Tag Archives: smartphones

On The Rise: What The Luxury Goods Industry Can Teach Law Firms About Mobile Recruiting

“Nordstrom has a waiting list for a Chanel sequined tweed coat with a $9,010 price. Neiman Marcus has sold out in almost every size of Christian Louboutin “Bianca” platform pumps, at $775 a pair. Mercedes-Benz said it sold more cars last month in the United States than it had in any July in five years,” according to last summer’s NY Times.

A recession usually marks the decline of luxury good sales. Individuals spend less on unnecessary clothing, vehicles, and vacations to save more on immediate needs, like mortgages, credit card debt, food, and childcare.

Yet, this generation’s recession has noticed a marked revival in sales of late, a good sign for luxury goods dealers.

If high-end markets, forecasted to be last in line for recovery, are gaining ground, then why are markets for immediate need—such as legal aid or the job search industry—struggling so far behind?

Economists believe it’s statistically simple to predict the fickle whims of consumers. And, for law, they’ll site oversupply of providers with under-demand for services as the reason behind a slump in the legal field.

But, perhaps oversaturation of the market is not to blame. Is it possible that luxury industries have a secret economic tool, innovation, or know-how that’s missing or hidden from deeper-rooted corporations?

Doubtful.

It’s more likely that luxury industries—understanding the difference between essential and optional—embrace technology, specifically smart phones and mobile apps, not as luxury items at all; but, instead, as valuable and necessary retail, sales, and marketing norms.

Tablets, e-devices, and other gadgetry are not news, they’re professional needs.

As such, people around the world are searching job vacancies via LinkedIn, locating food delivery via the Seamless app, and finding friends through Meetup Groups and social media.

And, as of today, your law firm clients are booking hotels via Ritz-Carlton’s recently-released mobile app. According to Boston.com’s article about the app’s debut,

“In addition to the reservations system and hotel room look-up, the Ritz-Carlton app includes personal tips from President & COO Herve Humler that identify the “hidden gems” guests shouldn’t miss when they check in (think: a Viennese crystal chandelier in Doha and a secret garden in Sanya).”

Of course, computer programming allows any service to be customizable with the drop of a line of code. Ritz Carlton’s app is no exception.

“Additionally, the app will offer personalized suggestions to guests based on location and duration of stay,” writes Melanie Nayer of Boston.com.

What does all this mean for law firm management?

Well, for research lab Potentialpark, it means law firms should start seriously considering mobile recruiting.

By this time, law firms should have a web site, blog, and possibly even a mobile app to advertise its expertise and expert lawyers.

Unfortunately for legal recruiters, however, a study by Potentialpark (via Mashable) discovered that while a healthy 19 percent of job seekers use their mobile devices for career-related purposes (and more than 50 percent could imagine doing so), only 7 percent of employers have a mobile version of their career website and only 3 percent have a mobile job app.

So, your future legal recruits want to use their mobile phones to look for jobs, receive job alerts, check their job status, and get tips for the application process.

And, although they can check-in to their flight on a smartphone to attend an interview, they can’t actually find your job openings mobile-y.

Right now, one in five job seekers makes use of their mobile phone to head hunt. In the future, these numbers will only increase; which is why hotels, like the Ritz-Carlton, have harnessed mobile recruiting power. But, the question is, why haven’t you?

-WB

For more information about mobile recruiting and developing an online, anywhere, anytime talent sourcing strategy, attend The Center For Competitive Management’s audio course on May 22, 2012.

You will learn:

  • The definition of mobile recruitment and how can it be used effectively
  • Why mobile recruitment is such a competitive advantage
  • How to choose a mobile strategy that makes sense for your company

By the end of this comprehensive program, you’ll also know more about:

  • Common terms defined including; mobile web, native apps, QR Codes, SMS and other mobile recruitment innovations.
  • How social and mobile meld and how to leverage your current social presence for mobile recruitment.
  • How GPS and location based services can help you create a more local mobile experience for prospective employees.
  • How video can enhance recruitment success
  • What next? An overview of the latest mobile applications and technologies

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Neustockimages

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Everything Lawyers Wanted To Know About RSS Readers (But Were Too Afraid To Ask)

The icon for adding an RSS feed

OMG. Acronyms are not just for texting your BFF.

Members of the legal profession know well how to create a glossary of complicated acronyms for various official filings.

Remember that case where the ACM (“Association for Computing Machinery”) sued the GBF (“Gravitational Biology Facility”), but the jury verdict went to the opposing side—totally NMP (“not my problem”). Still, your boss asked to see you ASAYGB (“as soon as you get back”). What a BDATO (“bad day at the office”).

An unabbreviated word of caution, however. A California judge went so far as to reprimand lawyers for the egregious number of acronyms used in their appellant’s opening brief. Judge David Sills of the Fourth District Court of Appeal criticized the lawyers for “descending into an alphabet soup of jargon-based acronyms,” according to the Legal Pad blog (via ABA Journal).

“Judging by the briefing in the case before us now, nobody got the hint. Unfortunately, there are no rehab clinics for acronym addicts,” Sills wrote in his opinion (via the ABA).

“Consider, for example, this sentence, committed on page 32 of the appellant’s opening brief:” Sills continued, “‘In June 22, 2000, CARB adopted an SCM for AIM coatings.’ Huh?”

Huh, is right. Acronyms sometimes make a simple idea or statement seem unjustly intimidating.

Take, for example, RSS feeds. Or, RSS readers. Although blog articles (like this one) are always encouraging professionals to use them, what is an RSS, really?

It’s time to explain.

RSS stands for “Rich Site Summary.” RSS is a format for delivering regularly changing web content, such as news-related sites, blogs and other WWW (“world wide web”) content.

There are three major advantages to using RSS feeds (see, What is RSS):

  1. You use one source to stay informed on any subject that you deem interesting.
  2. You save time by retrieving the latest content at one site, as opposed to looking up each site individually.
  3. You maintain higher levels of privacy because you don’t need to input your personal information to sign up for an online or e-mail newsletter.

RSS readers allow individuals to skim pre-screened headlines (e.g., re: news, fashion, law) to pick and choose—filter, if you will—the vast space that is the Internet. Then, you can narrow in on only those subjects that matter.

With RSS readers, a lawyer can stay informed without sacrificing those precious billable hours.

To get an idea, try out some of the most popular RSS readers, including Amphetadesk (Windows, Linux, Mac), FeedReader (Windows), and NewsGator (Windows – integrates with Outlook), My Yahoo, Bloglines, and Google Reader (via What is RSS).

Google Reader is also available for your smartphone. Here is a great video tutorial of how it works (via Real Lawyers Have Blogs).

However, like overusing acronyms, don’t let overwhelming RSS feeds overrun your life. Unplug, desync, and disconnect once in awhile.

Keith Lee, author of An Associate’s Mind Blog, writes, “It was almost with dread that I opened my RSS Reader on Monday morning. There were 300+ new blog entries, news stories, infographics, etc. waiting for me. There was a sense of obligation about the whole thing.”

“With social media, blogging, etc. many people seem to think that a person needs to remain ‘engaged’ and stay on top of things 24/7 in order to be doing it properly,” laments Lee.

The solution? It may have two letters, but it’s not an acronym. When technology starts to get the best of you, don’t be afraid to just say “no.”

And, now you know.

-WB

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Why Integrating Legal Technology Will Save Your Firm Time And Money

Although your law firm manager may not be yelling over the internal comm-system, “Time is money, people!” certainly, he or she is thinking it.

So why, exactly, does time equal money?

In purely financial terms, there exists a time value of money. Money earns interest over time. So, the value of money actually changes—for example, if invested, $100, in one year, could turn into $105 future value at 5 percent interest.

In addition, if a finite amount of money is spent to accomplish a certain task, the money is spent in place of a second, possible, alternative task. Would you rather spend $15 per hour for a paralegal to locate a physical document in the law library over 10 hours? Or, would it be more efficient and cost-effective to purchase e-document software at $150 that locates important paperwork in under 5 minutes?

These are all questions with which financial consultants and law firm administrators struggle everyday.

And, in the 21st Century, questions about the time value of money generally surround a tradeoff: investments in technology or in manpower.

The Legal Loudspeaker suggests a few reasons why technology converts time into money in the article excerpted below:

When you’re efficient, you take on less risk – Simply put, the less time you spend on a contingency case, the less risk associated with taking it on. If you lose, you’re not sacrificing as much time or revenue. If you win, you’ll make the same amount of money, but since you spent less time on the case, your margins are higher. And, if you win or lose but don’t get paid, you’re out less money.

When you’re efficient, you can take on more cases – If you can generate a Will twice as fast as your competitor, you can do twice the amount of work, right? When your process for settling civil disputes speeds up, you can twice as many disputes. In essence, the more time savings you experience, the more availability you have to generate revenue, and the more revenue you can generate.

When you’re efficient, you can spend more time on client-facing activities – I get it, just because you have more time in your day doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily have clients running to your door asking for your services. But it does mean that you can do more indirect revenue-generating activities.  Spend your new-found time meeting people, creating stronger relationships with your clients, and building value in your firm. Try to  drive in new opportunities from your current client base (maybe they didn’t know you take on divorces). Did you know that once you have a client, each subsequent sale has a close ratio of over 70%? It’s easy money!”

To read the entire article, go here.

So, are you sold on technology, but unsure where to start? Think about integrating the following products into your business systems:

iPad.

Apps for smartphones and the iPad have contributed some of the most significant improvements in efficiency and productivity within law firms recently. Get with your IT Department to brainstorm how best to implement this tool into your everyday legal activity.

Read about some of the most valuable legal iPad apps here.

Near-Field Communications (NFC) Technology.

From Google Wallet to Starbucks Mobile Payment App, NFC technology has myriad uses in law and billing arrangements.

Make sure your firm is paid on-time by reading about applications for NFC technology here.

Social Media and Blogging.

Social media sites like LinkedIn or legal recruitment web-agenices, including lawcrossing.com, are cheap and easy ways to locate qualified candidates. It saves recruiters time and money by already compiling information about prospective employees.

Even if your firm is not looking to hire, it’s certainly still looking to recruit clients. At which point, social media—blog posts, tweets, or Facebook feeds—become crucial in advertising what services your firm offers, who its lawyers are, and why a client should hire you, as opposed to another firm.

In the time it took you to read this line, I sent a tweet, then 500 people read it. Talk about a brand new, instant value for time in money.

E-Discovery Software.

Today, most law firms already use some sort of electronic discovery software. However, when did your firm last update it?

The capabilities of software and technology change rapidly each day. Thus, if you can’t remember the last time your firm updated its online systems, chances are there exists a more efficient way to organize and file e-discovery documents. 

In sum, time, money, and technology are inextricably linked. So, consider putting together a “technology team” at your law firm—to keep apprised of developments in the field of legal gadgetry—one that will ensure your associates are not falling behind or sinking your bottom line.

-WB

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When The Mind And Mobile Technology Are In Sync (And When To Disconnect)

There’s no doubt that new technology is an asset in boosting the learning curve of young associates and in increasing the survival rates of outdated law firms.

Just this morning, results about the prevalence of smartphones among lawyers were staggering. In biglaw, nearly 100 percent of lawyers use a smartphone for law-related tasks. In general, at least a majority (88 percent) of lawyers use a BlackBerry, iPhone, Android, or Windows phone each day.

And, the number of lawyers hosting a law blog is on the rise. Blogging and the use of social media makes for innovative marketing and business strategies in a tight economic climate.

Computers and mobile technology allow attorneys to keep apprised of legal developments for their clients, as well as passing litigation for legal precedent.

So what happens if you unplug, desync, and disconnect?

That’s what Keith Lee, author of An Associate’s Mind Blog, asked  his readers after an incredibly busy work week.

“It was almost with dread that I opened my RSS Reader on Monday morning. There were 300+ new blog entries, news stories, infographics, etc. waiting for me. There was a sense of obligation about the whole thing,” writes Lee.

Although, according to Lee, “With social media, blogging, etc. many people seem to think that a person needs to remain ‘engaged’ and stay on top of things 24/7 in order to be doing it properly,” Lee suggests just saying, “No.”

Unplug the Blackberry, stop monitoring emails on the iPhone, don’t update Twitter on the Android, and forget downloading the latest legal app on your iPad. Once in awhile, throw caution to the wind and mark as “read” every lingering RSS story and blog post.

Instead, spend more free time and weekends with family and friends, pursuing a hobby, or even (horror!) spend the time to cook a few healthy meals at home. Finally, get some rest and sleep well.

While Lee’s joie-de-vivre post is certainly valuable personal advice, it turns out he’s onto something professionally as well.

For decades, studies have indicated that sleep is essential to the consolidation of memories and learning. When you’re up late at night wondering why you can’t remember that research fact—after all, you just read it on your Facebook feed—it could be that you were spending too much time thinking about this information in the first place.

“People who take a nap after learning a new task, for instance, remember it better than those who don’t snooze,” reports Time Health.

Apparently, the brain is doing its best thinking while people doze off or are (seemingly) idle.

“The brain is trying to weave ideas together even when you don’t think you are thinking of anything,” notes Johns Hopkins behavioral neurologist and memory expert Dr. Barry Gordon to Time Health.

So if our brain is busy learning and needs to shut off for improved data processing, why are we so worried about disconnecting from the electronic world of law?

Give Siri, your virtual personal assistant a break once in awhile. Shut off your smartphone and computer. Believe in the benefits of technology without being a slave to it.

And, finally, never worry that “an idle mind is the Devil’s workshop” while scientists can continually confirm, there’s no such thing as a mind at rest.

-WB

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Meet Siri, Your Virtual Personal Assistant: The Case For Smartphones In Law

It wouldn’t be too surprising to hear the following conversations between a young female associate—overworked and overwhelmed—and her assistant:

“What is the meaning of life?”

“All evidence to date suggests it’s chocolate.”

Or, on especially late nights:

“Why am I here?”

“I don’t know. Frankly, I’ve wondered that myself.”

Except, these conversations occurred between a person and her virtual personal assistant—the iPhone 4S’s new intelligent voice recognition system, Siri.

In reality, Siri is designed to answer questions, such as “how much to make a photocopy at Kinkos?” “What time is my trial today?” or “where’s the nearest law library?” Siri’s groundbreaking technology in voice recognition makes Apple’s iPhone the receptacle of perhaps the most advanced artificial intelligence on the planet.

If there ever was a question about the utility of a smartphone, Siri puts it to rest.

Advances in mobile technology, like Siri, could be the reason why an increased number of law firm professionals are carrying smartphones.

A recent American Bar Association (ABA) survey conducted between January and May of this year discovered that nearly 88 percent of lawyers use a smartphone for law-related tasks while away from their primary workplace. In large firms, those with 100 or more lawyers, 98 percent of lawyers use a smartphone.  

Of the lawyers who reported using a smartphone, 46 percent were BlackBerry users, 35 percent were iPhone users, 17 percent were Android users, and 3 percent ere Windows Mobile users.

Technology is evolving everyday. So, even if you’re already satisfied with your in-house personal assistant, there are still a myriad of other reasons to own a smartphone for use within the practice of law.

Email at your fingertips.

Lawyers are always on call. That means, answering emails on the walk to work, during lunch breaks, and often right before bed.

That’s why it’s unsurprising ABA Legal Technology Resource Center survey participants reported email as the primary use for their smartphone. However, quite surprisingly, 92 percent of lawyers surveyed not only agreed that email was the primary function of their smartphone, but they also placed email in front of standard telephone functions, like making a call, in terms of importance.

It appears that these days, a phone is used less for dialing numbers and more for dealing with client inquiries.  

Legal apps.

Hands-down, the most creative and productive use of a hand-held mobile phone? Legal apps.

For the majority of smartphone users, this means BlackBerry apps, which include:

  1. The Law Pod: The Complete Federal Rules of Procedure (Appellate, Bankruptcy, Civil, Criminal, and Evidence), on your Blackberry.
  2. Family Law Reports: Allows professionals within the legal industry to access the Family Law series of Reports.
  3. Patent Reference: An On-The-Go “Patent” learning and reference App with interactive tutorial and search topics, including:  Intellectual Property, Copyright, Trademark, Patents, Patent Documentation, and the Patent Process.

Even those smartphones without Siri should be able to access the following iPhone apps:

  1. BizExpense: Legal expense reports made easy. Document your expenses via images, e-mail, currency conversion, and password protection. 
  2. DocScanner: Scan documents on the go. Take a photo of any document with your iPhone camera and this app automatically converts it to a PDF document. 
  3. Black’s Law Dictionary: One of the most comprehensive legal dictionaries at your fingertips.     

Calendars.

Punctuality is a necessity in the field of law. And, with so many court cases and client meetings to attend, lawyers will find the calendar feature of smartphones an indispensable addition to their pocket.

This year, 80 percent of ABA survey respondents listed Calendars as one of the primary uses for their smartphone, a significant increase from 73 percent in 2010. With the plethora of reminder alarms and calendar-contact coordinated options, there are no more excuses for missing an associate’s birthday or that big partner announcement (not that you would…).

Games.

Finally, while attending case-matter meetings, use your smartphone to check email, record conversations on a microphone app, and look up important trial dates to contribute productively.

But, while stuck on a interminably boring conference call in your office, take back that unrecoverable hour by playing a level or two of Angry Birds, Chess, or Sudoku. Games create the final, unspoken value-add to the even the most accomplished lawyer’s smartphone.

-WB

 

For more smartphone application ideas, read “New Whistleblowing Rules And The iPad Apps To Manage Them,” and “Lawyer App Of The Day: Smartphones, Cowboys, And Fee Payment Options.

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Internet Censorship Sends Wrong Signal To Associates—Checking Social Media At Work

Is Facebook an open window on your computer screen while you’re reading this blog post?

If so, you’re not alone.

Studies show that among business professionals, 58.5 percent check Facebook regularly, nearly 50 percent check LinkedIn regularly, 23 percent check Twitter, and 22 percent consult blogs (hint: that’s you) while at work.

Although younger generations spend almost double the number of hours on social media sites per day than older generations (1.8 hours for Generation Y versus 1 hour for Baby Boomers), social media use among all professionals in general is on the rise.

Administrators seem to think this is point of concern. About 54 percent of companies have blocked social networking websites at the office, reports digital consultant Arik Hanson. And, according to a study by Steve Matthews and Doug Cornelius, 45 percent of law firms have done the same.

However, before you make an appointment with your IT Department to follow suit, consider Kevin O’Keefe’s points for “Why law firms need to stop blocking the use of social media,” on his site Real Lawyers Have Blogs:

  • Nearly all companies (94% per Digital Media Wire) are investing in social media as a marketing/communications tool. Assuming your law firm is investing in social media, but you limit social media’s use by your employees, you are saying, per Hanson, “We believe in the power of social media to help us market our products and services, we just don’t trust our employees because we think they’ll waste an inordinate amount of time on Facebook.”
  • More of your lawyers are relying on social networks to do their jobs. How often do you turn to friends and colleagues online for advice? How often do you read blogs to keep up with industry trends? Data suggests 25 percent of employees rely heavily on social networks in the workplace. It’s probably higher for your star lawyers and other professionals.
  • You’re going to lose lawyers and other professionals to competitors. Per a study by American Express, 39 percent of younger workers won’t even consider working for a company that blocks Facebook. Facebook has become the communication tool of choice for many young professionals. Why would they work for a law that’s going to block its use?
  • Smartphones and tablets. By the end of this year 50 percent of all Americans will own a smartphone. The fastest growing use of mobile? Social networking. Everywhere I travel I see lawyers with two mobile phones, a blackberry and an iPhone or Android. Your lawyers and other professionals are already using social media.
  • Breaks equal more-productive employees. Recent research suggests employees who are given short breaks to surf the Web or connect with friends on Facebook are more productive than those who don’t. No one stopped lawyers from stopping to have a cup of coffee with others, why block social media?
  • Lawyers receive work because of their relationships and word of mouth reputation. Social media and the Internet doesn’t change that. Social media is just an accelerator of relationships and the spread of your word of mouth reputation.

Consensus among the blogosphere is that blocking associates’ access to social media sites sends the signal that administrators and firm partners don’t trust associates to manage their own workload.

More importantly, managing partners should pay attention to the performance of their attorneys in the form of personal interaction instead of relying on spyware or internet censorship software.

One-on-one training and mentorship is more important a concern than worrying about your associates’ facebook friendships. So stop blocking social media websites, and start focusing on the delivery of high-quality products to your client—even if the multitasking methods your young associates use are less than traditional.

-WB

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Lawyers and Mobile Gadgets – Staying Connected in Style

Although many lawyers stay connected with smartphones, laptops, digital cameras, ebook readers and other mobile gadgets, it takes panache to be able to carry off carting all those devices–especially when you’re walking into a meeting. In some circles, many older lawyers actually appear more at-home carrying these gadgets than their junior counterparts.  Perhaps, notes Law.com’s Law Technology News, this is because they’ve long since mastered the art of appearing polished. 

Yet lawyers of any age group who carry too many into a meeting risk appearing like “a nerd, a geek or maybe even a Batman wannabe.” So what’s the secret to staying digitally connected in style?  


When Sandy Dumont, a style consultant in Norfolk, Virginia, was asked how lawyers can pull this off, she said that, when walking into a business meeting or proceeding, you need to pack those gadgets away. “You don’t want to have too many contraptions.”  Others will tend to think you’re carrying the mobile thing a bit too far, she advised. That might be the first thing they notice about you. (Do you really want to be remembered as the lawyer with the most—and perhaps noisiest–contraptions?) People will think you’re focused on technology, at the expense of whatever else is going on.  

OK, so how are you supposed to pack the three or four objects you routinely carry?   Dumont recommends a good old-fashioned briefcase–especially a thick, leather case.  And don’t walk in carrying the laptop alongside the case.  “Just make sure everything goes inside…”  According to Dumont, this will give the impression of a lawyer who takes his job seriously and is prepared to tackle any situation.  

Another advisor, Constance Dunn, an image consultant, takes a different approach.  She maintains that you can walk around with as many devices as you can handle, as long as you make it look graceful and easy each time you use one.  “When it comes to devices, you need to pay attention to how you take them out, use them and then put them back,” she says. “It’s almost like a dance.”

Dunn maintains that, once you get a set image of how you want to come across in the world, you should develop that image and keep it fixed in your mind.  “Get that image firmly in your head and emulate it,” she says. “It will become second nature as you work on it mentally.”  

Another helpful hint is to have absolute confidence and proficiency when it comes to working each of the devices.  Don’t walk around with one unless you have got past he peering-quizzically-at-the-screen stage.   And do get in the habit of putting each gadget in the same place on your person each and every day. You don’t want to have to go fumbling for a particular device when you need it. Oh, yes and make sure it’s “easily reachable” for smooth and fast access.  

Now about why older attorneys handle several devices at a time with more aplomb?  According to Dunn, the juggling act is a part of developing a smooth persona—specifically an “in-control persona” that you build as you mature.  (This applies to both sexes.)  “If you’re more of a junior type, momentary pressure can temporarily override your persona,” Dunn explains.  

Finally, a useful tip for keeping unnecessary distractions or momentary pressures at bay, start carrying two cell phones…one for personal and one for client phone calls.  Then, during important business meetings or proceedings, turn off the personal phone. You might even consider leaving it at the office altogether. This will give you some ability to arrange when you tackle the sort of interruptions that can be dealt with at a later time.   

Oh, and don’t use Bluetooth earpieces. They are a bit too “wired” looking, advises Dunn.  Those should be reserved for when you are completely out of sight of colleagues and clients.   For more, go to: http://www.law.com/jsp/lawtechnologynews/PubArticleLTN.jsp?id=1202491709764

-EM

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Apple Sued For Location-Tracking Software Under Computer Fraud And Abuse Act

Apple was sued by two of its customers for computer fraud and abuse after reports surfaced about the iPhone and iPad’s ability to track your movements and then sell this information to third-parties (see the WSJ article here).

The controversy surrounding smartphones’ ability to collect and distribute private data is not a new one (see, Does Your Smartphone Share Private Firm Information?). Customers are either unhappy or naïve to this fact. However, the courts have yet to decide whether or not this smartphone feature is illegal in any way. Nor have any regulations emerged to temper this information-sharing trend. Now it seems we are all on the verge of finding out. The verdict could determine the future of smartphone software and apps, and also lead to a new market of techno-class action suits.

The complaint—filed in Federal court in Tampa, Florida—states that all iPhones log, record, and store users’ locations based on latitude and longitude alongside a timestamp, and that Apple’s Terms of Service does not disclose this comprehensive tracking of users. The plaintiff’s (and their attorneys) believe “the accessibility of the unencrypted information collected by Apple places users at serious risk of privacy invasions, including stalking.” Apple believes it makes for effective marketing—GPS shows a customer’s in Fort Worth, Texas, and the phone sends advertisements for the best burger joints in town.

The GPS tracking on phones can be turned off, but additional problems arise when companies store logs of this information over a period of time. Turns out, that is exactly what Apple (and Google) has been doing via smartphone data—tracking and mapping users’ whereabouts over the past ten months. Gathering this data is not nefarious in itself, but could certainly attract the attention of identity thieves, criminals, spammers, and a plethora of other persons of ill repute.

It also bypasses normal routes of investigation. The attorney for the plaintiffs, Aaron Mayer, explains: “We take issue specifically with the notion that Apple is now basically tracking people everywhere they go.” He told Bloomberg on Monday, “If you are a federal marshal, you have to have a warrant to do this kind of thing, and Apple is doing it without one.”

The plaintiffs in the suit against Apple say that regardless of the ultimate intention, they never consented to provide this information. The lawsuit concludes simply, “by secretly installing software that records users every moves Apple has accessed Plaintiffs’ computers, in the course of interstate commerce or communication, in excess of the authorization provided by Plaintiffs as described in the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.”

The plaintiffs seek class action status to represent all U.S. iPhone and iPad customers. However, if successful, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a variety of similar suits pop up seeking separate damages. The suit also paves the way for future regulations regarding access to information online, and digital privacy protection.

To read more about the suit, see Wired Magazine’s coverage here and Bloomberg’s coverage here.

To get in on the class action, the case is Ajjampur v. Apple Inc., 11-cv-00895, U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida (Tampa).

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