Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

August 2015 Archives

Here's something new for your ear: podcasts for lawyers. If you're the type of attorney who likes to listen to talk radio while you put together motions or play Brahms while you brief, then lawyer podcasts can offer an enjoyable, educational addition to your playlist. Or, if you're less of a multitasker, podcasts can liven up your downtime, giving you something interesting to listen to on your commute or at the gym.

Legal-focused podcasts aren't just entertaining either. They're informative, inspiring, even instructional. Think of a blog, but without all that pesky reading. Check out our top three:

Most lawyers communicate primarily through email. At the same time, lawyers need to take reasonable efforts to prevent disclosure of client communications and information. Are these two things in conflict? Potentially.

It's fair to say that email isn't the world's most secure communication system. For one, the NSA regularly intercepts attorney-client emails, by its own admission. Then there's the risks posed by hackers, by snooping email tracking software, by your firm's noisy IT intern. Don't worry though -- you needn't abandon email and strap on a tin foil hat. Not yet at least. There's still several easy ways to make your attorney-client emails more secure.

Forget filing your discovery documents away in some basement storage closet or backing them up in piles of external hard drives. Logikcull, the eDiscovery company, is promising that it will reduce discovery archiving to its simplest form: a single drag and drop.

The company is offering one-step, cloud-based data archiving for users of its discovery automation products. That could make archiving as simple as uploading a photo to Facebook and doc review about as complicated as a Google search. And it won't cost you a million dollars either -- Logikcull announced early this August that it's allowing unlimited cloud-based data storage for its customers.

The Perils of Online Dating

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

Once upon a time, people didn't require Internet access to find a date. The old-fashioned dating scene involved socializing with friends, attending community events, and spending Friday nights at parties and bars. That still happens, of course, but with the Internet, there are now unlimited hook-up options available right at your fingertips.

Dating sites like eHarmony and boast that many users have found loving, long-lasting relationships through ther dating services. Those couples likely would not have resulted without those web sites. Bravo -- that is fantastic.

Your tweets, never very private to begin with, are about to get much more public. Google, the Goliath search engine company starting integrating tweets into its desktop search results this weekend. They've been experimenting with Twitter content for awhile now, but they only began to show tweets in all English language desktop searches starting last Friday.

Since Google controls two thirds of the world's search traffic, that means that your tweets could end up in front of a lot more than just Twitter's somewhat insular community. With that in mind, here's a look at what's changed along with some best practices for lawyers who tweet.

The legal community now has its own platform for sharing anonymous data on cybersecurity threats. The forum, the Legal Services Information Sharing and Analysis Organization, launched this Wednesday and should help the legal industry collaborate on and avoid security threats.

As we are fond of reminding our readers, cybersecurity threats are a major issue, threatening everyone from adulterers to government workers to adulterous government lawyers. Law firms are no exception. Eighty out of the 100 largest U.S. firms have been hacked over the past four years according to a report by cybersecurity consulting firm Mandiant.

You don't have to lose touch just because you're telecommuting, traveling to meet a client, or on your way to court. If you're one of those lawyers whose work takes them out of the office frequently, there are plenty of mobile-based options that allow you to keep on top of projects while on the go.

And you don't have to shell out hundreds of dollars for them either. Mobile-friendly project management apps can help you organize, monitor and track your law firm's projects, step by step, without costing you a cent -- at least not at the start. Here's an overview of three of our favorites, all of which can be used online, on iPhones and iPads or on Android devices.

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

Many college students likely would covet an internship at Facebook. One Harvard University student landed such an internship. However, he says that the internship offer to him was rescinded by Facebook because he reportedly exposed privacy flaws in Facebook's mobile messenger. Is that correct or not, and what lesson has been learned?

Harvard student, Aran Khanna, launched a browser application from his dorm room. The app revealed that Facebook Messenger users were able to precisely pinpoint the geographic locations of people with whom they were communicating, as reported by The Guardian.

Wonder if opposing counsel has read your scheduling email yet? Want to know if your new associates actually followed the link you sent them? Outlook or Gmail can't help, but Sidekick can. Sidekick is an email tracking tool that allows you to see when emails are opened, when recipients follow links, and a whole lot more.

It can be a helpful addition to email, but suffice it to say, there are plenty of privacy and ethics implications as well. Should lawyers consider making Sidekick their email sidekick?

Windows 8 was a disaster. It looked like it was made for tablets, but was still slapped on PCs. Its interface was confusing and unintuitive. People hated it. Microsoft got the hint and decided it wouldn't even bother with a Windows 9 -- Gates and friends jumped straight to 10 instead.

If Windows 10 has gotten anything right, it's the price. The operating system comes free to owners of Windows 8 or 7. Does that mean lawyers should ditch their current set up for Windows 10? Here's an overview to help you decide.

Cyberwar Happening Here and Now?

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

Conflict has unfortunately been part of the human experience for thousands of years. In prehistoric times, rocks, sticks, and bones were some of the weapons of choice. Over time, humans became more sophisticated, utilizing knives, swords, bows and arrows, and eventually guns and cannons. Recent developments include nuclear threats and drone strikes.

There has been concern, rightly, that the Internet might provide a further means for waging war or dismantling the means of waging war by others. For example, a few years ago, Stuxnet, a computer worm, reportedly was launched by a U.S. and Israeli intelligence operation to attack and cause the tearing apart of programmable logic controllers of certain Iranian centrifuges that were designed for potential nuclear purposes.

Already bored with tomorrow? Want to get ahead of the next few years? Then think about bringing some cutting edge technology into your practice. It's not too hard to become George Jetson, Esq., if you're willing to be an early adopter.

Promising technology offers simple conveniences and supposedly industry changing disruptions. Here are a few tech trends that we think will alter the way firms operate in the near future.

First they came for our credit card numbers. Then they turned to our cars. Now, even medical devices are vulnerable to hacking. Pacemakers, insulin pumps and other medical devices are vulnerable to hacking -- so vulnerable that the FDA has called for medical facilities to abandon some vulnerable devices.

Not only are the hackable medical devices a risk to patients, they're also a potentially huge liability to medical companies -- and perhaps a boon to malpractice lawyers.

You might remember Aereo, the Internet startup that allowed individuals to watch broadcast T.V., including local programming, online. Traditional broadcasters and cable companies hated it and sued. The case eventually ended up before the Supreme Court, where Aereo lost. The company filed for bankruptcy just a few months later.

But the dream of Internet-based television didn't die with Aereo. Other companies, including FilmOn X, are picking up Aereo's model and are surviving court challenges, at least for now.

Let's call this new hack Christine. In 1983, Steven King released a novel of the same name, describing a vintage Plymouth Fury possessed by supernatural, murderous powers. The movie followed soon after. Three decades later and a vulnerability in General Motors' OnStar system allowed very non-supernatural hackers to take over cars from afar, locating the vehicle, unlocking it, and starting its ignition.

Thankfully, OnStar was not connected to a vehicle's steering, brakes, or transmission, meaning hackers couldn't use the security gap to rundown teenagers a la Christine. But the vulnerability, since fixed, certainly highlights the risks of week security in high-tech automobiles.

Tracking hours isn't exactly what inspires bright, idealistic youth to pursue a career in law -- but it's a pretty inescapable reality of the profession. If you run an egg timer every time a client calls or if you attempt to recreate your day in the evening, you could benefit from a better system.

As annoying as timekeeping can be, it's a pretty straightforward task. Thankfully, there's plenty of lawyer-focused timekeeping apps out there, apps which help make the timekeeping easier, simpler and more intuitive. Most of them can also help you spit out an invoice on demand -- and sending out the invoice is why we track our time, after all.

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

Social media sites host many thousands of photos posted by people on a daily basis. An obvious issue arises as to whether and when these sites might be liable for copyright infringement with respect to any of the posted photos.

A recent case is worthy of consideration.