Smart computing is changing the nature of legal work even as the profession struggles to understand its scope. Machines sophisticated enough to communicate intelligibly and naturally with human hosts, technology with the processing power to wrangle big data are enhancing the way attorneys do their jobs and affecting the way they think. Law practices are now set up in paperless offices, cases litigated in hi-tech courtrooms, research done almost exclusively online, demanding higher levels of technical competency and professional responsibility. The vocabulary of technology is filling the legal landscape: algorithms, analytics, artificial intelligence (A.I.), automated decision-making, avatars, big data, cloud computing, code, cognitive computing, computer-aided, computer-generated, creative computing, cyborg, data driven, data mining, data science, data trails, deep learning, electronic discovery (e-discovery), expert systems, machine learning, metadata, mobile technology, mosaic theory, natural language, neural networks, paperless and virtual offices, pattern matching, predictive analytics, robotics, self-replicating technologies, smart data, smart technology, source code, and supercomputers. So, time worn lexicons and practice libraries are infiltrated with the latest computer terminologies and technical manuals. The work of lawyers, judges and government officials increasingly relies on the processing power of microchips. So, the Bartleby of tomorrow is taking shape today. From document assembly to document drafting, the borderlands of decision-making, data analysis, and communication will mark the progress of law and raise new questions for the administration of justice. And the breadth of information competence will need to expand with each new generation of technology. This article by Ken Strutin is a significant, comprehensive and expert guide to recent and notable works on the automation of lawyering, the administration of law and legal thinking.
Sabrina I. Pacifici has completely revised and updated her guide, which she first published in 2005 and has updated yearly since that time. A wide range of free sites with expertly sourced content specific to researchers focused on business, finance, government data, analysis and news from the US and around the world, are included in this article. The resources in this guide are the work of corporate, government, academic, advocacy and news sources and individuals or groups using Open Source applications. This guide is pertinent to professionals who are actively engaged in maintaining a balanced yet diverse group of reliable, actionable free and low cost sources for their daily research.
Chris Meadows revisits a subject, Google Books, that has been the focal point of legal action, disagreement within the publishing and library communities, and basically an issue lacking closure concerning the end product. Meadows reiterates the Second Circuit finding on Google Books and fair uses in his response to the continued quest of some groups to restore the “Library of Alexandria.” Please also see his related article, Oh Lord, please don’t let Google Book Search be misunderstood.
In what became a two part article, Chris Meadows responds to the continuing commentary and rebuttals on the Google Books decision and access to the search engine that remains available to query a huge index of full-text books and access the text of scanned copies of books in the public domain. The second part of Meadows’ rebuttal was prompted by the publication of yet another article, and is also republished on LLRX – Google Books is not Alexandria redux.
Report – President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology Casts Doubt on Criminal Forensics
The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) stated in their report – “Among the more than 2.2 million inmates in U.S. prisons and jails, countless may have been convicted using unreliable or fabricated forensic science. The U.S. has an abiding and unfulfilled moral obligation to free citizens who were imprisoned by such questionable means.” Ken Strutin’s article features information about the PCAST Report, its reception by advocates and critics, and related articles, publications and developments concerning the science of innocence.
In a previous article here on LLRX, Gigi Sohn wrote about how the new Federal Communications Commission majority revoked the approval of nine companies to become Lifeline providers and how that would weaken the Lifeline program and widen the digital divide. Sohn follows up with a discussion of how the E-Rate program, which makes broadband services more affordable for America’s schools and libraries, is in the FCC majority’s crosshairs. And much like the case of Lifeline, Sohn argues the majority is using procedural steps and administrative tools to weaken the E-Rate program.
Lifeline is one of four FCC programs intended to ensure that all Americans have access to modern communications. This article by Gigi Sohn, who served as Counselor to the Chairman in the Office of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler until December 2016, elucidates how the new FCC majority fundamentally dislikes the Lifeline Program and will seek to weaken it by any means possible. She begins her discourse with a primer on the Lifeline program to allow researchers to educate themselves with the facts as the battle over dismantling this program evolves.
Chris Meadows calls our attention to a Yale Law Journal by Lina M. Khan published in January 2017 titled Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox. The author presents an argument in favor of modifying antitrust law in light of the realm of competition created by a burgeoning, powerful and often narrow group of players in specific e-commerce marketplaces. For librarians, researchers, professors and student among others, the issue of pricing and competition in the ebook market is particularly salient.
This is an introduction to a critical effort to support local public libraries throughout the United States, not in competition with any other efforts, programs or initiatives, but with the goal to fund a robust, long lived and essential endowment in response to ongoing defunding of critical library staffing and resources in our communities, especially poor land rural localities.
Marcia Burris synthesizes and re-frames the long standing concept of a sole source provider for legal research services.