Technologist - FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog


Technology Is Quickly Reshaping Workers' Compensation Claims

When Jarrod Magan writes about the future of worker's compensation, he sounds more like a science-fiction writer: Software robots will respond to claimant's calls. Virtual assistants will process paperwork. Doctors, advocates, and patients will meet using personal avatars.

It's not like Magan is inventing the future; it's more like he's already been there. He says that current technologies are evolving and completely changing the administration of worker's compensation.

"Once thought to be cold and impersonal, technology is re-defining our expectations and how we view a quality customer experience," he says. "It is no surprise that new technologies are also reshaping workers' compensation as we know it."

When does something constitute a 'substantial portion of the components of a patented invention' under the Patent Act? Not when that thing is only one of many components, the Supreme Court ruled yesterday, in a fun little case involving DNA testing, international supply chains, and patent law.

The case, Life Technologies v. Promega, involves a patent on a genetic testing kit made of five components. The Promega company was the exclusive licensee of that patent and licensed Life Technologies for the manufacture and sale of the kids to law enforcement. All but one of the kits five components, the Taq polymerase, were manufactured in the U.K. Life then shipped the Taq polymerase to the U.K. to be combined. After four years of this, Promega sued, claiming that Life Technologies had infringed the patent. Liability, according to Promega, was trigged by the shipment of the Taq polymerase abroad.

How Expensive Is AI for Law Firms Really?

While AI has arrived for work at some law firms, it is still in the future for most.

It's not that law firms are lagging behind in technology. It's just that the high end solutions are too expensive for most lawyers.

Sure, even a solo practitioner can buy a digital assistant for about $200 to manage a calendar and make electronic deposits. But a small firm will spend about $30,000 to install a software robot to handle legal tasks like workflow management and contract review.

And if you need a system to accommodate 500 users, we're talking $250,000 -- to start. After set up, there's the cost of tech personnel and support. It's a half million dollar robot -- not quite Iron Man dollars but more than Robby the Robot.

When it comes to technology and the law there are plenty of unanswered questions. Some of these we'll have a long time to ponder. We can debate, for example, the legal implications of robot intelligence for a few years still. Others are more urgent, like who owns the patent on one of the most promising gene editing techniques, or how should the law respond to self-sailing ships. All of them, we think, are interesting.

So, to keep you pondering, and perhaps to provide some insight, here are our top unresolved questions arising from the intersection of law and technology, gathered from the FindLaw archives.

SiriusXM Radio Wins Copyright Battle in NY Appeals Court

If only life were as simple as the songwriters say, like in the hit song from the the Turtles' "Happy Together."

Perhaps one day, when theoretical physicists unravel the mysteries of string theory and the harmonics of the universe, everybody will live in music-like unison. But in the litigious meantime, Flo & Eddie and other musicians from before 1972 will have to be happy with a settlement that is still unsettled.

After a legal setback in a New York case, the class action plaintiffs will be looking forward to payment through another case that settled in California. The settlement amount depends on the results of cases pending in the U.S. Second, Ninth and Eleventh Circuit Courts of Appeal.

iPad Pro and Apple Pencil Enable Lawyer to Go Completely Paperless

"A chorus of angels started singing in my head!" attorney Eric Cooperstein said. "Scales fell from my eyes! "

It was not the second coming of the Messiah, but it was a close second for the paperless attorney. Cooperstein, like many lawyers, went paperless in his law practice a decade ago. Drafting and saving pleadings on his computer; scanning letters and other documents; e-filing, e-discovery, and cloud computing: these all became part of the paperless law office.

But there was no paperless solution for Cooperstein's handwritten notes -- until he saw the iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil.

FindLaw columnist Eric Sinrod writes regularly in this section on legal developments surrounding technology and the internet.

Once upon a time, we received news in traditional formats from finite media sources by way of newspapers, television, and radio. And the news we received from those sources did not vary tremendously one from another. The news just seemed to be the news. As Walter Cronkite closed on his CBS nightly newscast, "And that's the way it is" -- in essence meaning, "Those are the facts."

Times plainly have changed. There are many sources of news. People can choose a news outlet that suits their own political preferences. For example, for someone of a conservative, Republican persuasion, Fox News might be the news outlet of choice. Fox tends to present the news more in line with that end of the political spectrum. And, of course, there are other news outlets that favor the liberal, Democrat end of the political spectrum. So what are the "facts" when the reporting of the same events can be interpreted very differently?

Lawsuit Claims Prison Recorded Attorney-Client Meetings and Phone Calls

At the same time a class-action alleges Kansas prison officials recorded attorney-client phone calls, a court-appointed special master is reporting the prison also videotaped at least 700 attorney-client meetings.

Special master David Cohen made the report after reviewing videotapes of 30 attorney visits at the federal prison in Leavenworth. Cohen, who was appointed in a criminal case to examine the prison's video set-up, concluded that more than 700 lawyer-client meetings had been videotaped during a 12-week period.

"It appears all of these attorney-inmate meetings were recorded," Cohen said.

Although the video-recordings did not include sound, Cohen also investigated attorney-client phone calls that were recorded.

When clients look for attorneys, they're looking for someone who will win. But finding that information isn't always the easiest. Sure, attorneys may tout their big victories on their websites, billboards, and subway adds, but the average legal consumer can't easily tell if that $15 million personal injury verdict was a fluke or the norm.

That is, until now. A new startup has launched a free website, Justice Toolbox, that lets users look up the winning-est lawyers by practice area and city -- though there might be some problems with evaluating lawyers based on wins alone.

Road Rage in the Age of Self-Driving Cars

What happens if a self-driving car cuts you off?

It's not like you can flip-off the driver. Yelling won't do any good either, except perhaps to release some road rage.

It's a question that lawyers broached at the American Bar Association's midyear meeting in Florida. The program, broadcast through Legal Talk Network, focused on the challenge of road rage in the age of self-driving cars.

According to panelists, driverless cars are not the problem. They are part of the solution.