Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

May 2011 Archives

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

Businesses, governments, and individuals rightly are concerned about potentially becoming victims of Cyber crimes and attacks.

However, should there also be worry that the blame for such crimes and attacks could be directed to the innocent who had no intent and took no affirmative action in furtherance of evil deeds?

Maybe. Let's explore a hypothetical. Assume that a disgruntled Cyber terrorist on a remote mountain top wants to wreak havoc on a major commercial Web site.

Livescribe Connect's Smartpen: Attorney Productivity Booster?

It seems like a pen from the future.

Livescribe's smartpen has this cool feature that lets you "record" your doodlings or written notes as you write them, along with accompanying audio, store them in the pen, save them, and then upload them to whoever you want to share them with after you connect it to your PC.

Now, Livescribe has gotten even more futuristic with its "Connect" upgrade, which let you set up sharing instructions for the pen while you write your doodle, instead of after you hook it up to your PC.

How does this work? Well, you write the instructions down to the pen. For example, if you draw a double line and scrawl out "Facebook" or "Google Docs," the next time you sync your pen to your computer it will automatically update and share according to your desires.

Facebook's (Failed) Stealth Attack on Google

Ever heard of Google's Social Circle, an add-on for existing Google users to help add friends and invite new contacts? No? You're not alone. News of a secret, stealthy - and kind of sleazy - PR attack on Google by Facebook was recently brought to light by USA Today.

Burson-Marsteller, a top public relations firm, started a "whisper campaign" to encourage various media and news outlets to print a story about how Social Circle was some sort of invasive breach of privacy for Google users, reports USA Today. Burson said that they were working for an unnamed client.

Suspicious about the source, most outlets declined to publish the story. USA Today instead published a blasting story about how Google was deflecting Burson's PR smear campaign.

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

Is it possible that information and photos placed on Facebook pages could come back to haunt parties in litigation? Yes. Will that always be the case? No. Should people nevertheless be careful about what they post? Yes.

In this developing social media age, there has been a judicial willingness to compel the disclosure of Facebook material to the other side in litigation if the material could be inconsistent with the claims made in the case.

With its new PrintStik mobile Bluetooth printer, PlanOn takes aims squarely at the road warrior market, reports Laptop Magazine.

This printer seems designed to appeal to the bicep-challenged road warrior. Or maybe, the road warrior who appreciates a chic,1.5-pound printer.

Small. Light. Wireless Bluetooth. An inch high, eleven inches long, two inches wide. No toner. And it prints. On paper. Anywhere.

Do these features add up to a good thing or a bad thing? For the road warrior lawyer, does the PrintStik's "office in a pocket" concept work?

Control Employee Web Usage: Online Security for Law Firms

You may or may not allow your firm employees to surf Facebook and You want to give them some online freedom.

But where (or how) can you best draw the line?

Software written for large firms is too expensive and inefficient for a smaller law firms, which usually has five or fewer networked computers. And large systems might not combine protection from external attack with protection from inefficient and dangerous employee web usage.

And sooner or later, confidential information -- yours and your clients' -- will be attacked.

Will Attorneys (or Anyone) Ditch Their iPhones for a Windows Phone?

Which of these three would you want: an iPhone, an Android, or a Windows Phone?

For some attorneys, the phrase "Windows Phone" might make them take pause. After all, in this iPhone and Android-filled world, is there even enough room for Microsoft to compete?

Once derided, the Windows Phone is trying to make a comeback. Some of the newer phones even received positive reviews. Tech-savvy attorneys might soon see these smartphones gracing the shelves of their wireless carrier's store. But it might not be the best time to buy.

Judge Royce Lambeth has imposed an inventive Rule 37 discovery sanction on the District of Columbia (D.C.), reports the ABA Journal.

In a class action, D.C.'s attorneys showed up for trial without having produced thousands of emails requested by plaintiffs in pretrial discovery.

D.C.'s attorneys protested they had too little staff, and that they "kept finding new caches of emails," reports the ABA Journal.

Finally, D.C. agreed to produce the documents on a "rolling basis" after the trial was over.

Mobile Attorney Tool: Planon's DocuPen Scans On-the-Go

Having a heavy caseload can mean having to create your own virtual office space. A busy airport or a courtroom cafeteria can all be good places to hunker down and get some work done.

Need to e-mail some forms to a co-counsel to get it signed? Alas, if only you had some sort of portable scanner!

Well, you could. If you're willing to spend some money on it, that is.

The Planon DocuPen portable scanner will run you upwards of $300, with older models coming in at a much less steep price of $70 at some online retailers.

But, like most tech gadgets, there's the good - and there's also the bad and the ugly.

Cost-Cutting VoIP Solutions for Law Firms

The tech world was set abuzz last week when news spread that Microsoft was acquiring VoIP provider Skype for $8.5 billion.

Whether or not Microsoft's new acquisition is genius or folly remains to be seen. With powerhouse Microsoft behind a VoIP provider, it seems that the general push toward greater use of internet communications is underway.

VoIP can offer communication solutions that are cheaper than traditional phone systems - and arguably just as reliable. Worried about billable hours and your bottom line? VoIP could be just the money-saving vehicle your firm has been looking for.

Save Your Firm Money: Change the Font of Your Emails

Before you hit Ctrl + P, pause for a moment.

Think of the environment, and the forest of trees that were cut down just so you could print out that thousand-page deposition. If that doesn't get you riled up, think of how much money you are spending on each document and e-mail you send to the printer.

First, paper costs. Then, printer maintenance costs. Lastly, and most importantly, ink costs. Remarkably, changing the default font of your office e-mail system can end up saving you and your law firm some serious change.

Three Top Smartphone Apps for Legal Research

Ask not whether legal research can be done your smartphone. Ask only how to choose the right app.

Let's narrow it down. Smartphone users can already do generic word processing, email, GPS, and file storage. Lawyers share these tasks with others.

How to Use an iPad to Recreate a Scene at Trial, Deposition

Maybe you're tired of playing Angry Birds all the time. Maybe you want to stop streaming YouTube during meetings. Maybe you feel like you need to justify that $500 iPad price tag. Look no further - there are actually some practical work applications for your iPad (or your iPhone and smartphone)!

With a few simple clicks, your iPad can transform into a high tech photo grabber, useful in the discovery process and in trials.

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

The Seventh Circuit recently upheld the firing of a school teacher who briefly viewed pornographic images in violation of the school district's computer use policy, despite his argument that his firing really related to constitutionally protected critical speech.

The teacher here had been a biology instructor for the eleven years for the school district. He also served as a union president for the local education association.

The moral of Zellner v. Herrick is that employers, whether educational institutions or other entities, should be clear in their written policies about specific computer use that they allow and prohibit.

ProLaw XII, with .NET Technology, Helps Firms Run Smarter

Elite has released ProLaw XII, the newest version of the top One Office software solution for legal professionals.

ProLaw XII could prove exceedingly useful for small law firms, mid-size law firms, corporate legal departments and government agencies. It is meant to streamline tasks and integrate the entire office to run more efficiently, from the office manager to the top partner or director.

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

Once upon a time, and without a federal law in place, more than half of the states enacted their own laws to address the pervasive problem of unsolicited commercial email, affectionately known as "spam."

Then in 2003 Congress stepped up to the plate and enacted the CAN-SPAM Act. This federal statute imposes certain requirements and restrictions on a nationwide basis with respect to the sending of unsolicited commercial email. Problem solved, right?

Not quite.