Technologist: June 2012 Archives
Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

June 2012 Archives

Everyone Has a Social Media Opinion on the Health Care Ruling

Thursday's Supreme Court Ruling on the Affordable Care Act has people talking, tweeting, and Facebooking all over the country. The ruling's personal impact means that most people have strong opinions one way or the other about the opinion. They're airing those views on social media.

FindLaw users are no different and we've gotten a lot of response from consumers and legal professionals giving us their reactions to the health care ruling.

Check out the comments below and then join the conversation.

Sign-N-Send Makes Electronically Signing Legal Docs a Breeze

How many times have you left your office only to realize a couple of miles down the road that you forgot to sign that motion? If you were sans a laptop, than your only options were to either turn around or do it tomorrow. Sign-N-Send puts this problem to rest.

Developed by Tipirneni Software LLC, this iOS app allows users to sign PDF and Microsoft Office documents on their iPhones or iPads.

But does it work as advertised?

Should Lawyers Upgrade to the Samsung Galaxy S III?

Tech-loving lawyers rejoice, the Samsung Galaxy S III is nearly here. The South Korean company has just announced its latest addition to the Galaxy family. But for lawyers, is upgrading to the Galaxy S III worth it?

Gadget junkies need not answer that question. It's more directed toward attorneys who value function over being able to make their fellow associates jealous.

The Galaxy S III brings a number of changes to the popular line of Android smartphones. But for lawyers with the Galaxy S II, Note, or Nexus, an upgrade might not be necessary.

SpokenLayer Lets Lawyers Listen to (Rather than Read) the Web

The phrase "attorneys read a lot" is something of an understatement. It's a Sisyphean task to keep up with both case information and the myriad of articles and web publications that cover different aspects of law.

A new iOS app called SpokenLayer is looking to replace reading the web with a new kind of experience: listening.

SpokenLayer's goal is make a significant portion of the web audio friendly and make those audio files available to web users. App owners can then listen to relevant articles and publications while doing other things like exercising or running errands.

If you're thinking you can't listen to hours of an awkward machine-made voice, SpokenLayer doesn't want you to. They're relying on a different model.

Hollaback Allows Women to Shame Street Harassers via Smartphones

If you're a woman, you've probably experienced some form of street sexual harassment. Catcalls, obscene comments, or even an inappropriate compliment can all make a person's day uncomfortable.

Now some women have decided to stop taking these comments lying down. Simply install the Hollaback application on your smartphone, and you have what Good Technology calls an equivalent to a digital "rape whistle."

Users can report harassment incidents in real time, and can use a map function to display where the incident occurred. Users can even "hollaback" with a photo of the alleged harasser.

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

The Internet yields all sorts of disputes. Take the nine-year-old Scottish girl who was banned from posting photographs of school meals on her blog, which caused a firestorm of criticism.

Martha Payne, who by now has had in excess of three million hits on her blog at NeverSeconds.blogspot.com, started posting photos of her Scottish primary school lunches at the end of April. BBC News report that her "food-o-meter" rated each meal in terms of healthiness and how many mouthfuls it takes to consume the meal.

Ultimately, school officials became concerned and a school council banned Martha from posting further photos of school meals.

So, this food fight, while at times messy, has a happy ending.

Buy a tablet that's not an iPad?

Well, if you're a practicing attorney who wants better use of your tablet than playing Angry Birds, you may want to consider Microsoft's Surface tablet.

After much speculation, Microsoft finally unveiled its foray into the tablet world. And for attorneys looking for a laptop or PC alternative, the Surface tablet may be the answer for you.

Is Court Days Pro Better Than Your Calendar App?

Of the many pains that accompany being a lawyer, perhaps one of the biggest hassles is keeping track of dates. Court Days Pro for iOS seeks to remedy this problem. But is it worth leaving your regular non-lawyer calendar app?

The program turns your iPhone, iPad, or other iOS device into a court date calculating machine. By inputting rules for various "trigger" events, Court Days Pro will be able to instantly create all the deadlines that accompany it. The app is even able to compensate for your jurisdiction's holidays and weekends.

This explanation is a lot to digest, but it's easier to understand how the program works through an example.

How Cloud Storage and Confidentiality Can Work Together

Cloud storage offers a lot of benefits to attorneys who need extra storage space, but what it doesn't always provide is confidentiality.

Companies that offer cloud storage provide access to their superior memory capacities which allows clients to store and backup computer files online. Those online files can then be access from any computer without having to carry an external hard drive everywhere.

That all sounds good, but how secure is this cloud really?

Expect Bidding, Litigation for New Domains '.law' and '.lawyer'

Applications for new domains were released on Wednesday by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and it looks like litigation is already on the horizon.

For many, the phrase "dotcom" has become synonymous with "website." Given ICANN's tight control over who can previously own a Top-Level Domain, its new policy opens up entirely new marketing strategies -- and potential disputes.

ICANN has braced itself for litigation by putting away $120 million for potential court costs. It seems like a good move on their part, given the applied for domains.

Among the domain names up for grabs: .law, .lawyer, .legal and .attorney.

Should Your Family Have Legal Right to Your Facebook After Death?

The digital estate. It's a relatively new thing, springing from the increased availability of the Internet and the boom in social networking sites. Individuals leave email accounts, documents, blogs, profiles and a host of other information on the web. And most of it is password protected.

Nonetheless, family members of the deceased want that information. In fact, they want it so badly that they're now asking state legislatures to give an individual's estate access to sites like Facebook after death.

Is legislating on someone's digital estate a good idea?

MyPoint App Puts PowerPoint Presentation Controls on Your iPhone

Getting pegged by your firm's partners to give a PowerPoint presentation can be nerve-racking. Putting together the slides is always a hassle, but presenting your show is even worse. MyPoint is a free app designed to make it a little easier.

Developed by Didonai LLC, the app turns your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch into a fully functional PowerPoint remote control.

However, the program lets you do more than just click through slides.

Trouble In Password Paradise

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

Many people use the same password for all of their accounts. Why? Because it is easy to remember just one password across all accounts.

But is that a good idea? Nope. If that password were to fall into the wrong hands, it potentially could be used more pervasively to the disadvantage of the true password holder.

And this is not a hypothetical concern. Indeed, recent press reports are rife with disclosures of major password hacks/leaks.

Which is the Best Word Processor for Your Android?

While typing out briefs on your Android device may never be as easy as doing it on a computer, there are times when using a mobile word processor might be a necessity. But which Android word processor is most up to the task?

There's certainly no shortage of options to choose from in the Google Play Store. Each of the apps featured below are office suites, meaning in addition to word processing, they can also be used to make spreadsheets and slide presentations.

But unfortunately, not all office apps are created equal. Ready to pay a few bucks to upgrade your Android phone or tablet? Read on.

JuryTracker App Helps Lawyers Keep an Eye on Jurors

When it comes to jury selection, most attorneys rely on the tried-and-true method of sticky notes on a board and a pile of papers. JuryTracker for the iPad seeks to simplify the voir dire process for lawyers by bringing it to the 21st century.

The app is just one of the growing number of jury selection apps on the market geared toward attorneys. JuryTracker has the distinction of being developed by John Cleaves, lawyer and supervisor of trial technology consulting at Latham & Watkins.

But does the app creator's experience shine through?

DocScanner Turns Paper To PDF on the Go

Paperwork and lawyers go together like peanut butter and jelly. During the course of any attorney's career, they'll undoubtedly encounter situations where they'll be handed a pile of documents. And subsequently, they'll wish CTRL+F worked on paper. DocScanner proposes to make that dream a reality (in a sense).

The application allows users to take snapshots of documents using the camera on their iOS or Android device. The program then converts the document into a PDF.

But does it actually work?

How to Organize Email Inboxes for Lawyers Without Assistants

Assistants and paralegals can make life as a lawyer much easier. And sometimes they can also help make you rich. But for the little things, like organizing your email inbox, assistants can prove invaluable.

Unfortunately, not every firm or solo practitioner can afford one. Sometimes you have to do everything on your own. As a result, organization can occasionally fall to the wayside. And email inboxes are usually the first casualty.

If this sounds like you, try taking the following steps to free yourself from the nightmare of a cluttered inbox.

Has Google Become a Generic Term?

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

Thermos. Yo-Yo. Escalator. Zipper.

All are examples of trademarks that have seen their legal protection disappear in the United States. These innovative terms have over time become so associated with products that the terms are deemed generic and thus not necessarily deserving of intellectual property protection.

Is Google there now?

David Elliott has argued in a federal complaint in Arizona that the term Google has become so associated with Internet searching that it is not entitled to legal protection. So, what exactly is Mr. Elliott's beef?

The Best Bluetooth Headsets for Lawyers

In our constantly connected world, being without your cell phone is like going to work naked. But constantly having to put your phone to your ear can get annoying real fast. Thankfully, that's why Bluetooth headsets were invented, but which is the best for lawyers on the go?

There are a lot of options in today's market and the price range for these devices is just as wide. Costs can vary from free with purchase to ridiculous.

But don't fret, here are three Bluetooth headset choices fit for any attorney's budget.

An Attorney Should Only Really Carry 1 of These 3 Tablets

Tablet computers have become rather unstoppable of late. And if you're in the legal profession, you might be wondering what the top tablets for attorneys are.

Let's be realistic. It's not like you'll be able to draft briefs and conduct complex legal research on a tablet. The absence of a real keyboard can be a real drain on productivity.

But a tablet is especially useful for reading emails and documents when you're on the go. That's why lawyers probably want a tablet that not only has great battery life, but is fast, and has a nice screen. Here are some of the tablets that meet all these requirements, and then some: