After 40 Years of Constant Change, What’s Next for the Legal Industry?  — from law.com by Dan Packel
Few could have anticipated the dramatic shift in scope and scale the industry has undergone since The American Lawyer’s founding 40 years ago. We asked some of the law’s brightest thinkers what we can expect over the next 10.

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

Technology and Upheaval
While it’s easy to conclude that the technological revolution that’s already been unleashed will continue to drive transformation over the next 10 years, it’s harder to pinpoint how.

Expect more and more tasks to become subject to automation—not just contracts and e-discovery but also areas like trademarks and due diligence for mergers, for starters.

Technology and artificial intelligence on their own are noteworthy, but what’s more compelling is the impact they will have on how firms are structured.

“Everything that can be taken out of the hands of subject-matter experts and handed over to the process experts and technologists will be,” says Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe Chairman and CEO Mitch Zuklie. “There will be far fewer associates sitting in rooms with documents and more strategic partnerships among law firms and legal tech providers.”

This transition could help chip away at the supremacy of the billable hour.

Not only will technology move up the value chain for litigation, it will also emerge as a greater player on the deal side. Jae Um, director of pricing strategy at Baker McKenzie, expects to see a much greater focus on compliance and regulatory technology in the next five years.

As AI solutions, which depend upon machine learning, are slowly deployed in the marketplace, their efficacy will inevitably grow.

 

How about a little wild speculation to wrap this up?  With more nonlawyer specialists finding professional homes in law firms, it’s a short leap to hybrids between law firms and professional services operations. Imagine consultants and accountants working together with lawyers and technologists to solve clients’ increasingly complex problems. And what about a high-profile merger between a Big Four firm and a global law firm? I wouldn’t rule it out.

 

 

Western Michigan’s Law School Cuts Tuition — from insidehighered.com by Paul Fain

Excerpt:

While several highly selective law schools for the first time are charging more than $100,000 per year in total cost of attendance, Western Michigan University‘s Cooley Law School this week announcedthat it was reducing tuition rates beginning next year from $1,750 per credit hour to $1,375, a decline of 21 percent.

 

Cooley Law School to lower tuition by 21%, close Auburn Hills campus — from mlive.com by Julie Mack

Excerpt:

Western Michigan University Cooley Law School plans to cut its tuition by 21% in fall 2020, close its campus in Auburn Hills in December 2020 and “reduce the footprint” of its Lansing campus.

No staff reductions are planned, a press release said.

The school’s Board of Directors approved the “bold plan” this week to “sustain and strengthen the law school’s access mission” and “current and future campus efficiencies,” the press release said.

 

Disclosure from DSC:
The WMU-Cooley Law School is where I’ve worked since March 2018. I’m very happy to see this reduction in tuition! I’d like to see this type of price reduction occur throughout higher education.

I have learned a lot in my time at Cooley, and I have a lot more to learn. But I just wanted to say that I’m so impressed with the people who work at Cooley! They are a very welcoming, classy, caring, extremely knowledgeable, talented, mission-driven group of people. They have developed an organization that works to positively change the world and provide greater access to justice.

 

Uh-oh: Silicon Valley is building a Chinese-style social credit system — from fastcompany.com by Mike Elgan
In China, scoring citizens’ behavior is official government policy. U.S. companies are increasingly doing something similar, outside the law.

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

Have you heard about China’s social credit system? It’s a technology-enabled, surveillance-based nationwide program designed to nudge citizens toward better behavior. The ultimate goal is to “allow the trustworthy to roam everywhere under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step,” according to the Chinese government.

In place since 2014, the social credit system is a work in progress that could evolve by next year into a single, nationwide point system for all Chinese citizens, akin to a financial credit score. It aims to punish for transgressions that can include membership in or support for the Falun Gong or Tibetan Buddhism, failure to pay debts, excessive video gaming, criticizing the government, late payments, failing to sweep the sidewalk in front of your store or house, smoking or playing loud music on trains, jaywalking, and other actions deemed illegal or unacceptable by the Chinese government.

IT CAN HAPPEN HERE
Many Westerners are disturbed by what they read about China’s social credit system. But such systems, it turns out, are not unique to China. A parallel system is developing in the United States, in part as the result of Silicon Valley and technology-industry user policies, and in part by surveillance of social media activity by private companies.

Here are some of the elements of America’s growing social credit system.

 

If current trends hold, it’s possible that in the future a majority of misdemeanors and even some felonies will be punished not by Washington, D.C., but by Silicon Valley. It’s a slippery slope away from democracy and toward corporatocracy.

 

From DSC:
Who’s to say what gains a citizen points and what subtracts from their score? If one believes a certain thing, is that a plus or a minus? And what might be tied to someone’s score? The ability to obtain food? Medicine/healthcare? Clothing? Social Security payments? Other?

We are giving a huge amount of power to a handful of corporations…trust comes into play…at least for me. Even internally, the big tech co’s seem to be struggling as to the ethical ramifications of what they’re working on (in a variety of areas). 

Is the stage being set for a “Person of Interest” Version 2.0?

 

5 Reasons Why BU’s $24K MBA Is A Big Deal — from insidehighered.com by Joshua Kim
Why I’m intrigued.

Excerpt:

The newly announced $24K BU MBA, created in partnership with edX, is a big deal.

Here are 5 reasons why:
#1: The Evolving Connection Between Status and Price:

The Boston University Questrom School of Business is ranked in the top 50 global business schools by US News, in the top 70 by the Economist. Questrom is a brand name business school in a market where the value of the MBA is directly proportional to the status of the institution.

Today, status and price are tightly correlated in the postsecondary market. This is especially true in professional education. Student prices are not set at costs, but at perceived value.

BU should be given credit for challenging this status quo. I suspect that the Questrom $24K MBA will end up improving BU’s place in the global MBA rankings.

 

What is different now is that it will not only be enthusiasm for learning science that will drive schools (and MBA programs) to improve their programs. It will be the market. 

 

Analysis: Teachers’ out-of-pocket supply expenses highest in California, Michigan — from educationdive.com by Linda Jacobson

Dive brief:

  • At $664, California teachers spend more of their own money on supplies for their classrooms than their colleagues in any other states, closely followed by teachers in Michigan, who spend $628 for which they are not reimbursed by their school districts, according to an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute.
  • Nationally, teachers spend an average of $459, with those in North Dakota spending the least at $327. The state-by-state data is drawn from the National Center for Education Statistics’ 2011–12 Schools and Staffing Survey and adjusted for inflation.
  • The data also shows teachers in high-poverty schools spend more of their own money on supplies for their students than those in low-poverty schools, and that this amount has increased over time, from $481 in 2011-12 to $523 in the 2015-16 school year.
 

Amazon, Microsoft, ‘putting world at risk of killer AI’: study — from news.yahoo.com by Issam Ahmed

Excerpt:

Washington (AFP) – Amazon, Microsoft and Intel are among leading tech companies putting the world at risk through killer robot development, according to a report that surveyed major players from the sector about their stance on lethal autonomous weapons.

Dutch NGO Pax ranked 50 companies by three criteria: whether they were developing technology that could be relevant to deadly AI, whether they were working on related military projects, and if they had committed to abstaining from contributing in the future.

“Why are companies like Microsoft and Amazon not denying that they’re currently developing these highly controversial weapons, which could decide to kill people without direct human involvement?” said Frank Slijper, lead author of the report published this week.

Addendum on 8/23/19:

 

Gartner: Top Wireless Tech Trends to Watch — from campustechnology.com by Rhea Kelly

Excerpts:

The research firm identified 10 key wireless trends worth watching as the technology continues to develop over the next five years:

  • Vehicle-to-everything (V2X) wireless. This is the technology that will allow conventional cars, self-driving cars and the road infrastructure to all share information and status data.
  • Wireless sensing. This involves using the absorption and reflection of wireless signals as sensor data for radar tracking purposes. As an example, Gartner pointed to wireless sensing as an indoor radar system for robots and drones.
 

Google brings AI to studying with Socratic — from zdnet.com by Stephanie Condon
Ahead of the new school year, Google is re-launching a mobile learning app it acquired last year.

Excerpt:

Google this week started rolling out a revamped version of a mobile learning app, called Socratic, that the tech giant acquired last year. The updated app, with new machine learning-powered features, coincides with the start of the school year, as well as other Google for Education initiatives.

Socratic aims to help both high school and university students in their studies outside of the classroom. If students need help answering a study question, they can now use the Socratic app to ask a question with their voice, or to take a picture of a question in their study materials. The app will then find relevant material from across the web.

 

Also see:

  • The School of Tomorrow Will Revolve Around AI — from datafloq.com
    Excerpt:
    We live in exponential times, and merely having a digital strategy focused on continuous innovation is no longer enough to thrive in a constantly changing world. To transform an organisation and contribute to building a secure and rewarding networked society, collaboration among employees, customers, business units and even things is increasingly becoming key.Especially with the availability of new technologies such as artificial intelligence, organisations now, more than ever before, need to focus on bringing together the different stakeholders to co-create the future. Big data empowers customers and employees, the Internet of Things will create vast amounts of data and connects all devices, while artificial intelligence creates new human-machine interactions. In today’s world, every organisation is a data organisation, and AI is required to make sense of it all.

Addendum on 8/23/19

 

Average Student Loan Debt Statistics by School by State 2019 — from lendedu.com

Excerpt:

For the fourth consecutive year, LendEDU is pleased to once again publish our annual Student Loan Debt by School by State Report, an in-depth analysis of student loan debt figures at nearly 1,000 four-year private and public higher education institutions across the United States.

While the figures change each year, the narrative certainly does not; student loan debt continues to be a growing issue in the U.S. and at nearly all schools in the country as the cost of college continues to rise.

Nationally, outstanding student loan debt sits at $1.52 trillion, making it the second largest form of consumer debt trailing only mortgages.

On an individual scale, the average borrower from the Class of 2018 received their diploma and left campus with $28,565 in student loan debt, up from $28,288 that was owed by the average Class of 2017 borrower.

Because of these eye-popping numbers that have now elevated the issue of student loan debt to the national scale as evident by the recent 2020 Democratic debates, LendEDU places tremendous value on the annual Student Loan Debt by School by State Report.

 

Online programs fueling boot camp sector’s growth in 2019 — from educationdive.com by Hallie Busta

Dive Brief (emphasis DSC):

  • Growth in online programs is expected to drive gains in the boot camp sector this year, according to an annual survey from Course Report about the market for non-college boot camps.
  • More than 23,000 graduates across 110 boot camp providers are expected for 2019, a figure that is up 50% year-over-year. Online programs are expected to grow at more than three times that pace to reach 5,519 graduates in 2019 across 14 providers. Course Report counts only full-time, synchronous programs toward its online tally.
  • Boot camps are increasingly looking to companies and colleges as partners, with the latter often including credit-bearing options, Liz Eggleston, co-founder of Course Report, told Education Dive in an interview.
 

AI is in danger of becoming too male — new research — from singularityhub.com by Juan Mateos-Garcia and Joysy John

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

But current AI systems are far from perfect. They tend to reflect the biases of the data used to train them and to break down when they face unexpected situations.

So do we really want to turn these bias-prone, brittle technologies into the foundation stones of tomorrow’s economy?

One way to minimize AI risks is to increase the diversity of the teams involved in their development. As research on collective decision-making and creativity suggests, groups that are more cognitively diverse tend to make better decisions. Unfortunately, this is a far cry from the situation in the community currently developing AI systems. And a lack of gender diversity is one important (although not the only) dimension of this.

A review published by the AI Now Institute earlier this year showed that less than 20 percent of the researchers applying to prestigious AI conferences are women, and that only a quarter of undergraduates studying AI at Stanford and the University of California at Berkeley are female.

 


From DSC:
My niece just left a very lucrative programming job and managerial role at Microsoft after working there for several years. As a single woman, she got tired of fighting the culture there. 

It was again a reminder to me that there are significant ramifications to the cultures of the big tech companies…especially given the power of these emerging technologies and the growing influence they are having on our culture.


Addendum on 8/20/19:

  • Google’s Hate Speech Detection A.I. Has a Racial Bias Problem — from fortunes.com by Jonathan Vanian
    Excerpt:
    A Google-created tool that uses artificial intelligence to police hate speech in online comments on sites like the New York Times has become racially biased, according to a new study. The tool, developed by Google and a subsidiary of its parent company, often classified comments written in the African-American vernacular as toxic, researchers from the University of Washington, Carnegie Mellon, and the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence said in a paper presented in early August at the Association for Computational Linguistics conference in Florence, Italy.
    .
  • On the positive side of things:
    Number of Female Students, Students of Color Tackling Computer Science AP on the Rise — from thejournal.com
 

Take a tour of Google Earth with speakers of 50 different indigenous languages — from fastcompany.com by Melissa Locker

Excerpt:

After the United Nations declared 2019 the International Year of Indigenous Languages, Google decided to help draw attention to the indigenous languages spoken around the globe and perhaps help preserve some of the endangered ones too. To that end, the company recently launched its first audio-driven collection, a new Google Earth tour complete with audio recordings from more than 50 indigenous language speakers from around the world.

 

 

A reckoning for 2U, and OPMs? — from insidehighered.com by Lindsay McKenzie
After online program management company 2U talked openly about its challenges, the company’s stock plummeted. Analysts say the company, and others like it, are down but not out.

Excerpt:

An hour before Chip Paucek, CEO and co-founder of 2U, held an investor call late Tuesday afternoon [on 7/30/19] , the online program management company’s stock was valued at $36.50. Over the next 24 hours, as investors responded to the news he delivered, its stock plunged to $12.80 — a decrease of almost 65 percent.

In that investor call, Paucek delivered a set of messages that wouldn’t have surprised many who watch the online education space closely. Online program management is a difficult business to be in. Online education is increasingly competitive, student acquisition and marketing costs are going up, and the regulatory landscape is becoming more complex.

Offering hybrid or fee-for-service options is something many OPM companies already do, but 2U has long been resistant to this change. It’s a significant shift in strategy, said Daniel Pianko, co-founder and managing director of University Ventures.

 

There has been long-running disagreement about whether fee for service or revenue sharing is the better option for institutions, said Pianko. “What’s really interesting is that 2U went from being the strongest proponent of the revenue share forever camp to effectively embracing the future of fee for service,” he said. “With the 2U move, we would expect a rapid move toward fee for service across the board.”

 

Also see:

 

 “How can technology be used at scale to address the massive re-skilling that’s going to be needed in the workforce going forward?”

— Kelly Fuller, a director at BMO Capital Markets who covers the ed tech sector

 

A Snapshot of Instructional Design: Talking Points for a Field in Transition — from er.educause.edu by Whitney Kilgore, Patrice Torcivia and Laura Gogia

Excerpt:

The resurgence of learning engineering as a concept and professional role in higher education has exacerbated tensions within the field of instructional design related to job titles, responsibilities, and position within academic institutions.

 

“World-class instructional designers can help one institution differentiate itself from others in the online learning market. I think that realization is driving the conversation on instructional design in many institutions.”

“Today, we need instructional designers who are equally fluent in learning design, faculty professional development, research methods, and technology,” Bowen elaborated. “They must be able to partner with faculty to create, experiment, and publish innovative approaches to teaching and learning. Unfortunately, this looks a lot different than what we have in many instructional design units right now.”

Kyle Bowen, director of innovation at Penn State

 

How tech is helping courtroom newbies become virtual pros — from law360.com by Brandon Lowrey

Excerpt:

You walk into a courtroom and a woman strides toward you with an outstretched hand, rattling off details about a new case. There’s a settlement conference this afternoon, you learn — and you’re going to be there representing your new client.

If you don’t know who this person is, just look at the words hovering over her head: “Supervising Attorney.” Nervous because you’ve never been in a courtroom before? Don’t worry — you still haven’t.

This is how a virtual-reality training video begins for some attorneys who have volunteered to handle pro bono renter-landlord cases through the San Francisco Bar Association.

They don virtual reality goggles to prepare for their first courtroom experiences. Harvard Law Access to Justice Lab researchers hope that the program will embolden attorneys who’ve only worked in front of a computer screen rather than a judge to volunteer at pro bono clinics to help out in the courtroom.

This can be a terrifying prospect for some attorneys, and it’s a big reason why many wash out when they discover what’s expected of them.

 

The program in San Francisco is one of several planned studies to see whether a 15-minute virtual reality experience might make attorneys usually holed up in cubicles more willing to take on pro bono work and, when they do, win better outcomes for their clients. If it works, it could become a more widely used tool used to prepare attorneys in legal-aid settings and beyond.

 

Also see:

 

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