Jeff Bennion

Jeff Bennion is a solo practitioner from San Diego. When not handling his own cases, he’s consulting lawyers on how to use technology to not be boring in trial or managing e-discovery projects in mass torts/complex litigation cases. If you want to be disappointed in a lack of posts, you can follow him on Twitter or on Facebook .

Posts by Jeff Bennion

Sometime around about 5 years ago, I noticed people starting putting this at the end of their emails:

consider

That’s a webdings font character of a tree and not an image file, in case you were wondering.

Whoever the first person was who did this clearly lived in a different world than me — a world where lawyers would get emails on their computers and would just keep printing them out and putting them into binders to read later. In that world, I could see why someone would want to speak up. On planet Earth, however, that is not the case. Emails occasionally get printed to get filed in a correspondence file, or they get printed as trial exhibits, but that’s about it. They are only a tiny fraction of the paper lawyers waste. This is the Kony 2012 of the environmental battles — it’s a noble war, but a pointless battle. There are many more righteous green battles to be fought in the environmental war than the faux epidemic of lawyers who refuse to stop printing their emails. Instead the “please consider the environment” email signature is more like one of those “I voted” stickers — both serve no purpose other than proclaiming your self-righteousness for performing a civic duty.

In order for that disclaimer to have served a beneficial purpose to the environment, there had to be a conversation just like this somewhere:

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Last Friday, I was in my office when I noticed that my Dropbox tray icon said that I had 2,000 files left to sync. I thought that was weird because I didn’t remember adding thousands of files.

But, since I’ve never had any problems in the past with Dropbox, I didn’t think much of it… until later that evening, when I received the following email from Dropbox:

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I had been planning to write an article on whether law firms should upgrade to Windows 8. That is, until last week, when Microsoft previewed their next operating system, Windows 10.

Not only did they announce it, they opened it up for a free preview version download. So I downloaded it, tested it, and took screenshots for you so I can walk through the pros and cons of upgrading to a new operating system.

The Windows 10 preview makes you go through a series of warnings where you acknowledge that you are going to be using an unstable, incomplete, buggy operating system. They do not recommend it for your main computer, just if you have an old laptop lying around.

So, Here’s Windows 10:

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I have previously discussed some of the hazards of storing your client files in the cloud and some of the safety precautions you can take to protect yourself. This year has really turned out some great advances in cloud storage, so I want to now run through the top three cloud choices for lawyers and evaluate the pros and cons.

I was an early adopter of Dropbox. I got the free 2gb account and slowly worked it up to about 30 gb through referrals and other promotions. When I decided that I needed more space, I decided to open up a paid Google Drive account because it was cheaper for large storage. I used that for my archives. Later, when I migrated over to Office 365, I moved my files over to OneDrive because I wanted to use the advantages of SharePoint. I slowly moved my files from Dropbox over to OneDrive (called SkyDrive back then) and experimented with the features until I was comfortable completely migrating my stuff over. I was simultaneously using all three because of the drawbacks that each had.

In March of this year, Google shot first and dramatically cut its pricing. The $9.99 a month that I was paying for 200 gb of online storage suddenly got upgraded to 1tb for the same price. The following month, Microsoft responded and offered 1tb of storage on OneDrive to all of its Office 365 subscribers. On late August this year, Dropbox joined the war, offering 1tb of storage for the same $9.99 a month price. Although I had most of my files in OneDrive, I needed a large repository for my large files, like the video files from 8-hour depositions or focus groups we had done. OneDrive only let you store files up to 2gb and I had lots of video files larger than that. On September 10, Microsoft announced that they now support files up to 10 gb and they have tripled their syncing speed.

After all of these developments, how do the cloud services compare?

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Fact: Android has the majority of the marketshare (about 52%). Other fact: iPhone usage is disproportionately high among lawyers (about 67%). Third fact: Most people who have iPhones or Androids cannot talk about which phone is better and remain civil. Despite that, maybe it’s time for us lawyers on both sides to sit down and look at which phones are better for our profession.

As far as innovation, Apple took a clear early lead with the first iPhone (despite some popular opinions to the contrary) and converted a lot of cult followers lawyers. That was a long time ago. That was about the same time Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy for the 2008 Presidential race. A lot of phones have come out since then and there have been a lot of changes in how attorneys use their phones.

I have been using Android phones for about 4 years now, most recently, the Note 2 and the Note 3. I got a huge phone because I use it to read my emails, read my work documents that I have stored in the cloud, and take notes with my stylus. My colleague and fellow litigation technology consultant, Jason Peterson, has been using iPhones since the beginning and just upgraded to the iPhone 6 Plus. Together, we are going to give you an objective rundown on things you need to consider which phone makes the best phone for lawyers…

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Look, e-discovery is not going away. Doc review (at least English language doc review) will never be high paying or sexy. But, as e-discovery becomes more and more prevalent, it will continue to become a larger part of the legal job market. So, how do you get out of the rut of sitting in a windowless room, making $10 an hour (or less), typing the date of each e-mail you read into the date field of your coding software? How about taking your knowledge of the front line ESI issues (document coding) and learn a little bit about managing ESI projects, starting with how to draft discovery? As we learned yesterday, ESI discovery can be tricky and employers mostly know that, so understanding the concepts behind it can help you move through your career.

Since Bryan Garner was just in my town last weekend, and I’ve been spending a lot of time drafting ESI discovery requests and dealing with  opposing counsel’s requests, I have been thinking a lot about drafting proper ESI discovery requests, including proper wording…

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You may have heard about a behavioral science experiment involving monkeys and a ladder with a banana at the top of the ladder. When one monkey would try to climb the ladder to reach the banana, the researchers would spray all of the monkeys with a hose. After a while, when a monkey tried to go towards the ladder, the others would stop him so that they wouldn’t get hosed. The researchers then switched out one of the monkeys with a new monkey who didn’t know about the hose. When he would go towards the ladder, just as before, the others would stop him. The swapping continued, and the new monkeys would join in stopping newer monkeys from going towards the ladder, not knowing about the hose treatment, but learning from the example of the original monkeys that going towards the ladder is bad. The researchers eventually swapped out all of the monkeys so that none of the original monkeys were together, but all of the new monkeys would try to stop each other from going towards the ladder.

There is some debate online as to the origins of that experiment, or whether it ever happened, so I’ll just call it the “parable of the monkeys who just do what everyone else does without understanding why” — or, for short, “the parable of the associate.” If you work in a law firm, you probably recognize the above fact pattern and can analogize it to your colleagues.

I’ve come across a bunch of lawyers since I started my legal career ten years ago. Some of them were really good, some were really bad, and most of them were just somewhere in the spectrum of not being memorable. The lawyers who were bad were all bad for about a thousand different reasons, but the lawyers who were good, almost always shared one quality: they were outside-the-box thinkers….

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Jennifer Lawrence

In case you haven’t heard, over the weekend a whole bunch of celebrities got hacked and nude photos of them leaked onto the internet. Let me just start out by saying that hacking into a celebrity’s phone and stealing her nude photos is just a horrible thing. It’s not a funny joke. It’s not something hackers should be high fiving over. Celebrities have the right to live private lives like everyone else and they have the right to take and keep private photos. On top of the embarrassment of having their private photos available to their parents and all of their fans and every pervert with an internet connection, it could seriously damage their careers. This should be another big warning slap in the face to everyone who stores private or confidential things on the internet, especially lawyers.

What lessons can lawyers learn from this unfortunate episode?

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Isn’t discovery fun?

Attorneys can pretty much be broken down into two categories — those who have experience with doc review, and those who have been lucky enough to avoid it. But, there will be a point in the not too distant future when the latter group will become the ultra minority. I have been preaching for years now to attorneys: “Woe unto you who fails to understand the importance of metadata.” When I am consulting with attorneys on tech issues, be it trial technology related, practice management related, or e-discovery related, I always get a large portion of attorneys who tell me (usually with their eyes), “Look, son, I haven’t needed this is the past, I don’t need it now, and I’ll never need it. Change is bad.”

Finally, I have some authority to back me up….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Is It Ethical To Not Understand How E-Discovery Works? CA State Bar Does Not Think So”

A few weeks ago, I discussed whether it was possible to go paperless. I want to pick up where I left off and drop a few more tips for how to go paperless and why it’s important. For me, as a solo practitioner, I have to be efficient. It’s how I keep an edge over other small firms and how I level the playing ground with big firms. But, it’s not all about competing with others. I reduce my paper use because I am just way too busy to spend 3 hours doing something that I could do in 30 minutes.

Also, just to be clear, when I say “paperless,” I really mean “mostly paperless.” It is not possible or practical to go entirely paperless in this current decade, but I think that the less paper we use, the better.

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