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Archive for the ‘Legal Technology’ Columns

Stealing Your Professional Identity: Online, It’s Just Too Easy

Increasingly, professional services are available through global online platforms. It’s a popular concept and Upwork is a leading example.

Upwork is a global freelancing platform with twelve million registered independents (sellers) and five million registered clients (buyers). The result of a merger between two mega-sites (eLance and oDesk), Upwork is probably the world’s largest such platform.

Through Upwork, businesses find and work remotely with independent professionals all over the world. Hirers can find freelancers in the areas of app and software design, engineering and data science, business and administrative services, creative services such as writing and graphic design and even . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Plus Ça Change, ….

Incremental change, disruption, new approaches, … we’ve talked about these issues for a long time. A long time! I plunged into the legal KM “pool” at the turn of the century, and it seems that, 16 years on, we’re still talking about many of the same issues. Granted, there are differences now, one of the most notable being that there were no legal-specific search engines available at the time. But although such search engines are available, their high all-in cost is such that, even now, only the larger firms and in-house departments have them available.

Recently, I attended a meeting . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Pseudonymity and Online Collaboration in the Legal World

Not wanting to miss on the chance to hear from tech luminaries such as Tim O’Reilly and Reddit founder Alexis Onahian, I attended StartupFest in Montreal in mid-July. This post is about Ohanian’s talk (and the stream of thoughts that ensued) which was entitled “The Future of Community”. Since this is pretty vague, let me explain that Ohanian discussed the value of pseudonymity (and, in passing, the cuteness of bleps) and argued that pseudonymity was what allowed people to be themselves on the web and what in turn fuelled the seemingly more collaborative spirit that he observes on Reddit. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Why Do Lawyers Resist Ethical Rules Requiring Competence With Technology?

Recently, the Virginia State Bar Council voted to adopt changes to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct. The changes were based on the American Bar Association’s modifications to the Comments of Rule 1.1 respecting Competence (“…a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with technology…”) and Rule 1.6 respecting Confidentiality (“(c) A lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to prevent the unintended disclosure of, or unauthorized access to, information relating to the representation of a client.”)

What’s reasonable? The Comments go on to list relevant factors:

  1. the sensitivity of
. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Technology

The Long Tale of 2 Systems

The article, “7 Reasons Why European Cities Are Going To Beat U.S. Cities As Hubs For Innovation” reminded me of two cities: Toronto and Sydney. These cities had quite a few legal IT commonalities starting 30 years ago:

  • Both had 5 out of the 10 largest law firms standardise on lawyer-friendly graphical user interfaces (GUI) years before the rest of the legal world got it,
  • By democratising access to computers, a community of lawyers interested in lawyer-enhancing IT bloomed, and cross-pollinated each other from across the world,
  • Toronto was first out of the blocks with Peter Hart’s Legalware
. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Technology

Small Changes Can Make Big Difference

Lawyers practice in a world where technology comes in smaller pieces that are increasingly integrated. Like David Weinberger’s Small Pieces, Loosely Joined, some of the best ways to benefit from technology come from adding incremental improvements. While some software requires you to wait for a feature to be added by the developer, other tools you use every day can be extended thanks to extensions and add-ons created by others.

How to Extend Your Web Browser

Two of the most common law firm software tools are the e-mail client and the Web browser. The predominance of the Microsoft Internet Explorer . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

International Identity Management

It used to be that on the Internet, nobody knew you were a dog … or a trading partner, or a rogue. In this era of Big Data, geolocation, and light bulbs that call home, it may seem that those days are behind us.

But it’s one thing to know who somebody is in order to send them a personally targeted advertisement. It’s another to know with enough certainty to engage in large-value transactions, or to confer on them some public benefit, like a welfare payment or a student loan.

Therefore the management of identity online remains an . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

The Challenges of Developing and Maintaining a Precedent Database

Law firms have found, by hard experience, that creating and then – more important – maintaining a precedent library is a challenging task. Some firms have foundered in the seemingly straightforward process of simply creating firm precedents. Others that have succeeded in that task have found that ongoing maintenance is, if anything, even more challenging.

One firm that seems to have got it right is Gowling WLG. The person primarily responsible for this task is Graeme Coffin, the National Business Law Precedents Partner, Mark Tamminga, who is Partner, Leader of Innovation Initiatives, is working with Graeme on . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Becoming “So Good They Can’t Ignore You”: Inspiration From a Collection of Self-Help Books for the Young Lawyer in a Difficult Market

I’m not sure I’m old enough to give advice to young(er) lawyers or credible enough to give career advice in general. I’m also not sure that this post won’t be greeted with snark about the fact that I was lucky enough to be in law school at a very different time, economically at least, than what the current students and young lawyers experience. That caveat and acknowledgment that I almost “had it easy” being done, let’s dive in.

Slaw readers don’t need me to explain anything about the current state of the legal market. In Quebec, the Young Bar of . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

The Oppression of Legal Technology?

I hate talking about “legal technology.”

I mean, I love talking about the possibilities and advantages that specific types of technology can offer, but I hate it when the various types of tools and programs are reduced to a single, amorphous entity. When we do that, it’s too easy to reduce it to just “good” or “bad”. To “useful” or “hype”. Soon it becomes a choice that people must make: are you pro or con legal technology? And then we start to make assumptions about the types of people that fall into each camp and make broad claims about them. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Is Windows 10 Spying on You?

It’s hard to find statistics identifying how many people are currently running Windows 10. One thing we do know is that there were 14 million downloads within 24 hours of the release. Some estimates put the installed base at over 75 million devices. No matter what the right number is, it appears that Microsoft has added another hit operating system to its list. But is everything about Windows 10 a good thing? Not so fast. When Microsoft released Windows 10, it also updated its privacy policy. Should attorneys be concerned? The answer attorneys love to hate is…it depends. Perhaps if . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

SmartLaw

We have smartphones and smart cars are on the way, so we should not be surprised that SmartLaw gets added to the tags of BigLaw/SmallLaw, NewLaw/OldLaw, NextLaw and even LessLaw etc. But, like so much of the legal world, the “bleedingly obvious” can take a while to be noticed. While I have talked about smarter lawyers in relation to our Lawyers Workstation approach to IT, Ryan McClead’s blog article “SmartLaw: The firm of the future” was interesting due to its emphasis on the firm, rather than the lawyer.

“Smart” is a neat word: it includes connotations of style, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology