Archive for the ‘Legal Tech’ Category

What is Your Child Doing on The Internet?

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

Don’t allow the hype — or the technology — scare you from understanding what your child is doing on the internet.  Be a great parent in the real world and online!  Learn the techniques to avoid the risks, draw (and enforce) boundaries, and serve as a role model for your child.  In fact, some of these guidelines might apply to you!

Special thanks to Rosarian Academy in West Palm Beach, Florida for the invitation to speak to parents.

The powerpoint can be viewed/downloaded here or follow the link under Materials (on right column on this site).

What Do The Lawyer Rating Internet Sites Say About You?

Friday, September 24th, 2010

U.S. News and World Reports recently issued their ranking of law firms (interestingly not in a straight list form, like the school rankings, but broken into sections).  Other sites, ranging from Avvo to Craigslist to also include rankings.  Are these useful for clients?  What do they say about lawyers?  Take a look at this month’s law technology article from the Palm Beach Bar Association September 2010 Bulletin, “What Do Internet Rating Sites Say About You?”  Hit the link or look to the right under articles for “2010 Lawyer Rankings.”

Will Twitter Ruin Your Legal Writing?

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

Concerned that all your texting and abbreviated communications on Twitter will poison your brilliant legal voice?  Might want to consider how out-dated expressions have a greater effect.

Thanks to the Palm Beach County Bar Association which published this article in their September 2010 bulletin.

Hit the link for the article, Will Twitter Ruin Your Legal Writing?, or look on the right column under “Articles.”

Florida JEAC Opinion Allows Judicial Assistants to “Facebook Friend” Lawyers

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

We previously mentioned the infamous? Judicial Ethics Advisory Opinion 2009-20 which prohibits a judge from “friending” lawyers who appear before the court.  That’s so 2009.

The next logical question for judicial social networking policies has arrived: does this apply to the JA?

Yes, at least in part.  A judicial assistant can friend lawyers who appear before the court.  However, the limitations may devour the rule here.  The JA cannot post anything which makes “reference to the judge or the judge’s office…”  and the posts must be “outside of the judicial assistant’s responsibilities and independent of the judge…”  Given the frequency that people use Facebook at work (including listing where they work in their profile) and the amount of time we all spend at the office, those prohibitions seem fairly high.

JEAC Opinion 2010-04 goes on to note that any lawyer who attempts ex parte communication with the JA via social networking sites should have their head examined and should be de-friended and reported to the judge.

Facebook Settings, Part II of…

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

The increasingly long history of Facebook and privacy settings continues as users want an easy way to limit access to information on a system designed to exchange information (in fact, the reason it is free, after all, is because you pay with access to your information).  New changes are reportedly afoot (again).

Facebook is good for lawyers in the sense that accessible information about witnesses, opponents, and experts may be easy to find due to Facebook’s privacy settings.  On the flip side, like everyone else, lawyers want their own information nailed down.

The article, Facebook Privacy Settings, was published in the June 2010 Palm Beach Bar Association’s Bar Bulletin (also on the right column of the screen, under Articles).  Hope it helps.

Foursquare & Yelp for Lawyers

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Over the last several months, we’ve covered location-based Internet social networking sites, Foursquare and Yelp, as research and marketing tools for lawyers.

Special thanks to the Palm Beach Bar Association and co-author, Diana Martin, for running “Lawyer’s Guide to Foursquare & Yelp” in the May 2010 PBCBA Bar Bulletin.

For that article, you can follow the link or hit “2010 Foursquare & Yelp” under Articles on the right column.

The article was an idea which sprang from this prior February 2010 post, Foursquare & Yelp May Be New Research and Marketing Tools.  We emphasized the “marketing” part in a March post, Foursquare as a Promotional Tool for Law Business.

CLaw iPhone App in Palm Beach Daily News

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

The Palm Beach Daily News ran a nice story on the CLaw iPhone app which sets out Florida Rules of Professional Conduct as well as various federal and local bar rules which is free on iTunes.  

Article is here.

Check out the app via link at

Can You Contract Away Your Immortal Soul?

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

Better read those online contracts and end user (EULA) agreements before clicking “accept.”

Our friends at CNET bring to us the story of an online game retailer which slipped the following clause into a sales contract:

“By placing an order via this Web site on the first day of the fourth month of the year 2010 Anno Domini, you agree to grant Us a non-transferable option to claim, for now and for ever more, your immortal soul. Should We wish to exercise this option, you agree to surrender your immortal soul, and any claim you may have on it, within 5 (five) working days of receiving written notification from or one of its duly authorised minions.”

Good news, however, was that there was an opt-out provision.  Better still, if you opted out, the seller saved $5 on the purchase.

According to their not-so-scientific study, 90% of buyers failed to opt out and now owe their immortal soul… to a video game retailer.


Lawyers With iPads… Week One

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

Having plunked down a few hundred dollars online — thus avoiding the potential long lines at the Apple Store — I pre-ordered and received the iPad.  The thought was that this tech device might change ease the practice of law.

As a frequent traveler, I was an early adopter of the netbook which fits nicely into the briefcase and charges quickly between connecting flights.  While my ASUS 1002HA is no speed demon, it is perfect for reading emails, editing Word documents, and hotel-work the night before an out-of-town expert deposition.

But the experience could be improved — at least that is Apple’s gambit and my expectation.  The iPad outperforms the netbook for lawyers (and other travelers) since it (1) weighs 1.5 pounds and is small enough to actually get “lost” in your briefcase, (2) has a small charger, (3) powers up instantly for quick access instead of a tedious “booting” of the netbook, and (4) battery life is nothing short of shockingly good.

Other lawyers seem to be quick to join the ranks of iPad owners.  iPhone JD website often covers developments and a host of lawyer-ipad blogs have arisen.  Even the TSA has given the iPad a free pass since it appears you do not even need to take it out of your bag for security.

The frequent consumer complaints about the iPad seem to fall into the (1) it does not run Adobe Flash and (2) it does not have a camera.

Agreed.  But neither really affect a lawyer’s use.  As to Flash, there is a lot of speculation as to why the iPhone/iPad does not run Flash but the excuses involving battery life and technical specifications are not convincing.

It’s games.  That’s the reason there is no Flash.  If these portable devices played Flash, it would compete with the games in the iTunes Store.  Plain and simple.  As for the camera, well, I think it would be a little awkward to hold up the iPad to take photos — and I don’t see myself immediately using video chat.

I’ve yet to type or revise a document on the iPad although I can vouch that web browsing and PDF document review is second to none.  I am certain that Fastcase, Westlaw, and other law-related iPad apps are on the way.  Initial thoughts are… optimistic.

The future of computing and Internet use is in mobile access.  Laptops have, or shortly will, exceed desktop sales.  More of us will access the Internet on mobile devices (smartphones, game devices, kindles, laptops, tablets).  We will demand on-the-road access.  It will change how we interface with the world (even down to asking for directions vs. clicking Google Maps) and our expectations.  The iPhone was probably our first taste of that experience.  The iPad is probably going to be our second.

But don’t be fooled, until there’s some fantastic App software available, this may still be argued to be an oversized iPhone.  But I don’t regret the purchase.

CLaw iPhone App: Florida Rules of Ethics and more

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

CLaw – Florida Rules of Professional Conduct is a free iPhone app for Florida lawyers which includes:

1.  Florida Rules of Professional Conduct with 2010 updates

2.  Southern District local guidelines

3.  Florida local bar guidelines (Broward, Jacksonville, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach)

4. and more…!

Check out the ClawApp website here.

Download the app from itunes, here.

Please leave positive feedback!

Woes of Legal Blogs

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

Former legal blogger, Mark Herrmann, may be the smartest law blogger.  Because he’s a former law blogger.  Obviously, I do this voluntarily so there’s not too much complaining which would be well received.  I liken the feeling to people who own boats and exclaim that the best days for a boat owner are only the day you buy the boat and the day you sell it.  If you are thinking about blogging, give thought to the following.

Herrmann wrote an article, “Memoirs of a Blogger,” where he puts the postscript on his involvement in a fairly large legal blog.  In the piece, he discusses the various blind spots which existed and plagued him as a law blogger.

What resoundingly comes across is the fact that blogging turns casual law reading into a hunt.  As he puts it, you no longer “gently” keep abreast of your area of practice.  You hunt down material.  What he does not mention is the “so what” factor — how do I know that I am not simply wasting time and having this go out into the ether?  Does it really matter if I only do one post this week?

Herrmann also did not face any backlash in his firm for writing a blog.  I think a lot of lawyers do.  First, he co-wrote his blog with a lawyer… from another firm.  He did not mention that anyone in his firm had a problem with that — but firms are jealous things.  In a lot of firms, co-working with another law firm beyond “co-counsel” on a case can easily launch whispered questions of disloyalty.

Consider this second scenario: the blogger writes something that a client doesn’t like, another lawyer in the firm doesn’t like or something that gets used against the firm in a case.  Stack a blogger’s interest in a silly little blog against any of those situations… and the blog loses.  In a split second, years of hunting material and designing a site goes down the drain.

Third scenario: no one in your own firm even knows your blog exists.  For that, you have to simply love the hunting and writing.  Over time, that should solve itself.

Fourth scenario: lawyers in the firm don’t get it and don’t like the individuality.  Herrmann refers to this as the cult of personality but, realistically, I don’t see blogs in that kind of hipster light.  This can be the most pernicious of all of the foregoing scenarios since it undermines your actual, human working relationships.  A blogger may knowingly or unknowingly pick the wrong choice.

Lawyers: Foursquare & Yelp May Be New Discovery and Marketing Tools

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

Lawyers were fairly quick to catch onto the trend of Twitter and, to a lesser extent, Facebook.  It is now common for lawyers to ask deponents about email addresses, Internet usage, and social networking activities.

A new Internet trend is afoot and savvy lawyers may want to at least be aware of the new media.  No, it’s not Google Buzz, which both the Wall Street Journal and CNET recently panned here and here.

Foursquare and Yelp are similar social networking systems which integrate, rather than replace, Facebook and Twitter into a person’s real world social life (indeed, that’s how they overcome the hurdle of creating a new Internet space, which is Google Buzz’s hurdle).  Both are apps which are used on a person’s smartphone (iPhone, BB, and Android).

Yelp began and remains a solid restaurant/bar/hotel finding app to be used on the go via the smartphone.  You can get names of places near you and read quick reviews.  A small community has developed, especially now that users can “check in” when they arrive — letting friends (real and internet-y) know where they are AND giving the business owner a chance to offer specials just for Yelp users.  You can even post the fact you’ve “checked in” to a certain place go to Facebook or Twitter.

Over the weekend, I saw a Yelp sticker at a business and, when I fired up the iPhone app, it beamed me a 10% off coupon while I was in line to pay.

Foursquare is a similar — if not better —  concept which, in their words, is “a cross between a friend-finder, a social city-guide and a game that rewards you for doing interesting things.”  Each time you check in to a place, you receive points.  If its a new place, you get more points.  As you check in to different types of places, you get badges.  As you drop Twitter-like “tips” about a restaurant, business or place, it will reward you with more points and even badges — if you are familiar with Xbox Achievement Points, you’ll realize this is a Barnum-like tool which does, indeed, drive participation.

Foursquare also lets you check-in and share via Twitter and Facebook; businesses likewise can reward you with specials for checking in.  If you are the person who “checks in” the most at a particular location, you will become the “Mayor” of that place.  In short, Foursquare takes Yelp and incentivizes it with a game.

Why should lawyers care?

One, if you are interested in a person’s activities, this provides their personal experiences, a timeline, and some of their commentary about their day.  For a personal injury plaintiff, this might amount to  jaw-dropping disclosures since Foursquare amounts to a breadcrumb trail mixed with a Twitter-like diary of the person’s day.

Second, on the business side, it may be interesting to ferret out defamation; determine whether there were witnesses to a particular event; find out how often someone have visited the location; or it may help locate potentially favorable witnesses who frequent the establishment.

Third, lawyers may  want to use these services to market their practice.  While clients may be hesitant to publicly “check in” that they have gone to their lawyer’s office (much less be the “Mayor”), it does list your business on the Yelp and Foursquare maps when users are looking around to see what “locations” are near them when they are playing with the app.  There’s even room for comments/tips.

Florida Supreme Court and Bar Need to Follow FINRA’s Example on Internet Use and Regulation

Monday, February 15th, 2010

The non-governmental entity which regulates securities firms issued guidance to firms and brokers on the proper use of social networking websites such as Facebook, Linked In, and Twitter.  The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), issued Regulatory Notice 10-06 in January 2010 — on the heels of a prior Guide to the Internet for Registered Representatives.  Additionally, FINRA had a Social Networking Task Force up and running… and podcasts to provide further explanations.

The Florida Supreme Court and Bar, on the other hand, are still working on Internet advertising regulations for Florida lawyers which they have been kicking around since the pre-Twitter era.  FINRA, which handles brokers on a national scale, has repeatedly addressed Internet and social networking issues — touching upon record keeping, advertising, and book/record requirements, according to their press release.  Conversely, the Bar has not been user-friendly in getting a clear explanation into the hands of lawyers.

Does Your Company Need a Lawyer to Handle Social Media, Twitter and Facebook?

Friday, January 29th, 2010

At least one company, Clorox, is looking for a full time, in house lawyer to clean up their social media policies and presence.  Is that necessary?

A marketing person (or even an astute college student) could likely develop and monitor Twitter feeds and a Facebook fan page.  But is that enough?

Developing a social media policy and handling questions about “new” issues (tech, advertising, responses to comments) is a task probably for a lawyer.

For businesses looking to enter the Social Networking sphere, I would recommend a Twitter feed, Facebook fan page, and an announcement on their own webpage (media release is optional).  I would further recommend setting up an automatic Google search for your business name appearing on the Internet as well as routine searches/monitoring of Twitter and Facebook.  Finally, you need a clear social media policy.

This is actually a fairly good task for a lawyer and paralegal working with the client.  The client could develop the content and have the law firm handle the updating and monitoring.  With a cost-effective paralegal on the front line with some concise supervision by counsel, this would be cost effective.  Moreover, it would ensure (a) the corporation has a social media policy, (b) the posts and entries are appropriate and not patently violating policy or laws, and (c) major social networking sites are monitored for defamation, copyright, unfair competition and other issues.

Depending upon the frequency of the posting/monitoring, this likely could be accomplished for a few hundred dollars a month.  A lot of PR firms could run up that tab in a week.  In good hands, this could be transitioned back to the company full time after 6-12 months.

Meanwhile, follow Clorox on Twitter to see how they are doing.  Some basic good advice on cleaning up your Twitter service is here.  Email if you have comments, experiences or questions about lawyers providing social media services.  I’m interested to see who else out there is providing that service.

“Blogging for Lawyers” at Palm Beach Bar Association

Monday, January 25th, 2010

We recently offered a lunch-time seminar for lawyers interested in learning about blogging at the Palm Beach Bar Association.  This was one in a series of lawyer-technology seminars, much like our prior Tweet Meet and Eat.

Thanks to Matt Kakuk of who jumped in with some technical help on issues relating to Google Analytics, Adsense, and Google Local.

If you couldn’t make it, the Palm Beach Bar Bulletin article is here and the powerpoint is here.

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