May It Please The Court: Weblog of legal news and observations, including a quote of the day and daily updates

Skip To Content

MIPTC Author:


The Sled:

Listed in Latino Who's Who, June 2014
Locations of visitors to this page

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Weblog Comments

Return to the Weblog

Quote of the Day - Sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic - Arthur C. Clarke

The Future Is Now: The Science And Technology Of Today Will Change Our Lives Tomorrow

I'm giving a speech today on the subject of the headline, so I thought I'd post my outline here.  It may be a little rough (it's an outline, not the actual text of the speech) but you can follow along.

With a hat tip to Charlie Robinson, Dakota tribal wisdom says that when you discover you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount. In law firms we often try other strategies with dead horses, including the following:

     Buying a stronger whip

     Changing riders

     Saying things like "This is the way we have always ridden this horse"

     Appointing a committee to study the horse

     Arranging to visit other firms to see how they ride dead horses

     Increasing the standards to ride dead horses

     Declare the horse is "better, faster, cheaper" dead

     Harnessing several dead horses together for increased speed


State-of-the-art: Any computer you can't afford.

Obsolete: Any computer you own.

Microsecond: The time it takes for your state-of-the-art computer to become obsolete.

Syntax Error: Walking into a computer store and saying, "Hi, I want to buy a computer and money is no object."

Keyboard: The standard way to generate computer errors.

Mouse: An advanced input device to make computer errors easier to generate.

Portable Computer: A device invented to force lawyers to work at home, on vacation, and on business trips.

Disk Crash: A typical computer response to any critical deadline.

Three points:

First, to understand where we are going, we must understand where we have been

We'll take a walk down memory lane (in a manner of speaking)

Next, we'll look around and see technology as it is now

Here's where we're going to look at legal technology that we use now - and we're going to take a remote look at my desktop computer in my office, which may be a bit beyond the technology in most offices.

Finally, A Brave New World where we look into the crystal ball of the future

Terminator version where machines take over the world

Disneyland version where all is bright, shiny and new

Microsoft version where systems crash

Star Trek version where we can go anywhere, do anything and save the universe

Perhaps it's a little bit of all four

Let me offer a primer on this talk today. The materials you have in your handouts are for your MCLE credits, and I'll cover them in my talk, but not in the detail on the handouts.

Let's start with where we have been

Hold up your iPhone

It cost $8 million and performed at blistering 80 MFLOP/s (floating point operations per second) and took up 70 square feet of space, about the footprint of a car. It was built in 1971.

For comparison, a Pentium Dual core can hit about 45 GFLOP/s or about 150 times faster and sits on your desk. It just came out, and the chips cost about $40.

The current supercomputer champ, BlueGene made by IBM, can handle 280 TFLOP/s or about 350,000 times faster, and takes up the size of a mid-sized house, at 2,500 square feet, now two years old, installed in 2005. Cost? A cool $100 million.

Your iPhone? 7.5 MFLOPS, about a tenth of the power of the first Cray Supercomputer, and way under that $8 million price tag, even counting inflation.

To put things in perspective, however, consider this: about 30,000 desktop computers - think of it - a small town, linked together by software, can match the power of today's supercomputer, and that software exists today.

In fact, there's a website that allows your computer to log on to Berkeley's Search for Extraterrestrial Beings and analyze radio-telescope waves - now 3 million users. SETI@home.

The computing power of the world's computers - nearly 100 million (a billion) is mind-boggling.

If you're trying to follow along on your handouts, we're generally talking about the two pages labeled Excuses for Staying in the Dark Ages and the page regarding cell phones.

Let's take a look back. (

The first computer was created by Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard in 1939, and Disney ordered 8 of them to help make Fantasia.

The first computer "bug" was discovered in 1945. It was a moth that shorted out the relays.

1947, semiconductors were invented.

1960, first computer game invented, SpaceWar! On a $120,000 computer. For those of you old enough to remember, that was the same year AT&T unveiled the telephone modem in the big, rubber receptacles.

Pong was released in 1972.

1977 Tandy Radio Shack introduced the TRS-80, arguably the one of the first true PCs. $599 with the monitor. The Apple 1 came out a year earlier, sold for $666.66. Some will argue that the Simon, produced in 1949 was the first digital PC available to the mainstream public, invented by Edmund Berkeley, for about $300.00.

1980, IBM allowed employees Bill Gates and Paul Allen to keep the rights to DOS.

1982, Time Magazine name the computer "Man of the Year"

45 million PCs in use in the US in 1988.

1994 runs the first banner ad on the Internet

Google was created in 1996.

iPod released in 2001. Microsoft waits until 2006 to release its competing Zune MP3 player.

Google buys YouTube for $1.65 billion in 2006, just in case you thought the site was for kids.

Let's look at where we are now

I would like to address three and a half main points in my second topic of where we are now: the Internet, Software programs, computer hardware and computer consultants for lawyers.

Let's talk about the Internet and how that has changed lawyering

Blogging (in the handout)

Your brochure on the Internet

We're wide open in the world of blogging (Bring up MIPTC). Explain blogging and marketing reach.

The Internet has been a great equalizer for law firms. Everyone can have a presence.

If you don't have a presence for your own law firm, you can get one free on Avvo - New York is covered, but not all states are presently.


Let's switch topics, and discuss software. Let me tell you what's on my computer desktop at work.

Log in to JCW's desktop via Tablet. Three monitors - we're looking at the middle one.

What I'm holding is a Tablet (in the handout)

Demonstrate One Note

Discuss software programs.

Worldox - document management

How many use Document management?

Web-based availability for clients


Internet Explorer - we use to research and use Lexis / Google toolbar (popup blocker, autofill, etc.)

Time Matters

Word Perfect - demonstrate Macros

Televantage (we do not use VOIP)

Word - metadata scrubbing (Payne Consulting)

Adobe - efiling almost a thing of the past





ActiveSync - emails and phone call notifications to cell phone



Copitrack software

ProLaw for generating billing



Remote access

Spam control




Remote monitoring of computer access (Spector)

Software firewall - tracking Internet surfing and blocking sites

LoJack for laptops (also for cell phones, but a memory hog)

Discuss hardware:



Scanner - everything incoming scanned - delivered by email to lawyers

Fax server

Exchange server

Backup tape drive - considering off-site backup via VPN to my house

Cable T1 line - very fat pipe (blog is handled by off-site server)

Conference room

Wireless. Security by password and unplugging

Connections for laptops in table - overhead projector and screen

Speakers in ceiling

Would add a flat-screen HD TV to allow smaller computer display

Outside consultants - everything done remotely

Internal CIO

Overall coordinator (former lawyer)

Document management and billing


We handle break / fix

Let's Look To Where We Are Going

I'd like to cover two points in this last topic: future technology for lawyers and where science and technology are going to take us in the future.


We move at a snail's pace. There are still lawyers out there who use their secretaries to check email. Those of you willing to admit it, raise your hands. Still, things will improve, especially as the computer generation comes along.

Video conferencing with clients and video court appearance. Not just telephone appearances anymore.

Lexis and Westlaw will go out of business or at most become highly specialized. Google will replace them. No more need to pay for legal research; it will all be online.

Courtrooms will finally catch up. Cases will be litigated using technology, everything will be electronic.

The world will get smaller and we can expect more cross-state practice and more cross-international practice.

Multi-disciplinary practice. Clients will be demanding more and will know more before they come to you. How many of you research your illness before you see the doctor?

Consolidation of service providers - copying, typing, etc. Low-level functions will be handled in one place rather than each of us having our own. The virtual law office is here and will get smaller.

Message: change will occur at an unprecedented pace.

Flip it around from using technology to lawyering technology. In the same way that lawyers litigated and wrote contracts for everything in the Industrial Age, lawyers will still be needed to document and litigate everything in the Silicon Age. Let's call it E-law.

Think nanotechnology and the new biology, let alone all the ethical issues.

One thing's for sure: we will always need lawyers.

Science and Technology. This is the fun part, where we get to dream.

In the immediate future, much wider wireless Internet, much faster speeds. Much more expensive, too.

Hologram video games and television, and one day, Star Trek hologram rooms

Complete integration of the Internet, your office, your home, your car, your telephone, television, iPod, printers, and practically everything electronic, connected to one another, and you can talk to your computer, it understands you and intelligently talks back, and makes everything work.

Call it the E-net for Everything Net. Forget Web 2.0, when we get to E-net 1.0, we will have arrived.

Until that dreaded blue screen of death.

And if you want it as a joke screensaver, you can get it from Microsoft here.

Posted by J. Craig Williams on 10/13/2007 at 10:58 Comments (0)


Comments are now closed.

Send your comments directly to the author at jcraigwms at (remove spaces and add @ symbol in place of the "at").