Technologist: November 2011 Archives
Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

November 2011 Archives

As if lawyers need any more reasons to fear for their livelihoods in a tight job market, here’s another: Predictive coding is becoming more popular, and could make human document review somewhat obsolete.

Yes, the rise of robots is reaching into the realm of entry-level and contract legal work, the website Lawyerist reports. What used to take a roomful of document reviewers days, weeks, or even months to complete, can now largely be done by computer programs designed to quickly sift through terabytes of electronic data.

Will All Electronic Devices Be Banned From Our Courtrooms?

Judges have long since banned cameras, video and sound recorders from the courtroom. But what about other electronic devices in courtrooms? Will there come a time when they are no longer welcome?

We may be moving steadily, though slowly, in that direction. In fact, the D.C. Superior Court has just issued an order placing substantial restrictions on electronic devices, including phones, computers and MP3 players.

The court's order got this blogger thinking. How are courts across the country dealing with technological advancement?

Urgent Legal Research? Use WestlawNext on Your Smartphone

Imagine that you're in the middle of a settlement conference or at a court hearing. Suddenly, a brilliant idea strikes. It can make or break your case.

What do you do? The courthouse has no wireless Internet, and there's no place to plug in. In fact, you don't even have your laptop. But you need the name of that case or statute, or you might not be able to make your point.

Enter WestlawNext Mobile. Now you can do legal research anywhere.

You may be ready to upgrade your office software, but are you ready for your help desk to keep you on hold -- for hours? Those hours aren't billable and could cost you money.

Help desks usually see a 25 to 30 percent spike in calls from computer-challenged colleagues after a major software or equipment upgrade. The increased call volume can go on for another six months.

That's a huge burden for your techie problem solvers -- not to mention a potential time sink for your team.

RIAA Demands ReDigi Stop Selling Used Digital Music

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has a new target in its crosshairs: ReDigi, a newcomer to the digital music world. ReDigi offers users the ability to sell their "used" digital music.

Think about it this way, it's just like selling a CD that you bought. Except you don't physically have the CD, just whatever files you purchased from iTunes.

ReDigi will verify that you purchased your music legitimately, then make a copy and upload it onto its servers for re-sale. Your file is permanently deleted.

Is it any wonder that the RIAA has sent off a cease and desist letter to the burgeoning company - which only just released its beta version this past October?

We've been having some fun with the latest iPhone's Siri voice recognition software. It's supposed to help users find directions, and answers to everyday questions.

But for legal professionals, this new technology may not truly connect. Ask Siri about the law, and she'll likely respond like your summer intern: "Hmm... I don't know... How about a web search?"

So we put Siri to the test. Our un-serious deposition produced the following answers:

Critics of the proposed SOPA copyright law could face an uphill battle in their fight to kill the bill, a House committee hearing suggests.

Intellectual property lawyers, on the other hand, could emerge as big winners.

A Google representative was the only person to testify against the Stop Online Piracy Act during a House Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday, the Huffington Post reports.

Committee members were hostile, attacking Google for its role in an online pharmacy scandal earlier this year — “a public declaration that the company’s lobbying might not help to moderate SOPA,” the Post opined.

Fake BofA Google+ Page Trashes Bank

Bank of America was recently made the target of a digital prank in the form of a fake Google+ page.

Google only recently unveiled Google+ pages for businesses. And it seems some Internet jokesters were already ready to make their disgruntled attitudes against the bank publicly known.

The bogus Bank of America page touted the byline "we took your bailout money and your mortgage rates are going up." The introductory paragraph under the "about" tab also went on to say that the bank is "committed to making as much money as possible from usury, coercion, bribery, insider trading, extortion, and debit card fees as possible."

Google, Facebook Oppose SOPA Copyright Bill

A number of Silicon Valley heavyweights joined forces on Tuesday to oppose the Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R. 3261), a new bill introduced late last month. Google, Facebook, Twitter, eBay, Yahoo, AOL, Zynga and LinkedIn are urging members of the House Judiciary Committee to reconsider the bill, which they say will curb innovation and job-creation.

Known as the PROTECT IP Act in the Senate (S. 968), the bill is an attempt to give intellectual property holders a better way to fight foreign websites that infringe on American intellectual property. But critics believe that it creates new liabilities and may force some service providers to engage in censorship.

iPhone Projector Case Perfect For Attorney Closing Arguments

Every day it seems that another company invents a new gadget that is compatible with your smartphone.

So it's relatively unsurprising that a new iPhone projector case is about to hit the market.

Brookstone's new Pocket Projector case will run you a $230 bill, which is relatively cheap considering the price of other projectors. It's powered by Texas Instrument's Pico projector technology - and it's conveniently attachable to your iPhone 4.

Who Really Owns a Company's Twitter Account?

Most tweeting attorneys know that what you write on your personal Twitter account is yours.

In fact, Twitter itself weighed in and clarified its terms of service to say that an account's tweets are owned by the author.

But the lines get a bit sketchy when you consider a company's Twitter account. Corporations, small businesses, and anyone who wants to gain a following is now getting into the social media game.

Things can get a bit tricky when an employee who Tweets for the company suddenly quits. Who owns that?

Top 3 Reasons Your Firm Should Embrace Twitter in 2012

Despite movement from some of the nation's largest law firms, the legal industry has not yet fully embraced social media. LinkedIn is the big winner, according to a new survey on law firm social media use. Approximately 77% of respondents have firm profiles.

But then there's Twitter. Only 31% of firms surveyed use the microblogging service. This is a shame.

If there's one social network your firm should be a part of it, it's Twitter. Here's why:

How Lawyers Can Channel Their 'Inner Steve Jobs'

When Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs passed away this year, the technology world mourned.

Jobs was a man who not only saved Apple from an untimely demise, but introduced gadget-hungry individuals (including attorneys) to the iPod, iPad, iPhone, and whole slew of personal computers.

Attorneys might wonder how to channel their inner Steve Jobs. In fact, there was a recent article written about this very idea in the ABA Journal. But below is an original take on some lessons we can learn from the Silicon Valley giant's life.

FindLaw columnist Eric Sinrod writes regularly in this section on legal developments surrounding technology and the internet.

Back in the 1990s, there was talk of the coming "information superhighway." Now we are traveling at warp speed on that highway. Take a look at some of these jaw-dropping stats:

Facebook

  • Facebook now boasts more than 800 million active users, with 350 million gaining access from mobile devices.
  • Roughly 70 percent of Facebook users are located outside of the United States.
  • Every month about 30 billion content links are shared on Facebook.
  • Remarkably, Facebook users install 20 million apps every day.
  • Almost half of 18-34 year-old users check Facebook when they wake up, with more than a quarter of users doing so before they even leave the bed.

Boston Attorneys' Have Accents that iPhone's Siri Doesn't Understand

Lawyers who are both advocates as well as Apple fanboys (or fangirls) likely got their hands on the new iPhone 4S when it was released.

The biggest draw to the newly-released model? The Siri voice recognition software.

Previously, we wrote about whether or not Siri would make a good personal assistant. But apparently there is a caveat: the software has difficulty recognizing certain individuals, especially those with a heavy accent.

How to Integrate a Virtual Law Office

How many times do you meet with a client? And how much do you pay to rent your office space?

Chances are the first number is low, while the second is quite high. Which is probably why approximately 14% of attorneys now operate some type of virtual law office.

Virtual law offices are a growing trend in the legal industry, allowing cash-strapped young attorneys to practice without a physical office. But they're also increasingly popular amongst the ranks of solo and small firm practitioners who seek more flexibility and less overhead.

These numbers can only be expected to grow as Virtual Law Networks hit the scene.

Law Firm Website's Certification Seal Lands Lawyer in Ethics Hot Water

New Jersey attorney Ty Hyderally landed himself into some trouble over his law firm website's seal.

Hyderally's cousin designed the website for him. The cousin found the seal via a Google search and decided to integrate it onto the website because he thought it looked nice.

Unfortunately, Hyderally wasn't certified as the seal proclaimed. In fact, the lawyer didn't even realize the seal was on his website until he was contacted by disciplinary authorities. The seal was displayed for two years. He is now facing a court hearing over the charges. Sure, most attorneys realize that displaying a seal isn't a good idea if you aren't really certified. But what else should you avoid?

FindLaw columnist Eric Sinrod writes regularly in this section on legal developments surrounding technology and the internet.

Electronic discovery can be time-consuming, burdensome and expensive. Indeed, at times, e-discovery can be the tail that wags the litigation dog.

As a consequence, Chief Judge Randall Rader of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, on behalf of an E-Discovery Committee, recently introduced a Model Order for Patent E-Discovery.