Canada’s online legal magazine.

Archive for the ‘Legal Technology’ Columns

Are We There Yet?

As Windows 7 and Office 2010 sweep across the land, along with a plethora of interesting new hardware devices like iPads and netbooks, the urge to upgrade is striking a great many attorneys. I can hardly walk into a room without somebody sidling up to me and asking “So….should I upgrade?”

The answer is always the same: “Maybe.”

“Maybe?” they respond, with that unsatisfied look in their eyes. They’re surprised. I’m a technologist. I’m supposed to always be pushing them to the bleeding edge, chuckling softly that they only have 4GB of RAM, suggesting that they could get a 3rd . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Robot Law

Bizarro robot cartoon

Lawyers have not been thinking about robots as long as cartoonists, science fiction writers (Isaac Asimov’s Robot series being perhaps the best known) or engineers (Geoff Simons, Are Computers Alive? Evolution and New Forms of Life 1983 – but see P. Sw irski, “A case of wishful thinking”). A political scientist anticipated some legal issues in the early 1980s (S.N. Lehman-Wilzig,”Frankenstein Unbound: Towards a legal definition of artificial intelligence”) notably about potential criminal liability that future technology would threaten.

However, we have been catching up in the past ten or fifteen years. This column . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

The Transformation of eLawyering

I’m a member of the eLawyering Task Force of the American Bar Association. Our purpose is to promote practising law over the Internet. When I joined in 2004, we were a marginal group within the ABA. Things have changed. Our e-mail discussion group has over 120 members. We have had people attend our teleconferences from as far away as New Zealand. A member of the ABA Board of Governors attended our most recent meeting in Las Vegas. And in the past year, co-chief Richard Granat has been profiled as a “Legal Rebel” in a recent ABA Journal series . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Me and the Personal Computer

This being my first Slaw column, it would seem to be a good place to reflect on where I’ve been and what I use now. In the late 70’s at UBC Law I was a “TA” to one of Bob Franson’s early “Law and Computers” courses — featuring 300 baud access via a Texas Instruments Silent 700 thermal paper terminal to something called “Quick Law” (Well it did see quick, even at 300 baud). In 1982 $5,000 or so bought me my first computer, an Apple II Plus with various accessories and software — and then I splurged for . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Battery Boy

This article is about batteries that you can use to provide backup power for your laptop. The emphasis is on the two external batteries that I haved actually used: the Tekkeon myPower ALL MP 3450 and the Duracell/Xantrex XPower Powersource Mobile 100.

The bottom line? I bought one of each. The Tekkeon was better designed for the specific purpose of use with a laptop, as I’ll explain below. The Xantrex, however, was a battery that could more conveniently be used as a power supply for a variety of devices.

In the Fall of 2009, I bought a Dell Mini . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Are Technophobes Negligent?

Is a technophobe litigator who fails to take advantage of courtroom technology negligent? Can a litigator’s failure to use courtroom technology amount to negligent breach of duty when the case fails?

Why not?

We expect professionals to be aware of, and use, the most modern of methods. We most certainly demand this of doctors.

Imagine an old heart surgeon refusing to use current technology, preferring to launch into open heart surgery the way it was done in the ‘old days’. The doctor might rationalize it this way, “well it was good enough to operate on hearts without modern technology in . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Lawyers “Step in It” Through Social Media Incompetence

We often bemoan that lawyers don’t take seriously their duty to understand e-discovery. Today we tackle another subject that attorneys seem to avoid, often to their peril as they step on virtual cow pies. Social media is so pervasive that ignoring its legal implications is (we think) simple incompetence. Now that the active Facebook user population is more than 400 million globally (more than the U.S. population), it is clear that the social media phenomenon is here to stay.

Not only do lawyers need to understand the upsides and downsides of social media for their clients – they need to . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Open Source Your OS

Lawyers are asking the wrong question when they wonder whether to upgrade their operating system (OS) to Microsoft Windows 7 or stay at Windows XP or Vista. If you’re upgrading, the question should be what are ALL my options? Now that Microsoft issues its operating system in so many versions that you need a score card to keep track of which does what – did you know that Windows 7 Starter for netbooks even locks down your wallpaper – you might as well compare them to other alternatives. The legal technology world has changed a lot since you installed that . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Where’s Your Stuff

Or, perhaps more importantly, where is your client’s stuff? Software-as-a-service (SaaS) is a hot topic for a lot of businesses, and the legal profession is not exempt from its impact. It can be defined in a variety of ways and is part of what is commonly known as cloud computing. At its essence, you license access to software that is installed on a computer outside your office and you access it over the Internet. All of the data you enter into the software – e-mail, appointments, letters, depositions – is stored on that remote computer. SaaS services are accessed through . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Do We Still Need E-Mail?

The issue of e-mail management is now old hat for anyone involved in the practice of law. Rather than asking whether lawyers use it, it is a story when lawyers choose not to use it. The world has grown more complicated, though, as we try to figure out where to place our energy integrating new technologies, like Twitter or Google’s Wave, into our work. Even our choices about how to use e-mail have expanded.

E-mail often reminds me of books. It is a technology that, for all its faults, remains a tremendously useful way to share information. More importantly, there . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Email – Good Enough Isn’t!

If I was honest with you, I would admit that I read with glee the flurry of news reports noting that Facebook and other Web 2.0 media (such as Twitter, Yammer, and Friendfeed) had surpassed email as the preferred form of communication particularly for teens and young adults today. If you pardon the pun, the inner geek in me let out a loud Yahoo!

For years I have been struggling with the notion that email had become the place to work for many lawyers. It seemed that a bad technology had taken root to the point that it would be . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

The Need to Forget – Less Is More

Earlier in the year, I came across an article in New Scientist titled “Forgetfulness is key to a healthy mind”. In this article a case was described:

A 42-year-old woman from California, AJ remembers every day of her life since her teens in extraordinary detail. … AJ is locked in a cycle of remembering that she describes as a “running movie that never stops”. Even when she wants to, AJ cannot forget.” … “She described her constant recall as “non-stop, uncontrollable and totally exhausting” and as “a burden” of which she was both warden and victim.

The syndrome . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology