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legal.online, Column 39, May 1998
Copyright 1998 Robert J. Ambrogi
Millennium Bug Gets Caught In The Web
By Robert J. Ambrogi
It is one minute past midnight, Jan. 1, 2000. Does your computer know what time it is?
It is a question that has spawned possibly the hottest growth area in law practice today -- Year 2000 advice and litigation. From contracts to class actions, from corporate disclosure to officers' liability, from taxation to employment, concerns about the Millennium Bug cut a wide swath through the field of law.
And as is to be expected, the Web has come to be a primary source of Y2K information and resources. This article will look at some of those resources, focusing on sites that address primarily the legal aspects of Y2K.
Year 2000 Dilemma, http://www.ljextra.com/practice/computer/ct_y2k.html.
From Law Journal EXTRA! comes this collection of articles and news stories from the pages of the National and New York law journals. Also offered are various seminar materials and selected full-text pleadings. Here, for example, you can read a news story about a Y2K class action, then review the text of the complaint.
Year 2000, http://www.y2ktimebomb.com.
Westergaard, an investment research firm, sponsors this "Webzine," devoted to economic, political and social analysis of Y2K. Follow the menu to "Litigation" for a collection of articles and news reports on Y2K lawsuits. The "Washington" section looks at Y2K issues in government.
The Washington, D.C., firm Williams, Mullen, Christian & Dobbins sponsors this comprehensive overview of Y2K law. The firm offers tips on negotiating remediation contracts and warranties, as well as sample clauses. A litigation matrix analyzes the potential liability of corporate officers and directors, insurers and computer companies. There is an in-depth discussion of corporate disclosure and information on Y2K legislation.
Year 2000 Law Network, http://www.comlinks.com.
Applause, please. On April 9, the creator of this site announced that he would be moving much of its content to a subscription network. Less than two weeks later, saying he had been inundated with requests to keep the site free, he agreed to do just that, creating instead a Y2K law library open to all.
Year 2000 Legal Site, http://www.gahtan.com/year2000.
Toronto lawyer Alan M. Gahtan maintains this page as part of his larger Cyberlaw Encyclopedia. The page includes a half-dozen articles by Gahtan as well as an extensive index of links to related Internet resources.
Year 2000 Law Center, http://www.year2000.com/y2klawcenter.html.
Part of the larger Year 2000 Information Center, the Law Center houses some 15 articles focusing on the legal, accounting and insurance aspects of Y2K. It also has an extensive collection of links to online news stories.
Year 2000 Links, http://www.abanet.org/tech/ltrc/2000/home.html.
The American Bar Association's Legal Technology Resource Center compiled these links. Although not comprehensive, they provide a helpful starting point for learning about Y2K. Of particular note are the many links to online news articles related to Y2K legal issues.
BNA's Year 2000 Law Report, http://www.bna.com/new/y2k.htm.
This monthly covers legal and policy issues arising from Y2K, including cases, legislation, compliance requirements and recommended business practices. It is available in print or via the Web, but access requires a subscription. The site offers a 30-day free trial as well as selected current articles.
U. S. Government Year 2000 Gateway, http://www.itpolicy.gsa.gov/mks/yr2000/y2khome.htm.
Sponsored by the General Services Administration, this comprehensive site contains one of the best collections of Y2K links of interest to lawyers. It indexes U.S., state and international government sites, including compliance manuals and recommended contract language. There is a section devoted to legal issues and others that index news articles, Y2K-compliant products, conferences, FAQs, reports, and more.
The SEC and the Year 2000, http://www.sec.gov/news/home2000.htm.
The Securities & Exchange Commission put together this collection of speeches, reports, legal bulletins and other documents relating to the impact of Y2K on the agency and on the securities industry.
Y2K Euro, http://www.ispo.cec.be/y2keuro.
This site tackles two issues facing Europe in the year 2000, the Y2K problem and the introduction of a single European currency. It is a self-described "unsystematic" collection of references to Web sites, articles and other resources concerning either or both of these issues. Each link is marked with a flag to indicate its language.
Canada Info 2000, http://www.info2000.gc.ca.
This site, published by the Canadian Treasury Board, is devoted to Y2K compliance across federal departments and agencies. It includes a general FAQ, glossaries of key terms, official press releases, and links to related sites.
Australia Year 2000, http://www.y2k.gov.au.
This site collects information related to the government's rollover to the year 2000. It is well done, but largely technical, with little to offer lawyers.
Sweden's Y2K Web Site, http://www.statskontoret.se/2000/indexe.htm.
A general overview of the government's Y2K compliance.
U.K. House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/cm/cmsctech.htm.
Includes reports from Parliament on a number of technology issues, including Y2K.
This focus on Y2K liability, by the San Francisco firm Hancock Rothert & Bunshoft, is probably the most wide-ranging of the law firm sites. In addition to a selection of articles, it includes the full text of the newsletter, Millennium Bug Liability Update. A news section tracks current lawsuits, follows pending legislation, and reports on regulatory actions and executive orders.
2000 Legal.Com, http://www.2000legal.com.
Of all the law-firm sites, this one, from the Boston firm Cosgrove, Eisenberg & Kiley, offers the best collection of Y2K links of particular interest to lawyers. It also provides a Legal News page, with synopses of recent events and links, where available, to full-text background documents.
Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison, http://www.brobeck.com/?Template=Y2KResources.
Brobeck, one of the nation's leading technology-law firms, offers an overview of legal issues, a collection of links, and a small number of articles.
Gordon & Glickson, http://www.ggtech.com/home.html.
This firm's site describes various articles and publications, including several on Y2K. Articles cannot be read online, but can be downloaded. Several are adapted from CLE presentations.
McKenna & Cuneo, http://www.mckennacuneo.com/practice/Y2K/home.html.
McKenna offers an informative selection of articles on legal issues facing financial institutions, public companies, federal contractors and other businesses.
Thelen, Marrin, Johnson & Bridge, http://www.tmjb.com.
This San Francisco firm claims to have been the first in the U.S. to organize a "Year 2000 Team." Its site includes some 16 articles on issues relating to employee benefit plans, taxation, software patents, corporate liability, copyright and risk management.
Dickstein Shapiro Morin & Oshinsky, http://www.dsmo.com.
This D.C. firm's site includes a half-dozen brief articles on Y2K legal issues.
Fasken Campbell Godfrey, http://www.fasken.com/indexAlert.html.
This Toronto firm offers articles analyzing Y2K due diligence, contracts and software warranties.
Halberstam Elias & Co. Solicitors, http://www.weblaw.co.uk/index.htm.
This London firm's site features a database detailing how various software and hardware systems handle the century date change. Details are provided by the system vendors.
LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae, http://www.llgm.com.
LeBoeuf's site features the comprehensive article, "Legal Issues Confronting The Federal Government And The State Governments Due To The Year 2000 'Millennium Bug,'" by Jeff Jinnett, of counsel to the firm. You can find it in the Articles section.
Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone, http://www.millercanfield.com/home.shtml.
The front page of this Michigan firm's site highlights its Millenium Bug Survey and Bug Repellant. The former is a set of questions about Y2K readiness; answering "no" to any one takes the visitor to a form for contacting the firm. The latter is an article describing how the firm can help a business avoid Y2K legal problems.
Nixon, Hargrave, Devans & Doyle LLP, http://www.nhdd.com.
This 260-lawyer, New York firm offers three brief articles on Y2K, one addressed to financial institutions, another to public companies, and a third discussing business liability.
Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro, http://pillsburylaw.com.
Although it has a Y2K Task Force, this firm's site offers only a single article on the subject, a litigation primer written by a summer associate.
Squire, Sanders & Dempsey, http://www.ssd.com/index.html.
Organized along a magazine format, this site's "cover story" offers an in-depth look at Y2K liability.
Tarlo Lyons Law Firm, http://www.tarlo-lyons.com.
A London firm, Tarlo Lyons' site emphasizes its Y2K practice, with a prominent link atop its home page to a "Millenium Liability Briefing." The briefing is fairly concise, although visitors can register to download a more in-depth article.
Withers Solicitors, http://www.withers.co.uk.
This London firm includes a page devoted to the "Millenium Meltdown." Unfortunately, it has only a cursory overview of the issue.
3rd Millenium Law, http://www.3rd-millennium-law.com.
From Isle of Man barrister William J. Tucker comes this handful of articles discussing the legal implications of Y2K.
Monteverde, McAlee, FitzPatrick, Tanker & Hurd, http://www.monteverde.com/yr2000.htm.
This Philadelphia firm's site advertises its Y2K practice, but offers no content save a handful of links. Visitors can sign up to receive a hard-copy edition of the firm's "Year 2000 Solution Book."
Robert J. Ambrogi (email@example.com) , a lawyer in Rockport, Mass., is editor of the Internet newsletter legal.online, http://www.legalonline.com. Past installments of this column are archived at: http://www.legaline.com.
Further Reading Online
These full-text articles, all available online, provide further discussion of Y2K's impact on the legal profession.
From an online magazine, Computer Forensics, comes, "Conversion For The Year 2000 Litigation Problems," http://www.shk-dplc.com/cfo/2000.html, a review of the technical and legal aspects of Y2K.
State Government Sites
State government sites often include practical information on contract language and compliance requirements.
Copyright 1998 Robert J. Ambrogi