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Archive for the ‘Legal Technology’ Columns

The Core of Legal Technology

Law firm technology is experiencing pressure brought about by the success of consumer-oriented products. As the wave of iPad-toting lawyers begins to wash into the larger law firms, we’re seeing the logical result of the first law students arriving with their personal laptops at schools at the turn of the century. Some law schools initially identified a specific hardware for the students to purchase but that eventually gave way to the creation of systems that could be adapted to whatever technology the students presented.

Now law firms are beginning to adapt to these same consumerization challenges. They are not new . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Electronic Real Estate Transactions

Much of the legal status of electronic communications in Canada (and elsewhere) rests on legislation based on the United Nations Model Law on Electronic Commerce of 1996. The Model Law’s main Canadian implementation has been through the Uniform Electronic Commerce Act, adopted in 1999. All the common law provinces, Yukon and Nunavut have enacted the Uniform Act, as shown here. Quebec adopted its Act to establish a legal framework for information technology in 2001, mainly based on the principles of the Model Law though not using the Uniform Act as its template. The electronic documents part of the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Voice and Video

In technology today, and especially on the web, there is a constant push for the new shiny thing. Lately it seems like that new shiny thing comes in two flavors: Voice Recognition and Video. In my (not-uncontroversial) opinion those are two of the most overrated technologies in the business right now.


They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Undoubtedly true, but honestly…don’t use a thousand words when 56 words will do. It seems like today every website is trying to video-enable itself and recently I even saw a pitch for video e-mail! That’s fine when the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

What Not Re When Not

In the mid-nineties, I was asked to demonstrate in court our evidence display system for a major prosecution. Instead of my usual script and demonstration, Senior Counsel for the Defence asked that I demonstrate by editing a document ID on our interactive system on the fly. While the system was not built to do that, particularly in court, I thought I could do it, though not quickly. Then he asked for another document to be changed, and before I had finished, another, and then half a dozen in rapid succession. In my efforts to impress the Court, I had fallen . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

A Column About ZIP

The ISO has been Studying ZIP

Annex A of "New Work Item Proposal on Document Packaging" (April 12, 2010), ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 34 N 1414, said:

Today many electronic documents are embodied not in wholly proprietary formats, but in formats built on the foundation of standards.

One increasingly common approach is to specify formats in which XML documents and other digital resources are stored together in an archive based on a minimal implementation of what is known as the “ZIP” format.

Examples of document-centric formats which take this approach include:
• ISO/IEC 26300 (Open Document Format for Office Applications)

. . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

PowerPoint: Evidence Presentation

There should be a point to using a PowerPoint for evidence presentation.

Don’t just launch into using PowerPoint because it’s great fun and easy to use. Decide to use it only after reflecting on how it would enhance your case. Don’t just reach for technology for technology’s sake. 

There will be times when a simple story told by a witness unadorned by technology is better. Think of a lawsuit based on a person recounting the story of being sexually abused as a child. Courtroom technology in such a case could distract and may even be perceived as trivializing the emotion . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Operation “Night Dragon”: A Data Breach Illuminated

Hackers and cybercriminals have been having a field day recently. Even big oil companies with expansive security budgets can’t keep the bad guys out. In an operation dubbed “Night Dragon” by security company McAfee, Chinese hackers have been targeting several global oil and energy companies since November of 2009, in an attempt to steal sensitive proprietary information about oil and gas field bids and operations. You would think that oil companies would have first class security and defense-in-depth. Apparently, not so.

Law firms should take these attacks against big oil as a warning – and should bear in mind the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

These Are the Droid Apps You’re Looking For

Android-powered phones and tablets are an increasingly prevalent option for lawyers. Android was the operating system on one-third of the smartphones sold in the fourth quarter of 2010, according to the Wall Street Journal. The power of these devices is not the operating system, though. Just as with Apple’s iPhone and iPad, the real punch comes from the small software apps that you install on your device. Unlike Apple, you don’t need any intermediary software like iTunes to access the Android Market. Let’s take a look at some of the apps you might want to grab for your . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

More Protection From Complexity

With the amount of information available to lawyers increasing alarmingly, anything that can unclutter our lives, and relieve the info-burden deserves attention. 

Adrian Dayton explored one aspect in his article “How Social Media Can Prevent Information Overload “. He pointed out that “… it isn’t about consuming more content, it is about consuming more relevant content.“ While on the one hand, presenting us with a ridiculous amount of information, what tools such as Google, and hypertext/the web also do is protect us, to some extent, from this information burden and complexity, at least with respect to navigation.

We know . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Electronic Transferable Records

Once law reform on the topic of electronic communications had dealt with first-level issues like how to satisfy writing requirements or signature requirements electronically, people started paying attention to harder questions. One of these was how to meet a requirement that a document must be transmitted or stored as an original. 

The approach to such questions at the  United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), which has tended to lead world thinking on the subject, is to seek a ‘functional equivalent’ of what satisfies the requirement on paper. What is the function or policy purpose served by the requirement, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Protecting Your Data And, More Importantly, Your Clients’ Data

Law firms deal with some of the most confidential and sensitive data in society and yet so many of them have such lax policies on information security. There are some simple things you can do to dramatically improve your information security and they don’t require you to purchase expensive gear.

Keep Your Passwords Your Own

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at a firm and heard an attorney come out of their office and say “Patty, I’m going to Phoenix for a couple of days to meet with Acme Co. Check my e-mail while I’m away; my . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Facebook in the Legal System

Facebook, like bad weather, is everywhere. Nothing new there. What is new is how it’s appearing in the legal system. When Facebook is used as a tool for revenge it may lead to litigation. It can become a sword to undermine an opponent. It can even be a force for good for police and courts.

In a racy case being played out in the Federal Court in Melbourne, Australia Facebook was used as a sword to inflict pain that led to a high profile lawsuit. Then in the same case Facebook was used by the court to summons the inflictor . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology