Seeking feedback for my upcoming book about cloud computing for lawyers

Posted on February 6, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized |

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I’m very excited to announce that I’m writing a book about cloud computing for lawyers that the American Bar Association will be publishing at the end of 2010.

This book will explain the concept of cloud computing, including SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS platforms, and will provide lawyers with an overview of why cloud computing is becoming increasingly common and why it will become an increasingly evident alternative to traditional software systems. I’ll also discuss the legal and ethical issues presented by lawyers using cloud computing platforms in their law practices and will cover the security issues presented as well.

I would greatly appreciate feedback from my readers as to what you would like a book about cloud computing to cover. Are there any topics that you think absolutely must be covered? What interests you the most? What are you biggest concerns about cloud computing?

Please leave any feedback in the comments below or contact me via email.

Thanks in advance for your feedback. I want to make this book as useful as possible for attorneys.

Also, I just finished writing a book about social media for lawyers with Carolyn Elefant, tentatively titled “Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier” that will also be published by the American Bar Association in late March. You can find an excerpt of the book here.  I’ll provide you with more information about the book closer to its release date.

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13 Responses to “Seeking feedback for my upcoming book about cloud computing for lawyers”

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Good luck with the success of the book. Lets hope it will change perceptions and turn a profit.

Niki,

An interesting topic to cover in your book would be legal obligation to delete. Internet has created a world where “absolute destruction” of data is not easy to achieve. Even when the services are hosted in-house, this type of data destruction is not possible. There could be replicas, backups, off-site backups, DR backups, user created offline replicas, user archives and even printed copies.

I think what is a more achievable is delete in context. Data that loses its context, loses its meaning and is not of much use. So going back to Cloud Services, when I delete an email from my SaaS powered Inbox, the SaaS provider may still have some residual “Sharded” copies of the data. But these residual copies have completely lost their context. And as you traverse down the hierarchy of Cloud Service aggregators, this residual data becomes more and more meaningless. Re-animating an email from this sharded residual data would be like trying to re-construct a needle by searching for its pieces in a haystack! :-)

As for privacy and confidentiality, there are some innovative methods being discussed which can address these. One of these techniques is Host-Proof Hosting, where the SaaS provider has no means to decrypt the user’s data.

Saqib

[...] Niki is seeking suggestions on what the book should cover. If you have some suggestion please post them at: http://21stcenturylaw.wordpress.com/2010/02/06/seeking-feedback-for-my-upcoming-book-about-cloud-com… [...]

Best wishes with the book.

A possible topic are some of the issues to consider when using cloud applications on mobile devices: security, functionality, lost device (!). I use my iPhone heavily in my practice and expect to use the iPad heavily as well. Cloud based apps feature heavily on my iPhone and I expect they will feature heavily as well on my iPad.

There is a suggestion that the iPad (and thus possibly the iPhone) will have storage options available on the device so that applications can edit and save documents on the go. Will create the usual sync and versioning issues. With computers at home, at work, on the go and in the cloud, sync can be a thorny issue.

I would like to see how small firms (100 & under) can leverage the cloud to save money?

My clients are more likely to have their information in the cloud than I am, for the foreseeable future. Would like to see client oriented materials, i.e., how to advise re document retention policies, access issues and the ever popular privilege and backup issues.

Cloud computing is clearly the future and I fully agree that it should not be feared. However, it needs to be approached cautiously depending on your business and what you do in the world. I would think that is particularly true for the Legal community. Consider what we now regularly put up on servers at Google. We don’t think about it, but we sign off on policies that allow us to use all that “free” technology so they can harvest that data. It’s kind of scary to think about how much they know about every aspect of our lives… and all of this is used to “Market Against Us.” Check out this article on Google Voice:
http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/173929/google_tweaks_voice_to_keep_voice_mail_out_of_search_results.html
Do the same rules apply in the cloud? You might want to check – how good would it be if your information were being indexed for whatever reason by someone outside of your control.
I’m not a naysayer – the cloud is definitely the future. We have only begun to consider the real legal ramifications of trusting our entire organizations to it though.
Thus, I believe this is GREAT fodder for a book by Nikki Black!

Thanks so much for your comments, everyone. I really do appreciate it. Keep ‘em coming!

Niki,

Full disclosure: I work for Nextpoint and we provide cloud-based litigation services. I think the biggest concern we hear on a daily basis is security, but we continue to re-frame the discussion so that it’s a fair comparison between a cloud based service like ours and their current security practices. When it really comes down to it, the cloud is usually a huge upgrade. I have some thoughts in a recent post http://nextpointlab.com/2010/01/22/5-reasons-to-go-cloud-today/ and also quoted Brett Burney on the topic. So I think it’d be important to explore how the cloud services compare to a realistic approach without the cloud.

I’d also consider whether there will be any real and practical options that aren’t cloud based in the future. For example, is it really practical given the increasing amount of data to try to host eDiscovery technologies in-house?

Thanks and best of luck!
Ben Wolf
Nextpoint

Need a co-author? I’m a lawyer practicing in the Netherlands, and have written (including a chapter in recent book just published in the Netherlands) on the topic you’ve proposed. Perhaps I could provide the European angle.

I can be contacted at a.steele@mitopics.nl

Congratulations Niki! GL on your book. Im very impressed!

Niki, good luck with the book. A suggestion from my perspective mirrors an earlier response, that is, to address or at least point to client management of the cloud.

I have client experience of legal practitioners’ grasp of record keeping and management reality and it is not pretty. What saves the client’s bacon, it seems, may be the opposing counsels’ equal ignorance and, sometimes, the client (groups) dawning awareness of that and a certain pressure to stay silent or the costs of litigation will go even higher. The result is not in the interest of anyone, so I feel that your work could illuminate an important area if it delves into records management realities off the cloud and then how the cloud adds complexity and opportunity. IMO, it is the responsibility of the legal community to ask informed questions of the client in this regard both for self-protection and for a just representation.


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