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Archive for December, 2010

A Conversation About Secrecy and Privacy

There’s an interesting conversation over at Edge — not the legal consulting company, but the foundation that holds colloquiums on important issues in science, philosophy, and art. This discussion is entitled Who Gets to Keep Secrets? and the question was posed by Daniel Hillis, a computer scientist, who amplified it thus:

The question of secrecy in the information age is clearly a deep social (and mathematical) problem, and well worth paying attention to.

When does my right to privacy trump your need for security? Should a democratic government be allowed to practice secret diplomacy? Would we rather live in

. . . [more]
Posted in: Reading: Recommended

Personal Emails in a Goverment System: Subject to Access to Information Law?

A lawyer with the City of Ottawa was active in community activities, and with permission of his employer spent some time on those activities at the office. His email to and from one of the charities became the subject of an access to information request under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA). He resisted disclosure of the emails on the ground that they had nothing to do with government business, the disclosure of which was the purpose of the Act.

The Information and Privacy Commissioner held in April 2009 that the emails must be disclosed: . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology: Internet, ulc_ecomm_list

On Reading

The ABA Journal had a news link today titled, “Do Judges Read Online Briefs Differently? Brief Writers May Need to Be Briefer“. The post discussed a Texas Lawyer article on e-filing and what that might mean to legal writing. Interesting stuff. The idea of fewer words to convey a point may be necessary if reading moves primarily to a screen.

A colleague once asserted that there was a bunch of literature showing that reading on screen was slower than reading from paper, and he was right. Here are some examples of studies that support this premise:

  • Dillon, A.,
. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Information: Information Management

Facts and Trends in Dispute Resolution in Sweden and Finland

Companies are clearly interested in exploring alternative ways of resolving disputes. While only 14 % of corporations surveyed by Rochier in Finland and Sweden say they have so far participated in mediation or another alternative dispute resolution process, this percentage may rise as companies continue to seek simplified dispute resolution procedures and flexible solutions. The second most important conclusion is that corporations in Sweden and Finland are cost conscious, with an eye on cost cutting and improved cost management when it comes to conflict management and resolution. Conflict prevention is the buzz word over dispute resolution.
Posted in: Substantive Law: Foreign Law

Justice Judge Lays Down the Law on Twitter

And now a post from snowbound London.

During the bail hearing of Julian Assange, the presiding magistrate, District Judge Howard Riddle, gave permission for journalists in attendance to use live blogging technology in reporting proceedings. In doing so, in the interests of practicality, he waltzed past provisions in the Contempt of Court Act 1981, which prohibited the use of recording media in court. It spurred a debate in England about the appropriate limits.

This spurred the senior judge in England – the wonderfully named Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, Lord Judge – to issue formal guidance to the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information: Information Management, Substantive Law: Foreign Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions, Technology: Internet

Your Client Is Not Your Enemy

When I talk with people in the legal marketplace about alternative fee arrangements, I often hear two common objections. Interestingly, one is raised by lawyers and the other by clients. 

Lawyers say they don’t want to offer fixed fees because they figure that the client, having bought what is essentially an unlimited amount of legal services, will then deluge the lawyer with phone calls, emails, and tasks of varying complexity, burying the lawyer in work for which he or she will never be compensated. Clients, on the other hand, say they don’t want to accept fixed fees because they figure . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Federal Court Awards PIPEDA Damages

A self-represented Applicant won an award of $5,000 from the Federal Court today in Nammo v. Transunion of Canada Inc. for violations of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), the first time that damages have ever been awarded under this statute.

The Privacy Commissioner of Canada (PCC) made a finding on January 22, 2010 that the Applicant’s complaint, made on April 8, 2008, was well founded, but resolved. The hearing request was then made under s. 14 of the Act,

Hearing by Court

14. (1) A complainant may, after receiving the Commissioner’s report, apply to the

. . . [more]
Posted in: Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

US Considering Online Privacy “Bill of Rights”

The US Department of Commerce’s Internet Policy Task Force has proposed a set of principles that collectively form the basis of what could be dubbed an online privacy “Bill of Rights” for US consumers. The proposed policies in the DoC’s “green paper” aim to “improve the state of affairs domestically and advance interoperability among different privacy regimes around the world so that, globally, Internet services can continue to flourish.” The DoC also proposes the creation of a “Privacy Policy Office” that would work with the Federal Trade Commission and other government agencies to create a “voluntary but enforceable . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology: Internet

How Long Should You Keep Your Closed Files?

“How long do I have to keep my closed files?” is one of the most frequent questions lawyer ask me. Certainly you don’t have to keep all files permanently – this just doesn’t make practical or economic sense. Nor is the solution as simple as a one-size-fits-all rule for when to destroy closed files (e.g., toss everything at 10 years). For many reasons, file retention and destruction is a complex issue. This post examines why and provides some direction on how long you should keep your closed files. It includes information about how long claims take to surface for different . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Practice Management

Following Copyright Reform Discussions

By now, those following discussions on Copyright Modernization Act Bill C-32, have found their favourite bloggers to follow. Also take the time to visit the Library of Parliament LEGISinfo where you can follow the introduction of the bill, the debates at 2nd reading, as well as the committee meetings in late November and December. . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law

A Festivus for the Legal Information Industry

Why don’t law librarians, legal IT folk and legal publishers all just get along? Do we need a Festivus airing of grievances?

This is the suggestion from Sarah Glassmeyer, Faculty Services and Outreach Librarian at the Valparaiso University School of Law in Valparaiso, Indiana, in her controversial guest blog post The Loris in the Library at the prominent VoxPopuLII blog at the Legal Information Institute, Cornell University Law School.

She says:

I wish I could say, “Librarians . . . computer scientists . . . legal publishers . . . let’s all hold hands now and sing kum-bay-yah!” However,

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Information: Information Management, Legal Information: Libraries & Research, Legal Information: Publishing

Short Day, Long Shadow

Last year I let the Winter Solstice slip by unnoticed, only pointing back at it when the days were starting to stretch out. This year I thought I’d beat the rush and mark the shortest day a day early.

Fundamental as the law is in our society, it has little or nothing to say about the day the miserly sun stands still [solstice – mid-13c., from O.Fr. solstice, from L. solstitium “point at which the sun seems to stand still,” from sol “sun” (see sol) + pp. stem of sistere “to come to a stop, make stand still”], an . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous