Tag Archives: technology

Scientific Discovery Named After Supreme Court Justice & Other Things You Should Google

What happens when you google Supreme Court Justices? Today, enter a search for “Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg” and the results may bug you.

Instead of being associated with women’s rights or fighting for female equality, quite literally, Justice Ginsburg is now associated with bugs, the Ilomantis ginsburgae, to be exact. The scientific discovery of this species is notable as Sydney Brannoch, a Case Western Reserve University Ph.D. candidate, recently used the genitals of female praying mantises to distinguish it from other species.

Like other praying mantis’s, female Ilomantis ginsburgae take their male counterparts and rip off their heads. Now, the feminist insects share headlines with one of the most renowned courtroom warriors.

But, it may be Justice Ginsburg with the last laugh. What happens when Supreme Court Justices google you?

It turns out that Supreme Court Justices have been supplementing legal briefs with their own online research for years.

A former clerk to retired Justice David Souter recently studied 15 years worth of Supreme Court decisions. Allison Orr Larsen, who is a professor at William & Mary Law School, found more than 100 examples of asserted facts from authorities that were never mentioned in briefs attached to the same case.

Additionally, in 120 high-profile, newsworthy cases from 2000 to 2010, Larsen found nearly 60 percent contained facts researched in-house.

“Virtually all of the justices do it regardless of whether they are traditionally labeled liberal or conservative,” explains Larsen, via the article “Should Supreme Court justices Google?” by Robert Barnes for the Washington Post, “and they cite authorities they find themselves on a wide range of subject matter (from biology to history to golf).”

Is this due diligence or simply judicial curiosity?

The fact is, information is exceedingly accessible today. It’s impossible to ignore it.

“Now the justices (and their clerks and their librarians) are flooded with information literally at their fingertips. Social science studies, raw statistics, and other data are all just a Google search away,” writes Larsen.

“If the justices want more empirical support for a factual dimension of their argument, they can find it easily and without the help of anyone outside of the Supreme Court building.”

Many lawyers are starting to question the validity of this practice.

For example, in 2011, the court found a California law forbidding the sale of violent video games to minors violated the First Amendment. Justice Stephen G. Breyer in a dissent offered 13 pages of studies on the topic of psychological harm from playing violent video games. Justice Clarence Thomas cited 59 sources to support his view that the Founding Fathers believed that parents had absolute control over their children’s development—an overwhelming 57 of them were not in the briefs submitted in the case.

Fair or not, do you know what Justices will find when they google you or your client? More importantly, do professionals at your firm possess the technological skills to do the same due diligence?

So, before your brief gets beheaded by the prying eyes of praying judges, find out what’s online and how it could affect your case—before it’s too late.

-WB

 

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New Mobile App Helps Lawyers Organize Client & Vendor Information Via Email

According to the American Bar Association (ABA), 89 percent of lawyers use mobile to check email, which far exceeds that of the average population.

This statistic, and more, comes from the ABA and the Legal Technology Resource Center, which surveys practicing attorneys about their technology choices.

Some of the key insights included (via LexisNexis):

  • 34% of lawyers use tablets in the courtroom
  • 26.9% of law firms have legal blogs and 10% of individual lawyers have blogs
  • 78% believe training a firm on technology is important
  • 50% one year increase in cloud services users
  • 17% of lawyers using litigation support software
  • 39.1% of blogs resulted in clients or referrals
  • 22.6% of law firm have no social media presence
  • 81% of attorneys say they use social media; but not necessarily for professional use
  • 58% use Dropbox (here are the terms of service)
  • 94% say vendor name and reputation is important to decisions

So, it’s easy to agree that training on technology is important, but sometimes attorneys are slow in implementation and practice. For example, all that e-mail lawyers are checking on their phones, surely there’s a better way to keep track of client and vendor correspondence?

And there is.

Check out CloudMagic, an email application that has grown to 4 million users, which helps people who receive a lot of email (especially cold calls from potential clients or vendors people don’t know personally) with its feature, Sender Profile. This mobile app is similar LinkedIn’s service, Rapportive, or the more recent desktop app, Connect from Clearbit.

Sender Profile on CloudMagic lets you quickly view a summary of information about the person who emailed you, such as their job title, workplace, location, homepage, and social profiles on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Unlike its competition, instead of trying to present all the sender’s details in the same screen as the original message, when you receive an email from someone not in your contacts list, CloudMagic places a small summary below the email message. In addition, once you click the “Know More” link, a pop-up card appears with even more information.

If the sender’s workplace is important, CloudMagic has you covered. After you’ve looked at the sender’s information on the pop-up card, you can then click on another button linking you to the sender’s company’s information, as well.

That corporate side of the card will display a company description, employee headcount, website link, and links to the company on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and AngelList, if applicable.

Now that’s uncontestably important technology—no training required.

Learn more about this mobile app and more on TechCrunch or here, on this blog.

 

-WB

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A Law Firm’s Guide To Record Retention & Apple’s Fight Against Hacking Killer’s Phone By Court Order

It could be argued that nothing changed American culture more than the cell phone. Just look at TV shows, cartoons, news articles that talk about Millennials, perpetually on their phones. At work, policies about cell phones must be erected. And, now, it’s a point of concern for privacy when it comes to search and seizure by police.

“I had a case where a young man was arrested for videotaping his friend being arrested outside a club in NYC. Police seized his phone. We were afraid that once they possessed the phone, the video would mysteriously disappear since it showed police acting without probable cause and then arresting my client just for videotaping the incident,” Toni Messina in the article, “Criminally Yours: Cops Got Your Phone?” for the Above The Law blog.

“Luckily, because we were dealing with an inexperienced prosecutor, we were able to go One Police Plaza ourselves to get the phone back so it went through no intermediaries, supervisors, or other enforcement personnel. The video was intact, and now forms the basis of a civil law suit for wrongful arrest.”

Messina points out that no matter the level of crime for which you are arrested, police can search your person, your things. Sure, police are supposed to have probable cause, but as Messina’s story previously points out, “probable cause” is relative.

Once you’re actually in custody, your rights to guard information on your cell phone private erode even more. Once arrested, the police can get a search warrant to search the contents of your cell phone—including all those fancy apps with personal data you used for online banking, dating, and working. Your photos and videos are now free game for viewing.

All this with just a simple order from a judge.

Which is exactly what happened with the recent federal judge’s order forcing Apple to help the FBI break into the iPhone of San Bernardino killer Syed Farook. Except Apple CEO Tim Cook opposed the order.

In a letter, Cook wrote, “In the wrong hands, this software [to hack the iPhone]—which does not exist today—would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession.”

Cook’s letter emphasized that government overreached by asking for “a backdoor to the iPhone,” reports Greg Botelho, Lorenza Brascia, and Michael Martinez in “Anger, praise for Apple for rebuffing FBI over San Bernardino killer’s phone,” an article for CNN.

How much can the government compel companies to give up? What about citizens?

“All this is why compelling Apple to provide the key to open their phone is tricky,” concludes Messina in the Above The Law article.

“No one’s in favor of terrorism, but that doesn’t mean we should succumb to greater police surveillance, privacy invasion, and forced revelation of data that would otherwise be confidential in our lives.”

This leads—even in a just a small way—to your law firm’s personal records.

Do you know how long to keep records, how they should be stored, and who should have access to various files?

Consistent management of documents and data reduces litigation exposure and regulatory criticism. However, conquering the challenges you encounter in managing, retaining, and disposing information on the road to legal compliance is more complicated than ever.

In fact, as the number of laws and risks related to governing records management continues to increase, it becomes even more paramount that organizations and their counsel brush up on its obligations—legal and moral.

Furthermore, with all companies under scrutiny for how they treat the privacy of employees or clients, law firms should think twice about its practices.

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions,” Messina reminds us of the old adage.

“Privacy is too valuable a right, and the fishing expedition [by the government] such a search would entail [by Apple] isn’t worth the price.”

-WB

Learn more about the complex universe of document retention rules and practicalities in C4CM‘s webinar, “Save It, Shred It, Delete It? Corporate Counsel’s Guide to Record Retention,” on Thursday, March 17, 2016 from 2:00 PM To 3:15 Eastern Standard time.

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Law Firms, Watch Collectors & How To Know When ‘Time Is Money’

In the case of high-end watch collectors, time is literally money.

At a recent Christie’s auction, a Patek Philippe watch sold for more $50,000—quite an improvement over its 1950s retail price of $275, reports CBS News.

“I’ve seen artwork being traded for watches. I have seen somebody trade a very rare Patek Philippe for a down payment on an apartment,” said Benjamin Clymer, Founder and Editorial Director, Hodinkee.com.

In today’s digital age, you still can’t stop the clock. Apple shelled out $21 million in a “lump sum” to license a clock-face design from the Swiss Federal Railway service, reported French news agency AFP, citing a Swiss paper.

Swiss Federal Railway service (SBB) objected to the clock-face design in iOS 6 because it too closely resembled a trademarked design created in 1944 by SBB employee Hans Hilfiker. Today the design is used in train stations throughout Switzerland and licensed the pricey Swiss watch manufacturer, Mondaine.

Hilfiker’s design is timeless, and thus has been honored by both the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the London Design Museum. The Swiss consider it a national symbol of punctuality, but it’s also an example to lawyers of the power technology holds when protected by intellectual property.

It’s not just watches; there are myriad other reasons why technology converts time into money for your firm. Here are some lessonds, according to an Accellis Technology article, for law firms:

“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.

When you’re efficient, you can spend more time on client-facing 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.

Sold on technology, but need to know where to start? Think about integrating the following products into your business systems:

The iPad.

Apps for the mobile phone and iPad have contributed some of the most significant improvements in efficiency and productivity within law firms in some time. Get with your IT Department to brainstorm how best to implement these gadgets into everyday legal activity.

For some of the best legal iPad apps, go here.

Near-field Communications (NFC) Technology.

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

Read more about their applications here.

Social Media and Blogging.

Social media sites like LinkedIn or legal recruitment web-agencies, 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 and 500 people read it. Talk about a new value for time in money.

E-discovery software

By this time, most law firms already (from necessity) have some sort of electronic discovery software. However, when was it last updated?

The capabilities of software and technology changes rapidly everyday. If you haven’t updated your online systems for some time, it’s likely that there’s a more efficient way to organize and file e-discovery.

In sum, what have you learned about time, money, and technology? They’re 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. And if you’re feeling generous, make timeless timepieces part of your end-of-year bonuses: They appreciate (and your associates will appreciate them).

Regain control of your time and technology.

Take C4CM’s audio course, “Microsoft Outlook: Unlock E-Mail, Calendar and Time-Saving Secrets” on Tuesday, December 1, 2015, from 2:00 PM To 3:15 PM Eastern.

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Tom Brady & The Patriots Face More Controversy & Record Retention Lessons For HR

Even if you’re not from the Northeast—even if you’re not a football fan—by now you’ve heard of the New England Patriots. Whether it’s Tom Brady’s supermodel wife or its Deflategate controversy, the team certainly knows how to make the news. And last night’s game was no exception.

First, an inadvertent official whistle during a live play stopped what may been a 50-yard touchdown by the Patriots’ receiver Danny Amendola. In a close game against the Buffalo Bills, such an error could have been costly to the Patriots’ undefeated team.

Then, with seconds left on the clock, a questionable call ended the game abruptly—smashing any chance the Buffallo Bills had at a hail marry pass (or other play) to tie in the fourth quarter.

Final score? 20-13. The New England Patriots continue their winning record of 10-0 in the AFC Eastern Division.

As if Monday night’s football wasn’t enough, the Patriots headlined this morning for another reason.

The NFL’s appeal of a district court decision vacating the suspension of quarterback Tom Brady will be heard on March 3, it announced today. The 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Monday scheduled oral arguments for well after Feb. 7, also know as Super Bowl 50.

The hearing date is over a year after the 2014 AFC Championship Game where the Patriots played the Indianapolis Colts with deflated footballs, reports USA Today. An independent investigation found two Patriots employees responsible for these rule-breaking activities and concluded that Brady was at least “generally aware” of the situation.

However, at least for now, the Deflategate controversy won’t keep the Patriots’ from another championship season.

But what if your company was forced into an independent investigation? What if your personnel records were audited this very minute, could they stand-up to a DOL probe, an EEOC investigation, or an ICE inspection?

As an HR professional one of your primary responsibilities is to maintain personnel records. But what began as putting important files in a folder has developed into a complex web of compliance. And each year, compliance gets more and more difficult, as you add in electronic documents and other formats.

There are the modified FMLA rules, the updated ADA regulations, the FLSA, and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, all of which have separate rigid requirements for retention. And the federal push for I-9 compliance means employers must have their immigration forms meticulously maintained… but you don’t have to worry about that, right?

When it came to evidence on deflating footballs, Tom Brady also thought he was in the clear. But, technological advances (for Brady, the availability of cell phone records) and the threat of potential litigation (or the suspension from professional football) should impact the way your team does its record-keeping.

For Brady, it may be too late. But for law firm professionals, attend The Center For Competitive Management’s audio course, “Save it, Shred it, Delete it? Employee Record Retention for HR,” on Friday, December 11, 2015 from 2:00 PM To 3:15 PM EST.

For law firms or football teams, there’s a big difference between making headlines and being victims of them.

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Laptops & Tablets For Notetaking: Law Office Distraction or Time-Saving Device?

More and more, people blame technology for poor performance.

A Cornell University study called, “The Laptop and the Lecture,” gave half a university class unfettered access to their computers during a lecture, and then imposed a strict “no-laptop” policy on the other half.

Clearly not the perfect experiment, the study nevertheless showed that overwhelmingly the disconnected students performed better on a post-lecture quiz, regardless of the kind or duration of the computer use.

“I banned laptops in the classroom after it became common practice to carry them to school. When I created my “electronic etiquette policy” (as I call it in my syllabus),” wrote Dan Rockmore in his New Yorker article, “The Case for Banning Laptops in the Classroom.”

“I was acting on a gut feeling based on personal experience.”

And that’s the problem.

Whether it’s via the haphazard policies of university professors or the random experiment touted as “proof”, technology is getting the brunt of blame for poor performance in students and professionals when—in reality—technology is key to positive change.

The majority of issues with technology stem from the user. Cell phones, for example, are not a problem in movie theatres until somebody leaves them on or—worse yet—answers a call during the séance.

Computers can be great tool in class or the boardroom, until people become distracted by e-mail or surfing the web. Years of rock-solid research has shown multi-tasking leads to decreased productivity–but it’s the person, not the laptop, who is accountable.

Ultimately, technology is not the problem. Politeness is.

Whether or not we realize it, technology has made us less polite. When two people are talking, a third person would excuse themselves before entering the group conversation. Yet, when the phone rings, people won’t think twice before picking it up in front of a colleague or friend.

In meetings, dozing off is a definite no-no. But, for some reason, people won’t say no to spending an entire meeting or presentation distracted by the Internet.

The debate isn’t about which innovative technology to use, but rather, can we use it politely?

Last year, Roy Speckhardt, Executive Director for the American Humanist Association came up with “Five Recommendations for a New Politeness,” published in the Huffington Post. Here are a few of his ideas, summarized:

1. Stop fretting about political correctness. Instead, simply identify people in ways they prefer to be identified.

Remember the Golden Rule and treat people as they’d like to be treated.

2. State your opinions or critiques with respect for present company who may disagree.

“Politeness doesn’t mean censoring the flow of ideas or even respecting your opponent’s positions; just don’t forget they’re human, just like you,” explains Speckhardt.

3. Daily prejudice and discrimination exists, whether or not you personally witness it or experience it.

With that in mind, be aware of stereotypes and avoid speaking as if you endorse them.

4. Give in once in awhile.

“When you’re in the majority group, and most everyone is in some aspects of who they are, consider giving ground once in a while to someone who isn’t,” writes Speckhardt.

That means, lawyers: “Hit the brakes on your Beemer and let that minivan merge into traffic.”

5. Keep the behavior of others in check with constructive criticism, but maintain your composure and compassion while doing so.

So, before you make policies to stop smartphones in the workplace, start leading by example with politeness and see if behavior will change. It means more than just putting your cell phone on silent.

At presentations, if you decide to take notes on a laptop, alert the presenter ahead of time. Ask their permission. And, during the presentation, be sure to make eye contact and show your enthusiasm and alertness.

It’s tempting to jump at every ping, but condition yourself away from this sense of urgency. When in company, abstain from looking at your phone.

If you must, excuse yourself for a minute and explain why the phone call is urgent. Colleagues will be more understanding with a sincere apology and quick explanation.

Finally, follow Speckhardt’s five steps to politeness. When you practice politeness outside the office, it will become more natural to practice it within. Just because the environment is more stressful or busy at work, doesn’t mean you should get away with being disruptive, distant, or rude. Plus, you’ll be surprised at how small gestures go a long way to achieving a more pleasant workday.

Don’t restrict the innovation, re-condition your behavior as the user.

Forgot what it’s like to live on planet Earth instead of cyberspace? Practice your inter-personal communication skills with C4CM’s course, “Effective Interpersonal Skills and Communication Techniques.

According to the Stanford Research Institute, 85 percent of your success is related to people skills (communication skills/rapport skills), and only 15 percent is related to technical skill and ability. So pry those eyes away from the computer screen and into the eyes of your competition during court—learn how to excel outside Excel.

And, if you’re already sold on the value of technology, go here to discover more ways to use Windows 10 or MS Office efficiently and productively at your firm.

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Blogging Backlash & Lessons In What (Not) To Post

Recently, the community blog PLOS Biologue removed a blog post by two journalists Charles Seife and Paul Thacker that criticized the lack of transparency by scientists.

The article can still be read in a cached form here, in which it states:

“In the wake of several embarrassing scientific debacles where financial conflicts played a prominent role — the death of Jesse Gelsinger,[i] the delayed decision to pull Vioxx and Bextra from the U.S. market,[ii] and the misconduct of Andrew Wakefield,[iii] to name a few — scientists, clinicians, publishers, regulators, and journalists began to beat a steady drumbeat to march research toward transparency.”

The post goes on to discuss various instances where e-mails from scientists have revealed the extent to which industry experts control the scientific literature to promote their own products and private gain.

At the end, the journalists conclude, “In short, those working to improve public welfare should oppose attempts to embolden government entities to withhold public information, thus threatening public health and the public trust in science.”

PLOS Biologue pulled the post after severe backlash by its readers, arguing the post was “not consistent with at least the spirit and intent of our community guidelines.”

Keith Kloor, author of the Nature news article mentioned in the retracted post, told Ivan Oransky of Retraction Watch that he disagreed with the decision to remove the article, stating:

“As much I think the PLOS post is deeply flawed and erroneous, it bothers me that it was retracted. 1) The official explanation is really vague. Not very transparent! 2) I have to wonder if there was intense pressure brought to bear from scientists…I find myself in the odd position of defending the flawed PLOS post from these presumed pressures, in part because I’ve been the subject of similar pressure campaigns. (Of course, I’m only assuming pressure was brought to bear. I have no idea if this was actually the case.)”

This instance provides law firms two important lessons about blogging. First, blogging is not easy. Readers—even online—create a discerning audience who feel free to openly and harshly criticize authors.

Second, blogging—while crucial to the survival of a company’s marketing strategy today—is as dangerous as it is beneficial. It is reported that the number of blogs published by Am Law 200 law firms has grown twelvefold in the last seven years, according to Above The Law (ATL), quoting the Am Law 200 Blog Benchmark Report 2015 from LexBlog.

In the same time frame, the number of firms publishing blogs has more than quadrupled to a total of 163 firms. And eighteen of the top 25 firms are blogging, according to the same source (via ATL).

With all these firms blogging, it’s important to remember that content matters. Just as easily as your firm can attract a wider audience or client base through its posts, it can alienate them.

Which firms may have the most at stake? It’s hard to say, but Fox Rothschild has the most blogs, with 39, and Sheppard Mullin places second with 29 blogs. Womble Carlyle follows closely with 22 blogs, and finally DLA Piper just misses the podium in fourth place, with 21 blogs, according to ATL.

What are these law firms talking about?

  • Employment and labor blogs (132 publications)
  • Corporate and commercial law (104)
  • Financial (100)
  • Intellectual property (73)
  • International (64)
  • Healthcare (55)
  • Administrative (52)
  • Technology (50)
  • Energy (47)
  • Real estate and construction (43)

Finally, you may have guessed, but mobile visits (visits conducted via smartphone or tablet) now account for 25 percent of global Internet traffic —and increase from 14 percent one year ago (via ATL).

So, decide with your marketing team and certainly name partners what message your law firm is hoping to send with its posts. Also come up with a plan for retractions (if any) or legal responsibility for the opinions in the posts. Like all things at the intersection of technology, law, and business, create a policy or manual for your blogging strategy.

In the end, blogging does more good than bad. After all, without blogging or reading others’ blogs, your firm may never know about interesting, informative upcoming events, like the following audio conferences:

  • Counsel’s Guide to Trade Secret Protection: Preventing and Avoiding Costly Errors and Penalties
    • Wednesday, September 16, 2015
  • Reclassifying Exempt Employees: Ensuring Wage and Hour Compliance
    • Wednesday, September 23, 2015 
  • Excel Pivot Tables: Shortcuts, Tricks, and Time-Saving Tips to Crunch Data More Efficiently
    • Tuesday, September 29, 2015 
  • Writing Effective Emails: Mastering The Number One Tool for Business Communication
    • Friday, October 2, 2015
  • Compensating Millennial Associates: Customizing Compensation and Rewards for Increased Productivity and Firm Profitability
    • Thursday, October 8, 2015
  • Partner Compensation: Keys to Compensating Succession and Client Transfers
    • Thursday, November 5, 2015 

To attend, click here.

C4CM audio conferences are live, interactive sessions presented over the telephone. You can attend from any location with phone access. You pay just one low registration fee for as many participants as you wish at one call-in location. Listen in from the convenience of your home, your office or in your conference room with your entire team and immediately put what you’ve learned to work in your department.

Need to reach a wider audience with your posts? Find out how, here.

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