and schools. They often provide programs focused on one subject over a short period of time. They are also tailored toward adult learners making the material practical and less overwhelming. Public libraries are another place where learning about technology take place. In addition to regular technology workshops, some libraries provide access to dedicated online training programs such as LinkedIn Learn (formerly as part of their free resources.

    The ABA TECHREPORT is another place to learn about technology trends in the legal field and what other lawyers are using or lacking for that matter. The report is published annually and provide analysis of the ABA Legal Technology Survey as well as some valuable recommendations.

    Finally, we live in age of Youtube tutorials and DIY attitude. If you have a question about how to (fill in the bank), someone else probably published a step-by-step guide on how to do it online. With simple search techniques and ability to quickly identify relevant content out of the noise, you should be able to teach yourself anything you want.

    I find this topic very fascinating and I‘m glad I had the opportunity to share what I know. I you are a lawyer, I have one advise for you. You need to up your game on technology competency, for your sake and, even more so, for the sake of your clients.

  • Collaborating Across Disciplines and Schools to Bridge the Justice Gap with Legal Technology

    CALICon. June 16, 2022

    Lessons Learned: Developing Protection Order Portals

    Description: This presentation highlights the innovative projects and cross-disciplinary collaboration of the Legal Technology Laboratory (LTL), a Kauffman Foundation-supported initiative. The LTL brings together law school faculty, students, and innovators from diverse fields to develop technology-assisted solutions and data-driven policy for social, civic, and economic development challenges in the legal industry.

    The speaker will update the audience on the progress of LTL's portfolio, which comprises over a dozen projects with project leaders from 11 universities' law schools and participation from 15 additional academic institutions, industry collaborators, and organizations. Attendees will learn how to benefit from LTL's cross-disciplinary and school collaboration and resources, enabling law students and faculty to work with other innovators to bridge the justice gap through legal technology.


    • Barbara Glesner Fines. Dean & Rubey M. Hulen Professor of Law

    The information provided in this presentation is for educational purposes only. The opinions expressed in this presentation and on the following slides are solely those of the presenters and not necessarily those of our clients and partners.

  • E-Textbooks for law school

    My e-textbook and note-taking setup
    My e-textbook and note-taking setup

     When it comes to textbooks, law students are in a big disadvantage. Law textbooks are expensive. In one semester, a law student can easily spend well over a thousand Dollars in required textbooks alone. The frustration is even worst, when a book is rarely if ever used in class.

    Some students opt to rent a textbook which is cheaper than buying new or even a used copy. This is a wise choice knowing that after the exam, most textbooks (especially casebooks) are pretty useless. However, for classes that spread over two semesters, renting a book will cost the same as buying a new copy.

    Some books can be purchased used if you are lucky enough to be able to use an older edition for your class. However, it's hard to get a used book without any marking or highlighting.

    Finally, some student organizations also collect donated books and make them available to students for free or at a very low price.

    However, another option that few students are aware of is to buy e-textbooks. A Civil Procedure book, for example, from West Academic Publishing (west) costs $261 and comes with the print book, a lifetime digital access to a downloadable eBook, a 12-month online access to self-assessment quizzes, study aids, Gilbert® Law Dictionary, audio lectures, and an outline starter. For $195.75, you can get the whole package minus the print book. Same book new on Amazon costs $236.99 but it doesn't come with any of the other resources provided by the publisher.

    So, having the eBook format not only will save you money, it also comes with additional resources to supplement the lecture.

    I have been using the e-textbooks from West exclusively for my classes and so far, I like it.

    In general, I prefer to read eBooks rather than paper-based books. It's more efficient. I can take notes, highlight, search, and I can print if I have to. My current setup is to have Microsoft OneNote and my e-textbook side-by-side. I can read and follow the discussion during the class, while reviewing and taking notes. Switching between books is easy as switching between tabs. And my footprint is limited to my computer.

    However, West eBook viewer is based on an outdated open source Flash library from the year 2007 called Yahoo! Astra. It looks and feels like a 2007 website. It's slow, non-responsive, won't load on modern mobile devices, and is missing many of the features you would expect in any modern eBook viewer.

    But this lack of features and flexibility is not limited to West Academic Publishing. Many vendors are developing their own digital rights management (DRM) methods to control access to their resources. This is perhaps the biggest concerns for the eBook industry and the main reason while we still don't have an eBook standard that allows for the interoperability of eBooks independently of software and hardware.

    So sticking to a paper-based textbook is not a bad idea after all. If you can swallow the cost and support the heavy weight of the books, you won't have to deal with DRM and the non-standardization of eBooks.

    Final note: the issue with eBooks is not limited to academic resources. If you are engaged in leisure-reading, you will face the same limitation. If you buy an eBook from Amazon, you are stuck with a MOBI file that only works on an Amazon Kindle device. Same if you buy from other providers. However, the cost for academic books is outrageously expensive. Perhaps it is time to seriously push for Open Educational Resources.

  • Electronic Portfolios

    Cheryl Hom PortfolioElectronic portfolios are a great way to engage students in an active learning process by giving them the opportunity to gather, record, and reflect on their own work. The value of portfolios goes beyond the classroom as they can also

    be used to help students during the transition between education and employment.

    At the UMKC School of Law, I introduced video-based portfolios to graduating students as a portable solution to gather and share their work at the school with potential employers. I used Mediasite by Sonic Foundry as platform. Each portfolio starts by a video where the students introduce themselves and talk about their goals. The portfolios include video clips from class exercises, competitions, testimonials as well as links to other materials and relevant work.

    Example: Cheryl Hom - UMKC School of Law

  • First-Party Data, the "Holy-Grail" for marketers

    Interview by Andre Hawkins (@andyjayhawk) - The Verge (9/26/2019)


    For Uber, increasing user engagement in their Mobile App is the key to a better return on investment.

    "We will be able to monetize it one way or another" says Uber CEO (1).

    In post General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) era, marketers are struggling to make use of third-party data pushing the first and second-party data adoption to new heights. Under GDPR, companies are required to gain explicit consent from their customers to collect and share their personal information. Third-party data is aggregated from various sources bought and sold on data exchange markets. Often buyers of third-party data have no means to verify how the data has been collected, and if the consent was obtained making it useless for any legitimate use.

    Second-party data, on the other hand, is obtained from the collectors directly making it transparent and secure. In 2018, LOTAME, a data management platform, registered a 460% growth in second-party data adoption globally (2). 

    But, first-party data is regarded as the "Holy-Grail" for marketers:

    "First party data is defined as data that your company has collected directly from your audience -- made up of customers, site visitors, and social media followers. "First party" refers to the party that collected the data firsthand to use for re-targeting." Lotame (3).

    As explained by Uber's CEO, the pure quality of data allows companies to better understand their customers and eventually achieve a stronger return on investment (ROI). With machine learning and predictive analytics, companies are now able to predict their customers' patterns and personalize content and advertisements.

    In 2019, the average U.S. adult will spend 2 hours and 55 minutes per day on their smartphone (4). The more time you spend in an app, the faster the machine will learn about your online behavior.

    While the GDPR and the soon to take effect California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) aims to protect the right of consumers to freely navigate the web without being followed and harassed by unsolicited advertisements, no regulation is in place yet to control or limit the use of data "consensually " obtained. After all, Cambridge Analytica didn't break any laws by harvesting the personal data of millions of Facebook users. Using complex terms of use, companies are free to aggregate, track, and make sense of their users' digital interactions to increase their ROI. Their excuse is that it is the "right thing to do" in order to provide better services to consumers.

    On the other hand, policymakers are now looking at ways to curb design techniques responsible for the proliferation of technology addiction and its harmful consequences among users. In July 2019, Senator Hawley of Missouri introduced a bill to do just that (5). The bill referred to as the ‘‘Social Media Addiction Reduction Technology Act’’ or ‘‘SMART Act’’, if enacted, will prevent social media companies from using techniques such as infinite scroll and autoplay. It will also force companies to proactively limit the time users spend on their apps and be more transparent about their usage.

    It is without a doubt that the time has come for technology companies to join forces with regulators and privacy advocates to find better ways to collect, use, and share data in a responsible manner.









  • Guide to TCC E-books

    This guide was first designed to assist students, staff, and faculty members of Tarrant County College District (Texas) using the library's e-book collection. In its second version (2013), it provides further details and tips on how to access public domain e-books as well as DRM-free e-books available online.
    The guide also features illustrated tutorials as well as video tutorials on how to get more out of your iPad, Nook Color, and Kindle Fire devices by using third-party applications and independent e-book providers.
    The guide is available as a LibGuide (HTML), EPUB ebook, and MOBI ebook.

  • Law Library Recording Studio

    UMKC Law Library Recording Studio

    Not many libraries have recording studios. But what makes this one special, is that it was a DIY project completed by a dedicated team at UMKC Law Library. Together we were able to convert a plain study room into a functional recording studio open to students, staff, and the community. In six months, the studio was used 44 times to record video interviews and class assignments, conduct video calls and conferences, capture lectures and take makeup exams.

    In total we spent less than $3,000 to rehab the space, build sound proofing panels, and purchase audio, video, and lighting equipment.

  • Learn Exactly How to Build a Fully Automated Online Client Intake Form

    This presentation was offered as a CLE Webinar in May 2020. It is available on-demand from UMKC School of Law CLE. The slides and associated material is available below.


    The Coronavirus pandemic has forced many attorneys to work from home. Whether you were already planning to automate some aspects for your practice or you are jut considering this option now, this webinar will help you build a reliable and secure client intake system.

    This webinar will explore JotForm as an online client Intake form and automation solution applied to legal service practices. An online client intake form helps prevent important information from being overlooked and cuts down dramatically on data entry and document management.

    Learning objectives:

    • Overview of JotForm
    • Understanding the form elements
    • Third-party widgets
    • Conditional logic
    • Email notifications
    • Third-party platforms integration
    • Publishing a form
    • Managing reports
    • The mobile application




  • Moustaqbal Mdinti

    Moustaqbal Mdinti Project was an online coverage of the legislative election of Morocco in 2007.

    With Guelzim Abdellatif, we have produced 66 short videos with students, artists, scholars, political leaders, human right activists, lawyers. Our main question was: “what are your expectations from the upcoming elections?”

    The project was successful and has been widely covered by national and international media. Click here to visit the website. Press archive: newspapers, online, TV, Radio

  • Open Source Case Management System for Law School Clinics

    Open Source Case Management System for Law School ClinicsThe push for experiential learning among law schools brought a new set of challenges for faculty and administrators. In a family law clinic for example, law students are asked to collect, process, and securely preserve confidential information. Faculty are expected to effectively assign cases, securely communicate with their clients, and have an effective way to measure and assess the overall operation and productivity of their clinics.

    My goal is to build a comprehensive and open source case management system for law school clinics that will increase customer satisfaction, provide students with a complete hands-on-experience, and allow faculty and administrators to make informed decisions.

  • Repurposed Laptop Project

    This project, funded by a Title III Grant, consists of repurposing old Dell Latitude PP01L laptops into attractive digital exhibition platforms to be used at Tarrant County College Northeast Campus Library to support student success.

    Goals and objectives:

    • Develop a digital exhibition program open to students, faculty and staff providing exposure and recognition.
    • Increase library attendance and use of its services to support student success.
    • Market the library services and events among students, faculty and staff.
    • Provide exhibition users the opportunity to become part of a digital publishing project that will be housed in the TCC NE Library Archives.
  • le portail de la ville de Salé is a web portal dedicated to my home town Salé. It was launched in 2002 as a platform for news, culture and local events. Soon, it became a source for local and national news by excellence. The most popular section on the website was the coverage of the annual festivals in the country. I succeeded to gather a team to help maintain and feed the portal with exclusive content. By 2007 I launched Selwane.TV the webTV of the city (an award winning website) and amwaj that was dedicated to Bouregreg development project. and its sister websites are still available online as a precious archive.

  • le portail de l'Aita et chant populaire Marocain is a unique website dedicated entirely to “Al Aita”. I started this project with my father Ahmed Ajmi (photo) in 2007 by acquiring, digitalizing, and organizing old vinyl discs and cassettes.

    Now, receives contributions from all over the world. It has more than 2,000 songs, more than 600 photos and many lyrics. It also includes other endangered genres of music in Morocco like “Malhoun” and “Aita Jablia peut être trouvé ici.”


  • Student's Role in Driving Technology Adoption in Classrooms

    Google Glass


    Part of my job is to investigate new technologies and see how they can be used in an educational environment to improve teaching and learning. While the majority of faculty are averse to change and fear that adding new tech to their class will distract them and their students, others embrace the change and are constantly trying new delivery format and tools that will help their students achieve their learning and intellectual development.

    Over the years, I had the chance to experiment and introduce several new technologies to classrooms such as Google Glass, 360-degree cameras, and more recently drones. While the innovative aspect of technology was enough to drive attention to it, I couldn't make these tools permanent in the classroom. (You can read about the opportunities and challenges I faced with Google Glass and Kodak PixPro).

    However, one major factor that I have neglect was the student role in driving the adoption of these new technologies. I would have never considered this factor until I became a law student myself.

    Law students simply don't have any incentives to test or use any new technology while in school. There is a reason why first year students are not encouraged to work. They simply don't have time to do anything else. They can barely keep up with assignments and readings for their classes. Also, students in general study for the exam. While, my goal might be to find better tools for them to understand a subject. Their goal is to find the shortest route to get an A.

    This is mostly true in the core legal courses that have been taught in the same manners for decades.

    Students have more flexibility and an incentive to use new programs and tools in experiential learning courses. These courses are often not available to first year students, generally not required, and definitely not part of the Bar exam.

    While newly graduated law students will be immediately subject to the ABA Model Rules of Competence and will be required to show some understanding of technologies and be able to maintain that competency, law schools, by being stuck in the same old way of teaching, are missing the opportunity to instill technological curiosity early on their students' career.

  • Study Room Schedule Display

    study room schedule displayThe Study-Room Schedule Display is part of an ongoing initiative at the UMKC School of Law Leon E. Bloch Law Library where we are collaborating with graduate computer science students in developing web and mobile applications to improve productivity and communication.

    The goal of this particular project is to create an efficient system to manage the library study rooms by providing a real-time synchronization with the university room scheduling system AdAstra.

  • Switching from Macbook Pro to a Chromebook

    Google Chromebook Beta - circa 2011

    When Apple issued its MacBook Pro recall, because of battery overheating concerns, I decided to switch to Google Chromebook while it is being repaired. I have a couple of Chromebooks that we lend to students at the library. Chromebooks are perfect for basic day to day activities. I was wondering if it can replace my regular laptop. So I gave it a try.  

    I used a low-end Acer CB3-532 15-inch model. Other than the screen and mouse track, which are horrible, everything is working just fine. Since most Google Chromebooks now support Google Android Apps, you can practically access any extension you need. Another way to look at it, a Google Chromebook is like a 15-inch Android Smartphone with a keyboard and a mouse.   

    Native Chromebook applications work the best. Other Android applications designed for mobile phones are glitchy or just look awkward in a larger screen.  

    My first challenge was passwords management. It's overwhelming how many passwords I have accumulated over the years. This task was handled in the back-end by my default browser Mozilla Firefox. So, I decided to give Mozilla's password manager Lockwise a try. While it doesn't have a Google Chrome browser extension yet, I downloaded the Android version and it worked just fine.

    Next was email. I often check Outlook Exchange on a browser. With a few clicks, I'm usually able to send and receive emails pretty quickly. But this is not like Gmail, Outlook web version is limited. So I decided again to download Outlook for Android App. The app works great for tablets and it worked fine for a Chromebook as well.   

    Then I moved to Microsoft Office. I don't have Office 365 subscription with my Enterprise Account, so I had to rely on my personal account to access Word Online. For some reason, you can use Microsoft Word online for free but you need an active Office 365 subscription to use the mobile application. I'm familiar with Word Online, especially within Box environment. I use it all the time for collaboration or for quick word processing. However, the web version is not as feature rich as its desktop counterpart. A whole lot more is missing than I can ignore.  

    The limitations of Chromebook are also noticeable when it comes to advanced photo and video editing. While decent applications like Photoshop Express or Google’s acquisition Snapseed are available for mobile devices, their features are limited to lightweight work, mostly for social media consumption such as applying filters or text overlay. Don't even think about editing a video in a Chromebook.   

    What is clear, is that most of these legacy software that are built originally for desktop computers, unless they are redesigned for mobile devices from the ground up, they will never be able to provide the same experience. You end up with a lightweight solution that allows you to access files remotely on any device but barely do any work.  

    If the whole idea of a Chromebook is to be able to run Android applications then why do we even need another device to do that? Samsung and Huawei have built-in desktop mode for some of their flagship phones. This feature allows users to connect their smartphones to a monitor and peripherals creating a desktop computer powered by the device.   

    Another thing I should emphasize is that when you don't buy into a single ecosystem, you will be doing a lot of gymnastics to get your work done. Life is much easier if you have a G Suite subscription, use an Android phone, and don't mind handling your life over to Alphabet inc. or Apple, or Microsoft for that matter.  

  • White Paper: Technology and Self-Help Centers in State Court Systems

    Technology and Self-Help Centers in State Court Systems. Assessing the Need and Offering Solutions

    This white paper examines the effectiveness of self-help tools offered by state court systems in response to the pandemic and describes the solutions CiviLaw.Tech offers to create a more robust technological response to the issues litigants face when representing themselves in court.


    COVID-19 and the subsequent measures to limit its spread have had a disruptive effect on all aspects of our lives, including access to legal services and court operations. It strained an already overwrought CJ system, highlighting issues with case backlogs, evidence-sharing, and file storage.

    At the same time, COVID-19 was a catalyst for the court to accelerate the deployment of digital solutions, such as virtual hearings, electronic filing for attorneys, and in some states, the implementation of a centralized case management system. Thanks to grants from the state's Federal Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding Program, courts were able to respond to the immediate challenges caused by the pandemic.

    Still, the limitations of in-person access to resources (i.e. self-help centers, court libraries, and court clerks) and the dependence on paper-based processes continue to exacerbate the lack of access to legal services for self-help litigants, especially low-income citizens and those with time-sensitive matters, such as emergency protection orders.

    The impact of the last several years offers opportunities. This report reviews the varied ways that state court systems have attempted to meet the needs of the public. Some can be leveraged as best practices, while others highlight barriers that pose risks to achieving the optimum outcome of greater access to justice.

    Finally, this report outlines the solutions that CiviLaw.Tech can offer court systems, with highlights of systems already being used in several courts throughout the country.