Technology

Ed. note: Please welcome our new legal technology columnist, Jeff Bennion.

My name is Jeff Bennion, and I am a new columnist here. I’m going to write all about how we should and shouldn’t use technology in our law practices.

I am a solo practicing out of San Diego. On top of my lawyerly duties, I get asked by lawyers to advise on all matters technical – from e-discovery to trial technology to law practice management. Usually I get brought in after people have tried and failed at something. I worked in a 200-lawyer firm, a midsized firm, and a three-person firm before going solo. I’ve written for Cracked.com on such topics as whether it’s a good idea for Amazon to sell books about knife fighting for beginners, the problems with the jury system, and, of course, the Batcave. I teach college paralegal classes.

One of the most common questions I get asked is, “How do I make my PowerPoints awesome for openings/closings/whatever?” Now, I’m a big fan of using technology in trial. I had a whole article written about all of my trial gadgets that compared me to Tony Stark. I remember how boring those hour-and-a-half classes were in law school, so I wouldn’t want jurors to sit through six hours of watching lawyers talk to witnesses for four days a week for several weeks at a time without breaking it up with some graphics or something.

But PowerPoint is just the worst….

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Students have enough to worry about during finals period, between the finals and papers themselves and remembering to alert ATL when some professor uses the same exam as last year. So why would a school intentionally send students a false email threat during finals week?

Because they have nothing but contempt for their students, of course.

Who wants to guess which school pulled this boneheaded move? Hint: It’s a top 50 school in the U.S. News rankings (and unranked by ATL — sounds like we had it right)….

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For Biglaw attorneys, it can take a while to realize the importance of face-to-face interaction in the business world. Especially for those young attorneys who start working at Biglaw firms immediately after graduating law school, and who attended law school immediately after college. In my case, I had a year of real “work experience” before starting law school, but in a very junior position.

So I was not involved, as I suspect most young people outside of tech startups are, in important business interactions. It is debatable whether someone’s experience seeking funding for an app that locates and arranges delivery of fresh donuts on a 24-hour basis counts as “real” business experience of value to lawyers. Nevertheless, many Biglaw attorneys land in their partner-discarded Aeron chair knock-off by jumping directly off the college-law school cliff of debt. And as a result have never attended an important business meeting before joining Biglaw. Ever….

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* Human Rights Watch wants to “stop killer robots” from being used as cops. In case that was really weighing on your mind. [PC World]

* A profile and Q&A with Twitter’s foremost jurist, Justice Don Willett of Texas. He indulges us with answers longer than 140 characters. [Coverage Opinions]

* The Berkeley bird beheader gets four years probation and service to an animal shelter. And you just know some bird is going to try and start something with him on the first day. [Associated Press via San Diego Union-Times]

* Instead of announcing a new dean, Louisville has given a three-year extension to its interim dean to keep holding the “interim” title. What’s going on? Could one of the commenters be right: that the school doesn’t want to take on a new salary because they expect the school to fold? [The Faculty Lounge]

* The Drake Law service dog lawsuit is over. [Des Moines Register]

* Today is the last day to enter the New York’s Funniest Professional Competition! [Manhattan Comedy School / Gotham Comedy Club]

* Internet collegiality alert: Internet Tax Lawyers blog blatantly rips off another blogger. For shame. [Law and More]

* Comparing the U.S. News peer ranking with which faculty’s academic writing really gets read. [Tax Prof Blog]

Ever since December 9, 2002, when I launched my first blog, MyShingle.com, I’ve extolled the virtues of blogging for lawyers all over the Internet, every chance I’d get. Way back in 2003, before the term “blog” entered the vernacular, I created a comprehensive presentation on the 13 benefits of blogging (in blog format, naturally) that’s largely still relevant today.  I also published dozens of articles and blog posts about blogging, spoke about blogging, and produced a short video on blogging as the centerpiece of social media campaign.  My blogging has lead to a couple of clients and many professional opportunities; most recently, a  blog post  that I penned right here at ATL earned me a twenty-second spot  on the Daily Show. Heck, I’ve even been sued for blogging!

Yet in spite of my love affair blogging, these days, I no longer believe as ardently as I once did that solo and small firm lawyers should take up blogging to market their practice or to show what they know to prospective clients.  Sure, there are exceptions. For lawyers who’ve already taken up blogging in law school or who have a unique viewpoint about practice area that they yearn to share, starting a blog is a no-brainer. Likewise, blogging makes sense if writing about the challenges of practicing law or handling particular types of cases offers a pleasurable release from the stress. If mind and computer keyboard operate as a seamless unit, with thoughts effortlessly transforming into cogent and compelling prose, then blogging makes sense as well.

But let’s face it: most lawyers aren’t built that way….

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Professor Tim Wu

Sometimes what everybody thinks about the law is more important than what the law itself says. I think that’s what’s happened with net neutrality. It’s become a kind of norm of behavior, what you can and can’t appropriately do with the Internet. It’s got to be open.

– Professor Tim Wu of Columbia Law School, subject of a glowing profile in the New York Times for his work in defense of net neutrality.

(Fun tidbits from the profile that gunners and legal nerds will appreciate — specifically, how to land a Supreme Court clerkship with a weak grade in a 1L core class — after the jump.)

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* Poe’s The Raven, if the narrator was a midlevel associate working on Christmas. Excerpt: As of someone slowly rapping, rapping at my office door. “‘Tis the janitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my office door — Likely here to clean the floor.” Ha. [Law Poetry]

* In the wake of Greece, a Satanist wants to open a government meeting with a Satanic prayer. When reached for comment, Dick Cheney said he was flattered. [Broward Palm Beach New Times]

* Dan Snyder is just awful. Now he’s sent a cease and desist letter to LaVar Arrington because Arrington describes himself as a “Redskins great.” Because if anyone around here is going to needlessly slur indigenous people, it’s going to be Dan Snyder. [Deadspin]

* Speaking of cease and desist letters, the one we talked about yesterday — sent over a bad Amazon review — has resulted in Amazon yanking the seller’s license. [ArsTechnica]

* Come on, lawyers. Clean up after yourselves. Especially if you’re just leaving Molly all over someone else’s car. [South Florida Lawyers]

* Guy in Alabama killed his wife, three dogs and a parrot after she sent a critical text. I know this is a tragedy, but as I saw the story all I could think is the parrot was somehow completely to blame. [AL.com]

* There’s still a slave plantation in the United States and it’s terrifying. [Policy Mic]

* Sometimes it’s worth remembering that we have it very easy as lawyers compared to some in other parts of the world. A lawyer representing a professor accused of blasphemy in Pakistan was gunned down last night. [The Volokh Conspiracy / Washington Post]

* A conversation with Solicitor General Donald Verrilli. The full interview is available after the jump… [California Lawyer]

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Keith Lee

A couple days ago on Twitter, I noticed Judge Stephen Dillard having a conversation with a few people about the validity of using Wikipedia as a reliable legal authority. I mentioned that I wrote about the topic back in 2011. But given the continued growth and reliance of the general public upon Wikipedia, I decided it was probably worth looking at again.

Wikipedia actually has a page devoted to documents used in legal proceedings that have cited Wikipedia as a source. One particular case provides an in-depth discussion of whether or not the use of Wikipedia is “reliable,” interestingly enough….

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It’s been a couple of months, so maybe you thought that there were no more dumb criminals doing dumb things with technology any longer. Well, that was a very silly thought, silly-thought-thinker. You should know by now that nothing will stop the deluge of dumb. This latest is special, however, due to the impressive dedication to stupid by our criminal mastermind. This case is one in which an 18 year old man videotaped himself driving like an idiot on purpose, injured himself to the point of needing an airlift to a hospital, after which he uploaded the video to YouTube — accurately titling it “Me Driving Like an Idiot”

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John Quinn

Is there any case so awful that it compares favorably to nearly 20 years of warfare?

No. No, there really isn’t.

So when Quinn Emanuel’s John Quinn was quoted calling the Apple v. Samsung brouhaha “Apple’s Vietnam,” it ruffled a few feathers from the sort of people who still remember the Vietnam War as more than an inconvenience.

I love the smell of IP litigation in the morning! Smells like, victory….

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