In my last column, I wrote about the prospects for almost inconceivable computing power in ubiquitous devices before the end of this decade. For now, however, we lawyers are confronted with the realities of our practices—the demands of clients and courts that we be available and accessible 24/7. Some recent developments will help.
First, there is the need for remote access to your office or home desktop computer. Most of us do not have the luxury of a Virtual Private Network (VPN), whether through a Citrix® server or otherwise. Indeed, many lawyers do not even have home or office networks. There are two off-the-shelf solutions currently available, with new versions either in stores or headed there soon. Both of these solutions offer free try-outs and enable you to run any application on your home or office system from anywhere on the planet you can connect to the Internet—whether by wired broadband connection, a dial-up landline connection, a cellular modem, or other wireless connection (such as a wireless LAN connection at your local Starbuck’s coffee house).
GoToMyPC, from ExpertCity, Inc. ( www.expertcity.com), pioneered this solution. It is a remote-control program you can run from any Web browser, using a client that resides on your desktop. Using any browser on any computer anywhere in the world, you log on to the GoToMyPC server ( www.gotomypc.com), establish a secure connection, log in, and the server establishes a secure connection to your (always running) desktop at home or the office. Log in to that computer, and you not only have remote terminal access (so you can run applications remotely, including your e-mail), but you also can transfer files from your desktop to the computer in front of you. The secure connections use 128-bit AES encryption, which is important to preserve client confidentiality and privileged information.
The next version of GoToMyPC—GoToMyPC PocketView—is due in stores this summer. It will allow you the same connectivity from any PDA with a wireless connection or a modem. One drawback, however: Palm® users are out of luck. GoToMyPC PocketView only will work on a PDA running the Windows CE, Pocket PC, or Tablet PC operating system. That said, the ability to run any application resident on your “home” system from a palmtop device is impressive, indeed.
The other product offering this solution is LapLink Everywhere ( www.laplink.com/products/lle/overview.asp). This product originally was designed to give you access to your Outlook or Outlook Express e-mail inbox, contacts, calendar, and your files from a Web page, using any browser, including those on cellular telephones and PDAs. The newest version, 2.0 (which requires installation of a separate piece of security software), adds the same full remote control functionality offered by GoToMyPC.
Remote connectivity is supported by the ever-increasing availability of wireless LAN hubs. If you use one of the new wireless 11 Mbps LAN PC Cards supporting both 40-bit and 128-bit encryption, and you are within range of a wireless hub, you have a broadband connection. If not, you can drive a narrowband connection through your cellular phone or a landline. Either way, you can do what you must to keep your clients satisfied, even when you’re up at the lake fishing.
J. Anthony Vittal (firstname.lastname@example.org) chairs the litigation department of Finestone, Richter & Vittal, P.C., in Los Angeles, California. A member of the ABA Standing Committee on Technology and Information Systems, he speaks and writes frequently on legal technology topics.