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Tips to create a safer online experience

Stacked3This week's Daily Record column is entitled "Tips to create a safer online experience." My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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Tips to create a safer online experience

These days, surfing the Web can oftentimes be a worrisome experience. Between reports of phishing for data, advertiser tracking and hacking, what’s an Internet traveler to do — short of disconnecting altogether?

Well, never fear, there are an assortment of free browser add-ons and Web surfing alternatives available that will make your online travels a more secure and pleasurable experience. With these tools, many of which are browser extensions, you will enjoy your online experience and will worry less about advertisers and others gaining access to your user data and other private information.

First, consider switching to DuckDuckGo as your Web search engine of choice. Unlike Google and other search engines, DuckDuckGo does not track and save your searches and instead provides you with private, anonymous search capabilities. So if you’re concerned about the massive amounts of data that Google has collected about you between your search habits and other information provided to other Google services, you may very well want to ditch Google and switch to DuckDuckGo.

Another way to secure your online travels is install an extension that warns you when you attempt to visit websites that have been reported as unsafe. Browser add-ons of this type will warn you, based on user feedback and other sources, if there have been reports of malware or other technical threats about a particular website. If so, the add-on will give you the option to not continue on to the website. Popular examples include Web of Trust  (Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari, Opera) and Webutation (Chrome, online).

Next, avoid online advertising by installing the AdblockPlus browser extension (Chrome, Firefox). AdBlockPlus automatically blocks ads from appearing on every website that you visit. This is one of my must-have online tools. Trust me, browsing the Internet free of ads is a whole new world. Once you experience ad-free Web travels, you will wonder why you ever put up with ads in the first place.

If you are a frequent traveler or use free public Wi-Fi, then HotspotShield is for you. It is a multi-platform app that secures your online travels from prying eyes. It does this by encrypting your Web connection, so that whenever you use public hotspots, your Web travels will remain private.

Another useful browser add-on is Disconnect (Chrome, Safari), which prevents third parties and search engines from tracking your Web travels and searches.  It also includes a useful security feature that offers Wi-Fi security by preventing session hijacking (attacks that can occur if you visit a website that uses an insecure connection when linking to outside Web services).

Finally, consider using a password manager app such as LastPass or 1Password. These multi-platform browser add-ons store your passwords via encrypted files, and automatically populate sites with the correct passwords when you visit them. They also pre-populate Web forms for you and generate and store secure passwords for you. Some versions of these password managers are free and others are not.

So what are you waiting for? Start using these tools and see what it’s like to experience worry-free Web travels!

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and Director of Business Development and Community Relations at MyCase, an intuitive cloud-based law practice management platform for the modern law firm. She is also a GigaOM Pro Analyst and is the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a West-Thomson treatise. She is the founder of lawtechTalk.com and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. She publishes four legal blogs and can be reached at niki@mycase.com.


Some favorite non-legal mobile apps

Stacked3This week's Daily Record column is entitled "Some favorite non-legal mobile apps." My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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In the past I’ve shared my recommendations of mobile apps available for use in your law practice. But life is not all about the law and I figured it was high time I shared a few of my favorite and most-used non-legal mobile apps.

So without further ado, let’s start with NextIssue, one of my favorite apps. It’s available for your iPad or Android device and offers unlimited access to up to 75 different magazines on your tablet — for just one low price each month. Basic access costs $9.99/month and premium access is $14.99/month.

The basic plan includes access to the most recent and back issues of over 65 different magazines, including Money, Inc., ESPN the Magazine, Consumer Reports, Fast Company, Bon Appetit, Food and Wine, Wired and Travel & Leisure. The premium plan allows access to additional magazines: Entertainment Weekly, Golf World, New York Magazine, People, Sports Illustrated, The New Yorker and Time.

Next up, Brewster, a free iPhone and iPad app that helps you to manage your contacts across all of your social networks. Once you download this app, it collects all of your social network contacts into a fully searchable database and also automatically categorizes your contacts. You can create custom categories as well. You can also synch the app with your iPhone contacts, which will update the contact information for all of your existing contacts and will also automatically include your contact’s social media profile photos for all incoming calls.

Google Now is free app that is available for Android and iOS devices. This app is Google’s intelligent personal assistant that is designed to provide you with the information most relevant to your daily life, right on your smartphone. Like Siri, Apple’s personal assistant, the Google Now app responds to voice commands and also provides “information cards” catered to your needs, based on your interaction with your phone.

The information is gleaned from your phone’s GPS data and the data that Google has collected regarding your search history. It then personalizes its results and predicts which “information cards” will be most useful to you, including traffic directions and conditions, information regarding the status of packages being delivered (gleaned from your gmail account), the weather for your current location, and restaurants located nearby.

Another app I use often is Flixster. If you like movies, then you’ll like Flixster. This app provides you with everything you need to know about movies currently playing in the box office and also provides a ton of useful information about movies released on DVD.

Using Flixster you can access the showtimes of movies playing nearby and also read reviews, both from viewers and critics, along with descriptions of the movies and video trailers. You can even buy tickets through the app from participating theaters. It’s a free app and is available for iOS and Android devices.

Finally, there’s Stitcher. If you like talk radio, you’ll love Stitcher. The Stitcher radio app is a free streaming content service that aggregates a vast array of audio content. It’s like Pandora for talk radio. Using this app you can listen to talk radio, podcasts, live radio and more. Shows available include NPR, CNN, Fox, BBC, WSJ, Adam Carolla, SModcast, Joe Rogan, Rachel Maddow, Rush Limbaugh, Fresh Air, Freakonomics, Radiolab, plus over 10,000 more shows and live stations.

Using the app you can create custom stations by “stitching” together your favorite shows. Stitcher then automatically updates your stations whenever new episodes of your selected shows are available.



Read more: http://nydailyrecord.com/blog/2013/07/21/legal-loop-some-favorite-non-legal-mobile-apps/#ixzz2Zsgp7rz7

Some favorite non-legal mobile apps

 

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and Director of Business Development and Community Relations at MyCase, an intuitive cloud-based law practice management platform for the modern law firm. She is also a GigaOM Pro Analyst and is the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a West-Thomson treatise. She is the founder of lawtechTalk.com and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. She publishes four legal blogs and can be reached at niki@mycase.com.


LinkedIn has growing value for lawyers

Stacked3This week's Daily Record column is entitled "LinkedIn has growing value for lawyers."

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

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LinkedIn has growing value for lawyers

LinkedIn is billed as the “professional” social network, which is why lawyers dipping their toes into social media for the first time often start with LinkedIn. The problem is that as far as social networks go, LinkedIn hasn’t always been very, well … social. In fact, up until very recently, it was a fairly static site without much daily activity worth following.

At least, that was always my take on LinkedIn and many other lawyers familiar with social media sites often agreed with me. Up until recently, I viewed LinkedIn primarily as a place to create a visible online resume.

However, lately my take on LinkedIn has changed a bit. I still don’t think it is the most vibrant or useful social network. But I do think that its value proposition for lawyers has changed over the past year or so.

There are two reasons for my belief.

First, the key to a successful online network is warm bodies. Without people, there’s just not a lot of interacting going on. And trust me when I tell you that lawyers are flocking to LinkedIn. Suddenly, lawyers I never thought I would see on social media sites are joining LinkedIn in record numbers. Local lawyers, my parents’ friends, and even lawyers whom I would describe as technophobic.

And, they’re not just joining — they’re actually checking in to LinkedIn to see what’s going on. Some read their email digests and click through from there and others actually visit the site every day. Even more surprising is that they are interacting on LinkedIn by “liking” and commenting on posts.

Second, LinkedIn endorsements have breathed a bit of life into the site. Endorsements are one of LinkedIn’s newer features and allow LinkedIn users to recognize their connections for their areas of expertise by “endorsing” them. This feature has gotten a bad rap in the blogosphere as of late, with some people suggesting that the ease of endorsing someone dilutes the value of the endorsement.

While this is a valid point, I think people are missing the big picture. Endorsements are encouraging users to participate, thus making LinkedIn more dynamic and interactive.

Endorsements also benefit lawyers’ practices as well. This is because by strategically using LinkedIn endorsements, lawyers are able to: 1) Stay on their colleagues’ radar, especially those who might refer cases to them; 2) highlight their colleagues’ areas of expertise, a simple gesture that will no doubt be appreciated; 3) encourage reciprocal endorsements from colleagues by adding appropriate skills to their profiles; and 4) stay connected to their colleagues by sending them a quick thank you after a colleague has taken the time to endorse them.

Another added benefit of endorsements is that they give lawyers a sense of how they are perceived by their colleagues. The range of endorsements that you receive should generally mimic your areas of practice and others areas of expertise, assuming that your law firm’s marketing is on target.

Of course, endorsements aren’t perfect and sometimes the LinkedIn algorithm fails and suggests inappropriate areas of endorsement, which is why red herring endorsements sometimes pop up. But overall the system works fairly well, so if you’re a personal injury attorney and the majority of your endorsements are for criminal law, then you probably should take actions to ensure that your colleagues are more aware of the types of cases that you handle.

So, overall, I think that LinkedIn is (finally) on the right track when it comes to lawyers. While it’s not the perfect social network and it has its share of problems (such as spam-ridden forums), it is beginning to offer more value to lawyers.

So if you haven’t participated on LinkedIn a while, give it a shot. It might just be worth your while.

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and Director of Business Development and Community Relations at MyCase, an intuitive cloud-based law practice management platform for the modern law firm. She is also a GigaOM Pro Analyst and is the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a West-Thomson treatise. She is the founder of lawtechTalk.com and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. She publishes four legal blogs and can be reached at niki@mycase.com.


Connecticut latest state to address cloud computing

Stacked3This week's Daily Record column is entitled "Connecticut latest state to address cloud computing."

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

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Connecticut latest state to address cloud computing

If you’ve been reading my column for any amount of time, you know that I believe that cloud computing is the future of computing — for law firms and for any other type of business. In fact, I’ve been saying this since 2008.

Back then, very few state bar associations had addressed the ethics of lawyers using cloud computing in their law practices. My, how times have changed!

Since that time, a number of states have handed down opinions which green light the use of cloud computing by lawyers, including Alabama (Formal Opinion No. 2012-184), Arizona (Opinion 09-04), California (Opinion 2010-179), Florida (Proposed Advisory Opinion 12-3), Iowa (Opinion 11-01), Maine (Opinion 194), Massachusetts (Opinion 12-03), New Hampshire (Opinion 2012-13/4), New Jersey (Opinion 701), New York (Opinion 842 and Opinion 940), Nevada (Opinion 33), North Carolina (2011 Formal Ethics Opinion 6), Oregon (Opinion 2011-188), Pennsylvania (Opinion 2011-200), Vermont (Opinion 2010-6), and Virginia (Legal Ethics Opinion 1872).

Now, Connecticut has added its voice to the mix with its issuance of Informal Opinion 2013-07 just last month. In this opinion, the Committee on Professional Ethics considered whether it was ethically permissible for Connecticut lawyers to use cloud computing in their law practices.

At the outset, the committee explained that lawyers have always outsourced the handling of confidential client data to third parties: “Lawyers’ remote storage of data is not a new phenomenon; lawyers have been using off-site storage providers for many years, and the issues remain the same whether tangible records are stored in a “brick-and-mortar” warehouse or intangible data is stored on third-party servers.”

Next, in keeping with the conclusions reached in many other cloud computing ethics decisions, the committee acknowledged that absolute security is an impossibility and thus lawyers are not held to that standard: “The duty of confidentiality described in Rule 1.6 is rigid but tempered by the recognition that even when a lawyer acts competently to preserve the confidentiality of the data, reasonable safeguards sometimes fail …”

The committee then enunciated the standard that Connecticut lawyers seeking to use cloud computing in their practices must follow: “The Rules permit a lawyer to use the Internet to transmit, store and process data using shared computer facilities from the reasonably reliable cloud service provider as long as the lawyer undertakes reasonable efforts to prevent unauthorized access to or disclosure of such data.” This is essentially the same language used by the other ethics committees that have addressed this issue, so Connecticut’s adoption of this standard wasn’t surprising.

What came next was surprising, however, and and somewhat worrisome. The committee concluded that as part of a lawyer’s duty to stay abreast of changes in technology as required by Rule 1.1 and the duty to exercise due diligence when researching a cloud computing provider, lawyers must adequately supervise cloud computing providers.

The committee cited Rule 5.3, which addresses the lawyer’s responsibilities to supervise nonlawyer assistants, stating: “Cloud computing online outsourcing is subject to Rule 5.1 and Rule 5.3 governing the supervision of those who are hired by and associated with the lawyer. This means that the lawyer outsourcing cloud computing tasks (of transmitting, storing and processing data) must exercise reasonable efforts to select a cloud service provider whose conduct is compatible with the professional obligations of the lawyer and is able to limit authorized access to the data, ensure that the data is preserved (“backed up”), reasonably available to the lawyer, and reasonably safe from unauthorized intrusion.”

This requirement is troublesome since it implies that lawyers may have a duty to supervise cloud computing providers in the performance of their duties, even though most lawyers have no IT expertise. As I’ve explained in past articles, there is a fundamental difference between outsourcing legal and administrative functions and the outsourcing of data management and storage to online legal service providers. The bottom line is that most lawyers simply do not have the IT qualifications to oversee tasks like computer programming, encryption, data storage and the delivery of said services.

As it stands, I believe that the standard established by the committee is overly broad and fails to acknowledges that lawyers may not always have the necessary expertise to supervise non-lawyers, depending on the services provided. A better option would be to require that a lawyer’s supervision be reasonable under the circumstances, thus limiting the scope of an attorney’s supervision to areas which fall within their areas of expertise.


Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and Director of Business Development and Community Relations at MyCase, an intuitive cloud-based law practice management platform for the modern law firm. She is also a GigaOM Pro Analyst and is the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a West-Thomson treatise. She is the founder of lawtechTalk.com and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. She publishes four legal blogs and can be reached at niki@mycase.com.