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Archive for the ‘Legal Technology’ Columns

The Right to Be Forgotten – Insights From Germany

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) have set the basic framework for the right to be forgotten. Recent case law from Germany offers an insight into its application on the ground.

The right to be forgotten as initially created in the Google Spain case (C-131/12) and now further developed in art. 17 GDPR provides data subjects with the right to have their personal data erased by a data processing controller (most prominently search engines) under specific circumstances. For search engines, though, balancing the diverging rights and interests of publishers and . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Technology

What Is the Clear Path to Law Firm Success? It’s Not Obvious

It doesn’t take too much reading to understand that technology is crucial to the success of any modern law firm. With the mergers and investments in LegalTech continuing to rise, law firms truly cannot invest too much in tech and innovation. I think we can expect to see the below example more often:

A law firm that does everything starts from scratch with founders having both deep business and legal expertise. They commit to being early adopters of technology. It takes spent three years and $5M in custom technology, but they are able to deliver on the vaunted promise of . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

2018 ABA Legal Technology Survey Highlights

Every year the American Bar Association sends out a survey to tens of thousands of attorneys requesting information about several area. The 2018 survey contained six questionnaires covering the following:

  1. Technology Basics & Security
  2. Law Office Technology
  3. Online Research
  4. Marketing & Communication Technology
  5. Litigation Technology & E-Discovery
  6. Mobile Lawyers

The complete survey is available for purchase from the ABA at https://www.americanbar.org/products/ecd/ebk/350226911/. It’s not cheap, but packed with useful information. We’ll cover a few of the highlights here. Each volume is available separately, but you’ll need the complete publication to appreciate all the technology that lawyers use and the trends . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Electronic Signatures Revisited (But Why?)

Is an electronic signature valid in law? Twenty-five years after the Internet was opened to commercial use, that may seem to be a surprising question. An off-the-cuff response might be, “why shouldn’t it be?” The law does not prescribe a form or medium for a signature. Any method of associating a legal entity (human being, corporation, government) with a piece of information (document, text, inscription) will do the job, if the legal entity had the intention that the association should be for the purpose of signing it.

A signature may have many purposes, of course: to indicate consent, to show . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Blockchain? Probably Not.

Most of what you are being told about the future of blockchain in the legal profession is nonsense.

Don’t get me wrong. Blockchain is very cool. And I am the furthest thing from a luddite you will find in the legal profession. I’m a part-time LLM student at the University of Alberta Faculty of Law and Department of Computing Science studying the automation of legal reasoning. I’m an ABA Innovation Fellow for 2018/2019, writing open-source software to automate analogy to prior cases. I am an advocate for the adoption of technology in law.

So I’m enthusiastic about blockchain being adopted . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Doctors: They’re Just Like Us (Lawyers)

In 2009, Dr. Atul Gawande published The Checklist Manifesto, to general acclaim. Even Malcolm Gladwell and The New York Times loved it. And it sent many legal knowledge managers into paroxysms of delight. The book helped many of us move from the drudgery of drafting templates and precedents to simplifying processes and managing matters by checklists. This dovetailed nicely with a then-emerging focus on legal project management and process improvement.

Once again, Dr. Atul Gawande is a step ahead of most of us in the legal technology community, by writing about doctors’ pure, burning hatred of the software . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Interested in Testing the Potential of AI on Your Own Dataset?

For the last year or so, our Lexum Lab team has been playing around with machine learning algorithms. ”Telling the fortune” of users based on their search history was one option, but this example showed us that it may not turned out according to plan. Instead our team came up with two applications promising to considerably enhance legal information retrieval. And we are currently looking for partner organizations who are interested in trying them out.

The first one is called Facts2Law. Using the latest deep learning techniques, it predicts the most relevant Canadian case law (and eventually legislation) when presented . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing, Legal Technology

Two Recent ABA Ethics Opinions: More Law Firms Relying on the Cloud

The ABA released ABA Formal Ethics Opinion 482, Ethical Obligations Related to Disasters, on September 19, 2018. The opinion may be found at https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/administrative/professional_responsibility/aba_formal_opinion_482.authcheckdam.pdf. In the opinion, the Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility clarifies the ethical obligations attorneys face when disaster strikes.

Lawyers must follow the duty of communication required by Rule 1.4 of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, which requires lawyers to communicate regularly with clients and to keep clients reasonably apprised of their cases. Following a disaster, a lawyer must evaluate available methods to maintain communication with clients. The opinion instructs . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

CanLII’s Future as a Canadian Primary Law Cooperative

“[T]here is a need to unbundle CanLII’s data if the full potential of innovation in legal information is to be realized.”

“[T]hrough 13 [now 19] years (from concept to today) and over $20M [now $40M] of investment from Canadian law societies through the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, [CanLII] has built up a solid lead and in the “free access to law” business and its central position may now be having a negative effect on innovation in legal information.”

Nearly 6 years ago, as President and CEO of CanLII, I wrote those words here on . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Technology

Bitcoin, Not Blockchain for Governments Everywhere

Governments are among the biggest consumers of technology. Amazon has a whole separate AWS cloud for governments. I would not be surprised if very, very few corporations approach, for example, US government’s database transaction volume. Imagine hundreds of millions of tax filings, border crossings, purchases, sales, emails, surveillance records, court files, and highway traffic data stored, processed and retrieved every year. Wait, strike court files. Those are probably still handled in paper form or through private databases, at least in North America.

If the government is so tech hungry, will it eventually become the biggest user of blockchain? The answer . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology, Practice of Law

SI – Subtracted Intelligence

In our newfound enthusiasm of all things AI, some might take issue with the word “Artificial” and prefer “Augmented”, or the less pretentious “Added” to reflect a “man+machine” future, rather “man or machine” one. Just as there is a rule that scuba divers operate in pairs to look out for each other, maybe machines should be paired with a human minder/beneficiary.

Trusting them is an issue for Ms. Melanie Mitchell, Professor of Computer Science at Portland State University, according to the article titled “Artificial Intelligence Hits the Barrier of Meaning” in the New York Times:

“While some people

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Technology

Trade Agreements to Promote Electronic Commerce II

A couple of years ago I wrote a column here about using trade agreements to promote laws among the contracting states that would promote electronic commerce. The example discussed was the Trans-Pacific Partnership, then in draft form.

There have been some developments since then that may be of interest.

CPTPP

The Trans-Pacific Partnership had a bit of a bumpy ride, as President Trump withdrew the United States from the agreement before it was signed. The other parties to the negotiation made some changes to the text then signed it under the name Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology