Jocelyn Stilwell-Tong, Law Librarian, California Court of Appeal, Sixth Appellate District, has determined that although free AI online is useful, the developing products from major legal research platforms show great promise. These paid products control for issues like hallucinations, and provide citations supporting their work so a researcher can confirm the accuracy and context of the materials the AI is pulling from. Issues surrounding data governance (what the company does with your uploaded material and search history) can be controlled by contract, and the legal vendors understand that this is a concern for most legal clients.
Privacy and cybersecurity issues impact every aspect of our lives – home, work, travel, education, finance, health and medical records – to name but a few. On a weekly basis Pete Weiss highlights articles and information that focus on the increasingly complex and wide ranging ways technology is used to compromise and diminish our privacy and online security, often without our situational awareness. Four highlights from this week: New Privacy Badger Prevents Google From Mangling More of Your Links and Invading Your Privacy; Microsoft AI team accidentally leaks 38TB of private company data; California legislature passes ‘Delete Act’ to protect consumer data; and Starlink lost over 200 satellites in two months.
The emergence of Large Language Models (LLMs) in legal research signifies a transformative shift. This article by Sean Harrington critically evaluates the advent and fine-tuning of Law-Specific LLMs, such as those offered by Casetext, Westlaw, and Lexis. Unlike generalized models, these specialized LLMs draw from databases enriched with authoritative legal resources, ensuring accuracy and relevance. Harrington highlights the importance of advanced prompting techniques and the innovative utilization of embeddings and vector databases, which enable semantic searching, a critical aspect in retrieving nuanced legal information. Furthermore, the article addresses the ‘Black Box Problem’ and explores remedies for transparency. It also discusses the potential of crowdsourcing secondary materials as a means to democratize legal knowledge. In conclusion, this article emphasizes that Law-Specific LLMs, with proper development and ethical considerations, can revolutionize legal research and practice, while calling for active engagement from the legal community in shaping this emerging technology.
Manhattan grand jury votes to indict Donald Trump, showing he, like all other presidents, is not an imperial king
Following news that a Manhattan grand jury had voted to indict Donald Trump, CNN’s John Miller announced on Thursday evening March 30, 3023: “I am told by my sources that this is 34 counts of falsification of business records, which is probably a lot of charges involving each document, each thing that was submitted, as a separate count.” Prof. Shannon Bow O’Brien, a presidency scholar, takes on the concept of the imperial presidency: “Throughout history, many presidents have pushed the boundaries of power for their own personal preferences or political gain. However, Americans do have the right to push back and hold these leaders accountable to the country’s laws. Presidents have never been monarchs. If they ever act in that manner, I believe that the people have to remind them of who they are and whom they serve.”
This guide by Marcus P. Zillman is a selected list of free and fee based (some require subscriptions), people finding resources, from a range of providers. A significant number of free sources on this subject matter are sourced from public records obtained by a group of companies who initially offer free information to establish your interest, from which point a more extensive report requires a fee to obtain. It is important to note that can be many errors in these data, including the inability to correctly de-duplicated individuals with the same common names. Also note that each service targets a different mix of identifying data such as: name, address, date of birth, phone numbers, email addresses, relatives, education, employment, criminal records. social media accounts, income. As we conduct research throughout the day it is useful to employ both impromptu and planned searches about individuals that are referenced.
You don’t have to be a spy to violate the Espionage Act – and other crucial facts about the law Trump may have broken
Joseph Ferguson, Co-Director, National Security and Civil Rights Program, Loyola University Chicago and Thomas A. Durkin, Distinguished Practitioner in Residence, Loyola University Chicago are both attorneys who specialize in and teach national security law. While navigating the sound and fury over the Trump search, this article highlights important things to note about the Espionage Act.
Ed Summers, librarian, metadata expert, teacher, and computational expert, delivers an insighful lesson on the Persistent Uniform Resource Locator. PURLs were developed to make URLs more resilient and persistent over time. You could put a PURL into a catalog record and if the URL it pointed to needed to change you changed the redirect on the PURL server, and all the places that pointed to the PURL didn’t need to change. It was a beautifully simple idea, and has influenced other approaches like DOI and Handle. But this simplicity depends on a commitment to keeping the PURL up to date.
This guide by Marcus Zillman identifies a wide range of free and fee based resources from which to choose to conduct people searches as well as brand and company reputation research, for business or personal reasons. It is important to note that the largest and most prominent data aggregators resell their content to other sites. In addition, data on free and some fee based sites may not be cleansed and can include inaccuracies that range from minor to critical. Also, many sites offer free search but charge a fee to review the results. It is therefore advisable to use multiple sources in your research and compare and contrast results before pursuing the use of these data.
What is RSS and how do federal courts use it? Rebecca Fordon informs us that courts vary in the types of documents they provide via RSS feeds – only about 70% of bankruptcy courts and 50% of district courts provide full feeds. The effort urging courts to fully enable RSS feeds has many advocates and would have a significant positive impact for legal researchers in all sectors.
Nicole L. Black’s review highlights this book’s breadth of coverage and its format, information about a variety of free online tools, including public records databases, newsletters, and encyclopedias, and case law and statutes, fee-based legal research tools, as well as traditional case law and statutory research tools, and cutting edge AI-based legal research and data analytics software.