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August 06, 2004

Five by Five - Jerry Lawson

Here are two ideas on security and three on marketing, in no particular order:

1. Anti-Spyware Software. Most lawyers have not yet figured out that if "malware" proponents can do something like change the home page in your browser, they can also do much worse. It's not that hard for would-be snoops to things like install keystroke loggers that send everything you type to a snoop by e-mail. Even worse, snoops might surrpetitiously install a "remote access trojan" that lets an intruder do anything on your computer that you could do, a sort of malevolent version of legitimate software like PC Anywhere. Keeping such software off your computer involves a multi-layer defense of firewalls (preferably both hardware and software), frequently updated anti-virus software, frequent patches and common sense (like avoiding opening dubious attachments, clicking on dubious URLs or visiting dubious web sites) and, probably, avoiding MS Internet Explorer. Even if you do all this, your defenses may break down. A new category of software, anti-spyware programs, will help you find out if you have suffered a breakdown and correct it if so. No single anti-spyware program catches everything. Two current favorites are Spybot Search and Destroy and Spy Sweeper.

2. Encryption Software. The ABA ethics advisory opinion that using unencrypted e-mail does not amount to a waiver of the attorney client privilege put the e-mail security issue on the back burner for many lawyers. However, the issue has definitely not gone away. Attorney client privilege is an evidentiary doctrine, governing what evidence can be admitted in court. Most e-mail snoops want information that would damage you or your clients outside any courtroom. The ABA's opinion on attorney client privilege is irrelevant to them. Most attorneys will not need to encrypt most of their messages, but it is foolish to send highly sensitive information by e-mail without encrypting it. More information about this is available in some essays on e-mail security at

3. Blogs. As I've explained in detail over the past 18 months in articles, including the Ernie the Attorney piece, the Blogs As A Disruptive Technology article and threads at Netlawblog and, well-executed blogs can provide enormous benefits to certain lawyers.

4. RSS Feeds on Frequently-updated Conventional Web Sites. This makes so much sense as a way of getting your message through the clutter. It's a new form of "push" that works, and will work even more effectively as even more people begin to use news readers.

5. RSS Feeds to Supplement/Replace E-Mail Newsletters. Though I've been a proponent of e-mail newsletters for lawyer marketing from the earliest days of commercial use of the Internet, the spam deluge has lessened their usefulness. RSS feeds offer a new, more effective way of getting out your message, generating new business and earning client loyalty.


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