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Around the Blawgosphere: Bar Associations Too Cautious on Ethics of Cloud Computing, Blogger Writes


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Clouded Judgment

At My Shingle, Washington, D.C., solo Carolyn Elefant takes various state bar associations to task for their uniformly similar recommendations that lawyers get their clients’ express consent when they store clients’ data in cloud platforms.

“Not only does this kind of requirement throw up a red flag that can heighten clients concern, but it makes us lawyers look as if we’re trying to pass the buck on security,” Elefant wrote.

Also, when one considers that most of these clients use online banking or patronize doctors’ offices that store data in the cloud—but weren’t asked for permission for those entities to do so—“clients will either wonder (1) whether the cloud products that we lawyers use are inferior to those of banks and doctors (because otherwise, why would a special consent be required), or (2) how they’re expected to know whether the cloud is safe enough for their data to provide informed consent when their lawyer apparently can’t figure it out. Neither scenario makes us look very good,” Elefant wrote.

And considering that lawyers aren’t required to disclose to clients, for instance, the banks that house their trust accounts, or ask their permission to store unencrypted data on their computers, this requirement truly singles out the cloud, Elefant writes.


Legal Internet Trivia

Last week, lawyer/journalist/legal technology expert Robert Ambrogi put some trivia to the readers of Robert Ambrogi’s Lawsites. This week he shared the answers to two of them.

The first question: Which law firm of more than 25 lawyers was first to launch a website and when?

The answer? Venable, or as it was known when it launched the site in March 1994, Venable, Baetjer, Howard & Civiletti. Ambrogi cites an article from that same year in the Baltimore Sun to back up his claim, although he notes that Wikipedia gives Heller Ehrman the credit (but doesn’t really back it up).

The second question: Which court was the first to make its opinions available in electronic format?

The answer: The Richmond, Va.-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Ambrogi wrote that a system called Appellate Court Electronic Services “used an Internet [bulletin board system] (remember, this was before the Web) to distribute the opinions to attorneys, news organizations, legal publishers and other interested parties. ACES was launched in 1989 with just the 4th and 9th U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal participating. By 1994, all the federal circuits were participating in ACES, as were a handful of U.S. district and bankruptcy courts.” Ambrogi says he suspects some state courts may have been doing this before federal ones were, but he hasn’t found the evidence.


A Question of Questions

Munich-based “intellectual property activist” Florian Mueller noted at FOSS Patents that Apple and Samsung have filed proposed jury verdict forms in anticipation of the patent infringement trial set to begin July 30. Mueller says Apple wants six pages containing 49 questions, while Samsung wants 40 pages containing roughly 700 questions.

“Apple may have oversimplified the issues in a few respects, but Samsung’s proposal is simply not practicable,” Mueller wrote. “The poor jurors would have to spend a significant part of the rest of their lives in the San Jose federal courthouse.”

Samsung’s jury selection questions indicate the company “apparently wants to exclude Apple fanboys” as well as those who would be biased against an Asian company because of “protectionist tendencies due to the current state of the economy,” Mueller wrote.

Meanwhile, Apple’s first two questions ask prospective jurors how they feel about copying and taking ideas from others, Mueller writes. The questions:

“1) Have you ever created or developed something and had the idea taken from you? If yes, please explain.”

“2) Have you ever been accused of taking the idea of another? If yes, please explain.”


Law Profs’ Lurking Fears

LexBlog founder and president Kevin O’Keefe mentioned at Real Lawyers Have Blogs that while at dinner with a couple of law professors from “a good state school in the Midwest,” he decided to ask them if they, like practicing lawyers and businesspeople, feared for the future of their particular profession.

One of the law professors admitted to him that he was afraid of how online education would change things, thinking that “we were going to see rockstar professors being paid handsomely for teaching huge online classes. If we can have rockstar athletes like LeBron James making millions, he said, why not professors making millions by attracting large enrollment?”

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