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Archive for the ‘Legal Technology’ Columns

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 1-Click Patent Application” (Slaw: October 14, 2010). The case is, 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

To PPT, or Not to PPT (In Court), That Is the Question

To PPT, or Not to PPT (In Court), that is the question:

After my last column Lloyd Duhaime, a renowned Victoria lawyer and humourist (read his book Hear! Hear!) wrote to say how disappointed he was when he used PowerPoint (PPT) in court. The disappointment came when the judge raced (as in read) ahead in his PowerPoint thus missing Lloyd’s no doubt persuasive submissions.

This highlights the downside of PowerPoint: it is not a good medium to carry a text message.

Well to all the Lloyds’ out there, here’s how you can use PowerPoint successfully: CUT THE TEXT!

Use PowerPoint . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Smartphones Proliferate in Computer Forensics

Two years ago, we began to say in lectures that we had seen a 200% rise in the number of cell phones passing through our forensics lab. Today, we are beginning to say that the increase is more like 500%. And it isn’t primarily standard cell phones – virtually all of the phones are smartphones. 

We’ve checked with others in our industry and they confirm that they are increasingly seeing smartphones as a source of electronic evidence. In particular, deleted e-mails and deleted text messages seem to be in play. It often seems that evidence which is missing from workstations . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Citation Technology and the McGill Guide 7th Ed.

Ted Tjaden (August 20), Mark Lewis (September 3), and Shaunna Mireau (September 9 and September 14) have already posted on the McGill Law Journal’s Canadian guide to uniform legal citation, 7th ed. (Toronto: Thomson Carswell, 2010), and many others have commented. Here are a few additional links, just for reference:

I hope it’s not too late to add a few words of my own. I thought I should hold off until I had actually seen . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Getting to S: Securing Lawyer Online Activities

The availability of secured connections and applications on the Web means potentially safer online law practices. Opt for using secure connections and develop a habit that can limit exposure of your work product and client confidences. You can do this by making some small modifications to your Web activities.

Let’s start simply. If you’re like most people, you sometimes find yourself at the Google Web search engine. Ever typed in something related to a client in Google? If you did that over an unencrypted coffee shop (or home!) wireless network, your search is being transmitted in plain text. Google now . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Lawyers Real Estate Pty Ltd:  a Case Study of Blue Ocean Strategy

Unless the technology makes buyers’ lives dramatically simpler, more convenient, more productive, less risky, or more fun and fashionable, it will not attract the masses no matter how many awards it wins…Value innovation is not the same as technology innovation.
–W.Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, Blue Ocean Strategy, page 120.

This is a column about legal technology, but sometimes legal innovation involves creating new business models that have little to do with technology. One such business model is called Lawyers Real Estate.

Peter Mericka is a Melbourne-based lawyer who is revolutionizing the sale of real estate in Australia. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Authentication and Trust – Some Preliminary Thoughts

Before giving legal effect to any piece of information, people want to know whether the information can be trusted. What is this information? Where does it come from? How sure must they be of the answers to those questions?

At a basic level these are not even legal questions. They are not addressed particularly to the content of the information, though the content can help answer them. They are about the medium and not the message. They are questions of authentication.

Authentication questions apply to information in any form and in any medium. Electronic documents do not need ‘more’ or . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology