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Archive for the ‘Legal Technology’ Columns

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


XSLT refers to Transformations, a member of the Extensible Stylesheet Language family: As the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) describes it, “An XSLT stylesheet specifies the presentation of a class of XML documents by describing how an instance of the class is transformed into an XML document that uses a formatting vocabulary, such as (X)HTML or XSL-FO.” In other words, you can use it to transform an XML document into HTML. A little less directly, it’s also used to transform XML into PDF, EPUB, etc. This is important stuff, but not really very new anymore. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Review of the iPad in One Hour for Litigators

We have long been fans of Tom Mighell’s iPad books, which include iPad in One Hour for Lawyers, iPad Apps in One Hour for Lawyers, and now the third member of the series, iPad in One Hour for Litigators. If lawyers have tended to fall in love with the iPad, litigators are becoming obsessed with it.

The small form factor, the ease of use and the ability to compete with large firms which have huge litigation budgets have all been factors. One thing we’ve seen as we lecture is that litigators buy the iPad and only then ask, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Hacking Back: The Next Big Thing? Part II: Civil and Other Considerations

What does one do about malware, about intrusion into one’s IT systems, about cyber-attacks? My last column looked at the criminal law aspects of ‘hacking back’ – is ‘active defence’ legal? Here we turn to other considerations. What are the civil rights and wrongs? In these days of state-sponsored attacks, are there military aspects? For that matter, what are the practicalities of attacking the attackers? 

Civil rights and wrongs

The legal questions about civil liability for intruding on someone else’s computer system work in both directions, i.e. the cyber-attacker may in principle be exposed to the same civil liability as . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

It Was the Best of (The) Times, It Was …

Speaking of newspapers and revolutions, the legal profession has a lot to learn from the much more mature Media Industry revolution. The legal revolution is really only just starting, but started it has. The first lesson is that it is really a Legal Industry, and that the legal profession is a shrinking part of it. Think printed newspapers. They are both being consulted less in their traditional form – it’s a convenience thing. Printed newspapers are headed towards weekends-only editions; the last step before digital only.

People have no time for long newspaper articles in their daily lives, and less . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Know Thyself

Your reputation is how other people see you. What we do frames that perception so we should act professionally and positively. At the end of the day, we can’t make people think well of us. The Web expands the areas in which we need to watch for how we appear to others. It’s important for lawyers to regularly look at how they appear to the world on the Web. Just because you aren’t on the Web or in social media, doesn’t mean information about you isn’t.

This is a technology column so I’m not talking about search engine optimization, social . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

The Perils of Social Media for Judges

The authors thank D.C. Superior Court Judge Herbert Dixon, who maintains a two-way street of information sharing with us on this subject.

It was inevitable that, after lawyers flocked to social media, judges would follow. Unsurprisingly, stories of judicial misconduct are beginning to appear. But let us begin with the biggest news story of 2013 involving judges and social media.

ABA Formal Opinion 462

In the most striking recent development, the American Bar Association issued Formal Opinion 462 on February 21, 2013. While it was not groundbreaking, it certainly reaffirmed the general trends among states which have looked the implications . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Point and Touch

Touchscreens have made a difference. Until fairly recently, the assumption could normally be made that people would provide input to their machines using a keyboard or a mouse. But not now.

The people have spoken: we want touchscreens. Touchscreens more than justify the disruption they have caused. We need calm too, though, and that’s still a work in progress. This posting reviews some recent developments on the software standardization front concerning “pointer events” and “touch events”.


Touchscreen technology has actually been around since the 1960s. A great review of the history is available in Bill Buxton, “Multi-Touch Systems that . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Hacking Back: The Next Big Thing? I: Criminal Considerations

The more interconnected the world becomes, the more people (businesses, governments) are exposed to harm generated online. “Cyberthreats”have become a leading source of worry for many knowledgeable people. The Internet is a dangerous place. Hacking that was once the domain of geeks wanting to show off their exploits is now big business, with division of labour (those who collect the information pass it on to those who use it) and serious resources. Tools for most forms of nastiness are readily available for sale at reasonable prices.

Crime has been joined by state and perhaps private espionage in the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Vroom, Vroom Law

In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, I put around two thousand lawyers through a hands-on computer course on how they could use a PC themselves. For a few years, one lawyer returned annually. Turns out that his motivation was to re-assure himself that his colleagues were still luddites when it came to IT, and that he had nothing to fear with respect to their catching up to him.

I suspect that he had a good 3 decades start on most. However, one would have to say that now tech is finally being accepted as playing an important role in . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology