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Archive for the ‘Legal Technology’ Columns

Finding and Effectively Using an Expert Witness

In the summer of 2016, author Simek had the pleasure of joining a Pennsylvania Bar Association panel comprised of both testifying experts and judges to explore how to find and effectively use a good expert.

It seemed to author Nelson, sitting in the audience, that she was hearing a series of rapid-fire tips so she endeavored to jot them down, in no particular order, to offer the collective wisdom of the panel. Here are some of the many valuable tips she heard:

  • It’s important to find an expert who will be cool under fire, as they must survive cross-examination with
. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Technology

Smart Contracts?

Click to view full-sized image. Image source: pricewaterhousecoopers

People have long used technology to help them make and carry out their contracts. Even an old-fashioned vending machine offers goods to the public, understands an order for particular goods, recognizes execution by the buyer through the deposit of the appropriate payment, and delivers the goods.

However, we do not usually think of the vending machine as smart or its implied contract of sale to be a smart contract. Apparently we need to see a computer to attach that label. A smart contract these days is generally considered a contract the performance . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Do Not Fear Robot Lawyers—Fear Robot Clients

Tech is famous for its shorter and shorter hype cycles. Robot lawyers were all over the twitters only a few months ago and now people actually yell at you for even mentioning the thing. Of course, robot lawyers should not even have surfaced in the first place because no one is remotely close to building them. Lawyers should not fear for their livelihoods.

But there is something that is much more important than robot lawyers. It’s robot clients. Or at least the proliferation of machines, automated transactions, and standardized processes where lawyers once controlled the terrain.

Let’s start with an . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Mined Gems From 2016 SLTS Conference

James Williams, a commentator on the article “Meet ROSS, the bankruptcy robo-lawyer employed by some of the world’s largest law firms”, laments the lack of reference to supporting research, or consultation with the “40 year old research community that has long focused on the use of technology in a legal setting” in Toronto. My SLAW column “The Long Tale of 2 Systems” highlighted the role both Toronto and Sydney played in the development of legal technology.

So while IBM’s Watson was mentioned a few times at the 10th annual Sinch Legal Tech Sydney Conference (#SLTS16), . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Stealing Your Professional Identity: Online, It’s Just Too Easy

Increasingly, professional services are available through global online platforms. It’s a popular concept and Upwork is a leading example.

Upwork is a global freelancing platform with twelve million registered independents (sellers) and five million registered clients (buyers). The result of a merger between two mega-sites (eLance and oDesk), Upwork is probably the world’s largest such platform.

Through Upwork, businesses find and work remotely with independent professionals all over the world. Hirers can find freelancers in the areas of app and software design, engineering and data science, business and administrative services, creative services such as writing and graphic design and even . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Plus Ça Change, ….

Incremental change, disruption, new approaches, … we’ve talked about these issues for a long time. A long time! I plunged into the legal KM “pool” at the turn of the century, and it seems that, 16 years on, we’re still talking about many of the same issues. Granted, there are differences now, one of the most notable being that there were no legal-specific search engines available at the time. But although such search engines are available, their high all-in cost is such that, even now, only the larger firms and in-house departments have them available.

Recently, I attended a meeting . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Pseudonymity and Online Collaboration in the Legal World

Not wanting to miss on the chance to hear from tech luminaries such as Tim O’Reilly and Reddit founder Alexis Onahian, I attended StartupFest in Montreal in mid-July. This post is about Ohanian’s talk (and the stream of thoughts that ensued) which was entitled “The Future of Community”. Since this is pretty vague, let me explain that Ohanian discussed the value of pseudonymity (and, in passing, the cuteness of bleps) and argued that pseudonymity was what allowed people to be themselves on the web and what in turn fuelled the seemingly more collaborative spirit that he observes on Reddit. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Why Do Lawyers Resist Ethical Rules Requiring Competence With Technology?

Recently, the Virginia State Bar Council voted to adopt changes to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct. The changes were based on the American Bar Association’s modifications to the Comments of Rule 1.1 respecting Competence (“…a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with technology…”) and Rule 1.6 respecting Confidentiality (“(c) A lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to prevent the unintended disclosure of, or unauthorized access to, information relating to the representation of a client.”)

What’s reasonable? The Comments go on to list relevant factors:

  1. the sensitivity of
. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Technology

The Long Tale of 2 Systems

The article, “7 Reasons Why European Cities Are Going To Beat U.S. Cities As Hubs For Innovation” reminded me of two cities: Toronto and Sydney. These cities had quite a few legal IT commonalities starting 30 years ago:

  • Both had 5 out of the 10 largest law firms standardise on lawyer-friendly graphical user interfaces (GUI) years before the rest of the legal world got it,
  • By democratising access to computers, a community of lawyers interested in lawyer-enhancing IT bloomed, and cross-pollinated each other from across the world,
  • Toronto was first out of the blocks with Peter Hart’s Legalware
. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Technology

Small Changes Can Make Big Difference

Lawyers practice in a world where technology comes in smaller pieces that are increasingly integrated. Like David Weinberger’s Small Pieces, Loosely Joined, some of the best ways to benefit from technology come from adding incremental improvements. While some software requires you to wait for a feature to be added by the developer, other tools you use every day can be extended thanks to extensions and add-ons created by others.

How to Extend Your Web Browser

Two of the most common law firm software tools are the e-mail client and the Web browser. The predominance of the Microsoft Internet Explorer . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

International Identity Management

It used to be that on the Internet, nobody knew you were a dog … or a trading partner, or a rogue. In this era of Big Data, geolocation, and light bulbs that call home, it may seem that those days are behind us.

But it’s one thing to know who somebody is in order to send them a personally targeted advertisement. It’s another to know with enough certainty to engage in large-value transactions, or to confer on them some public benefit, like a welfare payment or a student loan.

Therefore the management of identity online remains an . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

The Challenges of Developing and Maintaining a Precedent Database

Law firms have found, by hard experience, that creating and then – more important – maintaining a precedent library is a challenging task. Some firms have foundered in the seemingly straightforward process of simply creating firm precedents. Others that have succeeded in that task have found that ongoing maintenance is, if anything, even more challenging.

One firm that seems to have got it right is Gowling WLG. The person primarily responsible for this task is Graeme Coffin, the National Business Law Precedents Partner, Mark Tamminga, who is Partner, Leader of Innovation Initiatives, is working with Graeme on . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology