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Archive for the ‘Legal Technology’ Columns

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

Encodings

Unicode 6.0.0

Unicode 6.0.0 was released on October 11, 2010. Mainstream journalists didn’t take much notice, if the results of a search for "Unicode Consortium" in the Google News Archive are any indication. There was a bit of an exception in India: "Typing the Rupee symbol set to get easier". Since a significant number of the items retrieved were in languages that I don’t understand, and since I didn’t search at all for translations of "Unicode Consortium", I can’t say for certain what other exceptions there may have been. The Consortium itself noted the following highlights:

  • over 1,000
. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Technology

Sexting and Sextortion: Texting and Extortion Get a XXX Twist

Introduction

Some call it flirting. Others call it harmless fun. When minors are involved, however, the police and district attorneys have had another word for it – child pornography. If you haven’t guessed it, we’re talking about sexting. Sexting is defined as the sending or receiving of sexually-explicit or sexually-suggestive images or video via a cell phone or the Internet. Most commonly, the term has been used to describe incidents where individuals take nude or semi-nude images of themselves and then send those pictures to others. Yet, despite the widespread and often breathlessly erotic media coverage of teenage sexting stories, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Ain’t No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

Thinking about using the free Google applications to run your practice? Have you read their Terms of Service? Wait, you’re a lawyer, of course you’ve carefully read their terms of service. Well humor me…let’s give it a look-see anyhow.

Change is in the Wind

4.2 Google is constantly innovating in order to provide the best possible experience for its users. You acknowledge and agree that the form and nature of the Services which Google provides may change from time to time without prior notice to you.

The first reaction most folks have to this is “O.K., cool, they’re going to . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Why Work With Lawyers?

A speaker at one of our conferences a few years ago, announced that he advised young lawyers not to admit to knowing anything about IT, otherwise they would damage their career prospects at most firms. In other words … they’d get dismissed as geeks. 

That comment prompted at least two attendees to no longer bother with lawyers as a market. One of them was the developer of a reasonably popular document assembly program. He now describes himself as a marketer of legal services, and puts his development skills into building better tools for his new business rather than tools for . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Cumulo-Nimble: File Storage in the Cloud

My quest for better file access started with a nagging suspicion that my shrinking storage containers would be my downfall. I went mobile with a laptop, which was smaller than my desktop and was portable. Then I added a handheld computer, which was still smaller and even more portable: no cords, no bags. On to USB thumb drives and finally shifting to a 2 GB micro SD card about the size of a raisin. Portability raised the likelihood of my files being lost or stolen if I misplaced the container in which they were stored. I solved the problem . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Recordings as Transcripts

Many judicial and quasi-judicial proceedings these days are recorded on audio- or videotape, rather than by a court reporter taking notes in person then transcribing them. Usually the audio tape is then transcribed, at least if someone needs a transcript. 

The recordings are often taken as the (or an) ‘official’ version of the proceeding. For example, a practice direction of Ontario’s Workplace Safety Insurance Board (WSIB) treats recorded and transcribed proceedings on an equal footing. The rules of practice of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission provide in Rule 2.237(a), “If the hearing is recorded on videotape or some other video . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Reducing the 1-Click Patent Claim

I’ve been giving some thought to patent law since Simon Chester posted “Appeal Granted by Federal Court for Amazon.com 1-Click Patent Application” (Slaw: October 14, 2010). The case is Amazon.com, Inc. v. Canada (Attorney General), 2010 FC 1011 (CanLII). I had a look at the case, thinking it would be interesting to see how Amazon had done the 1-click thing. I was disappointed. I got the distinct impression that the judge (Michael L. Phelan) knew even less than I do about what programming for the web involves. My brief comment was sort of an invitation to others . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Data Dumps: The Bane of E-Discovery

Everyone knows you’re not supposed to do a data dump in e-discovery. But oh boy, is there a temptation to drown the other side in a case with an avalanche of useless data. Too often, law firms and their clients succumb to this temptation.

In SEC v. Collins & Aikman Corp. (S.D.N.Y. 2009), the SEC dumped 1.7 million records (10.6 million pages) on the defendant saying that the defendant could search them for the relevant evidence and asserting that it didn’t maintain a document collection relating specifically to the subjects addressed. As the court correctly noted, Rule 34 of the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology