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Define That Term #295

Dictionary_2 Last week's term was condonation, which is defined as:

One person's approval of another's activities, constituting a defense to a fault divorce. For example, if a wife did not object to her husband's adultery and later tries to use it as grounds for a divorce, he could argue that she had condoned his behavior and could perhaps prevent her from divorcing him on these grounds.

No one guessed this time around. 

Today's term is:

Sunshine laws.

As always, no dictionaries.


The New York Legal News Round Up

Latest_news It's already Wednesday and time fro the weekly round up of New York law-related headlines:


Making Your Law Office More Portable

Drlogo11 This week's Daily Record column is entitled "Making Your Law Office More Portable."

A pdf of the article can be found here  and my past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

******

Making Your Law Office More Portable

I know, I know. Some of you are wondering, “Why in the world would I want to take my law office with me? It can stay right where it is, thank you very much.”   

Rest assured there are a number of legitimate and, dare I say, logical, reasons to consider making certain aspects of your law practice more portable, not the least of which are flexibility, efficiency, and convenience.

The ability to access relevant information anytime, anywhere saves both time and money. Free or inexpensive online applications and resources provide lawyers with cost-efficient alternatives to the traditional office-based law practice. 

As we all know, time wasted is money lost. One of the more frustrating aspects of practicing law is finding yourself unexpectedly delayed, in court or elsewhere, and knowing that if you just had certain information you would be able to make productive use of the time. 

Portability provides you with the ability to do just that by allowing you to access contact information, e-mails, documents and other relevant information with the touch of a button. 

The first step toward portability is to invest in a smart phone, and if at all possible, a laptop. Smart phones, such as the iPhone or Blackberry, are an indispensable part of the portable office. Smart
phones allow you to access your contacts, your e-mail accounts and the Internet no matter where you are. 

Internet access is extremely important, since it is the key to the portable law office. Web-based applications and the ability to utilize them via your phone or laptop free you from practicing law within
the confines of your office.

Web-based e-mail is ideal and Gmail is one of the best email systems available. It’s free, has a huge storage capacity, conveniently groups related e-mails into “conversations” and has a number of
unique mechanisms that assist in organizing, labeling and accessing stored e-mails. Contacts are easily managed and accessed via Gmail, and, best of all, Gmail is compatible with the vast majority
of cutting edge Web-based productivity applications.

Gmail can be easily used in conjunction with office-based e-mail servers. For example, my work e-mail address is set up so that all messages are forwarded to my Gmail account. Messages from that
account are automatically labeled and filtered as they are received into my Gmail account. And, my Gmail account is programmed so that all new messages sent from the Gmail account are sent from my
work e-mail address. In other words, my work e-mail address is the default address for all new emails created from my Gmail account. 

Opening a Gmail account also automatically provides you with access to a number of free and useful Google applications. The first is Google Calendar, a simple and intuitive calendaring system that is fully integrated with Gmail. 

Another very useful application for the legal practitioner is Google Docs, a Web-based word processing system. With Google Docs, you can upload or create documents, spreadsheets, presentations and forms.

You can then access and edit the files via any computer or smart phone that has Internet access.  You can also permit others to access the files, thus providing a simple way to share and col-
laborate online.

Once you’re familiar with Google’s Web-based applications, the world is your oyster and true portability becomes a reality. 

There are innumerable free Web-based productivity applications and organizational tools that are compatible with Google’s mail and calendaring systems. I’ll discuss some of the options in the near
future, but in the meantime you can visit the blog Practicing Law in the 21st Century (http://21stcentury law.wordpress.com) and explore the many applications available by clicking on the navigation tabs located at the top of the Web page.

Portability is the key to practicing law in the 21st century. Once you’ve made the jump, you’ll wonder how you managed to get work done in the “old days,” when the portable law office was simply a
fantasy.


The New York Legal Blog Round Up

Blawgs It's Monday and time for the weekly round up of posts from my fellow New York law bloggers:

Coverage Counsel:

New York Law Blog:

New York Public Personnel Law Blog:

Simple Justice:

Wait a Second!:


Define That Term #294

Dictionary_2 Last week's term was means test, which is defined as:

A formula that uses predefined income and expense categories to determine whether a debtor whose current monthly income is higher than the median family income for his or her state should be allowed to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Edward Wiest's guess was awfully close!

Today's term is:

codonation.

As always, no dictionaries.


Certified Questions

Checkmark The Second Circuit recently certified a number of questions to the New York Court of Appeals.

First, in Amalfitano v. Rosenberg, Docket No. 06-2364-cv, the following questions were certified:

(1) Can a successful lawsuit for treble damages brought under N.Y. Jud. Law § 487 be based on an attempted but unsuccessful deceit upon a court by the defendant?
(2) In the course of such a lawsuit, may the costs of defending litigation instituted by a complaint containing a material misrepresentation of fact be treated as the proximate result of the misrepresentation if the court upon which the deceit was attempted at no time acted on the belief that the misrepresentation was true?

And, in Israel v. Chabra, Docket Nos. 06-1467-cv(L), 06-1473-cv(CON), the following question was certified:

Does New York General Obligations Law § 15-301(1) abrogate, in the case of a contract where the second of two irreconcilable provisions requires that any modifications to the agreement be made in writing, the common law rule that where two contractual provisions are irreconcilable, the one appearing first in the contract is to be given effect rather than the one appearing subsequent?

Hat tip: Second Opinions blog.


The New York Legal News Round Up

Latest_news It's Wednesday and time, once again, for the round up of New York legal news headlines:


Does Security Require the Loss of Liberty?

Drlogo11 This week's Daily Record column is entitled "Does Security Require the Loss of Liberty?"

A pdf of the article can be found here and my past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

*****

Does Security Require the Loss of Liberty?

Men fight for liberty and win it with hard knocks. Their children,
brought up easy, let it slip away again, poor fools. And their grand-
children are once more slaves
.”
—D.H. Lawrence, “Classical American Literature,” 1922

I prefer liberty with danger to peace with slavery.
—Unknown

By the year 2010, the New York City Police Department plans to photograph and track every vehicle that
enters Manhattan.

The goal of the program, “Operation Sentinel,” is to fight terrorism by collecting data from every vehicle traveling along seven tunnels and bridges —the Brooklyn-Battery, Holland, Lincoln and Queens-Midtown tunnels, and the George Washington, Henry Hudson and Triborough bridges.

Under the plan, all cars and trucks will be photographed and their license plates will be scanned and saved in a database in Lower Manhattan for at least one month. In addition, sensors will be used to scan each vehicle in an effort to detect radioactivity.

Operation Sentinel will work in tandem with a $70 million federal program, “Securing the Cities,” and the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative, a $90 million project that includes implementation of a video
surveillance system around Lower Manhattan that will track thousands of people each day. The stated goal is to have more than 3,000 cameras in place by the end of the year.

The video surveillance system is being referred to as a “ring of steel” and is modeled after the system used in London’s financial district.

That fact is particularly interesting, given that the video surveillance system in place at the time of the terrorist attacks in London did nothing to prevent the bombings. Rather, the surveillance tapes simply assisted authorities in identifying and rounding up suspects after the attacks occurred.

It would seem, then, based on the lessons learned from the London attacks, that any sense of safety provided by constant governmental surveillance of New Yorkers’ movements would be illusory, at best.

The only aspect of the plan that is arguably preventative is the intent to scan vehicles for the presence of radiation. Brief investigations of positive readings likely would be rare and would serve the stated purpose of preventing an attack, rather than assisting in seeking vindication after the fact.

The need for vindication following a terrorist attack is natural and understandable, but where the vast majority of the $160 million likely will serve to achieve vindication, rather than prevention, it seems a bit excessive.

Last week, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended Operation Sentinel and offered the following rationale for its implementation: “New York City is something special. It’s not just a very big city in this world. It is, in many senses, the iconic city. It represents Western Democracy.”

Bloomberg is correct. New York City, with the Statue of Liberty in its harbor, is a symbol of the very freedom and liberty upon which our great nation was founded.

If we must erode our civil liberties in the name of terrorism, shouldn’t the primary goal in doing so be prevention, not vindication after the fact? Is the loss of our freedoms truly outweighed by the minimal preventative benefits of surveillance cameras and tracking systems? Is the slow demise of our civil liberties in the name of the battle against the nebulous enemy, “terrorism,” truly worth it?


The New York Legal Blog Round Up

Blawgs It's Monday and time for the weekly round up of interesting posts from my fellow New York blawgers:

Coverage Counsel:

New York Federal Criminal Practice Blog:

New York Law Blog:

Second Opinions:

Simple Justice:

Wait a Second!: