Lawtomatic Newsletter Issue, #102
By Gabe Teninbaum
My name is Gabe Teninbaum (on Twitter at @GTeninbaum). I'm a professor, as well as the Assistant Dean for Innovation, Strategic Initiatives, & Distance Education, at Suffolk Law in Boston. I'm also a Visiting Fellow at Yale Law School's Information Society Project. My work focuses on legal innovation, technology, and the changing business of law. Every day, I digest tons of content on these topics. The goal of this newsletter is to curate the most interesting, valuable, and thought-provoking of these ideas and share them with you.
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The Appetizer: Sponsors
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The Main Course: 5 Things That Made Me Think This Week
An Op-Ed by Our Robot Overlords: there's been a lot of hype around OpenAI's new GPT-3 and what it will mean for legal work (and society), in general. In short, it's a computer program that can interact like an eloquent human. It can also write narrative like a human, including in specialized areas, like writing legal briefs (for example). Here's an op-ed GPT-3 wrote to convince you that it's not a threat. It's...pretty good. And given that many have assumed a moat that software will not be able to effectively cross into human work is being persuasive and evoking emotions (like, say, a top trial attorney does), this is pretty impressive stuff.
American Legal Tech Awards: this week, the winners of the 1st Annual American Legal Technology Awards were announced ("Over 180 nominations for 8 award categories, reviewed by 20 legal industry expert judges, resulting in 24 finalists, 8 winners, 8 runners up and 8 honorable mentions."). Some terrific stuff, none better than individual award winner, Rita Blandino, Director of the Domestic Violence Division of the DC Courts. Watch this short clip to see how great her work is. Plenty of other inspiration to be had here.
CDC Eviction Moratorium Assistant: earlier this week, my colleagues in the Suffolk Legal Innovation & Tech. Lab heard about the CDC moratorium to help folks from getting evicted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Within hours, they launched an app to help walk tenants through the rules and create a letter to their landlord. By the next day, the New York Times was writing about their work. A few days later, more than 1,000 people from all 50 states had used it. Not bad.
Designing Your Law Firm's New Normal: Mike Whelan and Clio have just launched a terrific new, free, eBook on testing and adopting new ideas during some very unusual times (and beyond). I downloaded my copy right when it came out and devoured it. You should too. Mike's got great ideas and expresses them in clever ways. His earlier book, Lawyer Forward, has been a favorite since it came out.
Machine Readable Judicial Decisions: an article I wrote with Jameson Dempsey (of Stanford CodeX) has just been published in the MIT Computational Law Report. In it, we argue that judges should write opinions in anticipation of later machine processing, and that by doing so they can increase the efficiency and predictability of the legal system. In the article - which I promise, isn't that long - we lay out our theory for why this is within grasp, identify the challenges we expect along the way, and describe approaches we envision. Sidenote: the entire MIT Computational Law Report is chock-full of interesting articles every time it comes out and is well-worth perusing and supporting.
Glitchy Rugs: I never considered myself a fan of fine textiles...until I saw the work of Faig Ahmed. Check these things out!
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