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Archive for the ‘Legal Technology’ Columns

Working With Lawyers – Tech Adoption

You can’t talk about legal technology without talking about, and to, lawyers. Also vodka. Kidding.

Anyone who has spent more than an hour trying to get lawyers to use pretty much anything other than Word and Outlook will know that adoption is a Sisyphean task. Lawyers have a general negative reaction to anything you show them. They expect perfection and ease of use, and hate any disruption to their normal (though admittedly imperfect) workflow.

I don’t pretend I’m a change expert (except on my resume, obviously), but I have had some success in (1) convincing lawyers to just try the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Looking at Women’s Contribution to Computing to Learn How to Fix the Internet

As you may be aware, something was brewing at CanLII in recent weeks (and months) so I skipped my last turn as columnist. This means my last post here was the one I wrote before the holidays.

When I write something and (finally) ship it, the mere fact of reading it “in production” makes me see new flaws that I didn’t even come close to seeing while I was in the thick of drafting. I’m sure many of us are like that. The flaw I saw with my last post when live on Slaw was that while the multiplication . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

The Dark Side of Cloud Computing

We have said for many years that the cloud will generally protect a law firm’s data better than the law firm would itself. As more and more law firms adopt Microsoft Office 365, thereby moving to the cloud, we have come to the conclusion that a few words of caution are in order when law firms entrust their data to the cloud.

With huge volumes of law firm confidential data (and data from other verticals) moving to the cloud, it is no wonder that the bad guys are taking aim at the clouds. And there seems to be a shift . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Is the Blockchain Too Expensive?

For at least a year now, the magic word in technology circles has been “blockchain” – the accretive cryptographic system behind Bitcoin and other virtual currencies.

A distributed ledger

A blockchain serves as a distributed ledger, a record of transactions or other information that is secure from alteration and that operates without any central authority. Its security derives from the digital signatures required to affect the record. It foregoes a central authority by residing simultaneously on very large numbers of computers on its network (which is what “distributed” means in this context, in contrast with “centralized”.) Each such computer contains . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

What to Do When Your Data Is Breached

“When, not if.” This mantra among cybersecurity experts recognizes the ever-increasing incidence of data breaches. In an address at a major information se­curity conference in 2012, then-director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Robert Mueller put it this way: “I am convinced that there are only two types of companies: those that have been hacked and those that will be. And even they are converging into one category: companies that have been hacked and will be hacked again.”

Mueller’s observation is true for at­torneys and law firms as well as small businesses through Fortune 500 companies. There have . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Electronic Wills Down Under and Closer to Home

This column canvasses some recent developments in the law affecting electronic wills and reviews the Canadian position.

The forms an electronic will might take have been tested down under in recent years. Consider if the law anywhere in Canada would have, or should have, produced similar results.

Australia

In Yu, Re [2013] QSC 322, the High Court of Queensland gave probate to a will contained in the iPad of the deceased Mr. Yu, who had killed himself. The will was done up like a traditional will, i.e. with the heading ‘last will and testament’, and it contained many of the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

What Lawyers Need to Know About Blockchain

As I am writing this, one bitcoin is traded at about USD$17,600. In 2013, bitcoin traded at about USD$100. I thought it was a scam at the time and did not buy any. Since then I’ve changed my mind and started thinking, writing, and building about and around bitcoin and other blockchain technologies. It helped that I am both a computer programmer and a lawyer and that I had economics training. So if you are a lawyer and you missed the bitcoin rush but interested in catching up in your knowledge, read on.

Bitcoin is one way of using a . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology, Practice of Law

Beware the Legal Precedent

Any legal tech company or firm that tries to systematize legal agreements have faced the challenge of finding that perfect agreement as the precedent for automation. That perfect agreement, be it shareholder agreement, employment agreements, or a master service agreement that all lawyers can agree on, that will be the perfect epitome of that agreement. Without such a thing, firms and legal technology companies alike are left with little hope of standardizing and automating a key legal task: the drafting of legal agreements.

There are many reasons law firms and legal tech companies would want to identify a model agreement: . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

7 Reasons to Celebrate Legal Research and the Fact That It’s There to Stay

In his book What Technology Wants, Kevin Kelly (the founding executive editor of Wired magazine) writes that:

History is rife with cases of misguided technological expectations from the inventors themselves. Thomas Edison believed his phonograph would be used primarily to record the last-minute bequests of the dying. The radio was funded by early backers who believed it would be the ideal device for delivering sermons to rural farmers. Viagra was clinically tested as a drug for heart disease. The internet was invented as a disaster-proof communications backup. Very few great ideas start out headed toward the greatness they eventually . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Technology

December 2017: A Late ILTA Recap and the Re-Flourishing of the Document Management System

In August I attended ILTACON, which bills itself as “the premier educational and networking event for the legal sector…ILTACON is the best place to learn what works, what doesn’t and what’s next in legal technology.” This conference is always highly anticipated and always delivers. It’s run and organized well, with excellent panels and a fantastic vendor hall. It’s a four and a half day whirlwind event, leaving everyone exhausted.

I really loved the conference app– a wonderfully built-out tool with session descriptions, tags, ability to choose sessions and add photos. It was a great help in deciding which sessions to . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

A Dozen Disaster Recovery Tips From the ABA Law Practice Division

From co-author Nelson: Normally, I write SLAW columns with Sensei VP John Simek, but in light of the recent and horrific disasters experienced by American law firms, I teamed up with Jim Calloway, Director of Management Assistance Program at Oklahoma Bar Association, to offer these disaster recovery tips.

  1. Immediately after a disaster, there is only one thing that matters – human life. Do what you can possibly do to help those in need and to ensure the safety of those who work with and for you. Supply your employees with all the support resources you can.
  2. Establish communications. Hopefully,
. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Technology

Can Computer Programs Produce Legal Arguments?

“Today, we look for information. In the future, information will look for us,” says Dr. Ya-Qin Zhang, Ph.D. and president of Baidu, one of China’s largest Internet companies and a leader in global artificial intelligence (AI).

AI systems have generated much speculation and it has many lawyers, including myself, wondering if lawyers could be replaced by robots. Personally, I thought the headlines that say lawyers would be replaced by computers was a bit exaggerated. Take persuasion and negotiation, or formulating legal arguments in court, or assessing the credibitility of a witness for example. I find it hard to believe that . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology