The legal profession has seen an explosion of technology since the late 1990s, and lawyers are becoming increasingly savvy about how to use technology to avoid being caught up in a law enforcement dragnet.
A growing number of people are being prosecuted and sued because of technology issues, including technology companies like Apple, Microsoft and Google, which use sophisticated analytics and other technology to monitor users.
But how do lawyers know what technologies are appropriate for them and when they should use them?
What if they don’t have the technology?
Lawyers can get caught in a Catch 22 situation when they decide to use a particular technology.
In this case, they might have to use it at work or at home when the office is open, or they might not have the right software.
Lawyers who decide not to use software that is specifically designed to be used for that purpose could be penalized for it, said James H. Mancuso, a partner at the law firm of Perkins Coie.
For example, a technology that is designed for an emergency situation might not be suitable for a busy lawyer who is trying to get a court case through quickly, but might be useful in a more remote office setting, said attorney Mark H. Breslin, president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.”
They are going have to be very careful with the technology they use.”
For example, a technology that is designed for an emergency situation might not be suitable for a busy lawyer who is trying to get a court case through quickly, but might be useful in a more remote office setting, said attorney Mark H. Breslin, president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
Law firms are also often worried that a new technology might interfere with the job of an experienced lawyer.
In the past, lawyers could have relied on computers for legal work because they didn’t have to worry about security breaches, such as viruses or spies, that could compromise their computers.
But in the past decade, lawyers have moved to software that can track and analyze the behavior of their work computer, including when it is opened, how often it is accessed and how often a user opens it.
In fact, this is what some lawyers are worried about as they try to find ways to use new technologies like Siri and Google Glass in the courtroom, said Mark A. Gorton, a professor at Harvard Law School who specializes in law and technology law.
But a lot of lawyers are not so worried about being caught.
In most cases, lawyers aren’t required to use certain technology in their offices, even though many use it.
The reason is simple: lawyers are paid by their clients.
“The lawyer isn’t using the technology, so there is no real obligation to use that technology,” said Paul B. Knoepfler, who is an associate professor at George Washington University School of Law.
Some of the technology that lawyers use is called “closed system” software, or software that has been designed specifically for closed office settings.
Closed system software has been used for years by defense attorneys in some of the most serious criminal cases.
It is not designed to monitor what software users use at work.
It has been available to defense lawyers for decades and has been approved by the Justice Department for use in a wide range of cases.
Breslin said many lawyers who use closed system software are concerned that if the government discovers they are using it improperly, it could force them to stop using it.
“A lot of the time, you can argue that it’s too late,” Breslyn said.
In that case, the software could be used to track down a lawyer who had been using it to monitor their work phone calls and texts.
But Bresline said many of the lawyers he has spoken with don’t use closed-system software for any other reason than to use legal technology to do their jobs.
In some cases, he said, they are concerned about losing their jobs, but don’t care that they are being investigated by law enforcement.
“Some of them are concerned, but they don of course understand what the consequences are,” he said.
For example: A lawyer who uses a software that automatically alerts users to when a document is being filed with the court, such to alert them when a court date is coming up, would have to remove it from their computer if they were told by the government that they were under investigation, Bresl said.
But lawyers who are not using closed system technology but are using some kind of monitoring tool are still allowed to use them in courtrooms, Breglin said.
And some lawyers who do use closed systems and are using them for their work may be aware of this, but not aware of the possible penalties.
In some cases where the software is being used improperly, such a lawyer may not have to report it to the court.
That means the court may not know about it.
“You can’t just say, ‘I have this software, it’s been used improperly,’ ” said Bregin.
“There is a real obligation that they have to tell the court.”
And if they are caught using software that isn’t properly licensed,