The Clouds are Forming: The Legal Cloud Computing Association Announces its Formation and Web Presence

(12/16/2010)  Recognized leaders in legal cloud computing announced today the formation of the Legal Cloud Computing Association (LCCA), an organization whose purpose is to facilitate the rapid adoption of cloud computing technology within the legal profession, consistent with the highest standards of professionalism and ethical compliance.

The organization’s goal is to promote standards for cloud computing that are responsive to the needs of the legal profession and to enable lawyers to become aware of the benefits of computing technology through the development and distribution of education and informational resources.

The LCCA also announced the publication of its response to the ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20 Working Group with respect to the Commission’s September 10, 2010 call for comments on Client Confidentiality and the Use of Technology.

The group, consisting of Clio (Themis Solutions Inc.), DirectLaw, Inc., Rocket Matter, LLC and Total Attorneys, LLC, will cooperate with Bar Associations and other policy-forming bodies to release guidelines, standards, “best practices“, and educational resources relating to the use of cloud computing in the legal profession.

An informational website for the group: http://www.legalcloudcomputingassociation.org

You can see the rest of their press release at: http://www.legalcloudcomputingassociation.org/Home/industry-leaders-join-to-form-legal-cloud-computing-association

Of additional note is their response to the call for comments on client confidentiality and cloud computing in the legal profession: See, www.legalcloudcomputingassociation.org/Home/aba-ethics-20-20-response

My comments:

I think that the formation of a legal cloud computing association is not only timely, but incredibly necessary.  All too often, the everyday practitioner ends up behind the ethics of a given technology and today’s way of practicing law requires vigilance in keeping up to date on the various developments in tech.

While its is often easy to employ a new technology, it does not mean that any given state bar association will understand it or make room for use of the new tech.  This unavoidable gap in communications is readily evident in recent legal treatises on the issues.  It simply may be that tech is moving so fast that there is no practical way for state bar associations to keep up with the developments.  If this is the case, then any problems arising are something that can only be prevented by realtime communication between the tech-movers and the various bar associations.  It is critically important that “cloud lawyers” have a voice in the state bar associations as well as within the tech community.

Having a voice in the tech community means that we will have ever-improving tools for our profession, movement toward an environmentally friendly practice, and better ways of enjoying solo practice.  It also probably goes without saying that we also need to maintain our competitive edge on each other and for the benefit of the clients we advocate for.

Much thanks to the LCCA for starting this up and I wish them the absolute best coming into 2011 and beyond.

Merry Christmas & Blessings to You and Yours …

Wishing you all the best Christmas. Find Peace in your families, friends, and future. May you be prosperous and happy in the coming New Year.

Rich Ackerman

What Tech to Expect from 2011

PCWorld Screenshot

Well, here is PC World‘s view of what we can expect from 2011. Most of it will likely be an expansion of the tech we have seen come out over the last 2-3 years. Refinements and better user interfaces seem to be the call of the day. Nothing too exciting, but certainly worth a look if you are shopping and deciding whether or not to hold off any particular product.

Windows 8, a white iPhone, new tablets, new apps, and a variety of Android phones are discussed in the PC World 2011 tech guide.  Of the 32 items mentioned, the Notion Ink Adam looks interesting from a design perspective and Google’s Chrome OS are what I am looking forward to reviewing and telling you about along with all of the other tools made available to us in the legal field.

You might also want to check out the Consumer Electronics Show 2011 preview as well.  Just click below.

PC World CES Pic

MacLawyer’s Great News about Dropbox & Rocket Matter Integration

Image representing Dropbox as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

As a happy user of Dropbox and Rocket Matter, I strongly recommend that you take a look at Ben’s article from his interview with Larry Port of Rocket Matter. The article provides what you need to know about Dropbox and Rocket Matter integration.

From my perspective, this is important news for any lawyer who wants an integrated billing, database, and timekeeping solution. Again, MacLawyer comes out with great, practical, and timely news for those who care about technology in the legal field.

Migration to Micrososft Office Said Not to be Seamless

Image representing Microsoft as depicted in Cr...

Image via CrunchBase

Forrester Research is warning business users who are ready to move to Microsoft’s Office 2010 — especially from older versions of Microsoft Office — that they may face some easily and not-so-easily remediable pitfalls.

“Forrester Research is warning business users who are ready to move to Microsoft’s Office 2010 — especially from older versions of Microsoft Office — that they may face some easily and not-so-easily remediable pitfalls.

Microsoft officials have said Office 2010 is the fastest selling consumer version of Office to date. But the Softies haven’t made the same claim on the business side, as the Forrester researchers pointed out in a December 13 research note. That’s because business upgrades typically take longer to commence and complete.”  See, ZDNet Article on Forrester Research’s Findings.

Forrester Research Chart

Google Chrome: One Step Closer to Paperless ?

Chrome OS Login

I just applied to be one of the test pilots for the Google Chrome OS. I am very interested in the prospect of having something that is connected to the Internet on a constant. Naturally, as a lawyer, I do have questions about security, confidentiality, practical use in the courtroom, and collaboration with staff. Hopefully, I will be one of the lucky one’s who gets to test this system in earnest.  I have tried, at various times, the Linux-Ubuntu OS, Windows (since its introduction), and Mac options since the 1980’s.  The prospect of a challenger to the old guard provides a clarion call for innovation.  I honestly hope that Chrome can drive innovation in this area — it’s been a while.

From what I can see, the upcoming Chrome OS is extremely user friendly and should be familiar to most of us vis a vis the use of “apps.” I certainly support anything that is quicker and which provides some level of long-term data integrity in terms of storage and accessibility. I am looking forward to becoming familiar with this particular OS and sharing the news as it comes in terms of strengths and weaknesses.
My guess is that the existing Google Apps will go a long way toward basic functionality. I already use Google Calendar, Google Docs, and Picasa for my photos. Each of these programs or services have improved over time and the fact that Google is way ahead with its research and development, I wouldn’t be surprised if they did not start to give Apple a real run for their money in the tablet OS arena and number of apps ultimately available. Much like in the 1980s, I think that Apple will have led the way, but may ultimately be overrun by its own innovation. Anyway, without further opining, you can check out the video showing Google Chrome in action on one of their demo units.
Just click on the video window below for a preview of the Chrome OS in action:

As jurors go online, U.S. trials go off track

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Image via Wikipedia

updated 12/8/2010 9:43:29 PM ET

ATLANTA — The explosion of blogging, tweeting and other online diversions has reached into U.S. jury boxes, raising serious questions about juror impartiality and the ability of judges to control courtrooms.

A Reuters Legal analysis found that jurors‘ forays on the Internet have resulted in dozens of mistrials, appeals and overturned verdicts in the last two years.

For decades, courts have instructed jurors not to seek information about cases outside of evidence introduced at trial, and jurors are routinely warned not to communicate about a case with anyone before a verdict is reached. But jurors these days can, with a few clicks, look up definitions of legal terms on Wikipedia, view crime scenes via Google Earth, or update their blogs and Facebook pages with snide remarks about the proceedings.

The consequences can be significant. […] See More

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iPhone v. Android

Click on picture for a detailed article on the main differences between Android and iPhone.  Fairly lengthy, but should explain most of what anyone making a decision about the two products would want to know.

Electronic Privacy: A Moderate FTC Attack on Advertisers and Commercial Exploitation of User History Information

Obviously, one of the biggest concerns for a lawyer is the confidentiality of client records and work product.

As recently reported on the Huffington Post, there are a number of major players on the Internet who see it fit to trawl for user information when visiting their sites.  While maybe not a big deal, other than the unwanted hassle of targeted advertising, other sensitive information could be a real problem where one is storing client files on the Cloud or where similar factors present themselves.

While one could say that he/she will never be using the Cloud to store client data, I think the reality is that there may be no realistic alternatives in the future for what we consider to be standard storage now (i.e., hard drives, USB drives, external drives, etc.).  It’s not all bad if we plan now and place a privacy/security infrastructure in place now.

Historically, the confidentiality between the learned professions and those are served by those professions has been largely respected and protected.  Current technology does not eliminate the legitimate public policy concerns underlying these privileges against invasion, disclosure, production, and admission into evidence before a court.  For better or worse, most public policy issues express themselves through the regulatory environment and the creation of a whole new set of laws and restrictions (as though we don’t have enough laws on the books).  This being said, until there is a way of getting people to better behave themselves, we will have to settle for making a complex legal system even more so.

Realistically, I think that we will all eventually end up storing and processing much of our information through services such as Dropbox, Windows Live, Google Docs, RocketMatter.com, and other cloud-based servers.  While it is easy to say that hard storage will never be eliminated, the same could have been said of the cassette tape, VCRs, eight-tracks, zip drives, and a whole host of other tech items that seemed to earn what we thought was a permanent place in our daily lives.  While the main focus on these forms of storage media were related to intellectual property rights, privilege issues have not been widely discussed in the legal field.  It may simply be that lawyers, as a profession, are way behind the technological curve.  However, I am fairly certain that our clients not only expect confidentiality of information, they rightfully demand it.

In a recent review by me of the Rutter Group’s treatise on Professional Responsibility, there was quite a bit of information in the privacy concerns that arise as a matter of professional ethics.  Most of the information related to state bars coming down on lawyers for advertising violations.  There was also a brief discourse on how Facebook and other social networking sites affect bias of the judiciary, public perception, and client confidentiality.  What was not provided was a solution to how attorneys can stay competitive, be environmentally friendly, and how they might protect information in a world of data retention that changes and advances by the day.  Thus, this all becomes an issue about what we are all willing to do in order to protect not only confidential client information, but our own reasonable expectations of privacy in our personal lives as professionals and regular citizens/consumers.

Notwithstanding the privacy concerns within our specific profession, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is working on some proposals designed to address the invasions of privacy occasioned by some of the sites specifically mentioned in the Huffington Post article.

In the report, the FTC asserts that, “Companies should incorporate substantive privacy protections into theirpractices, such as data security, reasonable collection limits, sound retention practices, and data accuracy,” and that, “Companies should maintain comprehensive data managementprocedures throughout the life cycle of their products and services.”  There are also a number of practical proposals set out as well:

  • Privacy notices should be clearer, shorter, and more standardized, to enable better comprehension and comparison of privacy practices.
  • Companies should provide reasonable access to the consumer data they maintain; the extent of access should be proportionate to thesensitivity of the data and the nature of its use.
  • Companies must provide prominent disclosures and obtain affirmative express consent before using consumer data in a materially different manner than claimed when the data was collected.
  • All stakeholders should work to educate consumers about commercial data privacy practices.

While I am ordinarily no fan of governmental interference with a Free Market Economy, I must say that I do agree with the conclusion that many of the cooking tracking, user-history exploitation, and unwanted targeted advertising schemes are the product of a lack of education on the part of Internet users.

Moreover, unlike the voluntary decision to go to a store or similar place, the decision to utilize the internet is one that often involves making a connection from one’s private location and the associated plethora of data that rests on our personal or business computers.  As indicated above, this is a huge concern especially for professionals who retain confidential information with respect to their clients.  One can only sadly imagine the potential liability exposure should a marketer get a hold of professional-user information that references specific clients and sensitive data associated with them.

Keeping up on these issues is a must for not only those of us in positions of trust, I strongly believe that there is a legitimate issue of safety that deserves the expenditure of governmental resources for preventative measures and, at a minimum, for the education of those who use the internet.

Tablet Wars Update

 

Screenshot from CNet.com

Again, in fine form, our friends at CNet.com have provided an excellent review of the Samsung Galaxy and the Apple iPad.  The video link above will provide you with much of the information that one would want in making a decision about which tablet to buy.  There is also quite a bit of updating on the newcomers to the tablet market.

While I am a very satisfied customer with my iPad, I can certainly see how someone else would be interested in the upcoming competition.  However, the two-screen tablets are of future interest to me since I would like to have a tablet that allows me to type on one screen into a word processing app, while having my research up on the other screen.

Pics of Iconia Two-Screen Tab (Engadget.com)

I don’t necessarily need a full laptop experience, but definitely see a need for being able to multitask better than is presently allowed by any of the ‘major’ players in the field.  I state this last observation keeping in mind the IOS 4.2 update that we recently got from Apple.  Having to press the home button twice and switch around is not my idea of practical app multitasking.

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