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Archive for the ‘Legal Technology’ Columns

Further Legal Snapshots From the Internet of Things

Interconnected computers – computers that talk to each other – are no longer a novelty. These days, one is more inclined to be surprised by an electronic device, or even an electrical device, that is not part of a network.

We looked at some legal implications of interconnections a few years back. Here are several more, roughly divided into issues about privacy and security (which tend to overlap). Feel free to add others in a comment.

PRIVACY

By definition, interconnected devices communicate information about themselves or their environment, or both, to other devices. That information can and usually . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

GitHub Workflow and Legal Drafting

There are a few posts on Slaw about Git/GitHub and the law, including several posts by Tim Knight. In most cases, the discussion centers on using GitHub to publish legislation and track legislative changes. I promise this column isn’t merely a regurgitation of previous content.

On Slaw, and in any post on the Internet that talks about Git and legal content, the fact that some legal document has been posted on GitHub is seen as an indication that somebody is trying to make things more transparent or collaborative, or just trying to bring the law closer to technology.

I think . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Cut It Out – Making Webinars and Demos Better

I’ve recently returned to knowledge management in a private firm, and had lost some touch with legal tech offerings. I dove back into the deep end of the pool, and have, over the last few months, watched many webinars and demos.

It may be some time before I subject myself to another one.

Vendors are Key Players in the Industry

I appreciate vendors tremendously. They – not the legal sector – are pushing the envelope on everything from core functionality to cloud computing to next-gen AI. Vendors are always willing to share thoughts and even data on the state of . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

The Real Lesson of the WikiLeaks Vault 7 Document Dump

Some days are just more interesting than others. You could almost hear the mournful wailing of spooks (the CIA kind) as WikiLeaks released thousands of documents describing sophisticated software tools used by the Central Intelligence Agency to break into smartphones, computers and even Internet‑connected televisions.

The New York Times reported that the documents, at first review, appeared to be authentic. The initial release, which WikiLeaks said was only the first part of the document collection, included 7,818 web pages with 943 attachments. The entire archive of CIA material consists of several hundred million lines of computer code according to WikiLeaks. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

“Verifiable” E-Signatures

The transition from a world of legal documents on paper to one of electronic documents still encounters difficulties after all these years. One of the main ones seems to be the nature of the electronic signature. I recently described the focus on e-signatures as a “fetish” for its ability to distract analysis from the real issues or to create them when none really exist.

Much of the early law that intended to remove legal barriers to electronic commerce required that valid electronic signatures needed to be as reliable as appropriate in the circumstances. This requirement is misguided. It leaves the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

#HackJustice

In his February 3rd, 2017, Slaw article entitled “Build, Baby Build”, Colin Lachance describes his experience of having individuals share with and seek his advice on building some “app/service/tool that could very well make a valuable contribution to public or professional engagement with legal information or the legal system.” Having come from a law and technology background, I have had the same experience. Often times the questions from aspiring legal tech entrepreneurs center on struggling to understand how or where to begin. I have found that this leads some to overthink things and to not get going. I . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

The Future of Law and “Intelligent” Technologies: Prophecies, Technologies and Opportunities – Part 2

In the first part of this blog post, we looked at the current benefits we are enjoying from technologies resulting from AI research. We also examined some risks accruing when AI approaches are deployed in legal activities where transparency and justifications are required. In the following lines, we will borrow from a recent study made of the impacts of AI on lawyers employment. We will also try to enumerate potential benefits of AI technologies in our own line of business, legal publishing.

In “Can Robots be Lawyers?” (forthcoming in the Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics, (Spring 2017), currently . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing, Legal Technology

The Future of Law and “Intelligent” Technologies: Prophecies, Technologies and Opportunities – Part 1

Career prophets have been announcing the demise of the legal profession for decades already. According to some, the traditional lawyer will soon follow the way of telephone operators, bank clerks and travel agents. Recently, the prophecies have taken a new turn. While outsourcing, offshoring, legal Taylorism—all previous threats of course remain, we are now being forewarned about a new source of disruption: “intelligent software” in law. Once again, prophets insist that those who are not already into it are laggards, and by now we should all know what will happen to them.

In this post, I address the deployment of . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing, Legal Technology

AI Takes Over Google Translate

You may have missed, during the holidays, the news that Google has replaced the technology underlying its Google Translate tool, going from a “phrase-based” system to neural networks (i.e., AI).

The improved technology was announced in September, but it has only recently been made available in the publicly available Google Translate (and only for the most common language pairings).

Translation of legal information is an important issue in Canada. First, language barriers faced by different groups (Indigenous people, Francophone minorities outside Québec, Anglophones in Québec and immigrants) are a significant component of the access to justice problems.

But . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Build, Baby, Build

“I have a great idea for an app”, said the excited caller at the end of the line.

“With just a couple clicks, your phone can […insert really cool function here…]. It will save so much time and money, and you can just imagine the contribution it will make to improved access to justice!!”

At least weekly, but typically more often than that, people share with me their idea for an app/service/tool that could very well make a valuable contribution to public or professional engagement with legal information or the legal system. I love these discussions.

My prior . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Interview With Knights CEO David Beech: Alternative Business Structures Across the Pond

Recently, author Nelson had the pleasure of interviewing David Beech, the CEO of the professional services firm Knights in the UK. David has led the business, originally a law firm, since 2011. His vision for Knights is to become the leading regional professional services business in the UK.

The interview took place on the Legal Talk Network podcast (The Digital Edge: Lawyers and Technology) with co-host Jim Calloway, available at http://legaltalknetwork.com/podcasts/digital-edge/2017/01/will-alternative-business-structures-u-k-law-firms-cross-pond/.

By way of introducing David, he qualified as a corporate lawyer in 1990 and in the late 90’s turned to law firm management until 2004 when . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

A Modern Associate Manifesto (Beta)

A spectre is haunting law firms — the spectre of #NewLaw.

There are three things every law firm associate hates: long hours, working on weekends, and their boss. Oh, you think your junior does not hate you? Oh, ok.

Here is the low-down on the traditional law firm:

1) Partners who own the firm make money by selling associates’ labour.

2) Partners sell associates’ labour by billing clients by the hour.

3) Partners pay associates’ fixed salaries regardless of overtime (but they do, sometimes, pay bonuses).

4) At least in Ontario, Canada, statutory employment standards with respect to hours, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology, Practice of Law