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 of this task (even with my technology background). While backup solutions abound, I struggled to find a solution that met basic criteria. I provide this article to hopefully help other Pennsylvania lawyers evaluating backup options.

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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 administrative law matters.[FN1] Authentication of social media evidence is an emerging issue.

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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, lawyers will probably encounter Facebook materials in a matter at some point, and lawyers may need basic familiarity with the current capabilities of the utility (as of March 2011).

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New, Active-controller Hard Drive Technologies Pose Challenges and Benefits

Toshiba plans a new line of hard drives that self-encrypt data and automatically wipe the drive (delete data) if the drive is removed. [FN1] A smart controller embedded in the hard drive provides the self-encryption and wiping capabilities. These new technologies pose potential challenges to lawyers (e-Discovery and digital forensics) and may provide benefits such as additional data encryption options to protect client data.

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Cloud Computing: Who Holds the Encryption Keys? [And Why It May Matter to Lawyers]

General cloud-provider statements simply indicating that the cloud-based data is encrypted might not be adequate protection for a lawyer’s data. The lawyer should also know 1) when the data is encrypted and 2) who holds the encryption key(s). (See my prior article entitled Storing Files in the Cloud: Storage-as-a-Service for Lawyers—Encryption.)

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Storing Files in the Cloud: Storage-as-a-Service for Lawyers—Encryption

For attorneys, special considerations may be appropriate before implementing a STaaS solution especially if storing client data in the cloud. What might an attorney consider before using a Storage-as-a-Service (STaaS) such as DropBox, SpiderOak, IronMountain, JungleDisk, or MozyPro? Salient factors may include 1) encryption, 2) functionality, and 3) long-term accessibility. This article addresses encryption.

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Avoiding Being “Bit”ten: Bandwidth Issues With Cloud Computing Backups

As attorneys consider using cloud computing for file backup, the time required to restore files after a disaster may [unpleasantly] surprise a law firm. Backups in cloud storage may take days to download depending on the speed of the internet connection and the amount of data. Anticipating the potential download times, and creating a plan, may help a law firm to avoid unexpected problems should a disaster occur. (And confirms that off-site cloud storage should be combined with local backups to minimize down-time and law firm disruption in the event of a catastrophic data loss.)

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Gone in a Flash…Or Is It? Emerging Legal Issues in SSD Flash Drive Technology

Recent articles and academic papers demonstrate emerging challenges from sold state drives (SSDs). [See sources below] SSDs pose at least three challenges for the legal community:

potential limits on forensic imaging (e.g., during e-discovery),
a potential defense to spoliation claims, and
data security in the law firm.

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Basic Email Encryption and Authentication for Lawyers

Some compare email to sending a post card via postal mail. As an open format, standard email is potentially readable by any intervening person. Encrypting email provides some privacy and confidentiality protection by obscuring the text of the email. Encryption uses a computer algorithm to transform the plain text email into an encrypted email. Perhaps surprisingly, many email clients (MS Outlook, Thunderbird, etc.) include at least one form of built-in email encryption. Furthermore, email encryption tools can also serve as an “authenticating signature” and confirms the message’s origin—this email came from A.

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What Is Law Practice Technology?

Contemporary law practice incorporates the use of technologies, and “law practice technology” simply labels these uses. A working definition for law practice technology is
common office and information technologies used to perform or deliver legal services.
The essential part of the definition for lawyers is “used to perform or deliver law services.” That is, the use of otherwise common office technology in a legal services context triggers additional duties such as confidentiality, privacy, and security and thus distinguishes law practice technology from other uses of office technology.

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Typography for Lawyers—Strunk & White’s “Stylish” Companion Volume

BOOK REVIEW: Appearance matters. We dress well when appearing in court because we are professionals. Yet, much of an attorney’s work involves written communication. How can we similarly reflect professional appearance in our writing?

Typography for Lawyers delivers a concise, useful, and relevant introduction to “dressing-up” professional documents. (The book’s format and writing style are reminiscent of the classic, Strunk & White, grammatical text. These “companion volumes” deserve a place, within easy reach, in any attorney’s library.) The author successfully balances conciseness with comprehensiveness.

In 216 easy-reading pages, author Matthew Butterick successfully introduces good typography and provides a basic, how-to guide for implementing good typography in your documents—using no tools other than common word processors. The author defines typography as “the visual component of the written word”—white space, paragraph formatting, use of proper character symbols, fonts, page layout, etc.

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Greenhouse Gas Regulation (CO2), Local Land Use Authority, and 42 USC 7431

Synopsis Student Note exploring a potential limitation (42 USC 7431) on the preemption of local land use regulations by federal greenhouse gas regulations (CO2). The Note argues that federal law might not preempt, per se, regulations by local authorities related to global warming because 1) land use…

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