Social Media Matters! And thank you to SEPTA!

Just this morning, I was speaking with an attorney whose firm consults with us about technology. He insisted that social media really wasn’t relevant and that people really don’t pay attention to it. No matter what I said, he simply was in denial mode.

Sorry, but social media matters, and law firms and all businesses need to be aware of its impact and the need to actively use sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Fast forward to lunchtime. We were on our way to a meeting at the Philadelphia Bar Association. As usual, we boarded a Market-Frankford El train at the Milbourne station. The heat hit us like we were walking into a brick wall. The car we were on had no air conditioning. Nothing. Nada. Zip. And today was supposed to be the second hottest day of the year. Other riders were complaining to others, to themselves, to anyone around.

I took out my phone, opened the Twitter app, and tweeted to Septa: “ no air conditioning on market el train 1123 #stifling #hot.” Within a minute, SEPTA replied, “No air at all or blowing hot air? What was the last stop? Direction?” I replied “no air at all, going toward Frankford, next stop 40th street.”

Guess what? When the El arrived at the 13th Street stop a couple of minutes later, they stopped the train, and took it out of service. Now that’s customer service! Thanks SEPTA!

So if you think social media doesn’t matter, think again. And businesses need to recognize how important it can be. Thanks again SEPTA for not only having a Twitter feed, but for addressing problems in real time!

Passwords & Security – It’s Truly Time to Think About Them

Passwords – we all hate having to deal with them. After all, we’re supposed to have different passwords for every website. Plus, they must be complicated. How in the world can we create all of these passwords and still remember them? Instead, it’s easy to just use ABC123 or Password or some other generic phrase. The problem is that those among us with less than stellar motives can easily hack those passwords and access all of our confidential information.

If that weren’t enough, now the government is reminding us. I read an advertisement today for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security – you know, the agency that reminds us of terrorist dangers using color coded warnings that none of us remembers. Well, this ad, entitled “Are you Exposing Yourself?” was actually helpful and reminds readers to “STOP other people from accessing your information by using strong passwords. THINK before you download apps you aren’t familiar with. CONNECT with friends safely online by checking your privacy settings regularly.” And it even links to a helpful website at, a website intended to increase the understanding of cyber threats, with the goal of empowering the American public to be safer and more secure online. The site has helpful tips and other resources.

After I discovered StopThinkConnect, I received an email about iD Magazine (there’s one you probably haven’t read), which highlights “The Secret Truth about Passwords” in its August 2016 issue. The magazine explains that modern computer algorithms can try out millions of passwords in seconds, which is why large password databases fall into the clutches of hackers. It notes that the most used password in the world is 123456, and reminds readers that even the head of the CIA, John Brennan, had his hacked in 2015. The magazine reminds us all (1) not to recycle passwords, (2) to use the initials of a memorable sentence or try putting four random words together when creating passwords. I access the magazine through Texture , an app that lets you read tons of magazines (weeklies and monthlies) for a reasonable fee.

Of course, we all need to be secure online. I use a password manager, RoboForm, which stores my passwords, generates random passwords and synchronizes them securely across all of my computers and portable devices. While it’s easy to keep using 123456 as a password, it’s better to be safe and avoid the grief that you’ll have when you get hacked.

Plagued by Outlook Crashes After November 10, 2015 Windows Updates?

Are you plagued by Outlook crashing after you installed the various Microsoft updates released on November 10, 2015? If so, there is a solution.

You need to uninstall updates 3097877 and 3101746. Then reboot your computer and, hopefully, all is well. These updates wreaked havoc in our office. In fact, in order to fix all of the problems they created, we had to uninstall and reinstall Office 365. While we don’t normally comment on such “mundane” things as Windows Automatic Updates, and focus on improving office workflow, we made an exception, especially since office workflow grinds to a halt when you can’t use Outlook, Word or other Office products.

Yes – You Can Have Readable PDFs

When we work with law firms and courts to help them digitize their files – such as court filings – central to that work is to assure that they use the PDF format and that the PDFs are of a high quality. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize how easy it is to create high quality readable PDFs. When you do so, the PDFs can be OCRed – made into searchable text – that facilitates easy searching, and easy copying and pasting into other documents, like briefs and opinions.

Well, there is another benefit to high quality PDFs. They can OCRed and then persons with visual impairments can have the text read to them. This is exactly what happened to Attorney Tom Ross (click here to read the DOJ’s blog post), who requested documents and received them in such poor quality that the screen reader that turned text into speech said there was nothing there.

Attorney Ross filed a Complaint under the Americans With Disabilities Act against Orange County and the Department of Justice prevailed on his behalf. While I’m sure Ross was happy with the monetary award, he is probably more satisified that the clerk of the court agreed to provide documents in an accessible format to those with disabilities. This should be a lesson not only for courts but also for lawyers and others who work with PDFs.

It isn’t hard to make PDFs user-friendly, but the problem is that most users of PDF software haven’t been trained, or didn’t know that they could do so. Our course on Adobe Acrobat fills that void, and has been called the “best CLE I ever attended.”

Regardless whether you take a course, it helps yourself to be sure that you create the highest quality PDFs. It can also prevent you from being on the losing end of an ADA claim.

Pa. Bar Association Ethics Committee Provides Guidance to Lawyers About Social Media

The Pennsylvania Bar Association Committee on Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility has released an Ethics Opinion on Social Media, explaining to lawyers what they can and cannot do when posting or responding to information and comments on social media websites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Avvo and others. The Opinion, one of the first in the country to broadly address these issues, explains (1) the issues confronting attorneys who use social media, (2) the ethical obligations of attorneys using social media, and (3) what attorneys and their staff may and may not do when dealing with information that their clients post on social networking websites.

I am proud to be one of the principal authors of the Opinion, but must also give special thanks to many people for their invaluable input/comments and insight, including my law clerk, Nora Viggiano, and attorneys Jennifer Ellis, Thomas G. Wilkinson, Dan Harrington, Victoria White, Michael Reed and Michael Temin.

The opinion is the first in the country to broadly address these issues, including: 1. Whether attorneys may advise clients about the content of the clients’ social networking websites, including removing or adding information. 2. Whether attorneys may connect with a client or former client on a social networking website. 3. Whether attorneys may contact a represented person through a social networking website. 4. Whether attorneys may contact an unrepresented person through a social networking website, or use a pretextual basis for viewing information on a social networking site that would otherwise be private/unavailable to the public. 5. Whether attorneys may use information on a social networking website in client-related matters. 6. Whether a client who asks to write a review of an attorney, or who writes a review of an attorney, has caused the attorney to violate any Rule of Professional Conduct. 7. Whether attorneys may comment on or respond to reviews or endorsements. 8. Whether attorneys may endorse other attorneys on a social networking website. 9. Whether attorneys may review a juror’s Internet presence. 10. Whether attorneys may connect with judges on social networking websites. If you would like to read the Opinion, either click here or contact me.

Just Because You Have an IPad Doesn’t Mean You Need to Use It

Technology – such as iPads – can help attorneys be more effective advocates. But like any tool, you need to use it correctly, not just because you have it. Otherwise, the technology can actually weaken your position, and frustrate the judge, jury or arbitrator you are trying to convince.

I sat as an arbitrator today in a relatively routine car accident case, involving a side swipe at an intersection – I think. The reason I say “I think” is because the plaintiff’s attorney was so enamored of his iPad that he never asked his client, “Tell the panel, how did the accident occur?”

Instead, he fixated on using his iPad to display an image from Google Maps of the intersection where the accident occurred. He showed the iPad to his client, but the arbitrators couldn’t view it. In addition, his client was pointing to the screen and gesturing about going up or down. The panel of arbitrators just sat there. Making matters worse, the picture of the intersection was facing the wrong direction, and when he showed it to his client, the arbitrators had to look at it upside down. Overall, the use of the iPad was cumbersome and distracting.

Interestingly, the attorney did bring some photographs of the intersection with him, and would have been better served by showing them to his client and the panel. In fact, he would have been better served by just having his client draw a diagram on the white board in the room. Maybe then the panel would have had a clue what happened.

In short, just because you have a tool doesn’t mean you have to use it.

This is not to say that using an iPad, or other tablet or technological device, is a bad idea. There are many ways this attorney could have used the technology to his advantage. For instance, the attorney could have downloaded the image and created a pdf. Using that pdf, his client could have drawn on the image and presented a much clearer picture of how the accident occurred. Not only would this have made the plaintiff’s testimony clearer, it also would have helped the arbitrators to understand and evaluate the accident better.

Knowing when to use technology is like knowing which tool to use when fixing a loose screw. If the screw is made for a Phillips head screwdriver, then you shouldn’t be using a flathead screwdriver. You have to know when to use which type of screwdriver for which type of screw. Similarly, with technology, you have to know when and how to use technology to further your case and when it is simply a cumbersome and unnecessary distraction.

Fortunately, Integrated Technology Services can provide guidance in this area. As practicing litigators, we can show you how and when the use of technology can be beneficial to your case. Click here to read about Dan Siegel’s presentation, “Androids for Litigators” at Techshow 2014, which “Droid Lawyer” Jeff Taylor described as “an awesome presentation.” ITS helps lawyers and their staffs use Androids, iPads and lots of other law office technology.

Attorney Daniel J. Siegel Lectures About Technology & The Law

Attorney Daniel J. Siegel of Havertown, Pennsylvania, has recently presented a number of programs focusing on the intersection of law and technology. In particular, Siegel is scheduled to present a three hour program, “Android for Lawyers” for the Pennsylvania Bar Institute on Friday, April 25, 2014 in Philadelphia. For more information, visit

Siegel is also a course planner for and is speaking at “The Technology Institute,” to be held on June 11, 2014 in Philadelphia. For more information, visit Siegel will lecture on “The Paperless Office” and “Mobility, the Cloud, and Ethics” at this program, which is also sponsored by the Pennsylvania Bar Institute.

Siegel recently presented three programs, “60 Android Apps & Widgets,” “The Litigators Guide to Android,” and “What the Heck is this Case About?! A New Perspective on Using Timelines, Chronologies and Transcript Management,” at Techshow, the American Bar Association Law Practice Division’s major law and technology event, which was held in Chicago from March 27 to 29, 2014.

Attorney Siegel is the founder of Integrated Technology Services, LLC, a consulting service for attorneys based in suburban Philadelphia and in Maine. He is also the principal of the Law Offices of Daniel J. Siegel, LLC. As a consultant, Mr. Siegel works with attorneys and their staffs to improve their workflow using technology. As an attorney, Mr. Siegel handles workers’ compensation matters and serves as a “second chair” for other attorneys – handling the matters that keep them up at night, such as preparing appeals court briefs and helping lawyers prepare cases for trial.

He is the author of Android Apps in One Hour for Lawyers and The Lawyer’s Guide to CaseMap, both published by the American Bar Association Law Practice Management Division.

I’ll Take “Advancements in Legal Technology” for $1,000 please, Alex

Recently, there has been some discussion out of IBM about the possibility of using Watson-like technology for legal research, litigation and discovery. While this sounds like a great idea in the abstract, in reality, it remains to be seen whether Watson is capable of such an undertaking.

For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, Watson is a room-sized computer created by IBM and named after its first president, Thomas J. Watson, that is capable of answering queries phrased in natural language. Watson became famous this past February when “he” prevailed on Jeopardy! against two of the biggest winners in the game show’s history.

According to IBM fellow Guru Rao, IBM is working towards being able to use Watson-like technology “to weed out relevant information from warehouses of data.” For lawyers, the thought of having a machine that can go through a mountain of discovery and almost instantaneously obtain the most relevant documents sounds like a dream come true. This technology could also be useful for pinpointing the perfect case or statute when engaging in legal research.

But will lawyers be willing to take Watson for his word when he is less than 100% confident in a conclusion? While Watson answered many clues correctly on Jeopardy!, he was actually less than 50% confident in many of his responses. Also, Watson’s confidence and accuracy improved with longer, wordier clues, and decreased with shorter clues with fewer words; thus, simple queries like “instances of malpractice” would be the least likely to produce reliable results.

I, for one, am looking forward to seeing where IBM is able to take this technology in order to help lawyers. Watson may be fully capable of winning a game show, but whether or not he will be a winner in the courtroom remains to be seen. 

Further Reading:

Cell Phones are Computers – The Evolution of Technology

For most people, the word “computer” conjures up images of a traditional desktop computer and monitor, or perhaps a laptop or even a netbook. Few, if any, would associate the word with their cellular phone. However, it is undeniable that modern cell phones are, more and more, performing tasks for which we would ordinarily use our computers. We can check our email, surf the web, stream music and videos, and download software, all with a little device that fits in our pocket.

Recently, in United States v. Kramer, 2011 U.S. App. LEXIS 2367 (8th Cir. 2011), the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit held that, under the definition provided by 18 U.S.C. § 1030(e)(1), even a cell phone used only to make phone calls and send text messages constitutes a computer. This statute defines a computer as a device which “performs logical, arithmetic, or storage functions.” The Eighth Circuit determined that a cell phone performs logical, arithmetic, or storage functions “each time an electronic processor performs any task—from powering on, to receiving keypad input, to displaying information.” According to the court, even the most basic function of a cell phone—placing a phone call (I forgot they could do that!)—requires the phone’s processor to perform logical, arithmetic and storage functions. Therefore, even cell phones without internet access and web browsers constitute computers under this statute.

The implications of this decision are far-reaching. First, 18 U.S.C. § 1030, the “Fraud and related activity in connection with computers” section of the Federal Crimes Code, now applies to fraudulent access and usage of cell phones. Additionally, as was the case for Neil Scott Kramer, defendants may face a sentencing enhancement for “use of a computer” to facilitate the commission of certain crimes. Further, this could open the door to new rules regarding searches and seizures of cell phones, and could broaden laws relating to computer hacking and internet crimes. It remains to be seen whether other courts, including the United States Supreme Court, will agree with the Eighth Circuit’s analysis.

Legaltech New York

Yesterday, my associates, Molly Gilligan, Diana D’Auria and I, spent the date (actually our annual jaunt) at Legaltech, New York, the large commercial legal technology show (not to be confused with the ABA’s Techshow, where I will be speaking in April). As usual, there were many vendors and we were able to visit with friends from our many partners, including LexisNexis TimeMatters, CaseMap and Concordance, Legal Files case and matter management software, AccessData Summation (I have just become a newly-minted Summation Support Specialist, which replaces my prior certification as a Summation Certified Trainer) and Payne Systems (Metadata Assistant). We also visited with our newest partner, Business Integrity, which markets Contract Express, an easy, user-friendly document assembly software program. It was particularly heartening to hear the totally positive feedback for my book, The Lawyer’s Guide to LexisNexis CaseMap. Users love it and apparently so do the people at Casesoft, the Lexis division responsible for CaseMap, TextMap, NoteMap and TimeMap.  Overall, a great day, some new friends made, some old aquaintances renewed.

One minor complaint. One of my associates tried to register online on the first day of the show. Because registration was closed, she was informed she had to register at the show. Lo and behold, the otherwise free registration was no longer available and we were hit with a $50.00 registration fee for attending the show. Nowhere on the Legaltech site can I find mention of this policy, and it’s not apparent (if it exists) on the portion of the site devoted to Legaltech in California. That just didn’t seem fair.

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