Tag Archives: technology

Google Says “No” To RSS Readers–Should You, Too?

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.
  4. 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, and Bloglines. Google Reader closed its digital doors in 2013, but you can still download some of RSS’ best alternatives. See a review of them here.

There are also a myriad of other legal tools available in app form for Android listed here.

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.”

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Microsoft Throw Hat In Ring With New Case Matter Management Software

Microsoft showcased its legal document management solution for Office 365 at the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) conference in Nashville, Tennessee, this week. The program, called Matter Center, claims to make “it easier to organize files by client and matter, review documents, and find information when needed without ever leaving Microsoft Word or Outlook.”

Its main features include:

  • A cloud-based briefcase — The solution provides 1 TB of individual storage and a personal briefcase that automatically syncs documents.
  • Access controls — Users can be granted or excluded access to a matter.
  • Collaboration tools — Matter Center enables legal professionals to share files with others, both within and outside their law firm.
  • Document and matter search — Legal professionals can search and find matters and related documents directly within Outlook or Word.
  • Integrated document management — Legal professionals can drag, drop and save emails into documents or matter.

Microsoft has built a security-enhanced, cloud-based document management application that allows our professionals to quickly locate and collaborate on documents with our counsel from virtually anywhere,” John Frank, Microsoft’s vice president and deputy general counsel, said in a prepared statement.

“We’ve decided to make this solution more broadly available at the request of our outside counsel [to those] who want to utilize it in their own environments.”

Although Microsoft has yet to announce when Matter Center will be available on the mass market, interested legal professionals can sign up for the pilot program here.

Case Matter joins Time Matters, ProLaw’s Legal Case Management Software, Legal Track, LawBase, and Rocket Matter in the legal matter management systems market.

Cloud-based legal software has become more common, but so has discussion surrounding security measures to protect legal information. Regarding cloud-based case management software, the Iowa State Bar addressed the potential legal issues that may arise when using these services, concluding:

“[A lawyer] must take reasonable precautions to prevent the information from coming into the hands of unintended recipients. This duty, however, does not require that the lawyer use special security measures if the method of communication affords a reasonable expectation of privacy. Special circumstances, however, may warrant special precautions. Factors to be considered in determining the reasonableness of the lawyer’s expectation of confidentiality include the sensitivity of the information and the extent to which the privacy of the communication is protected by law or by a confidentiality agreement.” [via Juris Page]

While legal technology and tools continue to develop, it’s important for an attorney’s sense of ethical responsibility to develop in measure. Just as there are myriad ways to store and access data, there are an equal number of ways to intercept, steal, or manipulate private and confidential information, as well.

How secure are your serves? What are your firms policies regarding storage of files on mobile devices? Do you require associates to have complex passwords on all devices and for all firm programs that evolve in complexity over time?

So, when you’re addressing the need to upgrade your case management software, don’t forget to train your employees on the risks inherent in these cloud and other mobile systems.

Before purchasing Matter Center, need to brush up on other Microsoft Office and Outlook tools? Go here for C4CM’s extensive tech webinars created specially for law firm professionals.

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‘If I’ve Told You Once, I’ve Told You A Billion Times… Cybersecurity Matters!” -Hackers Say To Lawyers

If a billion kids made a human tower, they would stand up past the moon. If you sat down to count from one to one billion, you would be counting for 95 years. If you found a goldfish bowl large enough hold a billion goldfish, it would be as big as a stadium. A billion seconds ago it was 1959. A few seconds ago, a billion passwords were stolen from Russian criminals leaving your firm, its clients and employees, at risk.

An exaggeration, you think? Hardly.

“A lot of firms have been hacked, and like most entities that are hacked, they don’t know that for some period of time,” says Vincent I. Polley, lawyer and co-author of recent book for the American Bar Association on cybersecurity.

“Sometimes, it may not be discovered for a minute or months and even years.”

Unfortunately, when it’s late and you still have a few hours work to do, it’s easier to pack up your laptop, save some client information on a portable flash drive, and then head home. Nobody wants to prioritize cybersecurity over work-life balance.

The problem is, hackers these days have become more and more sophisticated. And your efforts to make working from home more efficient have, instead, made stealing confidential and private information more prevalent.

In fact, cybersecurity concerns within law firms has become so important to high-profile, high-profit clients, like big banks, have started to withdraw business from firms that demonstrate relaxed regard for security measures.

“Wall Street banks are pressing outside law firms to demonstrate that their computer systems are employing top-tier technologies to detect and deter attacks from hackers bent on getting their hands on corporate secrets either for their own use or sale to others, said people briefed on the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity.”

“Some financial institutions are asking law firms to fill out lengthy 60-page questionnaires detailing their cybersecurity measures, while others are doing on-site inspections,” writes Matthew Goldstein for the New York Times online.

Other corporate clients, the same article reports, are requesting that law firms stop putting files on portable drives altogether, emailing them on non-secure devises, such as smartphones or tablets, and sharing servers with offices in notoriously cyber-insecure countries, such as China and Russia.

Today, we realize how important these measures may be in securing your future as CNN reports that Russian criminals stole 1.2 billion passwords.

Hold Security founder Alex Holden told CNNMoney that the treasure trove includes credentials gathered from over 420,000 websites, both smaller sites as well as “household names.”

Thus, chances are high that your firms assets—or those of its employees—are among the exploited.

Some think that pressure from clients will help law firms get with the digital times and clean up their cybersecurity act. Daniel B. Garrie, executive managing partner with Law & Forensics, a computer security consulting firm that specializes in working with law firms. He thinks, “When people say, ‘We won’t pay you money because your security stinks,’ that carries weight.”

Law firms, however, are notoriously slow in upgrading their technological tools.

Do you agree with Garrie, are law firms finally paying attention?

One last lesson in one billion: If we wanted to make a book with a billion dollar signs, printed 1000 per page and with pages printed on both sides, the book would be 500,000 pages long. How many billions of dollars are you willing to risk (after being told a billion times) before your firm upgrades its cybersercurity systems?

To learn more, get C4CM’s webinar “Mitigating Cyber Risk: Strategies for Legal Counsel to Reduce Exposure and Avoid a Data Breach Devastation,” available on CD.

This comprehensive webinar will help you to mitigate risk by fine tuning or putting into place key procedures and policies for cyber protection. You will also learn what to do once a data breach is revealed.

  • Data breach response tactics and notification obligations
  • Practical and essential first steps to take if a breach occurs
  • What to include in your Incident Response Plan
  • Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) disclosure obligations related to cyber risks and data breaches
  • How cyber-insurance coverage acts a risk mitigation tool, and what to look for in your policy
  • Key individuals that your organization should be developing relationships with and why
  • Practical protocols for reviewing and including cyber clauses in vendor and client contracts
  • Much more…

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The Dirty Little Secret Only BigLaw Knows: How To Create Mobile Apps To Attract Clients

Millennials or just the “recession generation” use apps for everything, Uber for taxis, Tinder for dating, Washio for laundry, and WhatsApp for texting. It’s a wonder that tools and utilities not connected to an app ever get used anymore.

That’s why BigLaw has caught on to this trend.

It’s even a good way for small firms to get big notice. How? Hop on the digital app train.

Let’s take a few examples. Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman has a global sourcing app that helps users calculate costs in outsourcing contracts.

Baker & McKenzie has an app summarizing legal and tax issues for public companies granting employee stock options overseas.

O’Melveny & Myers provides an introduction to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in its app. The app also reports on related enforcement actions and settlements.

Above the Law, who reported on the app trend, also has an app—for both iPhone and Android.

Latham and Watkins is the most dedicated Biglaw app developer, with an entire library of “The Book of Jargon” to explain legalese to clients who are—well, justifiably—confused. Now they have an app that helps clients learn more about overseas anti-bribery laws.

In fact, of the 2013 AmLaw 200, approximately 36 firms (18%) produced a total of 53 mobile apps. This amounts to an increase of 63 percent in firms having apps than last year [22 firms], according to The Law Firm Mobile (LFM) blog’s third annual research report.

Of the 2013 Global 100, 28 firms (28%) produced a total of 50 mobile apps. This amounts to an increase of 22 percent in firms having apps than last year [23 firms], according to the same research.

So basically, BigLaw is producing a lot of apps. But who is using them? It turns out, the days of the BlackBerry are officially over. Of the lawyers or clients making use of this new technology, the vast majority are iPhone users.

Of the total apps produced by Biglaw firms, 96 percent are offered on the iPhone, 6 percent are offered on the BlackBerry, and 29 percent on Android (35%). Last year, only 17 percent of apps were on the Android platform.

Finally, you may be thinking that these BigLaw firms are just creating apps for employee recruitment or human resources. That’s not true at all.

On the contrary, only three apps of the 68 (4%) were focused on recruitment, eight (12%) were produced for events (internal or external), 15 (22%) presented general firm information (similar to a website), and a whopping 42 (62%) provided legal resources of various types. Law firms have figured out that providing useful information gets your app trending among techy legal services types. And, once your app is popular, so becomes your firm.

A full list of BigLaw mobile apps can be found here.

So the last question you should be asking is, does my firm have an app?

In size or caseload, a small firm may not be able to compete with a large one. But in cyber space, everybody is equal. There are only app developers and audiences. So once you’ve identified yours, your firm—boutique or BigLaw—stands on equally footing.

Your app could be the “next big thing” to beat out BigLaw in wooing and winning over clients.

In addition, developing an app does not have to break the bank. Brainstorm with younger associates and your IT Department about what services your new app could provide clients or other lawyers. Think about what needs are not yet met online in the legal services industry. Carve your niche by making an app for that skill or service your firm (or its lawyers) truly excel at.

Because in a world where everything is an app—transportation, talking, dating, and more—there’s only room for an avatar lawyer to match.

Not yet convinced that apps are the way of the future? Learn more with The Center for Competitive Management (C4CM)’s training course: Mobile Discovery: Emerging Challenges of Texts, Tweets, Apps and Emails, in the Realm of BYOD.

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“Dear Lawyers, I’m Here To Stay.” -Technology

The fight against drones, Google Glass, or other new technology has gotten violent this month, with a woman attacking a 17-year old boy for flying a drone on a Connecticut beach, reports Forbes.

It’s one of the first time criminal charges were filed, as opposed to just name-calling or social criticism.

“It’s easy to call these people Luddites, after the British workers who set about destroying machines—and in some cases killing the people who owned them—in the late 1700s and early 1800s in a futile attempt to turn back the tide of mechanization. It led Britain to pass a law making machine-wrecking punishable by death,” writes Jeff Bercovici for Forbes.

“But the new machine destroyers’ motivations are different. The original Luddites were worried machines would take their jobs; the Neo-Luddites fear machines will steal their privacy.”

Except, we no longer live in a world where technology is a choice.

There’s no way to turn off or opt-out of the video surveillance cameras in your city or from Internet searches of your name by others. In law, lawyers are fond of calling their practice “traditional” and eschewing modern tools. But even they can’t stop courts from taking e-filings only.

The Above The Law (ATL) Legal Tech Terms Survey sought to learn about its readers’ familiarity with the following concepts: Information Governance, Predictive Coding, Cloud Computing, Cyber Security, and Dark Data. Its results were shocking:

In follow-up questions, over a quarter of respondents who self-identified as litigators—the cohort presumably most versed in e-discovery—characterized predictive coding as irrelevant to their career or had “no idea” whether or not it was relevant, reports ATL.

And, less than 50 percent of respondents believe that cybersecurity is an “essential” aspect of their career, reports the same survey by ATL.

#yikes

Amid controversies like ExamSoft’s giant debacle regarding bar exam uploading, it’s clear that the legal profession needs to rapidly update its way-of-thinking and its way of working with technology.

In a recent ATL blog post, Alex Rich describes five reasons why lawyers should embrace technology or be left in another firm’s dust. Here are some highlights:

First, technology is here to stay. Unlike crop tops or ripped jeans, technology is neither a fad nor cyclical. So, it’s time to learn the review platform your case is using or even the software available to you via the IT department. Mostly you don’t want to embarrass yourself, as Rich says, “when you ask why the 3 terabytes of data cannot be reviewed in Concordance.”

Second, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. There’s no way you will convince colleagues that physical document review (as in, files) is more efficient than reviewing e-discovery scanned into the computer. So, don’t try. Leave the yellow note pad at your desk and pick up an iPad on your way home.

Third, increase your family time. Ok, Rich—perhaps a more realistic attorney—actually wrote that technology increases the illusion of family time by allowing you to take the office mobile. So, you may not be paying full attention to your daughter’s softball game when you’re answering Re: Urgent, urgent, urgent! e-mails on your smartphone. But, hey, you’re there, right?

Fourth, get excited about high-quality distractions. This can be anywhere from streaming sports games or listening to e-books during document review. Rich writes, “Document review (as well as a whole host of other legal tasks) is frequently so boring that you need a distraction to occupy part of your brain while you go through the mundane chore of selecting the appropriate issue tag. And when it comes to quality distractions, well, technology’s got your back.” Just be careful that you’re not violating your firm’s internal policies by browsing Facebook instead of giving face time to firm clients.

Fifth, low-tech has its own problems. You may get annoyed when technology fails, but isn’t human error worse? Also, Rich doesn’t fondly remember the days of lugging around heavy boxes full of documents for discovery, getting paper cuts as you go through them, and getting ill from breathing in dust everyday for months at a time.

Technology might be that proverbial double-edged sword, but wouldn’t you rather be the person wielding it than the one behind it?

Start with the basics: Learn tips and tricks for using Excel, PowerPoint, and MS Word to improve productivity at your firm here.

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Are You David Or Goliath? Why Small Law Firms Will Dominate In The Future

Is the death of BigLaw on the horizon?

Society loves a good David and Goliath story, where the underdog transforms a perceived weakness into his advantage. We feel better knowing that size isn’t always the only thing to matter in life or in business.

BigLaw has long been the legal services industry’s Goliath. Small firms have struggled to keep pace and survive.

All the best talent graduating from law school are quickly scooped up by the biggest cities’ best names.

However, for a long time, clients have demanded more than just power and influence. They want innovative practices, diversity, and mostly they want discounted rates that large firms don’t offer. With an oversupply of capable lawyers, clients can finally afford to demand services tailored exactly to their needs, which is why we’re seeing more and more small firms face off and take down behemoth opponents.

In turn, doe-eyed associates are no longer looking for long hours typical of BigLaw firms. Young associates want an even work-life balance, flexibility, and a job that gives them a sense of purpose.

“What I observe every day as the CEO of Priori, a curated marketplace that connects business owners with vetted lawyers at transparent prices, is that mid-tier firms are shedding associates something serious,” writes Basha Rubin in her articleBig Law, Big Problems: The Bright Future For Small Firms,” for Forbes.

“These lawyers want flexibility and independence—to service the clients that inspire them, at prices and pricing models that don’t cause potential business to blanch, at a rhythm and schedule that is sustainable.”

Luckily for both clients and lawyers, technology has provided a means for flexible workplaces, at-home offices, and more efficient work practices.

As a result, individuals are starting to form their own firms, servicing clients that they admire, that they choose. “These lawyers are entrepreneurial, gung ho, and ready to compete,” continues Rubin.

“Technology is the catalyst for their coming dominance.”

BigLaw is tied to tradition, fixed costs, and fixed mindsets. It’s much harder to convince a dozen veteran partners to try something new than it is at a smaller firm. Training associates and coordinating tasks at BigLaw firms with thousands of employees is much more challenging.

BigLaw is slower to adopt new technology or ideas. On the other hand, small firms, although lacking in manpower or pure numbers, are proving surprisingly efficient.

“Previously disaggregated and fragmented, they can use technology to improve their efficiency with new tools that automate document production and assembly, workflow management research, and contract review. (PlainLegal, LawPal, Diligence Engine, Ebrevia, Ravel Law, Judicata) With this arsenal, they can maintain high-quality work at lower prices,” boldly purports Rubin in her article for Forbes.

And lower prices have become the number one selling point to attract clients.

Not all legal professionals are convinced, however, than small firms are in slingshot range of BigLaw. An post on 3 Geeks and a Law Blogreacted to Rubin’s article, stating:

“BigLaw may suffer on the edges (ala Patton Boggs), but clients still need their services. Small Law can’t or won’t step into the breach (except in certain circumstances). And LPO’s will continue to nibble at the edges, but are not apparently taking away large portions of legal work from large firms. So the Big Disruption seems unlikely any time soon.”

According to 3 Geeks, legal services remain too complex for small firms to completely take over. Who is best to settle complexity? An equally complex system of services offered by BigLaw.

Whatever your opinion on the rise of small firms or fall of BigLaw, one things all parties agree on? Legal technology is arming the best combatants.

Regardless of size, if you want to be successful, your firm must be competent in today’s cutting-edge technical skills.

Malcolm Gladwell thinks Goliath was the victim, the real underdog who never stood a chance with his oafish sword against the skillful David and his quick and deadly slingshot.

Because, in the end, you never want to be the one who brings a knife to a gunfight.

Think your firm already has the technical skills necessary to compete in this fast-paced, tech world? Take C4CM’s course: Suffolk/Flaherty Technology Audit: Is Your Firm Ready?

D. Casey Flaherty, corporate counsel at Kia Motors America, developed this technology audit and tested nine large firms. All nine firms failed! Of the associates approached the assignments in ways that would have required five to 15 times longer than necessary. At $200 to $400 per associate hour, from the client’s perspective this equals inefficiency and wasted billable time.

Taking his tech audit to the next level, Flaherty is now working with Professor Andrew M. Perlman at Suffolk University to formalize the outside counsel tech audit as a FREE tool for other inside counsel. What does this free audit mean for your firm?

Will your lawyers pass the tech test?

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Introducing Exhibit B… & Other Efficient Uses For The iPad At Law Firms

Imagine a world where a new client walks into your office. The receptionist welcomes him and hands over an iPad and tells your guest to press “Start”. There’s a short, automated video introducing your firm, its practice areas, and its partners. Afterward, a new client form appears, ready to fill out. Once your new client is done, your receptionist has an already digital copy of important information pertaining to this person’s case and business. And, the client can keep the iPad and browse your home page while he waits for the name partner to see him.

Streamlined, efficient, modern. The iPad is changing the way lawyers operate.

Patrick A. Wright, founding partner at The Wright Firm LLP in Lewisville and Dallas, is board certified in family law and is an active member of the ABA Law Practice Editorial Board. In an American Bar Association article, Wright said about his first use of the iPad in a court case:

“When I bought my first iPad, I decided that the best way to experiment and see if it was as versatile as it seemed to be was to use it in a high-profile case. The Cooke County case was an experiment. I intended to see if the court would allow me to play a few videos on the iPad through the VLC app while questioning a witness. With the iPad, I could quickly pause the video, replay an exact point and further emphasize what I wanted without the awkward television on a cart and a temperamental DVD player. I could control everything from the palm of my hand—if the court would allow it. The experiment worked. The court did allow me to use my iPad, and the videos and the iPad supplied the dramatic moment in a long custody trial that I ultimately won.”

Today, traditional PCs barely overtake sales of tablets. However, by 2015, predictions by Gartner Inc. believe that worldwide shipments of tablets will outnumber that of desk-based and notebook computers.

On the whole, worldwide combined shipments of devices, which include PCs, tablets, ultramobiles and mobile phones, are projected to reach 2.4 billion units by the end of 2014, a 4.2 percent increase from 2013, Gartner Inc. reported this week.

It’s not surprising that lawyers are making better use of slimmer, more portable technology.

Tablets are not just great to present courtroom exhibits, they also organize client files, allow regular contact with colleagues, courts, and clients, and facilitate the immediate access to records, codes and criminal procedures, or Fastcase when out of the office.

There are a myriad of apps designed specifically for law firm professions available for bothe the iPad, iPhone, and other mobile devices.

Tablets are also capable of running programs like PowerPoint of Apple’s Keynote app, even Excel spreadsheets.

If you’re worried about typing on the tablet’s touchscreen, most tablets now allow Bluetooth connection to wireless keyboards.

Finally, the iPad is low-profile and ultraportable, which means when you take notes during a meeting or courtroom appearance, you don’t have that distracted look on your face behind a giant laptop screen. It gives (at least) the illusion of concentration, with a 10 to 20-hour battery life.

In fact, iPads or other tablets are becoming such common place in the practice of law, clients are starting to expect it. Technology is a reflection of your firm’s willingness to get creative, be flexible, and innovative—key to surviving this cutthroat industry.

With the traditional PC market on the decline, it’s clear law firms need to get with the times by going mobile. Instead of using a laptop, consider using an iPad—going paperless is both practical and productive.

Update your firm home page to accommodate mobile devices. Create an internal app for employees and clients, and a public app to attract new business. Make sure your IT department is up-to-date on all social media.

The iPad may not have the old-school cache of a yellow legal pad, but where it remains deficient in tradition, it will likely exceed in expectations and outcomes for efficiency.

Of course, there are always liability issues when it comes to data-sharing and digital devices. Attend C4CM’s training course, “Smartphones and the Law: Avoiding Legal Liabilities in the Workplace” to ensure your policies and practices are air-tight.

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