Technology

We’ve seen this many times before, how patents can hold back very useful developments. Notice how 3D printing is suddenly a big thing? It’s not because of any new miraculous breakthroughs, but because some key patents finally started expiring, allowing real innovation to move forward. We saw something similar in the field of infrared grills, which were put on the… uh… back burner (sorry) until key patents expired. Derek now points us to a similar example.

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I’m writing today’s column from New York City, where I’m covering Thomson Reuters Vantage 2014, a great conference focused on mid-sized and large law firms’ use of technology. There have been fascinating discussions about how larger law firms are adapting to change and are incorporating some of the latest technologies into their IT infrastructure. Not surprisingly, however, it turns out that like solo and small-firm attorneys, large and mid-sized law firms are often just as reluctant to adopt new technologies and processes despite overwhelming evidence that doing so is the best way to stay competitive.

But the good news gleaned from this conference is that some larger firms are adapting, just as many solo and small firms are. And that’s my goal with this column: to showcase how individual solo and small-firm lawyers are using new technologies in their day-to-day practices. In the process, my columns will hopefully encourage and help other lawyers to do the same.

In today’s column I’ll be featuring Jill Paperno. Jill is a long-time assistant public defender, having worked at the Monroe County Public Defender’s Office in Rochester, New York for over 27 years. She’s currently the Second Assistant Public Defender and is the author of Representing the Accused: A Practical Guide to Criminal Defense (affiliate link). In other words, Jill is a diehard criminal defense attorney and has dedicated her life to defending our constitutional rights.

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It would be hard to overstate the importance of Riley v. California. Now data on cell phones (and, hopefully soon, other electronic media) requires a search warrant for law enforcement to get access to it during an arrest (generally — check your individual situation; exceptions may apply).

It’s so hard to overstate the importance of Riley that I don’t think a single media outlet has done it yet (which is really saying something in light of the current state of Supreme Court coverage).

As you may dimly remember from the criminal procedure class you took in law school, the “search incident to arrest” doctrine is a little screwy and subject to abuse. The general rule is that police can search things on your person or in the area of your arrest to make sure you don’t destroy evidence or hurt them, but nothing else. Later cases have held that the area you can reach while you’re being arrested (where you could destroy evidence or find something to hurt the police) includes the entire interior area of your car, regardless of how far you can reach or how wedged under the seat cushions that currency counterfeiting machine is.

This body of law is a lovely example of how pro-law enforcement results drive any reasonable understanding of how a test should be applied. Reading these cases in law school is a formatively disheartening experience (“really, that’s the kind of junk judges come up with? Why have laws at all?” etc.).

Riley, though, draws a line around your phone. Sure — the police can look into your pocket to see if that square box is a cell phone or a detonating device, and they can look in the back of your van to see if you could have reached a butterfly knife if you had a 20-foot arm span — but they can’t look inside the phone without first getting a warrant.

Of course, the Court could have decided this in a few ways. It could have written a very narrow doctrinal opinion. Or it could have issued a deeply divided set of opinions where there isn’t a clear statement about the development of the law as much as a resolution of one case. But, instead, the Court issued a 9-0 decision, authored by the Chief Justice, which was a celebration of the importance of electronic privacy and recognizes that we’re in a new world — and need new rules to handle it….

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* In case you missed this piece of news amid yesterday’s Supreme Court madness, the Tenth Circuit found Utah’s ban on gay marriage unconstitutional. It’s the first federal appeals court to make such a ruling. Hooray! [New York Times]

* “Just about everyone he came in contact with, he managed to corrupt.” Paul Daugerdas, formerly of Jenkins & Gilchrist, was sentenced to 15 years for his role in an $8B fraud scheme. [Businessweek]

* Despite what you may have been led to believe, not all patent awards are as high as those you see in media headlines. Fewer than 2% of infringement cases even result in damages. [National Law Journal]

* When is it okay to turn down a Biglaw offer and head to a plaintiffs firm? Probably when you’re planning to file a massive class-action suit against the MLB on behalf of minor leaguers. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

* William Mitchell Law’s new J.D. program is the first of its kind to be approved by the ABA. It’s half online, half on-site (does 9 times count as half?), and we see more like this coming down the line. [U.S. News]

Warrant or GTFO.

Our answer to the question of what police must do before searching a cell phone seized incident to an arrest is accordingly simple — get a warrant.

– Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the Court in Riley v. California, holding that the police generally need warrants to search the cellphones of people they arrest.

(Additional highlights from Chief Justice Roberts’s opinion, after the jump.)

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I’ve never met Amy Hrehovcik, but the beat of her Twitter stream thunders:

I’m sure that cartoon trigger chuckles in many marketers and business developers trying to help lawyers grow revenue. Why? The legal profession traditionally is slow to adapt….

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Jesselyn Radack

I joke that I use drug dealer tactics. It’s a terrible way to work as an attorney, but you have to.

Jesselyn Radack, the national security and human rights director for the Government Accountability Project, commenting on the lengths to which she must go to protect her most famous client’s secrecy.

Radack represents Edward Snowden, and in her dealings with him she has abandoned WiFi — it’s too insecure — and used burner phones and two laptops (one of which is encrypted). She accepts only cash payments and will discuss his case only in person.

“Hey litigators, I’ve got a great tool for you. It runs none of the programs from your desktop computer, has no usb port, does not have a lot of memory, has no expandable memory, but grandparents find them very easy to use. Trust me, it will be so great that people will not stop talking about its great greatness and suitability for the practice of law.”

– All the lawyers with technology blogs.

When people find out that I spend a lot of time incorporating technology into my practice, they almost always ask me, “Oh, what kind of iPad do you have?” I don’t have an iPad. I don’t use them for the same reason that I don’t take a pogo stick to work – because I prefer things that are not severely limited….

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Are you tired of getting the same questions over and over again from prospective or existing clients?  Should I choose an LLC or incorporation?  Will I lose my house in bankruptcy?  What is a power of attorney?  How long will my divorce take?  Rather than respond to these same questions over and over, why not school your clients instead?

These days, schooling clients is easy. With the rise of online training and college courses, a broader segment of the population is now familiar with online education. Plus, there are a variety of powerful free tools to create online educational programs to educate clients so that they’ll have a grasp of the basics.

Here’s my experience with some of those tools….

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Ed note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, Rob Jordan explores how good use of technology can improve your skills at networking events.

“The most meaningful way to differentiate your company from your competition, the best way to put distance between you and the crowd, is to do an outstanding job with information. How you gather, manage, and use information will determine whether you win or lose.” — Bill Gates

I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard attorneys and bankers initiate a networking conversation with the question: “What are you working on these days?” Given attorney-client privilege and/or other confidentiality issues, there is a strong likelihood that the recipient of that question is in no position to answer. And, so, the conversation is instantly uncomfortable and awkward. This is the professional equivalent of asking a potential mate “What do you do?” in a social setting — which is largely, mistakenly, and unfortunately the question of default (at least in New York City). Quite simply, many people either don’t or can’t define themselves by what they “do” or what they’re “working on.” So… don’t do that.

A better approach is to ask, “What’s interesting?”

Continue reading at the ATL Career Center…

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