Category: Articles


Government May Compel Disclosure of Encryption Passwords in Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Superior Court issued another troubling computer-related opinion in late November 2017. Commonwealth v. Davis holds that the Pennsylvania government can compel an individual to disclose a computer password for an encrypted computer. Commonwealth v. Davis, 2017 PA Super

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What is Zoning in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Municipal Planning Code (often referred to as “the MPC”) defines the legal requirements of zoning. While addressing the legal requirements, the MPC does not do a great job of explaining what zoning is. In simplest terms,

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Overview of Pennsylvania’s Data Breach Reporting Law

Many ask what a business should do when uncovering a suspected data breach in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, the answer can be quite complex depending on the business, the nature of the suspected breach, and the data involved. The legal consequences of

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The Unwitting Cybersecurity Trap: The Risks of Relying on Technology Consultants

Considering the increasing number of data breaches, “hacking” episodes, and cybersecurity incidents over the past few years, businesses are finally starting to take cybersecurity and data security seriously. Businesses also realize that responsibility for data security is shifting from the

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Cybersecurity Basics for Pennsylvania Law Firms

Most Pennsylvania law firms either misunderstand cybersecurity [computer and network security] or significantly underestimate the threat of data breaches at law firms. Successful “hacks” can result in the loss of client confidential data or even losses of escrow funds. Considering

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Pennsylvania’s New, Technology-related, Ethics Rule Changes for Lawyers

Fifteen pages of changes to the Rules of Professional Conduct (Rules) went into effect in November 2013. The changes primarily reflect the increased roles of technologies in law practice—both as important lawyering tools and as material to legal matters. Put

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Restrictions on the Commercial-Use of Drones

Many vendors currently offer various types of drones. Increasingly, some use drones for commercial purposes. But, the FAA currently restricts the commercial use of drones. Put simply, persons wishing to use drones for commercial use must obtain an experimental airworthiness

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An Introduction to Malware for Lawyers

The FBI recently warned that law firms are specific targets of computer criminals (cybercriminals) seeking unauthorized access to data. Pending changes to the Rules of Professional Conduct re-state the lawyer’s duty to reasonably secure computers to protect client confidentiality. Thus, cybersecurity emerges as a law practice issue.

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Send in the Drones—Flying in the Face of Danger?

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS—the current, official FAA designation), Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), or drones. All describe remote-controlled aerial vehicles of various configurations and various sizes. Current FAA regulations and FAA guidance prohibit the commercial use of UASs without a FAA Special Airworthiness Certificate–Experimental Category (SAC-EC). Considerable controversy surrounds the use of drones and privacy, financial liability, regulatory authority, and Constitutional issues remain.

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Emerging eDiscovery Tools and the New, Technology-Augmented Lawyer

New legal technologies deliver potential solutions to data overload in eDiscovery. Lawyers will need to learn how to use an emerging class of “data analysis technologies”—called predictive coding, Technology Assisted Review (TAR), Computer Assisted Document Analysis (CADA), or legal analytics.

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Potential Problems & Perils of eDiscovery Outsourcing

Predictive coding, technology assisted review (TAR), computer assisted document analysis (CADA), predictive analytics, document review, eDiscovery software. Important new tools for the legal community. Deep (and probably a little disconcerting) technology for many lawyers.While outsourcing eDiscovery seems compelling, eDiscovery outsourcing can pose some potentially serious ethical problems for an attorney and law firm.

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Getting Office Software Into Shape—Windows XP Demise for Lawyers

Many law offices run Microsoft software—Windows, Word, Outlook, etc. Over the next year, Microsoft continues an aggressive set of upgrades to its core software and, perhaps more importantly, will be retiring all support for many well-used software packages. Continuing to

Head in “the Clouds” … And Don’t Know It?

Pennsylvania Lawyers Must First Assess Whether the Lawyer Is “In the Cloud” Before Complying with a Lawyer’s “Reasonable Efforts” Ethics Obligation When Using the Cloud Is your firm using Gmail, Google Calendar, Dropbox, Hotmail, Windows LIVE!, GoogleDocs,

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A Snapshot of Pennsylvania Social Media Cases—Winter 2011

An Overview of the State of Social Media Evidence in Pennsylvania—Winter 2011 Update The law of social media evidence in Pennsylvania continues to develop. To date, the focus remains on civil matter, discovery issues. Issues of authentication and issues in

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DeSoto-Thinking-in-an-iPad-World: Another Pennsylvania Social Media Case—Largent v. Reed, Etc.

A new, Franklin County Court of Common Pleas case, Largent v. Reed, No. 2009-1823 (C.P. Franklin Cty., Nov. 7, 2011) (attested true copy reviewed by author), dealt with social media discovery in Pennsylvania. The 14 page opinion and two page

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Decrypting Encryption for Pennsylvania Lawyers: Understanding Encryption Basics Before Considering Cloud Computing

Pennsylvania Lawyers Should Understand the Basics of Common Encryption Algorithms Before Engaging in Cloud Computing You are considering cloud computing. The cloud provider ad reads: Your cloud data is protected with military-grade, 256 bit, AES encryption. “Wow!,” you think. Military

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Data Backup Basics for Pennsylvania Lawyers

With the recent massive flooding, a hurricane, and an earthquake in Pennsylvania, lawyers may be re-evaluating data backup plans (you DO have a current, data backup plan). This article provides basic information for creating backups for solo or small law

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Navigating the Fog of Cloud Computing

Cloud computing may raise ethical questions. It also requires technical competence. Are you ready? Published as: Shannon Brown, Navigating the Fog of Cloud Computing, The Pennsylvania Lawyer 18–22 (Sept./Oct. 2011).

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Cloud Computing for Lawyers: Understanding the Difference Between Private and Public Clouds

Not All Clouds Are Alike—Cloud Computing Architectures May Influence Lawyer Duties and Obligations Cloud computing may pose challenges for the Pennsylvania legal community just as cloud computing poses challenges for any highly regulated profession. “Normal” businesses might be able to

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A Snapshot of Social Media Cases in Pennsylvania—Summer 2011

An Overview of the State of Social Media Evidence in Pennsylvania—Summer 2011 Pennsylvania lawyers face obstacles when grappling with social media. While social media, outside the legal field, spread like wildfire, the legal community must address social media within the

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Layered Cloud Basics: Awareness of Cascading Issues from Sub-clouding

Layered Clouds for Lawyers: Cascading Issues May Arise When Your Cloud Provider Sources (Sub-clouds) from Another Cloud Provider As cloud computing continues to pose new challenges for the legal community, an additional complexity, potentially missed by many lawyers, may arise

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Cloud Nines: Understanding Accessibility Versus Availability in Cloud Computing for Lawyers

Cloud computing, by definition, relies on networks as well as servers, software, and related items. The lawyer, thus, should understand the important distinction between cloud provider promises of service availability (uptime) and network accessibility when considering the use of cloud

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A Basic Computer Data Backup Option for Solo or Small-firm Attorneys: Areca Review

Several months ago, I embarked on what I thought would be the easy task of finding a simple, usable, and effective computer data backup solution for my solo attorney law practice. I was wrong; I seriously underestimated the [needless] complexity

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Pennsylvania Court Opinion Implicates Authentication of Social Media Evidence

A recent Commonwealth Court decision, Chapman v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review 20 A.3d 603 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2011), illustrates 1) the growing presence of social media evidence and 2) the potential for social media authentication issues in legal matters —including in

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Facebook Download Your Information Basics for Lawyers

Original publication, PDF Version at JD Supra In October 2010, Facebook released a new utility that allows a Facebook user to download the contents of his or her Facebook Member Profile.[FN1] Because Facebook features prominently in many areas of law,

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