When I was at the ABA Midyear Meeting, my laptop refused to connect to the Internet. The underlying problem was simply some corrupted DLL files, but, as the doctors would say, it presented itself in such as way as to send us down a lot of blind alleys. I received help from an outstanding IT person, but because of our schedule of presentations to attend and give, I was off-line for a couple of days. I didn’t just need to check e-mail, however. I had completed projects I needed to send back to the office.

My USB flash drive (aka jump drive, aka thumb drive) really helped salvage the situation. I could quickly copy the work to it and then just find any Internet-connected computer with a USB port to e-mail the project out. I could have done the same thing by burning a CD, perhaps, but this was easier. I also had a person ask to borrow my laptop for a PowerPoint presentation. About 15 minutes before it began, she handed me her presentation on a floppy disk. Of course, none of the 3 or 4 laptops in the room had a floppy drive. I rushed to the business service center where they had a floppy drive and they copied it to my flash drive.

These keychain-sized devices can hold lots of information. You can get one with a capacity of 128 megabytes for around $20-$30 and 256 megabytes for $35 or $40. Every lawyer should have one in his or her toolbox. I keep duplicates of many of my PowerPoint presentations on mine. If my laptop suddenly dies, I can still do the presentation if can I locate another computer.

UPDATE: After thinking a bit more about how my flash drive aided me so much, I took the logical step and dumped my old keychain in favor of my JOGR flash drive on my keys. This particular model is rubber coated, shockproof and waterproof. We’ll see how it does coping with keys and change in my pocket. I bet within the next three months, I’ll be really glad I had it around to either obtain or share some computer data when I didn’t have my computer handy.