Over one hundred million dollars were obtained illegally by the largest cybercrime collaboration between rogue members of Wall Street and hackers to date. In order to obtain crucial information about publicly traded companies before it became public knowledge, these stock traders living in Pennsylvania, Georgia, and New York would email hackers located in the Ukraine with a list of news releases concerning certain companies that they wished to have. The hackers would respond with recorded instructions on how to obtain the stolen articles. By having advance access to news  containing earnings and other details, the stock traders were able to make favorable trades before anyone else knew about the information. For their skills, the hackers were paid a portion of the profits from the illegal trades or a flat fee.

This is not the first time hackers and stock traders have colluded to commit cybercrime. A similar case in 2005 involved stock traders in Estonia hacking into Business Wire in order to make well-informed trades. Cases such as these show that cybercrime goes far beyond identity theft, stealing bank information, or obtaining sensitive personal information. Additionally, some stock brokers in Manhattan were charged last month with illegally obtaining millions of email addresses and planning to spam them in order to try to manipulate the worth of certain stocks, and another hacker group tried to steal information from emails in the pharmaceutical industry to gain access to deals that could affect the stock market. In all of these cases, cybercrime is centered around market-altering information. As former Manhattan prosecutor Matthew L. Schwartz states, “hackers can obtain access to all sorts of valuable information and can and will profit off of it in every way imaginable.”

Article via New York Times, August 11, 2015

Photo: Frankfurt Stock Exchange via Tobias Leeger [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]

In a ruling by the US Court of Appeals on Aug. 24, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has the authority to prosecute corporations that have insufficient cybersecurity to protect customers against hackers.

The Third Circuit ruled in favor of the FTC, which litigated the international hotel company Wyndham Worldwide Corporation for failing to prevent the theft of 619,000 customer’s personal and financial information by hackers. The hacking resulted in over $10.6 million in counterfeit charges.

Wyndham attempted to counter the Commission’s lawsuit in the US Court of Appeals, but the recent ruling declared the FTC’s actions legal.

The FTC will be expected “to increase its regulatory activity in this area now that its authority has been upheld,” says Michael Hindelang, head of the data security/privacy litigation and e-discovery/information management practice groups at Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn.


Article via Legaltech News, August 26, 2015

Photo: statue at Federal Trade Commission via sha in LA [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]

While writing has always been part of the practice of law, many top firms have gone above and beyond by becoming more accesible to the public through blogs. More than 80% of BigLaw, or firms included in Am Law 200, are blogging, and approximately 962 individual blogs are being run by those firms and their attorneys.  Of the 962 blogs, 916 are “firm-branded”, with the firm claiming ownership of the blog and its content, but the rest are operated by individual lawyers. The latter is decreasing, though, as more firms take note of how blogs can be used to generate interest and eventually clients for the firm. With this in mind, the average firm runs six blogs, with each catering to different areas and topics. The most popular topics for blog posts range from employment and labor all the way to healthcare. Also, as law is changing and welcoming the new questions that technology brings, some more recent blogs focus on intellectual property, insurance, and international law. Even though blog topics are addressing relevant concerns, most law firms are not utilizing newer resources such as responsive design, which makes blogs more accessible to readers using mobile devices.

Though law firms can certainly use blogs as part of their marketing, many firms opt out of making them a part of their site, instead only including a link to the firm’s website on the blog. This opens up many more options for the blog, including possible inclusion in articles by Google News or the ability to have a profound effect on opinions in a certain area. Developing this influence in a particular niche is something the most visited blogs do well, along with posting frequently and being well-maintained. By only focusing on a specific area, certain blogs are quickly becoming a main source of news for topics such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or pharmaceutical patents and intellectual property. Blogging about specific but relevant topics in an easy-to-read manner keeps readers returning to read more.

Article via Above the Law, July 8, 2015

Photo: Untitled via SuzieWong [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]

While technology has been raising new questions and even causing problems for some lawyers, it can be helpful in making the practice of law more efficient. Unfortunately, many law firms are not taking advantage of some of the improvements technology can offer.

DocSolid, which provides law firms with the ability to digitize their files, found that of the approximately 200 law firms that were present at their roadshows across the United States and Canada, 84 percent were dependent on paper filing. Relying only on paper filing can be costly and unproductive for modern law firms, and those that are skeptical do not need to completely do away with paper filing. DocSolid states that some firms with digital systems for managing documents also have paper filing systems to organize their physical files, which does away with some of the risk. For example, the firm Lindquist & Vennum’s records are fully digital, but employees who enjoy using paper files still have the ability to do so. While digital files are contrary to tradition, DocSolid suggests that firms should make it a priority to look into digitization.

Article via Legaltech News, August 24, 2015

Photo: Filing via ExeterAnna [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]

Artificial intelligence features heavily in science fiction, from 2001: A Space Odyssey to Star Wars, but AI systems may soon become commonplace in day to day activities. Ten years from now, one third of standard jobs are expected to be completed by robots. While this may raise many concerns, perhaps the most unexpected issue lies with which legal and civil rights will be granted to artificially intelligent beings.

Recently, an artificially intelligent system in Switzerland that was programmed to shop online purchased several illegal items and was subsequently arrested. However, neither the system nor its creators were prosecuted. Cases like this question who should be held accountable for crimes committed by AI systems. Can artificially intelligent beings be held responsible for their actions? If the system is acting independently and is charged with a crime similar to how a human being would be charged, should the AI system be considered to have its own individual identity? And if AI systems have their own identities, should they also be granted the same rights as a human being? After all, a robot was created that could pass a test signifying that that it is self aware, a test that before only humans could pass.

While science fiction appears to have spent years preparing the world for the introduction of artificial intelligence into every day activities, the ethical and legal problems concerning the new technology are still surprising law enforcers and creators alike.

Article via TechCrunch, August 22, 2015

Photo: Electric Neuron via Ronny R [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]

According to Daniel Linna Jr, the director of the new Center for Legal Services and Innovation, or LegalRnD, T-shaped lawyers will be leading the law profession in the near future. T-shaped lawyers are trained specifically to deal with modern issues by becoming knowledgeable in other areas such as business, coding, and management. By helping lawyers become more efficient in their business practices, it is the hope of the Michigan State Law Department that the new legal research center will help make lawyers more accessible to the three quarters of individuals and businesses who receive a moderate income but cannot always afford the expense.

Linna explains that the research and classes being conducted in LegalRnD will help lawyers connect to more modern problems, and the center will accomplish that goal by focusing on interdisciplinary classes and innovation. Introducing lawyers to technology, especially through hackathons such as LexHacks in Chicago, is part of Linna’s plan to lead the legal world towards finding new creative solutions to 21st century problems.

Article via MSU TodayJuly 20, 2015

Photo: Michigan State University via Jimmy Everson, DVM [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]