Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

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Are Lawyer Bots Impacting Jobs?

It's not really news that robots will take over lawyer jobs, but it is about that time.

A year ago, the McKinsey Global Institute estimated that 23 percent of a lawyer's job could be automated. As it turned out, that future is already here.

Some 1.1 million legal professionals in the United States did not lose their jobs in 2017, but the traditional legal neighborhood has definitely changed since the robots started to move in.

When you're in the zone, banging your fists against the keyboard trying to knock out that brief, stopping to open up the list of "symbols" and scrolling through them can be a real flow killer.

Luckily, there are a few options that you may not even realize exist. If you have the desk space and money to burn, you can buy one of the new "legal" keyboards or keyboard attachments. These have quite a few useful keys that you won't find on a standard keyboard.

However, if you don't have desk space, nor extra computer peripheral cash sitting around, you can easily get by using standard keyboard shortcuts, so long as you can remember them.

Below is a list of the most helpful keyboard shortcuts for lawyers. Most of them should work on most all computers, except for the Word specific ones at the end.

Black Friday Deals for Lawyers

"But it was on sale!"

It's such an accepted explanation for impulse buying, it's practically a mantra. And as religious holidays go, Black Friday is a universally acceptable day to worship the sale.

With some guidance from tech experts, FindLaw has a shoppers list for your pilgrimage to tech nirvana on sale day. This is the lawyer's edition:

When it comes to choosing the right tech for your law office, one of the biggest questions firms face is choosing desktops or laptops. This question gets even more complicated because laptops can be used with docking stations allowing attorneys to have multiple screens and other perks associated with using a desktop.

For those firms that are leaning toward laptops, often, questions abound about whether using a docking station while in the office is worthwhile, or just having separate desktop computers for in office use is better. After all, when it comes to tech and computing, size matters.

Below is some helpful advice on navigating this computational dilemma.

While everyone over the past two decades has been clamoring for the best laptop they can afford, a recent study among law firms shows that desktops have not fallen out of fashion. Nearly half of the law firms that responded to the 2017 LTN survey stated that in the next hardware refresh, they planned to get desktops for their lawyers.

Sure, being able to remotely access the network, files, or whatever digital resources a firm has available would make a laptop seem like the right choice for firm associates, but when it comes to security and cost, desktops tend to outperform laptops for a few simple reasons.

When Is It Time to Trash Old Tech?

NASA deliberately crashed a $4 billion spaceship into Saturn.

It was inevitable, the space agency said, because the craft was out of fuel and had completed its mission years ago. Plus, it could have contaminated one of Saturn's moons if it crashed there.

So goes the rationale and our tax dollars at work, but it gives pause for earthbound lawyers to ask themselves: when should you trash your old tech? This article is not about upgrading; it's about saving.

House Speeds Up Self-Driving Law

If the SELF-DRIVE Act is any indication, the law might actually keep up with the technology.

The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed the self-driving car bill by a voice vote. H.R. 3388 is a first-of-its-kind legislation, if not one of the first unanimous votes on a bill in the current administration.

It bodes well for the future of autonomous vehicles, which still have a way to go as the self-driving cars on the road are basically test versions.

Contempt Continues for Ex-Cop Refusing to Decrypt Hard Drives

It's just a matter of time before Francis Rawls will have to man up to some damning technology.

You see, Rawls has been sitting in jail two years now for refusing to decrypt his hard drives. A judge held him in contempt in 2015 because he would not unlock encrypted drives connected to his Apple Mac Pro. Why?

He says it's because he has a right not to incriminate himself, but it could be that the sentence for possessing child porn is a lot worse than two years. Either way, Rawls is in tech hell.

Should Congress Regulate the Sexbot Industry?

Are sexbots bad or are they just made that way?

In a sexually complicated society, it is actually a question for debate. One law professor wants Congress to regulate the developing sexbot industry because it could cause people to act out rape and other sex crimes.

"The obvious first step would be to have hearings and do studies to determine just how serious the threat is, whether there are any real benefits to having sexbots programmed to simulate being raped, and then what if any new laws, regulations, etc. might be appropriate," says John Banzhaf, a professor at George Washington Law School.

More Lawyers at Top Law Firms Are Working From Home

For all the talk about lawyers lagging in technology, it's nice to see that many law firms are leading in at least one area: remote work.

According to reports, more than half of the attorneys at the best law firms work remotely. That includes partners, associates, and of counsel logging in from desktops and laptops at home.

"Remote work is the most popular flex option among both male and female lawyers at every level, and it is offered by all of our top firms," says Working Mother's 2017 Best Law Firms for Women.