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Archive for the ‘Legal Technology’ Columns

Incentives for Internet Security

Almost everything of social or financial value is now online in some form, benefitting in many ways from the interconnection with the world, and tempting in many other ways to the world’s thieves and saboteurs. As a result, Internet security has never been more important to personal, corporate and political interests than it is now.

Yet we read weekly of new damage done to online resources: legal service firms taken offline by ransomware, virtual currencies highjacked, endless personal records stolen from enterprises in all lines of business. It is remarkable how rarely critical infrastructure – power supplies, transportation, communications – . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Are Law Firms as Profitable as They Could Be?

It is pretty clear that, in the past, lawyers did a great job disrupting themselves.

The term “disruption” comes from Clayton Christensen’s observation that the ability of a company to make a higher and higher performing product always outstrips the ability of customers to make use of these performance improvements. As technology pushes a product’s performance into “performance oversupply,” it changes the circumstances of the market. It becomes harder for to sustain attractive profit margins on the product. Companies in other parts of the value chain can begin to steal market share, or “disrupt” the incumbents. Companies find themselves . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology, Practice of Law

Whither Legal Apps?

The first conference I attended in 2020 was the Innovations in Technology Conference hosted by the Legal Services Corporation in Portland, Oregon, last month. Initially I thought that having a conference in January was highly eccentric, then I booked my hotel room and saw the rates for staying in Portland in January, and I immediately saw how brilliant it is.

For those of you who don’t know, it’s the national conference on technology aimed at a legal aid audience, most of whom are grantees of the Legal Services Corporation. One of the themes of the conference that I was particularly . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Vavilov & Dunsmuir: Looking for Signals in the Precedential Game of Thrones

As we all know, administrative law nerds (their own expression) received a nice Holiday present on December 19 when the Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in Vavilov. This important event in Canadian law isn’t just fun for the admin law crowd, it’s also an occasion for us, legal information geeks, to live in real time another game of “precedential game of thrones.”

I’ve been interested for a long time in finding signals that could indicate that a case is no longer good law (or at least no longer to be cited without caution). There are ways to spot . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Technology

The Intersection of Ethics and Well-Being

ABA RESOLUTION 105

The ABA House of Delegates adopted Resolution 105 at the 2018 ABA Midyear Meeting. The resolution supports the goal of reducing mental health and substance use disorders and improving the well-being of lawyers, judges and law students. It urges stakeholders within the legal profession to consider the recommendations set out in The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change. The pursuit of lawyer wellness has spread rapidly through law firms, bar associations, state bars and state supreme courts.

The National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being, assembled in August 2016 to “create a movement toward . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Ethics, Legal Technology, Practice of Law

What Are the Key Attributes of an Innovative Law Firm and How Much Do They Really Matter?

Managing a law firm in this era of rapid change is a massive challenge. It’s hard to know the right thing to do. It feels like the ground is constantly shifting. Your firm’s lawyers are giving conflicting reports on the state of business while your clients keep demanding “more for less.” Many legal tech companies are stepping up to help with these challenges. Yet these companies often meet resistance from the very firms they are trying to help.

I’d like to introduce Sean Bernstein. Sean is a co-founder of MinuteBox, a next generation cloud-based minute book and corporate records . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology, Practice of Law

Trade Agreements to Promote Electronic Commerce III

A couple of times in the past three years, we have looked at the use of free trade agreements to promote the reform or harmonization of the law on electronic commerce. The first article considered the general question of how these agreements are negotiated and suggested that they may not be the best vehicle for reforming technical commercial law. The people at the negotiating meetings tend to be economists, not lawyers, and negotiations may involve trading off provisions that are not readily severable without damage to the principles of the remaining law. A stronger role is needed for commercial and . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

CanLII: 2019 in Review

2018 was a tough act to follow, but 2019 was, once again, a great year for CanLII, to say the least. More than ever, our successes are due to the relationships we have developed with organizations across the country that have embraced our vision for the future of free access to law. We are grateful they have agreed to share their content with us and hope to celebrate these relationships with this post, among other things.

Commentary

As regular readers of this blog will have appreciated by now, we’ve been multiplying announcements over the course of the year about new . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Technology

Duty of Technical Competence: Missing the Point

The Federation of Law Societies of Canada on October 19, 2019 adopted changes to the model code of conduct, adding commentary on competence with technology.

There is no new standalone duty of technological competence, but rather the FLSC has provided new guidance on how the general duty of competence should be understood with regard to technology.

The new guidance is phrased as follows:

[4A] To maintain the required level of competence, a lawyer should develop an understanding of, and ability to use, technology relevant to the nature and area of the lawyer’s practice and responsibilities. A lawyer should understand

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Technology

The ABA Reports on Lawyer Websites and Lawyer Marketing

We always look forward to the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center’s Annual Legal Technology Survey Report on the use of technology in the legal profession. The summary of the “Marketing and Communication” portion of the 2019 survey was recently published. It was written by our good friend Allison Shields and contains some fascinating (and worrisome) statistics.

Respondents to the 2019 Survey segment covering websites and law firm marketing were mostly solos or from smaller firms, consisting of 27% solos, 29% lawyers in firms of 2-9 lawyers, 18% from firms of 10-49 lawyers, 11% from firms of between 100-499 . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing, Legal Technology

Let There Be Light – the Primary Function of AI in Legal Research

Imagine a library that tried to save money by relying on candles instead of electricity. Any dollars saved come at the expense of knowledge lost. Without adequate light, the contents of a library are as inaccessible as if the doors were closed.

In the world of legal information, light comes to the “library” through indices, key number systems, topic digests, abridgments, and more. Digitization, electronic access, multi-field search, hyperlinks and boolean logic add more light, but are still merely candles.

Candles are discrete tools designed to provide light only within a limited range of where the candle is placed. Compare . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Technology

Is “Innovation” a Bad Word in Law Firms?

The legal profession could be improved a bit. Ok, it could be improved a lot. One might say it could use more “innovation.” Yet it seems like the harder one pushes for innovation, the harder others push back.

Despite acknowledgement that the nature of legal services will take time to change it feels we continually need, as Jae Um puts it, “a call for patience (and some perspective).” After the 2008 crash people mused, is this The End of Lawyers? Many saw 2008 as a call to action, driven by fear over the long-term relevancy of lawyers. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology