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Silk Road Ends at 2nd Circuit: Founder's Life Sentence Upheld

Ross William Ulbricht, founder of the notoriously successful Silk Road, didn't want the fame. He just wanted the fortune.

He didn't even want anyone to know that he created the website, which did more than $180 million in business in just a few years, for people to make "darknet" purchases. He worked anonymously because, after all, it was a drug-trafficking site.

The government discovered his real identity, however, and sent him to jail for life. Now a federal appeals court has affirmed the sentence.

What Internet of Things Devices Are Lawyers Using?

It won't be long before you -- personally -- will be connected to the internet.

It will happen with an earpiece or contact lenses or some wearable. Oh wait, we're already there.

If you haven't noticed, lawyers are literally talking to the air, if not their hand, because they are wirelessly connected to someone, or something, somewhere. Here are some of the smart devices they are using on the Internet of Things.

Citepad: a Digital Keypad for Lawyers

Citepad is like a magic wand that floats over your screen and inserts legal terms, symbols, and phrases into documents with the touch of your finger.

It does not turn your computer screen into a touch screen, but you "touch" the Citepad virtual keyboard with your mouse and "Voila."

An innovation from Juristech, it is available by download for as little as $15. Not bad for a magic wand.

Amazon's Digital Assistant Alexa Will Track Your Billable Hours

If you haven't met Alexa yet, you're gonna love her now.

Alexa is Amazon's digital assistant -- and she does more than ever. She started out as a desktop version of Siri, the iPhone know-it-all who responds to voice commands.

Now, thanks to innovation from Thomson Reuters, FindLaw's parent company, Alexa does something only a lawyer could love. She keeps track of billable hours!

Lawsuit Claims Some Tesla Safety Features Are 'Vaporware'

In a class-action filed in California, Tesla owners allege the automaker is using faulty software for standard safety features and autopilot. One owner said he turned on the autopilot, and his car started veering out of lanes, lurching and slamming on the brakes for no reason.

"The Enhanced Autopilot Features are simply too dangerous to be used," the lawsuit says in Sheikh v. Tesla.

Coffee Shop Lawyers, Public Wi-Fi Is Not Your Friend

Lawyers, equipped with mobile devices to draft legal documents and email them, are meeting with clients at coffee shops across the country. This phenomenon is nothing new, at this point. But we're repeating the story because attorneys are still using public Wi-Fi networks, despite the potential legal and ethical liabilities.

For the past ten years or so, we've been careening to a Star Trek-like future, where all our computing is done in a simple, hand-held device. Smartphones let us bill hours via apps, tablets let us port word processors around as easily as a magazine.

But if you want to experience the future, you might want to look to the near past. The desktop PC, that humming, churning plastic box from the '90s, has suddenly jumped to the forefront of innovation.

When it comes to our automated future, a common refrain is that while automation will elimination some jobs, it will lead to growth overall. You need someone to lube up the robots' joints, after all, and someone to teach machines how to learn. Last year, for example, researchers found that an increasingly automated economy would "self-correct," creating new, more complex jobs and keeping wages and equality relatively stable.

Turns out, the data points the opposite direction. In a new paper, the same two researchers, Daron Acemoglu and Pascual Restrepo, looked at the actual evidence form U.S. labor markets and found that increased automation reduced employment and wages. So, what does this mean for the future? And more importantly, what does this mean for legal professionals?

Spotlight on Laptop Security, Protecting Client Files

When a thief stole a lawyer's laptop, in retrospect the attorney partially blamed himself.

He left it in plain sight on a countertop, where the burglar could easily see it through the glass door of his house. The lawyer had also left a light on in the house to ward off a potential break-in, but saw his strategy differently when he returned home and peered through the broken glass.

"The same feature that contributed to my peaceful light a few hours before now gave a clear view of the countertop where my MacBook Air sat under what I now imagined to be a spotlight of my own making," John E. Grant wrote for Lawyerist.

In a hi-tech age, it also helps to take some low-tech precautions -- like putting a physical lock on a laptop or putting it in a secure place. Here are two tales to consider:

Amazon No Longer Claims Alexa Is Protected by First Amendment

Remember when Commander James Lovell and the Apollo 13 astronauts flew by the moon, watching its dark side pass below and wishing they could have landed?

Oh, you weren't old enough to remember 1970? Well then, maybe you remember the Apollo 13 mock-up from 1995. It was a moment in wistful history, real or imagined, to be so close and yet so far from something as monumental as to walk on the moon. Alas, it was not to be. And so it is for Alexa, the robot voice of Amazon's Echo.

A judge was ready to rule that the software robot has a First Amendment right, but then the humans in the case went and waived it. Mission aborted.