What do robots and lawyers have in common? Although some might suggest there are a lot of less than stellar similarities, none of which apply to the fine attorneys of Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP, of course, they are both now able to engage in successful public debate. That’s right, a robot computer took on two humans, including the 2016 Israeli national debate champion, and won!

The program, called Project Debater, was developed by IBM and exists as a freestanding black computer that’s roughly the height and width of a person. Project Debater participated in two debates in front of an audience of mostly journalists. At the conclusion of each debate, the audience was asked whether the debate swayed their opinion on the topic. While the humans won the debate on government subsidies for space exploration, Project Debater successfully changed the mind of nine audience members regarding an increased use of telemedicine, winning that debate.  Continue Reading Debating Robot Defeats Humans. Are Lawyers Next?

This post is part of our ongoing series exploring the impact of technology on legal issues. For an introduction to the series and a collection of the posts in the series, check out this post.

By now, everyone should be mindful of the dreaded “Reply All” feature (for the uninitiated: When is it appropriate to reply all? Mostly never). I have to agree, although “mostly never” might even be too often.

On a related note, did you ever accidentally hit “Send” before you’re ready? Me too. But I’ve adopted a new trick that might help you as well. When drafting a new email, the last information I add to the email are the recipients. That way, I’m paying particular attention to the autofill feature and making sure I’m ready to send and have the right people.

While sending email to unintended recipients remains a common problem, here are two more nuanced legal issues to consider relating to email: Continue Reading Email Woes

If you’re interested in leadership development and live or work in Lancaster, you should absolutely check out Leadership Lancaster and its programs. As I’ve previously written on this blog, it’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of this organization and what it does for both individuals and the community.

My introduction to the organization was as a member of the Core Class of 2016 (for more on my experience, check out my three part Reflections on Leadership Lancaster series). Since then, I’ve joined Leadership Lancaster’s ACHIEVE Committee to further support the organization and its mission to develop outstanding community leadership to support the needs of Lancaster County.

Yesterday I had the privilege of attending their annual Leadership Inspired! event, which celebrates local leadership. The event included a presentation of three awards to local individuals and organizations that have made a significant impact on the Lancaster County community. This year’s well-deserved winners were:

SoWe: for the organization’s accomplishments in furthering their mission to create a better environment for the neighbors, businesses and organizations that reside in the southwest Lancaster City community.

Dr. Martin Hudacs: for his commitment to putting others before self and educating community leaders through his 40 years in education and in various capacities through Leadership Lancaster, including his role as an immediate past Chair of Leadership Lancaster’s Board of Directors.

Bob Shoemaker: for his inspirational leadership as Project Executive (and previously the President and CEO) of the Lancaster City Alliance and contributions to Lancaster County as a lifelong resident and supporter of numerous nonprofit and community organizations, including Lancaster Safety Coalition, EDC Finance, Lancaster CRIZ Authority, Fulton Theatre, Lancaster Health Center, Lancaster Farmland Trust, and Lancaster Chamber Foundation, to name a few.

Continue Reading Leadership Lancaster Connects, Educates and Inspires at Leadership Inspired! Event

Yesterday afternoon I had the pleasure to attend SCORE Lancaster-Lebanon’s 2018 Small Business Awards Luncheon held at Millersville University’s Ware Center. This luncheon is always a great place to hear more of SCORE’s success stories. This year was no different.

SCORE provides our community with many resources for local entrepreneurs. These include providing free business counseling through its mentors, facilitating round-table discussions among local small businesses, and teaching educational workshops on how to start and improve a small business. SCORE’s workshops hold a special place in my heart because I have helped teach one of the workshop sessions for several years now (or perhaps more appropriately, I help translate the legalese of forming a corporation or LLC into an outline of what a small business owner should know). Continue Reading SCORE Lancaster-Lebanon Celebrates 2018 Small Business Awards Luncheon

As a business attorney, I try to understand my clients’ businesses and keep up with trends that may help my clients address problems they may encounter as their business grows. Three of my favorite podcasts that help me do that include Mac Power Users, which helps you get the most out of your technology, Cortex, which features business and productivity tips from independent content creators, and Free Agents, which discusses the trials and tribulations of starting your own business. On all three shows, the hosts have mentioned that they have hired virtual assistants to help them with various aspects of their growing businesses.

While browsing LinkedIn, I noticed that Frances Annis, a connection I met through the Southern Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce, had recently moved to a Lancaster-based virtual administrative support company called My Reliable Admin. Fran put me in touch with My Reliable Admin founder, Angie Mobarak, who explained that the company provides virtual administrative support to busy professionals and business across the country, utilizing technology and flexible plans and pricing to suit the needs of their clients.

Angie described My Reliable Admin’s approach to providing a positive client experience: “The VA (Virtual Assistant)/Client relationship hinges greatly on trust and communication. The highly responsive nature of our Assistants creates an in-person feel even though clients may reside in a different time-zone from their VA. Full transparency is also critical in building trust as our clients can always know how their Assistant’s time is being spent by viewing a task tracking portal we provide.” Continue Reading Need Administrative Help? Consider Hiring a Virtual Assistant

Ever run across an idea so good you cannot imagine why you didn’t come up with it before? I found one of those last Friday when reading Lancaster Newspaper’s article Northwest Regional Police Department sets up safe zone for face-to-face exchanges.

When I read the article’s title, it sounded like a middle school dispute resolution plan for two classmates to meet face-to-face and talk through their differences. The reality is much cooler. The safe zone is a publicly maintained safe space with 24-hour video recording for two (or more) people who may not have complete trust in each other to meet. When would that happen? Well, one situation is if you are dropping off your child to your ex-spouse per a custody arrangement. But how about if you just arranged a deal on craigslist? Now you have a secure space to exchange money for that TV stand (and just in time for the big game!).

Kudos to the Manheim Borough Police Department and the Northwest Regional Police Department for setting up such spaces. It provides another example of the marriage between 21st century technology and practical thinking that makes me love Lancaster County. Now excuse me while I go off to think about the next great idea so obvious I didn’t think of yet…

Brandon Harter is an attorney and technology guru at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He received his law degree from William & Mary Law School and advises clients on issues of Business LawCivil Litigation & Dispute ResolutionMunicipal Law, and Information Technology & Internet Law.

As an avid podcast listener, one of my favorite year-end activities is reading through the “best of” lists of the best podcasts and episodes of the year. Below are a few of my favorite lists of favorites (meta, right?) to get you started:

The Atlantic – The 50 Best Podcasts of 2017

Vulture – The 10 Best Podcasts of 2017

Vulture – The 10 Best Podcast Episodes of 2017

IndieWire – The 50 Best Podcast Episodes of 2017

My typical approach is to review the lists and their descriptions, then add episodes that sound interesting to a new playlist in my preferred podcast app, Overcast.

This year, I thought I’d share my own list of some of my favorite podcasts: Continue Reading My 2017 Podcast Picks

Like brothers who favor rival football teams, my colleague Matt Landis and I often spar over our respective technological preference for Apple vs. Google/Windows/Microsoft. Generally, I think of this as just that, a pair of rival paths.

Imagine my surprise when Matt sent me this article from Daring Fireball reviewing the Google Pixel 2. I assumed he was egging me on to follow his path of annually upgrading to the latest smartphone. While I do have a first-generation Pixel, I am not feeling the need to upgrade to the latest version. But he was after something much more nefarious… convincing me that our paths were not as different as I assumed. Continue Reading Can’t we all get along?

I have served on the Board of Directors of the Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum for the past five years and have had the privilege of serving as Board President for the last two years. As you might imagine, I really enjoy this Lancaster County hidden gem, so as we prepare for Lancaster’s Extraordinary Give I thought it might be nice to share a few fun facts you might not know (even if you live down the street): Continue Reading Fun Facts about the Landis Valley Museum

Many technology enthusiasts subscribe to the theory that to appear on the cutting edge they need to always upgrade to the latest version. The latest software patch, the latest device, etc. I, on the other hand, have always felt like an upgrade needed to give me something (although when I do make a move I tend to spend more than your average bear doing so). Continue Reading Yes, the “Feel” of Your Technology Matters