Technology

We’ve written a few times recently about the importance of ECPA reform, to bring a woefully out of date law into the 21st century. Specifically, we’ve urged people to sign this White House petition in favor of ECPA reform. That petition closes soon, and it’s still a bit short of the 100,000 goal.

Why is this important to you? Because, without it, it’s much easier for the government to snoop on your emails without a warrant. What people want is for emails and regular mail to be treated the same, which is simply not the case today.

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Instead of going after actual terrorists, the government has been investigating innocent people and violating their civil and constitutional rights in the process.

– Jeffrey Kantor, a former government contractor employee, who alleges in a federal lawsuit that he’s being stalked by the government after accidentally searching for “How do I build a bomb?” on Google. Kantor claims he was trying to search for “How do I build a radio-controlled airplane?” but that the search engine’s autocomplete function backfired on him.

And no, it’s not about lowering their reversal rate in the Supreme Court. In fact, in recent years the Sixth Circuit has surpassed the Ninth Circuit as the most-reversed appeals court in SCOTUS. (Veteran Supreme Court litigator Tom Goldstein also pointed this out at our ATL reception with him a few weeks ago.)

So how can you help out the Ninth Circuit? It’s a very easy and simple request, sent to us from Chief Judge Alex Kozinski….

(Please note the UPDATE at the end of this post.)

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Law firms certainly have an interest in protecting their reputations from all threats foreign and domestic. By domestic, of course, we mean the damage that a lawyer can cause by posting dick picks on any of the multiple social media platforms out there. Social media snafus can reveal professional lapses or dangerous biases.

And if a lawyer embarrasses themselves on the Internet, there are people with high-profile, industry-leading publications that might just write about it.

But social media policing can also degenerate into paranoid intrusions into the private lives of lawyers. One firm has a social media policy that reads like the PATRIOT Act — at least to the extent it seems to provide the firm open-ended authority to govern the social media profiles of its lawyers….

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Sarah Jones

* After its patent battle in the courts, Apple wants Samsung to pay for a portion of MoFo’s legal fees. When you think of it, $15.7 million is a rather piddling amount when full freight is $60 million. [The Recorder]

* Say goodbye to your pensions! As it turns out, law review articles aren’t so useless after all. Detroit’s foray into Chapter 9 eligibility is the brainchild of a Jones Day partner and associate duo. [Am Law Daily]

* It must be really stressful to plan a wedding when your defamation victory is on appeal to the Sixth Circuit. The latest chapter in the Sarah Jones v. TheDirty.com case could mean curtains for online speech. [AP]

* When it comes to their credit ratings, stand-alone law schools are getting screwed due to their inability to put asses in their empty seats. Four out of five schools profiled could be in big trouble. Which ones? [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* “You need to not dress like that.” TMZ’s attorney, Jason Beckerman, is an alumnus of Kirkland & Ellis, and he was quickly advised by a producer that he needed to lose his lawyer duds. [California Lawyer]

Lindsay Lohan, everyone’s favorite train-wreck, sure seems to come up in the world of intellectual property an awful lot. I’m not sure if this is because she has some over-inflated sense of entitlement, or if she’s just the devil-incarnate here to entertain me personally, but she’s gotten angry about being mocked in music, angry about a talking baby being named Lindsay (and being a “milkaholic”), and angry at the invention of the video camera for showing her stealing stuff that didn’t belong to her.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lindsay Lohan Is Reportedly Asking Her Lawyers About Going After GTA5 For Non-Portrayal”

“What a person knowingly exposes to the public, even in his own home or office, is not a subject of Fourth Amendment protection . . . But what he seeks to preserve as private, even in an area accessible to the public, may be constitutionally protected.”

Katz v. United States

“’But who wants to be watched all the time?’

‘I do. I want to be seen. I want proof I existed [ . . . ] Most people do. Most people would trade everything they know, everyone they know — they’d trade it all to know they’ve been seen, and acknowledged, that they might even be remembered. We all know we die. We all know the world is too big for us to be significant. So all we have is the hope of being seen, or heard, even for a moment.”

The Circle, by Dave Eggers

The Circle (affiliate link), the latest novel by Dave Eggers, is a work of speculative fiction centering on a hypothetical technology company called the Circle. Eggers sets the story on a glossy, mythical Silicon-Valley internet campus that unapologetically resembles some famous not-so-mythical ones. At the start of the tale, the Circle has recently overtaken Google, Facebook, and Twitter. Its TruYou technology has created unified accounts for its users’ online presences, linking all social media profiles and bank information, tying it to users’ actual offline identities. TruYou is a convenience, a means of better connecting online, but it also changes the tenor of Internet conversation. Since TruYou eliminates pseudonyms and anonymous activity, it also restores real-life accountability to online comments and interactions. People are nicer. Shopping is easier. Communicating is quicker. People send “zings.” They respond with “smiles” or “frowns.” The reader need not decode much in order to recognize this world….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Reasonable Expectation of Transparency: Dave Eggers’s The Circle”

Two weeks ago, I wrote about one of Biglaw’s most pressing issues: the failure of senior partners to pass along clients to younger partners. But that is not the only problem some of Biglaw’s senior partners are causing for their firms and the industry as a whole. Unfortunately, a measurable portion of senior partners, those of the august titles and stratospheric billing rates, are among the worst offenders of one of Biglaw’s most notorious shortcuts to extreme profitability: creative time entry and billing.

While I hate to acknowledge, even though I have seen it firsthand, that partners make up time entries wholesale for work never performed, it is not hard to realize that in this age of the multimillion-dollar partner there exists a tremendous incentive for such behavior. Or at least for partners to “round up” time entries, a tacitly accepted practice within Biglaw.

Incentives matter, and the more richly compensated a senior partner is, the more pressure there is on them to put down a solid four to five hours for “reviewing and revising” a draft brief on Tuesday, only to make a similar entry when they review a more robust version of the same brief a few days later. And because senior partners are frequently responsible for a horde of timekeepers below them, the tone set by the lawyers at the top of the pyramid has an impact on the behavior of those lower on the chain….

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* A guy sued the Washington Metro for injuries incurred by slipping in a banana peel. Security camera footage unraveled his story when it revealed he wasn’t a Looney Tunes character. [Washington Post]

* A sports law practice sprung up in Qatar in advance of the 2022 World Cup. Have fun in 2023, folks! [Forbes]

* Courts are starting to employ link shortening for URLs. That should free up some space under the page limits. [The Volokh Conspiracy]

* The feds have a sophisticated spy system at Gitmo that may be used to eavesdrop on defense lawyers, which is a shock to pretty much nobody. [Vocativ]

* Kash Hill joins the discussion on delivery drones. [Forbes]

* Walking out on the law firm life is a bold move. This is pretty much how it goes down for everyone who does it. [Big Law Rebel]

* Cops in Rochester arrested three black kids for waiting at their bus stop. [Gawker]

* As we noted on Friday, the Jackie Chiles Law Society held a mock trial and convicted Harry Potter. “Who told you to put the Butter Beer Balm on!?” Video after the jump (note that the clip plays automatically, so don your headphones if necessary).

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Today’s Wall Street Journal reports on the growing new crop of online matchmaking services designed to help small and mid-sized business clients connect with qualified and affordably priced lawyers.  The sites profiled include UpCounsel, which allows clients to bid projects, handles payments, and collects feedback (sort of like Elance for legal services); Priori Legal, which provides clients a list of pre-vetted attorneys with 5+ years of experience and negotiates discount rates; and IP SmartUp, which also charges discount rates for patent services.

From what I can tell, in the short term, these sites make money through various ethically permissible transaction fees (read: no referral fees, though some of the models tread dangerously close). My guess is that in the long run, these sites’ greater value will derive from big data gleaned from transactions that may shed insight on the factors that inform lawyer hiring (and in turn may hold value for lawyer marketing operations).

No doubt, from a small business perspective, these sites are golden. With their clean modern look and easy navigation, these platforms give prospective small business clients a far better user experience than any bar referral or local chamber of commerce site I’ve ever seen. Plus, many of the lawyers registered for the sites so far boast stellar credentials.  And the price is right — the WSJ piece shares the experience of one happy user who procured legal services at a price of between $100 and $600 per project (though the average cost of a transaction on UpCounsel is around $1000, the story notes).

Still, do these sites work for solos and smalls?

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