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Archive for the ‘Legal Technology’ Columns

Brainspray and the Law

[Vocabulary Watch] ‘Brainspray’ – Electrical and other signals given off by the brain that are detectable – and increasingly usable – for various purposes.

Science, medicine and commerce

It is widely known that much of the functioning of our brain is done by electrical impulses, or at least that its functioning creates electrical impulses. Since the invention of the electroencephalograph (EEG) many decades ago, these impulses have been measurable. In recent years, they have become subject to increasingly subtle interpretation as well. Science is beginning to know what the measured impulses mean and to be able to use . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Sign on the Dotted Line

Hardly a day goes by that I am not asked to sign a document and return it. Most of these documents come to me via email as attachments. In some cases it is a nice fillable PDF form, but often it is a Microsoft Word document with a series of underscores made to look like form fields to indicate where I am to place my signature and provide other information. To keep this “form” in Microsoft Word and fill it in I would spend a lot of time reformatting the document as one cannot actually fill in the fields, but . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Will XP Be Attacked in April 2014?

Unless you’ve been hibernating, you know that support for Windows XP SP3 will end on April 8, 2014. This means that Microsoft will not be providing any security updates after that date. Should you care and quickly run out and purchase an upgraded operating system? Many critics are claiming that Microsoft is stopping support in order to increase sales of the more current operating system software. Others are predicting that the sky will fall as hackers are just waiting to release their latest malware right after April 8th. We believe that there will be attempts to compromise Windows . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Design for Findability Not Just Search

find∙a∙bil∙i∙ty n. – “the ease with which information contained on a website can be found, both from outside the website (using search engines and the like) and by users already on the website”

I prefer this term to “search” as it focuses on outcomes (how easy it is to find something), rather than inputs (what someone may or may not put into a search box). It also transfers the onus onto those in KM to make something really easy to find, rather than on lawyers knowing what they should or shouldn’t be typing into that box.

I’ve . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Be More Open on Your Android

Google’s Android operating system is open source. The rest of the software on your Android tablet or smart phone may be a mixture of commercial, freemium, and other business models, including free, ad-driven apps. Lawyers and other legal professionals will find high quality open source apps in the Google Play store but you can get to them more cleanly by using the F-Droid package manager.

Alternate Android app stores abound: Amazon has one, as do Opera and many of the phone makers. Amazon’s store is an app on your device, and offers a free app each day. Opera . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Fiduciaries’ Access to Digital Assets


As people carry out a variety of activities using computers and other digital devices, and as they inhabit a number of ‘places’ online, they develop things of value that are expressed in digital form. These ‘things’ take many forms: bank accounts, non-bank payment accounts, gambling receipts, auction holdings, virtual life empires, the list expands over time. Some of these assets are in known computer systems with known proprietors, others are in the cloud – meaning in some computer system or systems somewhere in the world, controlled by somebody in a meshwork of contracts.

So long as the power stays . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Powering Your Practice With Databases

I recently met with my elderly mother’s Accountant who had a Financial Planner in attendance. When I told them of my legal IT consulting work, they were almost sympathetic as the lawyers they knew were averse to the use of databases. This was in stark contrast to themselves, and most members of their profession. Their view was that lawyers were archaic in their information management practices.

It is not just referral sources who are speaking up, clients are also losing patience with lawyers, with one corporation, KIA Motors developing a test of their IT skills.

Although I am not privy . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Legal Innovation: What’s It Going to Take?

The CBA Legal Futures Initiative has sparked a lot of great discussion and writing over the past few months about innovation. Monica Goyal has bound up a lot of the must-reads on this topic in one simple post on Slaw as a precursor to a Tuesday Twitter Chat organised to discuss innovation in the legal sector. A summary of that CBA Futures chat is worth reading here if you missed it.

What struck me reading this summary is that if we want innovation in our industry, we need to actively support and foster innovation as other industries do.

Mitch Kowalski, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

State Court Judges’ Perspective on E-Discovery

We recently had the pleasure of serving on a Fairfax Bar Association CLE faculty which included Circuit Court Chief Judge Dennis Smith, and Circuit Court Judges John Tran and Jane Roush. Their panel offering their insights on e-discovery in state courts was warmly received.

Judge Smith got the ball rolling by talking about the difference between digital immigrants and digital natives, terms coined more than a decade ago by author, educator and lecturer Marc Prensky.

Digital immigrants didn’t grow up with technology and digital natives did. Many judges are digital immigrants. Some will “learn a new language” and immerse themselves . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Communicate by Design: Keep in Touch

Recently I was preparing a talk on using social media for client development and I noticed something interesting in the LinkedIn company page. In order for me to see contact information for a law firm who had status updates I had to “chase” the “About” information down the page, as it appeared below the updates. The more updates there were, the more I had to wait for them to load and then scroll farther down the page to the “About XYZ Law Firm” text. Then, despite some other descriptive information about the firm itself, the only contact information in the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Keep Your Marbles

Law firms are spoiled for choice when it comes to cloud computing services. You can place any or all of your practice technology somewhere other than your office. The maturing of the cloud world, and the seemingly endless proliferation of open source software, create additional options. If you are on the fence about where your information lives, these may push you over.

A challenge of using cloud or hosted Web services is the same kind of change that occurs on your desktop. Companies shut down products, change their business model and start charging for something that was free, or go . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Profits of Law

SLAW contributor Mitch Kowalski was in Australia speaking as a “legal futurist” on our national radio legal show, The Law Report, while here I am writing in a Canadian publication.

The old “Prophet in a foreign land” phenomenon was evident particularly when telling Australians about the only two law firms in the world to have been publicly floated — both Australian.

I did a similiar thing by bringing legal IT visionary Peter C Hart out to Australia from Canada in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. The great thing about bringing an overseas expert is that they get attention. Though . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology