Frequently Asked Questions Answered

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Frequently Asked Questions Answered
Laptop or desktop and
much more

            ince I began writing the           than the cost of the computer), and         for the representation.” (emphasis in

 s          “Technology” column for
            The Philadelphia Lawyer
            in 2003, I have received
 numerous questions, including a few
 frequent ones. In this column, I will
                                                    – most importantly – they generally
                                                    for most users, a desktop computer
                                                    offers numerous practical advantages
                                                                                                       original). Further, Comment 6 of the
                                                                                                       Rule (“Maintaining Competence”)
                                                                                                       states that “To maintain the requisite
                                                                                                       knowledge and skill, a lawyer should
 answer some of the most commonly                There is a practical alternative,          itspractice,engageincontinuingstudy
 askedquestions.                                   however,toowningoneofficelaptop.If          and education and comply with all
    SHOuLd I BuY A LAPTOP OR                        yourofficeonlyhastheneedforportable        continuinglegaleducationrequirements
         dESkTOP COMPuTER?                          computing on a relatively infrequent          towhichthelawyerissubject.”
    Nowadays, this question has been           basis, or only plans to use it in court/      According to the American Bar
 expanded to include not only laptops,        at trial, then purchase one powerful         Association, “Competence in using
 but also netbooks, iPads and other           laptop, and configure it with all of the   a technology can be a requirement
 portabledevices.Regardless,theanswer          softwareyouanticipateusing(youwill           of practicing law. Requirements for
 really depends upon whether you plan         needfewerlicensesthanifyouinstallit        technological competence may appear
 tousethelaptopoutsideofyouroffice          onmanycomputers).Thisway,youwill            aspartofrulesofProfessionalConduct,
 frequently.                                        have one computer that everyone can          Continuing Legal Education (CLE)
    Laptops have great appeal. In some        usethatiscourtroom-ready,withoutthe          programs, and malpractice insurance
 offices, it’s even a status issue, i.e.,    additionalcostofoutfittingeveryone.            premiumcredits.”
 only “important” people have laptops,         WHY dO I HAVE TO kNOW ABOuT                           By using technology – but not
 while the peons must survive without.           LAW-RELATEd TECHNOLOGY?                         necessarily becoming a “legal geek”
 Inaddition,laptopsareportable,soyou           The real question is: “By failing to      – a lawyer can locate, create, modify
 canusethemanywhere(althoughitstill          usethelatesttechnology,doesalawyer          and review documents more quickly,
 helpstohaveanoutletavailablebecause         violate his or her obligation to act        annotate transcripts more efficiently,
 many batteries still drain quickly). But     competently on behalf of a client?” In      stayabreastofchangesinthelawwith
 mostlawyersdon’tusethemanywhere              myview,theansweris“yes.”Afterall,          theclickofamouse,andre-createand
 otherthantheiroffices.Asaresult,their      would you want to receive treatment          present evidence in ways that offer
 laptop computers are merely portable          from a physician who didn’t use              juries and judges greater insight into
 computersthatnever(orvirtuallynever)         MRIs and other tests because “those          how events transpired. It can also help
 leavetheiroffices.                               newfangledtestsweren’taroundwhenI            them avoid situations that may lead to
    If you generally do not take your        graduatedfrommedicalschool?”                    legalmalpractice.
 laptop with you (whether to court, to              Pennsylvania        Rule        of         For litigators (and every lawyer who
 clients’ offices, to meetings, etc.), then   Professional Conduct 1.1 states “A            has a client that may ever be involved
 you are better served purchasing a           lawyer shall provide competent                 in litigation), the law has changed
 desktopcomputer,becausedesktopPCs             representation to a client. Competent         dramatically in recent years, with
 arelessexpensivethanlaptops,theyare         representation requires the legal              no issue more at the forefront than
 easiertorepair(thecostofrepairingor        knowledge, skill, thoroughness and             electronic discovery. To the naïve,
 replacing a laptop screen can be more       preparation reasonably necessary                electronic       discovery      (commonly

42 the philadelphia lawyer Fall 2010
                                                                                                      Tech brieFS
                                                                                                      Tablet Computers Set
                                                                                                      to overtake netbooks
knownas“e-discovery”)dealswiththe             servers,including:
preservation, production and review of           I
                                                    • nstallingallsoftwareupdates,
materialselectronically.Butitismore.            including“servicepacks”and
   E-discoveryencompassesamajorpart              “maintenancereleased,”suchasthose
of the changes in the Federal Rules of        availablefromMicrosoftandother
CivilProcedure,andrequiresattorneys              vendors;
to understand the implications of how           U
                                                    • singantivirussoftware,whichis
their clients create, revise and store          automaticallyupdatedtoprotectusers         By 2015, nearly one in four personal
everything from e-mail to Word (and             fromviruses,malwareandspyware;              computerssoldtoAmericanconsumers
WordPerfect) documents, among other             • leaningyourkeyboardssothatthey
                                                      C                                               willbetabletdevices,accordingtoFor-
things. By failing to understand how            donotstopworkingbecausetheyare           esterResearch.
these and other laws and regulations            filledwithdustanddirt;
impact their clients, lawyers not only          U
                                                    • tilizingfirewallstoassurethatyou        ertabletstooutsellnetbookcomputers
do not provide the best representation          preventunauthorizedaccesstoyour            by2012,eventhoughnetbookshelped
possible, they may also expose                   computersandservers;and,                     steerthecomputerindustrythroughthe
themselves to liability for professional         P
                                                    • erformingavarietyofroutine               recession.
negligence.                                          maintenanceoperations,asoutlined
   In sum, lawyers who choose to fall          inmyFall2006column,“Timefora            Apple Computer has sold more than
wellbehindthetechnologycurvedoso               TuneUp”(sendmeane-mailandI’ll           1 million iPads per month since its
                                                                                                      April debut. Other computer makers
attheirownrisk.Thus,whilefailingto            forwardacopytoyou).                         have been frantically trying to make
utilizecutting-edgeorevenmainstream               Your office should also establish         up ground. Dell, Research in Motion,
technology – or failing to understand         written e-mail, computer and Internet-        Hewlett-Packard, Acer, LG and Sam-
changes in laws, rules and regulations        use policies, outlining permissible           sunghaveallannouncedplansfortablet
impact their clients – may not be            and prohibited use of computers, and        orslatecomputers.
unethical,itiscertainlyfarfromthebest       require that all employees receive and
practice – either for your office or for    signacknowledgementsconfirmingthat
yourclients.                                       they understand and will comply with
                                                                                                      Half of Law Firms to Spend
        WHAT ARE THE BASIC                          thesepolicies.Youshouldalsoconduct          More on iT, Study Finds
PRECAuTIONS MY OFFICE NEEdS                         random inspections of employee
                 TO TAkE?                           computers to assure that all employees      NearlyhalfofU.S.lawfirmsplantoin-
   While this question is very general,       are complying with the policies, and        creasespendingoninformationtechnol-
it demonstrates how far many firms            take appropriate disciplinary actions in     ogy(IT),accordingtoanewstudyfrom
needtogo.First,regardlesshowmuch             theeventanemployeeviolatesarule.            CompTIA, the nonprofit trade associa-
technology you use (e.g., your “only”             Finally, you should require all users
use of technology is Microsoft Word           to enter a unique login and password       Many law firms will focus their IT
andMicrosoftOutlook),youmustback              whenaccessingtheircomputersandthe           spending on core investments, such as
up your data. It is frequently said that    firm’snetwork.Whilecommoninlarger           notebookPCs(24percentoffirmssur-
it is not a question of if, but when, a   firmsandbusinesses,thesepoliciescan         veyed intend to buy), desktop PCs (22
computer or server will fail, and all of    beinvaluable.Byfailingtoinstitutethis      percent)andsmartphones(22percent).
thedataonitcanneverberecovered.             typeofsecuritymeasure,yourfirmmay
   Thus, it is critical that your office     bevulnerabletoadisgruntledemployee,         ing number of law firms will explore
implement regular, automated backups            whocouldstealordestroycriticaldata.         a range of emerging technologies as a
of all computers and servers on which            Most law firms face similar              means to address areas of dissatisfac-
client-related files are stored. There         technology issues. In future columns,        tion with IT, which include reliability,
arenumerouswaystodoso.Thereare              I will continue to try to address those   mismatchoffeaturesand needs,insuf-
online services that will automatically        matters.Feelfreetosendmeane-mail          ficientsupportandtotalcostofowner-
backup data and store the information         attheaddressbelow.                            andbetterremotefunctionalityastheir
offsite. Alternatively, many firms uses                                                          greatestunmettechnologyneeds.
onsite backup systems that allow them         Daniel J. Siegel (,
to quickly restore data should there be      a member of the Editorial Board of The            Over the next year, 14 percent of law
acrash.                                            Philadelphia Lawyer, is a local attorney          firms plan to invest in some type of
   In addition to performing regular           who operates the Law Offices of Daniel            cloud computing or software-as-a-ser-
backups, you should perform routine            J. Siegel, LLC and is the president of            vicesolution.
maintenance on all computers and               Integrated Technology Services, LLC.

                                                                                                          the philadelphia lawyer Fall 2010 43

    BlackBerry’s new Torch 9800 is Research in Motion’s first smartphone to combine a keyboard
    and a touchscreen as well as the new BlackBerry 6 operating system. Apple’s wildly popular iPhone
    4 also boasts a new operating system. Both phones let you send e-mail, check the web, use social
    media and yes, make phone calls.

      Features                          apple iphone 4                                      BlackBerry t orch 9800

                                        3.5” Display; 960 x 640 pixel                       3 . 2 ” 3 6 0 x 4 8 0 c a p a c i t i v e t o uch
      Display                           resolution                                          screen Display

                                                                                            3 5 k e y F u l l q w e r t y B a c k l i t sliDe-
      k e y Bo a rD                     touch screen                                        o u t k e yB o a r D

                                                                                            624 mhz processor with 512 mB
      processor                         apple a4 chip (speeD unknown)                       Fl a s h m e m o r y

      size                              4.5” x 2.3” x 0.37”                                 4.4” (5.8” open) x 2.4” x o.57”

      weight                            4.8 ounces                                          5.68 ounces

      operating system                  ios4                                                B l a c kBe r r y 6 o s

                                                                                            4 gB B u i l t i n m e m o r y p l u s a micro
      storage capacity                  16 or 32 gB Flash Drive                             s D/ s D h D m e m o r y c a r D s l o t that
                                                                                            s u p p o r t s u p t o 3 2 g B c a r Ds

                                        Dual camera with 8-megapixel                        5 mp camera with Flash,
                                        p r i m a r y c am e r a a n D 1 . 3                c o n t i n u o u s a u t o F o c u s , i m age
      camera                            megapixel Front-Facing                              s t a Bi l i z a t i o n , s c e n e m o De s , geo-
                                        s e c o nD a r y c a m e r a                        t a g g i n g a nD z o o m

                                                                                            5 mp camera with Flash,
                                        720p, up to 30 Frames per                           c o n i t i n u o u s a u t o F o c u s , i m age
      v iD e o r e c o rD i n g         s e c o nD , Bu i l t - i n v iD e o e Di t i n g   s t aB i l i z a t i o n , s c e n e m o De s , geo-
                                                                                            t a g g i n g a nD z o o m

      v iD e o c o nF e r e n c i n g   ye s , v i a w i - F i o n l y                      n o t a v a i l aB l e

      B a t t e r y l i Fe              7 hours oF talk time                                5.8 hours oF talk time

      s e r v i c e p r o v iD e r      at&t                                                at & t

      price                             $ 2 0 0 F o r 1 6 g B version                       $199
                                        $ 3 0 0 F o r 3 2 g B version

44 the philadelphia lawyer Fall 2010
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