Nearly 203 million people have cellphones and the power of connectivity that comes with them, yet the legal profession has been slow to embrace the rapid-fire changes in technology, said Steven Best, chair of the ABA TECHSHOW. Which is why, after 30 years, the ABA TECHSHOW is still thriving.
This past March, attorneys converged in Chicago to learn how and why the latest advances in technology can help them practice better, work smarter, and deliver higher-quality legal services to their clients. Legal professionals had access to 18 program tracks, including cybersecurity and encryption, social media, e-discovery, law firm management and marketing, finance, workflows, best practices, and cutting-edge technology. Here are a few key takeaways from the conference.
Using Podcasts and Video
If you haven’t heard of a podcast—a digital audio file streamed online or downloaded to a device—you are living in a black hole. Although producing podcasts can be time-consuming and expensive, they are great for exposure, expertise, thought leadership, shelf life, engaging your clients, and trust, said panelist Tom Mighell, vice president of delivery services at Contoural, Inc.
Where to start? You need the right equipment, according to the panelists, including a great microphone (try Audio Technica ATR2100-USB); a windscreen and pop filter; recording and editing software like Audacity, Skype, or Google Hangouts; a hosting service such as Libsyn or Blubrry; and distribution through iTunes or Sticher. Content is critical, so listen to yourself and think like your audience, said Mighell. “Be who you are and that’s how you will create the most compelling content you have.” Panelists also suggested downloading PocketCasts and listening to other podcasts for inspiration such as Lawyerist Podcast, Lawyer 2 Lawyer, This Week in Law, or The Digital Edge.
Commercials, webinars, and testimonials make compelling videos. Mighell stressed the importance of using a great camera (DSLR Still camera or Android phones made by Samsung) and audio, lighting, and editing software such as iMovie, QuickTime Player, Final Cut Pro, or MPEG Streamclip. Distribute your video via social media channels such as YouTube, Vimeo, or Periscope.
Understanding Open Data
Panelists discussed building new technology for courts, government lawyers, and government law libraries to shape the future of data accessibility in government. One example is Harvard Law School’s Free The Law Project, which, with the help of legal research company Ravel Law, aims to digitize the school’s collection of court decisions—one of the largest in the world. Panelists also mentioned programs such as github and organizations like Code for America as effective collaborative sources that allow you to build, host, and manage software. For more information on open data, the panel recommended the free book Beyond Transparency: Open Data and the Future of Civic Innovation.
Resolving Disputes Online
Consumers, businesses, and legal service providers increasingly expect to be able to resolve any issues that arise daily from the palm of their hand through mobile devices such as laptops and tablets. Panelist Colin Rule said there are now thousands of online dispute resolution neutrals, program managers, developers, and designers working across five continents that have their own journals, books, websites, conferences, and ethical standards. ODR is no longer a novelty, he said, it is now arguably the future of ADR. Many ODR programs offer text-based conversations, video links, and software tools that facilitate early resolution for disputes.
Collaborating in Real Time
The benefits of real-time collaboration seem self-evident—everyone involved with a project can be on the same page all the time. There are a growing number of tools available to help you work more easily with other attorneys, staff members, and clients, including Google Docs, Google Drive, Dropbox, and Manifest.ly, which can help to coordinate teams and processes and facilitate effective collaboration.
With the rise of mobile workers has come the rise of data breaches. Panelists said that approximately 80 of the 100 big law firms in the U.S. have been hacked since 2011. They suggested five easy steps to protect your data:
- Encrypt disks, files, and USBs.
- Use apps or programs to encrypt your mobile devices. iPhone automatically encrypts text messages and FaceTime between two individuals that have the device. Android phones are not encrypted. Use programs such as Signal, Wire, Jitsi.org, and WhatsApp. Both parties need to have the apps installed on their phones for it to work.
- Practice good password hygiene. Use password managers such as 1password and Lastpass to keep track of your passwords.
- Use 2 Factor Authentication to add an extra layer of security to your login process by requiring more than one method of authorization. YubiKey is one example. For more ideas, go to twofactorauth.org.
- Create a policy to guard against hacks. Be sure to have an incident response plan that identifies your next steps for a physical and digital breach and whom you should identify.