The Legal Technology Highs and Lows of '07

Well, another year is in the books, and what a year it's been!

The world of Legal Technology had its share of ups and downs in 2007, with the new Federal Rules of Civil Procedure keeping everyone on their toes and scrambling to keep abreast of the latest developments in e-Discovery. Social networks and virtual worlds continued their march towards domination of the mainstream, spawning considerable litigation along the way. Data security and identity theft also remained at the forefront of the collective consciousness, with conflicting information coming out showing a decrease in identity theft, even as more and more revelations about data breaches and questionable security practices emerged.

We've assembled some of the top issues that have appeared in the Legal Technology Center over the course of 2007, and we offer them up so you can relive the best 2007 had to offer.  

  • Software Provider Liable for Unauthorized Practice of Law in Ninth Circuit
    Legal software vendors beware! The Ninth Circuit recently held that a seller of web-based bankruptcy software qualified as a bankruptcy petition preparer and, as such, engaged in fraud and the unauthorized practice of the law. Any provider of software that claims to "know the law" and offers automated form selection should examine this decision closely to make sure their activities are within legal boundaries.

  • Introduction to the New World of E-Discovery
    The new amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure went into effect on December 1, 2006, forever altering the e-discovery landscape. More than ever, it is important for attorneys to understand the lifecycle of "electronically stored information" (ESI) - from its creation and storage, to its production to opposing parties.

  • FindLaw's Electronic Discovery Rule Wizard
    Let FindLaw guide you through the new Federal Rules of Civil Procedure pertaining to e-Discovery with the Electronic Discovery Rule Wizard! The Wizard provides you with the text of the new rules, summaries of their provisions, checklists for practitioners, and additional resources for further exploration.

  • Understanding the Legal Issues for Social Networking Sites and Their Users
    It seems that everyone is a member of a social network these days. Whether it's your kids on MySpace and Facebook, or your colleagues on LinkedIn, people are taking advantage of these new online meeting spaces to make friends, communicate and expand business opportunities.

  • E-Discovery Update: ABA Ethics Opinion Approves of Metadata Use
    A new ethics opinion from the American Bar Association has set standards for attorneys confronted with the dangerous and controversial issue of metadata included in electronic documents. According to the ABA, attorneys may search for and use information contained in metadata, even if the documents originated with opposing counsel.

  • The State of Legal Blogs: A Report From the Frontlines
    Legal weblogs? Law Blogs? Blawgs? Whatever you call them, legal-oriented weblogs are thriving and their collective impact on the legal world is likely to reverberate.

  • Appellate Courts Refine Computer Search Rules
    Following on the heels of a workplace computer search ruling last August, the Ninth Circuit has again waded into the rapidly expanding pool of Fourth Amendment law concerning computer searches. It is joined by the Tenth Circuit, which in April handed down an interesting ruling regarding the search of personally-owned computers present at a workplace.

  • E-Discovery and the EU: European Data Privacy Regulations Every Litigator Should Know
    With the ever-increasing expansion of multinational corporations and globalized business transactions, it is exceedingly likely that attorneys will eventually have to conduct cross-border e-discovery investigations at some point in their careers. E-discovery can already be incredibly complex in a single-country context, and adding new countries, with different rules pertaining to electronically stored information, only intensifies that complexity.

  • Rethinking Patent License Agreements After MedImmune v. Genentech
    A recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court has substantially altered the patent licensing landscape, according to some patent executives. The Court's opinion in Medimmune v. Genentech stands for the proposition that a licensee need not breach its patent license agreement in order to bring an action challenging the validity of a covered patent. In light of this holding, counsel for both licensees and licensors should reevaluate existing patent licensing agreements, as well as consider how to protect themselves in future agreements.

  • The Aftermath: Examining the E-Discovery Landscape After the 2006 Rule Changes
    It has been almost a year since the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) were amended with respect to discovery of electronic data. As can be seen, the stakes are enormous, as failure to comply with electronic production obligations can lead to serious sanctions, sometimes to the tune of millions of dollars. Let's examine important issues that have arisen and how courts have ruled in the aftermath of the FRCP amendments that became effective on December 1, 2006.

  • Dismissal Upheld Despite Employer's Google Search for Employee's Prior Work History
    An employee recently argued that he improperly was terminated based on his employer's Google search relating to his prior work background. Should such an argument stick? Well, it did not in this particular case, Mullins v. Department of Commerce, just decided on a non-precedential basis by the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

  • Electronic Discovery: It's Not Just About E-mail
    A recent survey of corporate counsel found that the typical US company faces an average of 305 lawsuits and spends $12 million a year on litigation alone, not including settlements or judgments.

  • Privacy Hits Center Stage
    A decade ago, long before the Internet was a robust commercial medium, I started writing about online privacy issues. At the time, legal colleagues told me that while the issues were interesting from academic standpoint, they had no real world application. They encouraged me to focus "real" upcoming problems, like Y2K.

  • Is Identity Fraud Decreasing?
    It seems that we constantly are hearing horror stories about the perils of rampant identity fraud. A recent survey report seeks to set the record straight, however, with findings that identity fraud in the United States is actually dropping.

  • "Lawyers.com" Ruled Too Generic to Trademark
    A company seeking to register the "Lawyers.com" mark received some bad news out of the Federal Circuit recently. The court upheld the Patent and Trademark Office's determination that the mark was too generic in relation to the kinds of services offered on the website, and affirmed the PTO's denial of the registration.

  • IRS Not Adequately Protecting Sensitive Data
    First, the IRS takes your money, and now it seems that the IRS may not be adequately protecting your private information, according to a recent report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. Curious? You should be.