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Archive for the ‘Legal Technology’ Columns

A Dozen Disaster Recovery Tips From the ABA Law Practice Division

From co-author Nelson: Normally, I write SLAW columns with Sensei VP John Simek, but in light of the recent and horrific disasters experienced by American law firms, I teamed up with Jim Calloway, Director of Management Assistance Program at Oklahoma Bar Association, to offer these disaster recovery tips.

  1. Immediately after a disaster, there is only one thing that matters – human life. Do what you can possibly do to help those in need and to ensure the safety of those who work with and for you. Supply your employees with all the support resources you can.
  2. Establish communications. Hopefully,
. . . [more] “A Dozen Disaster Recovery Tips From the ABA Law Practice Division”
Posted in: Legal Technology

Can Computer Programs Produce Legal Arguments?

“Today, we look for information. In the future, information will look for us,” says Dr. Ya-Qin Zhang, Ph.D. and president of Baidu, one of China’s largest Internet companies and a leader in global artificial intelligence (AI).

AI systems have generated much speculation and it has many lawyers, including myself, wondering if lawyers could be replaced by robots. Personally, I thought the headlines that say lawyers would be replaced by computers was a bit exaggerated. Take persuasion and negotiation, or formulating legal arguments in court, or assessing the credibitility of a witness for example. I find it hard to believe that . . . [more] “Can Computer Programs Produce Legal Arguments?”

Posted in: Legal Technology

Reliable Electronic Transferable Records

You may recall that the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) has recently adopted a Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records. An overview report made at the time is here. The text of the Model Law, along with a Guide to its Enactment, are here. Some previous attention to this project has been paid on Slaw here (2011), here (2012) and here (2016).

Transferable records

Transferable records are those that carry property rights with them, so one can transfer the property by transferring the document. Examples include negotiable instruments such as warehouse receipts, bills of lading . . . [more] “Reliable Electronic Transferable Records”

Posted in: Legal Technology

Good Old Hyperlinks

By the time I was figuring out my stance on artificial intelligence, the legal tech talk had already moved on to blockchain. So I decided to write about something even more outdated – hyperlinks.

Links are the backbone of (legal) information systems

In research information systems we use citation information heavily. In the legal field, the cited-citing connections allow us to group documents into smaller universes. This feature of legal information is being exploited by virtually all providers for use in hyperlinking, to create citators, to provide the ability to note-up documents, and to rank search results. Citations can be . . . [more] “Good Old Hyperlinks”

Posted in: Legal Technology

Equustek, Blockchain and Uncensorable Search

This summer, the Supreme Court of Canada released its decision in the Google Inc. v. Equustek Solutions Inc. matter. As you may have read, one of the major concerns with the decision is that it has the potential to open the door for a new type of censorship on the Internet. For instance, this EFF article on the decision is named “Top Canadian Court Permits Worldwide Internet Censorship”.

For the purpose of this post, I don’t need to take a stand and tell you if I think this case was rightly or wrongly decided. That said, it’s fair to assume . . . [more] “Equustek, Blockchain and Uncensorable Search”

Posted in: Legal Technology

Non-Horror Vendor Stories: Successful Relationships

My last two posts focussed on tips for vendor demos and vendor horror stories. I promised, though, I would be fair to the many excellent vendors in our ecosystem. In this final vendor-related post, I relay some “above and beyond” stories I’ve collected.

Coming Through with the Business Case

As our clients push us to provide better metrics on our legal services, so too have we turned this focus inwards. It’s hard to get a business case or project approved without some good numbers to back up the ask. This is where vendors can, and do, save the day.

About . . . [more] “Non-Horror Vendor Stories: Successful Relationships”

Posted in: Legal Technology

The Blockbuster That Is Blockchain: What It Means to the Practice of Law

Several years ago, a Canadian attorney and good friend of ours, invested $10,000 in bitcoin. Clearly, he is a lot smarter than us. We can’t even imagine the extent of his profit – several days before we started to write this article, bitcoin hit an all-time high of $4,991.66 on September 2, 2017. It is down slightly as we write, but our friend certainly hit a jackpot.

We become aware of bitcoin wallets a few years ago, as husbands (mostly) began to hide assets from their soon-to-be ex-wives in those wallets. And then came a barrage of ransomware attacks. Law . . . [more] “The Blockbuster That Is Blockchain: What It Means to the Practice of Law”

Posted in: Legal Technology

SEC Weighs in on Initial Coin Offerings

As of August 2017, Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) – a means of raising funds for a new cryptocurrency venture, whereby units of the new cryptocurrency are sold to early backers of the project in exchange for legal tender or other cryptocurrencies – were said to have collectively raised over $1.2 billion, surpassing early stage venture capital funding for internet companies. The value and nature of these transactions have, unsurprisingly, drawn the attention of regulators worldwide including a total ban on ICOs from the People’s Bank of China. On July 25, 2017, in response to criticism and concerns surrounding ICOs, . . . [more] “SEC Weighs in on Initial Coin Offerings”

Posted in: Legal Technology

Prohibiting Access to Social Media: Reasonable Limits?

From time to time one reads of court orders banning people from using social media, usually in anticipation of trial but sometimes as part of a formal disposition.

For example, in R. v. Elliott, the defendant accused of harassment on Twitter was banned from using Twitter pending trial. Ultimately he was acquitted, and the ban was lifted. He had spent three years off Twitter.

A Nova Scotia court banned a teenaged defendant from social media for 21 months after his conviction for assault, uttering threat and criminal harassment. He was ordered to delete his Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts . . . [more] “Prohibiting Access to Social Media: Reasonable Limits?”

Posted in: Legal Technology

Smart Contracts Are Not What You Think

It is 2035. The US dollar is not a reserve currency anymore because nobody buys oil or borrows from the IMF or World Bank. IRS, once the biggest US-dollar creditor in the world, is struggling to tax decentralized cryptographically protected businesses freely operating across borders. A lot fewer economic players need US dollars because their debts (taxes, loans, and invoices) are not denominated in US dollars.

What does this have to do with smart contracts and lawyers you ask?

If technology, new energy sources, and rising third-world wealth cause these cataclysmic changes in the financial system, cryptoeconomies (aka blockchains) will . . . [more] “Smart Contracts Are Not What You Think”

Posted in: Legal Technology, Practice of Law

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] “How Far Are Lawyers From Drafting Smart Contracts?”

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] “Can You Trust Your Expert Witnesses With Confidential Data?”

Posted in: Legal Technology