Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog


Why Your Law Firm Needs a Tech Committee

If you were on a rocketship going to the moon, how long would it take to get there?

Oh wait, you don't have a rocketship and you don't know how to command one anyway. So basically, you're not going to make it.

That's kind of the problem with many law firms today. Relatively few have fully functional tech committees, and some attorneys wouldn't know what to do if they had one.

Is the PACER Security Problem Fixed or Not?

If you ever wondered about your federal court PACER bill, there was a good reason.

It turns out that the electronic access service had a software issue for decades. The flaw made it possible for hackers to access court documents and charge it to other user accounts.

The courts reportedly have fixed the problem. So do you trust the system now?

There's no question to it, using technological gadgets during a trial, or even just a hearing or scheduling conference, has made the lawyer's life increasingly easier. Using laptops, smartphones, tablets, digital projectors, and other devices can make a big difference, not just in saving time, but also in keeping organized and making presentations to the court. Electronics, which were once banned, are now becoming commonplace.

But what do you do if a device fails? Or worse, fails mid-presentation? Below, you'll find some tips on what to do, and what not to do.

500 Smart Locks Fail After IoT Update

You know how frustrating it is when you get locked out of your phone?

Now imagine getting locked out of your house -- by a so-called smart lock. Don't you just want to smash the thing?

Take a number because faulty software locked out hundreds of homeowners. It's another example of a possible plague for the Internet of Things. This hits close to home for the legal field, as many attorneys are beginning to use IoT devices in the course of their workday.

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

Corporate America and companies around the globe are spending vast amounts of money trying to keep up with all sorts of threats in this new digital age. So, how are companies really doing?

Unfortunately, not so well. Indeed, according to PwC's 2017 Digital IQ Survey, as reported by PR Daily, barely more than half of IT executives from the US and 52 other countries reported that their companies have a "strong digital IQ." This is down from 67 percent so reporting in 2016, and 66 percent in 2015.

Nintendo Sued for Allegedly Stealing Gamevice Invention

The video game business is no game; it is all business.

That's the bottom line when it comes to Nintendo's Switch, a controller-console that slides onto a tablet computer to allow portable gaming. The company has sold almost 5 million units since March, boosting revenue to $1.41 billion during the first quarter this year.

The problem is, another company says Nintendo stole its invention. Patent game on.

Perhaps you've heard of Patreon, the crowd-funding site that helps online artists and content creators establish a monthly income from masses of low-level subscribers. The website allows content creators to make profile pages and request support for their creative endeavors in the form of pledges. In return for their pledges, supporters are often treated to exclusive content or other rewards. But most of the supporters don't do it for the swag; they support their favorite content creators in order to see them continue to thrive and create.

Okay, so now that you know what Patreon is, you must be thinking: Is there a way for me fund my endeavors in the legal field?

Fortunately, there is, but there are definitely some exceptions.

The Sixth Circuit case, Carpenter v. United States, which upheld law enforcement's ability to obtain historical cell phone location data without a warrant, is heading for the U.S. Supreme Court. At issue is whether obtaining location data from service providers without obtaining a warrant first violates the Fourth Amendment.

Currently, courts have been finding that a warrant is not needed on the theory that location data, and other metadata, are not private, but rather functional. The analogy to postal mail is unconvincingly drawn, explaining that like the addresses, and stamp, on an envelope, a person's location data is something that helps the service provider provide their service, and thus is the functional equivalent to a return address and not private.

Sadly, the droid you are looking for still does not exist. And to make matters worse, the walking talking humanoid robot of your dreams is still prohibitively expensive. But, new software that utilizes AI technology is bringing us closer to the day where a humanoid robot can actually prove helpful to a practicing attorney.

While we may not have a C3PO style robot paralegal yet, the software, at least in patent and bankruptcy law, is getting sophisticated enough to consider making one, or a small army. Fortunately, you don't have to wait for a walking, talking metal box to use the newest practice software, for the most part, any regular old computer should do the trick (so long as it's not actually an old computer).

While many science fiction fantasies may posit that when AI takes over the world, the type of discrimination we know today will no longer exist because the robot overlords just won't care about color, gender, or origin ... or, will have just killed us all off indiscriminately.

Even though AI and data science are advancing rapidly, systemic discrimination permeates everything. Implicit bias is real, and is being passed on to the algorithms and artificially intelligent machines that may soon dictate and predict our very lives.

A contest run by National Institute of Justice (NIJ) sought to help develop technology to predict when and where crime will occur. However, as pointed out by the brilliant minds at Lawyerist.com, there's a bit of a problem inherent in the system: crime prediction and forecasting just isn't fair.