Apps do a lot, but have you read their terms of use?

Apps do a lot, but have you read their terms of use?

This past weekend, when I had a few spare moments, I was perusing the terms of use of my Snapchat account.

What, doesn’t everyone do that?

Probably not. But we occasionally should wonder a little more about the legal side of those app-tastic tools.

For instance, I was struck by the open approach at the very top of those terms. In fact, they highlight a binding arbitration provision you may be agreeing to. The ALL-CAPS are theirs:

“ARBITRATION NOTICE: WE WANT TO LET YOU KNOW UP FRONT THAT THESE TERMS CONTAIN AN ARBITRATION CLAUSE A LITTLE LATER ON. EXCEPT FOR CERTAIN TYPES OF DISPUTES MENTIONED IN THAT ARBITRATION CLAUSE, YOU AND SNAPCHAT AGREE THAT DISPUTES BETWEEN US WILL BE RESOLVED BY MANDATORY BINDING ARBITRATION, AND YOU AND SNAPCHAT WAIVE ANY RIGHT TO PARTICIPATE IN A CLASS-ACTION LAWSUIT OR CLASS-WIDE ARBITRATION.”

Charming, in a way—though certainly driven by courts that have looked askance at such provisions when they are hidden away, deep down in legalese. But no one who glanced at even the top sentence of Snap’s term could miss that blunt warning.

Turns out, I could have opted out of the requirement of mandatory binding arbitration, simply by sending a letter to that effect to their snail-mail address (within 30 days of these changed terms).

Did I? No, though I considered it simply as a fun exercise (and a second blog post!). I passed on the legal Bartleby moment partly through laziness. But partly also because I’m just conspiracy-theory-amenable enough that I would fear they’d take the six, or eight, or 10 decline-letters they receive every month and “accidentally” close our accounts.

Irrational? I get it. Whatevs.

And apparently, I’m not the only one fascinated by terms of service. Just this morning, the lead question in the ABA Journal’s legal-news quiz focused on PokemonGo’s TofS. So there:

PokemonGo terms of service was a subject in an ABA Journal news quiz this week. Do you know the answer? I did.

PokemonGo terms of service was a subject in an ABA Journal news quiz this week. Do you know the answer? I did.

Meantime, to add to our social media joy, how many of us are aware that social media clauses in prenuptial agreements are now a thing?

Plastic bride and groom with gavel, on white - divorce conceptIt’s true. Not only might you want to keep grandma’s stocks and grandpa’s bullion out of the hands of your formerly betrothed. Now, you want them to keep their hands off your social media assets.

Romantic, I know.

Read the essay by Jaburg Wilk attorney Jason Castle here. And follow him on Twitter @CastleAzlaw @Jaburg_Wilk

As Jason tells us:

“For example, the clause would address what and how information is shared whether it is positive, negative, insulting, embarrassing or includes flattering photos, images, or other content. I recommend keeping the clause as broad as possible to accommodate the rapidly growing technology because the technology of today will be outdated within 10 years. I also believe prior to marriage it is important for the parties to clearly understand what they each define as private and what is acceptable to be shared with others. Another component of a social media clause can include the ability to monitor the other spouse’s social media activities.”

And that’s even before he gets to the awfulness of revenge porn. I mean, people are the worst.

What new technology–law–love mashups have you come across recently? (And do you also read terms of use of your apps? Please say you do.)

Very scientific Venn diagram catalogs the human condition. love technology law

Very scientific Venn diagram catalogs the human condition.

To make the whole thing more legally accessible, I’ve created the Venn diagram above. You’re welcome. (And for all my law school professors who wondered about my legal acumen: Boom!)

Comment below or write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

Cybersecurity and privacy were two of the primary topics at the 2016 TechShow.

Cybersecurity and privacy were two of the primary topics at the 2016 TechShow.

Great learning at conferences is one of the best things ever. But if you can’t be there, hearing the takeaways of smart folks may be the next best thing. In fact, because those correspondents have done the hard work of taking notes and synthesizing, it may be the ideal outcome.

That’s how I felt about this year’s ABA Techshow, which I was not able to attend. (I was in a different lawyer event just blocks away, but the closest I came to joining the techies was nearly crashing the Clio party. Next year.)

Although I missed the event, seven technology experts have boiled down for the rest of us their take on the biggest TechShow messages. You should bookmark and read their complete analyses here.

To synthesize even further their event coverage, here are a few insights from those smart people, whom you should follow (links take you to their Twitter worlds, which you should join):

  • ABA TechShow tips American Bar AssociationFrom Catherine Sanders Reach: “This year seemed to have had an unofficial theme: privacy and security.”
  • From Natalie Kelly: Uber Eats may be a fascinating analogue to assess how we deliver legal services.
  • From Heidi S. Alexander: Stop making unencrypted calls, and be sure you’re using the cloud securely.
  • From Reid F. Trautz: Our regulatory system is stifling innovation in the legal profession.
  • From Tom Lambotte: It’s scary out there, even for Macs.
  • From: Nora Regis: Better use of Excel, including pivot tables, can be your law-practice friend.

And in case you decide you need just a little more impetus to pay attention to technology, especially in regard to cybersecurity, enjoy this article about a hack of New York-based Cravath Swaine & Moore (originally reported by the Wall street Journal, but that’s behind a paywall, so the NYT wins.)

To access law firm data, hackers bypass the front door. Cravath Swaine & Moore cybersecurity

To access law firm data, hackers bypass the front door.

As the article opens:

“Federal authorities have warned for years that big law firms are ripe targets for computer hackers because they are information-rich repositories of corporate deals and other sensitive client information.”

“But big law firms, as a general rule, are loath to confirm whether they have been victims of data breaches, largely out of fear of alarming clients. Breaches and potential intrusions at large law firms often go unreported and generally come to light only anecdotally—often in news reports or discussions at legal conferences.”

Well, the anecdotes are growing more and more common. What are you doing to ensure your data is secure? Write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org with your tech-success story.

Citrix Sharefile logo

This month: Free online learning from Citrix ShareFile

Last week, I shared information about a free webinar that might benefit Arizona attorneys—and I promised news of a second.

Here’s the news.

Citrix ShareFile is offering a webinar to members of the State Bar of Arizona this Wednesday, Feb. 24, on the topic of technology tools and profitability.

The speaker is Gene Marks, whom you can read about here.

All the detail:

DATE: Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2:00 p.m. EST (do the math)

TOPIC: 5 Technology Best Practices That Will Improve Your 2016 Profitability

Citrix Webinar Gene-Marks

Gene Marks

SPEAKER: Gene Marks—Book author and thought leader Gene Marks helps business owners, executives and managers understand the political, economic and technological trends that will affect their companies so they can make profitable decisions. Gene also writes columns every day on business, politics and public policy for the Washington Post and weekly for Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Entrepreneur and the Huffington Post.

OVERVIEW: Join us for this webinar where columnist, author, business owner and technology expert Gene Mark will share with you his thought on five best practices that will most impact your company’s profitability in the next year. During this session will discuss how smart business owners and managers are: increasing revenues from their existing customers; reducing exposure to data breaches and other losses; improving employee productivity, efficiency and satisfaction -maximizing investments and growing their businesses; minimizing overhead and structural costs.

More information and a registration link are here.

It may take an old-timey miner and his canary to spot the depths we've sunk to in our pursuit for comfort.

It may take an old-timey miner and his canary to spot the depths we’ve sunk to in our pursuit for comfort.

I fear I’ve grown soft. Here’s the latest evidence.

In November, I confessed a certain … curiosity … about a chair that allows you to work as you recline. That cannot be a good thing, for me or for our nation.

And on this Change of Venue Friday, I point you to a video about … Netflix socks.

As you can see for yourself in the video below, these are socks that will pause your binge-watched program if they sense you have nodded off—in your Barcalounger or otherwise.

The bots at Netflix say this technology is part of actigraphy, “a non-invasive method of monitoring human rest/activity cycles. A small actigraph unit, also called an actimetry sensor, is worn … to measure gross motor activity. The unit is usually, in a wrist-watch-like package, worn on the wrist.”

… Or around your ankles, I suppose, as they are rapidly consumed by gout. ‘Murica.

Like most sensible people, I clicked the “news” video expecting to laugh uproariously at the depth to which we’ve plunged, civilization-wise. After all, this kind of product puts the “gross” in gross motor activity. Amiright?

Instead, as I watched, I caught myself musing on how smart that tech is, and what a boon to humankind. RED FLAGS! Here’s the video:

I’ll admit that the warning signs were there. I already have demonstrated a fondness for socks, as the following photos show (the second is a portion of my sock drawer—I reveal all to you, supportive readers!)

My socks at work, while my angle of recline indicates "not workin'."

Would a miner have worn these? My socks at work, while my angle of recline indicates “not workin’.”

A sampling of socks gaze out from a portion of my drawer (yes, there are more socks).

A sampling of socks gaze out from a portion of my drawer (yes, there are more socks).

But I must somehow be pulled back from the modern-ridiculousness abyss.

At work, someone has brought in factory-made Swiss Miss hot “chocolate” mix—with “marshmallows.” And I’m considering it. Seriously. Someone call for help—and I wish you a weekend free of techy socks.

The movement to bring your own device is growing ... and offering workplace challenges. (Infographic via Wikipedia.)

The movement to bring your own device is growing … and offering workplace challenges. (Infographic via Wikipedia.)

Who dislikes BYOD policies? Many folks, I suppose. But in my experience, lawyers and IT pros top the list.

If you’ve ever been tempted to bring your own electronic device to work—rather than the hardware assigned to you—you’re part of the BYOD movement.

But toting your clearly superior technology to the office—and accessing work-related files with it—may cause challenges for your firm or company.

Well, leave it to a few lawyers to set things right. This Wednesday, Jaburg Wilk attorneys Neal Bookspan and Laura Rogal offer a free seminar—in partnership with Apple—that includes tips on “building your own BYOD program in the workplace.”

Laura Rogal - @Lawyer_Girl

Laura Rogal – @Lawyer_Girl

It will be held at the Apple store at the Biltmore (2502 E. Camelback) on Wednesday, October 28, from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.

Neal Bookspan - @BusinessLawGuy

Neal Bookspan – @BusinessLawGuy

And it’s possible—wait for it—that there might be candy available, if we can trust a tweet by Laura Rogal (And if we cannot trust tweets, I’m not sure what the world has become!):

Here is more detail:

Attendees will learn how to establish a BYOD policy, security and device management and ideas to make the user experience great. Immediately following the presentation will be a networking event.

BYOD programs are thriving in companies due to the popularity of personal electronic devices and laptops, including iPhone, iPad and the iOS platform. Implementing a BYOD Program is known to reduce risks and keeps propriety information safe.

To register, send an email to the Apple Biltmore Business Team at BiltmoreBusiness@apple.com.

 

standin- app logo 1

It’s true that law practice may be more challenging than it’s ever been. And yet I marvel at the ingenuity some have brought to the profession, finding ways to automate the parts that should not require a graduate education to master.

So as we work on our October issue at Arizona Attorney Magazine, dedicated in large part to law office management, my radar is up for tools that take the arrggh out of an attorney’s day.

The smartest tools do not seek to do everything a lawyer does. Instead, they identify a single element of practice that could be improved. And that’s what a new app called “StandIn” appears to do.

How many of you have appeared in court or in chambers for another lawyer on her or his case? I recall doing that in California as a part of my solo practice. The money could be pretty good, and the work was flexible.

Plus, if you were lucky, a standard status conference might yield a few challenging questions from the judge—and who has graduated from law school and not yearned for a little of that? You had become familiar with the case file, so you could handle it, and it definitely got the blood pumping to: (1) interact with an inquiring judge while (2) not royally screwing up another lawyer’s case on what was supposed to be a 10-minute appearance.

But the cost of those great minutes as an oral advocate for your client was often an organizational headache. Getting hired for the appearance required significant back-and-forth with the attorney hiring you, especially if you didn’t yet know each other. It involved phone calls, faxing (remember that?), negotiating your fee, ensuing you knew which court to go to and what time. Plus, of course, getting photocopies of the case elements that were relevant to that day’s hearing. (And don’t get me started on finding a pay phone the day of when something went amiss. That used to be something lawyers had to do.)

Well, all of those concerns may not be eliminated for the lawyer doing appearances, but a recent essay pointed me to a solution to some of them. “StandIn” is called a replacement lawyer app, and it’s described well here by Cathy Reisenwitz. As she says, “StandIn lets lawyers who can’t make it to a court appearance find a stand-in for them. Lawyers log in and see who is available near the courthouse they need to be at. They can sort by experience, expertise, and availability.”

capterra logoLike other location-based apps you’re probably already familiar with, StandIn will also process payments and allow reviews of the hiring and hired attorney.

More about the product itself is on their website. It is based in Canada, but it’s moving into U.S. cities (and you can urge them to come to yours).

Even if you have no need of such an app, I recommend reading the essay anyway. And even though it’s not (yet) in Arizona, I commend the article to you. Why? Well, it’s well written, plus it probes these inventive people for their views of the future of the legal profession. Whether you’re doing appearances for others or writing wills or arguing zoning cases—or whatever—that future should interest you.

I also recommend following Cathy Reisenwitz and her firm Capterra (deets here). She covers many topics that might help your law practice, with just the right amount of snark to make law practice management less legally snoozeworthy. In fact, as we work on our October issue, I was pleased to see that one of our authors is a fan of an infographic that emerged from Capterra. That’s cool, as I am a fan too. You can see the graphic here.

And a final bit of pleasure for my blogging day: I was pleased to see that one of the StandIn founders came out of the Michigan State Reinvent Law initiative. I’ve written about it before, and I’m intrigued at the smart ideas that percolate up from entrepreneurial centers like this one. As I mentioned before, you really should follow their work; if you do that often enough, you’ll probably find other lawyers are following you.

Are drones the future? Or annoyances that should be grounded?

Are drones the future? Or annoyances that should be grounded?

“All politics is local,” famously remarked once-Speaker of the U.S. House Tip O’Neill. And that is certainly true in the increasingly rancorous debate over the use of drones. A subject that we might believe is all-FCC increasingly becomes a local battle.

An Arizona Republic story this week describes the growing resistance to unmanned aircraft systems, or UAS. As the story explains, the anti-drone gauntlet has been picked up vehemently in Paradise Valley, and more gingerly in Phoenix.

As I have mentioned before, I continue to be intrigued by the little whirly-gigs and the legal questions that swarm around them. (And we covered some of those topics in Arizona Attorney Magazine.)

Looking toward the horizon (which would be easier from a drone), I think that UAS are bound to become an even more central part of everyday life. Despite the best efforts of municipalities, drones’ multiple possible uses and relative low cost nearly guarantee their increased use. Is there anyone who wagers the FAA will ignore that economic impact when it develops new rules of engagement? I didn’t think so.

I’m developing a short list of lawyers who are adept in the legal world of drones. I look forward to connecting with them on coverage of what’s next, and how the regulation of drones may ascend—or settle back down to earth.