Canada’s online legal magazine.

Archive for the ‘Legal Technology’ Columns

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

Status Seekers

Lawyers rely on an invisible infrastructure to power their law firms. Once those wires leave your computer and hit the wall, you cede control to others. Even if you haven’t shifted any part of your practice to the cloud, you may have file or e-mail servers inside your firm that are managed by others. We can use status dashboards and related information to warn us when things have gone awry in our digital world.

Your Apps Status

A tremor runs through cyberspace when Google Mail goes offline and social networks light up with virtual handwringing. Your first awareness may be . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Make Mine to Go

You might have heard already, but we are experiencing a mobile revolution. The message from market research companies is loud and clear – mobile web access is growing exponentially. What’s more, Search Engine Watch reports a Google survey of mobile users found that they are five times more likely to abandon the task they are trying to complete if a site isn’t optimized for mobile use, with 79% saying they will go back to search and try to find another site to meet their needs. While this is likely far more true for an ecommerce site or news site than

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Technology

The Future of Law: Tomorrow’s Lawyers by Richard Susskind

Most American lawyers became aware of British Professor Richard Susskind after he wrote The End of Lawyers? in 2008. The book generated a lot of controversy among lawyers with some proclaiming that he had indeed “seen” the future of law and others protesting that the practice of law would certainly not undergo the kind of radical changes that Susskind foretold.

Susskind is back generating controversy once again in his latest book, Tomorrow’s Lawyers. We are unabashed fans of Susskind’s prophesies, even those we may not wholly agree with, because he forces the legal profession out of its natural complacency. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

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