Technology

Over the weekend, Twitter users received a lengthy email from the social media company providing details on significant changes to the company’s privacy policy and terms of service.

While Mark Zuckerberg was going public and getting married, the folks at Twitter made an unexpected endorsement of increasingly popular privacy protection technology

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It has been quite a while since we have covered a grand mal discovery screw-up here at Above the Law. For a while, we almost started to believe the legal industry as a whole had finally caught up to technology — or at least had figured out how to keep major mistakes under the radar.

Well, our dry spell has ended. As we mentioned yesterday in Non-Sequiturs, the California office of a Biglaw firm handling some high-profile litigation for Goldman Sachs accidentally released an unredacted version of some files that the firm and its clients have spent years trying to keep secret.

Oopsies…

Keep reading to learn more about the case and see which firm reportedly disseminated evidence of the bank’s “naked” short selling…

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We have been covering the ongoing saga of Da Silva Moore v. Publicis Groupe et al., the federal case at the forefront of emerging predictive coding technology, for several months now. At first we were like, “Ooooh! A federal judge likes predictive coding!” And then we said, “Uh oh, looks like trouble in paradise.” And then things seemed to get better for a while, and we thought we might get a Hollywood ending to the dispute.

But we may have to wait for a while longer for the grand musical finale. Because it looks like, as of a new ruling from Monday, it looks like the predictive coding party has been temporarily called off.

So far, Magistrate Judge Andrew Peck has been at the center of the controversy. His open enthusiasm for the technology (which we covered before Da Silva ever made headlines) has been the source of much legal wrangling. And the question now seems to be: is Judge Peck still willing to go to the mat over predictive coding?

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I work in a highly competitive sales market. Underhanded deeds, though never perpetrated by my clients, are de rigeur in this field. There seems to be an ethical handbook for sales folks that has a theme of “ethics smethics –- close the deal at all costs.”

At quarter-end, or worse, year-end, this mantra can infect an attorney’s most rigid values. It is at these times when we must be on guard against the pressure to close. The pot at the end of the rainbow will look rather less shiny when tarnished by an ethics violation. None of this is news to most in-house folks.

With an economy on a slow crawl back to health, and internal pressures from all sides to cut costs and maximize revenue, shenanigans from sales people are rife in war story lore. But what of bad behavior by customers? I can tell you that after my years in-house, when I thought I’d already seen it all in private practice, I was quite wrong….

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* When Dewey tell the world that we’re dead, but not yet buried? The firm filed a notice with the New York State Department of Labor listing its closing date as yesterday. And what’s their reason for doing so? “Economic.” [Am Law Daily (sub. req.)]

* Dewey have anyone left in the Office of the Chairman? Apparently not: Charles Landgraf has moved on to greener pastures. There is no longer a captain at the wheel of the S.S. Dewey. [The Hill]

* “The continuing loss of revenue-generating partners and Dewey’s debt load has culminated in the imminent demise of Dewey.” Damn, the PBGC certainly doesn’t mince words. Meet the firm’s latest lawsuit. [Reuters]

* A judge reinstated Le-Nature’s $500M case against K&L Gates for failure to detect fraud. Hope the firm has a half-billion lying around — they haven’t been doing too well with the whole honesty thing lately. [Businessweek]

* You stay classy, DSK! Your aggravated pimp hand is strong! Dominique Strauss-Kahn filed a $1M countersuit against Nafissatou Diallo because she “ruined his life, personally and professionally.” [Wall Street Journal]

* Conspiring to price fix? There’s an app for that! A federal judge denied Apple’s and several book publishers’ motions to dismiss a consumer class-action lawsuit about e-book pricing. [Media Decoder / New York Times]

* Like FernGully in reverse? A judge refused to dismiss Chevron’s racketeering and fraud lawsuit against New York attorney Steven Donziger for his work done in Ecuador. [New York Law Journal]

* Thomas Jefferson Law will be the site of the next solo incubator. This is a great way to keep your grads from suing you (not to mention a great way to increase your employed-at-nine-months rate). [National Law Journal]

For years now, the number of people suing in hopes of getting rich through some tenuous connection to Facebook’s early days has been longer than the line in front of Wal-Mart on Black Friday. And with Facebook’s rumored multibillion-dollar IPO possibly happening at the end of this week, the list of hopefuls is only getting longer.

This week, a magistrate judge in Massachusetts tossed out another one of these suits, filed by one of Mark Zuckerberg’s former classmates. This suit was a bit unusual, though. Instead of going after Facebook or Zuckerberg himself, the man used a roundabout strategy of suing the producers of The Social Network for “defamation by omission.”

Keep reading to learn more about Aaron Greenspan, the man who says he is just too damn important to have been left out of the Oscar-winning movie about Facebook…

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The Snooki Defense

* Aw, come on, Mort, Dewey really have to pay you $61M? In case you missed it last night, the only thing that made the former vice chairman’s departure memo dramatic was the insane amount that he claims he’s owed. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Congratulations to Jacqueline H. Nguyen on her confirmation to the Ninth Circuit. She’s the first Asian American woman to sit on a federal appellate court, so she’s earned our judicial diva title (in a good way). You go girl! [Los Angeles Times]

* Google might’ve infringed upon Oracle’s copyrights, but a jury couldn’t decide if it constituted fair use. Sorry, Judge Alsup, but with that kind of a decision, you can bet your ass that there’ll be an appeal. [New York Times]

* A Harvard Law professor has come to Elizabeth Warren’s defense, claiming that an alleged affirmative action advantage played no role in her hiring. And besides, even if it did, it only played 1/32 of a role. [Boston Herald]

* Classes at Cooley Law’s Tampa Bay campus began last night. Unsurprisingly, the inaugural class is double the size originally projected, because everyone wants to attend the second-best school in the nation. [MLive]

* Albany Law will be having a three-day conference on the legal implications of the Civil War. This could be a little more exciting if presenters wore reenactment garb and did battle when it was over. [National Law Journal]

* Jury selection is underway in a second degree murder trial that will forever be known as the case where a defendant first raised the “Snooki Defense.” He didn’t kill his wife… but her spray tan did. [CBS Miami]

For a couple of centuries, we thought that American elections were precise: People voted; the government counted each vote; we knew which candidate received how many votes.

In the year 2000, we learned that elections are approximations. Votes are miscounted; chads dangle; we don’t in fact know precisely who received how many votes. Elections are a human process after all, and they can’t bear the weight when we insist on precision within the margin of error.

So, too, with litigation. I recently spoke to one of our outside litigators who had seemingly vanished from the face of the earth for several weeks. He told me that one of his clients had run into a now-typical e-discovery disaster: His client had overlooked some documents; a computer system had automatically deleted some other documents; when the client corrected the situation, it did so imperfectly; the judge (who came from a government background and had no experience in private civil litigation) was quick to spy “bad faith.” Why, this outside lawyer asked, don’t judges appreciate the difficulties presented by e-discovery?

My thesis (for today, anyway) is that e-discovery is like elections: It’s an approximation, and participants in litigation (parties, counsel, courts) should understand that it may not bear the weight when the judicial system insists on precision within the margin of error . . . .

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Recently, we’ve seen an increasing amount of discussion and controversy about businesses that force people to give up access to private social media information for things like job interviews, and courts that make litigants hand over login info to the opposition.

Now, according to a recent story from across the pond, certain British drinking establishments are asking prospective patrons to pony up their smartphones so bouncers can cross-check their IDs with their Facebook pages. Putting aside the real news here — the fact that apparently 6-year-olds can no longer drink alcohol in English pubs — let’s take a look at the interesting privacy implications this raises…

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The [Megaupload] prosecution is a depressing display of abuse of government authority. It’s hard to comprehensively catalog all of the lawless aspects of the US government’s prosecution of Megaupload[.]

– Eric Goldman, Professor at Santa Clara Law and editor of the Technology and Marketing Law Blog, criticizing the government’s prosecution of the infamous cyber locker and its eccentric leader, Kim Dotcom, in a post earlier this week.

(Goldman had a lot to say about the Megaupload case, most of it quite critical of the government. Keep reading to see more of his blunt analysis.)

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