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Clio and the Clouds

I’m writing this as I wait for the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice Legal Technology Seminar in South San Francisco to start. (So, if you’re here, wave to me.)

Anyone who knows me knows that I have a love-hate — but mostly love — relationship with technology. As I sit here, I’m working on my MacBook Air, having set aside my iPad 2. I don’t need to connect using the AT&T Mi-Fi hub I always carry with me, because the technology seminar facilities are providing my Internet connection today. My wi-fi/3G Apple-endowed cellphone is on vibrate, so as not to disturb.

I won’t rehash my tech background: I’ve done that before.

But there’s one area of tech I find overwhelmingly disturbing.

Clio is here today with a booth. They’re selling a beautiful product. I signed on for a trial account — although I never entered a shred of information into it — and explored the interface. I’d love to have it. It looks like it would be just the kind of practice management tool I want. There’s enough in it to run my office without being so much that it overwhelms.

Most practice management packages just have too much stuff for criminal law practices. I mean, what do we really need? It’s nice to have a searchable database of people for conflict checks. I also want the ability to keep track of notes without having to handwrite them — because handwriting, on paper at least, isn’t searchable. Being able to have one screen, or set of screens, that ties the case together, including paperless transcripts of hearings, motions, communications and anything else relating to the client is definitely important. And calendaring, integrated with Outlook, iCal, or something similar.

But I’ll never use Clio.

Never.

Why?

Because this is possible. And even this. And this.

Lest those links disappear someday, the stories are of the government — primarily the FBI, but how often could it be local police departments? — gaining access to user data stored on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media servers, as well as legislation that allows access to information about your activity on the Internet, provided courtesy of your ISP, and without your knowledge. Most of the time.

Clio, beautiful as it may be, lives “in the clouds.” I don’t.

Data living in clouds makes the data inherently insecure, if you look at it from the standpoint of a criminal defense attorney who is aware of the facts about which I wrote above. As a criminal defense attorney, I don’t trust the government. Therefore, as a criminal defense attorney, I don’t trust clouds.

When I told the Clio rep, who had descended upon me like a locust spotting the last stalk of wheat the minute I stopped and looked the poster, that I didnt trust clouds, he said, “Our data is absolutely secure. Even a large number of DA offices use our services.”

“No doubt,” I said. “They don’t have to worry about the government getting into their files.”

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