“We have hundreds of law firms that we see increasingly being targeted by hackers.”
This is what a special FBI agent overseeing cyber operations said in 2013. But a recent article in LegalTech News reported that “many law firms are still not doing enough” to protect data.
The article notes that attorneys have an ethical duty “to make reasonable efforts to prevent the inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure of, or unauthorized access to, information relating to the representation.” This is the rule in Wisconsin.
The author, an intellectual property litigator, said attorneys should ensure their personal devices are secure, avoid unsecure Wi-Fi networks, and make sure emails and other data are encrypted and protected with strong access passwords.
“It is amazing how many people, including lawyers, fail to follow basic password protection protocols,” the author wrote. “[T]here is simply no excuse for lawyers who use a weak password, don’t change their passwords regularly or keep it on a post-it note in an easily discovered location.”
By the Numbers
– The number of law schools with more women students enrolled than men in 2015. Four years ago, only 38 law schools had more women students than men.
According to Keith Lee at legal consulting firm Associate’s Mind (associatesmind.com), the percentage of men attending law school declined by more than 25 percent from 2011 to 2015. Women students declined about 17 percent during that period.
Jazz trivia: This cool cat Wisconsin lawyer loves jazz and DJs the “Free Jazz BBQ” under the alias, “Dr. Sushi,” at WMSE – 91.7 FM Milwaukee. *Answer below.
“Enrolled law students are down across the board, but less so for women,” he said.
Lee noted that if similar percentage declines continue from 2015 to 2016, “women will outnumber men in law schools for the first time ever” in 2017.
P.S. In 2015, men still outnumbered women at both Wisconsin’s law schools, based on Lee’s stats.
From the Archives
Jazz and the Law in 1920
April is Jazz Appreciation Month. Nearly 100 years ago, a California appeals court decided the first published jazz music-related case, Ex parte Hall.
Police put Mark Hall in jail for violating a Pasadena ordinance prohibiting dancing or dance music in proximity to residences past 10 p.m., including dancing or dance music in private homes. Hall was listening to music and dancing in his own residence when he was jailed for a violation.
The California three-judge appeals court struck down the ordinance as applied to private residences. Judge Finlayson wrote:
“It should be remembered that even in these days of bizarre extremes and freak abnormalities, the muscle tickling jazz has not yet succeeded in entirely excluding all sane dance music from the places where the devotees of Terpsichore are wont to foregather. And experts tell us that even jazz, like certain other things fast fading into oblivion, may be denatured – a consummation devoutly to be wished.”
Source: Fastcase legal research, a benefit of State Bar membership.
Show Me State or I’ll Show You State?
A representative in the Missouri House of Representatives introduced a bill last month proposing a state constitutional amendment that marriage shall exist only between a man and a woman, “regardless of any court decision to the contrary.” That includes the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark (5-4) same-sex marriage decision last summer in Obergefell v. Hodges.
A related bill urges Congress to review Obergefell and other cases decided by the U.S. Supreme Court to investigate “judicial activism” and potential impeachment of justices in those cases for bad behavior under Article III of the U.S. Constitution.
Source: Gavel to Gavel, a website that reviews state legislation affecting the courts, http://gaveltogavel.us/
Landlords Beware of Birthday Cake Clause
A landlord sent a lease as an editable word document (instead of a PDF) to a tenant for review and signature.
Before signing, the tenant added a clause that said: “Lessor shall provide birthday cake for Lessee(s) on the weekend closest to their birthdays, which are June 7th and February 17th. Vanilla cake is not acceptable.”
The landlord signed it, presumably without seeing the “birthday cake clause.” Now the landlord is under contract to provide birthday cake to the tenants.
It is unknown if such a clause would be enforceable in Wisconsin. But, perhaps tenant-landlord relations could improve if landlords provided tenants with birthday cake, and vice versa.
On the Radar
The Turbo Tax of Law
Tax season. Time to calculate our contributions to local, state, and federal governments. Perhaps you’ve used Turbo Tax or an equivalent to file taxes online. Turbo Tax is known as an “expert system.” The system is an “expert” on the tax laws, allowing it to compile your tax return based on the answers you provide online.
But can law firms use “expert” software systems? Yes, says attorney Michael Mills, co-founder and chief strategy officer at Neota Logic, which builds expert systems.
Mills was part of a panel, “How to Hire a Robot – Or Using Expert Systems in Today’s Law Firm,” at last month’s ABA Techshow.
An expert system could be used to streamline client intake, gather other information, or for marketing, Mills told the ABA Journal.
Innovative expert systems automate expertise, but are not intended to replace attorneys. “We have found some work that attorneys are not doing anyway,” Mills told theABA Journal. “We tend to focus our efforts there.”
Do you know a Wisconsin lawyer who is doing innovative things? Nominate him or her as a 2016 Wisconsin Legal Innovator. For more information, go to ThatsaFineIdea.com.
*Answer from above: Atty. Christopher Stawski of McGranaghan & Stawski Ltd.