Technology

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Nicole Black. My column, Today’s Tech, will highlight how individual lawyers are using specific technologies in their law practices. More on my column later, but first let me explain who I am and why I’m writing this column.

Above all else, I’m a total geek. My geekery started back in the late 70s when I was in elementary school and my dad brought home a TRS-80 computer. I had to learn how to program in BASIC to get that computer to play Pong. But trust me — it was worth it.

It was in law school in the early 1990s that my geek status was solidified. That’s when I became a diehard Trekkie. Star Trek: the Next Generation was my escape from the stresses of law school, and I watched it religiously. I was fascinated by the technologies used by the characters and the writers’ vision of the future and remember thinking how amazing — and unlikely — it would be if we had just a few of those technologies available in my lifetime….

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* When you look back and see only one set of footprints, that was when Jesus was telling you, “Don’t go to law school.” [Law School Lemmings]

* Attention summers! Here’s a cavalcade of advice on not acting like an a**hole. [Corporette]

* ABA committee approves new accreditation standards allowing more students to enter without taking the bar exam. Texas breathes a sigh of relief. [LSAT Blog]

* This is the nerdiest law school final ever. Bravo. [Law and the Multiverse]

* Judge and prosecutor discuss dinosaurs. [New Yorker]

* I know a physician sending sexts while patients are under is serious, but I just can’t help but envision Dr. Nick Riviera. [Seattle Times]

* Law firms are rushing to get into the marriage equality game — but only on one side. [Reuters]

* Here’s a nice little listicle of famous female criminals. Just in time for Orange Is The New Black. [Arrest Records]

* Virginia State Senator resigns and changes the leadership of the Senate to the opposite party. Why would he do this? His daughter isn’t going to get a judgeship out of this or anything is she? [Slate]

* The Republicans are in long-term trouble. Maybe they should consider becoming the “party of innovation.” Apparently regulation is the only thing holding that back. Not investing in education, infrastructure, or having a government hostile to science. [National Review]

* Philip K. Howard, the author of The Rule of Nobody (affiliate link) sat down with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show last night. Video after the jump….

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Every couple of months, I get a legal technology newsletter that mentions the Word vs. WordPerfect debate. It’s not so much a debate as it is a handful of lawyers arguing with everyone that WordPerfect is better than Word. I’ve had this discussion in person multiple times before as well. A few months ago, an attorney tried to convince me that WordPerfect is better because you can press ctrl+c and ctrl+v to copy and then paste text. People usually bring up that federal courts require proposed orders to be in WordPerfect format (although this is no longer true). No matter what the argument is, there is usually some name calling.

WordPerfect is like Latin. It’s dead and used only by lawyers. When I see people arguing why WordPerfect should still exist, I always picture that person as someone who still has a Gore/Lieberman bumper sticker on their car. It’s over. Decisively over. It is the betamax of word processing software. It has lost the race.

Most people have moved on from WordPerfect for the same reason that language was invented in the first place: to communicate with others. You cannot share .wpd files with people outside your office. Unless you represent Corel, your client probably has Word. Sure you can open a .wpd in Word or save a WordPerfect file as a Word document, but the formatting is so screwed up that it’s usually unusable as a pleading. And, sure you can save it as a .pdf, but then you might as well print it and scan it.

Here are the arguments that I see every time on this issue:

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Since Lat tweeted this past weekend about my UpCounsel profile, I thought I would share some thoughts about my experience with the service to date. First off, compared to leaving a Biglaw partnership to open a new firm, trying out a new legal platform was easy. I first heard about UpCounsel from a former in-house client who had struck out on his own. He happens to now be back in-house, but at the time we discussed UpCounsel, he was very enthusiastic about his experience using the site. Since I happen to like trying out new things, signing up once I left Biglaw was an easy decision.

Notice how I did not join UpCounsel while a Biglaw partner. Such things are simply not done. For all of Biglaw’s talk about encouraging partners to be “entrepreneurial” or to “try new marketing ideas,” there is a lot of resistance to using “new ways” to reach potential new clients. Couple that inertia with a general distaste towards marketing individual lawyers at the expense of “firm branding” (aside from a select group of key current rainmakers), and platforms like UpCounsel face a Tough Mudder-level set of obstacles to overcome if they want to break into the Biglaw firm marketing rotation. But I don’t think UpCounsel and their “evolution of legal services”-oriented kin want to….

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* Jury duty is the only major civic duty that no one ever talks about. Professor Andrew Ferguson would like to change that by encouraging jurors to speak up about their experience. Enjoy learning how the sausage of justice is made! [Huffington Post]

* Verizon threatens to sue Netflix for honestly reporting how bad Verizon’s internet speeds are. [DailyTech]

* Hey, after all those threesomes, Case Western Med School is the one in court over “professionalism” concerns. [Cleveland Plain-Dealer]

* Of course a case about using a chemical weapon on a mistress is named “Bond.” Let’s examine Justice Scalia’s curious concurrence, shall we? [Constitutional Accountability Center]

* Dragons and isolationism. Makes sense. [The Legal Geeks]

* Cybercrime is pretty costly. [Lawfare]

* The emerging schism in the LGBT community on whether the term “Tranny” is empowering or a slur. Of course this is Legal Insurrection coverage, so the conclusion here is everyone who’s not with the straight white male program should just keep quiet, but the issue itself is interesting. [Legal Insurrection]

* Judge Kopf was asked to review Uncertain Justice by Professor Tribe and Joshua Matz. He didn’t want to do it, but thankfully he changed his mind. [Hercules and the Umpire]

* Slate Money discussed the Second Circuit’s reversal of Judge Rakoff last week and cited Above the Law specifically for the word “benchslap.” [Slate Money]

* Congratulations to UC Hastings dean and occasional ATL columnist Frank Wu on his reappointment as chancellor and dean! [UC Hastings]

* Lawyer + Cat = Internet win. Here’s the pic that’s going viral… [Imgur]

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You know how fads are. They just get boring so fast. Take violence, for instance. Blaming video games for real-world violence is so yesterday.

We need a forward-thinker, some kind of super-genius who can bring us into a new era of blaming video games for something way more hip than just blowing stuff up.

You know, a real bulls**t artist of the highest caliber….

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In Waukesha, Wisconsin this week, two 12-year-old girls tried to murder another 12-year-old girl. Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier were charged with attempted first-degree intentional homicide for allegedly stabbing their young classmate 19 times. They each face up to 65 years in prison. Though news media typically do not name juvenile criminal defendants, numerous outlets have in this case, because of the severity of the charges and because the girls were charged as adults. Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel said that bail was set for $500,000 for each defendant.

According to police, Geyser and Weier planned the crime for months in advance. They invited the victim to a sleepover at Geyser’s home on Friday, originally plotting to cover the victim’s mouth with duct tape and then stab her in the neck, before running away. Instead, they decided that they would lure the victim to a nearby park the next day. Weier told police that she knew that the park bathroom had a drain in the floor where the blood could go down.

Geyser and Weier told their victim that they were going to the park to go bird-watching and play hide-and-seek. “People that trust you are very gullible,” Geyser reportedly told a detective. They passed by a public bathroom and some trees, and then, “Stabby, stab, stab,” Geyser said.

A bicyclist discovered the victim after she crawled to a sidewalk outside the woods. The victim, who was originally in critical condition, has now stabilized, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

Geyser later apologized when talking with police, then added, “It was weird that I didn’t feel remorse.” When they asked her what she was trying to do when stabbing her friend she said, “I may as well just say it: Kill her.” When police asked Weir if she understood what it meant to kill someone, she replied, “I believe it’s ending a life and I regret it.”

What motivated this horrific chain of events? The answer can be found on the internet…

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Over the course of the past few years, law school personnel have found it especially difficult to keep their students’ personal information private. In April 2012, someone at Baylor Law School sent out an email containing a trove of admissions data — from names, to grades, to LSAT scores — to every student admitted to the Class of 2015. In March 2014, Loyola Law School in Los Angeles sent out an email with a heap of financial information for the entire graduating class — up to and including Social Security numbers and loan amounts — to some members of the Class of 2014.

Today, we’ve got another email screw-up for you, and this is one of the juiciest and most prestigious accidental data dumps we’ve seen yet. Someone at a T14 law school “inadvertently” sent out every piece of vital information possible about its clerkship applicants — from GPA, to class rank, to work experience, to recommenders, right down to where their girlfriends live — to everyone on its clerkship listserv.

If you’d like to see how you stack up against elite law students, now you can. We’ve got all the data…

Please note the UPDATES at the end of this post.

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The New York Times lost 80 million home page visitors—half the traffic to the nytimes.com page—in the last two years.

Likewise, traffic to law firm website home pages is down almost 20 percent in the last year. Only 39 percent of law firm traffic now enters through the home page per a study conducted by law firm website developers Great Jakes.

Law firms list their websites in online and offline directories. The home page URL is included on emails, business cards and social media profiles. Search engine optimization tactics are used to draw traffic to the firm’s home page. Website navigation schemas are developed to get users to browse from the home page to industries, areas of the law, about the firm, the people, office locations and articles.

The problem is that people no longer browse pages on a website by going through home pages. They’re coming from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs, Google+ and Google searches to visit specific content within the site….

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A few months ago, I went to an MCLE seminar on cybersecurity. The 90-minute presentation hit topics such as public wifi, cloud computing, thumb drives, and password strength. The goal of the presentation was of course to scare everyone into being more vigilant in their firm policies regarding cybersecurity. The recommendations included:

  • Never use cloud computing. Always store your data on onsite servers.
  • Don’t use thumb drives on company computers.
  • Never use any mobile devices to store firm information (including emails).

After the presentation, we ate dinner, and everyone and my table came to the same conclusion: “Screw that. We are going to use thumb drives while checking our business email on our phones while client files upload to Dropbox.” That’s because some things are just too convenient to give up. As a solo, I might not want a server that I have to maintain. And I like getting my emails on my phone and on my watch because it makes my life easier.

Now, I don’t want to make light of cybersecurity because it is a very serious issue. But, the fact remains that if your data exists in a tangible form, people can steal it and it is vulnerable….

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