Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

August 2012 Archives

ADR App: Arbitration Rules, Codes on Your Phone, Tablet

There's been a lot of speculation as to whether iPads, smartphones, and other devices will ever play an active role in the practice of law.

While most attorneys may own these devices, many are unsure how to actually use them to help their practice. However, as apps for lawyers continue to be developed (and improved upon), we may be entering a time of transition as these devices and their apps go from novelty to practicality.

Recently, the American Arbitration Association (AAA) recently released its ADR app for lawyers. Unlike most other apps developed for your tablet or smartphone, this app actually provides some utility for lawyers involved in arbitration, mediation, and other forms of alternate dispute resolution.

Can Apple Attorneys Get Samsung Smartphones Banned in US?

Shortly after its resounding defeat of Samsung, Apple is seeking an injunction against the sale of eight Samsung smartphones from U.S. stores.

The Samsung phones are all older models and include the Galaxy S2 and Droid Charge, reports Reuters. Not subject to the initial injunction is Samsung's flagship model, the Galaxy S III, though that may eventually change.

What Apple's quick action against Samsung signifies is that the iPhone maker is seeking to turn its court victory into an immediate business advantage. This will probably hurt competitors in the short-term, but it should eventually motivate competitors like Samsung to develop new innovations instead of simply following the leader.

Prince Harry Learns a Las Vegas Lesson

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

Dude, where are my clothes? Those might have been the words of Prince Harry when he learned that photos of him naked, but covering his royal private parts, had gone viral worldwide.

How did this happen? Apparently, his royal nakedness was partying in Las Vegas when someone snapped cellphone shots of him in the aftermath of a strip billiards game that then ended up on

Twitter Files Appeal to Protect Occupy Wall Street Protestor

The social media privacy wars have been in the news with sites like Twitter and Facebook being subpoenaed by law enforcement officials seeking information on criminal suspects.

At stake in the privacy wars is your personal information, tweets, and messages made available on these sites.

Twitter is now taking a stand against what it calls "invalid government requests" by appealing an order by a New York City criminal court requiring the site to turn over user information relating to Occupy Wall Street protester Malcolm Harris, reports PC World.

Twitter 101 for Lawyers: 3 Key Ways to Make Your Tweets Stand Out

Twitter is one of the best online media tools for a busy lawyer. The messages are short and sweet while the site gets enormous amounts of traffic every day.

Since most tweets are public (unless you explicitly make them private) users can easily find what you have to say. But in a sea of Twitter users the trick is finding a way to stand out. If your name doesn't have the draw of a major pop star, how can you make sure your tweets are being read?

Don't worry, we've got your covered. (In fact, if you don't have the time to spare for tweets, remember that FindLaw can handle the social media tasks for you.)

So You Want a Digital Recorder for Your Law Practice

A digital recorder is an essential tool for most lawyers.

You'll often find yourself in a situation where you wished you could turn back time and remember a detail in a client meeting or an important note at a deposition. Or you could find yourself struggling to remember a client's voice and intonation as you evaluate the strength of your case.

That's where a digital voice recorder comes into play. Most modern digital recorders allow you to record hours of speech. But with the wide range of digital recorders on the market (all with different price points), you may be wondering which digital recorder is best for the modern lawyer.

What the Apple Verdict Means for the Smartphone Industry

The Apple-Samsung patent case is in after over 50 hours of testimony and several days of jury deliberation. The verdict was announced Friday afternoon and the jury's verdict leaves no doubt that Samsung is the loser.

But the real loser could be the smartphone industry.

At least one member of the Samsung family of smartphones and touchscreens was found to infringe on almost every patent claim Apple made. Samsung's arguments that the patents were invalid fell on deaf ears with this jury.

This case marks the biggest smartphone patent litigation suit to date and the decision will have a significant impact on the growing industry.

The Bluebook App: A Uniform System of Citation on Your Cell

Ever needed to know the proper rules of citation while on the go? Well, with the new The Bluebook app, lawyers and law students everywhere can access the 500+ pages of The Legal Bluebook in the palm of their hands.

Like it or not, technology is becoming more and more intertwined with the practice of law. And you can probably consider the technological revolution complete when even the authority on how to properly make legal citations goes mobile.

Unfortunately, with such easy access to the rules of citations, lawyers everywhere will no longer have an excuse for a mis-cite.

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

The London 2012 Olympics games were successful, and indeed spectacular, on many levels.

Of course, there were incredible performances by phenomenal athletes, including veterans like Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt, as well as new breakout stars such as Missy Franklin and Gabby Douglas.

Great Britain also served up wonderful musical acts for entertainment purposes. Not only were we regaled by Paul McCartney, Annie Lennox, George Michael, and bits and pieces from Queen and Pink Floyd, but we also witnessed the reunion of the Spice Girls (oh my).

It was also a technologically advanced event.

Not everyone has an iPhone. And if you are one of the growing users of Android smartphones, you may be looking for a virtual assistant that rivals Apple's Siri.

Fortunately, there are several Siri alternatives out there. Unfortunately, not all of them are conducive for an attorney.

Think about it, if you're an attorney, you probably have specific needs for your smartphone and virtual assistant that a hipster in her 20s would not have. Three popular Siri alternatives are Ask Ziggy, Evi, and Vlingo, writes Wired. But only one stands out for attorneys.

Security is a big deal in the digital age, but even the most sophisticated laptops and smartphones are susceptible to low-tech snooping. How can you protect your email, texts, and attorney work product from prying eyes, including those of other lawyers?

The issue came up in a Texas courtroom last week, when a court staffer allegedly caught a prosecutor and defense lawyer reading a text message on a judge's phone, ABA Journal reports. One of the lawyers said he accidentally read the message after mistaking the judge's phone for his own; the judge ordered the lawyers to attend ethics classes.

Even if such snooping was inadvertent, there are some ways to make the information on your screen more private and more difficult to access. Here are five suggestions:

Attorneys May Just Dump Skype for Google Hangouts

Google is trying really hard to enter the social media world. The search engine giant recently introduced Google+ as an alternative to Facebook, to mixed results. Now the company has come up with Google Hangouts, which may actually have some utility for attorneys.

Google Hangouts is essentially a videoconferencing tool similar to Skype. However, Google Hangouts has some added benefits that may attract attorneys.

For example, Google Hangouts allows users to talk to 10 people at once without an additional fee, which can be great for lawyer teleconferences. And it has screenshare capabilities, so attorneys can show their screens to clients. Here are three ways Google Hangouts can help any lawyer, as compiled by Attorney at Work:

How Lawyers Can Protect Themselves on Public Wi-Fi

You already know that public wi-fi hotspots can be bad news for lawyers looking to keep information confidential.

Those wi-fi connections are generally unsecured meaning anyone can get on them. It also means that hackers can easily monitor them and potentially get a hold of your private information.

Still, you're probably going to keep using them anyway so rather than wag our fingers, we've got some ways you can keep your files protected when you're doing work in Starbucks.

Embedding Pirated Video Not a Crime, Judge Posner Rules

Judge Richard Posner handed down a victory for search engines and indexers when he found that MyVidster did not violate any copyright laws by embedding videos on its site.

Issuing the decision for the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, Posner found that MyVidster, a social video bookmarking site, did not infringe the copyright of Flava Works, a porn company. MyVidster had embedded copyright-infringing versions of Flava Works videos from third-party websites, reports Gizmodo.

The decision overturned a preliminary injunction from last year that prevented MyVidster from embedding such videos.

Unmanned Predator drones aren't just for killing Al Qaeda terrorists on foreign soil anymore. Domestic aerial drone surveillance is on the rise, and it's already being questioned in court.

Rodney Brossart of Lakota, N.D., the first U.S. citizen to be arrested with the help of an unmanned aerial drone, tried to get his criminal charges dismissed because of the alleged "warrantless" use of a drone by police.

But a judge rejected his argument, finding "there was no improper use of an unmanned aerial vehicle" in his arrest, according to U.S. News and World Report.

If you haven't heard, here's how this unique case arose:

Google and Oracle must identify bloggers and journalists who've been paid by the companies, federal Judge William Alsup has ordered. But it's not entirely clear why.

Lawyers for the tech giants must file disclosures by Friday, Alsup wrote in his one-page order, according to Wired. Alsup is presiding over the case, in which Oracle accused Google of patent and copyright infringement in developing software for Android smartphones.

Jurors delivered split verdicts in May. So why is Alsup issuing his disclosure order now?

ACLU's New App Secretly Records Police When You Get Pulled Over

The ACLU has answered the question of what to do in police encounters with the now-familiar, "There's an app for that."

The new Android app, called Police Tape, was put out by the New Jersey chapter of the ACLU and it has a lot of value for everyday citizens. It provides know-your-rights information for police interactions, including traffic and Terry stops, police at your home, and arrest.

The app also responds to another need: how to record an interaction with an officer if the person who is stopped suspects something is going wrong.

The trouble is that the way the app carries it out could be used illegally.

With Microsoft's new, attorneys with multiple social-media accounts may find that Gmail has finally met its match.

Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft has launched a "preview" of its new cloud-based email service, touting built-in connections to social media and more convenient ways to stay productive, the website SlashGear reports.

Some key new features, like built-in Skype capabilities, are not yet up and running. But here are five reasons may soon give Gmail a run for its money:

Judges' Social Media Use Increasing, Mostly on Facebook: Survey

Social media isn't just for the kids anymore since a new survey shows that judges are getting in on the action.

The CCPIO New Media and Courts Survey has been around for three years now so the 2012 survey results reveal changes over time. More judges are responding to the survey and of those who do, more say they use social media both for personal and professional reasons.

The survey looked at a lot of issues surrounding social media use, including whether these new technologies compromise ethical requirements.

A Netflix settlement in a class-action lawsuit includes changes to the streaming movie company's privacy policy and a $9 million payout, the website Ars Technica reports.

Most of Netflix's 27 million U.S. subscribers, however, won't see a penny.

About $2.25 million of the Netflix settlement will pay for attorney's fees, while the two named plaintiffs in the class-action suit will split $30,000, according to Ars Technica.

So where will the rest of the money go?