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.

Websites Can Impact a Law Firm’s Malpractice Insurance Rates

Clients look at websites, other counsel look at websites and – not surprisingly – so do legal malpractice carriers. In fact, they use the sites as a way of verifying that the information contained in a law firm’s applicable for malpractice insurance is accurate and consistent with their marketing statements. According to an article, “The Underwriter Speaks, How Your Professional Liability Insurance Carrier Looks at Law Firm Websites,” published in the January 2011 newsletter from Minnesota Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company, “The website can be a great resource for underwriters to gather data such as lawyer’s bios and avoiding the need to go back to the applicant to obtain the description. It is also not uncommon for underwriters to discover inconsistencies with an application as well as omissions. These discoveries trigger underwriting red flags.” To read the entire article, click here.

Great Free Microsoft Office Manuals

Free is always a great price, but this time, free is not only a great price but a great product.  A company, Mouse Training, has release its training manuals and Quick Reference Guides for Office 2007, Office 2003, Office XP (2002) and Office 2000. The materials include Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Access, Project and Visio.

All of the documents are in pdf format. To get them, go to http://www.mousetraining.co.uk/ms-office-training-manuals.html.

Free CaseMap 101 Webinars

I am very pleased to announce that I will be presenting a series of monthly webinars about LexisNexis CaseMap, the award-winning litigation management software – the webinars are based on my book The Lawyer’s Guide to LexisNexis CaseMap, which was recently published by the American Bar Association Law Practice Management Section. The series will provide numerous tips designed to help you get the most from CaseMap. There will also be ample time for Q&A. Webinar sessions are designed for beginners as well as longtime users. Register for one or all of the installments—and check back for new segments throughout 2011


Setting Up Your case in CaseMap, Best Practices, Tips & Tricks Wed, January 26 – 2:00 PM  
It’s easy to just dive in to CaseMap and begin entering and analyzing data. But the structure of your database and how and where you store your data can be vitally important when analyzing information, creating replicas and preparing for trial. With just a few easy steps, you can dramatically improve how your database is setup and how to get the most from the information you enter. In this program, you will learn how to make CaseMap work better for you. Among the topics to be covered are:

  • Customizing How CaseMap Looks
  • Why Short Names Matter
  • Ways to Get Started With Your Case – Do I Create Facts or Objects or Issues? And Why Every Case May Not Use the Same Methods.
  • Enter Data on the Fly
  • Creating the Cast of Characters
  • Naming Conventions – and Why the Defaults May Not be the Best for You
Writing User Friendly Chronologies Wed, February 23 – 2:00 PM
Cases are about facts, and a well-written fact chronology, one that uses other important fields for data, can be of vital importance when analyzing the strengths of your case. CaseMap can play a vital role in developing the facts of your case, allowing you to present information in a way that allows the judge or jury to understand the evidence. In this webinar, you will learn how to write facts well, and what to avoid, so that your Facts/Chronology can be a versatile repository that will improve your opening and closing statements, and will allow you to prepare motions, briefs, settlement memoranda and other documents that are more persuasive and more effective. The program will show examples of user-friendly chronologies, and how a well-written chronology makes searching, filtering and all other features of CaseMap work better for you.
Issues Analysis Wed, March 23 – 2:00 PM
Creating the Issues spreadsheet – and utilizing that outline to analyze the data in your case – is one of the most critical stages in the birth and development of a CaseMap outline. When examined at their most basic level, issues are those items that a party is attempting to prove or disprove. Or, issues can be a critical component when using the CaseMap Summary Judgment Wizard (to file or defend against motions for summary judgment) and analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of your case. In this webinar, we will examine how to create issues, provide tips for making sure that your Issues outline contains the information you need, including how to analyze the Issues to determine where more discovery may be necessary, how to ascertain which claims and defenses are strongest, and which have the least evidentiary support, and other ways to be sure that your case is ready for trial.
Analyzing Your Case Wed, April 20 – 2:00 PM
As a database, CaseMap allows you to organize critical knowledge in your cases about facts, people (the cast of characters), and the issues in your case. The key to CaseMap is organizing this information, along with other data, so that you can analyze your case more quickly and more effectively than with traditional methods. This webinar will demonstrate the many ways CaseMap makes analyzing your case simple. Whether preparing for a deposition, drafting motions or defending against motion, preparing for settlement, or getting ready for trial, CaseMap allows you with literally the click of a mouse to analyze your data quickly and without having to review everything you have already done. This webinar will demonstrate how to get the most information from your database, how to analyze the data to its best advantage, and how doing so can help you win your case.

Click here to sign up for the webinars.

Click here to read the Table of Contents.


Click here to read an excerpt from the book.


Click here to order the book.

Click here to visit the CaseMap Book website.

27 Inch Monitors Come Down in Price, Improve Productivity

For years, I have written and lectured about the bump-up in productivity that results when you use a large monitor. But, like many people, I’m not a big fan of dual screens, and the price difference between 22/23 inch and larger monitors has been dramatic. But not anymore. I just purchased a 27 inch Samsung monitor for $259.99 at BJ’s, and the display is gorgeous. More importantly, it’s obvious just how much more I can see and how much more productive it makes me (less scrolling up and down and less scrolling side to side) – something I emphasize in my program, How to Do 90 Minutes of Work in 60. In particular, it makes side-by-side viewing (the “snap” feature in Windows 7) extremely useful. 

For some programs – like LexisNexis CaseMap – the ability to see more is a big plus. One of the difficulties with CaseMap on a small screen is the fact that it’s hard to see all the columns and therefore harder to see the “big picture.” When I opened CaseMap on the 27 inch monitor, however, the result was “Wow,” not only by me, but by my associate, Molly Barker Gilligan, Esquire, who had been compiling a CaseMap database on her “puny” 22 inch monitor. Her eyes and mine “popped” at how much better the program looked and how much easier it was to view everything. This gives me a new suggestion in conjunction with my book, The Lawyer’s Guide to LexisNexis Case Map.

 I frequently suggest to clients that they purchase larger monitors but have, until now, generally recommended that 22 or 23 inch is sufficient. Not anymore. Now, with 27 inch monitors so cheap, they are clearly the way to go.

History Repeats Itself – Don’t Let it Happen to You

In February 2009, I was contacted by a potential client, who was opening a law office. I recommended that he purchase case management software, Adobe Acrobat Professional and a scanner; he also needed time and billing software. Because he was just starting and wanted to focus on the time and billing software, I explained that the ideal product for him was one I did not support and offered to refer him to another consultant who is an expert on that product. He declined. Instead, at the recommendation of friends, he purchased a time and billing product from that is designed for mid- to large-sized law firms, even though I explained it really wasn’t for him. He insisted, and I processed the sale.

Now, roughly 18 months later, he has contacted me again. The software he bought, he discovered, isn’t right for him and he isn’t using it. Instead, he wants to know what I know about another product, recommended by his IT person. I don’t know much about the product, except that it probably isn’t right for him, but he wants it because his IT consultant – who does hardware and networks, not legal technology – has used it. He’s headed for more wasted money, at least if history repeats, as DeToqueville has reminded us.

I say it to clients, I say it in lectures, and I’ll say it here. Don’t buy software because your friends like it. That doesn’t mean it will work for you.

Don’t buy software because your IT person likes it. That doesn’t mean it will work for you.

Figure out what you need, then evaluate the products, and then make a decision. If, after that process, your friend or your IT person’s product is the right one – Great. But if not, buy what you need. That’s why we try on clothes, they may look great in a magazine, but not so hot on us.

Managing the Risks and Benefits of Technology in a Law Office Presentation Online as Podcast

Attorney Dan Siegel’s seminar, “Managing the Risks and Benefits of Technology,” which hepresented on September 14, 2010 to the Philadelphia Bar Associaiton’s Professional Guidance and Law Practice Management Committees and Young Lawyers Division, and through the Pennsylvania Bar Institute, is available as a podcast at http://www.techlawyergy.com/profresp091410.mp3 or the Philadelphia Bar Association’s website – http://www.philadelphiabar.org/page/Podcasts_Speaker_Programs?appNum=2. Thanks to Barbara Rosenberg and Hope Comisky (co-chairs of the Professional Guidance Committee) and Paul Kazaras (of the Philadelphia Bar Association) for inviting Dan (president and founder of Integrated Technology Services, LLC) to speak.

The Paperless Court

Apropos my last post about the Paperless Office, I was reading the March/April 2010 issue of Baseline Magazine, which ran a terrific article, “Disaster-Proofing IT After Katrina,” about how the Gulfport Municipal Court in Louisiana was devastated by Katrina and, as a result, the Court secured a grant from the Department of Justice and digitized the entire office (after the hurricane, they actually tried using Rubbermaid containers for filing). Now — after training — the Court runs efficiently – electronically, with everything scanned, calendars/dockets electronic, etc. No more paper files. As the article concluded:

By streamlining its infrastructure, investing in a digital imaging solution and storing data in multiple sites, Gulfport Municipal Court has created order from chaos. It is now prepared for the worst that hurricane season can dish out, while fervently hoping that nightmare never returns.

As we discussed in the PBI “Paperless Office” course, going paperless (or “less paper” as I call it), improves efficiency and avoids many nightmares. In fact, last week after the seminar I walked past the site of the former Meridian Building, that burned down before the digital age and commented how, if the tenants had access to today’s technology, they might have been up and running in new quarters in just a matter of days. I know it’s a leap, but the sooner you make the jump to “less paper,” the better off you and your staff will be.

Paperless Office

I’m just finished lecturing about “How to Go Paperless” for PBI in Philadelphia with attorneys Rachel Branson, Walter Robinson and Twanda Turner-Hawkins. I demonstrated the various software we support and use. Most positive was the very good attendance, with about 35 people at the program. More and more, lawyers are beginning to recognize the need to reduce their reliance on paper, and the need to focus more on how technology makes them more efficient. We’ll be reprising the seminar next week in Pittsburgh on April 29th. Key discussion points today were backups, restoring backups, security and encryption and social media privacy information.

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