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Archive for the ‘Legal Technology’ Columns

Return of the (9V) Battery Boy

What can you do with a 9 volt battery? Not much, it seems.

Whenever we switch between daylight savings and standard time, we get reminders to change the batteries in our smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. My carbon monoxide detectors take AA batteries, but the smoke detectors take the square edged 9V batteries.

It’s a pain disposing of batteries because they are household hazardous waste and need to be taken to a household hazardous waste depot. So I have a big container of batteries just waiting for me to take them to a depot. (I will get around to . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Ruminations on the Ethics of Law Firm Information Security

Lest anyone have forgotten Rule 1.6 of the ABA Model Rules, here it is – and similar rules apply everywhere:

Rule 1.6 Confidentiality Of Information

(a) A lawyer shall not reveal information relating to the representation of a client unless the client gives informed consent, the disclosure is impliedly authorized in order to carry out the representation or the disclosure is permitted by paragraph (b).

(b) A lawyer may reveal information relating to the representation of a client to the extent the lawyer reasonably believes necessary:

(1) to prevent reasonably certain death or substantial bodily harm;

(2) to prevent the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

To His Coy Mistress

Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.

Andrew Marvell

I was going to discuss the implications of Steve Jobs hypothetically attending Law School, but it became too challenging, especially with deadlines. Besides, when an article concludes with a quote from Herman Hesse’s Steppenwolf, like everything to do with Steve, the bar has been raised. The title of The Guardian’s Jean-Louis Gassée article: Steve Jobs: who’s going to protect us from cheap and mediocre now? says a lot.

One result of Steve’s having gone to Law School is that we might have missed out on . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

The Cloud Can Extend, Not Just Replace, Law Practice Technology

Cloud computing is often portrayed as an online-only world that enables a high degree of collaboration for lawyers. Here’s a reality check. That is not how many, perhaps most, lawyers practice and that perspective can fog some of the possibilities of blending your office technology with cloud-based systems. While software-as-a-service (SaaS) is a significant offering in the cloud world, with some strong companies dedicated to providing legal practice management applications, there are a number of other opportunities that require less dramatic changes to your practice.

One of the significant benefits to cloud computing is that it enables an as well . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

“Siri – Can I Tell You a Secret?”

Recently Apple released their iPhone 4S and regardless of how excited you might be about the new camera or the new processor the reality is that the feature everybody is talking about (and to) is “Siri” the voice-enabled “personal assistant”.

You can ask Siri to find the nearest coffee shop, to wake you up at a particular time, to tell you what the weather is expected to be, to call or send a message to a contact in your address book…even to look up random facts for you.

One of the most intriguing things about Siri is that you can . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Electronic Seals

Canada’s electronic commerce legislation in Canada tells us how to create an electronic document that will satisfy a legal requirement that the information must be in writing. Most such legislation also tells us that a legal requirement that a document be signed is satisfied by an electronic signature. In the common law provinces and the territories, however, it stops short, however, of telling us how to create a sealed document.

This article addresses that shortcoming, if it is one. It will restrict itself to seals on transactional documents. Seals by public authorities will be the subject of a future column . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Namespaces

Namespaces are used in XML to avoid the problems caused by what would, without the use of namespaces, be latent ambiguities.

A long time ago, in a place far away, there were two ships called “Peerless”. The plaintiff in Raffles v. Wichelhaus (1864), 2 H. & C. 906 (LLMC), 159 E.R. 375 (Hein), 33 L.J.N.S. 160, claimed he had a contract with the defendants for the delivery of some cotton to the defendants in Liverpool “ex Peerless from Bombay” (a.k.a. Mumbai). The defendants claimed they had refused to accept delivery from the Peerless which had sailed . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

The Basics of Using PowerPoint in Court

You’ve built your evidentiary PowerPoint. It’s ready to take to court. It’s chock full of interesting and persuasive images, maps, diagrams documents etc. needed to prove your case. What’s next?

Previous columns covered the basics of creating an evidentiary PowerPoint (PPT). In this column I’ll begin to cover considerations for using a PPT in court.

The PowerPoint as an Exhibit

A crucial first step is to decide is how the PowerPoint will be filed as an exhibit.

Like any object or photo used in court the PowerPoint (PPT), once referred to by a witness or displayed in court, must be . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Is It Possible to Secure Law Firm Data?

To answer the question, we interviewed our friend and colleague Matt Kesner, the CIO of Fenwick & West LLP, a West Coast law firm representing high tech and bio-tech clients. Matt has “walked the walk” when it comes to security and protecting data.

Is the data at a law firm really different or are there “special” considerations when dealing with security within a law firm? Matt suggested that there are a lot of tensions at play within a law firm. There’s always the tension between IT and end-users. The end-users are more difficult to tame and are more independent than . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Holier Than Thou

We talk about connecting to the Internet, a pipe through which travels all of the information flowing into or out of the law practice. It is not that simple, though, and that oversimplification can mean that you overlook possible holes that might make your client or law practice information vulnerable to access by others.

Any Port in a Storm

The reason the pipe analogy works is that, while in transit, your information really is flowing amid lots of other information. But the place that it ends up – or starts from – is determined in part by what the request . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

The Hidden Costs of the Free Lunch

Everybody wants something for free. It’s human nature. And it’s rarely more prevalent than when it comes to technology. “It’s all just bits and bytes, why should it cost anything?” says one. “Information wants to be free” suggests another. 

Today’s generations have grown up in the age of Napster and Google and surveys indicate that there is almost an expectation that digital content, including music and movies, is free. Much to the chagrin of the entertainment industry who has been battling since the invention of the tape recorder and VCR to figure out how to keep making money off a . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Lawyers, Engineers and Technology: A Case Study

Lawyers and engineers see the world differently. It is as if they speak different languages, and difficulties of mutual understanding arise. The problem is not so much that they use different words to describe the same thing but rather that they may use the same words to describe different things. It may be more helpful to think of lawyers and engineers as having different belief systems: the motivation for understanding the world and what makes it tick differ. One belief system is not more accurate or ‘true’ than the other, but they can have different practical consequences.

 So long as . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology