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Archive for the ‘Legal Technology’ Columns

Fiduciaries’ Access to Digital Assets


As people carry out a variety of activities using computers and other digital devices, and as they inhabit a number of ‘places’ online, they develop things of value that are expressed in digital form. These ‘things’ take many forms: bank accounts, non-bank payment accounts, gambling receipts, auction holdings, virtual life empires, the list expands over time. Some of these assets are in known computer systems with known proprietors, others are in the cloud – meaning in some computer system or systems somewhere in the world, controlled by somebody in a meshwork of contracts.

So long as the power stays . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Powering Your Practice With Databases

I recently met with my elderly mother’s Accountant who had a Financial Planner in attendance. When I told them of my legal IT consulting work, they were almost sympathetic as the lawyers they knew were averse to the use of databases. This was in stark contrast to themselves, and most members of their profession. Their view was that lawyers were archaic in their information management practices.

It is not just referral sources who are speaking up, clients are also losing patience with lawyers, with one corporation, KIA Motors developing a test of their IT skills.

Although I am not privy . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Legal Innovation: What’s It Going to Take?

The CBA Legal Futures Initiative has sparked a lot of great discussion and writing over the past few months about innovation. Monica Goyal has bound up a lot of the must-reads on this topic in one simple post on Slaw as a precursor to a Tuesday Twitter Chat organised to discuss innovation in the legal sector. A summary of that CBA Futures chat is worth reading here if you missed it.

What struck me reading this summary is that if we want innovation in our industry, we need to actively support and foster innovation as other industries do.

Mitch Kowalski, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

State Court Judges’ Perspective on E-Discovery

We recently had the pleasure of serving on a Fairfax Bar Association CLE faculty which included Circuit Court Chief Judge Dennis Smith, and Circuit Court Judges John Tran and Jane Roush. Their panel offering their insights on e-discovery in state courts was warmly received.

Judge Smith got the ball rolling by talking about the difference between digital immigrants and digital natives, terms coined more than a decade ago by author, educator and lecturer Marc Prensky.

Digital immigrants didn’t grow up with technology and digital natives did. Many judges are digital immigrants. Some will “learn a new language” and immerse themselves . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Communicate by Design: Keep in Touch

Recently I was preparing a talk on using social media for client development and I noticed something interesting in the LinkedIn company page. In order for me to see contact information for a law firm who had status updates I had to “chase” the “About” information down the page, as it appeared below the updates. The more updates there were, the more I had to wait for them to load and then scroll farther down the page to the “About XYZ Law Firm” text. Then, despite some other descriptive information about the firm itself, the only contact information in the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Keep Your Marbles

Law firms are spoiled for choice when it comes to cloud computing services. You can place any or all of your practice technology somewhere other than your office. The maturing of the cloud world, and the seemingly endless proliferation of open source software, create additional options. If you are on the fence about where your information lives, these may push you over.

A challenge of using cloud or hosted Web services is the same kind of change that occurs on your desktop. Companies shut down products, change their business model and start charging for something that was free, or go . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Profits of Law

SLAW contributor Mitch Kowalski was in Australia speaking as a “legal futurist” on our national radio legal show, The Law Report, while here I am writing in a Canadian publication.

The old “Prophet in a foreign land” phenomenon was evident particularly when telling Australians about the only two law firms in the world to have been publicly floated — both Australian.

I did a similiar thing by bringing legal IT visionary Peter C Hart out to Australia from Canada in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. The great thing about bringing an overseas expert is that they get attention. Though . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Internet Voting Revisited

The Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Ontario recently published a report on ‘alternative voting technologies’, mainly ‘network voting’ by Internet or telephone. The Election Act had been amended in 2010 to require such a study. His conclusion, somewhat controversial, is that no election technology currently exists that can satisfy the criteria that his team decided should apply to any such system before it could be implemented.

The stated criteria are a helpful base line for considering the use of voting technologies. No authoritative list could be found, so after study, the list was created. Most people who have commented . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Legal Intelligence

There are a lot of great resources for primary law online, both free and fee. However, to get legal analysis and cutting edge thinking on current legal topics there are also some great resources for free online. Bar associations are a great source (of course!) but here are some others that have great content. You just have to know where to look.

Lexology (aka ACC Newstand) brings together articles submitted by major commercial law firms. Register and then search the site or set up custom RSS feeds to be delivered Outlook or your feed reader. International in scope, the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Lean as a Process Catalyst for Legal Technology

I’m (re-)reading Lean UX by Jeff Gothelf following last month’s enlightening set of sessions at ILTA on why we need to find new ways of doing things. Whether it was legal project management, change management or application and software development, ILTA was full of ideas about re-imagining and simplifying the very traditional processes at our firms.

By adopting processes that are faster, leaner and with more feedback loops, both this book and the ILTA sessions suggest we can turn those massive boil-the-ocean stalled projects into that which entrepreneurs and innovators already know well – the Minimum Viable Product . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Metadata in Digital Photos – Should You Care?

We are hopeful that you are familiar with metadata, especially as it exists in e-mail messages and word processing files. If not, then a brief refresher is in order. There are a couple of different types of metadata, but most regard the common definition to be data that is stored internal to the file (you can’t see it without knowing how to look at it) and is not explicitly defined by the user. The application (e.g. word processor) inserts data within the file such as the author, last time printed, fonts used or creation date. But what about image files . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Re Outsourcing the Wheel

To carry on my Vroom Vroom theme from a few months ago, I suggest that there are some more potential similarities between the legal and automotive industries. Talk of the “Law Factory” from thought leaders such as Ron Friedmann, has encouraged further consideration. At a high level, both industries have “benefitted” from protectionism, though it did neither industry a favour, long term.

The Australian Federation of Automotive Products Manufacturers (FAPM) website says:

There are about 200 Australian firms supplying components to the automotive industry. The vehicle assemblers have also undergone massive rationalisation and increasing global integration. Globalisation provides both threats

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Technology