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How Technology Redefines Law Practice

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A recent post on the blog The Greatest American Lawyer touched on the power of technology in redefining how a law practice operates. In specific, the post dealt with digital dictation and how it allows for an attorney's work to be done from the shower, in the car, or while country line dancing. The anonymous author believes digital dictation will afford him/her the ability to create a paperless law practice. It remains to be seen how effective a paperless business could function, as there would be no evidence to shred.

Technology is not so great anyway. Consider the fate of poor Arthur Dudley, a solo practitioner from Santa Cruz, CA. Dudley made the unfortunate mistake of relying on his computer's spell-check while preparing an opening brief. The computer, not recognizing the Latin phrase for "of one's own accord," replaced "sua sponte" with "sea sponge" throughout the document. This led to unintentionally hilarious phrases in the brief, such as, "It is well settled that a trial court must instruct sea sponge on any defense, including a mistake of fact defense." After Dudley's blunder made it into a article, his story quickly spread throughout the blogosphere. The Dark Goddess of The Dark Goddess of Replevin Speaks says that the fault lies not in spell-check, but in attorneys' reliance on stuffy Latin phrases.

For better or for worse, you can keep your BlackBerryTM. After prodding from Judge James R. Spencer, BlackBerryTM makers Research In Motion paid a $612.5-million settlement to resolve the patent infringement suit against the company. As a shutdown of RIM loomed, the Judge questioned the defendants' sanity in stalling the settlement. According to Farella, Braun + Martel's IP Blawg, the settlement could have been as high as $1 billion.

Last month, CostCo's official newsletter, the preeminent CostCo Connection, reported that taxpayers may be eligible for tax deductions involving personal grooming expenses. We all want to look our best, but can expenditures incurred in pursuit of physical beauty really be deducted from our taxes? CostCo says maybe. The assertion caused Professor James Edward Maule of the law blog MauledAgain to practically freak out, as no such deduction exists anywhere. Maule cited a list of cases that denied deductions for personal grooming. The rant on MauledAgain was actually one of the most hilarious tax-related blog posts ever. Maule got so upset that he researched the article's author and found that he had previously penned tax advice columns in periodicals of less acclaim, including Pizza Today. So the guy made a mistake. I say cut him some slack. We all amke mistakes. In addition, the good people at Pizza Today actually put out a very fine publication.

Speaking of personal grooming, another story that has been passed around the blogosphere involves a memo from a leading U.K. law firm. The memo was highlighted on Gerry Riskin's Amazing Firms, Amazing Practices blog last week. In the memo, the media manager of the firm sent out a casting call for the best-looking attorneys at the firm to come on down and get their pictures taken for an advertisement. In the U.S., such a memo would open the firm up to all kinds of accusations of gender discrimination and who knows what. Caroline Elefant wrote on Inside Opinions: Legal Blogs that the big U.S. firms are equally fixated on their attorneys' looks, but they aren't allowed to speak freely about it like their U.K. counterparts. She muses that her law school classmates with great looks and mediocre grades quickly landed callback interviews with big law firms, while the kids with top grades and oily skin did not fare as well.

Scouring all the legal blogs to compile this weekly law blog wrap-up is often a daunting task. There are literally trillions of blogs out there. 3L Epiphany did us the service of compiling a somewhat-comprehensive list of 500 legal blogs. The list is rather staggering, and there are presumably numerous other blogs that have not yet made it onto the list. Among that 500, Opinio Juris singled out the 25 most popular law blogs. Based on monthly traffic, Opinio Juris ranked the conservative news and law blog Volokh Conspiracy at number one. At number two was the appellate litigation blog How Appealing, and at number three was the politics and law blog ProfessorBainbridge. Several Opinio Juris readers registered their disgust with the list, claiming it was not an accurate representation of the most popular law blogs. Bloggers who decline to use traffic meters on their sites are ineligible for consideration on the list. In addition, RSS feeds are not counted when tabulating the number of hits each law blog receives. So watch out!

As the blogosphere grows, more and more bloggers are linking to other bloggers, creating a vast network of interconnected blogs referencing each other back and forth. Blogrolls are a laundry list of blogs commonly featured on the sidebar of a blog. They were recently the subject of a campaign by Objective Justice's Sean Sirrine, in which he tried to encourage the use of blogrolls. David Giacalone of Harvard's premier poetry and law blog f/k/a… declared jihad on blogrolls. On f/k/a..., Giacalone, an eternal curmudgeon, declared blogrolls to be too much to read. While blogrolls are a good way to give props to like-minded bloggers, they can be a little cumbersome. I agree with f/k/a… If I had a blogroll, I would limit it to just one blog. This one: ThisIsMyComputerBlog. Trust me, it's the only one you'll ever need. Check it out.

Jeff is a writer from Los Angeles, CA. Currently, he is the moderator of the message boards at, the largest insider source of law firm information.

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