Breaking Legal News

Breaking legal news or news items of importance to lawyers and the rest of the legal community have gained great importance since last few years. Why not? The number of channels for communications has increased like never before, also the legal community has been continuously expanding. Attorneys and other legal practitioners are available to work on very specific practice areas and very specific cases. With technological advancements and globalization, the world has become so small that professionals want to keep an eye on news relating to not only the neighboring countries but also developing countries in other continents. The violation of human rights, child abuse, terror outfits, corporate governance, mergers, international crime, international finance, globalization and several other topics have become the heart of the legal news industry. There are various news websites that let out breaking legal news for attorneys and other legal professions. The various media which professionals have access to, can be named as news websites, legal job sites, legal journals, periodicals, television and community magazines for the purpose of getting breaking legal news.

Breaking legal news not only informs professionals of the happenings around, but also helps them view differently the cases they themselves may have at hand. Very often we see that justice is arrived at by looking back to previous cases in the history of the nation, where similar incidences have occurred. Legal news portals serve the same purpose, as they give information on topics which probably has never been addressed before. So news items help professionals give new direction to cases and also offer life to almost dead cases, where otherwise there is little that can be done to get justice to the victims.

There are several other activities professionals like to engage into, namely taking club memberships, bogs, and community activities relating to law, so as to keep brushed up and connected with the ups and downs in the industry. Equally important is the fact that with the various advancements in technology, new avenues have opened for the judicial system to consider guiltiness or innocence of an accused. So to hone legal skills, it is essential to keep updated with legal technology also.

Trace Cell Phone Numbers – Is it Legal? Is it Difficult? How Can I Find Out Who’s Calling?

From time to time we all need to look up a number on our cell phone. For whatever reason we don’t know who it is and we just want to find out who’s calling. Easy enough, right? If it’s a landline or a regular telephone number, it’s pretty easy to look up who that person is. However, if it’s not a landline, if it’s a cell phone, things get much more complicated.

For a long time it was basically impossible to trace cell phone numbers at all. But now, because of a combination of improvements in technology and because of online databases, you can look up just about any number, even if it’s a cellular phone or if it’s an unlisted number. Yes, you can lookup unlisted numbers online. Amazing.

When I tell people this, they are often surprised and have a lot of questions. Here are some of the ones I get.

Is this illegal? – No, it’s completely legal technology. The problems in the past were not regarding legalities, but rather the technological hurdles put in place by having so many companies issuing cell numbers: Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, etc. Now with federally mandated number portability all of the companies have to play ball and share numbers. It’s made everything so much easier.

Is it difficult to trace cell phone calls? – No looking up cell phone numbers is the easiest thing in the world. Anyone can do it. My mom can even do it and she’s a complete technophobe with absolutely no nerd skills at all.

Is it expensive? – No, it really isn’t. In fact, it’s surprisingly cheap and many of the look up services offer a free trace in order to make sure the number is definitely available in the database for a lookup.

How does it work? – You simply go to a website, enter the number and find out if they have the information you are looking for. If they do, then you pay either for a one-time charge or for a subscription service and then you get the name, address, and a map to the person’s address. Amazingly simple and effective.

I hope this answers your questions about tracing cell phone numbers.

The Tech Savvy Lawyer – Web Technologies And Legal Firms

The Legal Industry & Information Technology

Like all other industries, the legal industry is not insulated from the tremendous changes in information technology over the past decade, and the challenges and opportunities it presents. If anything, the changes have more bearing on law firms & departments because information management is at the core of what they do – consulting with clients, colleagues or experts; increasing compliance & regulation demands, wading through a constantly expanding sea of legislation and case law; managing outsourcing partners; keeping abreast with latest developments; or managing a mountain of matter files.

Recent Trends

Perhaps the most significant change in the legal services industry the decline of “relationship lawyering”.

Recent times have seen increased competition, & changes in underlying market structure. There has been a continuing trend of decline of “relationship lawyering”. Traditionally strong relationships between law firms and corporates are eroding, with more companies opting for in-house legal departments, or “shopping around” for the best deal. Another significant trend is the increasing convergence of legal markets, where competition is as likely to come from a firm in another state or overseas as from a local firm. These & other developments are exerting greater pressures on legal firms to be more efficient, an it is imperative that attorneys spend their time analyzing information, rather than organizing or managing it.

Drivers of Technology Adoption by Legal Firms

Possibilities of Technology – The primary driver of greater use of information technology by legal firms is developments in technology itself. New technologies & greater bandwidths allow great possibilities in the arenas of information management, productivity and remote collaboration. Information can be moved over the internet with greater security. And unlike yesteryear, law firms can access these technologies without hefty costs and the need to set up specialized IT departments.

In 2004, Forrester Research Inc estimated that some 39,000 legal jobs will have moved offshore by the end of 2008.

Outsourcing/Offhsoring – Legal firms are now increasingly open to legal process outsourcing of tasks they traditionally held close – research, transcription, coding and even legal research and the drafting of legal documents. It is commonplace to see a NY based law firm, subletting research work to a team of professional lawyers & paralegals in Bangalore, India. This enables firms to majorly cut down costs & concentrate on core legal functions. But it also necessitates a greater need to communicate, collaborate & monitor the functioning of outsourcing vendors hundreds or thousands of miles away. Security is also an issue, since performance of the services often requires access to regulated consumer data or other sensitive data.

In 2004, almost 60% of lawyers worked at multi-office firms and over 10% of lawyers work at firms with ten or more offices.

Geographic Diversification – As mentioned before, there is a distinct movement towards multiple office firms, with offices spread both nationally and globally. US based companies are now serving many foreign clients, or serving foreign interests of domestic clients. There was a significant presence of international clients in even the smallest law firms of 1 to 20 lawyers. There has also been a spate of global mergers and acquisitions of law firms in the new millennia. All this necessitates a greater need for communication, collaboration and information exchange between branches.

Regulatory Compliance – Since the Sarbanes Oxley Act came into effect, records management has become an essential requirement. Organizations are required by law to retain certain documents for predefined periods. Also, the amendments to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure went into effect on December 1, 2006, and apply to any firm involved in litigation in the U.S. Federal Court system. The amendments mandate that companies be prepared for electronic discovery. Firms have to drastically alter the way they preserve, retrieve and produce electronic data.

Competition is coming both from firms spread across the nation & the globe, as well as consultants & advisors who were traditionally not considered part of the “legal industry”

Competition – Because of the death of relationship lawyering, and “one stop shopping” by clients, firms cannot afford to be complacent anymore. Moreover, competition is as likely to come from the opposite end of the country or globe, as from local companies. Competition is also coming from other quarters, consultants and advisors who offer services that were previously the purview of lawyers. In this arena of intense competition, lawyers have to double up as “rainmakers” ; networkers (legal business development) in addition to traditional roles.

IT Needs of the Legal Industry

Centralized Document Storage – The legal profession generates a tremendous amount of digital information in the form of case files, contracts, court filings, exhibits, evidence, briefs, agreements, bills, notes, records and other office activity such as email. This information is the firm’s collective knowledge & learning which sets it apart from competition and needs to be retrieved again and again. Compliance also requires certain documents to be stored & retrievable for extended periods of time. Attorneys across different offices need to access and collaborate on this information.

In 2007, 53% percent of lawyers used a PDA outside of the office, 32% to check e-mail.

ABA Law Tech Report 2007

Remote Access – Ready access to crucial documents and information can sometimes be all the difference between a favorable or adverse judgment. Lawyers now have wings on their feet visiting clients, interviewing experts, or attending outstation court proceedings, and are often out of office. It is important that they are able gain LAN like access to documents from the firm’s repository even when they’re not at the office premises.

Document Collaboration – It is not enough to only be able to access documents from the firm’s storage. A single case file may need multiple inputs from attorneys with different expertise, clients, experts, researchers, and other associates spread over the country or even the globe (in case of outsourcing). Therefore it is important to have the ability to concurrently access and work together on the same file, from right where everybody is.

Remote Conferencing – Sometimes the ability to collaborate on a document may not suffice and actual discussion and knocking together of heads might be needed. Web conferencing allows multiple people to get together in a virtual meeting room and discuss issues as effectively as being there in person.

Security – A lot of the information a legal firm handles is highly sensitive client information, which it is bound my business ethics and contracts to protect. Since this information is mostly accessed and distributed over the public network of internet, and often distributed to third parties at some page, security is right at the top as a concern.

Access Control – Another level of security is the ability to manage who sees what information and what they can do with it. Since multiple parties like attorneys and associates across the company, outsourcing partners, and multiple clients access information from the firm’s central storage this is of prime importance.

Productivity Applications – Although managing documents and information is one of the most important things a law firms IT systems need to do, it is not all. They also need the ability to manage and share schedules, to maintain lists of important contacts, to manage and track different tasks and litigations teams or individual attorneys may be involved with, or billing management.

What They Don’t Need

41% of lawyers had no IT staff at any locations for their firm, while 17% have one person, 8% have two, and 38% have three or more

ABA Law Tech Report 2006

IT Hassles – If getting all the above goodies requires setting up a specialized IT department, installing expensive hardware, and managing ongoing maintenance and upgrades, it might just not be worth it for a small to mid sized law firm. Bigger firms have the deep pockets and incentive to set up dedicated systems, but it might not be sustainable for smaller firms.

Complexity – To ensure that attorneys embrace the IT system, attorneys should be able to concentrate on the information itself, rather than grappling with the nitty-gritties of the system.

Costs – Cost, of course is a top consideration for small to mid sized companies across industries. The ongoing costs and hefty capital investments needed for custom and enterprise systems are just out of reach.

The Software-as-a-Service Advantage for Legal Companies – HyperOffice as a Case in Study

SAAS allows firms to pay for using the software rather than owning it

About eight to ten years back, it was true that access to the above technologies was available only to huge firms whose budget and scale justified dedicated IT departments. Times have changed since then. The software as a service (SAAS) approach, allows even small to mid sized firms easy access to big business technologies, but without having to deal with the messy underbelly and huge costs associated with them.

Benefits of SAAS Solutions

– Low Implementation

– Cost Effective

– Flexible

– Mobile Access

– Enterprise Class Features

– Backup & Security

– Updates & Enhancements

Software as a service (SAAS) is an approach where the software vendor undertakes the burden of creating, hosting, maintaining and securing the application upon himself, and further lets it out to customers over the internet as a service. Customers do not pay for owning the software itself but rather for using it. Some specific benefits of the SAAS approach are as follows:-

No Implementation, No Dedicated IT Department – Since the backend is taken care of by the vendor, users don’t have to bother about hardware, software downloads, server security, configuration etc. Implementation cycles of months are cut down to just a few days. For example, HyperOffice just requires a sign up, and customers can get it up and running within minutes.

Cost Effective: Scale Up & Down as Needed – The cost structure of SAAS solutions is usually a reasonable monthly per user fee. This ensures that minimal costs are locked in, unlike enterprise solutions where tens of thousands of dollars are committed. Moreover, there is no cost uncertainty, as terms are clearly laid out, which allows for greater predictability.

Big Business Features – A range of big business functionality is available to users, but they don’t have to bother about the complex backend which goes with implementing this functionality, since that is the vendor’s headache.

Flexibility & Mobility: Keep Connected Always – These solutions are developed with a view to delivery over the web. This ensures that the system with full functionality is available over simply a web browser, saving users from tiresome downloads or implementations on local workstations. Moreover, since these solutions are children of the internet & mobility era, they also allow access over mobile devices. HyperOffice allows almost full functionality over many mobile device with internet access including iPhone.

User Friendly – Ease of use is of prime importance to a non techie attorney. SAAS solutions are out-of-the-box. Emphasis is on ease of use, with the messy backend taken care of. The entire HyperOffice solution can be managed from a central console and needs no technical expertise at all – truly child’s play!

Backup & Security: Let the Experts Handle It – Ensuring security and disaster preparedness requires effort. Antivirus software needs to be purchased and implemented, the system needs constant monitoring, and physical security of the servers needs to be ensured. Disaster recovery plans also have to be put in place in case of events like fire, natural disasters etc. Backup servers and magnetic tapes have to be maintained, frequency of backups has to be managed etc. Whew!

With SAAS, all this is a part of the messy backend taken care of by the vendor. Moreover, these vendors have developed an expertise hosting and securing applications, since this is their core operation. This is an expertise a mid sized law firm can not, nor would like to develop.

Updates & Enhancements – Since it application resides on the vendor’s servers, the vendor can simply add updates, enhancements and new features at his own end which are instantly available to the users of the application.

Pursue Your Passion With Legal Office Technology

All the career surveys you’ve taken haven’t helped narrow your interests. The truth is, you love law, business, and technology. Now, you don’t have to choose between them. With the many legal office technology careers available, you can blend your passions into the perfect career.

Legal office technology careers offer you the opportunity to perform a wide variety of administrative and office management functions to promote the efficient operation of a legal organization. Tasks may range from scheduling trials and recording court business to performing legal work for an individual attorney. You may also be called upon to handle legal dictation and transcription, set up legal files and business records, and execute legal forms.

To better prepare for legal office technology careers, you can earn a technical certificate or associate of applied science degree in legal office technology, which may then transfer into a bachelor of applied technology degree. These programs will enable you to become a management support professional with technical and communication skills. After all, time management, problem solving, and teamwork skills are key to success in legal office technology.

Legal office technology schools provide a foundation in legal issues, terminology, and procedures for successful employment in a legal office support position. They’ll also help you develop general office support skills in word processing, computer applications, accounting, and information management.

Coursework at legal office technology schools may include business communications, computerized accounting, digital input and transcription, client services, wills and probate, criminal law, business mathematics, keyboarding, word processing, administrative law and procedure, legal office technology, legal assisting, legal document processing, civil litigation, family law, legal terminology and office procedures, spreadsheets, records and database management, paralegal studies, and legal research and analysis.

In your legal office technology program, you’ll become familiar with the U.S. court systems in the preparation of forms and legal documents. You may also follow a lawsuit through litigation, trial, judgment, and appeal. You’ll learn the proper terminology for handling legal dictation and transcription, and you’ll learn about law office administration as well as the major substantive areas of the law.

At legal office technology schools, you’ll also dabble in the elements of legal research and analysis and sources of the law. You’ll develop skills for identifying and analyzing legal issues and for formulating logical and practical legal arguments. Plus, you’ll learn to research using a law library and computer technology.

Looking for a lucrative career in a legal setting? Legal office technology schools will get you there.