Dropbox 101 for Lawyers and Law Firms

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An attorney is only as valuable as the amount of information that they can readily access. With that said, there is not a day that goes by that I do not use Dropbox. It is an awesome tool that turns your mobile devices into electronic filing cabinets.

Dropbox is popular with lawyers. According to the ABA’s most-recent technology survey, 58% of lawyers use Dropbox, making it the most popular online file storage option among lawyers. Here is everything you need to know about Dropbox, from how to install it to securing your client files.

For more see, Dropbox for Lawyers and Law Firms: the User Guide

Never say Never: DE Chancery Court issues first arrest warrant

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The Delaware Court of Chancery this week did something that, as far as anyone can tell, it has never done before. It issued an arrest warrant.

The unusual action by Vice Chancellor Donald Parsons Jr. came in a lawsuit filed by W. L. Gore and Associates against a former employee and research scientist – Huey Shen Wu of Newark – who the company claims is misappropriating Gore trade secrets and property.

Parsons issued the order calling for Wu’s arrest after weeks of warning him that he was in contempt of court and faced possible imprisonment if he did not comply with an order to surrender his U.S. passport, Taiwanese passport, Chinese visas and other Chinese travel documents.

Widener Law School professor Lawrence A. Hamermesh, who specializes in Chancery Court matters, said he was surprised by the move and did not realize the court had that power. “It is news to me,” he said.

See, Chancery Court issues unprecedented arrest warrant

Eliminate these terms from your legal writing

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Legalese (noun) – the formal and technical language of legal documents that is often hard to understand.

Since its inception, the use of peculiar legal terms has become a legal writing rights of passage. Are the terms effective? Yes. But, whether they are really needed is up for debate. Young attorneys often face this decision with uncertainty. Whether to replace the murky legal terms with clear language or stick with them in an effort to show that they too can write just as confusing is the question.

This article advocates for the deletion of “such” terms. The piece is extremely informative and persuasive, as Bryan Garner does an excellent job of thoroughly explaining the reasoning for his position. Listing numerous sources on the definition/use of each word and why it should be banned.

Keeping a banned-word list is hardly unique to newspapers. The novelist Ambrose Bierce kept a “Little Blacklist of Literary Faults,” published nearly a century ago. He despised committed suicide, preferring instead killed himself (or herself). He likewise disapproved of decease for die, executed for hanged (or put to death), expectorate for spit, inaugurate for begin, prior to for before and so on. He wasn’t fond of genteelisms. No real stylists are.

Legal drafters could benefit from a similar verbal blacklist—a simple list of words that do nothing but blemish the documents that contain them. Learn them and ax them.

and/or Is it a word? Is it a phrase? American and British courts have held that and/or is not part of the English language. The Illinois Appellate Court called it a “freakish fad” and an “accuracy-destroying symbol.” The New Mexico Supreme Court declared it a “meaningless symbol.” The Wisconsin Supreme Court denounced it as “that befuddling, nameless thing, that Janus-faced verbal monstrosity.” More recently, the Supreme Court of Kentucky called it a “much-condemned conjunctive-disjunctive crutch of sloppy thinkers.”

See, Ax These Terms from Your Legal Writing

You have the right to remain silent, anything you Tweet can & will be used against you

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“When the, streets is watching Blocks keep clocking Waiting for you to break, make your first mistake…” – Jay Z

Those infamous lyrics apply now, more than ever. Yet, the glaring social media acts of others continue to amaze. Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram (just to name a few), grant us an immediate connection with the world. Our own, readily available soapbox to project (type) our voice (words), for the world to hear (read). When used properly they are amazing tools; a means to share opinions on current events and personal experiences. But, it all comes at a great price – a gift and a curse, if you will.

As the old adage goes, “to whom much is given much is required.” Convenient access to social mediums eliminate the filtering process that would naturally occur when publicizing one’s feelings. It is thus important to not allow the relaxed forum to delude you. You are still responsible for your thoughts and actions, arguably to a higher degree once those thoughts are posted and available for anyone to derive or attach their own meaning.

Every week in the news, we are confronted with a controversial post made by someone on social media. Often, followed with regret and attempts to redact or delete; but unfortunately, once posted, the damage is already done. Recently, it was Richard Incognito of the Miami Dolphins who could not help himself.

Afterwards, water cooler conversations promptly begin questioning how the offender could be so reckless (my mother taught me to never call anyone dumb, so I will refrain). From the outside looking in, it is always a terrible idea, so why do we continue to see these same mistakes? The examples are endless, Teenager threatens to shoot up school on twitter arresteddrug dealers use Instagram to distribute. The story repeats itself so often that I have concluded it can happen to anyone. I am convinced a social media troll exist, hijacking minds, perusing accounts, and wrecking havoc… No, but seriously, these transgressions have to be addressed.

Going one step further, an individual’s social media profile is often where civil and criminal investigations begin today. These accounts possess an abundance of information; one’s interests, whereabouts, inner-thoughts, perspective, and future plans. Tools such as BrightPlanet’s, BlueJay Law Enforcement Twitter Crime Scanner allow police departments to conduct pre-crime searches on Twitter. Invasive? Maybe, but the rationale is the fact that it helps to prevent future acts of crime. Yes, our very own “Minority Report.” A very slippery slope indeed, but only the future knows where it will lead us.

As an attorney it is imperative that you not only represent yourself well on social networks, but also educate your client. Many individuals consider their account to be secure simply because they mark it private, requiring others to request to view their profile for access first. While this may be quite true, do you know every follower that you accept? Are you sure that long time friend that you accepted is really him or her?

For now, If you are an active ‘social networker’ it is important to take your post seriously. Expect the world to have access to your post, forever! Consequently, post only those things that you are comfortable with anyone seeing. Taking into consideration that your feelings about any given topic may not always be as flagrant as they are now. The post or tweet should be something that with reasonable deference you are OK with 20 years from now. After all, how are you going to feel when your child accuses you of hypocrisy and presents you with your own tweet, after you tell him or her that they cannot do something that, “you tweeted?” :-(

Update:

Not long after completing this piece, I discovered that the Delaware Supreme Court recently ruled on the admissibility of Facebook and social-media evidence. This article written by Molly DiBianca, highlights the importance of social media-evidence and its evolution. See, Delaware Supreme Court Rules On Admissibility of Facebook Evidence

Also see, Four Ways To Protect Your Client from Themselves.

The Semicolon

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Infelicitous is the word I would use to describe my relationship with the semicolon over the years; quite simply, its been complicated. I love its style, look, and bravado, but it seldom reciprocates the feeling. If you can relate, check out the article attached below…

In college, whenever I used a semicolon in a paper, it came back to me with a big red circle around the offending member. I thought semicolons were just inflated commas, and I realized that I had no idea how to use them, and was afraid it was too late to learn, so I decided to do without them. I stuck with what I knew: the common comma, the ignorant question mark, the occasional colon, the proletarian period.

Semicolons; So Tricky

And for a bonus see, Why semicolons are the perfect punctuation for the digital age

‘Dumb Starbucks’ parody shuts down but debate over trademark law & parody continues

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WebbESQ:

I followed this story as it developed over the past week – the author here did a great job summarizing the events thus far.

Here is my response (see original article below):

On the discussion of who has the stronger argument, it gets interesting. First there is the First Amendment and parody vs trademark law. Followed by, dilution by blurring or tarnishment.

The trademark protection argument is weak because it hinges upon the “the likelihood” of consumer confusion. I find it difficult to believe that anyone here is confused. The parody literally attached the word “dumb” to Starbucks name. No one would reasonably believe the two stores are related.

Fielder also has a decent argument against dilution by blurring and tarnishment with §1125(c)(3) of the Lanham Act. In short, the section specifically permits for the parodying of the goods or services of a mark owner. While it protects against injury to the good will and reputation of the mark, here I do not believe Starbucks has suffered much harm. It was fairly clear the act was a prank; it was funny, and the coffee was free!

Over time, if the parody were to remain open (or expand), and a correlation was made with a decline in the public’s perception of Starbucks, then perhaps, an argument may be made for the good will and reputation of Starbucks’ mark. Otherwise, I think it may be considered fair game.

Either way, it will be exciting to see what comes next in this ‘kerfuffle’!

Originally posted on Professor Tonya M. Evans:

By Professor Tonya M. Evans

dumbstarbucks-cupsOn February 9th, The Huff Post and other media outlets reported the grand opening of a store in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles, “Dumb Starbucks”. The clever prankish parody even caught the attention of Forbes:

‘Although it looks like Starbucks, smells like Starbucks and even acts like Starbucks (the super-friendly baristas asking for your name were hired off Craigslist), the whole thing is an elaborate goof on Starbucks culture. A list of Frequently Asked Questions posted on premises compared the place to Weird Al Yankovic’s homage to Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.” Dumb Starbucks, you see, is the “Eat It” of $6 coffee drinks.’ Source: Forbes.com

Amazingly, people stood in line for hours for the Dumb Starbucks java, which reportedly was whatever the local grocery store had on hand for the few days Dumb Starbucks remained open. The locals and media alike seemed to get…

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My Sweet iPhone Setup

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Every so often, the writers over at The Sweet Setup interview a featured guest on the setup of one of their devices (iPhone, iPad, or mac). I find these posts extremely interesting because they expose the reader to the different workflows of industry leaders. While brief, it is generally very enlightening. I often compare it to the simple but once iconic question, “who do you have on your ipod?”

This inspired me to create a similar “Sweet Setup” column, one that may interest young burgeoning attorneys and professionals. If I have learned nothing at all, it is that a great deal can be learned from an individual’s device workflow/setup.

With no further ado, here it is, my self-interviewed iPhone Setup:

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Andre J. Webb and I am a twenty-eight year-old attorney in Delaware. I am also lead writer and editor of The Burgeoning Young Attorney. Through blogging I use my keen interest in law to provide miscellaneous pieces for readers to enjoy. Blogging also enables me to develop a voice in the legal community for young attorneys.

What iPhone do you have?

I believe that a strong integration with technology and efficiency is what will separate good legal services from great ones in the future. As a result, I try to use the latest and greatest. I have a 32GB iPhone 5S in Space Gray.

I am a huge proponent of using folders to group related frequently used applications. Random apps used often are placed into favorite folders. Other folders include different groups of applications whether, writing, reading, research, entertainment, or financially related.

What apps do you use the most, and why?

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