California Bar Journal
OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE STATE BAR OF CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 2001
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California Bar Journal

The State Bar of California


REGULARS

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Front Page - August 2001
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News / News Briefs
MCLE deadline for Group 3 (last names N-Z) is Feb. 1
Judicial Council launches online self-help center
California lawyers honored for work for homeless, minorities and children
Coy about her future, Reno focuses on women's issues
No bias found against solos
Governor signs two-year fee bill
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Ethics update...
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Trials Digest
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Opinion
From the President - Bar targets unauthorized practice
Microsoft ruling: Foundation to settle
MJP is more than alphabet soup
Letters to the Editor
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Legal Tech - A look back at six years of technology news
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You Need to Know
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MCLE Self-Study
A word from our sponsors
Self-Assessment Test
MCLE Calendar of Events
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Discipline
Ethics Byte - Let's go surfin' now, everybody's learnin' how
Recovering alcoholic may get to recover his license
Attorney Discipline
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Public Comment
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LEGAL TECH

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A look back at six years of technology news

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By DANA SHULTZ
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Dana ShultzI wrote my first column for the California Bar Journal in August 1995. This one is the last. A lot has happened in law office technology during the past six years. Here are some major trends. Six years ago, megahertz and mega-bytes were a big deal. Today, processors blaze and disks are gigantic. Unless you are trying to edit full-motion video, contemporary PCs have more power and capacity than you will ever need.

Microsoft hegemony

In 1995, Microsoft was a leading player but had not yet achieved dominance. Now, Microsoft has monopolies in desktop operating systems and office productivity software.

Among PC operating systems, the various versions of Windows rule. The Macintosh less-than-10-percent market share consists almost exclusively of students and creative professionals. Linux appeals to geeks and open-source proponents, but its practical use is limited to servers.

When lawyers exchange word processing documents, MS Word is the assumed format. WordPerfect is a great product from which no company can make money. Excel, PowerPoint and Internet Explorer have no effective competitors.

Online marketing

Six years ago, online marketing was new. My first five columns for the Bar Journal explained this topic to lawyers.

Today, we take a website for granted. Why send a prospective client a sheaf of papers when you have constantly updated practice descriptions, biographical summaries and informative articles online?

Security developments during the past six years have been a mixed bag. On the one hand, industrial-strength protection of data is readily available. With the right software and a click or two, you can encrypt an e-mail message and attachment, then apply a digital signature to authenticate the source.

On the other hand, security threats continue. Hackers are always a step or two ahead of the anti-virus software industry. In seconds, a concerted denial-of-service attack can put an online service out of business.

High-speed internet access also has been mixed. For sizable firms and corporations, the news is good. Prices have come down substantially.

For small firms and home office users, however, there is disappointment. DSL service is often troublesome to install and unreliable. Cable service requires a visit from a technician and slows down if neighbors use the internet a lot.

Assessing trends

The past six years have brought both good and bad. Great technological advances are subject to en-trenched, dominant vendors that limit our choices and often leave us dissatisfied.

I did not write this column intending to leave on a depressing note. To the contrary, I believe that if we pay attention, take concerted action and make our needs known, collectively we can move events and vendors in directions that benefit us all.

Finally, I would like to express my thanks and gratitude. Dean Kinley and Nancy McCarthy, Bar Journal editors, have been great to work with.

Most important are you, the readers. I especially appreciate the hundreds of fans (and the few critics) who went out of their way to provide your support, comments and questions. I dedicate my past six years of writing to you.

Dana Shultz is vice president and legal counsel for an international financial services organization, where he specializes in technology licensing and related transactions. His e-mail address is dhshultz@ds-a.com.