Latest & Greatest – The ABA Cybersecurity Handbook: A Resource for Attorneys, Law Firms, and Business Professionals

Edited by Jill D. Rhodes and Robert S. Litt  Published by American Bar Association. Cybersecurity Legal Task Force.  KF 318 .A7518 2017  Photo Credit: Helen Hartman

Edited by Jill D. Rhodes and Robert S. Litt

Published by American Bar Association. Cybersecurity Legal Task Force.

KF 318 .A7518 2017

Photo Credit: Helen Hartman

The Law Library’s newest addition to its Legal Tech Collection is The ABA Cybersecurity Handbook. Sponsored by the ABA’s Cybersecurity Legal Task Force, The ABA Cybersecurity Handbook strives to provide attorneys and business professionals with an overview of the many aspects of cybersecurity and some practical considerations in the event of a cyber breach. 

The book begins with some background for aid in understanding a cybersecurity threat and its attendant risks. The writers provide examples of the most common threats and how law firms can address them. There is also an explanation of the cyber network, its organization, and potential threats, and how defensive systems work and respond to perceived threats. There is a discussion of the lawyer’s obligation to provide data security under the ethics rules and ABA formal opinion 477R and some advice as to when the lawyer should discuss the issue of cybersecurity with her client. The book concludes with some best practices for becoming prepared through international business community management system series of standards and the international information security management system series of standards. The authors also address the cyber-related challenges faced by large law firms, solo practitioners and small firms, in-house counsel, government lawyers, and public interest attorneys. 

No one is immune from the increasing number of cyber threats and breaches and the confidential data that can be targeted in these attacks. The cost of being prepared is minimal compare to the cost of corrupted data and loss of trust. The ABA Cybersecurity Handbook can help you become better prepared.

Other titles on this topic include: Encryption Made Simple for Lawyers, Locked Down: Practical Information Security for Lawyers, and Technology Tips for Lawyers and Other Business Professionals.

Law Day 2018 - Separation of Powers: Framework for Freedom

Today we are recognizing Law Day. Our regular Tech Tuesday feature will return next week. 

Today is Law Day, an annual opportunity to reflect on the legal foundation of our nation and the fundamental role that the law plays in securing the freedoms we as Americans hold dear. At the Harris County Law Library, we're observing the day with a special Law Day exhibit, which will be on display all month long in the library lobby. We are also pleased to be featuring selected winning entries from the Houston Bar Association's annual Law Day essay and poster contest. The winning posters can be seen in the video below, along with a special Law Day message from the Harris County Law Library.

In 1957, American Bar Association (ABA) President Charles S. Rhyne, who provided legal counsel to President Eisenhower, conceived of a day dedicated to the celebration of our legal system, a vision that Mr. Eisenhower would help fulfill. The following year, on February 3, 1958, President Eisenhower issued Proclamation 3221, designating May 1st as Law Day and establishing a tradition. Every administration since has issued a Presidential Proclamation for this special occasion. The 2018 Law Day Proclamation emphasizes the wisdom of our unique structure of government. Consisting of three co-equal branches -- Executive, Legislative, and Judicial -- each with its own authority and limitations, this framework has allowed freedom to flourish for nearly 229 years.

Law Day 2018.png

The legislative branch also recognized the importance of this special day. On April 7, 1961, Congress passed a joint resolution (Public Law 87-20, 75 Stat. 43) to officially establish May 1st as Law Day, codifying it into law in Title 36, Section 113. In the years since, Americans have observed Law Day with civic activities, educational programs, and special events consistent with the American Bar Association's annual Law Day theme. Based on a significant aspect of the American legal system (e.g., democracy, civil rights, legal history, the judiciary, or Constitutional law), this theme serves as a focal point for schools, libraries, courts, bar associations, community groups, civic organizations, and others to plan celebratory events.

This year's theme is Separation of Powers: Framework for Freedom, which the ABA explains with a quote from James Madison in Federalist 51: “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition.” On its website, the ABA elaborates:

Madison believed that the Constitution’s principles of separation of powers and checks and balances preserve political liberty. They provide a framework for freedom. Yet, this framework is not self-executing. We the people must continually act to ensure that our constitutional democracy endures, preserving our liberties and advancing our rights. The Law Day 2018 theme enables us to reflect on the separation of powers as fundamental to our constitutional purpose and to consider how our governmental system is working for ourselves and our posterity.

On this day, the Harris County Law Library invites you to reflect on the importance of a legal system designed to guard against tyranny and establish fairness, balance, and justice in the conduct of government. Don't forget to stop by our exhibit throughout the month of May, which explores the Law Day Dialogues presented on the ABA website, and encourages thoughtful consideration of this year's theme, Separation of Powers: Framework for Freedom. Happy Law Day 2018! 

ABA Legal Checkups for Veterans and Others

According to a 2016 Civil Legal Aid Research Workshop Report from the U.S. Department of Justice and the National Science Foundation, two-thirds of adults face problems that can be resolved through legal intervention. However, many of those in need are unaware that legal remedies exist, and, consequently, they do not access the justice system to seek relief. Identifying that a problem is legal in nature can be the first step to getting legal assistance, and pointing people to the available resources is step two. For those of modest or moderate means, legal aid can sometimes be an option; sliding scale or alternative fee arrangements may be available as well. Depending on individual needs and circumstances, limited scope representation and pro- or low-bono services might also exist. In any case, resources are available, but recognizing the need for legal help and finding the best solutions can be a challenge.

Guiding people to achieve satisfactory legal outcomes using the resources available in their communities is the objective of the ABA Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services. This committee is charged with providing improved access to lawyers and legal services for those of modest or moderate means. Among their many initiatives is a project currently in development to offer online legal checkups that help people recognize when their problems have legal solutions and point them to available resources that address their needs. One such tool, the Legal Checkup for Veterans, is already in place.

Those who access the Veterans Legal Checkup website can identify their legal issues and find clear paths to resolving them quickly, easily, and free of charge. Employment issues, family matters, and housing instability are just a few of the issues that the Veterans Legal Checkup can address. Users are guided through a series of questions regarding jobs, wages, housing, disability, marital status, and child custody arrangements to identify any potential legal needs. Links to resources including social services organizations, veterans affairs offices, and legal aid agencies are provided, along with additional information about what to say, how to prepare, and what to consider when contacting the suggested organizations. By providing this tool for veterans, the ABA is taking action to help a sometimes vulnerable and, unfortunately, under-served population that deserves better. Other "legal checkups" from the ABA Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services are expected to follow in the near future.

Latest & Greatest – Municipal Law Deskbook

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   Edited by William J. Scheiderich  Published by American Bar Association (2015)  KF 5305 .S34 2015

Edited by William J. Scheiderich

Published by American Bar Association (2015)

KF 5305 .S34 2015

For the lawyer who practices before or for local governments comes Municipal Law Deskbook, a comprehensive guide for analyzing and handling the issues that most frequently arise in municipal law cases. Written by lawyers with decades-worth of experience in municipal law matters, Municipal Law Deskbook offers clear explanations of the applicability of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to public sector employees, the liability of public employees for wrongful acts, and the regulation of free speech in the public workplace. In addition, the authors provide an overview of regulatory taking and inverse condemnation, open meetings/open records laws, and the power of a municipality to raise taxes, generate revenue, and borrow money. Municipal Law Deskbook is a great resource for anyone wanting to know more about constitutional and employment law-related issues in a public context.

Latest & Greatest – Transgender Persons and the Law, 2nd Edition

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   By Ally Windsor Howell  Published by American Bar Association (2015)  KF 4754.5 .H69 2015

By Ally Windsor Howell

Published by American Bar Association (2015)

KF 4754.5 .H69 2015

Another of the resources published by the American Bar Association and featured here at the Harris County Law Library this month, Transgender Persons and the Law, 2nd Edition, focuses upon whether a person is male or female for legal purposes and guides the reader through the murky waters that are all too familiar for those who do not identify with the gender they were at birth. Having transitioned herself, author Howell appropriately begins her book with an explanation of who a transgender person is. In this way, the reader can gain an understanding of the issues that transgender persons face when attempting to deal with their legal questions and problems. One of the first concerns upon transitioning is the changing of identification documents to match a new name and gender. These documents include birth certificates, social security cards, driver’s licenses, and immigration papers. Where available, the author provides information on the forms required to make the desired changes.

Howell also addresses the issue of discrimination in the use of public facilities, housing, military services and veterans benefits, health care, and employment. Of concern as well is the question of personal safety. Howell devotes a chapter to a discussion of gender-based violence and hate crime laws and domestic abuse. Transgender Persons and the Law, 2nd Edition is a comprehensive text discussing, addressing, and explaining the unique issues faced by transgender persons. The appendices also provide useful information regarding relevant state laws and municipal ordinances and a listing of companies that provide health insurance coverage for sex reassignment surgery. Whether you are an LGBT lawyer or simply want to become more aware of certain issues, Transgender Persons and the Law, 2nd Edition is an excellent resource for you.

Latest & Greatest – ABA Trial Preparation Resources

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   By Bruce W. Felmly  Published by American Bar Association Section of Litigation and First Chair Press (2015)  KF 8915 .F47 2015

By Bruce W. Felmly

Published by American Bar Association Section of Litigation and First Chair Press (2015)

KF 8915 .F47 2015

In support of its mission of making practical resources available to members of the legal profession, the American Bar Association has published two resources that assist lawyers with trial preparation: Preparing for Trial: 60 Days and Counting and One Hundred Days Before Trial: A Family Lawyer's Guide to Preparation and Strategy.

In his book, Preparing for Trial: 60 Days and Counting, Bruce W. Felmly walks the reader through a trial scenario from the moment the notice setting trial is received to the morning of the trial. Breaking down the 60 days into smaller increments, Felmly explains the tasks that need to or should be performed, such as scheduling, planning trial presentation techniques, conducting mock trials, preparing the pretrial filings, drafting a version of the opening statement, attending the pretrial conference, and preparing the client and witnesses. Following Felmly’s systematic approach will make the task ahead not seem so daunting.

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   By Steven N. Peskind  Published by the American Bar Association Section of Family Law (2015)  KF 505.5 .P47 2015

By Steven N. Peskind

Published by the American Bar Association Section of Family Law (2015)

KF 505.5 .P47 2015

For the family lawyer, help comes in the form of Steven Peskind's One Hundred Days Before Trial: A Family Lawyer's Guide to Preparation and Strategy. Peskind guides the reader through the steps and preparations that must be or should be completed during the 100 days leading up to the trial of a family law case. Organized by segments based upon some suggested time periods, the author proposes certain tasks that lawyers should perform. For instance, witnesses, both lay and expert, should ideally be considered 60 days before trial, and 30 days prior to trial would probably be a good time to prepare opening and closing statements and draft any final pretrial motions. At the end of each chapter, there is a checklist to keep track of what has been done and what has yet to be done. This book is a great resource not only for the family lawyer but also for any lawyer who needs a bit of help with staying on track and keeping organized.

Look for both of these titles at the Harris County Law Library!