It’s got to be annoying for judges when lawmakers write laws that are designed to be so freaking vague that courts will be forced to fix them once the inevitable lawsuits come around.
Florida lawmakers are trying to make your Facebook account safe from your boss who wants to get his or her Orwellian hands all up in your personal business. The legislation prohibits employers from demanding your social media passwords as a condition of employment.
BUT… the business lobby has been able to force an amendment that still allows employers to demand your passwords if your account is used for a “business purpose.” What’s a “business purpose”? Nobody knows. It’s probably going to be whatever your boss says a “business purpose” is. Then, they’ll fire you, you’ll sue, and a judge will have to figure it all out, because the legislature couldn’t get its act together….
There is a popular conception, within and without the legal industry, of lawyers as Luddites. If this is true, there is a massive disconnect between the burgeoning legal technology industry — on abundant display at the recent LegalTech New York Conference — and its would-be clientele, lawyers themselves. Can it be that while legal tech entrepreneurs and innovators are racing to create a more efficient and productive future, there is widespread indifference on the part of the attorneys toward these emerging technologies? Considering that these technologies are promising (threatening?) to transform the profession and practice of law, this would be a curious attitude.
On attending this year’s LegalTech panel on the findings of the ILTA Tech Survey, Joe Patrice could not help but conclude that there is a “profound lack of technological savvy among law firms.” To cite but a few examples: 80% of lawyers do not record time on a mobile device. Nearly 90% of firms do not maximize their cybersecurity capabilities. Nearly one-third of firms are using a version of Word that’s seven or more years old. And so on. The survey’s findings do little to contradict the idea that “technology leaps, the law creeps.”
Further reinforcing this “Luddite” notion is the Flaherty/Suffolk University Law School tech audit. This tool tests a range of fundamental technical competencies of law firm associates and the results can be construed as evidence of a lack thereof common to law firms. According to Casey Flaherty, an in-house counsel at Kia Motors and the creator of the audit, the failure rate of associates attempting the test is, thus far, one hundred percent.
A couple weeks back, we conducted a little survey of the ATL audience concerning your familiarity with some legal tech concepts. These ranged from the most “basic” (from the perspective of the tech world) to the somewhat more obscure (e.g., “dark data”). Besides your familiarity (or not) with these concepts, how relevant are they to your current or future practice? How successfully is your employer addressing these issues?
Then you should attend Above the Law’s inaugural Attorney@Blog conference. One of the nation’s preeminent First Amendment litigators, Floyd Abrams of Cahill Gordon, will deliver opening remarks. And then I will moderate a panel on free speech online, featuring the following distinguished panelists:
Marc Randazza of the Randazza Legal Group, a leading First Amendment lawyer — he has represented ATL in various matters — and editor of the the Legal Satyricon;
Nabiha Syed of Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz, recently recognized by Forbes as “one of the best emerging free speech lawyers,” for her work representing such clients as the New York Times and The Guardian U.S. (of WikiLeaks fame); and
The panel will discuss emerging free speech issues and offer practical advice on how to avoid legal pitfalls online. If you’re a media lawyer, a journalist, a blogger, or just someone interested in these topics, you should definitely attend.
For more information and for tickets to the conference, please click here. The conference includes lunch and CLE credits (including coveted ethics credits). We hope to see you on March 14!
At the recent ReInvent Law NYC conference, one of the speakers, Abe Geiger, founder and CEO of Shake, used an apt term that I’d never heard before: “tiny law.” As I understood the phrase, “tiny law” refers to all of those day-to-day contractual arrangements consumers enter into every day – only through standardized forms or handshakes or oral agreements rather than formal written contracts. And that’s the raison d’être of Shake: to help formalize those millions of tiny law transactions in a simple but custom agreement generated on a mobile device.
Will Shake displace lawyers, particularly solos and smalls who are most likely to handle “tiny law” problems? At least one piece by William Peacock, from a few months back, suggested that Shake could pose a threat to lawyers. But from a solo or small perspective, Shake is actually a godsend….
* Being a mass murderer wouldn’t be any fun if you couldn’t play video games. Also, let’s Upworthy this: Elie tells a story about himself dancing naked… you won’t believe what happens next. [ATL Redline]
* Ted Wells of Paul Weiss finally got off his duff and issued his report on the harassment situation in the Miami Dolphins locker room. [Deadspin]
* ♫Rubber Duckie, you’re the one, you make state legislative sessions drafting complicated statutes allowing gambling on racing you so much fun!♫ [Lowering the Bar]
* From the “dick moves” file, this guy put up a Craigslist ad pimping out his neighbor without her knowledge or consent. From the f**king idiot files, this guy had no idea how easy it would be for the authorities to track him down. [IT-Lex]
* Is the aggressive lateral partner recruitment strategy bringing results? [Adam Smith, Esq.]
* The Virginia decision legalizing gay marriage made one slight misstatement. “Our Constitution declares that ‘all men’ are created equal.” Really? Does it now? [Josh Blackman's Blog; WSJ Law Blog]
* Intelligence Squared held a debate last night between Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg and the ACLU’s Ben Wizner against former prosecutor (not Weekend at Bernie’s star) Andrew McCarthy and former CIA Director R. James Woolsey on the question: Snowden Was Justified. The video is embedded after the jump…. [Intelligence Squared]
Comcast has confirmed reports that the company will be acquiring Time Warner Cable in a deal estimated to be worth around $45 billion. With the ink on their NBC acquisition only just dry to the touch, the deal will tack 8 million broadband subscribers onto the company’s existing 22 million broadband customers. Comcast is already the nation’s largest fixed-line broadband company, largest cable TV provider, and third largest fixed-line phone company — and that’s before you include the company’s NBC or other assets. From a geographical perspective the deal makes sense; Time Warner Cable filling in Comcast’s coverage gaps and in particular giving Comcast the prized markets of Los Angeles and New York City, where Time Warner Cable has traditionally under-performed.
The problem is less of market share (the two companies didn’t compete directly) but one of consolidated power…
You’ve heard from the rest of the gang about the panels they’re hosting at our upcoming Attorney@Blog Conference. Well, think of my panel as the “practice ready” component of the conference. While they discuss important, substantive issues in the world of blogging, we’re going to be looking under the hood and talking about how to leverage technology to maximize your blog.
Perhaps you’re trying to get a blog going to help promote your practice. Maybe you’re a legal academic interested in putting your message out without having to deal with self-important law review editors. Possibly you just want a creative outlet. Or you’re a legal blogger because you’re one of those navel-gazers that Elie is going to talk about on his panel. Whatever you are, you have something to say about the law, but you may not know all the technological tools at your disposal.
Here’s the panel of experts we’ll have to discuss content strategy, the use of social media for business development, SEO, blogging platforms, and more:
Kevin O’Keefe: A panel on getting your name out there on the Internet wouldn’t be complete without Kevin, the CEO and Publisher of LexBlog, Inc. Kevin is the foremost authority on helping lawyers build their brand through blogging and social media.
Guy Alvarez: What doesn’t Guy do? The founder of Good2bSocial has built websites for law firms, run the digital marketing group for KPMG, and provided consulting expertise on social media to Fortune 100 companies.
And — no promises — but we may have another exciting panelist, too. If you aren’t keeping an eye on the technological know-how of the Internet, you aren’t reaching the full audience you want to reach.
For more information and for tickets to the conference, please click here. Remember that CLE credit will be available. We look forward to seeing you on March 14.
Ed. note: Please welcome Christina Gagnier, who will be covering small law firm practice. You can read her full bio at the end of this post.
My foray into writing this column for Above the Law is appropriately timed with a running Evernote scribble of speculative episodes that my partner and I have been sketching out about our lives managing a small law firm. Running a boutique tech law firm in San Francisco led by two women with a bunch of under 35-somethings is fodder for a half-hour “dramedy.”
Hopefully, through some storytelling, this column can provide inspiration, and perhaps to some, caution, about running a boutique/small law firm. Some of the things that happen to us are a little too unbelievable to be true, but I assure you, they happened and continue to make us laugh (or cry).
A little backstory. My partner and I met at law school and quickly came to the realization that we needed to get back to work, or the entire experience of simply reading a lot of old material and regurgitating it back on exams would quickly claim our souls. So, as is the San Francisco entrepreneurial way, we started our law firm, then solely a public affairs consulting firm, by incorporating in the back of our Evidence class.
The starting operating budget? $87 from an AT&T account deposit refund. We scurried to the nearest Bank of America and began to live the American dream of being lawyers in a big city. I guess it was the American dream if the American dream consists of crashing on office floors, sleeping in airports, and working out of Starbucks. It was 2008, and we thought to ourselves, in the midst of the greatest economic upheaval since the Great Depression, that we would simply walk out of law school and start a law firm. Well, we are still here…
Please join us at the Yale Club of New York City on March 14 for the inaugural ATL Attorney@Blog conference. Featuring opening remarks by preeminent First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams of Cahill Gordon & Reindel, Attorney@Blog will be a first-of-its-kind convocation of leading legal bloggers. Panelists will include Tim Wu of Columbia Law School, Karen Sloan of the National Law Journal, Kyle McEntee of Law School Transparency, Kevin O’Keefe of LexBlog, Vivia Chen of The Careerist, and many more.
Still in search of those hard-to-find ethics credits? We’ve got a solution for you: CLE credit will be available at the conference, complimentary with your admission. We will be offering up to SIX ETHICS CREDITS, courtesy of Marino Legal, for our first three panels. Attendees will have to check in with the company before and after each panel to confirm their attendance. Has anything ever been easier?
* The DOJ lifted its three-year hiring freeze yesterday. There are thousands of jobs out there waiting for the perfect applicant. You know what that means: apply to EVERY SINGLE JOB and see what sticks. [WSJ Law Blog]
* It looks like the ABA is going to move toward allowing paid externships for law students — because being paid to work is smarter than paying to work. Oh good, we’re glad someone finally realized that. [National Law Journal]
* Cleveland-Marshall’s solo practice incubator will be up and running in March. Ten lucky grads will pay rent to their law school to learn what they should’ve when they were still paying tuition. [Cleveland Plain Dealer]
* If you think you’ve got it bad as a 3L here in America, think again. Canadian 3Ls in Ontario are looking at a 79 percent increase in articling and licensing fees, bringing the grand total to almost $5,000. [CBC News]
The evolution of relationships between the genders continues. Currently, in law firms, there is an interesting conundrum; balancing the desire for a gender-blind workplace where “the best lawyer gets the work and advances” and the reality of navigating the complicated maze created by the fact that, in general, men and women do possess differences in their work styles. These variations impact who they work with, how they work, how they build professional connections and how organizations ultimately leverage, reward and recognize the talents of all.
Henry Ford sat on his workbench and sighed. A year earlier, he had personally built 13,000 Model Ts with his own hands. Fashioning lugnuts and tie rods by hand, Ford was loath to ask for help. Sure, there were things about the car that he didn’t quite understand. This explains the lack of reliable navigation systems in the Model T. But Ford persevered because he knew that unless he did everything, he could not reliably call these cars his own.
“Unless my own personal toil is responsible for it, it may as well be called a Hyundai,” Ford remarked at the time.
The preceding may sound unfamiliar because it is categorically untrue. And also monumentally stupid. Henry Ford didn’t build all those cars by hand. He had help and plenty of it. Almost exactly one hundred years ago, Henry Ford opened up the most technologically advanced assembly line the world had ever seen. Built on the premise that work can be chopped up into digestible pieces and completed by many men better than one, the line ushered in an age of unparalleled productivity.
Today, an attorney refers business because he can’t do everything the client asks of him.
There are three reasons why this is way dumber than a made-up Henry Ford story…
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: [email protected].
Since late last year, things have been booming in Hong Kong / China in cap markets, especially Hong Kong IPOs. M&A deal flow has recently been getting a bit stronger as well. Although one can’t predict such things with any certainty, all signs are pointing to a banner entire 2014 for the top end US corporate and cap markets practices in Hong Kong / China. This is not really new news, as its been the feeling most in the market have had for a few months now and things continue to look good.
The head of our Asia practice, Evan Jowers, has been in Hong Kong for about 10 days a month (with trips every other month to both Shanghai and Bejing) for the past 7 months, and spending most of his time there meeting with senior US hiring partners at just about all the major US and UK firms there, as well as prospective candidates at all associate levels and partner levels, and when in the US, Evan works Asia hours and is regularly on the phone with such persons, as our the other members of our Asia team. Our Yuliya Vinokurova is in Hong Kong every other month and Robert is there about 5 times a year as well. While we have a solid Asia team of recruiters, Evan Jowers will spend at least some time with all of our candidates for Asia position. We have had long standing relationships, and good friendships in some cases, with hiring partners and other senior US partners in Asia for 8 years now.