Tuesday, 20 November 2012

The end of a very private era

The last typewriter to be made in a factory in Britain has rolled off a production line in North Wales - 183 years after the first typewriter was patented.

The electric CM-1000, built by Brother, was until recently shipped to America, where some legal firms prefer not to use computer hard drives.

I hadn't previously known how IT-phobic some US law firms could be, but once lawyers had grasped the potentially damaging information that could be unearthed from an electronic data trail, I suppose they were bound to get jittery.

Erik R. Guenther outlines some of the potential pitfalls, giving the example of a draft proposal for a financial settlement, sent as an attachment in a format like .doc. Nothing wrong with that - unless an earlier version of the same document contained an offer to settle at a much lower amount, in which case the recipient - if more IT savvy - might retrieve and track the changes to the document and conclude that his or her opponent was probably willing to settle for a far lower figure than the one ostensibly being sought. In such cases, Guenther suggests that lawyers who haven't completely abjured the computer should make friends with .pdf files.