Top 3 Reasons Non-Lawyers Should Not Write About Legal Ethics

As a part of writing this blog, I do a lot of research on legal technology and how the use of technology impacts an attorney’s ethical obligations.  Yesterday, I came across the article “ABA Requires Lawyers to Understand Technology” on, originally published on July 23, 2013 in the New York Law Journal.  As I began reading the article, which talks about the amendments to the ABA’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct adopted last August, and I found myself wanting to claw at my eyes and rip out my hair.  In order to preserve my vision and coif, I decided instead to come up with my Top 3 reasons why non-lawyers should NOT write about legal ethics: 1.  They get it wrong. 2.  They get it wrong! 3.  Dear LORD they get it WRONG!!! (Ok, a brief caveat: I’m sure there are plenty of legal ethicists out there, who are not licensed attorneys, that are able to talk about legal ethics without getting everything wrong, so to all who fit that description, I apologize.) The bulk of my anger on this issue concerns an ABA model rule that I wrote about in an earlier post.  The rule, as amended by the underlined portion, reads as follows: “Maintaining Competence: To maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology, engage in continuing study and education and comply with all continuing legal education requirements to which the lawyer is subject.” What drives me so crazy?  Well, here is just a sampling of... read more

Technology News Update (8/1/2013)

Here’s today’s Technology News Update, a look at a few of the news reports, previews, reviews and tech gossip that are making waves today, including news from Apple, CNET, Google and Motorola: According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Apple may have to rely on competitor Samsung to supply the Retina Display in the new version of the iPad Mini, scheduled for release sometime in Q4.  The report, along with other rumors, indicates that Apple intended to source the screens through LG and Sharp as part of their ongoing attempt to sever their reliance on Samsung, a competitor, as a supplier of parts for their flagship products.  In fact, it had already been rumored that supply troubles were likely to compel Apple to release the new iPad Mini without a retina display.  However, the recent release of Google’s Nexus 7 with a display arguably better than the retina display found on the regular iPad may have forced Apple’s hand. CNET News is reporting that the USB 3.0 Promotion Group (yes, it turns out there is such a thing, and they’re actually kind of important) has finalized the specs on USB 3.1, which will allow USB transfers at speeds greater than 10 gigabits per second, more than double the 3.0 standard.  However, it is not believed that any USB 3.1 enabled devices will be available before 2014. Google has inked a deal with Hulu to include the streaming television company’s products on the new Google Chromecast.  The last major service not available on the Chromecast, HBO GO, is reportedly in negotiations with Google and expects to be included... read more

Replace the Legal Pad!

There are few tools or devices that are uniform to nearly all types of law practice, yet also used almost exclusively by lawyers. Probably the single most important one of those tools is the Legal Pad. Seriously, other than lawyers, who else uses them regularly once they’re done with college? Exactly. Yet, if you’re a practicing lawyer (or spend much time around us), you know that we’re rarely without them. So here’s my pitch: Replace the Legal Pad! It has been my position for YEARS that the technological innovation that would be the lawyer’s version of “building a better mousetrap” was something that could eliminate the need for the legal pad. Evernote’s Penultimate 4.1 may be the closest thing yet to that proverbial “better mousetrap.” For more detailed reviews of Evernote’s Penultimate 4.1, check out our Review Catalog. At its heart, Penultimate 4.1 is a note-taking app. Using either your finger or a stylus, you can use the screen of your tablet just as you would your notepad – at least that’s what Evernote hopes you’ll believe. Despite my sarcasm (and skepticism), Penultimate actually succeeds at putting together a lot of the aspects of a legal pad, provided you don’t mind carrying around a stylus (which I hate). However, the best feature in the updated version of Penultimate has little to do with note-taking, but a LOT to do with one of my recurring themes in this blog – security. Assuming you’re paying for Evernote’s premium services ($45 annually), Penultimate allows the user to add an extra layer of security to their saved notes beyond simply logging in to... read more

Technology News Update (7/31/2013)

Here’s today’s Technology News Update, a look at a few of the news reports, previews, reviews and tech gossip stories that are making waves today, including news from the ABA, Verizon, Microsoft, and Bret Taylor (former executive at Google and Facebook). Oh, and a solar powered tent, for anyone who may be interested… The most recent tech survey, conducted by the American Bar Association, sought to determine what smart devices attorneys use the most.  The results: a great and growing number of attorneys are using iPhones and iPads.  Not only are more attorneys utilizing smart devices than before (which is pretty self-evident), Apple has essentially replaced Blackberry as the dominant player among lawyers who do utilize smartphones and tablets.  Apple’s market share increased from 31% last year to a staggering 55% this year.  Over the same time period, Android devices increased their market share from 15% to 20%, and the number of attorneys who reported using no smart devices at all decreased from 12% to 9%.  For more on the survey, click here.  To see how Samsung is now beating Apple in customer satisfaction in the U.S., click here. Verizon, which had originally been set to launch its version of the HTC One smartphone, has pushed back the release date to August 15th.  It is unclear why the delay is necessary, or how the delay will affect Verizon’s sales of the HTC One, which has been available on other networks for some time.  Further unclear is how the delay will affect overall sales of the HTC One, considering that the highly-anticipated Moto X is scheduled for launch tomorrow. Microsoft... read more

Too Good to be True: Dropbox’s Little Security Problem

Yeah, I have to admit that I love Dropbox. It may be the second most useful app I have on my iPad (the most useful, is iAnnotate, which I’ll discuss at another time). It’s freaking great! Files transfer seamlessly (or as seamlessly as your internet connection allows). I can make changes on my computer at home, upload those changes to Dropbox, make additional changes on my iPad, then use Dropbox to transfer that version to my work computer. What’s not to love? Oh, right. Dropbox is, apparently, a gigantic, gaping hole in your company’s firewall and information security system. We all know that companies ban employees from using certain websites while at work. It’s not always helpful for business productivity for employees to always be on Facebook during the day, and while there would probably be a second revolution, it wouldn’t be hard to understand why companies would want to block sports or betting sites during the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Companies are wising up to the use of apps too, a problem that is becoming more prevalent in the growing world of “BYOD.” (Bring Your Own Device) A list of the Top 10 Most Banned Apps (for iOS and Android) was published earlier this month, and it contained plenty of the usual suspects: Angry Birds had a place on both lists, as did Facebook and Netflix. However, I was quite surprised to find Dropbox on both lists. Ok, actually, let me modify that: I was quite surprised to find Dropbox WAS THE #1 MOST BANNED APP ON BOTH LISTS. I figured, well, banning Dropbox circumvents the ability of... read more

The Cyber Advocate’s Review Catalog

The Cyber Advocate’s Review Catalog is your source for reviews of products, services, software and apps from around the internet.  Updated daily, you can count on The Cyber Advocate’s Review Catalog to have up-to-date reviews on the newest technology.  Never relying on one source for the reviews, I scour the internet to find quality reviews from reputable sources, then put them together so that you can judge for yourself!  Before you buy a new computer, smartphone, tablet, or upgrade your computer’s software or office equipment, check out reviews from wide-ranging sources to make sure you’re getting the best for your money. The Cyber Advocate’s Review Catalog includes reviews of: Computers, including desktop and laptop versions, and accessories for your workstation; Data Storage, from portable hard drives all the way to cloud-based services; Equipment for your office, including printers, scanners, voice recorders, and wireless routers; Mobile Apps for your law practice, including document processing apps, productivity apps, and presentation & trial practice apps for iOS, Android OS, Blackberry, and Windows 8, for your smartphone or your tablet; Operating Systems, including reviews and updates of desktop and mobile systems; Phones and other smart communication devices, along with reviews of available accessories; Software, with reviews of everything from basic software packages all the way to practice management services and software-as-service packages; Tablets, along with reviews of available accessories. Before you buy anything for your home or office, make sure to check out The Cyber Advocate’s Review Catalog to make sure that you get the best value for your money.  Also, make sure to check back in under the Category Tech Guru for more advice... read more

Technology News Update (7/30/2013)

Here’s today’s Technology News Update, a look at a few of the news reports, previews, reviews and tech gossip that are making waves today, including news from Bloomberg Law, Amazon, Apple and Google: Bloomberg Law, an alternative to LexisNexis and Westlaw for the uninitiated, is changing its name to Bloomberg BNA, according to a report from the Law Technology News.  Some industry analysts believe that the re-branding is a tacit acknowledgment that Bloomberg’s strategy to compete in the field of legal research lacked the name recognition of BNA, hence the switch.  The company will remain headquartered in Arlington, VA, and it is believed that employees located in New York will be encouraged to relocate to Virginia. Amazon announced the specs for its new lineup of Kindle devices today, including the surprise announcement that all three of the new Kindle models will come equipped with the Qualcomm Snapdragon chip set.  What does this mean?  Basically, it means that all the work that was put into advertising the new Nexus 7, particularly its processor, is about to go to waste, because the cheaper Kindle Fire will run circles around it. To see available reviews of Google’s Nexus 7, click here. The latest beta version of Apple’s iOS 7 appears to include an option for unlocking the phone with your fingerprint, rather than a passcode.  An investigation by Extreme Tech revealed code that demonstrates support for fingerprint scanning through the home button, but it is unclear whether, if such functionality exists,  the functionality would be available to other applications. And finally, Google Chromecast is getting more impressive by the day.  Vimeo and... read more

The “Competent” Lawyer (Update)

In a post last week, I wrote about an amendment made to the ABA’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct to modify the continuing educational requirements of attorneys to include learning about “the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology.”  As part of my analysis of how the language would likely have little actual impact on continuing educational requirements, I pointed out that only one state, Delaware, had even bothered to adopt the new language in the year since the ABA included it. Well, the state of Massachusetts appears ready to make me look a little foolish.  Earlier this month, the Supreme Judicial Court’s Standing Advisory Committee on the Rules of Professional Conduct proposed several amendments to the Massachusetts rules, including verbatim recitation of the ABA’s “Maintaining Competence” language. (A comprehensive list of the proposed revisions can be found here) Should the new language be adopted, Massachusetts would be the second state to formally declare that an attorney must have some knowledge of “relevant technology” in order to maintain professional competence.  However, as I mentioned before, the term “relevant technology” actually means, and the extent to which an attorney must actually be familiar with it, remain so unclear that the rule itself is toothless, and may just be... read more

Does Google’s Nexus 7 beat the iPad Mini?

That’s the question a recent review of Google’s latest tablet offering seeks to answer. The Nexus 7 boasts many features that put it at the very least on par with Apple’s feature mini-tablet.  However, the Nexus 7 has several key features that the iPad Mini cannot match… First, and most significantly to me, the Nexus 7 offers wireless recharging.  In order for an iPad to recharge, it has to be plugged in either to a computer or a wall socket via specialized USB converter. The Nexus 7 is capable of recharging via a wireless induction recharging pad which, although it requires an additional investment, provides an option that Apple doesn’t have. Additionally, the Nexus 7 has Google’s best screen to date, slightly sharper than the iPad Mini, and is set up for viewing on a 16:9 ratio, ideal for movies, unlike the iPad Mini’s 4:3 screen.  The Nexus 7 also has a processor that should exceed the capabilities of the iPad Mini, particularly when using apps that utilize the new capabilities of Android OS 4.3. The final factor that cannot be overlooked is the price.  The Nexus 7 16GB model sells for $229, compared to $339 for the 16GB iPad Mini.  Jump up to 32 GB, and the price advantage of the Nexus 7 ($269 vs. $429 for the iPad Mini) is even greater.[poll id=”3″] The review acknowledges that the tablets are otherwise dead even, and that the advantages of the Nexus 7 are no so significant that tablet buyers who are loyal to Apple will switch.  However, anyone not tied down to the iOS or otherwise concerned about... read more
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