Author Archives: jlawson

Query One: “Is It Responsive?” (Lawyerist Best Law Firm Websites Poll)

Vote in Lawyerist’s Best Law Firm Websites Competition, 2014 Edition. The only criterion suggested is notable:

Responsive web design turned out to play a big factor in getting to the top ten. A responsive website should look good on any screen, from a big desktop display to a smartwatch. Law websites still have a way to go on this, though. Many great-looking nominations — including some websites built in the last year — wound up in the discard pile because they are not responsive.

Beverly Michaelis On Coping with Gmail Outages

Oregon Law Practice Management notes:

According to Business Insider, Google’s own redundant backups ensure that you will eventually reclaim all your data.  You can rely on this or implement your own recovery plan. [Hint: implement your own plan].

Pretty good hint! Beverly Michaelis goes on to explain exactly what to do and how to do it.

Lots of things to like about the Oregon Law Practice Management blog, including the elegant and effective “About” page, which has given me some ideas for upgrading mine. My favorite part is the use of Flickr photos showing the natural beauty of that wonderful state. 

 

Negative Attitudes Toward Encryption Linger

Did the Department of Justice unwittingly cause the current pathetically weak condition of U.S. computer security weakness?

Some would say that the Department’s treatment of leading encryption advocate Phil Zimmerman in the 90s, the government created a sort of cloud around the use of this common sense security practice. Through threats to prosecute those who developed and distributed strong encryption, the government discouraged vendors from making their products secure.

The case of United States v. Boyajian, 2013 WL 4189649 (C.D. Cal. 2013) (summary) is a great example. The issue was whether use of encryption meant it was more likely that the defendant had committed criminal acts?

The court decided that the encryption evidence carried a substantial risk of unfair prejudice to the defendant because it tended to prove that his character was dishonest and he did not respect the law due to the suggestion that defendant had a character trait for secretively flouting rules and social norms.

Wow! If I put a lock on my front door, it means I don’t want people, especially malefactors, entering at will. It doesn’t mean I’m a criminal. Encrypting my computer is no different.

The ill-considered DOJ policies from the 90s have left a legacy of ugly attitudes that have facilitated the wave of computer crime that threatens to engulf us today.

When Cutting Edge Ideas Go Mainstream, Part II

When I predicted in my 1999 book, The Complete Internet Handbook for Lawyers that the Internet would make outsourcing of legal work to India popular, people thought I was nutty.

What a difference 10 years made. Now the New York Times reports:

The number of legal outsourcing companies in India has mushroomed to more than 140 at the end of 2009, from 40 in 2005, according to Valuenotes, a consulting firm in Pune, India. Revenue at India’s legal outsourcing firms is expected to grow to $440 million this year, up 38 percent from 2008, and should surpass $1 billion by 2014, Valuenotes estimates.

“This is not a blip, this is a big historical movement,” said David B. Wilkins, director of Harvard Law School’s program on the legal profession. “There is an increasing pressure by clients to reduce costs and increase efficiency,” he added, and with companies already familiar with outsourcing tasks like information technology work to India, legal services is a natural next step.

When Cutting Edge Ideas Go Mainstream, Part I

When I published Blogs as a Disruptive Technology in Law Practice magazine a decade ago, my thesis that many law firms would be better off building their websites with blog software than with conventional website design technology was considered by many to be sort of nutty.

I’m pleased to see that an article in Law Practice Today (the online version of Law Practice) shows that the idea has now become conventional wisdom:

Quickly Making a Professional-Looking Website

Future Looks Grim for Passwords as Security Mechanism

Dark Reading has a great explanation for why passwords provide less protection than they used to. Here’s an excerpt:

During the past half-decade, three factors have fueled a renaissance in password cracking. While password-recovery programs have gained immense computational power by offloading the intensive calculations of dictionary-based and brute-force guessing to off-the-shelf graphics processors, users continue to use the same mnemonics to create passwords that seem secure while being easily memorized. Yet the insecurity of websites — from LinkedIn to Stratfor and from RockYou to Sony — has given researchers real-world lists of millions of hashes from which to uncover the systems that people use to create their passwords.

The result is that, at the same time that the power of cracking programs has skyrocketed, researchers are smarter at guessing the ways that users might create passwords, whittling down the lists of possible passwords. By creating better word lists and more intelligent methods of mangling real words and phrases, hackers and researchers can make an untenable computational problem much more feasible, said Olga Koksharova, spokeswoman for password-recovery firm ElcomSoft, in an e-mail interview.

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