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Archive for the ‘Legal Technology’ Columns

How Far Are Lawyers From Drafting Smart Contracts?

I wrote in my last post that the “blockchain will alter the way we think about contracts and several types of legal documents will effectively be software-like.” This is a truism for many cryptocurrency enthusiasts.

Of course, I was referring to “smart contracts” even if I didn’t used the expression “smart contracts” for buzzword avoidance purposes. I suggested that some lawyers would be involved in drafting these “instruments”.

Before we start, there’s some confusion about what a “smart contract” actually means, and it’s at the root of a certain amount of similar confusion in the legal sphere about the immediate . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Can You Trust Your Expert Witnesses With Confidential Data?

Not always. There was a recent case in which confidential data was not, to put it mildly, well handled. The corporate defendant, a mortgage servicer, was accused of violating a consumer’s privacy rights based on the manner in which it handled collection calls. The defendant protected its customer data with layers of network security consistent with best practices and ISO guidelines. During discovery, the plaintiff’s experts received the calling data and copies of the customer service call recordings.

Both experts had unrelated full-time day jobs. Their expert witness work was a side business run out of their homes. Neither expert . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Proprietary Algorithms for Public Purposes

It is now generally recognized that “code is law”: how computers process the millions of on/off, yes/no signals in their binary universe can have legal effects beyond their obvious output. Deciding how computers handle data they receive is a matter of choice, and those choices have consequences. These consequences arise whether or not the software writers, the coders, are aware of their choices or assumptions.

Two developments have brought the coding issue back to the fore in public discussion. The first is the computerization of what used to be purely mechanical devices. The analysis of physical phenomena is done, pursued . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

What Technology Will Do to Law Practice (And It’s Not What You Think)

The conventional wisdom is that technology will make law practice more efficient. It will commoditize some lawyers and give super powers to others. In either case, it will improve “access to justice.” This view is based on one universal bias in the legal and near-legal community: that law and justice have inherent value and are necessary for all aspects of the society to function properly.

This belief has spread to the near-legal community such as law practice technology vendors. All of their products are designed to increase the efficiency of lawyers or of the legal process or to serve lawyers . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Do Lawyers and Law Students Have the Technical Skills to Meet the Needs of Future Legal Jobs?

As technology is increasingly used within law practices to streamline legal processes and more efficiently deliver services to clients, an important question has arisen within legal professional and academic circles: Do lawyers and law students have the technical skills to meet the needs of future legal jobs?

If you have ever tried to innovate or introduce technologies to a law firm or to lawyers, then you know how challenging it can be to convince lawyers to use new technologies. Harder still is convincing them not revert to the old and outmoded way of doing things, but to persist in the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

WanaCry as a Reason Why Courts Should Invest More NOT Less in Technology

In the aftermath of the first wave of “attacks” using WanaCrypt0r 2.0, a variant of the WanaCry ransomware that started infecting systems around the world, most notably the British National Health Service, on May 12th, 2017, comment boards and blogs have been abuzz with statements regarding the risks of a overly digitalized world. For those who caution against the implementation of technological solutions within the legal system, this attack only serves as another example as to why, in their minds, our paper-based system is still the safest way to manage legal files.

As reports show, they might . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution, Legal Technology

Vendor Horror Stories – Second in a Series of Vendor Relationship Posts

Thanks to everyone who re-tweeted and gave other shout-outs to my last Slaw post on vendor demos and webinars. Considering the feedback, I thought I’d continue on with a vendor theme in a few more posts.

In this post, I’ll relate a few vendor horror stories and explain why vendors should never ever ever repeat them. Of course, a caveat: I gathered these from a variety of sources/firms, who shall remain nameless.

But – I’d like to repeat that vendors are absolutely integral to our legal technology ecosystems, and note that most of my interactions, and those of my colleagues, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Ransomware: No Honor Among Thieves and More Expensive

The FBI says that ransomware nets cybercriminals $1 billion a year. No wonder so many people want a piece of that pie.

Computerworld recently reported that hackers spreading ransomware are getting greedier. In 2016, the average ransom demand to provide the decryption key for encrypted data rose to $1,077, up from $294 the year before, according to a report from security firm Symantec. Symantec also reported a 36% increase in ransomware in 2016 from the prior year. We are aware of small law firms in Virginia that paid $1200 and $3000 to get their data back – the damage being . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

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