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Archive for the ‘Legal Technology’ Columns

Your Passwords S****

One of the most significant threats to client confidential and private information in law firms is bad passwords. Unless lawyers and paralegals are substantially different from the general public, we’re using the same bad practices when we create and re-use passwords as everyone else.

You’ve already heard all the suggestions on using better passwords, so I will leave that dead horse alone. In fact, I’ll suggest that you forget it. If you think you can create sufficient secure passwords for all of your offline and online accounts and devices, you’re a better person than me. The rest of us should . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Using Raspberry Pi and Open Source to Understand Technology

Do you ever wonder about how all that tech that you’re using every day really works? What powers all those social networks that seem so important? Is that website really magic? How does Dropbox work anyway? Building and managing all this tech was once the arena of specialists, developers, programmers, system administrators and such. This is no longer true.

Thanks to advances in technology it’s possible for you to hold a fully functional Internet server in the palm of your hand. Add in a handful of open source software and you’re well on your way to understanding just how all . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

R.I.P. Van Winkle?

While many might have given up on AI in law due to its special challenges, interest is stirring nearby. IBM’s Watson ingestion of millions of journal pages, medical evidence and patient records, means that it is allegedly better at diagnosing cancer than human doctors. Meanwhile Google has been buying up the world’s top machine learning experts and their companies, with the latest being UK-based DeepThink. It is in part explained by the fact that Google’s engineering director Ray Kurzweil is a relentless inventor and an artificial intelligence pioneer. While Google helps make us smarter now, Kurzweil believes that AI will . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Brainspray and the Law

[Vocabulary Watch] ‘Brainspray’ – Electrical and other signals given off by the brain that are detectable – and increasingly usable – for various purposes.

Science, medicine and commerce

It is widely known that much of the functioning of our brain is done by electrical impulses, or at least that its functioning creates electrical impulses. Since the invention of the electroencephalograph (EEG) many decades ago, these impulses have been measurable. In recent years, they have become subject to increasingly subtle interpretation as well. Science is beginning to know what the measured impulses mean and to be able to use . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Sign on the Dotted Line

Hardly a day goes by that I am not asked to sign a document and return it. Most of these documents come to me via email as attachments. In some cases it is a nice fillable PDF form, but often it is a Microsoft Word document with a series of underscores made to look like form fields to indicate where I am to place my signature and provide other information. To keep this “form” in Microsoft Word and fill it in I would spend a lot of time reformatting the document as one cannot actually fill in the fields, but . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Will XP Be Attacked in April 2014?

Unless you’ve been hibernating, you know that support for Windows XP SP3 will end on April 8, 2014. This means that Microsoft will not be providing any security updates after that date. Should you care and quickly run out and purchase an upgraded operating system? Many critics are claiming that Microsoft is stopping support in order to increase sales of the more current operating system software. Others are predicting that the sky will fall as hackers are just waiting to release their latest malware right after April 8th. We believe that there will be attempts to compromise Windows . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Design for Findability Not Just Search

find∙a∙bil∙i∙ty n. – “the ease with which information contained on a website can be found, both from outside the website (using search engines and the like) and by users already on the website”

I prefer this term to “search” as it focuses on outcomes (how easy it is to find something), rather than inputs (what someone may or may not put into a search box). It also transfers the onus onto those in KM to make something really easy to find, rather than on lawyers knowing what they should or shouldn’t be typing into that box.

I’ve . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Be More Open on Your Android

Google’s Android operating system is open source. The rest of the software on your Android tablet or smart phone may be a mixture of commercial, freemium, and other business models, including free, ad-driven apps. Lawyers and other legal professionals will find high quality open source apps in the Google Play store but you can get to them more cleanly by using the F-Droid package manager.

Alternate Android app stores abound: Amazon has one, as do Opera and many of the phone makers. Amazon’s store is an app on your device, and offers a free app each day. Opera . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Fiduciaries’ Access to Digital Assets


As people carry out a variety of activities using computers and other digital devices, and as they inhabit a number of ‘places’ online, they develop things of value that are expressed in digital form. These ‘things’ take many forms: bank accounts, non-bank payment accounts, gambling receipts, auction holdings, virtual life empires, the list expands over time. Some of these assets are in known computer systems with known proprietors, others are in the cloud – meaning in some computer system or systems somewhere in the world, controlled by somebody in a meshwork of contracts.

So long as the power stays . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Powering Your Practice With Databases

I recently met with my elderly mother’s Accountant who had a Financial Planner in attendance. When I told them of my legal IT consulting work, they were almost sympathetic as the lawyers they knew were averse to the use of databases. This was in stark contrast to themselves, and most members of their profession. Their view was that lawyers were archaic in their information management practices.

It is not just referral sources who are speaking up, clients are also losing patience with lawyers, with one corporation, KIA Motors developing a test of their IT skills.

Although I am not privy . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Legal Innovation: What’s It Going to Take?

The CBA Legal Futures Initiative has sparked a lot of great discussion and writing over the past few months about innovation. Monica Goyal has bound up a lot of the must-reads on this topic in one simple post on Slaw as a precursor to a Tuesday Twitter Chat organised to discuss innovation in the legal sector. A summary of that CBA Futures chat is worth reading here if you missed it.

What struck me reading this summary is that if we want innovation in our industry, we need to actively support and foster innovation as other industries do.

Mitch Kowalski, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

State Court Judges’ Perspective on E-Discovery

We recently had the pleasure of serving on a Fairfax Bar Association CLE faculty which included Circuit Court Chief Judge Dennis Smith, and Circuit Court Judges John Tran and Jane Roush. Their panel offering their insights on e-discovery in state courts was warmly received.

Judge Smith got the ball rolling by talking about the difference between digital immigrants and digital natives, terms coined more than a decade ago by author, educator and lecturer Marc Prensky.

Digital immigrants didn’t grow up with technology and digital natives did. Many judges are digital immigrants. Some will “learn a new language” and immerse themselves . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology