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November 2006
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January 2007

"Are BlackBerry users the new smokers?"

Well, people do seem addicted to these devices (cell phones too). What do you think?

"I have a new policy with my friends. I will not meet them in a restaurant or bar - holiday cheer notwithstanding - unless they promise to switch off their cellphones and BlackBerrys.

"It's embarrassing to impose such sanctions. It seems discourteous. Yet I feel like I have to speak up. The idea of a ban came to me after dining with an old college friend. I was confiding something, when it dawned on me that he wasn't even listening. He was staring down at his lap, instead.

"'What are you doing?' I asked, feeling dismayed.

"'I'm sending you an e-mail,' he muttered.

[snip]

"What is the behavioral equivalent of this socially sanctioned and business-approved use of gadgetry? It's like having a dinner party guest pull out her crime thriller to read while she slurps up your pasta. It's like a man striding 10 feet ahead of his lady companion when they're out for a stroll, or someone firing up a cigarette in an elevator."

The annoyance & rudeness aside, can this in-your-face technology be healthy?


Making Career Resolutions

Not completely happy with your current position? Well, here's a solid list of resolutions for changing your career:

"If you're like most people, you have probably given some thought to New Year's resolutions and what you would like to achieve in 2007.

"If you didn't gain weight over the holidays and have no vices to give up (or at least none that you want to give up), then you won't need to make traditional resolutions such as losing weight, getting in shape, or quitting smoking. But you can still resolve to improve your career.

"In fact, January is the time of year people are most likely to consider a career change. It's a time to take stock of where you are in your career, and set goals for the future."

This resolution is one I'd like to keep:

"Volunteer for something I want experience with. I'll stop thinking or talking about what I'd do if I had more time, and just do it. I know that I can always find time for the things I really want to do."


"Trials & Tribulations of New Rules on EDD"

Could not understanding EDD issues -- both evidence rules & technology -- amount to malpractice? Oh, yeah, I think so, especially if the client didn't 'know' not to monkey with hard drives:

"During discovery in a securities case in the Northern District of Florida, Miami attorney Michael Kreitzer's client wanted to see e-mails between two of the defendants. The defendants claimed that the hard drives on which the e-mails were stored had failed, and that all the data were lost.

"Kreitzer, the chair of the litigation group at Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod in Miami, persuaded the judge to order the defendants to produce the hard drives, and had them forensically examined.

"That examination found that the defendants had attempted to overwrite the hard drive five times to wipe out the data. Kreitzer asked the judge to instruct the jurors that they could presume that the information formerly stored on the hard drive was adverse to the defendants. The judge granted his request. The case ended in a confidential settlement."

BTW, this article describes how to destroy data on your own hard disk by overwriting it.


"Tech Gifts for the Lawyer [&/or Paralegal] in Your Life"

Fun version of the classic Santa Claus story packed with links to tech toys of interest to all kinds of legal folks:

"It was the night before [insert favorite winter holiday here], and all through the office, the associates were stirring, but I was home at the house. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nick (or whatever winter gift-giving person you prefer -- your spouse, your child, your great grandmother or even a red-suited character with a white beard and a jolly smile) would soon be here.

"The children were nestled all snug in their beds, so we had the house to ourselves. 'What do you want for Christmas, darling?' my lovely bride whispered in my ear. I knew that we were supposed to be settling down for our long winter's nap, but I was excited about all the gifts I would get from a lawyer-centric Santa, so I decided to answer her question. I drew up a contract.

"'First, my dear, I, the undersigned, would like a High Definition TV.' I was confused by the options, however, what with LCD panels, DLP projection sets and the high-end Plasma screens. The LCDs have been coming down in price, and the DLPs, while needing more space, due to the projection mechanisms, are also becoming inexpensive. Plasmas are so yesterday, and still a little more expensive than comparable LCDs. Even I, the Future Lawyer, have a budget, so I settled on a lesser-known make of LCD, the Vizio 42 inch set (only $1,299)."

The complete article from Rick Georges, author of the Future Lawyer blog, contains even more great gift suggestions....


Project Management for Law Firms

A white paper + survey [PDF] from ITLA smartly discusses the use of project management by law firms, something I think should involve paralegals

"Project management is so much more than what is visible at first glance.  Typically, we just see the team, tools and pieces to complete the project. What we don't see is the planning, tool selection, communication, mentoring or even the 'speed bumps' that got the project this far.

"Our authors offer their expertise with tips, techniques and wisdom ranging from effectively communicating with the PM team and stakeholders, to balancing processes and technology in a project portfolio management implementation. Our gratitude goes to them."

Doesn't this description (from the PDF) sound like a paralegal to you? 

"All projects start with an idea or a problem that needs to be solved. It’s an art to turn an idea into reality or resolve that problem on time, within budget and using available resources. That art is project management, and the project manager is its curator."


Jobs for legal techies: ITLA

Find some very interesting jobs posted by ILTA (International Legal Technology Association), here.

I counted 122 listings (on 12/12/06), but these are the positions that really caught my eye:

BTW, ads run for three months (but can be removed sooner upon a poster’s request). Most jobs are posted within 24 hours of receipt by ITLA. Happy hunting!


"Paralegal charged in embezzlement"

Oh, this news is just sad. Particularly because the alleged thief used some stolen funds for her boyfriend!

"A paralegal at a Manitowoc law firm allegedly embezzled more than $200,000 to pay for vehicles, home repairs, medical bills, furniture and TVs, according to authorities.

"Debra D. Hardtke, 35, Kewaunee, will appear in Manitowoc County Circuit Court on Jan. 8. Hardtke is charged with theft in a business setting and two counts of forgery and faces up to 22 years prison and $45,000 in fines if convicted."


"Law Office Closes For Mourning After Shooting"

A disgruntled former client apparently took out his anger over a patent case on the firm:

"The law offices where Friday's shootings took place are closed, but for those working elsewhere in the building, there was an eerie feeling upon their return.

"As CBS 2's Sylvia Gomez reports, on Friday, the squeal of sirens through the Loop was a sound that could only mean something horrible. The gunman opened fire on people whose only crime seemed to be standing in the wrong place. When the dust settled, four were dead, including gunman Joe Jackson, who truly believed he had reason to snap.

"Offsite grief counseling was underway Monday for those who worked in the law offices where the shootings took place – Woods, Phillips, Katz, Clark & Mortimer, on the 38th floor of the Citicorp Building, 500 W. Madison St. The offices are to reopen on Tuesday.

[snip]

"The only surviving victim was paralegal Ruth Zak Lieb, who was hit in the foot by gunfire and was recovering Monday morning."


"Million-Dollar Diction"

Yeah, this article [for chief information officers] is not targeted to the legal world! But it contains good advice for everyone whose work revolves around words [PDF]:

"Studies show you can't get ahead in business without a strong vocabulary. Here are some quick tips for learning new words and using them effectively.

"When people want help solving the Sunday crossword puzzle or crafting a sophisticated presentation, they don't rush over to the IT department. The average information technology worker is so seldom asked for 10-dollar SAT words that he probably doesn't bother to keep that part of his mental warehouse particularly well stocked.

"That could be a problem. Even in IT, you need to cultivate an advanced, nuanced vocabulary if you want to get ahead. Why? First of all, your higher-ups think you should. The Johnson O'Connor Foundation, which researches people's aptitudes and abilities, asked company presidents and managers if they thought vocabulary building was useful for advancement in the business world and important in executive work. More than 97 percent of the respondents said yes to both questions. Another study, published in 1990, suggests the better one's vocabulary, the higher the level of job one can attain."


"She puts her name in the papers"

Real case managed by a bonded & registered Legal Document Assistant in Califormia:

"In 2004, an anxious young husband and father approached Just Document Preparation in Riverside to help him file a domestic violence restraining order against his wife.

"He wanted to protect himself and his young daughter from his wife's abuse stemming from her refusal to take medication for schizophrenia.

"Annette Gomez, owner of the firm, interviewed the client. An assistant quickly typed up the court papers, filing them within 24 hours. 'He got temporary sole custody of his child,' Gomez said.

"Gomez is bonded and registered as a legal document assistant [PDF] in Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

"For 10 years, she has prepared legal documents for pro per litigants at her Just Document Preparation."