Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

September 2009 Archives

Banks Liable For Cyber Criminals?

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

The Internet has made life easier in so many ways, including the ability to shop and conduct financial transactions online. Of course, just like in the world of bricks and mortar, criminals also lurk in Cyberspace, seeking to steal identities, data and money. While Cyber criminals, of course, are responsible as a matter of criminal and civil law for their own wrongdoing, the question arises as to whether others also can be deemed responsible for the harm suffered as a result of this illegal conduct.

The recent case of Patco Construction Company, Inc. v. People's United Bank d/b/a Ocean Bank, filed in state court in Maine, tees up this very question for resolution.

How to Budget for eDiscovery Costs

Law firms big and small face a similar difficulty with legal technology--estimating its costs.  At early stages of a case it often proves to be a challenge to consider the scope of discovery as a whole--especially when trying to account for the looming variable of eDiscovery costs.  Mining discoverable evidence including email, web-based documents, audio files, photographs, software, and other tech-related evidence is only the beginning of eDiscovery expenditure.  There is also the sorting and analyzing the data and metadata into information that can be used in preparing the case, and finally, finding ways to present the collected and sorted materials in coherent form. 

So, how does a law firm attempt to budget for their legal technology expenditures?  Here are some tips.

States Embrace Electronic Discovery

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

If you were under the misguided impression that attorneys and their litigant clients only need to deal expressly with electronic discovery in federal court, you need to wake up and smell the e-discovery coffee. In the wake of the 2006 e-discovery amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, state legislatures have been getting into the act, adopting e-discovery rules for state court cases. Indeed, more than half of our 50 states have gone this route so far.

California is such a state. At the end of June, Govenor Schwarzenegger signed into law the California Electronic Discovery Act. This law closely resembles the federal e-discovery rules in key respects, and is applicable to cases in the California state court system.

Top 5 eDiscovery News Developments

Below is a round-up of the latest news headlines in eDiscovery.

1. Boeing's eDiscovery Destination? CaseCentral.  Boeing joins over 32 Fortune 100 companies in choosing CaseCentral software for its eDiscovery needs.  Boeing has tapped CaseCentral, an eDiscovery software company founded in 1994, to provide repeatable, defensible, and measurable eDiscovery capabilities as the "corporate standard" for new cases.  CaseCentral was among the first to employ use of process analytics, real-time measurement of review rates, quality rates and costs per document. 

Related Resources:

Jurors: Keep Your E-Fingers to Yourselves

Jurors empaneled for a trial typically are instructed by the judge not to do anything on their own to learn about the facts and circumstances of the case outside of the courtroom.  This traditionally has meant that they should not talk to people with knowledge of the case, they should not visit the scene of the events at issue, and they should try to avoid any television or any newspaper coverage of the trial.  But in the new Internet age, it appears that judges have to be even more specific in their admonitions to jurors.

We live in a world where we can find out almost anything from the Internet by the simple movement of our fingers on relatively tiny devices.  In just a matter of seconds, from practically any location, jurors can seek information relating to parties, witnesses and the issues at stake in a given trial.  This, of course, can taint the jurors such that they would not be deliberating in the case based only on the facts presented to them at trial.

Own Your Tweets, You Earned Them.

Twitter announced this week that it has clarified its Terms of Service regarding what users can expect from the microblogging service.  Of importance to legal tech enthusiasts, is the delineation of ownership of the tweets--or 140-character posts--that users posts.  It's confirmed, they belong to the author.

Could this enable users to copyright their tweets?

It is a possibility; however, at just 140 characters, it will remain to be seen whether there is enough content to establish a protectable copyright claim.  However, considering that poetry such as haikus could fit in a tweet and that users are becoming more accustomed and creative with expressing themselves within the constraints of a microblog, the relationship between copyright and Twitter is at best grey. 

Less Is More When It Comes to Multitasking

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

With the advent of the Internet, cell phones, wireless email devices and portable music players, many of us wear as a badge of honor our ability to multitask. But not so fast - a recent study by Stanford researchers concludes the opposite of what we might think: those of us who frequently are inundated with multiple sources of electronic information do not pay as close attention, control memory, or move from one task to another as well people who tend to complete one function or task at a time.

5 Ways Law Firms Can Market With Social Media

Social media has changed the game of marketing.  It makes a firm more accessible to its clients and potential clients.  And it allows a firm practicing in a niche specialty to inform and engage the legal and general community about particular areas of law.  And where an attorney and firm's time is limited by hours in the day and existing caseloads, social media features give your firm a virtual presence even when an actual presence is not possible.

And though law firms are advised to think critically about possibly privacy concerns before jumping into the social media pool, fear of water shouldn't keep a firm from swimming.  The potential benefits a law firm can reap from being active in social media are still being discovered.  Here are five ways your firm can make the most of social media.

Speeding Up The Internet For Americans

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

Do you feel like your online life is moving ahead somewhat out of control at warp speed? Well, according to the third annual Speed Matters survey by the Communications Worker of America (CWA), we need to pick up the pace of the Internet here in the United States. Indeed, the CWA concludes that speed of the Internet in the US is continuing to fall behind other countries.

The most recent survey for 2009 indicates that the average download speed in the US is 5.1 megabits per second (mbps), with the average upload speed being 1.1 mbps. These speeds are only slightly higher than in 2008. But more importantly, according to the CWA, at the current rate it would take the US 15 years to catch up to a country like South Korea.

Top 4 Legal Technology News Stories This Week

Legal technology finds its way into the headlines under unique and varied circumstances.  Below are some interesting stories on legal technology news from the week.

1.  The problem with nuking fruit: Apple denies liability in exploding iPhones

Apple has not taken too kindly to suggestions that it is to blame for exploding iPhones.  In fact, it is shifting the blame on to...well, you.  ""In all cases, the glass cracked due to an external force that was applied to the iPhone," a London-based spokesperson told reporters.  This came after a young man reported that his girlfriend's iPhone exploded in her hands, resulting a piece of glass penetrating his eye.  According to his statement to reporters, the iPhone had not been dropped or struck before the explosion.