2019 Legal Trends Report — from clio.com

Excerpts:

Get access to the legal industry’s first longitudinal analysis on how law firms succeed—and how they struggle. You’ll also get critical insights into how today’s legal consumer shops for legal services.

This year’s report also includes results from our in-depth analysis of law firm responsiveness, where we put firms to the test with 1,000 emails and 500 phone calls.

 

Clio's Legal Trends Report for 2019

 

The impact of voice search on firms — from lawtechnologytoday.org

Excerpts:

“Alexa, where can I find an attorney near me who specializes in…?”

“What is my liability if a tree in my yard falls on my neighbor’s house because of a storm?”

“…voice-activated legal searches are coming, and probably faster than you expect.”

 
 

Can you make AI fairer than a judge? Play our courtroom algorithm game — from technologyreview.com by Karen Hao and Jonathan Stray
Play our courtroom algorithm game The US criminal legal system uses predictive algorithms to try to make the judicial process less biased. But there’s a deeper problem.

Excerpt:

As a child, you develop a sense of what “fairness” means. It’s a concept that you learn early on as you come to terms with the world around you. Something either feels fair or it doesn’t.

But increasingly, algorithms have begun to arbitrate fairness for us. They decide who sees housing ads, who gets hired or fired, and even who gets sent to jail. Consequently, the people who create them—software engineers—are being asked to articulate what it means to be fair in their code. This is why regulators around the world are now grappling with a question: How can you mathematically quantify fairness? 

This story attempts to offer an answer. And to do so, we need your help. We’re going to walk through a real algorithm, one used to decide who gets sent to jail, and ask you to tweak its various parameters to make its outcomes more fair. (Don’t worry—this won’t involve looking at code!)

The algorithm we’re examining is known as COMPAS, and it’s one of several different “risk assessment” tools used in the US criminal legal system.

 

But whether algorithms should be used to arbitrate fairness in the first place is a complicated question. Machine-learning algorithms are trained on “data produced through histories of exclusion and discrimination,” writes Ruha Benjamin, an associate professor at Princeton University, in her book Race After Technology. Risk assessment tools are no different. The greater question about using them—or any algorithms used to rank people—is whether they reduce existing inequities or make them worse.

 

You can also see change in these articles as well:

 

 

Priorities for new lawyers are changing. Can the legal industry keep up? — — from law.com by Annie Datesh, Natasha Allen, and Nicole Hatcher, Atrium
As the legal field continues to move forward, it is well-primed to place greater value on technological advancements, diverse leadership, and healthy work cultures over settling for the status quo.

Excerpts:

Yet the legal industry these lawyers are joining is evolving, and now increasingly hosts a new cohort of professionals—those shaped by technology and innovation, and who value diversity, mentorship, and efficiency over homogeneous workplaces with minimal coaching and exhausted capacities.

Amid a strengthening job market, why are jobs in a generally well-respected industry being looked over in favor of other industries? One reason could be the legal industry’s notorious lack of progressiveness. The industry’s technology landscape is one such area of slow growth; its lack of diversity is another.

The legal industry’s long-standing dismissal of technology, while slowly changing, is fairly well known. While legal technology holds enormous potential for law firms, the industry as a whole has been famously slow to adopt modern technologies or meaningfully innovate on the traditional law firm business model. Why? For smaller firms, money can be tight, and solutions can be expensive.

 

The good news is that the legal industry is slowly but surely becoming more receptive to the benefits of evolving its traditional approach to the business and practice of law. Legal technologies continue to offer increased efficiencies to law firms, should they elect to adopt them, and the call for diversity and other cultural improvements within firms and the legal industry more broadly is on the rise.

Those players in the legal industry who are able to recognize prevailing industry trends now will be in the best position to act on them.

 

An inserted graphic from DSC:

 

The Future Ready Lawyer — from Wolters Kluwer

Excerpts:

Leveraging technology as a strategic advantage is characteristics of high-performing businesses and professionals around the world. The same is true for the legal sector. Technology is a differentiator, and will become even more important as legal professionals recognize and leverage the unprecedented insights, capabilities and efficiencies that technology delivers. In addition, the emerging legal ecosystems will demand it, as tech-empowered players outside of the traditional legal profession continue to enter and disrupt the market.

 

Excerpt from the Future Ready Lawyer

 

 

From DSC:
It’s interesting to note how many times the words “technology” (205 times) and/or the word “technologies” (77 times) appear in that report.

 

 

With IP Accelerator, Amazon edges into the legal services arena — from by Robert Ambrogi

Excerpt:

Online retailer Amazon has taken a step into the legal services industry, launching a curated network of IP law firms providing trademark registration services at pre-negotiated rates.

The goal of the new Amazon Intellectual Property Accelerator is to help companies more quickly obtain IP rights for their brands and access to brand-protection features in Amazon’s stores. It specifically targets small- and medium-sized businesses by making it easier and more cost effective for them to protect their ideas.

 

Also see:

Amazon's new IP Accelerator program -- October 2019

 

Big money is betting on legal industry transformation — from forbes.com by Mark Cohen

Excerpts:

Law has been big business for decades, but only recently has significant venture capital, private equity, and entrepreneur money been pumped into the legal sector. Last year saw an eye-popping 718% increase in legal industry investment, and this year’s capital infusion through the third-quarter has already surpassed last year’s $1 billion total and could well double it. Capital is turbocharging customer-centric providers that are leveraging technology, process, new skillsets, and data to transform the legal function and the delivery of legal services.


Teaser alert: what’s to prevent Amazon, Google, or some other tech giant from entering the legal space, creating a global platform, injecting billions into infrastructure and talent, creating a global legal services hub that connects consumers with global legal delivery sources as never before imagined? Short answer: the inclination to do so.

 

Legal delivery has morphed into a three-legged stool supported by legal, technological, and business expertise. 

 

Basic elements of an interactive legal application — from nonprofittechy.com by Quinten Steenhuis

Excerpt:

So, you want to create your first interactive legal application (sometimes also called guided interview or wizard). Congratulations! Whether you are creating the next TurboTax for drafting a will or a blockbuster access to justice app for pro se debtors, there are some standard elements of the application that it will help you to understand, whether you are a developer yourself or managing an outsourced project. This will be the first in a small series of blogs about getting started in interactive app building. As I’ve built these apps both for non-profits and law firms over the last few years, I realized it can help for everyone to share the same vocabulary. This guide applies to one kind of legal app–a linear wizard-like interview that helps a pro se user create a letter, fill out a form, or perhaps complete an intake.

For the most part, these concepts apply whether you are using DocassembleHotDocsA2J AuthorContract Express, or any of a number of different platforms. Of course, they also hold true for platforms built on Docassemble, such as Documate and Community.Lawyer.

 

 

The blinding of justice: Technology, journalism and the law — from thehill.com by Kristian Hammond and Daniel Rodriguez

Excerpts:

The legal profession is in the early stages of a fundamental transformation driven by an entirely new breed of intelligent technologies and it is a perilous place for the profession to be.

If the needs of the law guide the ways in which the new technologies are put into use they can greatly advance the cause of justice. If not, the result may well be profits for those who design and sell the technologies but a legal system that is significantly less just.

We are entering an era of technology that goes well beyond the web. The law is seeing the emergence of systems based on analytics and cognitive computing in areas that until now have been largely immune to the impact of technology. These systems can predict, advise, argue and write and they are entering the world of legal reasoning and decision making.

Unfortunately, while systems built on the foundation of historical data and predictive analytics are powerful, they are also prone to bias and can provide advice that is based on incomplete or imbalanced data.

We are not arguing against the development of such technologies. The key question is who will guide them. The transformation of the field is in its early stages. There is still opportunity to ensure that the best intentions of the law are built into these powerful new systems so that they augment and aid rather than simply replace.

 

From DSC:
This is where we need more collaborations between those who know the law and those who know how to program, as well as other types of technologists.

 

Commentary: Momentum is building to fix our legal system. Let’s seize it. — from sltrib.com by Deno Himonas, Gillian Hadfield and John Lund

Excerpts:

We like to say we are all equal under the law. And in terms of our rights, that may be true, but it’s flat wrong when it comes to access to justice. Each year millions of Americans face a legal world of confusing online privacy policies and employment contracts, painful family or small business disputes, struggles with insurers and service providers, evictions and foreclosures, and more. What unites people, from poor to upper-middle class, is the fact that the vast majority muddle through all of this without any legal help.

Why in a world with so much law do so few have access to affordable legal help? The answer is very simple: lawyers cost too much and yet there’s no good alternative.

Finally, a few states are taking steps to change this.

How bad is the problem? A 2010 study in New York found that 98% of people in court facing eviction, 99% of borrowers in consumer credit matters, and 95% of parents in child support cases were in court without a lawyer.

Lawyers don’t cost too much because they’re greedy. They cost too much because a set of rules that courts and bar associations came up with about a hundred years ago—originally intended to ensure lawyers behaved ethically—forces them to operate in a highly inefficient business model and without the capacity to embed their expertise in technologies that could drive down the cost of legal advice.

 

 

 

From DSC:
The two postings below show the need for more collaboration and the use of teams:


 

The future of law and computational technologies: Two sides of the same coin — from legaltechlever.com by Daniel Linna Jr.

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

An increasing number of lawyers today work with allied professionals to improve processes, better manage projects, embrace data-driven methods, and leverage technology to improve legal services and systems. Legal-services and lawyer regulations are evolving. And basic technologies and AI are slowly making their way into the legal industry, from legal aid organizations and courts to large law firms, corporate legal departments, and governments.

If we are to realize the potential to improve society with computational technologies, law, regulation, and ethical principles must be front and center at every stage, from problem definition, design, data collection, and data cleaning to training, deployment, and monitoring and maintenance of products and systems. To achieve this, technologists and lawyers must collaborate and share a common vocabulary. Lawyers must learn about technology, and technologists must learn about law. Multidisciplinary teams with a shared commitment to law, regulation, and ethics can proactively address today’s AI challenges, and advance our collaborative problem-solving capabilities to address tomorrow’s increasingly complex problems. Lawyers and technologists must work together to create a better future for everyone.

 

From DSC:
As with higher education in general, we need more team-based efforts in the legal realm as well as more TrimTab Groups.

 

 

Excerpts:

Why does this distinction matter? Because law—like so many industries—is undergoing a tectonic shift. It is morphing from a lawyer dominated, practice-centric, labor-intensive guild to a tech-enabled, process and data-driven, multi-disciplinary global industry. The career paths, skills, and expectations of lawyers are changing. So too are how, when, and on what financial terms they are engaged; with whom and from what delivery models they work; their performance metrics, and the resources—human and machine—they collaborate with.  Legal practice is shrinking and the business of delivering legal services is expanding rapidly.

Law is no longer the exclusive province of lawyers. Legal knowledge is not the sole element of legal delivery—business and technological competencies are equally important. It’s a new ballgame—one that most lawyers are unprepared for.

How did we get here and are legal careers  for most a dead end? Spoiler alert: there’s tremendous opportunity in the legal industry. The caveat: all lawyers must have basic business and technological competency whether they pursue practice careers or leverage their legal knowledge as a skill in legal delivery and/or allied professional careers.

Upskilling the legal profession is already a key issue, a requisite for career success. Lawyers must learn new skills like project management, data analytics, deployment of technology, and process design to leverage their legal knowledge. Simply knowing the law will not cut it anymore.

 

From DSC:
I really appreciate the work of the above two men whose articles I’m highlighting here. I continue to learn a lot from them and am grateful for their work.

That said, just like it’s a lot to expect a faculty member (in higher ed) who teaches online to not only be a subject matter expert, but also to be skilled in teaching, web design, graphic design, navigation design, information design, audio design, video editing, etc…it’s a lot to expect for a lawyer to be a skilled lawyer, business person, and technician. I realize that Mark was only saying a basic level of competency…but even that can be difficult to achieve at times. Why? Because people have different skillsets, passions, and interests. One might be a good lawyer, but not a solid technician…or vice versa. One might be a solid professor, but isn’t very good with graphic design. 

 

The Geek in Review Ep. 53 – Makerspaces in Law Schools with Ashley Matthews and Sharon Bradley  — from geeklawblog.com by Greg Lambert & Marlene Gebauer

NOTE: Sharon Bradley was a librarian at
WMU-Cooley before she moved to Georgia.

Excerpt:

Makerspaces are becoming very popular in libraries, and today we talk with two librarians who are ready to bring the collaborative thinking and working spaces into the law school library environment. Ashley Matthews is at George Mason’s Antonin Scalia Law School, and Sharon Bradley is at the University of Georgia School of Law. Both believe there is a great benefit in carving out spaces within the law school library to allow students and faculty the ability to tinker and experiment with their creative sides, and potentially come up with the next big idea in the legal market.

 

Matthews and Bradley think that the law school library environment can be the perfect place to teach law students the analytical skills they’ll need in their practice to truly understand how a legal issue can benefit from technology, and how to issue spot, reason, analyze, and resolve legal issues more effectively with technology.

 

To Tweet, or Not to Tweet. That Is the Question (for Law Professors) — from law.com by Karen Sloan
The number of law professors using Twitter has increased more than 500% since 2012, according to a new census.

Excerpt:

Law professors are trained to share their thoughts in lengthy, exhaustively footnoted journal articles. So it makes sense that the legal academy as a whole was initially reluctant to embrace Twitter, a medium that forces users to be concise and where the conversation can be bare-knuckled.

But it seems law professors are finally coming around to Twitter. A recent census of law professors on Twitter found that at least 1,310 are on the platform, which represents an increase of more than 500% from 2012, when just several hundred were tweeting.

More law professors have jumped on the Twitter bandwagon as they have watched early adopters use the platform in a variety of ways: From promoting their own work or offering commentary on the news of the day to connecting with others in their field or even engaging with the general public, said Bridget Crawford, a professor at Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University, who compiled the data.

 

Also see:

Law360 has learned that the Chicago Bar Foundation and Chicago Bar Association plan to launch a joint task force Oct. 7 to explore how state attorney regulations could be modified to encourage more innovation in the legal sector and ultimately increase access to justice.

 

 

A momentous change in the legal industry garnering little attention — from forbes.com by Hendrik Pretorius

Excerpt:

The needed evolution in legal service delivery may receive a big push in the near future. Surprisingly, this issue seems to be flying under the radar for many in the legal industry.

The California Bar, through its Task Force on Access Through Innovation of Legal Services, created in 2018, seeks to “identify possible regulatory changes to enhance the delivery of, and access to, legal services through the use of technology, including artificial intelligence and online legal service delivery models.”

A report commissioned by this task force stated that “[m]odifying the ethics rules to facilitate greater collaboration across law and other disciplines will (1) drive down costs; (2) improve access; (3) increase predictability and transparency of legal services; (4) aid the growth of new businesses; and (5) elevate the reputation of the legal profession.”

 

Herein lies one of the fundamental challenges within the legal industry: viewing the law as the delivery of a legal product, and understanding that this delivery needs to revolve around the user, not the lawyer. There is a real and growing divide between the current model of legal service delivery put forth by a traditional law firm model and what the public wants. Consumers have raised the bar based on what they are experiencing in interacting with other businesses in other industries.

I love what many of these legal tech companies are doing: They are applying standards from outside the entrenched legal industry and changing entire delivery models. This should be a real wake-up call. But how can law firms truly compete and play a role?

 

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