Canada’s online legal magazine.

Archive for the ‘Legal Technology’ Columns

Firebug, JQuery and Kludge

Have you had a good look at what’s been coming into your browser lately? I was moved to do so recently when Michael Geist posted (March 7, 2013), on his blog (michaelgeist.ca), “Forget Fair Dealing: National Post Seeks $150 To License Short Excerpts”. The title pretty much tells the story. Prof. Geist was surprised to be asked for money when he used his mouse to highlight some text in the article by Chris Selley, “Full Pundit: You can’t say that in Canada” (nationalpost.com). On March 12, 2013, Prof. Geist posted a followup, “National Post Appears to . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

The Upgrade Train’s a-Comin’

There’s an unmistakable trend in software and it’s going to change how firms and users handle technology in the future. The trend is for far more frequent upgrades – often as part of a Cloud or subscription package — and the result is going to be a higher tempo of IT testing and user training.

Numbered are the days when you’ll sit comfortably on 8 year old software doing what you’ve always done. Coming are the days when your computer acts more like your mobile phone or tablet – with new software updates (including feature changes and additions) coming on . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Legal Snapshots From the Internet of Things

Everybody knows that computers are everywhere. This is old news. It used to be that a mechanic could fix an errant brake light in my car for 15 minutes of labour and a 15-cent bulb. Now I need a computer diagnosis and the replacement of a sophisticated multi-function panel. Hmmm – $175.00. Progress!

What may still be news is the degree to which the computers are talking to each other – and if they can talk, then they can be overheard.

Let’s start with cars. Richard and Cheryl Balough point out that the average car these days can run some . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Self-Preservation

We leave a trail of footprints across the Web that can seem ephemeral. Content on law firm Web sites changes, status updates to LinkedIn or Twitter fade, with new content taking the place of the old. In some cases, it’s out-of-sight-out-of-mind but it continues to live on. Twitter resells access to old posts through its Firehose, Web sites can be archived by services like the Internet Archive. That may not be the best way to keep track of your online activity. You can create a personal archive and preserve your own online footprints.

A personal archive can have a . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

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 http://www.techhit.com/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