Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog


Summer Reading for Legal Tech Pros

How many programmers does it take to screw in a light bulb?

None. It's a software problem.

If that didn't make you smile, then you are not a programmer. But if you find pleasure in reading tech stuff -- even books that talk around the subject -- then you might enjoy this list of summer reading for legal tech pros:

Privacy, Security Risks When Telecommuting

If you telecommute from home, chances are you don't have a receptionist there.

Nobody screens phone calls or checks for identification, either. If you have a home office, it probably doesn't have a lock on the door.

The main office, on the other hand, typically has all of these features. They are part of the business, and they provide some security.

For the telecommuter's business, however, security and privacy begin at home.

Supreme Court Bumps 'Dancing Baby' Fair Use Case

If you love dancing babies and the First Amendment, watch this video.

The happy toddler is rocking out to "Let's Go Crazy," by Prince. The video has been viewed nearly 2 million times by people looking for a feel-good moment in a sometimes dreary day.

What could be wrong with that? A copyright violation lawsuit by the music company?! Are you baby-caca kidding me?!

Lethal Texting: When Is It a Crime?

Michelle Carter, the teen convicted of involuntary manslaughter for texting a friend to commit suicide, is today's poster child for texting gone way wrong.

Carter faces up to 20 years in prison for telling her ex-boyfriend, as he filled his truck up with carbon monoxide, to finish it. Get back in the truck, she told him.

"The time is right and you're ready, you just need to do it!" the Massachusetts teen texted.

Facebook Uses AI to Catch Terrorists

In a world where the First Amendment doesn't apply, Facebook has more power than the government to crush terrorism's ugly head.

For example, the company can keep terrorist pictures and videos off the largest social media site on the planet. An algorithm can detect such content and prevent it from seeing Facebook daylight.

So when ISIS tries to shock the world with a beheading video, they are not going to see it on Facebook.

Legal Tech Startups Founded by Lawyers

To build a better mousetrap, you have to know something about mice.

It's true in the legal tech business, too. After all, how can you create a better way to monitor a court docket if you don't really know how it works? Michael Sander, who created Docket Alarm, learned that lesson when he was working at an expensive New York law firm.

"Twice a day, we had a paralegal go to the court's website, enter a case number, see if there was anything new, and repeat that nine times," he told Wired.com.

Judge Orders Drunk Drivers to Download Ride-Sharing Apps

Judge Michael Cicconetti, who works at the Painesville Municipal Court in Ohio, has a reputation that reaches much farther than his jurisdiction.

Known widely for creative sentencing, Cicconetti once sentenced a woman to walk 30 miles for stiffing a taxi driver. He made a drunk driver go the morgue to view car-crash victims.

Now, as a standard condition of probation, he orders drunk drivers to download Uber and Lyft apps to their smart phones. How about a toast to technology?

Google Assistant Is Ready to Assist Your Law Practice

If you have fallen in love with Siri or Alexis, you can still take a peek at Google's digital assistant and be faithful to your first love.

These voice-enabled programs perform many of the same functions, but their makers are always trying to improve each model. Apple got to the market first with Siri on the iPhone; then Amazon breathed life into Alexis, the voice of the home-based Echo device; and now Google has released a new version of the Assistant.

So what's the fuss about Google's latest release and why should any Siri or Alexis lover care? Well, the Assistant is smarter. It can even learn to talk like a lawyer.

Lawsuit: Permit for Augmented Reality Game Violates Free Speech

Texas Rope 'Em is not exactly Pokemon Go, the wildly successful augmented reality game that has led millions to search for virtual characters in the real world.

But the virtual poker game does present a new legal twist in an augmented reality lawsuit pending in Wisconsin. Candy Lab, Inc., the video game maker, says a county park is violating its First Amendment right by requiring a permit for its users.

"This restriction impinges on Candy Lab AR's right to free speech by regulating Candy Lab AR's right to publish its video games that make use of the augmented reality medium," the company's complaint says.

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

Perhaps you saw the movie "Ex Machina" a couple years ago. In that movie, a male internet coder was drawn into an unusual experiment, as he engaged with an Artificial Intelligence (AI) being provided in the form of a very attractive female robot. Is this the stuff of science fiction, or are we already dealing with AI, even when we do not know that is the case?

Generally speaking, we hopefully know that we are not dealing with a live human being when we talk to Apple's Siri or when dealing with Amazon's Alexa. However, according to a recent article by Forbes, we often interact with AI unbeknownst to us. For example, we probably do not think about the fact that AI controls Google's searches for answers to our questions, and AI also controls how Gmail and Outlook know which emails to put in our spam folders.