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Archive for the ‘Legal Technology’ Columns

Outlook – the Personal Productivity Tool

Most law firms use Microsoft Outlook and most people only think of it as an e-mail client that happens to have a calendar stuck on it. In reality though, Outlook, especially Outlook 2007 or newer, is quite a bit more than that.

Outlook 2007 introduced the “To Do Bar” – a panel on the right side of the screen when you’re looking at the Inbox – that shows you the next couple of appointments on your calendar as well as any tasks or flagged e-mails that you may have. It’s the ability to flag e-mails for follow-up that I want . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Your First High Tech Trial

Your first high tech trial need not be an ordeal. With a little will power, ingenuity and preparation you can successfully launch your litigation into the late 20th century.

Start with a little mental preparation. Tell yourself (repeatedly if it helps) the one universal truth about courtroom technology: IT IS NOT ROCKET SCIENCE. If your confidence needs a further boost reflect on how well you mastered other first encounters with technology: riding a bike, driving a car, resetting the clock on your VCR. If you succeeded in at least one of these struggles you are ready for courtroom technology.  . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

A Maintenance Miscellany

Sharpen the Saw” was #7 on Stephen Covey’s list of the habits of “Highly Effective People” The main point was that effectiveness requires continuous attention to self renewal and maintenance. The same applies to the technology systems we often just take it for granted. It is easy to go months without turning our minds to the mundane task of taking the time to keep it all working well. 

When an unexpected “disk full” situation arose recently the subject got my attention very quickly. A user “whoops” had inadvertently moved a large number of files. They seemed to . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Starting to Think About HTML5, or the Joy of Firebug

I drift along sometimes, dreaming that maybe I can stop learning new technical things for a while and actually use a few technologies to finish some long-term projects. Then something comes along to wake me up. One of the more recent of these wake-up calls came with the announcement of Apple’s iPad. People were complaining that it didn’t support Adobe Flash content.

I don’t generally pay a lot of attention to either Apple or Adobe, because I tend not to associate either one with open standards or open software. That’s just a bias though, and life is never that simple. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

The Virtual Lawyer Stampede

Intriguing news from the ABA’s 2010 Legal Technology Survey Report: 14% of lawyers reported that they ran a virtual law office, working with clients over the Net and rarely meeting them in person. We thought that statistic was fairly amazing.

Though the term virtual law office (VLO) has been around for a while, the definition has been morphing. In fact, as we went to research the definition, we found a wide range of definitions many of them at odds with one another.

After comparing what we found, we settled on a definition proffered by virtual lawyer Stephanie Kimbro, who . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Be  More Productive With Enhanced Windows Experience

I enjoy the regular updates on interesting work environments posted by, where you can see all manner of screen and desk layouts, often with multiple monitors (even 6!) for enhanced productivity. We are not all going to have multiple monitors, and perhaps shouldn’t even if we can in light of concerns about multi-tasking and how terrible we really are at it. We may not even be able to choose an alternative to the dominant law office operating system, Microsoft Windows. But whether you have more than one monitor or not, here are a couple . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

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