A timely AP article on the growing number of self-represented litigants in U.S. courts, which includes a nod to the role that statewide websites play in providing legal information and forms. -M
While not technology related, this National Law Journal article on the FDIC's announcement that IOLTA funds are immediately eligible for insurance coverage under the Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program (TGLP) should be of interest to folks in our community. "Abandoning IOLTA would have been catastrophic for IOLTA programs in all 50 states, which provide funding for legal aid for the poor," said [ABA President H. Thomas] Wells. "Moving the accounts to larger banks would have defeated the FDIC's purpose in creating the TLGP." -M
The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) has just released an updated version of the report, Technologies That Should Be in Place in a Legal Aid Office Today, which incorporates feedback from grantees and an advisory group. According to the LSC, they "will rely on the report when reviewing the technology plans that grantees will be required to submit along with their 2010 grant applications and renewals." -M
It's more than halfway through November, and I've neglected to point out a very important fact: it's NTEN Member Appreciation Month. Members have the chance to win prizes, get discounts on tech-related products, and attend free webinars. A few items that you might be interested in:
- Podcasting 4+1 Webinar (Session materials and recording are available.)
- Ask the Expert - Andrew Turner on GIS (Session materials and recording are available.)
- 10 Tactics for Growing Your Online Community (Live on 11/20/2008 at 2 pm Eastern.)
All of these materials are free for NTEN members. Isn't it great to be loved? - K
Law School Clinics are an important partner in the delivery of legal services to the poor. Not only do they provide needed direct services to low-income individuals, they also offer meaningful opportunities for law students to engage in legal work and help to foster commitments by young lawyers to use their legal skills in the service of justice.
Recently I came across an incredible resource on clinical legal education called the National Archive of Clinical Legal Education, which is housed at the Columbus School of Law of the Catholic University of America. The site contains an extensive bibliography of articles and conference proceedings on clinical legal education, articles on the history of various clinics, and wonderful transcripts of oral histories by those involved in the development of clinical legal education, including Gary Bellow, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Philip Schrag. -M
I miss the days when I could yell down the hall and check to see if my "Internet problem" was everyone elses' problem, too. Now that I work from home, I have to do a lot more checking to see if the problem is my computer, my network, or some bigger issue that I have little control over. To troubleshoot these problems, I have my own set of steps that I walk through, but I haven't had a good way to check the Internet's overall health.
However, last week, thanks to Andy Carvin, I found a new tool to do just that: Internet Health Report. Using this site, you can monitor the availability and latency of the major Tier One carriers. Granted, it's not going to help if you can't connect to the Internet at all, but it will give you a better idea of whether your network is just being pokey or if the Internet is slow in general. - K
Illinois Legal Aid Online has just launched a wonderful new online video called Doing Justice: Stories from the Front Line of Legal Aid, which features candid interviews with front line legal aid lawyers in Illinois. More background on the project is available here. -M
The Internet has given us plenty of opportunities to voice our opinions on a wide variety of topics. We had Hot or Not, RateMyProfessors.com, and Avvo, the site where you can rate your lawyer. I think that most of us agree that these sites generally won't boost our job performance. But at last, the Internet has given geeks a rating site that could make them more productive: Rate My Network Diagram. This site provides both an opportunity to learn more about computer networking and network documentation, as well as to receive feedback about a network set up. A h/t to Garrett Bladow for pointing this site out. His favorite network includes Godzilla. - K
The American Immigration Law Foundation's Immigration Policy Center (IPC) has just launched a new blog called Immigration Impact. According to the IPC, "Immigration Impact was developed to help reshape the immigration debate in a way that will bring us closer to comprehensive immigration reform. The blog will provide thoughtful and rapid-response commentaries and insights on the latest news and events so that you can be up-to-date with what's going on with the immigration debate." -M
"A new Web site launched by four national legal organizations will help victims of disasters find valuable information and assistance to speed recovery from hurricanes, fires, floods or other disasters. The site is sponsored by the American Bar Association, Legal Services Corporation, National Legal Aid & Defender Association and Pro Bono Net." You can read the full press release here and visit the new site here. -M
I print . . . a lot, so I'm not about to chastise anyone else for printing. But I do want to encourage you to be smarter about it. I, for example, have set my printer to automatically print on both sides of the paper and often print two pages on each side. I'm also trying to be good about recycling and reusing paper instead of throwing it out.
If you don't know how to set your printer to print on both sides of the paper, check out the TechSoup.org article on duplexing. Another neat resource is the Environmental Defense Fund's Paper Calculator, which can help you determine how much of an environmental impact different types of paper have. - K
The New York LawHelp Consortium has been chosen as a semifinalist for The Collaboration Prize, a new $250,000 award that recognizes and encourages collaboration among nonprofit organizations. Made up of 11 legal aid, bar and pro bono organizations, the New York LawHelp Consortium was nominated for the prize by the Hon. Juanita Bing Newton, Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for Justice Initiatives for the New York State Unified Court System. It is among 30 semifinalists chosen from 644 nominations. The press release is available here. Congrats LawHelp/NY! -M
On Tuesday, November 18, 2008 TechSoup Talks is offering a free webinar on "Reducing Your Paper Usage." Anna Jaeger from TechSoup Global's GreenTech Program will interview Steve Adams from Protus, the maker of MyFax, a paperless fax solution. The webinar will be held from 10-11am Pacific. You can register online here. -M
An interesting article in Law Technology News by Ronald J. Levine and Susan L. Swatski-Lebson, which discusses "a social networking site user's right to privacy, an adversary's right to obtain information from that site and the admissibility of the information." -M
Just a heads up--O'Reilly Media is hosting a free Twitter for Business webinar today, Thursday, November 13, at 1 pm Eastern. - K
On November 19 - 22, 2008 the National Legal Aid and Defender Association (NLADA) will be hosting its annual conference at the Marriott Wardman Park in Washington, DC. A number of folks from our community will be presenting sessions and even more will be attending the conference. Below are a few technology sessions that may be of interest:
Wednesday, November 19th
2:35 pm - 4:15 pm
Expanding Presence through Outreach
Presenters: Kate Bladow, Christine Mandiloff, Deb House
Thursday, November 20th
3:15 pm - 4:45 pm
Language Access and Technology: Reaching Limited English Proficient Clients with Technology
Presenters: Liz Keith, Tillie Lacayo, Leah Margulies, Michael Mule
3:15 pm - 4:45 pm
Technology Planning 101: Developing Service Based Plans for Programs and State Networks
Presenters: Kate Bladow, Kathleen Brockel, Jim Dill, Glenn Rawdon
Friday, November 21st
10:15 am - 11:45 am
Using Multimedia Content to Improve Web-Based Delivery of Legal Services
Presenters: Liz Keith, Jeff Narabrook
2:15 pm - 3:45 pm
Innovations in Pro Se Litigation Tools
Presenters: Liz Keith, Claudia Johnson, Marc Theriault, Ed Marks, Mary Neal
In addition to these sessions, there are a number of others relating to statewide websites, document assembly and legal aid technology initiatives. For the full agenda, visit the conference website.
Kate has also promised to blog and "tweet" her way through a few sessions, so be on the lookout for updates. Also, this year NLADA has setup a social network for conference attendees, which can be accessed here. -M
Last week, it's likely that you overlooked two interesting conversations that happened on the Internet. They weren't publicized and they were pretty spontaneous, but both point to the potential value of blogging for our community.
- Ken Montenegro started a conversation about cloud computing and what software people use to keep their data accessible on his LSNTAP blog.
- Mike Monahan started an impromptu conversation about access to justice and pro bono in rural areas on Twitter. Both he and Liz Keith had some great insights.
The good news: because these conversations are online and asynchronous, you haven't missed them. You can still react and share your thoughts. - K
Nominations are open for the second annual James I. Keane Memorial Award for Excellence in eLawyering, which is awarded by the Law Practice Management Section of the American Bar Association to law offices or legal organizations that have developed legal service innovations delivered over the Internet. The Award Guidelines and Nomination Forms can be found here. The deadline for submission is January 15, 2009. -M (Thanks, Marc.)
"Last Call," an interesting new iPhone app developed by the folks at Avvo, helps you calculate your blood alcohol level (based on the number and type of drinks you've had) and find a lawyer in case you are pulled over for driving while intoxicated. You can read more about it here and download the free app here. -M
In recognition of Veterans Day, we wanted to highlight opportunities for attorneys to get involved in assisting veterans and military personnel with their legal needs. Below are four projects that do just that. By providing opportunities and resources for lawyers to offer pro bono legal services, ranging from protecting veterans benefits to providing general civil legal assistance to active-duty military personnel, these projects help to ensure that those who serve our country are not left without legal representation on issues that fundamentally impact their livelihoods.
ABA Military Pro Bono Project - The American Bar Association's Military Pro Bono Project connects active-duty military personnel to free legal assistance for civil legal issues beyond the scope of services provided by a military legal assistance office.
National Veterans Legal Services Program - NVLSP is an independent, nonprofit, veterans service organization dedicated to ensuring that the U.S. government honors its commitment to our veterans by providing them the federal benefits they have earned through their service to our country. NVLSP recently launched Lawyers Serving Warriors, which provides free legal representation in disability, discharge and veterans benefits cases to service members and veterans who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) or Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).
The Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program - The Veterans Consortium was created by a grant from the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) as authorized by the U.S. Congress. It is an ongoing cooperative effort by four national veterans service organizations - The American Legion, the Disabled American Veterans, the National Veterans Legal Services Program and the Paralyzed Veterans of America.
Project SALUTE - Project SALUTE provides free assistance and/or representation to thousands of low-income veterans exclusively on federal benefits issues throughout the United States. -M
A key responsibility for system administrators is to keep unauthorized people out, and it's not an easy job. The security landscape changes rapidly, and hackers start to use new tactics even before their current methods fail. News stories of data theft from multi-million dollar companies are becoming more frequent.
While legal aid organizations are not high-profile targets, their system administrators still need to keep their guards up. Legal aid organizations collect a lot of valuable information, including social security numbers, evidence and arguments for court cases, and names, phone numbers, and addresses of domestic violence survivors, who are likely trying to avoid being found. And as we all know, legal aid programs don't have a whole lot of extra money to spend on fancy security systems.
Fortunately, there is a free option: SNORT. SNORT is an open-source network intrusion prevention and detection system. System administrators give SNORT a set of rules to follow, and SNORT analyzes your network traffic based on those rules. It alerts you to probes, attacks, and other things that aren't quite right. A special Free Friday bonus: Emerging Threats, which is funded by the National Science Foundation and the Army Research Office, has a set of SNORT rules available for free.
Granted, the total cost of ownership of this software is not free. There is a significant learning curve; however, there are additional free resources to help system administrators learn how to use the tool and a large user community, including Snort User Groups, that system administrators can turn to with questions. - K
comScore, Inc. recently released a report that for the first time shows the demographics of iPhone owners. It reveals that "while 43 percent of iPhone owners earn in excess of $100,000 annually, the strongest growth in users is coming from those earning less than the median household income." Specifically, the report indicates that "iPhone adoption since June 2008 rose 48 percent among those earning between $25,000 and $50,000 per year and by 46 percent among those earning between $25,000 and $75,000. These growth rates are three times that of those earning more than $100,000 per year." As we've suggested in the past, mobile technology has enormous potential for delivering legal information and advice to low and moderate-income individuals. -M
The ABA Journal reports that a computer technician at Harvard Law School Clinic in Jamaica Plain lost a backup tape in the subway. This tape contains over 8,000 records for legal services clients and 13,000 records for other people, which contained Social Security Numbers and other personal data. - K
Everyone has a different scheme for creating passwords. Perhaps it's your favorite book titles, strings of random characters that make sense to you, or your children's names. Ideally, your scheme follows recognized best practices: using a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols, having more than seven characters, not using easy-to-guess words, and never using the same password twice. Myself, I'm becoming a huge fan of SafePasswd, because it means that I get closer to following these recommendations without having to come up with any passwords on my own.
But even if you employ these best practices, do you know how strong your passwords is? Or for those weak passwords that you just never get around to changing, do you know how quickly they can be cracked? To find out, try Hackosis' Brute Force Calculator. Enter how many upper case letters, lower case letters, numbers, and special characters that you have in your password, and it will tell you how long it will take to crack your password. The results might surprise you. - K
On occasion, I need to direct people to a specific page in a PDF. This often happens when I'm e-mailing someone a link to a PDF that's been posted online. Because I don't always remember how to do it, I take the lazy way out, and recipients often get an e-mail that says, "Hey read the great article on page 157." They are then forced to page through to page 157.
However, the other day, Pam Weisz, Pro Bono Net's Director of Corporate Sponsorship, asked me if this could be done. I did a quick search to find the answer for her. For the rest of you who may not know and for the sanity of my e-mail recipients, I thought that I'd document it here.
To link to a specific page in a PDF document, add #page=n, where n is the page number, to the URL. For example, the URL to link someone to the third page of the USCIS I-9 form would be http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/i-9.pdf#page=3. - K
LSC just announced that the 2009 Technology Initiative Grant (TIG) Conference will be held January 21-23, 2008 in Austin, TX. Registration will be handled a little differently this year: Starting today - November 4, 2008 - the registration system is open for all 2008 TIG Grantees. If you are a 2008 Grantee, you can register now here. Registration for the rest of the community will open on December 1, 2008.
This year's conference will have three concurrent tracks:
- Tech Track - this track is targeted at technologists. Session topics may include: Network Security, Computer Use Policies, Document Assembly How Tos, and Centralized vs. Decentralized Network Configurations.
- Lawyer Track - this track is for program advocates and senior management. Session topics may include: Visualizing Data - presenting data as information, Google Apps and Web-based Collaboration Tools, and Technology Planning with Lawyers in Mind.
- Management Track (New) - this track is for program administrators or management staff. Session topics may include: Supervision of Remote Employees, Technology Planning and Budgeting, Managing Technology Projects, and Online Fundraising.
The draft Conference agenda is available here. For questions about registration and/or the conference, contact Joyce Raby at jaraby at gmail.com. -M
I love my right to vote! If you haven't voted yet or aren't planning on voting, stop what you are doing, go, and make me happy. (Come on, so far I've used two exclamation points in this post. That should tell you how happy it would make me.)
If you paid attention to this year's campaigns, you saw the important role that technology played, but if not, pay attention today. Technology is being used in new and exciting ways to make certain that people get to vote and help them to document their voting stories. A few examples:
- TwitterVoteReport.com: This site tracks voting experiences, including wait times. And you can even report your own experience.
- Voter Interview: Jill Foster used Utterli to interview a first-time voter about his experience, and YouTube has set up a site where you can post a video of your voting experience. (Two sites to help you create this content: NetSquared, which tells you how to use Utterli, and a link from blogdiva, which has some great tips about guerilla broadcasting with your cell phone.)
- VoterStory.org: This group is collecting voter complaints. They've created a widget that you can put on your website to help readers submit their complaints.
And I am certain that there are plenty more. Keep your eyes and ears open today, and you'll hear about them. If you do, please take a minute to highlight them in the comments below. - K
Unless you are one of the lucky few in the access-to-justice community with a real document management system, there's a chance that you are still forced to come up with your own file names and put those documents in folders, like me. This not an easy task. If you look in my folders, at the top level you'll currently find files named "Hello.doc," "projects.doc," and "states.xls"--not particularly noteworthy names. I pity the person who has to go through my files if I get hit by a bus.
For those of you who struggle to name files appropriately like I do, check out Get-It-Done Guy's podcast on file naming conventions. He provides some great, easy recommendations to improve how you name files. - K
In a recent podcast, Lisa B. Marshall, the host of The Public Speaker: Quick and Dirty Tips For Improving Your Communication Skills, covered a topic that trips up most attorneys at some point in their career--communicating with people who have different expectations for how conversations and communications should proceed. - K
For those of use who don't have a paid web designer on staff, MailChimp is trying to help make our HTML emails a little prettier. They have made several HTML email templates available for free. Programs that want to experiment with e-newsletters or fundraising e-mails can use these templates to add a little panache without any expense. - K