ELAWYER BLOG

Technology v. Lawbreakers

Rapid developments in technology are improving life and causing massive paradigm shifts in all areas, and they have had a large impact on the legal profession. The same computerization of records that is assisting the medical industry also helps out the law, which may be the leading consumer and doer of paperwork in the world. Thanks to systems like phone records, email logs and scanned documentation, the files needed to pursue cases are nearly always at hand, likely through a personal computer.

Communication is greatly enhanced. No longer is it necessary to travel in order to see someone face to face – instead, you have the option of a phone call, or an email, or a text message, or video chat, or one of any number of other digital communications options. This easy and cheap access to connection technology means that lawyers and other members of the legal profession can easily get together in a digital room from all over the world for a conference whenever one is required. If you need a consult, just dial up the person on your smart-phone, take a picture or scan of the documentation in question with the phone’s camera, send it to the other party, and discuss the file in real-time.

In terms of research, the Internet is the greatest gift. Powerful search tools such as Google and the frequency of data uploads to the public domain means that the days of reference librarians may be over because anyone from a school child doing a report on the Constitution to a lawyer tracking down obscure records can find the necessary information via a computer terminal. The downside is that some additional verification may be required – with the proliferation of blogs and the “everyone-can-edit” approach of sites such as Wikipedia, there is no guarantee that the data you find is accurate or objective. Then again, that has always been the case.

The Advent of Three-Dimensional Technology

The three-dimensional, or 3D technology that has been so popular in theaters has now come to your home computer and laptop. Nvidia, which is a prominent producer of graphics chips, has announced a new opportunity on its site, titled 3DVisionLive.

This site answers the demand that has risen for this type of technology for general users. People can go to the site and share with other three-dimensional photographs that they have taken. Users can also troll through the site to see 3D works from photographers who work in the field for a living and who have posted their shots, as well. To view the 3D images correctly, you will need the right system requirements. Once you have them, you can see stunning pictures in a whole new way.

The site opens up even more opportunities for viewing various videos and trailers for popular movies coming out, all in the latest 3D technology. It also utilizes newer 3D vision technology that Nvidia has put out or past technology that requires the use of special glasses to help the viewer see in three dimensions. The newer technology works beautifully in tandem with newer computers fitted out for this type of viewing experience. This broader availability makes for greater demand from the general public.

As more people purchase the equipment outfitted for this type of experience, the market is having to deal with a number of issues. These include support for the new hardware, how to distribute content efficiently to viewers, and dealing with issues related to compatibility.

The spread of 3D technology brings exciting opportunities to several areas like photography, video, and other areas of home electronics. Professionals will also have to imagine their craft in a whole new way. Nvidia has opened up a Pandora’s box of new possibilities that people can only begin to imagine.

Legal Advice and Research

Often individuals looking for legal advice simply don’t know where to turn. With so many branches of the law and types of lawyers available, it can be an overwhelming process to find a quality and affordable lawyer. But with so many resources now available on the Internet, the process has been greatly simplified. All it takes is a quick search in order to find hundreds of lawyers within minutes of any location, and some sites offer ratings and comments from those who have previously utilized each lawyer’s services.

Another great way the Internet has helped in the legal field is the information available for research that is just a few clicks away. Individuals can perform a quick web search on past cases and rulings, and find thousands of case studies and other information, often available at no charge.

Some websites also feature updates to legal practices, billing, and other valuable information that lawyers may not have access to otherwise. One of the most useful tools is Google Scholar, which allows for searches of any United States case law. Users can easily perform free searches for opinions of cases and legal journals, in full-text format, as well as patents and basic articles. It is very easy to use, especially for those who are already familiar with Google, as the search is done in exactly the same way. A search can be performed using any information available, such as topic, citation, lawyer name, or case name.

Using advanced search limits results based on jurisdiction or the state where the case took place. This feature also offers assistance with performing a Boolean search if the case in question cannot be located. Citations are also given in search results, which show up as quoted information from the actual case.  The search also provides additional sources with further information about the case, under the “Related Documents” tab.

A Guide to Finding Legal Assistance

Often, people will hire the first attorney who speaks to them, and sometimes people may decide to hire an attorney based upon his or her advertisements, without even meeting the legal representative. Unless you want to suffer in court, this is not what you should do. Here are some guidelines to follow when looking for legal assistance:

1. Check an Attorney’s Expertise

Don’t just hire anyone; get to know their skills and abilities. If they studied medical copyrights and you have an international taxation case, that makes a big difference. A smart consumer should research the attorney to ensure that he or she is skilled in a specific area of the trial. For example social security lawyers have a different set of expertise than personal injury lawyers .

2. Fees Matter

Don’t just go with your gut! Do not hire anyone without finding out his or her average rates. Check rates and make sure the lawyer is a good value.

3. Don’t Use Your Attorney as a Therapist

Attorneys can be very supportive and such good listeners. However, many attorneys charge a fee for time spent consulting with clients. Paying $600 per hour to be heard by your attorney is not a good value. Save your consulting time to discuss things that are pertinent to your case. It’s a good idea to hire your attorney based on their professionalism and hire a good listener/therapist separately.

4. Pick a Lawyer who has a Compatible Schedule

If you and your attorney have a compatible schedule, you can find time to work together. If he or she is over-booked, you’ll find that no matter how much you pay per hour, you won’t get the service you deserve.

In short, you should do your homework and meet prospective lawyers in person to get a feel for their level of organization and professionalism. Ask important questions and find out if your schedules work well together. If you play it safe, your day in court with your attorney may go more smoothly.

Technology and Court Reporting

One of the fastest growing career fields today is that of court reporting. Statistics indicate that this field will see a growth rate that could be as high as 18 percent by 2018. The technology used by court reporters is also growing; some courts are installing completely automated reporting systems. This may sound bad for human court reporters but the technological advances will actually produce more jobs than it eliminates.

While used mainly in courtrooms, court report technology is also used during other legal proceedings such as depositions and such. Court reporting makes a record of what is done and said during the proceedings to protect not only the court but the other participants (witnesses, attorneys and so on) as well.

Early court reporters used pen and ink up until about the late 1800s. In the late 1870s, the first stenotype machine was introduced. The Stenomask was introduced in the 1940s and these two machines were the main technologies used by court reporters.

Types of Court Reporting

The stenographic system is the most commonly used today and uses a stenotype machine. These machines use a series of buttons that translates to letters and words.

Electronic reporting uses audio technology. This technology does still require a person who takes notes about what is actually happening in the court, such as who is actually talking and any physical actions.

Another form of court reporting is voice writing, where a reporter speaks into a special microphone with a voice silencer.

Automated Systems

Because the court systems are experiencing budget cuts, some have decided to choose automated reporting systems. No human court reporter is required as this system entails both video and audio recording technology. If transcription is needed, it can be done at another location. There are many opportunities to embrace this new technology as a career.

Suicide Letters on Facebook

Only in gloomy science fiction had a topic so morbid been addressed before. While deaths occurred on live television before, an announced intention to commit suicide and then carrying out the act seems more like it belongs in a fictional world than in the headlines.

Forty-two year-old Simone Back issued an alert that announced her intention to commit suicide via Facebook. Despite putting this cry for help in her status, not a single person out of her more than 1,000 Facebook friends acted in an attempt to save her. The British based Daily Mail reports that Black’s Facebook status read, “Took all my pills be dead soon bye bye everyone.” She died on Christmas Day 2010.

Rather than act in sympathy or to try to help Back, her Facebook wall contained multiple obtuse messages that expressed doubt or even seemed to dare her to act. It took more than 17 hours for police to respond to the posting and break down the door of her residence, where she was found dead.

Back’s mother said that some friends who did not live in the area attempted to intercede by asking for her address. No one who lived near here made any attempts. One of Back’s friends said that people argued over how to act or acting as if the suicide attempt was not occurring.

As disturbing as Back’s case is, hers is not the only example of a person announcing their intention to attempt suicide. Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi posted the status of “Jumping off the gw bridge sorry” before his body was found.

The technology of Facebook presents an interesting legal dilemma. There might be a moral obligation to help a Facebook friend in need, but is there a legal one? Currently, the answer is no, but if more cases of suicide announcements via Facebook occur lawmakers and lawyers might seek to punish those that ignore cyber cries for help.

Online Legal Services: Online Divorces

You really can get anything online these days, including a divorce. As technology spurs forward even more with coding and software advances, our reliance on the Internet becomes greater. Legal document templates have long been available online as well as other legal services, but now with a few clicks of your mouse, you can get a divorce.

The Internet isn’t likely to replace lawyers as each of the online legal service websites will quickly point out that their services are for information and advice only. It seems, however, that the days of long drawn out divorce proceedings costing thousands of dollars may well become the exception rather than the rule.

Designed primarily for uncontested divorces, the online divorce services are favored by couples who want a quick dissolution of their marriage. Couples would need to still agree on the standard issues of child custody and support, alimony, and the liquidation and sharing of communal property. Couples would still need to sign a professionally prepared contract, but these documents are available on online divorce websites.

The cost of online divorce is perhaps one of the most attractive features. A traditional conventionally filed divorce with no contest will start at about $1000.00, and go up from there. Online divorces cost an average of about $300.00. This will gain you all the documents you need as well as filing instructions. Court filing fees are generally not included and neither are notary fees, if applicable.

The second most attractive component of an online divorce is the lack of drama typically associated with conventional divorces. There are no angry mediation sessions, no stern judges looking down at you, no tears as one party or the other feels slighted.

There are many companies offering online legal services, but online divorces are quickly gaining in popularity amongst couples who wish an amicable separation carried out quickly, inexpensively and without unnecessary drama.

Legal Services Offered for Website Creation Issues

If you want to start a personal business online but aren’t sure how to begin, a good starting point is researching passive income options. One wonderful option for Internet-based passive income sources is website creation.

Those individuals with great website ideas or an insight into online user demands make wonderful incomes doing what they love. However, while there are wonderful benefits to using website creation as passive income sources, there are also certain safety precautions to take. A few of those precautions are listed below.

Creating Domain Names

When you are deciding which domain name to create for your website, be sure you don’t violate any copyright issues with the domain name. Many website creators have faced serious legal issues because the domain names they purchased violated the copyrights of major corporations.

For example, if you want to start a blog discussing a certain product you love, it may not be legal to use part of the product’s name in your domain address. Even if you think the corporation will never find your domain or press charges if you are violating their copyright, this is an issue to avoid because it can create a variety of unnecessary problems.

Understanding Plagiarism

If you will be hiring writers to create articles with links to your website for search optimization purposes, ensure the articles aren’t plagiarized by using text searching technology. Many sources are available where you can input text and assess whether or not the copy is original work. You should never use plagiarized material for search engine optimization or other purposes because this can affect your search engine rankings and reduce the credibility of your website.

Consult a Professional

If you have any questions regarding the legal issues of starting a website, consult a professional. Legal professionals who specialize in online issues can aid you in the website creation process and help you bypass the legal dilemmas so many others have faced.

The Law About Sports Betting in the US

Betting on sports has been around about as long as sports have. However, it is illegal to do so in many areas of the world. There are four U.S. states where sports betting is legal even though many sports betting sites online can be accessed from all fifty.

People love watching sports around the world and are all too willing to lay down a friendly wager on who will win as well as various possible points spreads. Sports betting is a thriving industry in the states where it is allowed, however, as well as on various sports betting sites on the Internet. Sports betting is currently allowed in the U.S. states of Nevada, Montana, Delaware, and Oregon.

But the true legality of sports betting in the U.S. is somewhat murky at the moment. Some argue that the Interstate Wire Act of 1961 that prohibits the use of telephone and other “wire containing” devices to be used for the purpose of making bets applies to the Internet today.

Since then, there have been other laws passed in regard to the legality of sports betting via the Internet, like the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. This law prevents American citizens from using checks, electronic funds transfers, and credit cards to finance their activities on Internet sports betting sites. But Barney Frank, keen to generate tax revenue of anywhere from 3 to 15 billion dollars from gambling in the first five years alone, introduced the Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act in 2007. For the moment the future of sports betting sites and Internet betting of sports is very cloudy indeed.

Use the Internet to Research Legal Services

Before you go to a lawyer and pay the big bucks, you might want to do some of your own research regarding your situation. Thanks to modern technology, legal information is posted on the Internet, so you can do your preliminary research with ease. Even if you can’t find a solution to your legal dilemma, your research can offer you a clearer understanding of your situation and offer you options for solutions so you can better communicate with your lawyer.

  • As you begin your journey into legal research, consider using a legal research guide such as Zimmerman’s Research Guide, which offers an online encyclopedia for those interested in legal research.
  • Browse through Internet sites dedicated to law. Sites such as LexisONE and FindLaw generally list material according to legal subjects.
  • Try using keyword searches in your search engine. To make sure you are gathering information from legitimate websites, look for information that is backed up with references. Double-check the references to make sure they are legitimate. Websites that end with .edu and .org tend to be more legitimate than websites and with .com.
  • Log into a law-related forum and ask questions regarding your specific situation. Consider the advice offered by other forum users.
  • Use reference materials from online libraries to sort through various magazines, law journals, and newsletters. Some websites offer information for free while others might charge you a nominal fee.
  • Sign up for electronic newsletters and browse through legal announcements to keep updated on laws. The Cornell University Law Library offers an electronic newsletter, and the American Bar Association offers legal resource announcements.
  • If you are uncomfortable searching for resources on the Internet, go to your local library and ask a reference librarian for some research help.

Keep in mind that your research online opens doors for communication with a lawyer. You are merely using computer technology to keep yourself well informed.

Internet Research is Dynamic

There’s no better way to conduct research on any topic than to turn to the Information Superhighway that is the Internet. Well, make that any legal topic, as mobsters, drug dealers, and those who commit insider trading don’t really put out a lot of information on the how-to’s of their businesses. But for the majority of other topics, books have been supplemented by the resources available in cyberspace. No longer are dusty volumes the end all and be all for information gatherers. That’s because old books are not only dusty and musty, but their information is a bit rusty, too.

Unless you’re looking for information on a static piece of history, books probably aren’t going to provide you with all the information you’d like on a topic. Knowledge in every field of study is constantly expanding, so quoting old facts and figures is not necessarily going to give you the most accurate idea of what’s happening now. Take astronomy, for example. Poor Pluto has been declassified as a planet, after centuries of being known as a planet. When even the planets are subject to updating, it’s important to be able to access the latest thinking and news so that you use accurate information in your research.

None of this is meant to take anything away from books, however. Most books have been well researched, and as such, offer reasonably accurate data as of the date of their printing. Unfortunately, not all information on the Internet is verified as rigorously, so research conducted online should be double checked for accuracy from more than one independent source. Additionally, portions of many researched books are available on the Internet, so it’s sometimes easy to find the “old” information and compare it with the latest thinking on a particular subject. To keep up with a dynamic and ever-changing world, it’s essential to use the most dynamic and frequently updated source!