The "Just In Time" Theory of User Behavior

Coding HorrorFri, 07/18/2014 - 00:05



I've long believed that the design of your software has a profound impact on how users behave within your software. But there are two sides to this story:

  • Encouraging the "right" things by making those things intentionally easy to do.

  • Discouraging the "wrong" things by making those things intentionally difficult, complex, and awkward to do.

Whether the software is doing this intentionally, or completely accidentally, it's a fact of life: the path of least resistance is everyone's best friend. Learn to master this path, or others will master it for you.

For proof, consider Dan Ariely's new and amazing book, The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone – Especially Ourselves.

Indeed, let's be honest: we all lie, all the time. Not because we're bad people, mind you, but because we have to regularly lie to ourselves as a survival mechanism. You think we should be completely honest all the time? Yeah. Good luck with that.

But these healthy little white lies we learn to tell ourselves have a darker side. Have you ever heard this old adage?

One day, Peter locked himself out of his house. After a spell, the locksmith pulled up in his truck and picked the lock in about a minute.

“I was amazed at how quickly and easily this guy was able to open the door,” Peter said. The locksmith told him that locks are on doors only to keep honest people honest. One percent of people will always be honest and never steal. Another 1% will always be dishonest and always try to pick your lock and steal your television; locks won’t do much to protect you from the hardened thieves, who can get into your house if they really want to.

The purpose of locks, the locksmith said, is to protect you from the 98% of mostly honest people who might be tempted to try your door if it had no lock.

I had heard this expressed less optimistically before as

10% of people will never steal, 10% of people will always steal, and for everyone else … it depends.

It's the "it depends" part which is crucial to understanding human nature, and that's what Ariely spends most of the book examining in various tests. If for most people, honesty depends, what exactly does it depend on? The experiments Ariely conducts prove again and again that most people will consistently and reliably cheat "just a little", to the extent that they can still consider themselves honest people. The gating factor isn't laws, penalties, or ethics. Turns out that stuff has virtually no effect on behavior. What does, though, is whether they can personally still feel like they are honest people.

This is because they don't even consider it cheating – they're just taking a little extra, giving themselves a tiny break, enjoying a minor boost, because well, haven't they been working extra specially hard lately and earned it? Don't they of all people deserve something nice once in a while, and who would even miss this tiny amount? There's so much!

These little white lies are the path of least resistance. They are everywhere. If laws don't work, if ethics classes don't work, if severe penalties don't work, how do you encourage people to behave in a way that "feels" honest that is actually, you know, honest? Feelings are some pretty squishy stuff.

Turns out, it's easier than you think.

My colleagues and I ran an experiment at the University of California, Los Angeles. We took a group of 450 participants, split them into two groups and set them loose on our usual matrix task. We asked half of them to recall the Ten Commandments and the other half to recall 10 books that they had read in high school.

Among the group who recalled the 10 books, we saw the typical widespread but moderate cheating. But in the group that was asked to recall the Ten Commandments, we observed no cheating whatsoever. We reran the experiment, reminding students of their schools' honor codes instead of the Ten Commandments, and we got the same result. We even reran the experiment on a group of self-declared atheists, asking them to swear on a Bible, and got the same no-cheating results yet again.

That's the good news: a simple reminder at the time of the temptation is usually all it takes for people to suddenly "remember" their honesty.

The bad news is Clippy was right.

In my experience, nobody reads manuals, nobody reads FAQs, and nobody reads tutorials. I am exaggerating a little here for effect, of course. Some A+ students will go out of their way to read these things. That's how they became A+ students, by naturally going the extra mile, and generally being the kind of users who teach themselves perfectly well without needing special resources to get there. When I say "nobody" I mean the vast overwhelming massive majority of people you would really, really want to read things like that. People who don't have the time or inclination to expend any effort at all other than the absolute minimum required, people who are most definitely not going to go the extra mile.

In other words, the whole world.

So how do you help people who, like us, just never seem to have the time to figure this stuff out becase they're, like, suuuuper busy and stuff?

You do it by showing them …

  • the minumum helpful reminder
  • at exactly the right time

This is what I've called the "Just In Time" theory of user behavior for years. Sure, FAQs and tutorials and help centers are great and all, but who has the time for that? We're all perpetual intermediates here, at best.

The closer you can get your software to practical, useful "Just In Time" reminders, the better you can help the users who are most in need. Not the A+ students who already read the FAQ, and studied the help center intently, but those users who never read anything. And now, thanks to Dan Ariely, I have the science to back this up. Even something as simple as putting your name on the top of a form to report auto insurance milage, rather than the bottom, resulted in a mysterious 10% increase in average miles reported. Having that little reminder right at the start that hey, your name is here on this form, inspired additional honesty. It works.

Did we use this technique on Stack Overflow and Stack Exchange? Indeed we did. Do I use this technique on Discourse? You bet, in even more places, because this is social discussion, not technical Q&A. We are rather big on civility, so we like to remind people when they post on Discourse they aren't talking to a computer or a robot, but a real person, a lot like you.

When's the natural time to remind someone of this? Not when they sign up, not when they're reading, but at the very moment they begin typing their first words in their first post. This is the moment of temptation when you might be super mega convinced that someone is Wrong on the Internet. So we put up a gentle little reminder Just In Time, right above where they are typing:

Then hopefully, as Dan Ariely showed us with honesty, this little reminder will tap into people's natural reserves of friendliness and civility, so cooler heads will prevail – and a few people are inspired to get along a little better than they did yesterday. Just because you're on the Internet doesn't mean you need to be yelling at folks 24/7.

We use this same technique a bunch of other places: if you are posting a lot but haven't set an avatar, if you are adding a new post to a particularly old conversation, if you are replying a bunch of times in the same topic, and so forth. Wherever we feel a gentle nudge might help, at the exact time the behavior is occurring.

It's important to understand that we use these reminders in Discourse not because we believe people are dumb; quite the contrary, we use them because we believe people are smart, civil, and interesting. Turns out everyone just needs to be reminded of that once in a while for it to continue to be true.

[advertisement] Stack Overflow Careers matches the best developers (you!) with the best employers. You can search our job listings or create a profile and even let employers find you.

The Impact of Social Media and Technology on Divorce and Custody Cases

ABA's tech feedThu, 07/17/2014 - 16:09



Social media and technology are increasingly finding their way into the courtroom, particularly in divorce and custody cases. This is typically helpful for one party, usually the party who has not been posting to social media, and damaging to the other party, usually the party who has been posting on social media. With technology increasing the amount we share with the world, it’s important to remember that anything you post on social media could find its way to the courtroom.

The Basics.

It used to be that you could have a phone call with someone and what was discussed in that conversation was basically a “he-said-she-said” argument.  There was no proof of what was actually said. In today’s smartphone world with constantly evolving “apps,” people involved in divorce and custody cases are tending to record their conversations in hopes that they can catch the other party in a lie, or a slip-up, or say anything that could hurt them in court.

Increasingly, we are seeing recorded phone conversations being entered into evidence and played in open court for the judge to consider. Along the same lines, it is now possible to print out text message strands between you and another person, and text messages are increasingly being introduced into the court’s record. Anytime you pick up your phone to have a conversation, whether voice or text, there may be an exact record of what was said.

He Said. She Said.

Texting and phone calls tend to be introduced as evidence of conversations between the parties. On the flip side, there have also been changes in how we are proving what one party said to another person. This tends to involve a derogatory comment made about one party by the other party but is not limited to such comments.

Let’s look at this scenario as an example: you are angry with your ex-spouse because he/she is late on child support again. Before smartphones, you might have picked up the land-line and called your best friend to vent and that would be the end of it. In today’s world, however, let’s suppose you turn to Facebook and post: “ugh, he’s late again, he obviously doesn’t care about our children.” This may seem innocent enough at first, but what if your child is 16 and has a Facebook account of his own? What if that 16 year old child somehow saw that post; maybe a friend of a friend “liked” it so it showed up on his news feed? Now you may be guilty of disparaging a parent in front of a child (which depending on your case, could be a violation of a court order). And that’s not even considering the damage that has been done to your child’s self-esteem and relationship with the other parent.

Adultery. As Seen on Facebook.

Let’s look at another scenario: you and your spouse are thinking about separating, but have not yet made the final decision to separate and divorce yet. You turn to a friend for support and suddenly you find yourself in a more romantic relationship with that friend than you intended. Let’s use Facebook again: you’ve blocked your spouse from your Facebook page so he/she can’t see anything you post, so you’re safe, right? You don’t mind that your friend is now posting pictures of you holding hands, maybe even a cute kissing photo. Your spouse doesn’t say anything to you so he/she must not have seen it.

Flash forward six months and you are in court arguing over whether you committed adultery. Turns out, you forgot to block your spouse’s sister; she saw the photos and sent them to your spouse. While this may not be enough to prove adultery and maybe you never even committed adultery, you are suddenly in a position to defend yourself against that claim.

Think First.

These are only a few examples of how technology and social media are changing the way divorce and custody cases are being handled throughout the country. Because we now live in a world where we tend to share our frustrations or our private moments with more and more people, we need to remember that what we share with our “friends” could end up in the hands of people who will use those frustrations and private moments against us.

The introduction of social media and technology into the courtroom is only growing and will become a more prevalent way to prove a case for divorce or custody in the future.

Featured image: “Two Parents Fighting Over Child In Divorce Concept ” from Shutterstock.

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Kennedy-Mighell Talk Evernote. And that thing called Paperless.

ABA's tech feedWed, 07/16/2014 - 12:30



In this episode of the Kennedy-Mighell Report, Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell talk about Evernote and its use for lawyers. From collecting information in one place, and being able to access it from any Internet-connected device, to creating Stacks, tags and document organization, even business cards.

Evernote. Another tool in the arsenal of lawyers looking to go paperless.

Another productivity app of note that is mentioned: Hangar for Android, which keeps track of apps used most often, adjusts and puts 7 used most often into notification tray

Tom Mighell suggests reading Johnny Ive: The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products.

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NetDocuments Secures $25 Million from Frontier Capital to Fuel Growth in the Legal Document Management Market

ABA's tech feedTue, 07/15/2014 - 14:30



Investment Represents Frontier’s Confidence in NetDocuments and Its Target Market

July 15, 2014, LEHI, UT – NetDocuments, the leader in cloud-based document and email management, announced a strategic partnership with Frontier Capital, securing a $25 million equity investment to accelerate NetDocument’s increasing growth across the legal market.

“It’s exciting to see the rate of adoption increase in recent years as law firms begin to move from traditional, server-based document management to what most now view as the modern document management platform,” said Ken Duncan, CEO, NetDocuments. “The partnership and investment with Frontier will allow us to not only continue our growth with a high degree of customer service, but also provides us with the resources to capture a considerable portion of the market, as firms increasingly decide to switch to the cloud.”

Frontier, based in Charlotte, N.C., is a growth equity firm focused exclusively on investing in software and technology-enabled business service companies in areas with significant entrepreneurial activity but minimal local capital.

“NetDocuments is exactly the type of company in which we aim to invest – a sturdy technology business growing at a strong rate into an emerging market, with a quality management team we know and trust,” said Michael Ramich, partner, Frontier.  “As our research shows, NetDocuments is the only pure play software-as-a-service provider of document management in the legal industry, which is just beginning to realize the benefits of cloud computing. With our investment, NetDocuments is poised to further capitalize on this new trend within law firms and should grab significant market share in the months and years ahead.”

This investment represents Frontier Capital’s confidence in the market and NetDocuments’ ability to accelerate the growth across the legal industry.  The boost in capital will build on a successful sales and marketing strategy that will continue to penetrate NetDocuments’ core market and exploit the robust features of a true SaaS document management service.  NetDocuments is currently operating in more than 140 countries and is being used in nearly 10 percent of the Am Law 100 law firms.  This investment will ensure that NetDocuments has the resources and talent to keep up with the adoption of its cloud-based technology.

“We’ve seen the document management industry go through dramatic changes over the last decade and a half, and we’ve been fortunate to be at the forefront with technology that is truly challenging the status quo,” noted Alvin Tedjamulia, CTO, NetDocuments. “We’ve built a solid technology delivered as a service, and we’re seeing more and more firms take advantage of the value this SaaS platform has to offer over the traditional model. Frontier’s investment in NetDocuments will better enable us to work with the rapidly increasing number of law firms that are leaving the complexity of traditional document management systems in favor of the agility and simplicity of NetDocuments.”

About NetDocuments

Founded in 1999, NetDocuments cloud-based document management service has given law firms of all sizes – including some of the world’s largest and most prestigious – the ability to reduce costs and increase security, mobility, and disaster recovery to documents and emails from anywhere and on any device. With anytime, anywhere access enabled by offices and fully redundant datacenters in the United States and United Kingdom, firms are able to increase productivity and improve the client experience through a comprehensive cloud-based service. For more information about the company, go to

About Frontier Capital

Frontier Capital is a Charlotte-based growth equity firm focused exclusively on software and technology-enabled business service companies. Founded in 1999, Frontier partners with management teams that can benefit from capital to accelerate growth, fund acquisitions or generate shareholder liquidity. We make minority and majority equity investments in high growth companies and have built an excellent track record of delivering returns to both our investors and management partners. For more information, please visit



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The Forecast Calls for Clouds: Ethically Embracing New Technology

ABA's tech feedMon, 07/14/2014 - 13:00



The cloud has been a prominent topic within the legal profession for the past couple of years. If you still aren’t sure if the cloud is right for your firm, you may have questions about the benefits, security concerns and best practices for adopting this new technology.

Get the answers to your questions and explore opportunities the cloud may offer your practice during our free 30-minute webinar.  Join us on Thursday, July 24th from 2:00pm to 2:30pm ET for The Forecast Calls for Clouds: Ethically Embracing New Technology.

About the Free Webinar

The Forecast Calls for Clouds: Ethically Embracing New Technology
Thursday, July 24, 2014
2:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. ET

Register now!

Sign up and discover:

  • Cloud computing basics
  • The benefits of cloud computing
  • Ethical considerations concerning the cloud
  • Best practices for moving to the cloud

This webinar is sponsored by MyCase.

 This webinar is hosted by the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center and presented by Matt Spiegel, VP Product Management for MyCase.

Please note: this is a NON-CLE program. 

Featured image: “3d objects isolated on a white background” from Shutterstock.

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Bottom Line: Tech Can Increase Profit, Done Right

ABA's tech feedMon, 07/14/2014 - 12:30



If your bottom line is no concern, you’re an exception. Profitability is top of mind for most solo and small law firm attorneys, who are as much small business owners/operators as practitioners of the law.

And with budgets constantly tightening, how can a small firm grow profitability? Karl Florida conveys insights from his experience in business and the legal industry in the Thomson Reuters Independent Thinking article, How Technology Drives Short- and Long-Term Profitability for Small Law Firms. Florida leads the company’s small law firm business, which offers such legal solutions as the Firm Central practice management platform, WestlawNext small law firm plans, and FindLaw’s lawyer marketing solutions.

Find out why Florida sees technology impacting law firm profitability in the near term and far.  Download the free article or watch a short video to read/hear about:

  • Three specific software options that can help you operate more efficiently
  • Technology choices in the short-term that can solve for immediate workload and personnel challenges
  • How technology use today can drive long-term profit growth or firm expansion
  • An unexpected factor to consider in building your website

Download your free PDF copy of How Technology Drives Short- and Long-Term Profitability for Small Law Firms to learn more about smart technology choices that can impact and grow profitability for small firms.


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Electronic Exhibits Mark the End of the Paper Chase

ABA's tech feedFri, 07/11/2014 - 12:30



A first year associate, who has yet to take a deposition, may likely never have to mark and introduce a paper exhibit. Which isn’t to say depositions are going exhibit-less. Just paperless.

As in the movie “Groundhog Day,” exhibit production is a recurring scene: Conference room tables and credenzas piled high with original and courtesy copies of exhibit binders, along with scanning, printing, collating, labeling, packing and shipping to get them there. The costs add up quickly. Add to that the worry that the shipment will be lost or late.

The alternative is electronic exhibits, introduced and shared as the deposition proceeds, marking the end of the paper chase.

One iPad Equals 100 (or more) Exhibit Boxes

Deploying technology for taking depositions is commonplace. Documents produced in discovery are exchanged electronically. Notices are rarely mailed or even faxed. Realtime programs stream text and video to participants’ computer screens as the deponent answers questions. Final transcripts, with exhibits scanned and hyperlinked, are preferred over the printed and bound version.

The outlier has been presenting exhibits in the deposition room. It was hard to imagine a digital alternative to asking the witness “please review this document, entered into the record as exhibit number 116.”

Not anymore. Now attorneys can introduce and mark exhibits at the deposition electronically—via iPad and other tablets and computers—through a secure connection to a cloud-based server. This means hosting and the bandwith to handle data storage and 24/7/365 accessibility is not an issue. Support and disaster recovery protocols are in place.

Strategy and Control

Beyond eliminating thousands of pages, the electronic counterparts to paper exhibits allows the examining attorney to control when and how exhibits are introduced, preserving the client’s legal strategy. As opposed to providing printed copies in advance, opposing counsel only sees the exhibit the moment it is shown to the witness.

How are exhibits organized for a paperless deposition? First, it is important to notify all parties that exhibits will be presented electronically. Then, the steps are familiar, simply the electronic equivalent of sharing paper copies:

  • Upload documents ahead of time, ready to be entered into evidence, just as you would ordinarily produce copies in advance for those attending the proceeding.
  • Coordinate with your court reporting firm to provide devices for all participants and test connections, as you would for a realtime or videoconference deposition.
  • At the deposition, tap the iPad (or other device) to introduce an exhibit and simultaneously send digital copies to the witness and other participants.
  • All parties may annotate and retain personal copies of exhibits, while maintaining the integrity of the official versions.
  • While the deposition is underway, legal team members from all sides can communicate as exhibits are marked for the record.
  • Exhibits and transcripts from previous depositions are also accessible.

Clients who are involved in complex cases, for instance, intellectual property disputes, securities litigation, class action suits and other high-stakes matters, expect their outside counsel to deploy technology effectively to manage the costs of discovery.

The Paperless Advantage

The utilization of electronic exhibits is especially helpful when deposing a witness who is based            out of state or overseas. Here, a videoconference can be arranged and the exhibits can be introduced electronically, curtailing both travel and shipping costs.

Further, litigators are realizing the value of electronic exhibits beyond depositions, for instance, witness preparation. Rather than making multiple cross-country trips to meet with the legal team, a client preparing for depositions and trial can connect from his office in San Francisco to his attorneys in Boston and always have critical documents available for review.

While it is an adjustment to integrate new technology and implement new processes and routines, the practical applications are evident. Think of how print media, broadcast media and advertisers now reach their audiences through interactive, digital, channels. Similarly, lawyers are transitioning from the legal pad to the iPad.

Your firm’s IT department and technology-oriented attorneys and support staff are obvious resources.  If your court reporting agency keeps pace with the latest developments and is attuned to how practice groups work, the account managers, court reporters and videographers can consult and coordinate with your team at every step.

All in all, the ability to share documents as proceedings unfold, without having to print thousands of pages and keep track of their whereabouts, represents a new way of working for litigation groups. Senior partners recognize the benefits for their practices and for their clients. For today’s new associates, paperless depositions will be business as usual.

Featured image: “Modern wireless technology and social network” from Shutterstock.

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Hackcess to Justice: ABA Journal’s Hackathon Competition Comes to Boston

ABA's tech feedThu, 07/10/2014 - 12:30



“Access to Justice;” that’s a buzzword we hear often in the legal community. Why? Because there is a documented justice gap across the nation, in which low to moderate income households disproportionately are unable to secure affordable legal services.

What have we done to combat this problem? In Massachusetts, the state’s highest court established the Access to Justice Initiative in 2009, which works closely with the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission, the courts, legal services organizations, and local bar associations to “broaden access to civil justice for all litigants.” Solutions that have been offered include:

On a national level, last year, the Legal Services Corporation held a summit on how to use technology to increase access to legal services by low-income households. As a result, LSC prepared a report that identified five components for using technology to meet these needs. Encouraged by this call to action, the ABA Journal in collaboration with Suffolk University Law School and its Institute on Law Practice Technology & Innovation are using the LSC findings as the foundation for a hackathon competition aimed to tackle the justice gap with innovative technological solutions.

The Hackcess to Justice Hackathon at Suffolk University Law School in Boston will kick off on August 7th immediately preceding the ABA’s Magnitude 360 Annual Meeting. What better venue than Boston for this competition, home of Boston Startup Weekend, Harvard’s Innovation Lab and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Cambridge Innovation Center, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an ever-expanding tech community, and a demonstrated commitment to access to justice?

Hackathon participants are expected to span far and wide, both in terms of geography and expertise. Likely, many will stem from Boston’s own booming startup community. For those non-techies who would like to participate, there is no requirement that you know how to “code;” you need only present a creative “technology-enabled solution” that embodies one of the five LSC components.

The hackathon is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. on August 7 with submissions due at 5 p.m. the following day along with in-person presentations to judges. Prize money will be awarded to the top “hacks.”  Suffolk Law School will provide facilities for individuals and teams working on their projects over the course of the two days.

For program updates, including official rules and judging criteria (TBA), and to register, visit the Hackacess to Justice ChallengePost website.

Featured image: “Boston skyline at dusk, Boston, MA, USA” from Shutterstock.

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Time for a Technology Audit

ABA's tech feedWed, 07/09/2014 - 12:30



Occasionally, law firms need help to move their technology forward, but they are not sure what they need or how to begin. They know that they are not taking advantage of the latest technology, have done some research and every product they see is “a perfect fit” for their firm (at least that is what the sales person is telling them).They seem to need EVERYTHING; from encrypted email to document management, to a secure wireless network.

Where do they start the process? It might be best to start with a technology audit.

What is a technology audit?

A technology audit is an evaluation of the systems that your firm has in place. Before a firm can move forward, they need to know what type of technology that they have and options to improve the firm’s state of technology. From the security of your data to recommended software, a technology audit is a useful roadmap to guide your firm’s technology.

What would I expect during a technology audit?

A comprehensive technology audit begins with a series of onsite office visits and interviews of key decision-makers, including administrators and internal or external IT staff. Any reports of hardware and software inventory as well as maintenance contracts are very helpful in the audit process.

Typically, a technology audit evaluates the following areas:

  1. Computer hardware, including desktops, laptops and servers.
  2. Infrastructure equipment, including switches, routers, firewalls and wireless networks.
  3. Security.
  4. Telecom, phones, internet access and bandwidth.
  5. Scanners/printers and other peripherals.
  6. Software – including office applications (MS Office, Acrobat, etc).
  7. Legal specific software – including time and billing, practice management, document management and any practice specific software.
  8. Mobile strategies.
  9. Technology processes and procedures including backups.
  10. Any firm/practice specific items that need to be addressed.
What information would I receive as a result of a technology audit?

In addition to learning the state of your security, hardware and software, a technology audit can provide a strategy for the future of your technology in your firm including recommendations to improve your firm’s technology and processes.

Some examples of conclusions might be:

  1. Your firm is paying too much for software maintenance and lower-priced alternative would be a better fit for your firm.
  2. The current dictation software is not cost efficient and a cloud-based alternative is a better solution.
  3. An update to a firm-wide system would benefit the firm by providing secure mobile access to their data outside of the office.
Where do I get a technology audit?

A technology audit can be performed by most Information Technology (IT) firms. It is recommended that your firm talk with other firms of similar size for a recommendation for a company to do an audit.  An IT firm that has legal software experience is particularly helpful in navigating the maze of legal software.

Many law firms that engage a managed services company already have a partner that can perform an audit for you. However, since you do not want to turn this audit into a sales pitch for new hardware or software, a third-party technology audit is recommended.

Is a technology audit the same thing as a security audit?

No, a technology audit addresses components of security, but is not a security audit. A security audit specifically targets all aspects of the firm’s security, including computers, servers, routers, switches as well as databases, mobile device and website security. A technology audit may conclude that a security audit is warranted.

Where do we go from here?

Considering the benefits of a technology audit, it is well worth the time and money to know the state of your technology as well as a path to move forward. Do you need to implement every suggestion right away? No, but if there are any security issues found in the audit, be sure to address those as your first priority. From there, it is up to you to decide how to move it forward. Now that you know where you have been, it will be easier to see where you should be going.

Featured image: “Time for review” from Shutterstock.

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4 Advantages of Billing in the Cloud

ABA's tech feedWed, 07/09/2014 - 12:30



You don’t have to be tied to a single device that has your software on it. All you need today is a web connection. From set up to security, and a few in-between, here are four advantages of cloud based time billing with Bill4Time that you may or may not have known.

  • Ease of use among larger offices
    Dismiss the all-day event for software installations, incorrect serial numbers and long drawn out phone calls with customer support. Just log in and start securely billing.
  • Track your time; even offline 
    Not having access to the Internet shouldn’t affect your ability to run your business effectively. Access and update your data from your PC and Mac desktop widget and mobile apps. Once you are back online, we’ve got you covered, you’re synchronized automatically.
  • Invoice where and whenever
    The faster you bill, the sooner you can get paid! With the PayPal Online Payments feature your client can pay directly from your emailed invoice. Once the payment is verified by PayPal the invoice is automatically updated, one less step you need to do.
  • 24×7 Security and monitoring 
    Stored in a SAS70 Type II certified data center and transmitted with 128-bit SSL encryption, you bet you’re secure. Systems are monitored for maximum security and performance 24×7 and your information is backed up over 12 times a day with an option to back up to your own computer.

Fast and easy client billing ensures that you’re spending your valuable time doing what you do best and billing for it! For more information on billing in the cloud, please visit Bill4time.

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Digital Edge interviews PowerPoint Master Paul Unger

ABA's tech feedTue, 07/08/2014 - 12:30



Meetings. Conferences. Speaking events of all kinds. That’s what generally comes to mind when we hear “PowerPoint.” Good bet, though, you use it in court, too, so there is no escaping PowerPoint presentations.

Don’t roll your eyes just yet. Even if you haven’t put a PowerPoint presentation together for a conference, you probably have, or will soon, put one together for trial.

No fear. Jim Calloway and Sharon Nelson have you covered. In this edition of the Digital Edge, they interview the author of Power Point in One Hour for Lawyers and regular contributor to this blog on the topic, Paul Unger. Turn up the sound, or plug in your headphones, and spend the next 28 minutes learning cool tips that will make people remember your presentation, and you.

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Thank You to our June Sponsors

ABA's tech feedMon, 07/07/2014 - 14:55



Thank you to our sponsors, here at Law Technology Today!

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Thomson Reuters also submitted a post summarizing a new paper on small firms “cautious” embrace of technology. Worth a read.


The webinar, “How to Vacation as a Lawyer,” provides some useful tips on taking some time off this summer, and in the future.

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Featured image: “a natural looking banner with thank you and white blossoms” from Shutterstock.

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Apps that Take my Firm from Office to Poolside

ABA's tech feedMon, 07/07/2014 - 12:30



My Summer Hours: Poolside, by appointment only.

As the weather has been gorgeous lately, I have found myself working from home or other mobile locations (the pool – there’s WiFi!) more often. These are some apps that I use in my daily routine, which allow me to be mobile. My firm is Mac based so all of these are Mac, iPad, or iPhone versions. They are in no particular order, nor am I receiving any compensation from any of them, even though I know many of the account execs or developers…they don’t even know I am writing about them (until after this is published and some bot notifies them that they were mentioned!).

This list is definitely not exhaustive, and does not include native iOS apps.

  1. GoodReader 4. GoodReader 4 (not to be confused with previous versions) is a document viewer that I use on my iPad. You can open different types of documents, but I use it mainly for PDF viewing and annotating. I sync it with my Dropbox account, so all the stuff I am working on is available to me on my iPad (outside of the Dropbox app). GoodReader 4 is probably the third party app I use most on my iPad. I use it on the go, at the pool, and at the gym (#multitasking). Download GoodReader 4 here.
  2. Fantastical. I strongly dislike the native calendar app in iOS. I stopped using it when they made the list view a pain to get to, and I started using Fantastical instead. I love the way fantastical looks, I love the way it shows me a map if I have input an address, and I love that I can see my reminders (from the native Reminders app) right in the same list as my events, and I can check them off, too! Check out Fantastical here. I use it daily on my phone, and just noticed there’s an iPad version I will be downloading.
  3. Clio. I use Clio as my practice management software. It is web based, and also has an app for the iPhone. Admittedly I used it mostly on my computer – not because the app lacks function (it even has a timer so you can bill for your time on the go), but I am on my computer so much that I don’t really find occasion to use the app. I use Clio to manage contacts, matters, billing and invoicing. There’s a secure portal to communicate with clients, it links to Dropbox, and there are about a billion ways to customize your invoices. Check out Clio app here and the website here.
  4. Adobe Acrobat Pro and Microsoft Word. I use these on my computer umpteen times a day. I do all my drafting in Word. I view, edit, and create PDFs in Acrobat. I love Acrobat the most for creating fillable forms, which you can do from any existing PDF. So sometimes I will make a document in Word, save it as a PDF, and turn it into a form that I save as a template if it’s something I might use over and over with clients, like an intake form. That way anyone can type right into the form. You can also redact portions of PDFs in Acrobat. See Word here. See Acrobat Pro here (there is a subscription version as well. I use the downloadable, expensive version).
  5.  Google Voice. I use Google Voice and a GV phone number as my business line on my iPhone. It forwards to my cell so I can still take calls at my convenience, and I can text from my phone or from the website as well. Google Voice is free and I was able to choose my own number a long time ago. I use the app on my iPhone and I haven’t really had an issue. The only thing to remember is if you are making an outgoing call to someone who only has your GV number, make sure you don’t call them directly from your regular phone app, otherwise you’ve just shot yourself in the foot and revealed your cell number to your client. See it online here. See the GV app here.
  6.  MA Divorce App. This is for Massachusetts only but I would imagine other states may have something similar. I use this app to calculate child support, although it also does alimony calculations and has a date calculator. The best part is that you plug in data and it does all the math for you, even taking into account different parenting schedules. You can then export the worksheet right to Dropbox or print! Dare I say it makes it kind of fun to do child support calculations! And it’s totally affordable. See it here.

What apps do you use while sitting poolside, or at the beach or otherwise not in the office?

Featured image: “Swimming pool” from Shutterstock.

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Four Points of Keeper Security

ABA's tech feedThu, 07/03/2014 - 12:30



I had an informative chat with Keeper Security CEO Darren Guccione at Chicago Techweek. It’s description says it’s “a secure and easy-to-use password manage and file-vault.” Made me think of LastPass and 1Password. Digging a little deeper, however, Keeper Security is more like LastPass and Dropbox on encryption and security steroids, with Mission:Impossible self destruct mechanisms.

I wanted to know more, and here are three take-aways from my talk with Guccione.

Security and Encryption

It’s Security page on its website states the following:

KSI does not have access to a customer’s master password nor does KSI have access to the records stored within the Keeper vault. KSI cannot remotely access a customer’s device nor can it decrypt the customer’s vault. The only information that Keeper Security has access to is a user’s email address, device type and subscription plan details (e.g. Keeper Backup). If a user’s device is lost or stolen, KSI can assist in accessing an encrypted backup file to restore the user’s vault once they have replaced their device. 

Information that is stored and accessed in Keeper is only accessible by the customer because it is instantly encrypted and decrypted on-the-fly on the device that is being used – even when using the Keeper Web App. The method of encryption that Keeper uses is a well-known, trusted algorithm called AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) with a 256-bit key length. Per the Committee on National Security Systems publication CNSSP-15, AES with 256-bit key-length is sufficiently secure to encrypt classified data up to TOP SECRET classification for the U.S. Government. 

The cipher keys used to encrypt and decrypt customer records are not stored or transmitted to Keeper’s Cloud Security Vault. However, to provide syncing abilities between multiple devices, an encrypted version of this cipher key is stored in the Cloud Security Vault and provided to the devices on a user’s account. This encrypted cipher key can only be decrypted on the device for subsequent use as a data cipher key.

That sounds technical and complicated. I’m skeptical of technical and complicated. Guccione explained it by giving the example of a hacker somehow gaining access to the vault. All the hacker will have is binary code. The system is designed so that the user keeps the encryption keys.

Let me repeat that. The USER, people like you and me, always have the encryption keys, not Keeper.

I asked what happens if the government comes knocking, or Keeper gets served with a subpoena. The same thing: the government or whomever gets the binary but there is nothing else Keeper can do. Only the user can decrypt the data.

That raised some other questions for me, especially while he talked about perfect forward secrecy as I heard that mentioned once before. After the security sessions on Saturday, I got the impression that perfect forward secrecy is used by those thinking ahead, like Keeper Security and Wickr.

Self-Destruction and Restoration

Next obvious question: what happens if my device gets lost or stolen? I’m thinking of remote wiping my phone, and the general nightmare of having to reset all of my passwords for sites and apps I use every day, and hoping I don’t forget to reset ones that are also important but not often used. Guccione shows me, on his iPhone, what happens when you use the wrong password for the Keeper app. After four failed attempts, the app self-destructs. Poof! It’s gone.

I am notorious forgetting passwords, a point Guccione hears often and told me now all I had to do was remember one password: the Master Password. So I installed Keeper, set myself up and went about the conference. Sure enough, yesterday in fact, I forgot my Master Password. Five tries and poof! The FAQ makes it clear that DOING SO ERASES EVERYTHING in your Keeper profile, on your device. The data sits, in binary, in a vault, and the Support team can only tell me the date of the last sync. Once my Master Password is reset, I can do a restore. Whatever was there at the last sync shows itself.

I was running out of reasons not to like this app, so I thought of all the websites and apps that require user names and passwords, most of which I would have to reset and then enter into the app. Guccione was way ahead of me.

Autopassword Generator

This about sold me.

Creating complicated passwords is easy. Since I often reset my passwords, there’s really no point in creating ones I can remember. Resetting passwords is annoying, and sometimes time consuming if I’m not near a laptop. Keeper solves all of this with a dice icon. Just press it and a new random, complicated password is generated.

Big whoop, right? Cracking passwords is a hobby for some, as breaches this year have demonstrated. As if sensing my skepticism, Guccione explained that testing revealed it would take a hacker upwards of 2,000 years to crack a password randomly generated by Keeper. That saves me the trouble of thinking up complicated passwords I am guaranteed to forget.

Solving the BYOD Pain Point

Autopassword generation has another benefit: it simplifies managing network passwords. Coupled with its Keeper for Groups offering, securely sharing information from whatever device you prefer sounds like heaven. Social media management accounts, documents, pretty much all you email back and forth. Guccione mentioned how real estate agents use it to store codes for houses, files and other information normally kept in a paper file in a cabinet or in their hands if showing a house.

For system administrators, they have control through an admin panel. If an employee leaves, say, the system administrator can disconnect the employee and lock him or her out of the company network.

Obvious question: what about the personal stuff the employee stores in Keeper? Not a problem Guccione said, because Keeper is so nuanced the employee only loses access to company information, not personal information. When the employee has been disconnected or otherwise dropped from the company network, the next sync removes all company related information, leaving the personal information  behind.

I had one other question: how long does it take to set this up? Answer: about an hour for 1000 employees.

Other Notables

Keeper was built to be mobile first, and is working backward. The mobile experience is fantastic, but it also has a browser extension for Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari and FireFox. It’s platform agnostic so it syncs with your device of choice. It’s search function is pretty nifty, and simplifies trying to find something if you have a number of records. It comes with unlimited storage, and has tiered pricing structure:

  • $9.99/yr for a single user, one device, includes full backup and protection.
  • $29.99/yr for a single user with multiple devices, includes full backup and protection.
  • $59.99/yr for a group, multiple devices, includes full backup and protection.

I’m still awed it takes about an hour to get 1000 employees up and running on Keeper.

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Depositions: The Final Paper Frontier

ABA's tech feedWed, 07/02/2014 - 12:30



Most depositions are conducted in-person, with clunky machinery, an old-fashioned stenographer and, most importantly, stacks upon stacks of paper. Medical records, business records, tax returns. All produced in hard copy, many times over, on the conference room table. Not to mention the fact that in-person attendance for all attorneys makes scheduling depositions nearly impossible.

The technology exists to make this process more affordable, more streamlined, more efficient, and more environmentally-friendly. So why haven’t we made the collective switch? Because of fear.

There are three distinct parts of this:

  1. Fear of the unknown.
  2. Fear of judgment.
  3. Fear of the electronic deposition plain old not working right.

I have noticed fear as a thread through some of my technology-related writing. It seems the scare factor looms larger than I had originally anticipated and is a higher hurdle to clear.

Coupled with this is simple inertia. It is easier to keep doing the things we already know how to do. This is our fear of the unknown at play. Of course, this is followed up with, “what will all of the other attorneys think of me?” And then, the ultimate doozy, “what will they all think of me if this iPad stops working 2 hours into this deposition?”

We must bite this technology bullet. It is beyond outdated to sit in a conference room surrounded by boxes of papers. And, frankly, it’s completely unnecessary. Documents are created, sent, and produced to each other through electronic means. Yet there is a breakdown when it comes time for the deposition. How do we fix this?

I reached out to O’Brien & Levine Court Reporting for some thoughts, as they gave me a demo last year for a service that does a completely paperless deposition on iPads. (The company even provides the iPads.) And yet, they told me “attorneys love paper. This is the world they work in.” They noted transitioning to a paperless deposition will take time, patience and repetition. But, since no one seems to want to jump in first, very few attorneys have taken them up on this new, cost saving option.

This commentary is spot on. Instead of having a witness draw circles on the piece of paper in front of them, we will soon be asking them to use the highlighter on the iPad to show us what’s relevant in a particular exhibit. This is as foreign to many lawyers as orbiting the moon. But it is also the future; a future we must embrace as our practices change.

Suffolk Law School, located in downtown Boston, has introduced the concept of “majoring” in technology and has developed the Institute on Law Practice Technology and Innovation. Suffolk, and other enterprising law schools, are finding new ways to turn out competitive graduates who will be poised to disrupt the practice of law.

If we don’t start transitioning into the future, in a few short years it will be a young associate introducing documents with their iPad across the table from you. Practice makes perfect. If we start trying, and keep on trying, we’ll gradually understand that technology is the new normal. Stacks of paper will become foreign. We’ll save time, money and trees. Something lawyers thought they would never be able to say.

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Mentoring: From Mentee to Mentor

ABA's tech feedTue, 07/01/2014 - 12:30



Mentors are a great resource who can help bridge the gap between being a law student and being a well-rounded, experienced attorney. Many people look at mentors as a one-sided relationship: the mentor provides advice, answers questions and may even send some referrals to the mentee. Being on both sides of the mentor-mentee relationship, I can tell you the relationship is, or at least should be, mutually beneficial.

After law school, I accepted a clerkship position with a local Circuit Court. It was likely the best career move I could have ever made and it was there that I found my first mentor in the legal field.  The judge I worked for primarily was not just a boss but was invested in me and improving my skills before I went to work as an attorney. He answered questions about the practice of law but did not limit them to only the practice of law. He answered questions about opening and then hopefully managing and sustaining a law firm. While our professional relationship has changed since leaving the clerkship position, as it should have, that judge provided me with my first experience being mentored and at the time, I didn’t even realize that was what was going on.

I often think about the advice that judge gave me on practicing law. The key, he said, is to always be honest.  If you don’t know the answer, say so and tell them how you can find the answer.

Through my clerkship, I had the opportunity to observe, meet, interact and build relationships with many of the local attorneys. While the majority of those attorneys were wonderful and I still have relationships with them, there was one in particular who has helped me along my journey into becoming an experienced attorney.

One of the areas of law I wanted to practice, and continue to practice, is as a guardian ad litem, representing the interests of children. To do so, you have to have some experience under a current guardian ad litem and they must certify that you are able to be a guardian ad litem. The attorney I mentioned earlier who I met through my clerkship, happened to be one of the best guardian ad litems around. I was lucky enough to gain my guardian ad litem experience under him. After my official training was completed, I have spoken with him on many occasions for advice on broad topics such as the general duties of a guardian ad litem to specifics about how certain scenarios play out.

Those experiences are my most memorable informal mentoring relationships but I have also been lucky enough to have a formal mentoring relationship as well. When I opened my own law firm, I joined the Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. And while I have not practiced much in the way of criminal defense, I obtained a valuable mentor through that association.

When you join the association, you can choose to have a mentor assigned to you, which I did. My mentor has answered countless questions, provided me guidance on how to obtain answers he may not know the answer to and provided me general comfort knowing I had someone who wanted to see me succeed. To my mentors, even if they didn’t realize I considered them mentors, I will be forever thankful and will always credit them with my success as an attorney and in life.

As a result of my mentors being so wonderful, I have been fortunate enough to run my own law firm that is continually growing. Recently, I was contacted by some other local attorneys who wanted to know if I would be interested in mentoring; this time as the mentor. Something really awesome happened in Richmond over the past year or so: attorneys came together to realize the need and value for mentoring younger attorneys and two of those attorneys opened the Richmond Legal Development Center.

The Richmond Legal Development Center provides a place for newer attorneys to get on their feet.  They are provided with the resources to start their own firm and a list of mentors to help them along their way. Each year, a new group of attorneys will take their place as the outgoing group of attorneys move on to practice law outside of the Development Center. While all of the mentors are available and willing to help all of the attorneys, each attorney is paired with a mentor who is there to be their primary resource. However, like me, not all mentors are paired with an attorney. Though I was not directly paired with a new attorney, one attorney reached out to me because he looked into each mentors background and thought I would be the most able to help him in his specific circumstances and goals. Instantaneously, our mentorship relationship began.

As a mentor, I do the typical things all mentors do: answer questions, provide referrals if I can and periodically check in to make sure everything is going well. It has been through this experience that I learned that a mentorship relationship should be mutually beneficial. Through my mentoring, I am forced to constantly “check-in” with myself and make sure I am following my own advice. It forces me to think through how I want my law practice to look and what long-term impression I want to leave with my clients. Above all, it forces me to make sure I am leading with the best example I can; no one likes to take advice from someone who isn’t already taking their own advice.

To sum it all up: the legal world needs mentors. You need a mentor. And you need a mentee.  To keep our profession growing, we need to continue to forge these types of mutually-beneficial relationships. If you need a mentor, ask. Join your local bar associations. Join state and national bar associations in your practice areas. Talk to people and tell them what you do and what you want to do. And when you find someone you think could help you, simply ask them to help you. If you want to mentor, ask. Talk to people and tell them what you do and what you want to do. And when you find someone who needs your help, ask them if they would like your help.

Featured image: “Learn and lead” from Shutterstock.

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The Paper Tiger is an Endangered Species

ABA's tech feedMon, 06/30/2014 - 12:30



The paper vs. paperless debate continues into the 21st century, but in reality we are all slouching into the paperless arena – for good or bad, and whether we like it or not.


It started in the late seventies with the law office word processors, which evolved to the PC desktop in the eighties.  Floppy disks morphed to small hard disks (although they were still called “floppy”). We saved all our documents on “floppies” in those days. The floppies evolved to CD’s which held a lot more data.  As hard drives evolved and space wasn’t an issue we began saving our documents on our hard drives and CD’s are becoming obsolete. In the past it was standard practice to maintain a “hard copy” — meaning a paper backup. It was not practical to save the boxes of client documents on hard drives because hard drive space was at a premium.

By the turn of the century, scanners became faster and cheaper. Memory grew from kilobytes, to megabytes (1,000,000 bytes), gigabytes (1000 megabytes), and now terabytes (1000 gigabytes). USB Flash drives can hold as much as two gigabytes or 3,850 one-hundred page Word documents. It is just more practical to carry around a flash drive in your pocket rather than cart around stacks of documents.

At the same time our office machines were evolving, our mobile devices became an integral part of our work and personal lives. Back in the day, the cool device was the PDA (Personal Data Assistant). My first one was the Palm Pilot with a stylus. That was a death knell to the “Day Timer” which looked like a black or tan notebook where we wrote down our appointments. Then came the Blackberry which was both a cellular phone and a calendar. We became wired to the internet and we were floating in the Cloud — whether we admitted it or not. Paper was an after-thought. Now the cell Phone/PDA enables us to do business from anywhere – a car, a court, or a café.  The iPhone supplanted the Blackberry in popularity because it was more reliable for email and it had the “cool” factor. Also the computer became portable – first with lap tops, and then tablets. The use of Apps made the cell phone and tablet fun and easy to use.

Today’s Paper Tiger

Most of my correspondence to attorneys, client, and judges is conducted by email. There was a time that I felt compelled to print my emails – just in case. Now I just save them to my database program. They are searchable and printable.  Even when we receive correspondence, it is scanned and emailed to me to read. I can read it on my iPhone, my iPad, or my office computer.  There are times when I print out an email or a letter to mark up, but there goes another tree. Right?

Since most correspondence is digitized, that part of the file shrunk to almost nothing. What about the pleadings? There is no E-filing in our courts so we keep a paper copy of everything we file. And because we must serve pleadings by mail (absent a stipulation), we maintain a file copy of our opponents pleadings. But all these are scanned and saved by our staff.  That allows us quick access to the entire file on our server. I don’t remember the last time I walked into the file room and picked up the file.

I still like to take the hard files to court because I never know if I will have remote access to our server in the courtroom. A digital file is searchable, and in many ways more convenient than shuffling through a paper file in the court room. However, courts still require paper exhibits and in a pinch I can rip an exhibit out of the file and get it admitted. It may be some time before there is a digital transfer of exhibits in our courts. In the future we will move the document to the court Dropbox and provide access to the judge, clerk, the witness, opposing counsel, and court reporter.  I expect it to come when the courts realize how expensive it is to maintain and store paper.

Document production has gone digital. It is easier to transfer a flash drive or put a document in a Dropbox type program than to send paper. There is no reason to store boxes of paper when you can store files digitally. Even libraries are obsolete. Gone are the days where there are walls of books. Google Scholar has most of the cases and statutes. There are proprietary programs that access the cloud to fill in the gaps.

Mass Extinction

Paper still exists, but bytes are economical and fast. Speed and economy will win over time. The reality is that I am sitting at my computer all day looking at a screen. I go home and I log into my iPad or cell phone. I may be drafting or emailing, but there is no paper.  I have a printer to the right of me which used it once today to print out a draft of this article for editing purposes. But, for the most part, we are paperless. It wasn’t a coup or even a revolution.  It was a mass extinction.  It didn’t happen overnight – but it occurred nevertheless.

You are going to be paperless whether you like it or not. And while you are going paperless, I will look in the mail box to see if I received any mail today.

Featured image: “Illustration of a paper tiger” from Shutterstock.

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Dispatch from Chicago Techweek

ABA's tech feedFri, 06/27/2014 - 13:56



It’s been a week-long celebration of the Chicago startup and tech scene. A kick-off party and boat cruise, to office tours of Uber, SproutSocial and Vibes, to name a few. It’s hard not to get swept up in the energy and excitement of Chicago’s startup scene. Parties and tours aside, the meet of Chicago Techweek is a three day conference, divided into Summits.

  • DevSummit
  • Edu&Work
  • Elevate
  • FashionTech
  • Finance 2.0
  • Future of Media
  • InfoTech
  • SocialInnovation
  • Startup
  • WellTech

Most of the action started late in the morning yesterday, so I wandered into the WellTech Summit, and found billboards displaying local startups geared toward addressing some issue in healthcare or medicine. One in particular was Healthy TXT. It’s stated goal is to “improve health with relevant communications from trusted sources – delivered where people are today, on their mobile devices.” So that new treatment regimen you just reviewed with your doctor, and promptly forgot once you got to your car? Now your doctor and can send you a text message to remind you. I found myself wondering about medical malpractice cases, and medical malpractice insurance implications, for using something like Healthy TXT. 

That afternoon, I saw bits and pieces of presentations. One, from Scott Wyatt, Managing Partner at NBBJ, which is one of the world’s largest architecture firms. Wyatt has overseen the building of corporate headquarters for some big names like Amazon, Google and Tencent. He talked about architecture and the modern work place, giving a humorous history of the office cubicle and argued that architecture was the problem because it failed to take into account the emotional aspect of being human. There was low Emotional Intelligence, though he provided some signs  and examples that this is changing, and has changed in some industries. This quote stood out:

“Think about work as choice. Where you work as choice.” Interesting. #techweekchi

— Gwynne Monahan (@econwriter5) June 26, 2014

What you choose to do as a vocation or profession, where you choose to do it, all have an impact on your health and well-being. He used the example of walking meetings, cited research on benefits and how neurons are activated differently, changing your whole thought process, when you are in motion v. stationary. I experienced this in other jobs where I suggested walking meetings because I was tired of being inside, sitting at a desk or being inside and standing around. To this day, I still do a lot of walking, just to ponder things or really muddle over an issue. Try it, see what happens. I also sat in on a data presentation, surprise surprise. Given by Sean Anderson of Rackspace, and called “The Age of Data in the Cloud,” he gave a rundown of the history of data, from the ledger to the mainframe to cloud infrastructures today. There were two things that stood out for me. The first is this:

“We’re collecting data just to collect data.” Cause it’s so easy now. Big problem: good data. #techweekchi — Gwynne Monahan (@econwriter5) June 26, 2014

The NSA dragnet comes to mind, naturally, but also every transaction, photograph, search result, login, any action I’ve ever taken that can now be recorded. It’s nice to think it may all be beneficial one day, but then Anderson went out to point out the challenge of so much data: finding good data. Reminds me of the line from Jurassic Park: “You were so busy thinking about whether or not you could, you didn’t stop to think if you should.” The drive has been whether data, all types of data, can be collected. Now there’s a shift towards thinking about should that data be collected. He talked about some companies that have started to ask themselves that question, really think about their objectives and then work to only collect the data necessary to reach those objectives. They are in search of good data, not just data.

The second thing that stood out for me was a comment he made about applications only being as good as the programmers, and that with the ledger, it was easier to trust the data because you knew the people doing the work.

This talk is making me think of the Hippocratic Oath for programmers comment. #techweekchi #bigdata

— Gwynne Monahan (@econwriter5) June 26, 2014

The comment I’m referring to is one I saw on a blog post, and some Googling has revealed talk of a Hippocratic Oath for programmers (or software engineers) has been discussed since 2002, though this seems to be a good argument for one, from 2004.

Will lawsuits over self-driving car accidents, 3D printed houses that collapse, food that poisons, firearms that misfire or something else entirely, push for a Hippocratic Oath for programmers? Or is such a thing unnecessary since applications are only as good as the programmers, and programmers are still human? I do wonder, especially as learning to code is becoming as basic as learning to write. Will we have more empathy for gadgets and data collection as a result?

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Video: How to Vacation as a Lawyer

ABA's tech feedThu, 06/26/2014 - 20:21



Although many lawyers may have their doubts or concerns about taking time off, even a quick vacation can do wonders for overall health and wellness. Considering the prevalence of depression and suicide within the legal profession, more lawyers should be finding – or making – time to get away from the office. In this webinar hosted by the Legal Technology Resource Center, discover simple steps you can take to schedule your vacation, pull in outside help in your absence, and even enjoy some time off!

Thank You to Our Sponsor

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New Book Alert: “Alternative Fees for Business Lawyers and Their Clients”

ABA's tech feedThu, 06/26/2014 - 17:08



The ABA Law Practice Division is delighted to announce the publication of Alternative Fees for Business Lawyers and Their Clients

The use of alternative fee arrangements by lawyers and the demand for those arrangements by clients is increasing. How are you and your law firm addressing this threat to the billable hour? Are you prepared to recognize that value is not measured in one-tenth-of-an-hour increments? Alternative Fees for Business Lawyers and Their Clients addresses how large firm, small firm, and solo lawyers can implement and evaluate alternative fee arrangements in transactional matters. This essential guide also provides real case studies of business lawyers and firms successfully using alternative fee arrangements to deliver value to both the clients and the lawyers. This book will help you:

  • Understand how clients perceive value
  • Effectively price legal services in business matters
  • Build a billing method for business and transactional work
  • Develop a transaction plan
  • Successfully communicate with clients
  • Use technology to set fees and create budgets
  • Implement alternative fee arrangements in a business practice
  • Evaluate which alternative fee model is best for your firm
  • Understand the ethics concerns of alternative fees

To order a copy of Alternative Fees for Business Lawyers and Their Clients today, visit the ABA Webstore.

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