Tag Archives: technology

How Robot Lawyers Are Defeating Traffic Tickets: Translating Millennial Beliefs & Bots Into Firm Profitability

An Internet bot, also known as web robot, or simply a bot, is a software application that runs automated tasks, called scripts, over the Internet, which are otherwise simple or structurally repetitive (enter paper shuffling sounds).

Sounds like something you’d want in a law office, doesn’t it?

It turns out, somebody else thought so, too. Joshua Browder, a Stanford student born in the United Kingdom, created a “bot attorney” to help hundreds of people dispute parking tickets in London and New York City.

In fact, Browder told Venture Beat that he had successfully challenged 160,000 of 250,000 British parking tickets as of June with his bot DoNotPay. The same parking-lot hero bot helped 9,000 New Yorkers.

Here’s how it works. You log on to donotpay.co.uk and chat with a bot (don’t forget, he’s just an automated robot) that asks questions like, “Was it hard to understand the signs?” or “Do you think the parking lot was too small.” If a parking lot is legally too small, it is unreasonable to ticket drivers.

“I think the people getting parking tickets are the most vulnerable in society,” said Browder.

“These people aren’t looking to break the law. I think they’re being exploited as a revenue source by the local government.”

And that’s how bots help busy drivers.

But that’s not the only area where the Victor Frankenstein of legal help hopes to affect change.

“I feel like there’s a gold mine of opportunities because so many services and information could be automated using AI [artificial intelligence], and bots are a perfect way to do that, and it’s disappointing at the moment that it’s mainly used for commerce transactions by ordering flowers and pizzas,” Bowder said to Venture Beat.

As a result, Browder is working on a bot to help people with HIV understand their legal rights, a bot to help collect compensation for people whose flights were delayed beyond four hours, and a bot that helps refugees apply for asylum (part of the Highland Capital summer startup accelerator program). For the latter, Bowder will use IBM’s Watson to translate from Arabic to English.

Bowder and his bots are a bone fide legal aids at this point; In August, Bowder unveiled a bot to help people apply for emergency housing. His pro bono actions will help combat homelessness in a way thousands of law school grads could not.

By consulting some real-life lawyers and analyzing FOIA-obtained documents, Bowder hopes to “figure out trends in why public housing applications are approved or denied,” according to Slate.

Although this latter venture may require less automation and more human attorneys to take full effect, it’s an amazing start to ending a real-world epidemic.

Outsourcing repetitive work to robot lawyers can no longer be seen as a trend to look out for; it’s a reality (law) practice faces today.

Did you first hear about “bots” from your Millennial colleagues? Millennials, the group of tech-toting, flip-flop wearing adults born after 1980, have been the subject of eye-rolling. They’ve been stereotyped as expecting rewards just for participating and believing that spending long hours at the office is overrated.

Yet, legal professionals say that depiction as applied to their younger colleagues is wrong. In fact, they may work differently, taking full advantage of technology, like bots, making them smart and productive.

Properly incentivizing and compensating this new generation of lawyers is essential for your firm’s profitability, retention and key to attracting like-minded clients.

Take C4CM’s webinar, “Compensating Millennial Associates: Customizing Compensation and Rewards for Increased Productivity and Firm Profitability,” and explore real-life methods for embracing the goals, expectations and ambitions of today’s millennial associates, and how to ‘meet in the middle’ when it comes to compensating this new generation.

During this power-packed session, our expert faculty will examine the most current factors affecting millennial associate compensation, including:

  • Specific non-monetary rewards that are certain to improve job satisfaction
  • Why tiered compensation works for millennials, and how to structure it properly
  • Details on the types of alternative compensation models firms are using and how these alternatives compensate millennial associates
  • Beyond compensation increases, what matters most to millennial associates
  • Types of goals and initiatives to set forth for millennial lawyers, and three crucial ways to reward achievements

Plus, in just 75 minutes, you will learn: 

  • Surprising attitudes millennial lawyers have about total compensation
  • Who millennial lawyers are, and how they differ from other generations in terms of pay
  • Common misconceptions and truths about millennials lawyers
  • Mentoring, evaluations, and feedback tips that emphasize professionalism and increase associate self sufficiency

The Center for Competitive Management (C4CM) provides you, today’s business professional, with the information you need to stay on top of your career. C4CM is dedicated to bringing you the information you need to succeed. Our many products include audio conferences, Training Resources, conferences, research papers and more.

-WB

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The Future of Technology In Law: Should Your Law Firm Build A Balcony For Drone Landings?

Is it time for luxury apartments to start offering balconies for drone landings? Some people think so.

Charles Bombardier, mechanical engineer, wrote an article for Wired Magazine touting just that. He opens his persuasive article with the question: “Make no mistake: Drones are coming, and they’re going to change a lot of things about how we shape our lives. So why shouldn’t we change how we shape our buildings to get ready for them?”

Drone Tower—that’s what we’d call it. As Americans mentally prepare for Amazon packages or their next grocery order delivered via drone to their doorstep, engineers are technically ready and already making plans to incorporate this technology in consumer life.

At one point, it seemed far-fetched that information could travel from a computer to portable music player or mobile phone through a USB port, let alone charge the device completely, but now USB ports are built into every new electric socket of your house.

So the idea of drone landing strip in your home may seem a bit futuristic now, but it’s hardly far out.

In fact, 65 percent of Americans already believe that within 50 years robots and computers will “definitely” or “probably” do much of the work currently done by humans, according to a national survey by the Pew Research Center.

With so many technology advances in the law industry of late, it’s easy to see why the majority of Americans consider lawyers replaceable.

Over the past decade, for example, court reporters and deposition stenographers have been replaced by real-time, digitally-recorded transcripts. And, first-year associates—once bogged down with mounds of paper Discovery—are, instead, being substituted for computer software.

Automated indexing and keyword searches in eDiscovery software make it possible to conduct hours of billable work in a matter of minutes. In a 2011 article in The New York Times titled, “Armies of Expensive Lawyers, Replaced by Cheaper Software,” author John Markoff reported that Blackstone Discovery, out of Palo Alto, Calif., helped analyze 1.5 million documents for less than $100,000.

“From a legal staffing viewpoint, it means that a lot of people who used to be allocated to conduct document review are no longer able to be billed out,” said Bill Herr to Markoff in The New York Times.

Herr, as a lawyer at a major chemical company, used to muster auditoriums of lawyers to read documents for weeks on end. Now?

“People get bored, people get headaches. Computers don’t.”

Another Silicon Valley e-discovery company, Clearwell developed software that analyzes documents and identifies concepts, as opposed to simple keywords. In 2010, law firm DLA Piper used Clearwell software to search through a half-million documents under a court-imposed deadline of one week in just two days. Talk about streamlined (and mechanized) operations.

Are androids, not attorneys, powering the legal industry?

“The legal profession needs to do a better job as a whole of embracing and leveraging technology,” asserts Brian Powers, attorney and founder of legal tech startup PactSafe, to the Indiana Lawyer.

“The firms and lawyers who do both of those over then next 25 years are the ones that will be thriving. The rest will be extinct.” 

The future is here for legal technology. Although your law firm may not need a drone-landing balcony quite yet, it’s safe to say, we’re not that far off.

WB

Need help getting started incorporating legal tech in your practice? Take a look at The Center For Competitive Management’s offerings here.

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Scientific Discovery Named After Supreme Court Justice & Other Things You Should Google

What happens when you google Supreme Court Justices? Today, enter a search for “Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg” and the results may bug you.

Instead of being associated with women’s rights or fighting for female equality, quite literally, Justice Ginsburg is now associated with bugs, the Ilomantis ginsburgae, to be exact. The scientific discovery of this species is notable as Sydney Brannoch, a Case Western Reserve University Ph.D. candidate, recently used the genitals of female praying mantises to distinguish it from other species.

Like other praying mantis’s, female Ilomantis ginsburgae take their male counterparts and rip off their heads. Now, the feminist insects share headlines with one of the most renowned courtroom warriors.

But, it may be Justice Ginsburg with the last laugh. What happens when Supreme Court Justices google you?

It turns out that Supreme Court Justices have been supplementing legal briefs with their own online research for years.

A former clerk to retired Justice David Souter recently studied 15 years worth of Supreme Court decisions. Allison Orr Larsen, who is a professor at William & Mary Law School, found more than 100 examples of asserted facts from authorities that were never mentioned in briefs attached to the same case.

Additionally, in 120 high-profile, newsworthy cases from 2000 to 2010, Larsen found nearly 60 percent contained facts researched in-house.

“Virtually all of the justices do it regardless of whether they are traditionally labeled liberal or conservative,” explains Larsen, via the article “Should Supreme Court justices Google?” by Robert Barnes for the Washington Post, “and they cite authorities they find themselves on a wide range of subject matter (from biology to history to golf).”

Is this due diligence or simply judicial curiosity?

The fact is, information is exceedingly accessible today. It’s impossible to ignore it.

“Now the justices (and their clerks and their librarians) are flooded with information literally at their fingertips. Social science studies, raw statistics, and other data are all just a Google search away,” writes Larsen.

“If the justices want more empirical support for a factual dimension of their argument, they can find it easily and without the help of anyone outside of the Supreme Court building.”

Many lawyers are starting to question the validity of this practice.

For example, in 2011, the court found a California law forbidding the sale of violent video games to minors violated the First Amendment. Justice Stephen G. Breyer in a dissent offered 13 pages of studies on the topic of psychological harm from playing violent video games. Justice Clarence Thomas cited 59 sources to support his view that the Founding Fathers believed that parents had absolute control over their children’s development—an overwhelming 57 of them were not in the briefs submitted in the case.

Fair or not, do you know what Justices will find when they google you or your client? More importantly, do professionals at your firm possess the technological skills to do the same due diligence?

So, before your brief gets beheaded by the prying eyes of praying judges, find out what’s online and how it could affect your case—before it’s too late.

-WB

 

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New Mobile App Helps Lawyers Organize Client & Vendor Information Via Email

According to the American Bar Association (ABA), 89 percent of lawyers use mobile to check email, which far exceeds that of the average population.

This statistic, and more, comes from the ABA and the Legal Technology Resource Center, which surveys practicing attorneys about their technology choices.

Some of the key insights included (via LexisNexis):

  • 34% of lawyers use tablets in the courtroom
  • 26.9% of law firms have legal blogs and 10% of individual lawyers have blogs
  • 78% believe training a firm on technology is important
  • 50% one year increase in cloud services users
  • 17% of lawyers using litigation support software
  • 39.1% of blogs resulted in clients or referrals
  • 22.6% of law firm have no social media presence
  • 81% of attorneys say they use social media; but not necessarily for professional use
  • 58% use Dropbox (here are the terms of service)
  • 94% say vendor name and reputation is important to decisions

So, it’s easy to agree that training on technology is important, but sometimes attorneys are slow in implementation and practice. For example, all that e-mail lawyers are checking on their phones, surely there’s a better way to keep track of client and vendor correspondence?

And there is.

Check out CloudMagic, an email application that has grown to 4 million users, which helps people who receive a lot of email (especially cold calls from potential clients or vendors people don’t know personally) with its feature, Sender Profile. This mobile app is similar LinkedIn’s service, Rapportive, or the more recent desktop app, Connect from Clearbit.

Sender Profile on CloudMagic lets you quickly view a summary of information about the person who emailed you, such as their job title, workplace, location, homepage, and social profiles on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Unlike its competition, instead of trying to present all the sender’s details in the same screen as the original message, when you receive an email from someone not in your contacts list, CloudMagic places a small summary below the email message. In addition, once you click the “Know More” link, a pop-up card appears with even more information.

If the sender’s workplace is important, CloudMagic has you covered. After you’ve looked at the sender’s information on the pop-up card, you can then click on another button linking you to the sender’s company’s information, as well.

That corporate side of the card will display a company description, employee headcount, website link, and links to the company on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and AngelList, if applicable.

Now that’s uncontestably important technology—no training required.

Learn more about this mobile app and more on TechCrunch or here, on this blog.

 

-WB

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A Law Firm’s Guide To Record Retention & Apple’s Fight Against Hacking Killer’s Phone By Court Order

It could be argued that nothing changed American culture more than the cell phone. Just look at TV shows, cartoons, news articles that talk about Millennials, perpetually on their phones. At work, policies about cell phones must be erected. And, now, it’s a point of concern for privacy when it comes to search and seizure by police.

“I had a case where a young man was arrested for videotaping his friend being arrested outside a club in NYC. Police seized his phone. We were afraid that once they possessed the phone, the video would mysteriously disappear since it showed police acting without probable cause and then arresting my client just for videotaping the incident,” Toni Messina in the article, “Criminally Yours: Cops Got Your Phone?” for the Above The Law blog.

“Luckily, because we were dealing with an inexperienced prosecutor, we were able to go One Police Plaza ourselves to get the phone back so it went through no intermediaries, supervisors, or other enforcement personnel. The video was intact, and now forms the basis of a civil law suit for wrongful arrest.”

Messina points out that no matter the level of crime for which you are arrested, police can search your person, your things. Sure, police are supposed to have probable cause, but as Messina’s story previously points out, “probable cause” is relative.

Once you’re actually in custody, your rights to guard information on your cell phone private erode even more. Once arrested, the police can get a search warrant to search the contents of your cell phone—including all those fancy apps with personal data you used for online banking, dating, and working. Your photos and videos are now free game for viewing.

All this with just a simple order from a judge.

Which is exactly what happened with the recent federal judge’s order forcing Apple to help the FBI break into the iPhone of San Bernardino killer Syed Farook. Except Apple CEO Tim Cook opposed the order.

In a letter, Cook wrote, “In the wrong hands, this software [to hack the iPhone]—which does not exist today—would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession.”

Cook’s letter emphasized that government overreached by asking for “a backdoor to the iPhone,” reports Greg Botelho, Lorenza Brascia, and Michael Martinez in “Anger, praise for Apple for rebuffing FBI over San Bernardino killer’s phone,” an article for CNN.

How much can the government compel companies to give up? What about citizens?

“All this is why compelling Apple to provide the key to open their phone is tricky,” concludes Messina in the Above The Law article.

“No one’s in favor of terrorism, but that doesn’t mean we should succumb to greater police surveillance, privacy invasion, and forced revelation of data that would otherwise be confidential in our lives.”

This leads—even in a just a small way—to your law firm’s personal records.

Do you know how long to keep records, how they should be stored, and who should have access to various files?

Consistent management of documents and data reduces litigation exposure and regulatory criticism. However, conquering the challenges you encounter in managing, retaining, and disposing information on the road to legal compliance is more complicated than ever.

In fact, as the number of laws and risks related to governing records management continues to increase, it becomes even more paramount that organizations and their counsel brush up on its obligations—legal and moral.

Furthermore, with all companies under scrutiny for how they treat the privacy of employees or clients, law firms should think twice about its practices.

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions,” Messina reminds us of the old adage.

“Privacy is too valuable a right, and the fishing expedition [by the government] such a search would entail [by Apple] isn’t worth the price.”

-WB

Learn more about the complex universe of document retention rules and practicalities in C4CM‘s webinar, “Save It, Shred It, Delete It? Corporate Counsel’s Guide to Record Retention,” on Thursday, March 17, 2016 from 2:00 PM To 3:15 Eastern Standard time.

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Law Firms, Watch Collectors & How To Know When ‘Time Is Money’

In the case of high-end watch collectors, time is literally money.

At a recent Christie’s auction, a Patek Philippe watch sold for more $50,000—quite an improvement over its 1950s retail price of $275, reports CBS News.

“I’ve seen artwork being traded for watches. I have seen somebody trade a very rare Patek Philippe for a down payment on an apartment,” said Benjamin Clymer, Founder and Editorial Director, Hodinkee.com.

In today’s digital age, you still can’t stop the clock. Apple shelled out $21 million in a “lump sum” to license a clock-face design from the Swiss Federal Railway service, reported French news agency AFP, citing a Swiss paper.

Swiss Federal Railway service (SBB) objected to the clock-face design in iOS 6 because it too closely resembled a trademarked design created in 1944 by SBB employee Hans Hilfiker. Today the design is used in train stations throughout Switzerland and licensed the pricey Swiss watch manufacturer, Mondaine.

Hilfiker’s design is timeless, and thus has been honored by both the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the London Design Museum. The Swiss consider it a national symbol of punctuality, but it’s also an example to lawyers of the power technology holds when protected by intellectual property.

It’s not just watches; there are myriad other reasons why technology converts time into money for your firm. Here are some lessonds, according to an Accellis Technology article, for law firms:

“When you’re efficient, you take on less risk – Simply put, the less time you spend on a contingency case, the less risk associated with taking it on. If you lose, you’re not sacrificing as much time or revenue. If you win, you’ll make the same amount of money, but since you spent less time on the case, your margins are higher. And, if you win or lose but don’t get paid, you’re out less money.

When you’re efficient, you can take on more cases – If you can generate a Will twice as fast as your competitor, you can do twice the amount of work, right? When your process for settling civil disputes speeds up, you can twice as many disputes.

When you’re efficient, you can spend more time on client-facing activities – Spend your new-found time meeting people, creating stronger relationships with your clients, and building value in your firm. Try to drive in new opportunities from your current client base (maybe they didn’t know you take on divorces). Did you know that once you have a client, each subsequent sale has a close ratio of over 70%? It’s easy money!”

To read the entire article, go here.

Sold on technology, but need to know where to start? Think about integrating the following products into your business systems:

The iPad.

Apps for the mobile phone and iPad have contributed some of the most significant improvements in efficiency and productivity within law firms in some time. Get with your IT Department to brainstorm how best to implement these gadgets into everyday legal activity.

For some of the best legal iPad apps, go here.

Near-field Communications (NFC) Technology.

From Google Wallet to Starbucks Mobile Payment App, NFC technology has myriad uses in law.

Read more about their applications here.

Social Media and Blogging.

Social media sites like LinkedIn or legal recruitment web-agencies, including lawcrossing.com, are cheap and easy ways to locate qualified candidates. It saves recruiters time and money by already compiling information about prospective employees.

Even if your firm is not looking to hire, it’s certainly still looking to recruit clients. At which point, social media—blog posts, tweets, or Facebook feeds—become crucial in advertising what services your firm offers, who its lawyers are, and why a client should hire you, as opposed to another firm.

In the time it took you to read this line, I sent a tweet and 500 people read it. Talk about a new value for time in money.

E-discovery software

By this time, most law firms already (from necessity) have some sort of electronic discovery software. However, when was it last updated?

The capabilities of software and technology changes rapidly everyday. If you haven’t updated your online systems for some time, it’s likely that there’s a more efficient way to organize and file e-discovery.

In sum, what have you learned about time, money, and technology? They’re inextricably linked.

So, consider putting together a “technology team” at your law firm—to keep apprised of developments in the field of legal gadgetry—one that will ensure your associates are not falling behind or sinking your bottom line. And if you’re feeling generous, make timeless timepieces part of your end-of-year bonuses: They appreciate (and your associates will appreciate them).

Regain control of your time and technology.

Take C4CM’s audio course, “Microsoft Outlook: Unlock E-Mail, Calendar and Time-Saving Secrets” on Tuesday, December 1, 2015, from 2:00 PM To 3:15 PM Eastern.

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Tom Brady & The Patriots Face More Controversy & Record Retention Lessons For HR

Even if you’re not from the Northeast—even if you’re not a football fan—by now you’ve heard of the New England Patriots. Whether it’s Tom Brady’s supermodel wife or its Deflategate controversy, the team certainly knows how to make the news. And last night’s game was no exception.

First, an inadvertent official whistle during a live play stopped what may been a 50-yard touchdown by the Patriots’ receiver Danny Amendola. In a close game against the Buffalo Bills, such an error could have been costly to the Patriots’ undefeated team.

Then, with seconds left on the clock, a questionable call ended the game abruptly—smashing any chance the Buffallo Bills had at a hail marry pass (or other play) to tie in the fourth quarter.

Final score? 20-13. The New England Patriots continue their winning record of 10-0 in the AFC Eastern Division.

As if Monday night’s football wasn’t enough, the Patriots headlined this morning for another reason.

The NFL’s appeal of a district court decision vacating the suspension of quarterback Tom Brady will be heard on March 3, it announced today. The 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Monday scheduled oral arguments for well after Feb. 7, also know as Super Bowl 50.

The hearing date is over a year after the 2014 AFC Championship Game where the Patriots played the Indianapolis Colts with deflated footballs, reports USA Today. An independent investigation found two Patriots employees responsible for these rule-breaking activities and concluded that Brady was at least “generally aware” of the situation.

However, at least for now, the Deflategate controversy won’t keep the Patriots’ from another championship season.

But what if your company was forced into an independent investigation? What if your personnel records were audited this very minute, could they stand-up to a DOL probe, an EEOC investigation, or an ICE inspection?

As an HR professional one of your primary responsibilities is to maintain personnel records. But what began as putting important files in a folder has developed into a complex web of compliance. And each year, compliance gets more and more difficult, as you add in electronic documents and other formats.

There are the modified FMLA rules, the updated ADA regulations, the FLSA, and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, all of which have separate rigid requirements for retention. And the federal push for I-9 compliance means employers must have their immigration forms meticulously maintained… but you don’t have to worry about that, right?

When it came to evidence on deflating footballs, Tom Brady also thought he was in the clear. But, technological advances (for Brady, the availability of cell phone records) and the threat of potential litigation (or the suspension from professional football) should impact the way your team does its record-keeping.

For Brady, it may be too late. But for law firm professionals, attend The Center For Competitive Management’s audio course, “Save it, Shred it, Delete it? Employee Record Retention for HR,” on Friday, December 11, 2015 from 2:00 PM To 3:15 PM EST.

For law firms or football teams, there’s a big difference between making headlines and being victims of them.

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