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Archive for the ‘Legal Technology’ Columns

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

A Little “How to” – Cooking With PowerPoint

In my previous columns I’ve argued that lawyers who close their eyes to the use of courtroom technology may be negligent, I’ve encouraged lawyers to try courtroom technology and I’ve tried to sell the idea of using PowerPoint with little or no text. With me so far?

For the next few columns I’ll illustrate a few basics for assembling a PowerPoint for evidence presentation.

Persuasive litigation in my mind should have a strong visual component. Talking head witnesses are so 1970’s. The 2010’s call for visual engagement of the trier of fact, whether judge or jury.

That visual engagement is . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

My Computer Is a Hamster

My computer will never be the same again. If you click on any program and select the About option (often on the Help menu), you can see what version of the program you have. Google Chrome tells me I’m at 8.0.552.0. But part of me is convinced that if I check back in an hour or so, that number will have gone up, or at least gotten longer. The pace of incremental change to my software applications and operating systems is accelerating. My computer is on a hamster wheel. And these minor changes, happening behind the scenes, can have an . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Passing the Class

One of the most common mistakes that law firms make when they upgrade technology is that they don’t do their homework or pay the smartest kid in class to do it for them. We saw in one of my previous columns that it’s critical to understand the problem you’re solving, and it’s just as critical to make sure you understand how the technology you’re moving to is going to solve that problem.

The Map is Not the Territory

Part of the problem firms have in evaluating how well a particular bit of technology is going to solve their problem is . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Electronic Voting and the Law: It’s Not Like E-Banking

In this electronic age, many governments are trying to increase their capacity to use information and communication technology, and many citizens expect to deal with their governments electronically. It is natural that attention has turned to using these technologies for voting.

In the United States, in the wake of the problems with old-fashioned voting systems in the 2000 presidential election, many people have been tempted to push voting into the computer age. Congress voted large sums to help states do just this.

However, in its year-end review of 2003, Fortune magazine called electronic voting the “worst technology of the year”. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology