July 02, 2018 TECHNOLOGY

Ask Techie

Welcome to the latest installment of our new, monthly column, where a panel of experts answers your questions about using technology in your law practice.

This month we answer readers’ questions about searching the Wayback Machine for evidence, finding the right office scanner, and whether Dropbox can serve as a client portal.

Q: What is the Wayback Machine, and can I use it at trial?

A: The Wayback Machine (https://archive.org/web/) is an Internet archive that allows users to access historic Internet sites. For instance, suppose a client is complaining about a company’s customer service policy that was previously on its website, but has since been changed. You can use the Wayback Machine to find evidence of the old policy by simply entering the URL and the date you wish to go back to—it will pull up the results. Courts have accepted this digital evidence under Federal Rule of Evidence 201, but check your local evidence rule to determine the admissibility of this digital evidence.


Q: What scanner should I get for my office?

A: The universe of scanners has grown quite large, and you have many options ranging from various sizes and configurations of multi-function machines (copier/scanner/fax combined into a single machine), desktop stand-alone scanners, and smaller, more portable scanners. As the small handheld scanners work best for travel or light use, we will not consider them in this discussion respecting office scanners.

In making the decision, you need to evaluate your need for a scanner. Will your office scan a few documents a day or thousands in a few days? The more documents you will scan, the faster a scanner you want to get. Features you should look for in a scanner for your office include an automatic document feed (the more documents it holds, the better), the ability to scan both sides of a two-sided document in a single pass (and the ability to detect that the document has printing on both sides), the ability to scan to PDF (other formats are fine, but PDF is essential), and the speed of the scanner. The scanner should also have the ability to easily interface with your computer (not all scanners work with all computers; some work only with Windows, and if you have a Mac, you should not get one of those). If you go with a multi-function device, look for one with a color printer; I have had a color printer in my office for about the last 15 years and consider it a real asset. There are times when black-and-white just won’t do. One other consideration is the number of people in your office and how you organize your work flow. The larger you are and the more copies you make (if a multi-function device) and pages you scan, the higher capacity rating (copies per month) you will need to accommodate your work. The higher the capacity rating, the more expensive the device. If you want a printer for the office, remember that laser printers will produce better text than inkjet printers, but inkjet printers generally do a better job on color. Inkjet printers also tend to cost less to buy and more to operate than laser printers and do more harm to the environment. For a small office, look at Brother and HP multi-function machines. There are other acceptable brands, including, without limitation, Canon and Epson, but I have been more pleased with my Brother and HP devices than others. If you have a larger volume, a Xerox work group scanner (quite a bit pricier) makes a solid selection.

You should also consider having more than one scanner. I have had a scanner at my desk for many years. My law firm also has a larger multi-function device that my assistant uses. It scans at a higher speed, and my assistant scans most of the documents; still, having my own scanner has proven very convenient.

If you want a good, solid workhorse of a stand-alone scanner, my recommendation is the Fujitsu ScanSnap. I have had a ScanSnap by my desk for roughly the last 15 years and also have kept one in my home office. The ScanSnap works with Windows and Macs, scans both sides of the page in a single pass, scans only to PDF, interfaces well and very easily with my computer, and is reasonably fast. You would not want to do a 10,000-page job on it, but jobs of up to a couple hundred pages work very well. The current model of the ScanSnap for desktop use is the iX500. It connects through USB but also operates wirelessly. It will sit unobtrusively on your desk until you need it, then opens up to take on your scanning challenges. Folded up it is about the size of a rugby ball. Fujitsu has had the iX500 on the market for several years but has not indicated any intention of changing to a new model in the near future. It lists for $495, but you can regularly find it discounted online. As I write this, Amazon lists it as a “#1 Best Seller” and offers it for $419.99.


Q: Can I use Dropbox as a client portal?

A: A client portal is basically a secure web space where lawyer and client can exchange documents. The question arises every now and then as to whether services such as Dropbox can act as a client portal, and the answer is yes . . . but there are better options out there. Any cloud service you select needs to require log-ins (for both the attorney and client) to access information. You need to limit who has access and who they share that information with. Look for a program that includes a “notify when accessed” feature. You should also look for features that allow you to set an expiration date on the shared information.


What’s YOUR Question?

If you have a technology question, please forward it to Managing Editor Rob Salkin (robert.salkin@americanbar.org) at your earliest convenience. Our response team selects the questions for response and publication. Our regular response team includes Jeffrey Allen, Wells H. Anderson, Ashley Hallene, Al Harrison, Nerino J. Petro Jr., and J. Anthony Vittal; we may, from time to time, have guest authors. We publish submitted questions anonymously, just in case you do not want someone else to know you asked the question.

Please send in your questions today!


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