A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.


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2009 Brings ADA Changes

The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) took effect on January 1, 2009. The ADAAA, which was signed by President Bush on September 25, 2008, is intended to restore Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provisions that had been eroded by a series of Supreme Court decisions.

Trapp, Greg. National Federation of the Blind (2009). Articles>Accessibility>Legal>United States


Answering the Critics of Plain Language

Plain language has to do with clear and effective communication -- nothing more or less. It does, though, signify a new attitude and a fundamental change from past practices.

Kimble, Joseph. Plain Language Network (2003). Articles>Writing>Legal>Minimalism


The Anywhere Office = Anywhere Liability   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

The 20th-Century office is dead. According to Telework Trendlines 2009, WorldatWork’s new survey of more than 1,000 U.S. adults, the number of Americans working remotely at least once a month jumped 39%, from 12.4 million in 2006 to 17.2 million in 2008. Last year Congress even introduced bills that would encourage and expand telework programs in the federal government. Although the disap- pearing office boundaries caused by technological advances have obvious benefits for employers and employees, something else is dissolving along with those cubicle walls: clear limit lines of employer liability.

Genova, Gina L. Business Communication Quarterly (2010). Articles>Legal>Telecommuting>Workplace


Authors Can’t Be Sued For Linking To Libelous Material

Hyperlinking is fundamental to how information spreads on the web—it’s the reason why traffic spikes on some sites and also explains why false information can funnel outward so quickly. One question that publishers and lawyers have long wrestled with is whether sites are legally liable for the accuracy of material they link out to. In a major ruling today, a court offered an answer to that. Authors should not be held liable for providing links to websites that contain defamatory material, according to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Roberts, Jeff. PaidContent.org (2011). Articles>Legal>Hypertext>Canada


The Basics of the Entity Alphabet©

Has anyone told you something that sounded like 'I folded my S-Corp into a C-Corp, then transferred the shares to an LLC that was the GP of an LLP'? It used to be easy. You were either a corporation, partnership, or if only one owner, sole proprietorship. Nowadays, the proliferation of choice of entities for even small, single-owner businesses can be daunting. While it can all be very confusing, all of this alphabet jargon boils down to two basic issues: taxation and liability. In the old days, you could only have limited liability if you were taxed as a corporation and could only be taxed as a partnership if you had full liability. Now the two issues have been separated, giving modern business owners the full range of possibilities. Let's take a look at how these two issues have been dealt with and what concessions business owners have wrestled out of the IRS in the last 20 years with the introduction of the Limited Liability Company (LLC).

Jurney, Thomas F. STC Williamette Valley (2002). Careers>Management>Legal


BlockShopper v. Jones Day: The Right of Web Sites to Link

Cases that have addressed links and copyright dealt with the permissibility of "deep linking"—linking to a page other than the home page—which, of course, is indeed permitted. Ticketmaster famously lost a lawsuit against Tickets.com about just this. But that case was about copyright infringement; by making a trademark claim instead, Jones Day opened up another legal avenue.

Davis, Wendy. Slate (2009). Articles>Web Design>Legal>Hypertext


Breaking Professional Boundaries: What the MacCrate Report on Lawyering Skills and Values Means for TPC Programs   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

In 1992, the American Bar Association released the MacCrate Report, which listed the ten skills and four professional values that all attorneys need and critiqued law schools and state bars for not doing enough to teach and encourage the development of these skills and values. In response, law schools have significantly increased the skills-based components in their curricula, and most state bar exams now include a performance test. Technical and Professional Communication (TPC) programs already provide substantial instruction in all of the skills and values described in the MacCrate Report; further, an education in TPC prepares graduates to excel in law school and on the bar exam. This knowledge offers opportunities for growth if educators, administrators, and scholars take steps to encourage students to consider not only writing for but also joining in the legal profession.

Todd, Jeff. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (2008). Articles>Education>Legal>Business Communication


Communicators and Lawyers: Winning in Both Courts

Professional communicators and attorneys have long stood side by side as both fought to win in court—one in the court of law, the other in the court of public opinion. These two sometimes wary compatriots, however, are now beginning to partner more frequently to garner the best results for the executive suite.

Deveney, John and Meghan Ozcan. Communication World Bulletin (2005). Articles>Business Communication>Legal


Contracts for Every Occasion

This is a reference library of forms to help protect your work and your visitors. It contains sample forms, contracts, and charts to ease the legal technicalities of running a Web site, such as privacy policies, link agreements, copyright agreements, sweepstakes rules, and cease and desist letters.

TechRepublic (2001). Resources>Legal>Contracts


Contracts: An Introduction to the Skills of Legal Writing and Analysis   (peer-reviewed)

Contracts is a computer program designed for first year undergraduates studying Obligations in Glasgow University's School of Law, written by Paul Maharg and Professor Joe Thomson. It aims to improve students' written work.

Maharg, Paul. JILT (1996). Articles>Writing>Legal>Contracts


Customer Profile: Ernest Svenson, PDF for Lawyers

A well-known advocate for the effective use of new technologies in the legal profession, New Orleans-based attorney Ernest Svenson finds Adobe Acrobat and PDF to be highly valued tools in a document-intensive field.

Foss, Kurt. Adobe (2007). Articles>Information Design>Legal>Adobe Acrobat


Disability Discrimination Act: An Update for 2005

Many organisations are confused and concerned about the latest requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), which came into effect on 1st October 2004. Failure to make reasonable adjustments may mean that organisations are discriminating against disabled people. Yet what does 'reasonable adjustments' mean and what exactly do organisations need to put in place?

System Concepts (2005). Articles>Accessibility>Legal>United Kingdom


eDiscovery: A Company's Worst Nightmare

EDiscovery: You don't want it to happen. Borne of the term discovery, used by lawyers to describe collecting evidence, electronic discovery comes about because of a possible violation in regulatory compliance. Whatis.com defines it as "to any process in which electronic data is sought, located, secured, and searched with the intent of using it as evidence in a civil or criminal legal case."

Tim Rosa Associates (2008). Articles>Legal>Policies and Procedures


The Effects of Print and Other Text Media Developments Upon the Law in America   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

The law has long been shaped by the technical aspects of compiling, writing, storing, and accessing textual verbiage. Text media technology affects all areas of the law, from its intellectual basis to its promulgation, dissemination and enforcement. From America's Colonial period, the operative state of the art of printing has accordingly shaped the development of the law in America, and has caused it to grow in a different direction from the law of England. Since the Colonial period, the state of the art of text media technology has made quantum evolutionary leaps forward, impacting American law in the process. Artifacts of these text media technologies are to be found in the statutes, legislative histories, judicial decisions, and other legal materials. Modern technology has accelerated the pace of text media technology development, and has impacted the law accordingly. Current developments continue to impact the law on an ongoing basis, and future developments in text media technology can be expected to leave their impact upon the law.

Ryesky, Kenneth H. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (1999). Articles>Publishing>Legal>History


Errors and Omissions Insurance: Assuming the Risk of Professional Liability   (PDF)

Like most other business owners, technical communicators may, from time to time, have legal exposure for their actions and mistakes. Errors and omissions insurance is one way to manage the risks the associated with operating a business and while it may not be the best solution for everyone, it's worth considering whether the benefits of this of insurance coverage outweighs the costs.

Juillet, Christopher. STC Proceedings (2004). Careers>TC>Legal


Free Web Tools for the Way You Work

While law firm IT spending frequently flattens out in tough economic times, that doesn't mean you or your colleagues have to restrict yourselves to using the same technology. A host of free Web applications are surprisingly effective in helping law firms from solo practitioners to large firm in-house PR and marketing staff, stay on top of the game. The trick is knowing which tools out there are worth your time. Here are the applications that made our top-24 list.

Legal Technology (2009). Articles>Legal>Software


Freedom of Information Act Fundamentals

FOIA has become an indispensable tool for probing actions of government and the companies and people that come into contact with government. Your catch is only limited by your imagination.

Wilson, Duff. Society of Environmental Journalists (2002). Resources>Legal>Government>Civic


From Tech Writer to Paralegal

Writing spots were becoming fewer and farther between, and it was clear that I'd have to make a career change. I used to pick up temporary secretarial spots during lulls, but with the downswing in the economy and the proliferation of PCs, the demand for word processing gurus had dwindled considerably. Most of the writing jobs that did come my way over the last three years were dreadful. Job satisfaction had reached an all-time low.

Lookabaugh, Nancy K. MetroVoice (2002). Careers>Writing>Legal


Getting Professional Help: Why Contractors and Independent Consultants Need Lawyers   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article begins with the premise that there is no such thing as a standard contract and goes on to explore some of the ways that the attorney/client relationship can have unexpected benefits for technical communication consultants and contractors. The conclusion is that these communicators should seek legal counsel to protect themselves and their businesses.

Glick-Smith, Judith L. 'Judy' and Carol Stephenson. Technical Communication Online (1998). Careers>Consulting>Legal


Good Lawyers, Bad Products

Lawyers may know their way around a courtroom, but they have no business designing products. Too often, in their zealous pursuit of zero liability, they end up damaging products, alienating customers, destroying companies, and killing people. It's up to you to stop them.

Tognazzini, Bruce. Nielsen Norman Group (2002). Design>User Interface>Legal


Harnessing Collective Expertise: Delivering Market and Client Intelligence Research Within a Law Firm   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Explains how a leading global law firm manages its market and client research. Outlines the firm's divisions, business activities and client base. Explains in detail how the firm uses business research, covering use of market intelligence on the business issues that an individual client faces, and the gathering of intelligence about the client, to disclose the nature and extent of the firm's ambitions to advise the organization concerned. Discusses the staffing of a law firm's business research capability, pointing out that not only staff expertise but also confidentiality concerns mean that it is not always efficient for lawyers to access internal and external information sources directly. Suggests that defining the minimum business research necessary improves the usefulness of the information delivered and saves the firm time -- and that removing the uncertainty about what is required improves job satisfaction as well.

Blaxland, Diane. Business Information Review (2008). Articles>Business Communication>Legal>Collaboration


Harvard Journal of Law and Technology

The Harvard Journal of Law and Technology (JOLT) is published by Harvard Law School students. While the Journal is an official publication of the Harvard Law School, it receives no funding from the Law School and relies exclusively on subscriptions and sponsor contributions. The views expressed in the Journal do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editorial Board or sponsors of the Journal, Harvard Law School, or Harvard University.

HJLT. Journals>Technology>Legal


The Hazards of Translating Legal Documents

The issue of translation is a global one and doesn't just relate to mistranslations by American and British English speakers. Today, poor translation can be particularly dangerous given the speed at which events are reported. How dangerous? According to the Dow Jones Newswire of 12 May 2005, one mistake was worth several billion U.S. dollars.

Frievalds, John. Communication World Bulletin (2005). Articles>Language>Legal>Translation


A Hegemonic Model of Crisis Communication: Truthfulness and Repercussions for Free Speech in Kasky v. Nike   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This study utilizes the hegemonic model of crisis communication to critically analyze the ideological implications of Nike's sweatshop labor crisis that culminated in the Kasky v. Nike court case. This groundbreaking case merits further examination and, informed by Gramsci's notion of hegemony, reveals the underlying ideological struggle present in the Nike crisis: a struggle for voice, power, and free corporate speech. Activist voices opposing sweatshops, Nike's defenses, and eventually, the legal decisions of the U.S. court system constituted competing voices in these ideological struggles over what is acceptable or right corporate behavior. This hegemonic struggle influenced standards for international labor, public relations efforts that misrepresent facts, and consideration of corporate public relations as free or commercial speech. This hegemonic model of crisis communication, unlike previous theories, recognizes the dynamic struggle between voices with various levels of power and the important ideological implications resulting from competing voices in crisis communication.

McHale, John P., Joseph P. Zompetti and Mary Anne Moffitt. JBC (2007). Articles>Business Communication>Legal>Public Relations


How to Build a Nonprofit for Your Community

This article details how mozdev.org built a nonprofit organization and shows you how to do the same for your community. I'll cover fundraising, obtaining legal advice, staffing, and more.

Boswell, David. O'Reilly and Associates (2004). Careers>Management>Legal>Nonprofit



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