Open edX is an open source initiative where developers and educational institutions around the globe work together to create an extensible online learning platform to bring quality education to “anyone, anywhere, anytime.”
via IBM DeveloperWorks: Build an online learning platform with Open edX on SoftLayer.
Just in case you feel the need to get your MOOC on.
GlusterFS is an open source distributed file system which provides easy replication over multiple storage nodes. Gluster File System is a distributed filesystem allowing you to create a single volume of storage which spans multiple disks, multiple machines and even multiple data centres.
This seems like a good replacement for NFS, which has some issues.
Have you ever used an app – whether on a phone, tablet, or desktop, and found them lacking?
Developers creating app versions of existing desktop software or online services face a dilemma. Apps are generally slimmed down versions of the original as they need to be used on touch interfaces, and the code needs to be smaller.
So app developers need to decide what features are important, how the app might be used differently in that context, and what can be left out. Even though desktop software is often bloated with features that are rarely used, deciding what to leave out is not easy. With computer code, similar to drafting contracts, simple is good but not easy. Sometimes things are left off that are missed by some users or that drive users nuts because they spend so much time trying to figure out how to do something that is missing.
I recently found, for example, that the Windows metro Dropbox app won’t let you select more than 1 file at a time to download. That’s a real pain if you are trying to download a couple hundred photos. I’ve also noticed that the OneDrive app doesn’t let you access OneDrive databases other than the one linked to that computer. And seen weather apps with reduced information.
This is a factor that makes some people lean towards HTML5 websites vs apps.
We’ve all had experience with vexatious employees (not to mention vexatious colleagues) but we employment and labour lawyers often deal with vexatious litigants who happen to be former or current employees. I’ve personally had experience with employees filing similar claims for similar incidents before the Human Rights Tribunal, Superior Court, the Workers’ Compensation Board and the Employment Standards Office. These claims can often by filed for free or minimal charge to the employee but generate huge cost for employers. Additonally, employees (particularly those who are self-represented) often file multiple pointless motions with each of those forums.
Thankfully, as chronicled here, the Court of Appeal of Nova Scotia finally had enough with one such litigant. In Liu v. Atlantic Composites Ltd., 2014 NSCA 58, what originally should have been a simple workers’ comp claim spun out of control and cost with the employee claiming damages exceeding FIVE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS against a raft of people for purported violations of the Criminal Code, the Constitution and the Fisheries Act (just kidding on the last one). Justice Saunders summarized the Appelant’s conduct as follows:
 Even if either appeal had merit, I would order that they be dismissed on the basis that each is vexatious and an abuse of process (CPR 90.44(1)(a)) and also because the appellant failed to perfect the appeals (CPR 90.44(1)(b)) after being given every opportunity to do so. By his conduct, Mr. Liu has demonstrated a flagrant and repeated unwillingness to abide by the orders of this Court. This includes a clear pattern of behaviour in not satisfying filing deadlines or directions with respect to content; not honouring costs orders; making entirely unfounded, abusive and contemptuous allegations against staff, lawyers and judges; finally culminating in his refusal to participate in proceedings he himself had initiated.
Clearly, Mr. Liu is an extreme example of a vexatious litigator and former employee. However, this case is a good example for how far people can go and how courts can assist clamping down on this kind of conduct.
It happened again yesterday in the CBA Futures Twitterchat – the term “non-lawyer” once again reared its ugly head. Granted, it was a Twitter chat with 140 character limits but even so, there must better ways to describe the vast majority of the population who are not licensed to practice law.
I’ve written here previously on my views of this term; since then, I’ve only become more deeply entrenched in my point of view, to the point where use of the term now grinds in my ears like fingernails on a chalkboard. (Incidentally, does anyone under 30 even know what that sounds like?)
Our society is not neatly divided into those who are lawyers and those who are not. The term, as used yesterday, was in the context of a conversation on how lawyers can learn to “play nicely” with other professions and professionals. I’m confident that trying to do so while clinging to such a dichotomous worldview is unlikely to bring about the desired benefits either to lawyers or those they represent.
There was a suggestion from @RightBrainLaw that how lawyers view themselves is part of the problem in getting lawyers to collaborate:
— Right Brain Law (@rightbrainlaw) July 15, 2014
This is also the problem with the dualistic view of the world as lawyers and “non-lawyers” – it’s ripe with the odour of superiority over those who are not lawyers. As every lawyer knows, the words we choose and use matter. Choosing a label that defines others by what or who they are not, carries with it the implication that a lesser value is placed on those who are “not.” Who among us wants to be known for who what or who we are not? (For the record, in addition to being a non-engineer, I’m also a non-brain surgeon as well as a non-astronaut.)
The culture shift that will enable lawyers to collaborate and work effectively with other professions must begin with the understanding that not only are we not the smartest in the room, we’re also not the most creative or the most innovative and certainly not the most cost effective.
Nonetheless, lawyers have great skill in advocacy, expertise in drafting and negotiation and more to offer those seeking to prevent or address legal problems. Where those problems have dimensions broader than pure legal issues, we must be able to relate as equals to professionals from other fields who can assist us and those we represent. If we are careful in choosing our words and the labels we apply to those we work with and for, we will find that we can begin to build bridges instead of trenches.
As part of the Canadian Competition Bureau’s revisions to its IP Enforcement Guidelines, some stakeholders have requested guidance on “new” issues of concern in the Competition Law area – including reverse payment patent settlement agreements. Prior to publication of the first Draft Update of the Guidelines (“Phase 1 Update”), the Bureau held a Workshop to consider issues regarding competition and the pharmaceutical industry. Having regard to the high cost of pharmaceuticals ($34.5 billion in 2013), and the recent decisions of the US Supreme Court and European Commission finding that reverse payments are “valid targets for antitrust scrutiny”, the Bureau sought input “from all sides relating to the enforcement and policy stance the Bureau should take on issues specific to the pharmaceutical sector”.
Recognizing that there may be “certain strategies and practices employed by pharmaceutical firms that may have the effect of diminishing competition between branded and generic pharmaceuticals”, the Bureau stated an intention to ensure “effective competition” from generics.
Of course, as is evident from the decision of the US Supreme Court in FTC v Actavis , many would agree that “effective competition” is desirable. The ultimate challenge for regulators, courts and parties alike is how to conduct an effective balancing to come to a reasonable/sensible solution that attains both IP and competition objectives, and provides some certainty to encourage agreements that are anti-trust compliant. This is easier said than done. Parties often propose fundamentally different approaches to attain the same apparent objective. As companies continue to craft more innovative settlements, it is expected Competition Law will continue to play “catch up”.
Recent Developments in US and Europe
In June 2013 the US Supreme Court applied the traditional “rule of reason” approach to reverse patent payments. In declining to accept the FTC’s position that such agreements were presumptively anticompetitive, during oral submissions the court indicated it was worried about “creating an administrative monster”. At the same time the court refused to adopt Actavis’ position that once there was patented technology involved, such agreements were within the proper exercise of patent rights, just like a patentee profiting from a licensing agreement. Actavis indicated the focus must be on the strength of the patent, and parties should be free to, and encouraged to, obtain a business result beyond merely earlier generic entry. Actavis stressed there is no requirement to litigate Hatch Waxman to completion, and that for the past 10 years the “scope of patent” rule had worked well, with many drugs going generic.
In its decision, the 5-3 majority adopted “five considerations” to be applied to reverse payment agreements that evaluate the anticompetitive harm with and without the agreement, and direct that simply because “a large, unjustified reverse payment risks anti-trust liability [this] does not prevent litigating parties from settling their lawsuits” for example by allowing generic entry in the market before patent expiry without a payment to stay out. A strong dissent by the Chief Justice clearly disagreed with the majority’s balancing of IP and competition law, and found that in fact the majority’s decision would result in a chilling effect on generic challenges:
“The majority today departs from the settled approach separating patent and antitrust law, weakens the protections afforded to innovators by patents, frustrates the public policy in favor of settling, and likely undermines the very policy it seeks to promote by forcing generics who step into the litigation ring to do so without the prospect of cash settlements. I would keep things as they were and not subject basic questions of patent law to an unbounded inquiry under antitrust law, with its treble damages and famously burdensome discovery…”
Shortly after FTC v Actavis, the European Commission (“EC”) concluded its 2010 competition inquiry into Lundbeck’s activities relating to restrictive business practices and abuse of dominant position. For the first time the EC imposed substantial fines against the brand name Lundbeck (over $US 100 million) and 4 generic manufacturers (totalling over $US 65 million) for entering into a reverse payment agreement regarding the “blockbuster” antidepressant citalopram. The agreement terms included: millions of Euros would be paid to the generics not to enter the market, generic product was to be purchased and destroyed, and guaranteed profits were paid out to the generics in a distribution agreement. There was no guarantee of any market entry thereafter – the generics were to stay out of the market for the agreement’s duration. The EC found these agreements were unacceptable because this was more than simply paying off generics to stay out of the market – the agreement delayed entry of cheaper medicines. (In the case before it one generic had already entered the market prior to the reverse payment agreement – perhaps making this an extreme/rare example). The EC may be viewed as taking an even stricter approach than the US Supreme Court, considering the Vice-President’s widely quoted warning that:
“It is unacceptable that a company pays off its competitors to stay out of its market and delay the entry of cheaper medicines. Agreements of this type directly harm patients and national health systems, which are already under tight budgetary constraints. The Commission will not tolerate such anticompetitive practices”.
The EC has other pending investigations into “practices that could delay entry of cheaper medicines”.
Intellectual Property Enforcement Guidelines – Phase 1 (done) and Phase 2 (to come?)
As noted in the Highlights of the 2013 Workshop, the Bureau’s amendments to its 2000 Intellectual Property Enforcement Guidelines (“IPEGs”) consist of 2 possible phases.
Phase 1 – the Phase 1 Update was to deal with any legislative changes. Stakeholders were requested to provide input on the changes made, as well as what other new issues should be addressed in the Update.
Phase 2 – “After careful consideration, the Bureau may release another draft update of the IPEGs for further public consultation as part of phase two, or it may decide to finalize the IPEGs according to the changes it made in phase one.”
Other “new issues” discussed at the Workshop included:
(1) pay for delay settlements – “when a patentee agrees to a value transfer to a generic manufacturer to settle a legal proceeding that the patentee itself initiated. If the parties had not settled, a court may have issued a legal judgment, allowing for the possibility of generic entry on the grounds that the patent was invalid or uninfringed.” The Bureau characterized diverging views as follows: are these agreements a “lawful application of the exclusionary powers granted by a patent”, OR do these agreements simply “pay potential generic competitors not to enter the marketplace, thereby lessening competition”?
(2) “life cycle management strategies” to maximize the value of pharmaceutical patents. Certain tactics like “product hopping” were of “special concern”.
The IPEGs are designed to “articulate how the Bureau approaches the interface between competition policy and IP rights”. The general provisions of the Competition Act apply to conduct involving more than the mere exercise of an IP right; only the special remedy under s. 32 applies to the mere exercise of an IP right.
An Analytical Framework is provided which (1) requires that the market be defined with reference to the IP; (2) lists a number of factors to consider in determining whether there has been an increase in market power; and (3) considers if any substantial lessening of competition is offset by efficiencies or business justifications. Several “Hypothetical Examples” are given that apply the framework.
Following its June 2, 2014 deadline for Phase 1 input, the Bureau has posted submissions from (1) the Canadian Bar Association (“CBA”), (2) the American Bar Association (Antitrust Section) (“ABA”), and (3) Canada’s Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies (“Rx&D”).
As the Phase 1 Update was meant to deal with administrative changes/legislative updates, the Bureau provided no specific explanation/guidance as to what changes were being made and why. However two notable amendments appear to involve substantive changes:
(1) The removal of “non-use” as a mere exercise of IP. As noted by Rx&D, there is no obligation in the Patent Act to work an invention (subject only to s. 65). The Competition Act (s. 79(5)) specifically says that exercising an IP right is not anti-competitive. If this deletion was meant to deal with patent trolls, the CBA suggested the issue be addressed in Phase 2.
(2) The removal of any analysis regarding the strength of the infringement claim in the Hypothetical Example regarding patent pooling. In this Example two competitors agree to put their patents on a medical process in a patent pool, including one competitor who has a basic patent; and thereafter set a minimal fee for each customer use. The Bureau’s analysis concludes there is conspiracy (s. 45) as the pooling is unnecessary and anticompetitive because an alternative licensing arrangement between the two competitors could have been used.
Understandably there was forceful input on this Example given that parties agreeing to pool and set a price may evoke similar principles as in the case of reverse payment agreements. The CBA stated that the discussion of the merits of the infringement claim should be added back in, and that this Example could deter pro-competitive conduct and that more guidance was required as to how s. 90.1 would apply, as s.45 was not applicable given this was not “naked price fixing”. In addition, the Bureau should explicitly acknowledge that this Example does NOT apply to reverse payment agreements. Rx&D argued that applying s. 45, where there is no detailed inquiry/weighing of anti-competitive and pro-competitive effects, was contrary to the rule of reason discussion in Actavis v FTC. Notably the ABA agreed with the Bureau’s analysis but sought further review given that s. 45 sanctions were normally reserved for “naked restraints” where the pool is a sham.
Only the CBA and ABA suggested “New” issues that should be addressed in a further update:
- reverse payment settlements – including whether criminal [ie. s. 45] or civil [ie. s. 79 or 90.1 or even s. 32] challenges would be applicable, whether non cash settlements would be covered, and whether US principles from FTC v Actavis would be relevant
- life cycle management strategies
- patent assertion entities (trolls) – in the US there is debate whether Anti-trust laws are applicable, or whether these issues are better dealt with using consumer protection measures to ensure infringement claims are bona fide
- standard essential patents
On the same day as the Phase 1 Update was published, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Competition Bureau and CIPO, supporting greater interaction in theory. Whether this will translate into any substantive practical consequences to general procedures, policies/legislative changes etc remains to be seen. Interestingly, there is no reference to CIPO input in the Phase 1 Update. The three stakeholder submissions also do not refer to this Memorandum of Understanding and its potential impact on how/if the Bureau should draft guidelines on issues particularly affecting competition/IP law in the pharmaceutical sector.
 Highlights of “Competition Bureau Workshop on Antitrust Issues in the Pharmaceutical Sector” held November 2013, released April 29, 2014: http://www.competitionbureau.gc.ca/eic/site/cb-bc.nsf/eng/03728.html
 The majority opinion introduced the issue as follows: “Company A sues Company B for patent infringement. The two companies settle under terms that require (1) Company B, the claimed infringer, not to produce the patented product until the patent’s term expires, and (2) Company A, the patentee, to pay B many millions of dollars. Because the settlement requires the patentee to pay the alleged infringer, rather than the other way around, this kind of settlement agreement is often called a “reverse payment” settlement agreement. And the basic question here is whether such an agreement can sometimes unreasonably diminish competition in violation of the antitrust laws.”
 Refer to an earlier review of a Bureau case involving Alcon: “A Rare Example Perhaps of “More than Mere Exercise of Patent Rights” – a Recent Competition Bureau Inquiry Into Pharmaceutical “Product Hopping”, dated March 14, 2013 at http://www.slaw.ca/2013/03/14/a-rare-example-perhaps-of-more-than-mere-exercise-of-patent-rights-a-recent-competition-bureau-inquiry-into-pharmaceutical-product-hopping/. This inquiry was recently discontinued after the Bureau found generic entry was not delayed given the short disruption in the brand’s first product: “competitive dynamics in the market appear to have been restored”. http://www.competitionbureau.gc.ca/eic/site/cb-bc.nsf/eng/03736.html. In its May 13, 2014 Statement, the Bureau stated that “product life-cycle management strategies in the pharmaceutical sector are not inherently anti-competitive …However, life-cycle management strategies that are designed to impede competition from generic drug companies, such as product switching strategies, may cause significant harm to competition.”
What is it about summer that makes us so nostalgic? I spend a lot of time between June and September wishing I was hanging out with friends or family in Saskatchewan, even though I have a perfectly nice life in Vancouver. I’ll respond positively to almost any marketing message reminding me of long, carefree days when my only concern was how to sneak another piece of Saskatoon berry pie without my mother noticing.
Nostalgia has a special place in marketing and public relations. It appeals to our need for safety and security. It helps us feel connected to each other. And it reinforces our identity.
How could you appeal to nostalgia when promoting your practice? We love to talk about “our ability to resolve complex problems” and “robust technological solutions”. These messages have their place. But sometimes clients just want to know how you’re going to simplify their lives. Here are some ideas:
1. Call an old friend from law school to ask how they’re doing. No agenda, no sales pitch, just a friendly hello. It would be so much more pleasant to receive a phone call or voice mail than a generic LinkedIn connection request.
2. With permission, post some old firm photos on your website or on Twitter using the hashtag #ThrowbackThursday. People will appreciate the self-deprecation.
3. Take care of your clients worries. Rather than ask them to make time for you in their schedule, give them their time back. Send them to a baseball game with their family. Create a local tourism guide with passes that you can give to them if they’re hosting visitors. Hire a student to mow their lawn or a professional organizer to work with them one afternoon and clear out clutter.
4. Create a community of ‘insiders’. Do you know two transplants from the same area who moved to your city or town? Introduce them to each other. Heritage is an essential component of branding; show people that you understand who they are (without making a lot of assumptions) and that you have some empathy.
5. Make the old original. You could publish a blog series sharing lessons that some of your senior lawyers have learned along the way or write an article that chronicles how far the firm has come since it was founded. If you can, tie those lessons to aspirations for future success.
If you doubt how powerful nostalgia can be, spend a moment looking at the simple selfie that Nebraska teenager Tom White took on July 13th. It instantly became one of the most shared photos this year. Why? It’s perfect. Not only because two of the most famous people in the world are in the background, but also because of the nostalgic scene. A warm summer evening. Cars are angle-parked on a quiet street. A happy teenager. Two old friends relaxing on a bench after eating their ice cream cones. All is good.
Not all clients are created equal. Great clients will enhance your legal skills, your reputation, and your bottom line. Bad clients can make you question your skills, destroy your reputation, and result in the worst money you have ever made.
Once you have a better understanding of how bad clients can wreck your practice, you will get better at spotting them and avoiding them. And it will be the best money you never made.Money is Money, Right?
Bad clients have an amazing way of sapping time and energy in ways you cannot bill for. You probably cannot bill a client extra for meeting only in the evenings or on the weekends. You definitely cannot bill a client extra because you have a personality conflict.
Even if you could bill for scheduling issues, you cannot bill for stress. You cannot bill for screaming when you get off the phone. You cannot bill for not sleeping well. You cannot bill for spending an hour talking about why you already wrote off a third of your time and why your bill is reasonable. Talk to any smart attorney and they will tell you that the total cost of a problem client does not add up in the long run.Bad Clients Can Crowd Out Good Clients
Bad clients are like a virus that spreads throughout your practice. They make you icky and grumpy while you marathon-watch Arrested Development all day in bed.
Bad clients can cause you to turn down good clients for two reasons:
Let’s go back to the virus metaphor. When was the last time you started to get sick and magically woke up feeling better the next day? It’s pretty rare. Same thing with bad clients. They usually become much worse before they get better. And when I say better, I mean the case ends or you fire them.
You are doing yourself a disservice if you tell yourself “it can only get better” or “it has to get better from here.” Sure, you can cross your fingers and hope they suddenly start responding to phone calls or emails. Maybe the first three appointments they missed truly were emergencies (although I doubt it).
Hopefully your retainer has a provision for these scenarios. Hopefully you are not afraid to invoke it and terminate your representation. I am not suggesting you become cut-throat and cut loose every client that is five minutes late to a meeting. But if they no-show, or are two hours late, that is a serious red flag — and a giant flashing sign that there will be more trouble down the road.The Warning Signs Are Usually Clear
Now that you understand all money is not created equal, you can sharpen your intake skills to avoid bad clients. Over the past five years I have talked to thousands of potential clients. Without fail, the most important thing I have learned is to trust my gut.
Someone might call with what sounds like the greatest case in the world, but something makes me question the case or the client. Whether it’s during the first meeting, the second meeting, or right before the case implodes, my gut is almost always right. I used to fight it and talk myself into taking cases. Not anymore. If my gut says no, then I say no.
If you are not ready to live and die by your gut, here are some other warning signs that trouble could be brewing down the road:
That is not an exhaustive list by any means. Those are just some of the red alerts I have encountered. As noted above, if your gut says something is not right, something is probably amiss. That is the perfect opportunity to bounce the case off another attorney and get some feedback. But never try and convince yourself that any client is a good client. It’s not that simple.
Featured image: “employee gets punched through a smart phone on the face by an angry caller” from Shutterstock
I love Evernote and I use it every day, but I am uncomfortable with the idea of using it for client data.
The other day on the Macs in Law Offices (MILO) group, someone said they were exploring using Evernote to manage client files. I responded that I do not think it is a good idea. Here are my two reasons:
In response, Rocket Matter‘s Larry Port reached out to Evernote’s head of security for a response.Encryption at Rest
Here is what Evernote’s security chief had to say about encryption at rest:
We are not encrypting data at rest unless you manually encrypt selected text inside a note (http://evernote.com/contact/support/kb/#!/article/23480996). Encryption at rest is an answer to a different question depending on who you talk to. Some people want us to encrypt their data on the client to protect against data loss when their phone is stolen. Some want us to use it to protect against a server being stolen. One of the main reasons a service provider looks at encryption as a control is to protect against unauthorized physical access. Because we operate our own infrastructure in our own physically secure data center cage, we’ve mitigated much of that risk. We haven’t dismissed implementing encryption at rest and will continue to consider it when looking at ways to protect Evernote users’ data.
Our computing infrastructure is physically located inside dedicated cages in multiple data centers. We rely on those data centers to manage physical access controls and each one has a third party auditor attest to their ability to do so securely.
Here’s what I glean from that. Evernote has its servers in third-party data centers, where they are protected by a cage like this one. It sounds like the data center has the key to the cage and the responsibility for ensuring that only authorized people can get through the gate. Third-party auditors have attested to each data center’s physical access controls.
This requires a lot of trust in procedures and the willingness of third-party server admins to comply with those procedures.
However, if Evernote encrypted the data on those servers, it would still have all those physical access controls in place, but encryption would render the data on the servers pretty much useless to anyone who did get unauthorized access to them. With data encrypted at rest, you don’t have to worry as much about who might have physical access to Evernote’s servers, or how Evernote disposes of old hard drives.
To be fair, Evernote does let you encrypt portions of your notes. Just highlight what you want to encrypt, right-click, and select Encrypt Selected Text…. This works fine for one thing at a time, but it is obviously impractical for securing your notes in bulk.
To put this in context, cloud storage providers like Dropbox mostly encrypt data at rest. This makes Dropbox objectively more secure than Evernote, yet many are still debating whether Dropbox is secure enough to store sensitive data. With Dropbox, the concern is mostly that Dropbox keeps the encryption key, which means some Dropbox employees could decrypt your data. There are fewer people to trust than with Evernote and its third-party data centers, but there are still some people you have to trust, in addition to any spy agencies who might take an interest in your clients or scoop up your data on a whim.
If you aren’t comfortable storing sensitive information in Dropbox without an extra layer of encryption, you definitely won’t want to use Evernote. Even if you are comfortable storing sensitive information in Dropbox, you might not want to do it in Evernote.Playing Fast and Loose with Data
Is Evernote “playing fast and loose with the data entrusted to it,” as Kincaid alleges? That may be overstating it, but I don’t think Evernote is living up to the spirit of its “Your Data Is Protected” promise. Reading that statement, Evernote seems to see the issue as one of privacy, not security.
Evernote’s actual security practices don’t seem to reflect the concerns of a company that makes security a top priority. I don’t think there is a sensible argument that it is somehow more secure not to encrypt data at rest. It is just more convenient (and probably cheaper) for Evernote.
It also refused to implement two-factor authentication because it would be inconvenient. Evernote finally implemented two-factor authentication only after it was hacked.
The useless security page doesn’t help, either. Evernote could certainly tell users more about its security practices without compromising security. Saying nothing feels evasive, as if Evernote isn’t comfortable telling users what it is doing to protect their data.
Adding it up, I don’t come away with the impression that the security of users’ data is a top priority at Evernote. While Evernote is obviously not ignoring security entirely, I don’t think it is taking it all that seriously. So I do not store sensitive information in Evernote. Instead, I use it for stuff like lists of books I want to read, cases or law-review articles I want to hold onto, cocktail recipes, pictures of restaurants’ take-out menus, and CLE notes. I would like to use it for things like receipts and deposit slips and notes on client meetings, but I just don’t think they would be well-enough protected.
It is certainly possible I have gotten the wrong impression by reading the wrong things into Evernote’s statements and drawing the wrong conclusions from a few errors and omissions. You might very well have read the above and come to the opposite conclusion. If you do, I would be interested in reading your thoughts in the comments.Securing Evernote
If you do decide to store client data or other sensitive information in Evernote, definitely follow the security chief’s advice, at a minimum:
We recommend that you enable 2-step verification to protect your account from hackers that may try to guess your password or phish you for it. Because your data also lives on the devices you sync it to, we recommend you make use of the security features available on your devices to protect it.
Also, make a habit of selectively encrypting any especially-sensitive information within your notes by using the Encrypt Selected Text… option. (This does not seem to work with images and attachments, however.)
Why does PDFy exist? I got sick of documents getting locked up behind login walls of services like Scribd. PDFy exists to offer a place where anybody can instantly upload and share a PDF, much like Imgur does for images. PDFy is free, ad-free, and non-commercial.
If you’re interested in running your own the code is on Github at https://github.com/joepie91/pdfy.
[Update (7/15/2014, 5:31 p.m.): The FCC has extended the public-comment period until Friday, and for that reason the college and library group has not yet officially released its comments.]
[Update (7/18/2014, 1:53 p.m.): The coalition officially filed its comments with the FCC this morning. There are now 11 groups signed onto the document.]
A coalition of seven university and library organizations on Tuesday filed comments asking the Federal Communications Commission to preserve net neutrality. The comments came less than a week after 11 university and library groups—including six of the seven that signed onto Tuesday’s filing—released a set of net-neutrality principles establishing a similar position.
Tuesday’s comments go further, detailing specific legal action the FCC could take to maintain an open Internet. The groups say they would prefer that Internet-service providers be reclassified as common carriers, which would make them subject to the same kind of regulation as telephone companies. But the groups also identify an alternative route to net neutrality should the commission choose to avoid the common-carrier approach, which some have called the “nuclear option.”
The filing is an official response to FCC rules proposed in May. Tuesday is the final day of the public-comment period on the proposal.
The seven organizations that signed onto the comments are:
The College of Law Practice Management (“COLPM”), an international organization honoring excellence and innovation in law practice management, is calling for entries for its 2014 InnovAction Awards. The awards seek lawyers, law firms, law departments, and other legal services professionals worldwide who have invented or successfully applied new business practices to the delivery of legal services. The goal of the InnovAction Awards is to demonstrate to the legal community and beyond the power of dedicated professionals with big ideas, strong convictions, and the determination to make a difference.
“We are seeking and recognizing creativity and new ways of thinking in legal services delivery,” said COLPM president Ron Staudt, Associate Vice President and Professor of Law at Chicago-Kent College of Law. “We know there is a great deal of innovative thinking helping create business advantages for law firms in today’s changing market. We want to focus the legal profession on these extraordinary achievements.”
“It’s our goal to reward recognize and celebrate the innovation already taking place, and to encourage more innovation in the business of practicing law across the profession,” said Timothy Corcoran, chair of the 2014 Awards and principal of the Corcoran Consulting Group.
“There are some exciting changes for the 2014 InnovAction Awards,” Corcoran continued. “We are celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the InnovAction Awards and will be spotlighting InnovAction Award winners over the last 10 years to see where their innovation has taken them.”
Another change for the 10th anniversary is the addition of new categories. InnovAction Awards will be awarded in the following categories:
Award entries will be judged on the basis of four primary criteria:
The presentation of the InnovAction awards will occur October 16-17 at the College’s Annual Meeting and Futures Conference in Boston, MA at Suffolk University College of Law.
The InnovAction program has awarded entities from six countries around the world, including Axiom, New York, NY; Berwin Leighton Paisner, LLP (BLP), London, United Kingdom; DLA Piper US, Washington, D.C.; The Law Chambers of Nicholas Critelli, P.C., Des Moines, IA; Littler Mendelson, PC, San Francisco, CA; Mallesons Stephen Jacques, Sydney, Australia; Masons, Glasgow, Scotland; Michigan State University College of Law, East Lansing, MI; New Family Organization, Tel Aviv, Israel; Novus Law, Chicago, IL; Practical Law Company, New York, NY; Pro Bono Net, New York, NY; Raskin Peter Rubin & Simon, LLP, Los Angeles, CA; Riverview Law, New York, NY; Seyfarth Shaw, Chicago, IL; Simpson Grierson, Auckland, New Zealand; University of California Irving College of Law, Irving, CA; University of Toronto Faculty of Law, Toronto, Ontario; and Wragge & Co., Birmingham, England.
Any lawyer, law firm, or entity providing services to clients in the legal marketplace anywhere in the world is eligible for consideration for the InnovAction Awards. Further information about the awards, past winners, eligibility rules, and entry forms are available at www.colpm.org and www.innovactionaward.com.
The College of Law Practice Management is a not-for-profit organization formed in 1994 to honor and recognize distinguished law practice management professionals, to set standards of achievement for others in the profession, and to fund and assist projects that enhance the highest quality of law practice management. The College and its Fellows inspire excellence and innovation in law practice management by:
Slaw readers likely know that there are special courts in Canada that have the jurisdiction to decide many types of civil claims where the monetary value of the claim is considered small. In my jurisdiction, until July 30, 2014 the upper limit for a Provincial Court of Alberta civil claim is $25,000. The upper limit of $25,000 also applies in British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, and in the Yukon.
The Territorial Court of the Northwest Territories can hear civil disputes up to $35,000. Until August 1, 2014, the NWT has the highest monetary limit in Canada for hearing a small claim. After that date, the highest limit for a small claim will be in Alberta: $50,000.
$50,000 is not really small in my mind. Here is why. Let’s take a salary that is pretty standard across the country for a good frame of reference. A Registered Nurse. For ease of calculation, lets say that an average nurse’s salary is $83,000 per year before tax (this is the higher side of the averages). Consider the average household expenditures (as of 2012 from Statistics Canada) are over $75,000.
When you consider that a nurse making $83,000 per year in Alberta will take home around $60,000 after taxes and benefits, a “small claim” that is a close race with full time professionals annual salary doesn’t seem very small, does it?
Do you think raising the limits in small claims courts will improve access to justice?
One of the most common objections to going paperless is from people who say they don’t want to read documents on a screen. That turns out to be a valid concern, but probably not because paper is inherently superior to screens. And as far as going paperless is concerned, it is a red herring.Paper v. Screen
Scientific American took a look at the studies comparing paper to screens and e-readers and concluded that “[w]hen it comes to intensively reading long pieces of plain text, paper and ink may still have the advantage.” Interestingly, the reason boils down to attitude. We don’t take screens as seriously, so we scan rather than read deeply. Plus, computers are basically distraction machines, which means our reading is often interrupted by other activities. According to Scientific American, “people reading on screens take a lot of shortcuts—they spend more time browsing, scanning and hunting for keywords compared with people reading on paper, and are more likely to read a document once, and only once.”
Specifically, people who read on paper are more likely to engage in metacognitive learning regulation. That’s what psychologists call the process of reading, re-reading, and interpreting information in a document. So when you need to understand something thoroughly (like a contract or a summary judgment memorandum), paper is the way to go. When you are reading quickly, it doesn’t really matter whether you read on paper or on a screen.
Your age may matter, too. The attitude that makes people take screens less seriously could very well be the result of experience. Today’s young people start using screens so early that they might grow up with a different attitude about reading on screen.Going Paperless Still Makes Sense
None of this means you should avoid going paperless.
Going paperless just means having a digital copy of every document. It means moving The File from your file cabinets to your file server, but you can still keep your file cabinets if you want to. At a minimum, you probably have to hold onto original copies of some documents. It would be wasteful to shred documents you may use again as exhibits. And if you prefer to hold onto some documents so you can read them on paper, go ahead.
The advantages of going paperless are numerous, and there is no rule that says you cannot hold onto paper copies or print documents. The important thing is to think through your firm’s paperless workflow so that it accommodates your needs and preferences — one of which should be keeping paper copies of documents you need to read and understand thoroughly.
Featured image: “Businessman reading a document” from Shutterstock.
Today we are introducing a powerful new log storage and monitoring feature for Amazon CloudWatch. You can now route your operating system, application, and custom log files to CloudWatch, where they will be stored in durable fashion for as long as you’d like. You can also configure CloudWatch to monitor the incoming log entries for any desired symbols or messages and to surface the results as CloudWatch metrics. You could, for example, monitor your web server’s log files for 404 errors to detect bad inbound links or 503 errors to detect a possible overload condition. You could monitor your Linux server log files to detect resource depletion issues such as a lack of swap space or file descriptors. You can even use the metrics to raise alarms or to initiate Auto Scaling activities.
Around 30 years ago, the Macintosh said Hello, as shown in this impressive 5 min video. It introduced us to user-friendly computing, including visual interfaces, multimedia and an early form of mobile computing as it was designed to be luggable. However, even its IBM mainframe joke to “never trust a computer you can’t lift” wasn’t about to convince you that this was really a human. Not so the recent Turing Test where some of the judges were fooled by the computer into believing they were conversing with a 13-year old, rather than a computer. This follows on from Watson winning on Jeopardy, and Kasparov losing to Deep Blue.
An article by Robert Samek in THE DALHOUSIE LAW JOURNAL June 1985 suggested that the role of the computer is merely one element in the communication process in which law is involved. Instead of foisting the computer as an extra on an already outdated system of law, we should try with its help to rejuvenate it. Rather than mechanize manual research, he said the real challenge was to re-examine the very ground on which it stood. For instance, by getting the computer to analyze statistically different elements of the judicial process, new light would be shed on the relationship between doctrine and judicial behaviour.
The problem was not to teach the computer to “think like a lawyer”, i.e. to reduce social to legal phenomena and solutions, but to reverse that process. The crucial question was not “are computers capable of legal reasoning?” but “what can be done effectively with computers and at what cost?”
Artificial intelligence (AI) can greatly enhance natural intelligence as long as it is not misused to replace it, the article concluded.
Fast forward 30 years to the news that Japanese telco Softbank is releasing a very affordable robot that can interact with humans on an emotional level. It has technology which allows the robot to learn how to behave over time, instead of being programmed for specific tasks. Most interestingly, they are also sharing learning via the web. So instead of just machine learning, which has already meant a big difference between AI today and that of three decades ago, expect rapid exponential growth in the capabilities of these machines as they learn from each other.
Car assembly factories attest to the superiority of robots in certain areas, as they “don’t have bad days”. So should we see a Twitter for Robots, it won’t be diluted with excessive social banter, as lifetime-learners exchange today’s insights.
@noricd, who is not a robot, posted on Twitter an article, subtitled: “Talk of the ‘tech sector’ is out of date. Every company is a tech company.” It points out “that every company must now understand software in order to survive”. How do today’s law firms fare in this regard?
Because a lawyer’s raw materials are information based, as is their output, one would think that lawyers are very dependent on IT. Many are, but not as much as they should.
AI aside, there is no shortage of tools that should be a given in any law firm. One law “firm” that claimed to recognize the importance of tech, and whose separation of business/marketing/tech and “the lawyers” became a highly commended model for future US law firms, was Clearspire.
Unfortunately, its demise as a legal services provider has not helped the cause. While its Coral technology will live on, it would be received with caution. What went wrong? Was it the BigLaw/OldLaw propensity to reinvent wheel and the quest for unaffordable perfection? Maybe not, as I recall it was based on an existing Practice Management System (PMS). I would be interested to know which one.
It is all very well licensing an existing PMS as a starting point, but the problem is that there are very few systems that are suitable for lawyers to get their work done, particularly of the high level legal work Clearspire sought. Apart from re-inventing the wheel, in the past there has been a tendency to impose cumbersome systems that added to, rather than streamlined, the work flow of lawyers.
Was it not helped by the BigLaw/OldLaw focus on the claimed development cost of the solution ($5M to $8M), not the results?
All very well saying you are a tech-focused law firm, but there are few genuine legal tech lawyers, and far fewer firms with consistently high skill levels. Plenty “talk the talk” but few think and deal with their legal information challenges in terms of enabling software such as databases, outliners and other tools that protect the lawyers themselves from complexity, and extend their capabilities.
Add AI that learns from sharing “colleagues”, and a newfound determination to address the real challenge Robert Samek advocated to re-examine the very ground on which we stand. With researchers such as Christopher Enright and his method for litigation, and Julian Ehrlich’s Agreement Engineering for contract negotiation both starting to be used, the legal system could go through the same user-driven systematization/productization revolutions which have transformed other sectors.
The difference will be that the potential impact of good lawyers with smart machines and new methods, and managers, could dwarf other sectors due to the size of the latent legal market; the reluctance of the incumbents to truly embrace IT; and the binary nature of legal raw materials and products. I suspect it will be “goodbye” to the legal artisan, and even parts of the legal systems we now know.
Here are excerpts from the most recent tips on SlawTips, the site that each week offers up useful advice, short and to the point, on technology, research and practice.
Protect Your Smartphone or Tablet With a Good Case
It takes just one accidental drop to kill an iPad or smartphone. And unfortunately, if the glass cracks, they are difficult or even impossible to repair. To prevent this from happening you want to protect your device with a good case. But there are cases and there are cases. Pretty but flimsy plastic cases will do little to protect your device if you drop it. You need to invest in a good case….
Some of the high use items linked from our firm’s intranet are calculators. I am not talking about the e-quivalent of a device that helps find the square root of 9*, but rather tools that help calculate things for context. We have tipped you previously on calculating present value and currency calculators but we haven’t talked about date calculators….
Do you have wireless dead zones in your office or home where your signal weakens or even drops? Well, good news is on the way. You can breathe immediate new life into your Wi-Fi coverage with a wireless range extender. They come in various shapes and forms. Some plug into your electrical outlets and use your internal electrical wiring to carry signal, while others simply plug-in to your wall outlet, and connect wirelessly in a snap to your router….
A recent decision from the Divisional Court provides an outrageous, and perfect example of how the legal system in the Province allows residential tenants to live rent free for over a year, and in this case, close to a year and a half.
The landlord originally applied to the Landlord and Tenant Board (the “Board”) for an order terminating the tenancy and evicting the tenant on the grounds that she had failed to pay her rent.
The first hearing was scheduled for April 8, 2013. That hearing was adjourned at the tenant’s request and was rescheduled to June 7, 2013.
When June 7th rolled around the tenant sought, and obtained, another adjournment and the hearing was rescheduled to August 14, 2013.
Both of the adjournments were sought by the tenant under the guise of obtaining more time to do certain things to assist her case (obtain documents etc.). As the Divisional Court noted, she never ended up doing any of these things.
On August 14, 2013, the tenant sought a third adjournment. The Board finally put its foot down and decided that four months of delay had been enough. The Board refused to grant another adjournment.
The Board ordered the tenant out by August 26, 2013, unless she were to void the order by paying the amount of $2,126.78 (the back rent that was owed) to the Board in Trust or to the landlord directly.
Finally, some justice for the landlord…
Not. So. Fast.
The tenant didn’t leave and she didn’t pony up the rent. Instead she appealed to the Divisional Court and the Board’s eviction order was stayed in the interim.
The Divisional Court heard the appeal almost a year later, on June 10, 2014. The tenant raised two grounds of appeal. First, she alleged that she did not receive a fair hearing before the Board. Second, she alleged that she had made partial payment of rent and that accordingly the amount that she was ordered to pay, $2,126.78, was too high.
The Divisional Court found the appeal to have no merit on either ground. Sensing defeat, the tenant tried a new angle and raised, for the first time, allegations that the landlord improperly entered her unit and distrained her property in 2008! The Divisional Court refused to entertain that argument.
The Divisional Court dismissed the appeal and the stay of the Board’s order was lifted. Justice at last for the landlord, but not before one final kick in the pants.
The landlord sought its partial indemnity costs of the appeal of just under $17,000. Meaning that the landlord’s actual legal costs must have been north of $25,000. The landlord, as a corporation, was legally required to be represented by counsel. The tenant on the other hand acted for herself throughout.
The Divisional Court stated that the appeal raised “relatively simple issues” and noted that the tenant is “of very modest means”. It also noted that the “amount of rent arrears in issue was merely $2,100”. The Divisional Court ruled that the legal fees sought were both excessive and disproportionate to the issues raised and awarded the landlord a measly $2,500 in costs.
Now, who’s interested in purchasing a rental property in Ontario?