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Archive for the ‘Legal Technology’ Columns

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

Communicate by Design: Keep in Touch

Recently I was preparing a talk on using social media for client development and I noticed something interesting in the LinkedIn company page. In order for me to see contact information for a law firm who had status updates I had to “chase” the “About” information down the page, as it appeared below the updates. The more updates there were, the more I had to wait for them to load and then scroll farther down the page to the “About XYZ Law Firm” text. Then, despite some other descriptive information about the firm itself, the only contact information in the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Keep Your Marbles

Law firms are spoiled for choice when it comes to cloud computing services. You can place any or all of your practice technology somewhere other than your office. The maturing of the cloud world, and the seemingly endless proliferation of open source software, create additional options. If you are on the fence about where your information lives, these may push you over.

A challenge of using cloud or hosted Web services is the same kind of change that occurs on your desktop. Companies shut down products, change their business model and start charging for something that was free, or go . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Profits of Law

SLAW contributor Mitch Kowalski was in Australia speaking as a “legal futurist” on our national radio legal show, The Law Report, while here I am writing in a Canadian publication.

The old “Prophet in a foreign land” phenomenon was evident particularly when telling Australians about the only two law firms in the world to have been publicly floated — both Australian.

I did a similiar thing by bringing legal IT visionary Peter C Hart out to Australia from Canada in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. The great thing about bringing an overseas expert is that they get attention. Though . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Internet Voting Revisited

The Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Ontario recently published a report on ‘alternative voting technologies’, mainly ‘network voting’ by Internet or telephone. The Election Act had been amended in 2010 to require such a study. His conclusion, somewhat controversial, is that no election technology currently exists that can satisfy the criteria that his team decided should apply to any such system before it could be implemented.

The stated criteria are a helpful base line for considering the use of voting technologies. No authoritative list could be found, so after study, the list was created. Most people who have commented . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Legal Intelligence

There are a lot of great resources for primary law online, both free and fee. However, to get legal analysis and cutting edge thinking on current legal topics there are also some great resources for free online. Bar associations are a great source (of course!) but here are some others that have great content. You just have to know where to look.

Lexology (aka ACC Newstand) brings together articles submitted by major commercial law firms. Register and then search the site or set up custom RSS feeds to be delivered Outlook or your feed reader. International in scope, the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Lean as a Process Catalyst for Legal Technology

I’m (re-)reading Lean UX by Jeff Gothelf following last month’s enlightening set of sessions at ILTA on why we need to find new ways of doing things. Whether it was legal project management, change management or application and software development, ILTA was full of ideas about re-imagining and simplifying the very traditional processes at our firms.

By adopting processes that are faster, leaner and with more feedback loops, both this book and the ILTA sessions suggest we can turn those massive boil-the-ocean stalled projects into that which entrepreneurs and innovators already know well – the Minimum Viable Product . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Metadata in Digital Photos – Should You Care?

We are hopeful that you are familiar with metadata, especially as it exists in e-mail messages and word processing files. If not, then a brief refresher is in order. There are a couple of different types of metadata, but most regard the common definition to be data that is stored internal to the file (you can’t see it without knowing how to look at it) and is not explicitly defined by the user. The application (e.g. word processor) inserts data within the file such as the author, last time printed, fonts used or creation date. But what about image files . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Re Outsourcing the Wheel

To carry on my Vroom Vroom theme from a few months ago, I suggest that there are some more potential similarities between the legal and automotive industries. Talk of the “Law Factory” from thought leaders such as Ron Friedmann, has encouraged further consideration. At a high level, both industries have “benefitted” from protectionism, though it did neither industry a favour, long term.

The Australian Federation of Automotive Products Manufacturers (FAPM) website says:

There are about 200 Australian firms supplying components to the automotive industry. The vehicle assemblers have also undergone massive rationalisation and increasing global integration. Globalisation provides both threats

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Technology

Fit to Print

Mobile technology offers opportunities to be more efficient. One area that has seen a lot of improvement is mobile printing. I’m not thinking about taking a portable printer with you, but printing to your office while mobile over the Internet. This is sometimes called “cloud” printing but the use of cloud is marketing guff.

The Wi-Fi-enabled printer has been with us for years, but there is more to it than printing across your internal network from your laptop, tablet, or phone. The basic use case is that you are away from your office and need to have something emerge . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

A Book Review: Stephen Mason, Electronic Signatures in Law (3d Edition, Cambridge University Press, 2012)

One of the fascinations of electronic communications is how they make many traditional questions of law new again. What is the nature of consent? Can one make an agreement with a machine (a computer)? How permanently must information be recorded before it can be considered ‘writing’? What is an original document? (Can one version of identical assemblies of bits usefully be called an original?) Where do instantaneous online transactions occur? And what is a signature?

Everybody knows that signatures are important. Children learn at an early age that signing something makes it special. We all sign a variety of documents . . . [more]

Posted in: Book Review, Legal Technology

Easy Encryption for Email – Not an Oxymoron

Sending highly confidential or personal information via unencrypted email is like sending a postcard. There are many places that postcard goes before it reaches its recipient – and can be read by anyone along the way. Regular email is sent via plain text, and if you watch Google’s “Story of Send” you can see how many touch points a Gmail message has from the time you hit “send” to the time it gets to your recipient. Email can be intercepted by sniffers or read while saved on remote servers. And that is just the beginning.

Your “deleted” messages are likely . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology