Canada’s online legal magazine.

Technology Woes

I often tell people (my great Field IT guys and gal) that I know only enough about technology to be dangerous (usually when I break something). I try to learn things and understand engineeringish processes and sometimes I meet with moderate success. Not today.

Since re-planting ourselves in rural Alberta, my family has been attempting to live land-line-less…no telephone line. It is still remarkable costly to bring telephone service onto an undeveloped property and our last experience doing that was unpalatable. We do have pretty consistent and speedy Internet service so we gave VOIP a try. For 17 painful months. . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology

Spindle Law: Treatise by Crowd

Spindle Law is a U.S. project to facilitate legal research by getting a community of lawyers to lay down the bones of areas of law in a hierarchical online treatise. Let me unpack that notion for you. To help me understand what Spindle is doing, I spoke to David Gold, the CEO and one of the founders of Spindle. At one level the notion is simple and straightforward: legal professionals join Spindle and, much as with Wex, the Legal Information Institute’s encyclopedia, members contribute to the building of a database. However, unlike Wex, which aims to meet the . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology

Tackling Impaired Driving…By Decriminalizing It.

Yes. You read the title correctly.
No. I’m not crazy. Although one might argue that point considering that I am about to propose a solution to the intractable problem of impaired driving that would, if implemented, wipe out a large percentage of my practice.

When the typical impaired driving client approaches me they invariably express one or both of the following two concerns: first, they want to avoid the stigma of a criminal record and second, they want to keep their driver’s licence. As the law now stands, neither of these objectives are possible without winning the case outright. If . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law

Labour Mobility and the Legal Profession

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) defines labour mobility as the freedom of workers to practise their occupation wherever opportunities exist. According to HRSDC, every year, approximately 200,000 Canadians relocate to a different province or territory to look for work.

Several Canadian provinces and territories have enacted or are in the process of enacting legislation that will eliminate internal trade barriers and enhance labour mobility to ensure all Canadian workers have the freedom to be able to work in their fields anywhere in Canada. These endeavours stem from the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT), signed in 1994 by the . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Nova Scotia Crowns Demand Better Security in Courthouses

According to an article in today’s Canadian Occupational Safety, Crown attorneys in Nova Scotia want the provincial government to investigate security at the Halifax and Dartmouth courthouses.

They complain of incidents of violence against lawyers, witnesses and other people.

Court house security committees composed of lawyers, Crown attorneys, judges, Department of Justice officials and sheriffs made recommendations to the government in the spring of 2009 on how to improve courthouse safety.

Saying that the government has done nothing, the Crown Attorneys Association has decided to file an official complaint with the Department of Labour.

Cross-posted to Library Boy . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Copyright Reform Bill This Spring?

In anticipation of a possible copyright reform bill in Canada in the Spring of 2010, the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) issued a statement today reiterating its September 2009 position on copyright reform:

Fair dealing – Fair dealing is critical to a balanced and fair copyright regime. Copyright law reform must not limit or narrow fair dealing.

Damages and fair dealing – A change in the law should ensure that a user of a copyright-protected work is not subject to damages where he had reasonable grounds to believe that an activity is fair dealing.

Technological protection measures – Circumventing . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law

What if the Cloud *Evaporates*?

♫Some sunny day-hey baby
When everything seems okay, baby
You’ll wake up and find out you’re alone
Cause I’ll be gone
Gone, gone, gone really gone…♫

Lyrics and Music by Don Everly and Phil Everly, recorded by The Everly Brothers.

The ABA Journal today published an article “Get Your Head in the Cloud” which states:

The early indications from ethics authorities are that storing client data in the cloud does not violate ethics rules, as long as the lawyer took appropriate steps to safeguard the information from inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure.

While I agree about taking . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Technology: Internet, Technology: Office Technology

Texas Will Execute Henry Skinner Today

Modern states tend to keep meticulous records. This bureaucratic penchant lets us see how truly bizarre one aspect of the Texas justice system is. Thanks to a chart prepared by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, I can tell you that: since 1982 209 people have received capital punishment at the hands of that state; I could even tell you their “races,” as if that mattered. Another chart, this listing information on all executed offenders, will give you a photograph of the convict, some scanty information about the crime that led to execution, and the executed person’s “last statement.” . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law

Law Firm of the 21st Century: The Clients’ Revolution – a Study by Eversheds LLP

Eversheds LLP published this past Monday a 16-page report called “Law Firm of the 21st Century: The Clients’ Revolution.”

Their news release is here and summarizes their findings in these terms:

– Recession accelerates change in legal sector by 10 years
– Inefficient sector now puts value and efficiency first
– Hourly rate billing gives way to value billing
– Clients hold power in legal supply relationships
– General Counsel rises in status
– Magic circle category increasingly redundant

A new report warns law firms that that they need to modernise or lose out as a major power shift is

. . . [more]
Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Practice of Law: Practice Management

iPhone App vs. Mobile Friendly Site

Omar wrote recently about the Tory’s iPhone app. And some individuals, such as Michael Geist and Jim Carroll have created iPhone apps. They essentially provide an iPhone friendly way to consume one’s web site, blogs, twitter, etc.

There is another point of view that says to forget that kind of iPhone app – and just make your web site or blog phone friendly. This point of view essentially says that people don’t want to download an app for every site they want to go to. And not everyone has an iPhone.

My blog, for instance, is readable on . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology: Internet

Third Circuit Student Speech Cases Illustrate Struggle to Characterize Communication Through Social Media

I promise not to get in the habit of cross-linking to my own blog, but it’s worth adding something to the Slaw record on the February 4th student speech decisions of the United States Third Circuit Court of Appeals, even by way of cross-link. Layshock v. Hermitage School District and J.S. v. Blue Mountain School District deal with sanctions imposed by school boards for “misuse” of social media in strikingly similar circumstances, but the Court reached the opposite conclusion in each case. As I argue here, the conflicting awards illustrate a dialogue about whether to recognize the unique impact . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Foreign Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions, Technology, Technology: Internet

The Bad News About Email Message Recall: It Doesn’t Work!

You’ve likely received a “Message Recall” e-mail at some point. They have a Subject line that looks like this: Reid Trautz would like to recall the message “You won’t believe what Dan Pinnington said.” The text within the quote marks is the Subject line of the original message – the one the sender wants recalled.

Many e-mail systems, including the widely used Microsoft/Outlook Exchange Server and IBM Lotus Notes/Domino Server, offer a Message Recall feature. This feature is supposed to delete unread copies of the recalled message from the recipients’ inboxes so they never see it.

When does one make . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology: Internet, Technology: Office Technology