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Information Resources for Solo Practitioners & Small Law Firms

Guide prepared in conjunction with law school Solo and Small Firm Practice Course

The material in this LibGuide was developed in conjunction with a special unit of Special Topics in Entrepreneurial Lawyering: Solo & Small Firm Workshops, a couse at UMKC School of Law. The unit is entitled, "Finding, Saving and Protecting Information that is crucial to your practice."

Class Assignments

Answer any two of following questions (1/2 to full page):

1.  You establish your own firm.  Will you elect to have a "paperless" office?  Why or why not?  To what extent is this goal attainable?  What policies and practices might you have to put into place?

2.  If it were up to you, would you store your firms documents and use applications (SaaS) in the "cloud"?  What are the arguments for and against?

3.  Imagine you are starting your firm with one other attorney and a paralegal.  Can you get by with a peer-to-peer network?  What policies and procedures do you need to put into place?  What concerns should you have?

4.  What security precautions will you take to protect your firm and your clients?

Answer the following:

5.  You are opening a new firm in Missouri, practicing both general Missouri law and one area of your choosing .  You have $10,000 to spend on information resources.  What would you purchase to address both Missouri law and your chosen area of law?  For your answer, include the title, price of purchase or license (this is part of your $10,000), and an explanation on why you picked each item.  For this assignment, include both print and electronic resources.  Use Svengalis, Legal Information Buyer's Guide (on reserve, KF1.L43), Lawbook Exchange (http://www.lawbookexchange.com), online library catalogs, and publisher websites. 

As you think about resources, you may want to classify them into types.  See Small Firm Library: Mapping Your Library.

 

Information Architecture

information architecture issues: peer to peer v. server; paperless; cloud

 Seminal Issues

  • Architecture
    • Security, Backup, and Business Continuity
    • To Cloud or Not to Cloud
    • Paperless Office and Electronic Signatures
    • People, Technology, and Processes
      • Law as Design (including but not limited to web sites)
      • How to Evaluate New Legal Technologies Systemically
  • Tech Competency as Ethical Duty
  • AI
    • Technology Assisted Review
  • BlockChain
  • Legal Education

Facts About Law Practice and Clouds

  • In 2018, web-based software is used by 55% of lawyers (up from 38% in 2016).
  • Small firms (2-9 attorneys) are the most likely to respond affirmatively at 58%.
  • Of those who had not used the cloud computing, the top concerns cited were:
    • 56%: confidentiality and security
    • 49%: less control of data because its hosted by the provider
    • 39%: unfamiliarity with the technology
    • 16%: lack of control regarding software upgrades

Source:  The Sharon D. Nelson, John W., Simek & Michael C. Maschke, The 2019 Solo and Small Firm Legal Technology Guide (LTG), 129-130 (ABA Law Practice Division) (citing ABA Legal Technology Research Center's 2019 survey of ABA Lawyers).  

Legal Cloud Security Standards

"On March 17, 2016, the Legal Cloud Computing association released the first set of cloud security standards crafted specifically for the legal industry at ABA TECHSHOW...."  See http://tinyurl.com/cloud-standards, LTG, p. 163

Ethics

Thirty-one states, including Missouri and Kansas, have adopted rule of technology competence

In 2012 the ABA’s House of Delegates voted to amend Comment 8 to Model Rule 1.1, which pertains to competence, to read as follows:

Maintaining Competence

To maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology, engage in continuing study and education and comply with all continuing legal education requirements to which the lawyer is subject. (Emphasis added.)

ABA Formal Ethics Opinion 482 ond Duties of Lawyers Following a Disaster.  See p. 176 of LTG.

ABA Formal Ethics Opinion 484 on Duties of Lawyers Following a Data Breach of Cyber Attack.  See p. 178 of LTG.

Ethical issues on Attorney web sites and social media.  See link.

Document Preservation and the Paperless Office

An attorney may destroy most, but not necessarily all, of the paper file, if the file is stored electronically. Items of intrinsic value may not be destroyed. Originals that may have legal significance, as originals, during the representation may not be destroyed. We encourage firms to offer the paper file to the client prior to destruction.

  • http://www.paperlesschase.com/ (have to register, but information is concise and very helpful)
    • includes sample engagement letter).  You should question whether client can wave his or her right to have paper files destroyed per the sample engagement letter in light of the above Supreme Court of Missouri, Formal Opinion 127.  Also consider Missouri Supreme Court Rule 4-1.22 (6-to-10 year retention requirement).
      • As exceptions to ten year rule, think about:
        • wills and trusts
        • promisory notes and negotiable instruments
        • deeds
        • what else?
    • recommends Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500.
  • It's paper LESS NOT paperless
  • David J. Bilinsky, Chapter 30, Taking Your Firm Paperless, in Sharon D. Nelson, John W., Simek & Michael C. Maschke, The 2017 Solo and Small Firm Legal Technology Guide (ABA Law Practice Division) (copy on reserve at the circulation desk under Professor Callister's name).
  • Sheila M. Blackford and Donna S.M. Neff, Paperless in One Hour for Lawyers (ABA Law Practice Division 2014) (link to online catalog).
  • Ernie "The Attorney" Svenson Law Firm AutoPilot (scroll down to "Discover the 12 Steps to a Stream-lined Law Practice").  Great overview of approach to technology and issues it raises.
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