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Archive for the ‘Legal Technology’ Columns

Pencil Putsches

A good lawyer, with knowledge of how and when to use the right tools, has a competitive advantage. Those tools might be varied, and are not limited to IT.

Jordan Furlong’s article “The Law of the Pencil – Innovation and Client Service in the New Millennium”, mentions the urban myth of NASA spending millions on a “space pen”, while the Soviets used a pencil. Law firms (and others) have also been known to blow millions on IT that could have been spent more wisely.

The humble pencil might be far superior to alternatives in certain circumstances, ie to . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Five Ways to Send a Better Email Message

We all know that person who constantly sends emails that lack a subject line. Or who sends rambling, lengthy emails that don’t seem to have a point. And there are those who send emails with open ended questions that require a game of email ping pong. You would never do any of those things – would you?

Sending a clear, concise and actionable email is the best way to get a proper response. Here are five ways to make sure your recipients open, read, and respond to your messages.

1.) Make the Subject Count

In Barbara Mento’s book Pyramid Principle . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Through a Glass, Darkly: The Future of Court Technology

At the behest of our good friend, D.C. Superior Court Judge Herbert Dixon, we noodled a bit on the future of courtroom technology for an article Judge Dixon is writing. Having brainstormed the topic, we thought it might be fun to take some of our random thoughts and make them marginally coherent.

At the outset, it is clear that there will be disruptive technologies that no one will anticipate. Having covered our collective posterior on that score, some things seem relatively certain. As courts strive to accommodate the needs of citizens, it is likely that we will one day see . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Government Control of the Internet

The Internet was invented by a state agency (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, known as DARPA) for military reasons. By design its communications divided into nodes that were intended to be self-sustaining rather than dependent on central control. The Internet initially spread outside the military through academic communities used to free speech. Its explosive growth was based on readily understood free browsers on the World Wide Web – browsers largely supplied by the private sector, whether for profit (Microsoft, Apple) or not for profit (Mozilla Foundation).

The wild west

As a result, it seemed reasonable, not to say . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Capture and Show With Your Tablet

Tablets are becoming a commonly discussed, if not applied, technology in law practice. 33% of respondents to the American Bar Association’s 2012 Legal Technology Survey used tablets for work. Or, rather, they used them but not particularly with specific legal technology. The most common uses were Internet, e-mail, calendars, and contacts. In short, lawyers are using tablets similarly to how they might use their smartphones.

This data interested me because my own brief experience with a tablet was pretty much the same. Like the majority of survey respondents, my Android-powered tablet is personal and not supplied by my work. 91% . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Interop Interapps

While putting together the Sinch Online Legal Services Conference (SOLSC) for March 2013, it was obvious that the potential speakers had grown dramatically over the last year or so. However, legal IT consultant Ron Friedmann commented in June 2012 that there has been less than expected online legal service activity since the previous update of his list of online legal services. He said:

About one-half of the firms that offered online services in 2006 no longer do. About an equal number of firms, however, have since created online services.

A reason we have different views of activity may be that . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Scalable Vector Graphics

This is about how and when to use SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics). The graphics part of SVG is easiest to explain. SVG is a format for images, like JPEG, PNG, or TIFF. The SVG difference is that, instead of capturing the image with a camera or scanner, you define it with words.

This is where the word “vector” comes in. A vector consists of a distance and a direction. The simplest example of a vector is probably “from point A to point B.” Real estate lawyers will relate vectors to metes and bounds descriptions in surveys, e.g. “Commencing at the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

SimplyFile for MS Outlook

There are many MS Outlook add-ons that mimic functionality that is already built into the application. Though Techhit’s SimplyFile would seem to fall into that category since MS Outlook has a strong rules function and has added the “Move” group in the Home tab, it is actually amazingly useful despite some overlap. SimplyFile is an “intelligent filing assistant for Microsoft Outlook” and costs $50US. So, is it worth it?

Files, folders and rules are the boon and curse of the MS Outlook organizational structure. Why? Lawyers use folders and subfolders to keep client and matter correspondence filtered from the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

The South Carolina Data Breach and the Failure to Encrypt

It is nothing short of astonishing that more than 75% of South Carolina’s residents had their social security, credit card numbers and other personally identifiable information breached. News of the breach came in October, though it actually began in August. Who uncovered the breach? Usually it is the FBI, but this time it was the Secret Service that notified S.C. on October 10th.

How did the breach happen? Someone, as yet unknown, stole legitimate credentials from one of the 250 state employees with access to the South Carolina Department of Revenue (DOR) database.

Why was the attack so easy? Because . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

IT Partners

The law and the legal profession are moving towards greater systemisation much more rapidly and dramatically, than most realise. Professor Richard Susskind has said that the traditional law firm pyramid “has got to break up” and that law firms essentially have two branches: the specialist division and the process division.

Interesting examples of this change that is afoot, can be found in The UK Financial Times Innovative Lawyers 2012 Report. It highlights the fact that non-traditional approaches to providing legal services are gaining momentum.

Having innovative clients would have helped those interesting projects get off the ground. Similiarly, it . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Crowdsourced Online Dispute Resolution

The online world has been greatly affected by the rise of social media, whose principal characteristic is interactivity among the users of a particular service or communication channel. The possibility of not just one-to-many but also many-to-one and many-to-many communications have put focus on ‘the crowd’ – a potentially almost infinite number of Internet users who may participate in a conversation in a number of roles.

This has led to the emergence of the term ‘crowdsourcing‘, meaning an express solicitation of Internet users generally to contribute to solving a problem. No doubt the popularity of the term has . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Bonfire of Insanities

I’m not sure when it happened but at some point people just lost their minds. Even otherwise rational people are behaving like sugar-loaded children on Christmas morning; running around in circles screaming for no apparent reason.

I’m speaking, of course, of the mobile device market.

A snappily dressed fellow goes on a stage and says the words “iPhone” or “Surface” and next thing you know thousands of people are lining up to pay hundreds of dollars for one without the slightest idea of what it really IS. In the consumer world this has become commonplace but what’s startling is how . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology