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What Will Law Firms Do as Net Neutrality Dies?

For most everyday internet users, including lawyers, net neutrality has been a good thing.

But that Obama-era idea was so yesterday. In the Trump era, net neutrality as we know it will soon be dead.

So what will law firms do when internet service providers raise rates for fast-lane internet and slow down traffic for everybody else? After paying the premium, of course, lawyers will sue.

Net Neutrality on the Horizon, or Not

By the laws of the universe, like everything else, net neutrality was destined to die.

Even as the U.S. Senate voted to save net neutrality, the pundits said it would not survive the House of Representatives. The President, who those pundits believe would kill it given the chance, may never have to because the idea was doomed from the beginning.

It's like evolution, survival of the fittest, and capitalization of internet traffic. You can't stop big service providers from driving web traffic where it will make them money.

While we attorneys may not be too surprised when we're held to a higher standard when it comes to contracting, a former Snapchat employee is learning the curse of being educated: Being considered a sophisticated party in court.

Sadly for the spurned employee, the court found that he knew what he was doing when he signed an employment agreement with an arbitration clause. Despite the fact that he was not afforded the opportunity to have an attorney review the agreement, and had one day to sign it, the court said that it didn't matter because he seemed smart enough to be able to understand what he was signing.

While no internet user enjoys being click-baited, for some online advertisers (aka online publishers), their entire business model is based on generating those hard to get clicks by any means necessary.

For Google, which works hard to ensure its users receive relevant content (and advertisements) from their searches, combating click-bait is a high priority. Unfortunately for the search giant, in 2014, it was sued for a practice that allegedly unfairly punished bad publishers and unjustly enriched the Google coffers. Rather than continue to fight out the nitty-gritty allegations, last month Google settled these class claims for $11 million.

For many of us attorneys, the days of using the old 'not enough time' excuse to rationalize not doing any pro bono work may soon be over.

Thanks to virtual legal services becoming more and more common, it is only natural that the conveniences that make working more efficient would get used to deliver pro bono services in a better and more cost effective manner. In addition to the many ways modern tech has helped to streamline pro bono operations, there are now programs that allow attorneys to provide virtual legal consultations, as well as perform remote pro bono work.

It may be hard to believe for many lawyers, but landlines are pretty much a relic of the past. And for those lawyers that steadfastly maintain that their landline is required for telephonic court appearances, you may want to double check your local courts' rules, as that may not be the case anymore.

More and more courts these days are opening up to the idea of allowing telephonic appearances using VOIP or softphones. Generally, like the Federal Bankruptcy Court in Minnesota, you can use internet-based phone services so long as you have a handset or headset. Speakerphones, pay-phones, and mobile phones however are still, usually, not permitted.

California Cannabis Website Invokes CDA

The roll-out on California's recreational marijuana laws is a bit like rolling a joint. It's not as easy as it looks.

The Bureau of Cannabis Control, the state entity that oversees the new marijuana market, is trying to weed out some trouble spots. The bureau recently sent a letter to one of the bigger players in the market, saying it was advertising unlicensed pot growers.

Weedmaps, an online directory of marijuana businesses, responded that it was not subject to the agency. Tommy Chong, the marijuana activist and comedy actor, couldn't have said it better.

The new SpaceX project, Heavy, which was recently successfully tested, is proof positive that Elon Musk's revolutionary company is making huge strides for the space industry.

Notably, SpaceX has been able to do what NASA never could, cut costs. Where the vendors for NASA never were pressured to reduce costs due to the lack of alternatives, SpaceX has turned to in house manufacturing where vendors couldn't meet their cost demands. Given the legal industry's reluctance to cut costs, perhaps there may be a lesson law firms can learn from SpaceX.

Headlines were made over the weekend when one Tesla driver made history on San Francisco's Bay Bridge after being arrested for a DUI. While that alone isn't so epic, allegedly, the driver was found asleep, with the car stopped on the bridge, and he is alleged to have claimed that he wasn't driving, but rather had the vehicle's autopilot engaged

This delightful DUI actually raises quite a few legal questions about the use of driverless cars. Currently, the law permits the use of the Tesla autopilot and other similar features so long as the driver is present and can take over control. Unfortunately for the inebriated, for the time being, the law does not permit individuals to autopilot under the influence either. If the limited facts known are true, the case probably isn't a winner, but it'd sure be interesting.

Drones Working for Border Patrol

It may take a few years for President Trump to put up his wall, but in the meantime the Border Patrol is upping its game with flying drones.

On a clear day, the drones can be seen patolling the skies along the border between the United States and Mexico. They help agents see where they cannot go so easily -- the unpaved miles of desert, cactus, scrub brush, and gangly trees.

Actually, there are only three drones at work so far in the test program. But they are already covering a lot more ground than a wannabe wall, and they are a whole lot cheaper.