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.
If you like reading it, please subscribe. You're also invited to forward this to others who you think would benefit. Likewise, please email me with feedback, ideas, and tips so I can deliver what's most valuable to you.
The Appetizer: Sponsors
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The Main Course: 5 Things That Made Me Think This Week
Legal Work After Corona: the market is beginning to saturate with expert analysis on how society will look different after the pandemic (Galloway's Post Corona is my favorite broad-view analysis so far). There's still plenty to say for the legal industry. My favorite piece on the post-pandemic legal market was one written back in May 2020 (practically a million years ago in pandemic terms!) by Mark Cohen and called After-Corona Legal Careers: More Choice and Less Practice. In some respects, it summarizes what legal futurists have predicted for some time (more unbundling of services and more opportunities for legal professionals who aren't JDs). What's different is that this essay comes with evidence as to why it'll be different this time. And, moreover, 11 months after it was originally written, many of the predictions seem to be coming to fruition. As examples: in just the past couple of weeks, it was announced that D. Casey Flaherty has left his role as Director of Legal Project Management at Baker McKenzie (which many would count as their dream job) to become Chief Strategy Officer for LexFusion; while Bob Taylor, a highly respected legal operations executive at Liberty Mutual Insurance, has joined Deloitte Legal Services.
Report on Growth of Justice Tech: a new report, Justice Tech for All: How Technology Can Ethically Disrupt the US Justice System, documents the growing market for “justice tech” — startups focused on reducing inequities in the criminal and civil justice systems — and urges venture capitalists to continue to invest beyond the estimated $77m invested to date. The report's summary and recommendations are covered in detail in this excellent piece in Law Sites Blog. Totally fascinating topic and an example of companies/people who can "do well by doing good."
LawDroid = free for academic institutions/non-profits: LawDroid is a legal automation company that is making its tech free for use to access to justice & educational organizations/efforts. If this describes your organization, check them out ASAP (or, even if it's not you, it's a tool worth learning about). I have been a huge fan of LawDroid ever since playing a bit role in a fantastic collaboration they had with Judge Scott Schlegel. In short, LawDroid helped Judge Schlegel create a tool to support and track probationers in Louisiana when the pandemic made face-to-face visits impossible. They did this incredibly quickly and effectively, which is a testament to the people involved and LawDroid as a product (write up here).
Coded Bias: this is an instant classic of a documentary on Netflix about the impact of algorithmic bias, featuring MIT’s remarkable Joy Boulamwini. As Vice says in its review "It's a refreshingly digestible introduction to the myriad ways algorithmic bias has infiltrated every aspect of our lives—from racist facial recognition and predictive policing systems to scoring software that decides who gets access to housing, loans, public assistance, and more." In short, this is a class of software that now permeates almost every aspect of society, has all sorts of legal implications, and is emblematic of various ways that technology can amplify pre-existing biases and inequality. I've been thinking about this for a while, and this documentary pulls together many threads. If you'd like my thoughts on it, here's a piece I wrote on this topic calling for a moratorium on facial recognition use a couple of years ago and another I wrote more recently on avoiding issues with facial recognition in academic exam settings.
Nicole Bradick Interview: The Theory & Principle CEO did a fascinating interview on Seyfarth's Pathfinders & Pioneers podcast this week. I've known Nicole for many years and had the lucky opportunity to collaborate with her and her team on several projects. Their dedication to product design and development for the legal industry is admirable and a model for others. Plus, she's got funny anecdotes.
First Versions: everything has a beginning, and it turns out that plenty of well-known websites and brands originally looked very different than what you see now. First Versions tracks them from version 1.0 to current. My favorite origin story was YouTube, though the Tom and Jerry cartoon was a sentimental second.