Category Archives: Technology Committee

Be a Gallant, Not a Goofus: Best Practices for Online Video Proceedings

As a kid, a visit to the doctor or dentist also meant reading Highlights for Children in the waiting room. My favorite part of Highlights was the Goofus and Gallant comic strip, which compared the actions of Gallant, who didn’t interrupt his parents, shared toys with his friends, and didn’t pull girl’s hair, to those of Goofus, who did the opposite.  Gallant wasn’t perfect, but his actions were to be emulated. Being like Goofus was to be avoided. 

    To be a Gallant, and not a Goofus, here are tips: 

  • Dress for success. A video court proceeding is still a court proceeding. Please don’t be the person who appears at a proceeding in a swimsuit by a pool, or, under their covers with bedhead. Wear something that you would wear to a live proceeding. 
  • Practice makes perfect. Most of the common platforms allow you to test your video and audio setup before a proceeding. How do you look? How do you sound? Consider investing in a new camera rather than using the setup that came with your laptop. Connect to the internet via a network cable if you can. It will be more reliable than wireless. 
  • Know your surroundings. If you are on Twitter, check out @ratemyskyperoom to see what a difference lighting and background make. What is your background like? Is anything confidential in view? Do you look like you are an organized professional, or do you look like you are being held hostage? If there is too much noise, try to move your setup. Do the best you can. At some point or another, everyone reading this is going to find their setup interrupted by dogs barking, children in need, vacuuming, or the appearance of an army of landscapers with leaf blowers blowing. 
  • Speaking of backgrounds, steer away from virtual backgrounds in court proceedings. Your children may think it is cool if you are on the bridge of the Death Star, but typically judges are not impressed. 
  • Try to look in the camera when talking. My colleague Jack Pringle puts a post-it note next to his camera to remind him where to look.  
  • Coordinate and lay some ground rules. Does everyone have a set of exhibits? Have they been shared with each other and with the court? Do your witnesses have access? Consider requesting a brief meeting with the judge a day ahead of time to make sure that everyone understands the sequence of witnesses and exhibits.  
  • Make sure everyone has contact information in case someone gets disconnected, and generally talk through what to do if someone unexpectedly loses internet connectivity. Instruct everyone how to log back in if a connection is lost temporarily – some courts lock hearings after they start.  
  • If you will have witnesses, google “witness checklist” for something that you can send to them so they know what is expected. There are plenty of examples out there so you should not have to reinvent the wheel. 
  • Speaking of witnesses, witness coaching is becoming a concern. You need a setup that allows the lawyer and the witness to appear on screen  simultaneously. Consider placing the witness in a different room. The added bonus to being separated is that neither of you must wear a mask. At the end, after talking for an hour or two, you won’t feel like you have just climbed Mount Everest. Make sure that the witnesses don’t have easy access to electronic devices – ask what they have within view. Ask whether they are alone. 
  • Make sure everyone has waived their right to a live hearing.  
  • Make sure no one is recording the proceeding.  
  • Mute your microphone when you aren’t speaking. (My mother’s advice to be seen and not heard has served me well.) Even if you can’t see or hear the judge and other parties, assume that they can see you, and act accordingly. 
  • Close your email and turn off your reminders. Don’t have any distractions. You may think that you can set your fantasy football lineup or answer emails and no one will notice, but trust me, everyone knows you are not engaged. If you don’t take your phone out to check Twitter at a live hearing, don’t do it during a proceeding. 
  • Be vigilant about talking over people. If it even looks like the judge is opening her mouth, make sure you are not speaking over her. 
  • Confirm whether you need a court reporter. If you do, make sure the court reporter has adequate equipment and bandwidth. If the court reporter needs to, consider allowing the court reporter to use an extra office in your office. 
  • If you lose the contact information for a proceeding, go to sccourts.org, and then go to the Calendar option on the upper right hand of the screen, put your cursor over it, and click on Monthly View. When you get there, go to the date of your proceeding and then click on the court you need. That will lead you to a page that lists the judges with proceedings that day. Find your judge and click on the link for the virtual courtroom. If you are prompted for a password, it is usually sccourts. Each judge’s page also contains call in numbers and helpful instructions.  

We all have some Gallant and Goofus in all of us. Be patient and kind to yourself and others when things don’t go according to plan. We’re doing the best we can under the circumstances. Video proceedings are not going away, so the time you put into learning and thinking about this is time well spent. 

Written by:
Michael J. Polk, Chair, Technology Committee
Belser & Belser, PA
Columbia, South Carolina

Four Tip Friday

Hi everyone!

            1.         If you need an easy way to keep up with legal technology, subscribe to John Simek’s email newsletter, Your IT Consultant. (You can also subscribe via your favorite RSS reader, like Feedly.) Here is a link:  https://youritconsultant.senseient.com/    Recent newsletters have addressed password managers and home routers. And, of course, unless you are in Spaceballs, don’t use 123456 as a password.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6iW-8xPw3k   

2.        If you are looking for serviceable to decent noise cancelling headphones, check out either the ones by TaoTronics here  https://amzn.to/2BSW4OA  or the ones from Anker  https://amzn.to/38GVoaZ  I don’t use the noise cancelling that much, because it does not cancel out my bad dog’s barking, but the sound quality will satisfy the non-audiophile and battery life has come a long way. Plus, as someone on the Clockwise podcast pointed out, if you are wearing earbuds people will bother you, but if you are wearing a big set of cans, they won’t. 

3.        Some of you are saying, OMG I simply cannot put cheap headphones on my delicate ears. In that case, if money is no object, skip to 4, but if it is, check out  https://camelcamelcamel.com/   It will help you figure out when the best time to buy something is.

4.        If you are wondering how to get short links, check out  https://bitly.com/   It will make your life (and blog posts) easier!

We are one day closer to things settling down. That counts for something, right?

Let’s be careful out there!

Michael J. Polk, Esquire
Chair
SC Bar Technology Committee
Belser & Belser, PA
Columbia, South Carolina

Fastcase as a Supplement to Westlaw

In these strange new times, lawyers in firms of all sizes are seeking ways to reduce costs while remaining effective advocates. While many small firm lawyers in South Carolina rely heavily on Fastcase free legal research through the South Carolina Bar, larger firms with Westlaw subscriptions can also benefit. As a librarian, I am privileged to use Fastcase, Westlaw, Lexis, Casetext, ROSS Intelligence, Bloomberg Law, and other research platforms. Part of my job is to assess strengths and weaknesses of each platform, so I can better help anyone who contacts the law library with their research.  

Since Fastcase is provided free to all South Carolina Bar members, there are some good reasons to use it even if you are satisfied with Westlaw. Here are five examples: 

  1. No-Stone-Unturned Searches. Most lawyers who are unsure about a research result will get a second opinion from a colleague or a librarian. After all, two heads are better than one.  

By the same token, two platforms are better than one. We can’t see the proprietary algorithms each platform uses to interpret search terms and generate a list of relevant results. But we know these algorithms differ.  

When you need to doublecheck Westlaw search results, try running the same search on Fastcase to see if anything different pops up. Fastcase also lets you customize your Relevance Algorithm to ensure the results you’re seeking rise to the top. 

  1. Cost-Effectiveness. Lawyers must balance the requirement to perform competent research against the pressure to minimize both the cost of the resource and the cost of their time. Current trends favor flat-rate Westlaw contracts and treating research costs as overhead rather than passing them on to clients. Still, depending on how a firm allocates research costs internally, cost concerns continue to incentivize self-imposed limitations on Westlaw usage. 

Searching. If your preferred Westlaw search strategies are hemmed-in by cost concerns, unlimited Fastcase use can be a boon. For example, you can run as many searches as you want in Fastcase—wide-net searches, highly specific searches, searches within searches—it doesn’t matter. Searches are free, which removes the worry about costs and saves time by letting you focus on resolving the issue you’re researching. After trying out as many search queries as you want in Fastcase, you can always doublecheck a search in Westlaw. 

Analyzing Results. Westlaw lets you read a case excerpt before you decide whether to click the link to read the full text of that case and possibly incur a charge. Each case has to be in a different tab or window than your results list, complicating your workflow and leading to duplicate charges if you click on the same case twice. 

By contrast, Fastcase lets you freely view the full text of as many cases as you want, not just excerpts, and you can open each case side-by-side with your search results—in the same tab. Especially for a lengthy list of possibly-helpful results, the speed of the back-and-forth between your results list and the full text of the cases can save significant research time. 

  1. Cloud Linking. If you’re citing case law for someone who doesn’t have Westlaw, try Fastcase’s cloud linking feature. Drag and drop a blog post or white paper written for a general audience into Fastcase’s cloud linking drop box, and links to the full text of the cited cases will be added automatically. Anyone can click the links and read the cases for free online. 

Suppose your co-counsel uses Lexis or Casemaker, or that users of your firm’s brief bank want to limit their Westlaw usage. Cloud-link your shared research using Fastcase. Then, links to the cited cases will work for all lawyers with whom you share research, without their needing to log in anywhere or incur charges. 

  1. Additional Jurisdictions. It can make financial sense to limit a Westlaw contract to South Carolina law or Fourth Circuit law if that’s where your practice is focused. However, sometimes persuasive authority from other jurisdictions is needed.  
     
    Free resources (like Google Scholar, Findlaw, or Justia) will usually retrieve the full text of a case. However, those resources don’t let you check whether the case is good law, and they don’t make it easy to find other relevant cases from that jurisdiction.  

If you pull up a case in Fastcase instead, Authority Check will alert you to cases that cite it, positively or negatively. If you run a search, the Interactive Timeline points out additional relevant and frequently cited cases from that jurisdiction. You can retrieve those other cases on Fastcase for free, while avoiding charges for going outside your Westlaw contract. 

  1. Beyond the Basics. Upgrades from standard Westlaw packages cost extra, and the same is true of add-ons from Fastcase and its partners. Particularly for lawyers who rarely need premium research products, it is worth evaluating Fastcase partner options to assess resource quality and potential savings for occasional use of secondary sources, public records searching, case tracking alerts, and more. 

My hope is that SC Bar members—whether or not they use Westlaw—will get their dues’ worth from Fastcase. For more help doing so, the Fastcase support number is 866-773-2782, option 2, available Monday-Friday 8 am to 9 pm. 

By the way, the University of South Carolina Law Library can also act as a supplement to Westlaw. For example, we regularly fill email requests for PDFs of law journal articles that do not appear on Westlaw. A lawyer must provide the citation and agree to a $5 handling fee. See https://guides.law.sc.edu/remoteservicesbenchbar.  

By: Eve Ross
Reference Librarian
University of South Carolina School of Law Library
SC Bar Technology Committee

Technology Takeaways from the 2020 Bar Convention

In November, 2019, the South Carolina Supreme Court adopted amendments to Rule 1.0 (r), Rule 1.1 Comment 6, Rule 1.6 Comments 20 and 21, and new Rule 1.6(c) of the Rules of Professional Conduct. The amendments were modified versions of amendments made to the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct in 2012 meant to offer guidance to lawyers about technology. The Technology Committee sponsored a CLE at the Bar Convention in January, featuring national experts Sharon Nelson and John Simek who addressed best practices for lawyers to be ethically compliant and competent in the area of technology. They addressed three big areas: ethical competence in the digital area, disasters and data breaches, and the future of law practice. Here are some takeaways, but you can find this information and much more in the articles listed on their website https://senseient.com

Most, if not all, law firms have experienced a technology security event – from malware infections to total breaches. In light of that, firms should conduct security assessments and have incident response plans. Many cybersecurity insurance policies are requiring these (the cost of cybersecurity insurance is reportedly rising). Firm training is also critical, since the majority of security issues rely on human error and gullibility. Firms should have a security policy for employees to follow, covering everything from backups, BYOD (bring your own device), acceptable use and more. Firms should also have an incident response plan to avoid running around like a chicken with … you know the rest. The plan should include contact information, immediate steps to take, and steps to resume operation. Most states have data breach notification laws, including South Carolina. Consult the law for your duties. 

Ransomware attacks are evolving (think it’s some guy in Russia? These days it could be a bot or artificial intelligence). Ransoms being demanded are higher than most firms can pay. A new twist in ransomware: firms who ignore the ransom request because they have a good backup may be subject to having their data used or leaked to the dark web in retaliation for not paying the ransom. Some good news: success rates in thwarting ransomware are increasing if the FBI is notified within the first 24 hours. So, even if you have a backup, notify the authorities asap. Also good news: more banks are recognizing wire fraud attempts and stopping fraudulent transfers before they conclude. 

Basic backup advice that applies to most law firm sizes: have a local (physical) backup and two cloud backups. Make sure your cloud provider allows you to control the encryption key. The speakers named Carbonite and Backblaze as good options. Make sure backups work by doing a test restore. One solo used a cloud backup and lost five years of law firm data because he’d never tried to verify if the data was restorable or not corrupted. Don’t take the word of the software that says “Backup successful!” – be certain. If you use a USB backup drive, disconnect it from the server once the backup is completed (more than one physical backup drive is recommended so you can swap them out). If you experience a ransomware attack and your backup is connected to your computer – well, there goes your backup.  

Zombie data, also known as “dark data” is data you don’t realize you have. It can come up in data breaches or in cases during e-discovery. The speakers’ advice about old data: if you don’t need it, and are not legally required to preserve it, get rid of it! Don’t forget old email accounts – nearly everyone has old free email accounts they’ve ceased using. They’re ripe targets. 

The speakers next turned to the Future of Law Practice. Consumers, accustomed to smart TV sets , doorbell security cameras, and Alexa, have rising expectations for lawyers. Consumers expect same day delivery of products, automated contract delivery, client portals and video chat. Trends that will grow include non-lawyer ownership of law firms, traditional legal work being done by non-lawyers and alternative legal services providers, and of course, Artificial Intelligence (AI). As an example of the rapid rate of change in AI, the speakers reported that the IBM Watson computer that defeated Ken Jennings at Jeopardy! in 2011 was the size of a master bedroom and weighed thousands of pounds. One year later, it was 18 x36 inches and weighed just 100 pounds. 

Although the term AI is often incorrectly used to hype products and sound cool, in reality, AI is already in widespread use in the world’s largest law firms (but the speakers were quick to say that it is also being used by solos). Lawyers use AI for contract review, due diligence, e-discovery, legal research, predictive analytics, and more. AI represents a direct threat to some legal job sectors, including lawyers performing document review, paralegals, and even first year associates. JPMorgan Chase uses COIN (Contract Intelligence) which in seconds can do the work formerly requiring 360,000 hours a year by lawyers and loan officers. 

Bar members can read many of Nelson and Simek’s articles on technology, security, ethics, and law practice on their website www.senseient.com, watch Sensei YouTube videos, or listen to Digital Detectives or The Digital Edge podcasts.  

The Bar also has many resources to help lawyers with technology questions, from a lending library of ABA technology books to online resources at www.scbar.org/pmap and the Technology Committee’s page www.scbar.org/tech

By: Courtney Troutman, Director
South Carolina Bar Practice Management Assistance Program

Mike Polk, Technology Committee Chair, South Carolina Bar
Belser & Belser, PA
Columbia, South Carolina

DoNotPay: An Example of What Chatbots Can Do

The app DoNotPay is an example of a chatbot that is currently available on iOS.

Before you download it, be aware that DoNotPay requires connecting to the user’s bank account upon setup. DoNotPay uses Plaid for its banking transactions, a platform that is well regarded and is used by Venmo, but not everyone will be comfortable connecting any app to their bank account. The app requests bank account access to facilitate the deposit of the refunds it obtains for users.

DoNotPay offers to help users in a number of categories.

Government Paperwork: register for the Do Not Call list, sign up for TSA PreCheck, or schedule a DMV appointment.

Traffic Disputes: contest tickets in a few major cities.

Customer Service Issues and I Am Owed $500+: generate demand letters for breach of contract, housing issues, or personal injury claims.

Find Hidden Money: cancel subscriptions, appeal bank fees, and complete fast-food surveys that result in free food rewards

The latest update to DoNotPay costs $3 per month. It includes DoNotSign, which lets the user upload a license agreement, and the app will highlight warnings and loopholes.

DoNotPay was created by Joshua Browder. This blog post is largely based on the post “Cool Tools 2019 Spotlight: DoNotPay” by law librarian Tawnya Plumb, via the American Association of Law Libraries.

By: Eve Ross, Reference Librarian
University of South Carolina School of Law Library
SC Bar Technology Committee

Personalized Recommendations for Reducing Tech Distraction

When people are overwhelmed and distracted by technology, it can feel like too much effort to sort through all the available tech tips out there, looking for workable solutions. Screentime Genie can help.

If you go to screentime.stanford.edu, a free chatbot called Screentime Genie will walk you through a short series of questions. Based on your answers and on behavioral research, the chatbot will provide a few links to tech tips that are likely relevant to helping you reduce your screentime.

For example, when the chatbot asked my goals, I responded: managing email, managing distraction, and mindfulness. When asked what systems I use, I said Windows and Chrome. Finally, when asked how much time I have, I requested tips that will take five minutes just once—not longer than that, and not requiring daily habits to be rebuilt.

Based on these answers, the chatbot showed me a short list of six tech tips to choose from. If I had responded differently about my goals or systems or available time, I would have been shown a different set of tips.

I selected three solutions that looked helpful (I could have chosen as many as I wanted), and I clicked “I’m done.” The chatbot then sent me a single email with links only to the three solutions I chose. When I have five minutes, I can click a link in that email message, read one of the tips more closely, and implement it if I want.

Screentime Genie was created by B.J. Fogg, and I learned about Screentime Genie from Beth Kantor’s blog.

Screenshot of screentime.stanford.edu

By: Eve Ross, Reference Librarian
University of South Carolina School of Law Library
SC Bar Technology Committee

Four Tip Friday

  1. I recently went to a CLE at USC Law School entitled How a Solo can be Han Solo – Using Technology for Courtroom Presentations. It was part of the law school’s Legal Tech series. Bill Booth, a lawyer in Columbia, was the speaker. He recommended checking out Miracast, a dongle that acts like a wireless HDMI cable. It is easy to setup and use. You can pick one up for about $40 on Amazon. Bill uses a Microsoft branded Miracast like this one:  https://www.amazon.com/Microsoft-Wireless-Display-Adapter-P3Q-00001/dp/B01AZC3J3M/ref=sr_1_6?keywords=miracast+2.0+microsoft&qid=1574274547&sr=8-6  but there are other brands as well. If you are having trouble with your current setup, consider picking one up and giving it a try. By the way, if you want to see courtroom presentation demonstration featuring Keynote and TrialPad with Apple TV, check out the Galactic Empire v. Han Solo trial on YouTube here  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=giI2t4Gj_sg&t=30s It was part of a CLE for the York County Bar Association and is worth a look.
  2. Gary Moore, Assistant Dean for Academic Technology at USC, writes to remind us not to reuse passwords. Gary writes: “In a February 2019 Google/Harris poll of three thousand adults, sixty five percent of the respondents reuse a password for one or all of their online accounts.   As noted earlier in this article, hackers use information from breached web sites to perform “credential stuffing” to access accounts on other online web sites.   You should never reuse a password for any online site.”
  3. Here is a good tip I received from a solo small firm conference here in Columbia a couple of years ago. If you are an Amazon shopper, and you are wondering if you should pounce on a Black Friday deal, check out camelcamelcamel.com It is a free Amazon price tracker that will give you a better idea as to what kind of deal you are actually getting.
  4. Looking for ways to use your iPad in your practice? Thomas McDow, a lawyer in Rock Hill, uses the Duet app. With it, he can use his iPad as a second monitor. Duet is currently $9.99 on the Apple App Store.

By: Mike Polk, Chair, Technology Committee
Belser & Belser, PA
Columbia, South Carolina

Four Tip Friday

  1. If you are wondering what the Windows key can be used for, check out this article with a useful list of shortcuts:  https://www.techrepublic.com/article/the-complete-list-of-windows-logo-keyboard-shortcuts/  I like Windows logo key + D to display my desktop. Too bad I can’t use it for my real-life desk. 
  2. If you find yourself typing the same thing over and over again, consider using a text expander or text snippet tool. I use BeefText which is open-source, and, without really trying, have a list of about 20 items that I can insert with a few keystrokes (most notably the date). If you want something a little more robust and don’t mind paying, check out this review of TextExpander here:  http://dashboard.mazsystems.com/webreader/63828?page=26
  3. Here are some great tips on how to stay safe using airport wifi:  https://www.lawtechnologytoday.org/2019/11/how-to-stay-safe-on-airport-wifi/  Just in time for the holidays! If you are curious about VPNs, most have a try before you buy option. How do you choose a VPN? The Wirecutter has a great rundown and further explanations here:  https://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best-vpn-service/ 
  4. Speaking of traveling, you may be interested in the What’s In My Bag email newsletter,  https://www.getrevue.co/profile/wimb where “Each week, one interesting person shares four favorite things in their bag.” If you like music, check out the YouTube channel for Amoeba music and its What’s In My Bag channel here:  https://www.youtube.com/user/amoeba  You will get inspiration from what musicians and other artists are listening to and why. 

By: Mike Polk, Chair, Technology Committee
Belser & Belser, PA
Columbia, South Carolina

Running and Running: Easy and Painless Ways to Keep Up with Technology

Keeping up with legal technology sometimes reminds me of the lyrics of a Pink Floyd song: 

“And you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking, 

Racing around to come up behind you again” 

Here are some resources to help you keep up with – and stay on top of – technology issues that affect lawyers personally and professionally.   

Any discussion of legal technology starts with the resources available with your SC Bar membership. If you haven’t checked out the Bar website in a while, I would encourage you to see what is new there. The Bar Technology Committee has assembled a tremendous amount of material on a wide array of tech topics at http://www.scbar.org/tech, including tech competency (with sections on basic computer skills and training resources). Additionally, the Practice Management Assistance Program (PMAP) has a wide range of helpful tech links and resources at http://www.scbar.org/pmap.  

The Bar eBlast newsletter contains regular, timely tech tips that you can use immediately. If you missed any, you can catch up with the eBlast archives on the Bar’s website. Every year, the Bar CLE Division increases its tech offerings, including full day CLEs featuring nationally recognized speakers. Additionally, the stable of on demand CLEs, including Tech CLEs, is always growing. 

If you are a cheapskate thrifty like me, and books are your preferred medium of learning, check out the Bar lending library (online list at http://www.scbar.org/lendinglibrary) which stocks books on practice management and technology from the ABA and other publishers. It has titles such as Cloud 3.0 | Drafting and Negotiating Cloud Computing Agreements, The Internet of Thing Legal Issues, Policy and Practical Strategies, and the 2019 Solo and Small Firm Legal Technology Guide. The Bar constantly updates the titles available, so it is worth checking the new titles periodically. New books are tweeted out @SCBar_PMAP. 

Most attorneys I know use email as their primary form of communication. If you don’t want to sign up for a bunch of newsletters, check out the Technolawyer website. There are several newsletters available, and during the week you will get a curated list of links to articles specifically related to legal tech and tech issues in general.  Most newspapers, magazines, and other news websites have a specific business newsletter available. For more tech related coverage, CNET, How-To-Geek, and Tom’s Guide are all excellent resources. For cybersecurity related coverage, Krebs on Security provides a lot of good information. The SANS.org site has several good newsletters. OUCH is probably the most useful and informative for most people with an interest in, or need to be generally aware of, security threats. For good tech deals for personal or business use, you can sign up for the Wirecutter Deals and CNET Cheapskate newsletters. 

If you enjoy reading blogs, Law Technology Today is a good place to start. It provides an excellent overview of technology issues and, as the title suggests, focuses on lawyers. The Lawsites blog from Bob Ambrogi tracks legal news, websites, and products, and the Ride the Lightning blog, written by Sharon Nelson, discusses ediscovery and information security.  They both provide digestible amounts of information. If you need some more ideas, the ABA publishes a list every year of the top 100 legal blogs.  

Podcasts are a great way to keep tabs on tech issues and developments. The Digital Edge is an outstanding podcast in which Jim Calloway and Sharon Nelson conduct interviews and discuss issues related to law and tech. Digital Detectives features Sharon Nelson (again) and John Simek discussing computer forensics, ediscovery, and information security issues. The Kennedy-Mighell Report, featuring Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell, considers how technology can help attorneys. All three of those podcasts are directed at attorneys and their hosts are nationally known speakers on legal tech topics.  (As an aside, Nelson and Simek will be speaking at the 2020 Bar Convention and I am as excited as a teenager in one of those old film clips of people watching the Beatles get off a plane.) 

Other cybersecurity centered podcasts include the Cyberwire, a podcast that will give perspective on the many and varied current threats that are out there. Hacking Humans does a great job educating about scams, social engineering, phishing schemes, and online criminal activity. Hosts Dave Bittner and Joe Carrigan make what can sometimes be a dry or overwhelming topic manageable and enjoyable, and it will help you become more aware of the dangers in the online world. The episode entitled “Just Because I Trusted You Yesterday Doesn’t Mean I Trust You Today” featured an interview with the IT director for an Orlando Florida law firm that thwarted an attempt to misdirect settlement funds by paying attention and using some common sense. Other good informative and entertaining podcasts are Reply All, Grumpy Old Geeks, and Clockwise. If you are more interested in legal management, systems, and technology, the Lean Law Firm (co-hosted by Dave Maxfield, SC Bar member and frequent CLE speaker) is worth a try.  

If you take a little time to avail yourself of the (mostly free) resources out there, you should have no trouble keeping up with technology that you use both personally and professionally. To quote GI Joe, “Knowing is half the battle.” 

By: Mike Polk, Chair
SC Bar Technology Committee
Belser & Belser, PA
Columbia, South Carolina

National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No, not that one, the other one – Cybersecurity Awareness Month!

It is a great time to review some of the basics yourself and with your staff. If you are looking for some ideas, check out the toolkit here: https://niccs.us-cert.gov/national-cybersecurity-awareness-month-2019 (part of the Homeland Security website).

As with any good celebration, it has a theme: OWN IT, SECURE IT, PROTECT IT. The entire toolkit is worth saving for reference (and, at 9 pages, an easier and less stressful read than the comments to any given news story.)

Here are some highlights:

  • Own it. Understand your devices and applications, check your privacy settings on the websites you use, use safe social media practices, and don’t let tech own you.
  • Secure it. Criminals are getting better and better. Five years ago most email scams were laughable – poor formatting, poor appearance, poor grammar, misspellings, and outlandish claims. While those persist, there are many more sophisticated attempts made that can fool those who are unwary or in a hurry. Consider changing your passwords or passphrases if you haven’t in awhile, do not reuse passwords, (bonus points for using a password manager) enable multi-factor authentication where available, and pause before you reply with sensitive information to requests that are out of the ordinary or that create a perceived emergency.
  • Protect it. Stay on top of your digital life. Close unused accounts and practice good cyber hygiene and practices. Make sure to do things like change the default passwords on your internet of things devices (you know, stuff like your smart refrigerator, your smart camera, and your smart socks.)

It has been said that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Well, it is now the price of being a part of the digital world. As the sergeant in Hill St. Blues used to say, “Let’s be careful out there.”

Written by:

Michael J. Polk, Chair, South Carolina Bar Technology Committee
Belser & Belser
Columbia, SC