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Archive for the ‘Legal Technology’ Columns

Legal Entrepreneurs: Lawyers or Marketers?

We are just preparing the 2012 Online Legal Services Conference. It seems that in the last year or two the legal, business and technology planets have aligned to produce a surge in interesting web-based projects hitting our legal shores. Far from overnight inspirations, many seem to have been nurtured for years. Often the result of pain experienced by lawyers, or their clients.

When such projects ferment for so long, their depth can be surprising. They start out providing solutions to real problems the legal entrepreneur has experienced, but are enriched by feedback from numerous sounding boards.

Another observation is . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Start 2012 Off Right

Let’s take the opportunity to make a few Law Tech resolutions.

Resolution #1 – I will test my backups!

Backups are crucial and you don’t want to find out whether they worked or not when you really really need them. So in addition to checking periodically to make sure your backups are actually running (You *DO* check don’t you?) you should actually test your backups from time to time.

How? Create a dummy file – just a Word document will do – and put it in your file system. Call it “Backup Test” or something like that. Let your backup . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Speak Your Mind

Voice recognition has been getting lots of press recently, thanks to the release of the Siri software with the latest Apple iPhones. It has been a mainstay of discussions around legal technology for more than a decade and yet continues to be a point of uncertainty for lawyers. In particular, how do they use voice recognition in their practices. Ben Schorr discussed some of the challenges of using voice recognition earlier this year. I also received a question at a recent seminar about voice recognition so I thought I would take another look at it.

Speech to Text Conversion Software . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Electronic Seals: The Public Sector

In my last column, I reviewed the uses of seals in transactional documents and the means by which seals could be created in electronic communications. Here I will deal with seals on public or official documents, when they are issued in or converted to electronic form. Contracts to which the Crown happens to be a party are of course transactional documents so fall within the previous topic.

Functional analysis

Public sector seals are placed on documents for a different purpose than the seals on transactional documents. They are not used to show that the state takes the subject matter . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Return of the (9V) Battery Boy

What can you do with a 9 volt battery? Not much, it seems.

Whenever we switch between daylight savings and standard time, we get reminders to change the batteries in our smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. My carbon monoxide detectors take AA batteries, but the smoke detectors take the square edged 9V batteries.

It’s a pain disposing of batteries because they are household hazardous waste and need to be taken to a household hazardous waste depot. So I have a big container of batteries just waiting for me to take them to a depot. (I will get around to . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Ruminations on the Ethics of Law Firm Information Security

Lest anyone have forgotten Rule 1.6 of the ABA Model Rules, here it is – and similar rules apply everywhere:

Rule 1.6 Confidentiality Of Information

(a) A lawyer shall not reveal information relating to the representation of a client unless the client gives informed consent, the disclosure is impliedly authorized in order to carry out the representation or the disclosure is permitted by paragraph (b).

(b) A lawyer may reveal information relating to the representation of a client to the extent the lawyer reasonably believes necessary:

(1) to prevent reasonably certain death or substantial bodily harm;

(2) to prevent the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

To His Coy Mistress

Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.

Andrew Marvell

I was going to discuss the implications of Steve Jobs hypothetically attending Law School, but it became too challenging, especially with deadlines. Besides, when an article concludes with a quote from Herman Hesse’s Steppenwolf, like everything to do with Steve, the bar has been raised. The title of The Guardian’s Jean-Louis Gassée article: Steve Jobs: who’s going to protect us from cheap and mediocre now? says a lot.

One result of Steve’s having gone to Law School is that we might have missed out on . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

The Cloud Can Extend, Not Just Replace, Law Practice Technology

Cloud computing is often portrayed as an online-only world that enables a high degree of collaboration for lawyers. Here’s a reality check. That is not how many, perhaps most, lawyers practice and that perspective can fog some of the possibilities of blending your office technology with cloud-based systems. While software-as-a-service (SaaS) is a significant offering in the cloud world, with some strong companies dedicated to providing legal practice management applications, there are a number of other opportunities that require less dramatic changes to your practice.

One of the significant benefits to cloud computing is that it enables an as well . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

“Siri – Can I Tell You a Secret?”

Recently Apple released their iPhone 4S and regardless of how excited you might be about the new camera or the new processor the reality is that the feature everybody is talking about (and to) is “Siri” the voice-enabled “personal assistant”.

You can ask Siri to find the nearest coffee shop, to wake you up at a particular time, to tell you what the weather is expected to be, to call or send a message to a contact in your address book…even to look up random facts for you.

One of the most intriguing things about Siri is that you can . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Electronic Seals

Canada’s electronic commerce legislation in Canada tells us how to create an electronic document that will satisfy a legal requirement that the information must be in writing. Most such legislation also tells us that a legal requirement that a document be signed is satisfied by an electronic signature. In the common law provinces and the territories, however, it stops short, however, of telling us how to create a sealed document.

This article addresses that shortcoming, if it is one. It will restrict itself to seals on transactional documents. Seals by public authorities will be the subject of a future column . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Namespaces

Namespaces are used in XML to avoid the problems caused by what would, without the use of namespaces, be latent ambiguities.

A long time ago, in a place far away, there were two ships called “Peerless”. The plaintiff in Raffles v. Wichelhaus (1864), 2 H. & C. 906 (LLMC), 159 E.R. 375 (Hein), 33 L.J.N.S. 160, claimed he had a contract with the defendants for the delivery of some cotton to the defendants in Liverpool “ex Peerless from Bombay” (a.k.a. Mumbai). The defendants claimed they had refused to accept delivery from the Peerless which had sailed . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

The Basics of Using PowerPoint in Court

You’ve built your evidentiary PowerPoint. It’s ready to take to court. It’s chock full of interesting and persuasive images, maps, diagrams documents etc. needed to prove your case. What’s next?

Previous columns covered the basics of creating an evidentiary PowerPoint (PPT). In this column I’ll begin to cover considerations for using a PPT in court.

The PowerPoint as an Exhibit

A crucial first step is to decide is how the PowerPoint will be filed as an exhibit.

Like any object or photo used in court the PowerPoint (PPT), once referred to by a witness or displayed in court, must be . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology