Wrongfully accused by an algorithm- from the New York Times

Wrongfully accused by an algorithm — from nytimes.com by Kashmir Hill

Excerpt:

On a Thursday afternoon in January, Robert Julian-Borchak Williams was in his office at an automotive supply company when he got a call from the Detroit Police Department telling him to come to the station to be arrested. He thought at first that it was a prank.

An hour later, when he pulled into his driveway in a quiet subdivision in Farmington Hills, Mich., a police car pulled up behind, blocking him in. Two officers got out and handcuffed Mr. Williams on his front lawn, in front of his wife and two young daughters, who were distraught. The police wouldn’t say why he was being arrested, only showing him a piece of paper with his photo and the words “felony warrant” and “larceny.”

His wife, Melissa, asked where he was being taken. “Google it,” she recalls an officer replying.

“Is this you?” asked the detective.

The second piece of paper was a close-up. The photo was blurry, but it was clearly not Mr. Williams. He picked up the image and held it next to his face.

“No, this is not me,” Mr. Williams said. “You think all black men look alike?”

 

Also relevant/see:

What a machine learning tool that turns Obama white can (and can’t) tell us about AI bias

 

Majority of minority female lawyers consider leaving law; ABA study explains why — from abajournal.com by Debra Cassens Weiss

Excerpt:

Seventy percent of female minority lawyers report leaving or considering leaving the legal profession, according to an ABA report on the challenges that they face.

The statistic isn’t statistically significant because the researchers couldn’t find enough women of color in longtime practice to conduct the needed analysis, according to a preface to the reportLeft Out and Left Behind: The Hurdles, Hassles, and Heartaches of Achieving Long-Term Legal Careers for Women of Color.

A June 22 ABA press release is here.

“Women of color have the highest rate of attrition from law firms as they continue to face firm cultures where their efforts and contributions are neither sufficiently recognized nor rewarded,” according to the report.

From DSC:
This is discouraging news. Crud.

 

COVID-19 Intensifies Need to Tackle Digital Accessibility — from campustechnology.com by By Glenda Sims
More learning content than ever before has migrated online, bringing accessibility concerns to the forefront. Here’s how higher ed institutions are making progress toward equitable access.

Excerpt:

Accessibility lawsuits in education are not new. However, with colleges and universities undertaking their own digital transformations (moving more content and services online), lawsuits targeted at equitable access to physical facilities (like bathrooms) have logically expanded to digital offerings for students relying on assistive technologies to access them. The current COVID-19 crisis is likely to exacerbate this, as more learning content than ever before has migrated online in these unprecedented times. Persons with disabilities will demand nothing less than completely equitable access, particularly when it comes to their safety. While many higher ed institutions still have much to do for their accessibility initiatives, there have been many promising developments…

 

 

Law on trial — What the legal industry can do to defend it — from forbes.com by Mark Cohen

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

How can the legal industry help to restore the rule of law and public confidence in the legal system?

Some Recommendations
The profession must align with the industry to restore public confidence in the legal system. That means, among other things, that lawyers must recognize—as physicians do—that “it takes a village” to battle a crisis. Here are some recommendations how to do it.

1. Acknowledge the problem
2. Collaborate
3. Focus on the Vast, Underserved Retail Market Segment
4. Embrace Diversity
5. Modernize Legal Education and Training
6 Reimagine Courts
7. Think Globally
8. Use Influence to Create Just Laws and Enforce them Equally

 

IBM, Amazon, and Microsoft abandon law enforcement face recognition market — from which-50.com by Andrew Birmingham

Excerpt:

Three global tech giants — IBM, Amazon, and Microsoft — have all announced that they will no longer sell their face recognition technology to police in the USA, though each announcement comes with its own nuance.

The new policy comes in the midst of ongoing national demonstrations in the US about police brutality and more generally the subject of racial inequality in the country under the umbrella of the Black Lives Matter movement.

From DSC:
While I didn’t read the fine print (so I don’t know all of the “nuances” they are referring to) I see this as good news indeed! Well done whomever at those companies paused, and thought…

 

…just because we can…

just because we can does not mean we should


…doesn’t mean we should.

 

just because we can does not mean we should

Addendum on 6/18/20:

  • Why Microsoft and Amazon are calling on Congress to regulate facial recognition tech — from finance.yahoo.com by Daniel HowleyExcerpt:
    The technology, which can be used to identify suspects in things like surveillance footage, has faced widespread criticism after studies found it can be biased against women and people of color. And according to at least one expert, there needs to be some form of regulation put in place if these technologies are going to be used by law enforcement agencies.“If these technologies were to be deployed, I think you cannot do it in the absence of legislation,” explained Siddharth Garg, assistant professor of computer science and engineering at NYU Tandon School of Engineering, told Yahoo Finance.
 

Blockchain Can Disrupt Higher Education Today, Global Labor Market Tomorrow — from cointelegraph.com by Andrew Singer
Blockchain can play its part in the education sector — record-keeping in 2–3 years and then adoption by the labor market?

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

In the post-pandemic world, individuals will need to seize ownership and control of their educational credentials — documents like degrees and transcripts — from schools, universities and governments. That notion received key support last week from the American Council on Education in a study funded by the United States Department of Education focusing on the use of blockchain in higher education.

“Blockchain, in particular, holds promise to create more efficient, durable connections between education and work,” wrote Ted Mitchell, the president of ACE, in the foreword to the study published on June 8, adding: “In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, learners will be more mobile, moving in and out of formal education as their job, health, and family situations change.”

A key theme of the report is personal data agency — i.e., how “distributed ledger technologies [DLT] can ‘democratize’ data and empower individuals with agency over their personal information.”

 

Blockchain has been described as a hammer in search of a nail. If so, academic credentialing appears to be as obvious a nail as one can find. The current international trade in fake academic degrees, after all, is “staggering,” as the BBC reported, and with a global labor market increasingly mobile, the world could badly use a decentralized, borderless, tamper-free ledger of verifiable credentials — both for education and the broader labor market.

 

 

 

‘Unauthorized Practice Of Law’ Rules Promote Racial Injustice — from law.com by Rohan Pavuluri with thanks to Daniel Rodriguez for his Tweet on this

Excerpts:

A less discussed, yet still pernicious, set of policies that must change are the rules lawyers use to regulate their own profession.

Known as unauthorized practice of law, or UPL, rules, every state in America has policies that grant lawyers a monopoly on providing legal advice, prohibiting professionals who are not lawyers from providing meaningful legal assistance. These policies promote racial inequity and guarantee that black Americans don’t have equal opportunities and equal rights under the law.

“It should come as no surprise that only 5% of lawyers are black.[3]”

To reform UPL doesn’t mean choosing between regulation and no regulation of the legal industry. It’s a choice between maintaining a status quo where black people are disproportionately excluded from both providing and receiving assistance and a system where we re-regulate the legal industry to make it more inclusive, increasing the supply of vetted, qualified helpers available.

Also see:

 

Good cop/Bad cop — from LinkedIn.com by Razel Jones, a former colleague at Calvin College (now Calvin University). Razel was a great man and I’m very glad that I got the chance to work with him.

Excerpt:

I usually am very solution-focused and full of ideas for how we can try to make things better… but, these last few days, I’m empty. More than the last few days…I’m threatened. I’m hunted. I’m labeled. I’m vulnerable. I’m unsafe. I’m unprotected. I’m disrespected. I’m undervalued. I’m dehumanized. But, most of all… I’m tired.

 

2020 Wolters Kluwer Future Ready Lawyer: Performance Drivers and Change in the Legal Sector — from globenewswire.com

Excerpt:

Top Trends and Readiness
Lawyers predicted pressure from a series of trends expected to impact their organizations over the next three years and technology topped the list. The top trends expected to have the most impact are:

  • Increasing Importance of Legal Technology – 76%
  • Meeting Changing Client / Leadership Expectations – 74%
  • Emphasis on Improved Efficiency / Productivity – 73%
  • Ability to Acquire and Retain Talent – 73%
  • Coping with Increased Volume and Complexity of Information – 72%
 

From DSC:
I can’t help but reflect on how slippery the slope is when we start talking about using drones — especially as sponsored and used by governments, including our government here in the U.S. Consider the following from The Future Institute.

The Future Institute Today -- discussing the slippery slope of using drones

Excerpt:

Eyes in the sky
As nationwide racial justice protests continue, some journalists and protestors have noticed a new addition to the armed police officers and National Guard troops: a drone flying a hexagon-shaped route 20,000 feet above the streets in Minneapolis. The drone, flown by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, is called a Predator, and is a piece of military technology used for identifying and targeting terrorists overseas. Lately, it’s become a more common sight domestically.

Last month, a number of New Yorkers witnessed a drone floating above them, barking orders to follow social distancing guidelines. The mysterious drone wasn’t official police equipment, but rather a privately owned device piloted by a man named Xavier Arthur in Queens, who was frustrated that people weren’t following stay-at-home orders. He claimed to represent the “Anti-Covid-19 Volunteer Drone Task Force. 

It’s not an isolated incident. During the outbreak, drones have been used extensively to monitor residents and encourage them to stay indoors, to inspect traffic stops and hospitals, and to spray cities with disinfectants. In Paris and Mumbai, they’re patrolling social distancing violators. In China, a video clip went viral, showing a drone breaking up a mahjong game—residents had defied local orders that they stay indoors. Drones with infrared cameras also allegedly flew overhead and checked for people with fevers.

Advanced drones can pinpoint certain behaviors in crowds from high altitudes, recognize and automatically follow targets, and communicate with each other or to command centers on the ground with remarkable precision and low latency. The pandemic and protests are playing to the strengths of an emerging real-time aerial surveillance ecosystem.

3 Things You Should Know

  1. The Flying Internet of Things is taking off.
  2. New drones can self-destruct.
  3. Shareable drones may drive growth in the industry.
 

litera tv dot com -- Daniel Linna and Bob Ambrogi's conversation on June 3, 2020

WEDNESDAY | 6.3 | Law Insights with Bob Ambrogi and Daniel Linna, Director of Law and Technology Initiatives, Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law

Notes (emphasis DSC):

  • Trying to build community, collaborate, work together
  • How do you manage a team remotely? How build community online?
  • Spontaneous interactions still needed
  • In what ways does the online ecosystem ADD to what we are doing?
  • Jury trial – online; equalizer for those involved in trial; “all in same space on the screen”
  • Start with some basic/smaller things – landlord/tenant
  • Racism going on heavily this week – a second pandemic
  • Developing a quality movement in law (Linna)
  • We need quality metrics and we need to measure the value being provided. What makes something effective, high-quality, and valuable? Now apply that thinking to the delivery of legal services.
  • Project mgmt / quality movement – less defects, etc. in 1980’s / lean thinking / 6 sigma in GE / but haven’t seen this in the area of law
  • Empiricism in law – 100 years ago medicine and law were in the same spot; since then medicine started more testing, empirical work, data-driven practices; but law didn’t
  • Daniel Linna’s blog – https://www.legaltechlever.com/
  • Can we come up with metrics?
  • Dan worked with a lawyer-assisted program in Lansing, MI – what happened? What was duration of cases? Data-driven thinking; measure; make it more of a science
  • Bob asked isn’t law less scientific and perhaps more art than a science?
  • What kinds of metrics are we talking about in litigation?
  • Contracts – can we figure out what adds value and what makes a contract “better?” (Insert from DSC: Better for whom though?)
  • What actually matters to the client? Clauses that lawyers think that are important, businesspeople don’t think are important. Risk mitigation is not all the client thinks about.
  • Incomprehensible contracts – too hard to understand
  • Natural language generation – what inputs do we need? We don’t want many contracts to be the dataset that an algorithm gets trained on.
  • (Insert from DSC: Daniel relayed some information that reminded me of Clayton Christensen’s disruptive thinking: 80% of impoverished folks get NOTHING. Totally disconnected. Perhaps we don’t need perfection, but even something is much better than nothing. For example, provide an online legal aid booklet to those who are trying to represent themselves.)
  • Go for low-hanging fruit for more empirical
  • Ambrogi: How does the work you are doing impact access to justice (#A2J)? How could quality movement impact police procedures? Is there applicability in terms of what you are writing about?
  • Human-Centered Design – uncovering biases. Why would people TRUST the criminal system if they can’t trust the CIVIL system? Perhaps if landlords thought differently. Disconnected.
  • Innovate, improve, project management;
  • Way decisions are made vary greatly; need more open data from our courts; lack of transparency from courts.
  • Leadership – commitment to resolve issues. Lacking vision. What do we want our legal systems to look like/act like?

Call to action:

  • Have or develop a quality mindset
  • Leadership needs to paint a vision for what the future looks like
  • Training around legal operations
  • How to measure quality and value – be more data-driven

We need disruption AND continuous improvement – not one or the other.
–Daniel Linna

 

Homework gap a growing focus for nonprofits, lawmakers as closures persist — from educationdive.com by Shawna De La Rosa

Excerpt:

Dive Brief:

  • After declaring success in the goal of connecting most schools to fast, reliable internet, nonprofit EducationSuperHighway is turning its attention to the “homework gap,” according to The Hechinger Report. More than 9 million students still lack internet access at home.
  • Evan Marwell, CEO and founder of EducationSuperHighway, said school closures triggered a change in attitude about the importance of home internet service for students. Now, some lawmakers indicate they are willing to spend billions of dollars to bridge that gap.
  • The organization launched digitalbridgeK12.org to provide detailed information on the problem, as well as recommendations for policymakers and school leaders, and advice and best practices on topics like how to collect data on connectivity at the district level or purchase in bulk.
 

ABA President Judy Perry Martinez on the ABA and the Profession in a Pandemic [Ambrogi]

ABA President Judy Perry Martinez on the ABA and the Profession in a Pandemic — from lawsitesblog.com by Robert Ambrogi

Excerpt:

We talked about how she and the ABA have responded to the pandemic, including with her appointment of the Task Force on Legal Needs Arising Out of the 2020 Pandemic and, just last week, the Coordinating Group on Practice Forward. We also discussed her thoughts on the pandemic’s impacts on the profession, the justice system, and access to justice.

 

Young and in Legal Tech: Are You Sure You Want to Make the Leap? — from law.com by Zach Warren
Because of a changing law firm model, starting a legal technology company is becoming more attractive than ever for young law firm grads and associates. But legal tech founders say that while there are benefits, a smooth landing isn’t guaranteed

Excerpt:

Listening is the primary way to help balance on a precarious tightrope, Rubin adds. “It’s a delicate line to walk when you’re starting a company between being humble and really knowing that you’ve never started a company before and you haven’t been practicing for 30 years. There are a lot of things you don’t know. But also having conviction that you have an idea that you really stick to and that you believe can be a serious changemaker in an industry that has struggled with change.”

 

From DSC:
When reading the article below…Wayne Gretzky’s quote comes to mind here:

The legal industry needs to skate to where the puck is going to be.

ANALYSIS: The New Normal—Law Firms May Never Be the Same — from news.bloomberglaw.comby Sara Lord

Excerpt:

In our recent 2020 Legal Operations Survey, Bloomberg Law asked organizations including law firms, corporations, non-profit organizations, and academic institutions, a number of questions relating to their use of data and metrics. Included in our survey were questions relating to whether law firms measure the value of legal operations and legal technology. Responses indicated that two-thirds of law firms measure legal operations value and nearly one-quarter of law firms using legal technologies measure the value of that legal technology.

Firms think clients expect increased use of legal tech for efficiency

 

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