Corel Introduces the New Corel WordPerfect Office X3

Corel Corporation announced today the availability of the new Corel WordPerfect Office X3 family of desktop productivity software. WordPerfect users have been awaiting this release for some time, even as they snatched up licenses of the previous version, which has been selling at fire-sale rock-bottom pricing.

Some of the new features outlined in the press release include:

New PDF Import and suite-wide Publish to PDF – WordPerfect X3 natively imports PDF documents, making it easy to reuse text and graphics stored in this format. Suite-wide PDF export capabilities enable users of Corel WordPerfect Office X3 to turn documents, spreadsheets and presentations into PDF files without additional PDF software, making sharing content via the open PDF format simple and cost-effective.

Enhanced compatibility with Microsoft Office – Improvements to compatibility in each of WordPerfect X3, Quattro Pro X3 and Presentations X3 ensure it is easy to open, edit and save Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files.

Save without Metadata – An absolute must-have feature any time confidentiality is a concern, WordPerfect X3 makes it easy to quickly remove private or sensitive data that can be hidden in, but easily extracted from, office productivity documents.

WordPerfect MAIL – A full-featured and easy to use email application, WordPerfect MAIL provides email, calendar, contact management and RSS capabilities – along with lightning fast search.

For additional information and a full description of the entire suite and all the new features, visit the Corel WordPerfect web site.


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It’s Now a Crime to Be Annoying

It’s no joke. It is now a crime to be annoying. On Thursday, January 5, 2006, President Bush signed into law a prohibition on posting annoying Web messages or sending annoying email messages without disclosing your true identity. The new law is included in the Violence Against Women and Department of Justice
Reauthorization Act. Criminal penalties include stiff fines and two years in prison.

The relevant language is: “Whoever…utilizes any device or software that can be used to originate telecommunications or other types of communications that are transmitted, in whole or in part, by the Internet… without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass any person…who receives the communications…shall be fined under title 18 or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.”

The “buzz” in the blogosphere about this new law is deafening. Here are just a few of the comments posted :

“I’d say that a few of us better start considering if orange jumpsuits are flattering..”

“…it’s OK to flame someone on a mailing list or in a blog as long as you do it under your real name. Thank Congress for small favors, I guess. ”

“Some of us are naturally annoying. I wonder if that could be a defense. ”

“What’s next??? Typing while intoxicated??? Or operating a computer under the influence???”

“This is yet another feeble attempt at legislation against various forms of domestic violence. The idea being that you add another way of putting the assailant behind bars. Of course, the politicians never bother to consider if it’s enforceable, much less trackable, but they can always go back to the voters to say ‘I did my best, now you should vote for me again.'”

Enforceability may well be the Achilles heel of this new law. “The use of the word ‘annoy’ is particularly problematic,” says Marv Johnson, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union. “What’s annoying to one person may not be annoying to someone else.”

As Eric Van Buskirk wrote on ABA’s LawTECH Listserv: “Our esteemed politicians can’t seem to grasp this simple point, but the First Amendment protects our right to write something that annoys someone else. It even shields our right to do it anonymously. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas defended this principle magnificently in a 1995 case involving an Ohio woman who was punished for distributing anonymous political pamphlets. If President Bush truly believed in the principle of limited government (it is in his official bio), he’d realize that the law he signed cannot be squared with the Constitution he swore to uphold. ”

I look forward to posting about enforcement attempts and challenges to this new legislation in the future.


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Mandatory Insurance Disclosure in PA

An Amendment to Pennsylvania Rule of Professional Conduct 1.4 (Communication) takes effect on July 1, 2006. The amendment requires a lawyer in private practice to inform a new client in writing if the lawyer does not have professional liability insurance of at least $100,000 per occurrence and $300,000 in aggregate per year, subject to commercially reasonable deductibles, retention or co-insurance. The amendment also requires a lawyer to inform existing clients in writing at any time the lawyer’s professional liability insurance drops below either of those amounts or if the lawyer’s professional liability insurance is terminated. It further requires the lawyer to maintain a record of these disclosures for six years after the termination of the representation of a client.

Solo & small firm attorneys in Pennsylvania have fought long and hard against mandatory insurance and/or mandatory reporting. Objections include a strong feeling that such an amendment puts lawyers in those environments at a disadvantage compared to those at large firms. There is also a reasonable fear that mandatory insurance will put too much power in the hands of insurers, and for attorneys doing plaintiff work, this is an undesirable outcome.

Nonetheless, the PA Supreme Court ultimately felt that the protection of the public outweighed any possible negative effects on lawyer’s practices. The final Amendment, though, is far less Draconian than some which were proposed along the way.

The comments to the Amendment contain specimen language to be used in the event there is no insurance, that insurance drops below the minimum, or in the event that insurance is terminated.


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EDDs Impact on Records Management Policies

Electronic Data Discovery isn’t just a topic for trial attorneys. It has a profound impact on law firm records management and retention policies. And it has an equally profound impact on your clients. If you don’t “get it” you will not adequately protect your firm. And you are definately missing opportunities to serve your clients.

What are we talking about here? We’re talking about having a well-developed and scrupulously followed policy which covers retention and destruction of both paper and electronic documents, from email to memos, financial information, correspondence, and everything in between. Sloppy habits in following a policy, documenting actions, or having no policy at all, may result in huge jury verdicts against your firm or your client.

Of course I’m referring to Zubalake I, up through the recent April, 2005 verdict of $29.3 million. I’ve lost track, was this Zubalake IV, V, or VI? Again in May, 2005, a jury awarded Coleman Holdings $1.45 billion (yes, that’s billion, not million) against Morgan Stanley, because Morgan Stanley had improperly destroyed emails.

I am still astounded at the number of law firms which do not have any records management and destruction policy in place. Not even a bad one. This is as dangerous a business practice as not backing up computer data. It is inevitable that eventually this strategy will come back to bite a firm in the metaphoric glutes.

I know you have a lot on your plate, but this piece of administration isn’t something you can / should put off any longer. Need help? It’s out there. First, take a look at some of the articles on records management on my consulting web site. In particular, start with Developing a Records Management Policy, and then read Managing the Mountain of Paper: Records Management in the Law Firm. The latter article will provide links to resources which can assist you in developing your own policy.

Of course, Pennsylvania attorneys who are PBA members can contact me on the Law Practice Management Hot Line for a specimen policy and lots of additional information, to make this task a lot less labor intensive.


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FTC Disposal Rule and the Impact on Computer Disposal

For many firms and businesses, the new Federal Trade Commission’s Disposal Rule 16 CFR Part 682, which went into effect June 1, 2005, slipped in under the radar screen. Prior to this Rule, clearing of a computer’s hard drive before the computer was donated, sold or discarded was ethically required by lawyers in order to safeguard client confidentiality. Now it’s required by law for all businesses, including law firms and lawyers, to take reasonable measures to dispose of sensitive information derived from credit reports and background checks so that the information cannot practicably be read or reconstructed.

The Rule applies to both digital and paper media, and requires implementing and monitoring compliance with disposal policies and procedures. So if your firm, and if your clients, do not have records management and retention policies in place, it’s likcly you and/or your clients will run afoul of this law eventually.

Comments to the Rule suggest utilizing disc wiping utilities, but also suggest physical destruction of the hard drive as a cheaper alternative.

See my previous post entitled Disposing of Unwanted Computer Equipment for additional regulations, and links to disc wiping utilities.


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Free 411 Directory Assistance

I honestly never know where my next blog post inspiration will come from. In this instance, it’s from, which is the resource for researching urban legends. I recommend to clients and family that before they hit SEND on any mass mailing emails, they should first check it out at Snopes.

Anyway, a posting about a possible free Directory Assistance service caught my attention. It just seemed too good to be true. But apparently it is. In most cases, telephone customers are now charged a fee (typically $1.00 or more) for each directory assistance call. Despite the charges, U.S. consumers continue to avail themselves of the 411 directory assistance service, placing about 6 billion such calls per year. Mia culpa! I’m a heavy user of 411, despite having my PDA synched with over 2500 contacts on me most times, and over 100 frequently used telephone numbers already programmed into my cell phone.

A company called Jingle Networks is providing an alternative directory assistance service — and it’s free. Users who call the toll-free number 1-800-FREE411 (or 1-800-373-3411) can navigate an automated voice recognition system that asks for a location (city and state), type of listing (business, government, or residential), and name. Once the service has located an entry for the requested number, it reads the information aloud and offers the caller the option of connecting to the number by pressing a single number on the telephone keypad.

[Note: calls to 800 numbers are NOT free on most cell phone plans.]

The service is free to users because it depends on commercial (business) advertising revenues. A caller who requests a business number is first presented with a short (about 12 seconds) audio advertisement for a sponsor who operates a competing business in that area; the caller is then given the option of being connected to either that competitor or the business originally requested.

If no sponsor operates a local competing business, then the caller hears no advertisement at all. In the latter case, if the caller accepts the option to connect to the desired number, the business receiving the call hears a short message at the beginning advising them that the call was placed via Free-411, and a Free-411 salesman may follow up with them a few days later to solicit them as a potential advertiser.

They also offer free directory assistance through a web site.


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