Introducing MIRLN: miscellaneous IT-related legal news

MIRLN (Miscellaneous IT-Related Legal News) is a free e-newsletter that began in 1997. It is delivered every 3 weeks to members of the American Bar Association’s Business Law Section via Business Law Today and to other members. MIRLN has about 2,000 individual subscribers; 2 of which were former Attorney Generals of the United States.

About Know Connect:

Vincent I. Polley acquired his Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics from Harvard and his Law degree from the University of Michigan.

In 2006 and 2007, he co-chaired the Information Technology and Security Law practice group at the Dickinson Wright PLLC law firm. He helped clients prevent, plan, and effectively manage IT-related security and privacy problems. Since he was an expert in the area, he oversaw the firm’s specialized law IT assistance such as privacy and e-contracting.

Polley was co-chair of the ABA Commission on Second Season of Service, and served on the Advisory Commission for the ABA World Justice Project and the Council of the ABA’s Section of Business Law.  He’s a former member of the ABA’s Standing Committee on Law and National Security, former chair of the ABA’s Standing Committee on Technology & Information Systems, and the immediate past-chair of the ABA’s Standing Committee on CLE. Polley currently chairs the ABA Content Convergence Working Group, and is the member of the Editorial Board for the ABA Journal.

Since 1997, Polley continuously publishes posts for the Internet Law blog, MIRLN.

Subscribe to MIRLN: Send email to Vince Polley with the word “MIRLN” in the subject line.

MIRLN is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/us/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 543 Howard Street, 5th Floor, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.

Contact Information:

E-mail: info@knowconnect.com

Skype: vpolley

Twitter: @vpolley

Article via KnowConnect

Photo: Moo cards for blogging workshop via Steve Bridger [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]

 

 


Bitcoins could buy energy for less

Researchers discovered the technology behind Bitcoin that could help cut energy bills.

Technologists of Accenture have created a blockchain-based smart plug that can track power consumption and search for cheaper energy sources minute-by-minute. The current blockchain serves as the automated ledger that oversees Bitcoin and keeps tracks of where coins are spent.

The plug modifies the basic Bitcoin blockchain technology to make it actively look for cheaper power suppliers, which could help people living on low earnings who use prepayment meters that operate on a “pay-as-you-go” basis. Accenture has also adapted the blockchain to allow customers to actively negotiate deals, rather than simply signing contracts and confirming transaction records.

“It’s about how we put more business behaviour or logic into the blockchain,” said Emmanual Viale, head of the Accenture team at the firm’s French research lab.

The prototype works with other appliances in the house so when demand for energy is high, it searches for different suppliers and uses the modified blockchain to switch to the cheaper source. According to Accenture research, the modified blockchain would be able to save individuals using prepayment meters in the UK up to £660 million annually.

Although the Accenture system is still just a concept, it has huge potential to make energy use more affordable.

Article via BBC, 19 February 2016
Photo: Bitcoin by Chris Pirillo


A useful tool to access police misconduct cases for defense lawyers

Vidya Pappachan, an attorney for the Legal Aid Society in New York City did not have enough time to prepare for her client’s case on a drug felony charge. However, she had a tool that helped her look up information about the officers that arrested her client.

The database is called the Cop Accountability Project. Through this, she learned that the officers were involved in misconduct cases that involved false arrests and cost NYC more than half a million dollars in settlement payouts. Even more, this was much similar to the situation in which her client was arrested. There was no drug stash found and no other evidence besides the arresting officers’ account of the incident. Since Pappachan proved the three officers were involved in prior misconduct cases, she challenged the weight of the evidence against her client. The judge agreed with her proposition and the client was released without bail.

Beyond New York, similar projects are popping up. The Indianapolis Police department created a portal that tracks officer complaints, use of force, and shooting incidents. In Chicago, there are two separate but complementary tools that track police misconduct cases. Michelle Bonner, former chief counsel to the Legal Aid Society called the New York project “a great advance in the evolution for defender databases.”

The project stemmed from the grassroots of newspaper clippings and paper documents. After 1998, it evolved into a database in the form of a digital library catalog program called Inmagic and later into an Excel spreadsheet where documents were scanned or uploaded to a shared file.

This tool has brought mixed reaction from judges. Some are very open to hearing this information and some say it’s not relevant at this stage of the case. The New York City Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association has a unanimous opinion. Patrick Lynch, the president of the city’s largest police union, said : “Compiling a list of police officers who are alleged to be ‘bad’ based upon newspaper stories, quick-buck lawsuits and baseless complaints … does nothing more than soil the reputation of the men and women who do the difficult and dangerous job of keeping this city and its citizens safe.”

This project will continue to morph as the Legal Aid Society trains its lawyers to better integrate this database into their practice.

Article via ABA Journal, February 2016 issue

Photo: Paris – Police via clement127 [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Law firm takes new approach to technology training

Being knowledgeable about technology and programs that clients rely on lawyers to use daily is extremely important, but providing the training necessary to gain that knowledge can be somewhat difficult. The goal is to make sure that every lawyer has the adequate knowledge to fully serve their clients, but you don’t want to bore those who already know all the relevant information. Additionally, you want to be able to prove to your clients that their lawyers know what they’re doing. The firm Keesal, Young, and Logan have devised a training program that accomplishes both tasks. After realizing that information technology is important to client satisfaction, the director of information for the firm, Justin Hectus, decided to implement the Legal Technology Assessment.

The Legal Technology Assessment , or LTA for short, is a tech competency test developed by D. Casey Flaherty while working at Kia Motors. By implementing the test, lawyers could test out and bypass certain areas of instruction. Additionally, because the assessment highlighted the areas in which each individual required further education, individuals were able to complete their training in a third of the time. An associate at Keesal, Young, and Logan, Sean Cooney, explains that, “group training is often inefficient because everyone has a different familiarity with whatever program is being used. The individualized training allowed us to skip anything that is redundant.”

The LTA not only identified weak areas for Keesal, Young, and Logan but also measured how effective their tailored program was. After the training program was completed, the average LTA score was improved by almost 40%, which Keesal, Young, and Logan can now use to tout their personnel’s tech competency. Additionally, combining the LTA and specialized training resulted in the trainees implementing what they learned into their work. For example, another associate, Erin Weesner-McKinley, relates that, “some tasks that I previously delegated can now be done with the click of a button, and I have a better understanding of other tasks which I still choose to delegate to nonbillable personnel or colleagues with lower billing rates.”

Article via Legaltech NewsNovember 25, 2015

Photo: Computers via Duane Storey [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Entrepreneur explains lawyer’s skepticism, need for legaltech

“There are incredible entrepreneurs building useful new legal technology products, but adoption is often slow and painful”, explains Jules Miller, the entrepreneur behind Hire an EsquireLawyers are, on the whole, very skeptical. While this may be beneficial for their clients, it also means that lawyers are slow to accept change or utilize new technology. But that doesn’t mean that the rest of society isn’t changing. With the rise of Uber and the “on-demand economy”, the legal profession’s staffing firm model is somewhat out of date. Miller describes that she and her friend Julia Shapiro, a former attorney, “realized that the on-demand economy already existed in the legal industry,” and created Hire an Esquire as a result. This legal staffing platform uses technology to help modernize and streamline the process of connecting attorneys to clients. With the rise of legaltech like Hire an Esquire, the legal industry can become more efficient and more fulfilling for everyone involved. But with lawyers being slow on the uptake, legaltech is not progressing very quickly.

In response, Miller has recently launched Evolve Law“to accelerate the adoption of new ideas and technologies in the legal industry”. After all, most legaltech is still being developed and tested, but to create effective products, companies need data and feedback from users. This means that lawyers will have to let go of some of their natural skepticism and embrace new technology. However, many lawyers are simply not being informed about the legaltech available to them. Miller cites that she often meets attorneys who have never heard of Hire an Esquire, even though it has been operating for four years. Evolve Law plans to change that by providing a platform to inform lawyers about new innovations in legaltech.

Article via Above the Law, October 19, 2015

Photo: limited time only by Ben Kilgust [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Legaltech startups booming in Silicon Valley

Legaltech startups are doing very well for themselves—even the famous Silicon Valley startup accelerator Y Combinator is starting to invest in legaltech companies. These startups can range from making legal services more accessible, as is the case with Willing and Separate.usto making lawyers’ lives a little bit easier, like Lawgeex, Kira Systems, and UpCounsel. Several of these startups are even going as far as trying to revolutionize their areas of expertise. Willing, for example, not only allows users to create a free will in as little as five minutes but also helps them plan funeral and other services. By drawing users in with a free legal service, Willing is then able to connect them to vendors and other paid services within the death care industry. Separate.us, on the other hand, aims to make divorces easier by simplifying a usually messy process.

Legaltech isn’t just geared towards consumers, though. Lawgeex can be helpful for both lawyers and clients alike. It digitally analyzes documents and compares them to precedents within their database, something lawyers are used to having to do manually. While Lawgeex is described as easy and efficient to use, clients may still have to turn to lawyers for help with understanding the documents themselves. Additionally, Kira Systems offers multiple products including a Due Diligence Engine which can review documents, locate certain provisions, and fill out diligence charts, saving lawyers’ time and clients’ money. UpCounsel goes beyond both Lawgeex and Kira Systems in trying to alter the entire law firm model, even securing $10M from Menlo Ventures in an effort to prove its model is suited for law firms of the future. It’s possible that legaltech startups like these will soon be changing the law profession for the better.

Article via Above the LawSeptember 29, 2015

Photo: Reflections of the setting sun via Alvin Law [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]