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Archive for the ‘Legal Technology’ Columns

Looking Forward: Forecasting Technology Developments in the Legal System, Redux

It’s about two years since my first forecast column for Slaw, and as the future is always rising to meet us, I thought I would do an updated version as we approach 2023. Some of my forecasts have stayed the same, some have moved from medium or long term to near or medium term, some are new, and some have been removed, but the forecast isn’t very different than the first one I wrote. As before, I’m interested to see any comments you may have on my predictions or things you think I’ve missed.

Here is my revised forecast . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

ILTACON 2022: the Legal Tech Conference Roars Back

Not since the pandemic began have we seen a live legal tech conference with more than 3000 people onsite, the third largest ILTACON ever. There was no virtual option. So back they came in droves, clearly pumped up at the thought of seeing one another in person. There were also over 160 exhibitors, a good number of them first time exhibitors.

How Was This ILTACON Different?

Overwhelmingly, attendees were talking about the pandemic and how it forced law firm IT departments to support working from home and major changes to workflows. According to ILTA’s 2022 Technology Survey, cloud adoption was . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

The Case for Algorithmic Skepticism in Law

Algorithms have become ubiquitous in our society, yet they are widely misunderstood. Many of these misunderstandings arise from widespread lack of understanding of the technical basis for what algorithms are and how they function, but even experts often don’t understand how they work, only that they do in many situations. This lack of understanding means that there are both rational and irrational calls for caution as they are adopted further. To balance the benefits from technology adoption and caution, we need to approach these issues carefully and consider what algorithms are being used for and what underlying technology and data . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Technology

The Danger of Unstructured Data in Law Firms

Unstructured Data – A Problem That’s Been Around for a Long Time

Recently, authors Simek and Nelson had the opportunity to talk to guest Peter Baumann on their Legal Talk Network Digital Detectives podcast. Baumann is the CEO and founder of ActiveNav, a leading data privacy and governance software provider.

As far back as 2008, Baumann was observing the exponential growth of data and specifically unstructured data, the data that sits outside of databases. He noted that today, “the best technology, the best doors and locks and alarm systems won’t stop the bad actors getting into your network. I think . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Physical Security in a Transformed World

It has been several years since we wrote on the topic of physical security, but it seems like a good topic now that so many law firms are changing how lawyers work. While there are some law firms demanding that all their lawyers return to work, more and more law firms have settled into a hybrid workplace environment. Many cybersecurity topics are sexier, but maintaining physical security is more critical now than ever.

Old-fashioned Physical Security

Pre-pandemic, we thought about conventional physical security (which some law firms still do not have). We had self-locking doors, security cameras, alarm systems, locked . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

And Now the Driverless Keyboard

We appear to have crossed another great divide in artificial intelligence. It is not just the constant shuffle of driverless cars in my Silicon Valley neighborhood on their endless driving lessons. Nor is it the machine learning gains in diagnostic accuracy that exceed those so expertly trained in radiology and dermatology. Those are visual advances in machine learning. This time it’s language.

Steven Johnson, in a marvelously well-done article in the New York Times Magazine, sets out what machine learning is making of writing. It is the driverless car equivalent of the keyboard. Just feed in your destination and it . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property, Legal Publishing, Legal Technology

Did the LSO Hold Back Court Modernization and Performance?

According to the meta description on its website, “[t]he Law Society’s Rules of Professional Conduct (“Rules”) express the high ethical ideals of lawyers, and specify the bases on which they may be disciplined.” To date, and unlike in other jurisdictions[1], this has not included any requirements for basic technological competence. Thus, the current Rules are entirely devoid of the terms ‘computer,’ ‘technology’ or ‘data.’ While the internet is mentioned, it appears only twice, and then, only in relation to advertising. Could this omission, or the failure of the Law Society to test new licensees on technological . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Legal Technology

What Do Women Lawyers Really Want?

Why We Wrote This Article

The President of Sensei Enterprises, co-author Sharon Nelson, is a woman. She is involved with multiple groups and associations of women lawyers. For two years, she has been hearing that women suffered more than men during the pandemic and that they have “lost ground” professionally. So . . . along with her co-authors, who are accustomed to a woman leader, we set out together to learn and report on what has happened to women lawyers in the last couple of years and what they now want for their professional lives.

Life Pre-Pandemic was No Bed

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Technology, Practice of Law

Some Thoughts on Algorithmic and Data Literacy

Last year I was interviewed by Dominique Garingan for her dissertation on algorithmic literacy, and thought I would share my thoughts that arose in relation to that conversation with you here too. She also published an article about her dissertation findings in the most recent issue of Canadian Law Library Review: “Advanced Technologies and Algorithmic Literacy: Exploring Insights from the Legal Information Profession“.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “algorithm” as “a step-by-step procedure for solving a problem or accomplishing some end“. Algorithmic literacy, in turn, is the understanding of how computer systems apply algorithms so that users . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Publishing, Legal Technology

Goat Entrails and Tea Leaves: Predicting the Future of Law Practice

The Battle Royal: Hybrid or Back to the Office?

You might as well resort to reading goat entrails and tea leaves to predict the future of law practice, because it is woefully unclear what law firms will decide. There are two large and outspoken groups, those who believe that we need to get back to the office if we haven’t already and those who believe that some combination of going to the office and working from home is the way to go.

As COVID continues to complicate our lives, most law firms we deal with are opting for the hybrid . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Smartphone Phishing Attacks Escalate, Bedeviling Law Firms

Just When You Thought You Had Perfected Your Cybersecurity Training for Law Firm Employees . . .

Time to think again. It’s no secret that cybercriminals have increased all kinds of phishing activity since the pandemic. More people utilizing consumer grade equipment in a less secure work-at-home environment creates a fertile ground for phishing attack victims.

According to a ZDNet report, phishing attacks are shifting to mobile devices. That’s not surprising since mobile devices are the primary computing technology for more than 50% of users. The goal of the attackers is to obtain usernames and passwords that could be used . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Assisted Decision-Making and the Proposed EU AI Regulation : An Emerging Paradigm Shift From Consent to Contextually Mitigating Human Rights Violations

Artificial intelligence is briskly transforming consequential decision-making, disrupting democratic institutions. Most recently, some 26 000 Dutch parents of immigrant background or members of cultural communities stood wrongfully accused of defrauding their government with disastrous consequences, including suicide. It later surfaced that the authorities had naively procured an algorithm to more efficiently detect the fraudulent obtention of child benefit subsidies. Unbeknownst to the AI deployers or its victims, the procured algorithm insidiously factored ethnic origin in its assessment, thereby effectively disproportionately singling out immigrants or those holding dual citizenship. Disturbingly, this occurred notwithstanding multiple stringent, time-honoured legal prohibitions on such practices . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology