21.02.2024
Lawformer Blog

Embracing innovation: How and why I got into legal tech

Hey there, fellow legal enthusiasts! Today, I wanted to share with you my personal journey into the world of legal tech. As a Human Rights Lawyer and Legal Advisor to the Department of State Representation in International Courts, I've always been passionate about advocating for justice and human rights. However, like many in the legal profession, I found myself intrigued by the growing intersection of law and technology, and what that means for the future of our field.


I had heard of Lawformer and I personally knew some of the founders. I had always been interested in their work, and when the  opportunity to join their team came up, I happily accepted it. It was a chance for me to learn about legal tech, network with industry leaders and try something new, exciting and creative every day. As a Legal Copywriter at Lawformer I was actively exploring the developments in the legal tech and law tech space, producing weekly news articles and blogs and engaging in discussions with founders about content strategies.


One of the most rewarding aspects of my experience with Lawformer has been the opportunity to explore how new technologies are reshaping the legal landscape. From artificial intelligence to blockchain, I've had the chance to stay at the forefront of industry developments and gain invaluable insights into the future of law. But it's not just about technology. It's also about empowering legal professionals to embrace innovation and adapt to change. This isn't something that's typically embraced in the legal field, but companies like Lawformer have it ingrained in their culture. It's the kind of innovation that comes from collaboration, sharing knowledge and ideas, and a constant drive to improve and streamline processes.


Whether delving into advanced training or embarking on fresh initiatives, I will continue my journey in legal tech. So, to all my fellow legal professionals out there, whatever you are specializing in, I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone, and explore the exciting possibilities that legal tech has to offer. Who knows, you might just discover a whole new world of opportunities waiting for you!


Until next time,

Gvantsa Dolbaia, Legal Content Creator, Lawformer



24.01.2024
Lawformer Blog

Thinking Out of the box: My Journey as A Legal Content Creator


Hi there, I'm Mariam, an aspiring lawyer and content creator and I'm often asked about my career journey after graduating from Law School. Today, I'm excited to share my experience as a Content Creator at Lawformer, where I've had the incredible opportunity to blend my legal expertise with the world of creative content.



Why work for a legal tech startup?


Choosing to work for a legal tech startup was a deliberate decision for me. Deciding on a career path is significant, and making the right choice involves exploring different avenues. I've always been intrigued by the startup environment, and Lawformer provided the perfect space for me to explore my creative side.


In my role as a Content Creator, I engaged with short video scripts, produced legal content for platforms like TikTok, and researched content strategies of other legal tech startups, which gave me a solid understanding of the industry and its offering. It was an experience that allowed me to explore the role of tech and digital content in the legal field and helped me decide on the direction of my legal career in a way that I had not imagined when I started law school. 



Thinking out of the box


Contrary to the conventional perception of law as a less creative field, being with a startup encourages trial and error, allowing me to exercise my out-of-the-box thinking. Fortunately, the founding team at Lawformer is receptive to different perspectives, fostering an environment that truly celebrates creativity and innovation. This freedom to share and demonstrate ideas without fear has been one of the standout features of working with Lawformer, as the team not only encourages but celebrates individuality, creating a space where expressing oneself is highly valued.



What’s next?


Looking ahead, my plan is to continue growing in both my legal career and as a content creator. It's all about pushing boundaries and exploring new possibilities. If you're on the lookout for a workplace that encourages unique perspectives and values individuality, I highly recommend considering a legal tech startup. Find one that aligns with a problem you're passionate about – it's an opportunity to develop crucial skills that extend beyond the legal realm but are immensely valuable nonetheless.



15.01.2024
Lawformer Blog

Legal Tech and Why it Matters for Law Students


‘Legal Tech’- What Is It?


Legal technology, or ‘legal tech’ as commonly referred, has been somewhat of a buzzword for a while. What does it actually mean? Legal tech typically refers to any use of technology for the provision of legal services. It encompasses various forms of contributions made by technology, software and artificial intelligence in the legal field. Advancements in technology have impacted every industry, including some of the more traditional ones like the legal industry, as these advancements have affected how we communicate, work, or obtain information. Legal technology has modernized the traditional practices of law by, for example, streamlining case management, legal drafting, providing electronic payment options, or online document storage, among other things. Most of this technology is designed to help attorneys and firms practice law more efficiently on one hand, and on the other hand, to enable individuals to access legal services in a fast, cost-effective manner. 



Advantages of Legal Technology in the Workplace


Legal technology provides several advantages to the private practice space. It allows smaller firms and sole practitioners to automate tasks, leverage powerful research tools, perform more efficiently and by doing so compete with the leading names in the field. Even back in 2015, a PwC report showed that improving the use of technology was the top priority in law firms, especially in the following five areas: 


Increased geographical reach: legal technology is helping law firms go global. The commercialization of some legal services is making it possible for firms to promote their work across borders and diversify their portfolio.


Transparency: through legal technology, clients can now have a clearer view of their case progress, fees and other pertinent information, which thus enables the industry to have a more client-centric approach.


Better use of resources: with legal technology, human resources can be deployed for other tasks. For example, rather than having paralegals working on monotonous document management, legal technology can automate this task thus enabling them to spend more time on more strategic, meaningful work, such as legal research or client work.


Faster processing and time management: it is no surprise that technology is faster and more efficient than the human worker in performing most of the tasks. AI solutions can analyze documents and deliver research results faster, making the overall process more resource efficient.


Error reduction: legal technology and AI are extremely helpful at reducing errors. This is important as such errors can be quite costly in the legal space, especially in cases when we deal with documents to be submitted to courts, or contracts that involve big transactions.




Why Does It Matter to Law Students?


As mentioned earlier, legal tech benefits law firms and is expected to be deployed more widely in the future. Technology has managed to penetrate every industry, making technology-related skills crucial for successful employment. With more businesses becoming reliant on technology, there is no doubt that being ‘tech savvy’ can help students access better job opportunities and have a competitive edge in the market. 


According to a survey by Robert Half Legal, more than 6 in 10 lawyers (62%) that were surveyed said that their hiring decisions are influenced more by job candidates’ technical abilities than their soft skills. As explained by Rob Marrs, after meeting people across the legal profession, most legal businesses will become technology businesses in the medium term. If major clients are moving in that direction, then law students need to be aware of this so they can advise properly in the future. The buzz word prior to training contract interviews is ‘commercial awareness’. 


As suggested by Marrs, commercial awareness increasingly includes the need to understand technology: how will technology affect law firms and in-house organizations in the coming years? How will lawyers utilize technology to serve clients? Legal tech may thus give you a bonus if you talk about it in any training contract or vacation scheme interviews, according to James Yang.

This therefore demonstrates that legal tech skills are not only desirable but will soon be crucial.


Since the pandemic, there has been an increase in virtual and hybrid work environments, which enhances the need for lawyers to be reliant on technology, but also to be trained on effectively leveraging digital solutions.  As demonstrated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, 44% of firms use technology to allow staff to work more flexibility, and solicitors who were required to have law tech skills were paid on average 13% more than those without lawtech skills.


According to Oxford University, 56% of solicitors agree with this statement: ‘lawyers need to become familiar with multiple non-legal specialisms, such as data science, project management, and design thinking’. As a graduate recruitment manager from Clifford Chance, Yasmina Kone explains, people with a technology background or lawyers with an interest in technology is becoming more important in the legal sector for two reasons: (1) the world is becoming more technology-focused and it is great to have trainees join who are already skilled in using technology to solve business problems and have an interest in the legal issues surrounding technology; and (2) having a different background ensures different perspectives, more creative solutions, and thus best client service. 


Ellen Lake, a senior associate at Clifford Chance and involved in the recruitment process echoes this need, by stating that ‘the modern lawyer is expected to have a desire to explore and be open to using legal technology where appropriate in matter delivery. Our recruitment process reflects this.’ This shows that law firms are more interested in recruiting individuals with tech skills as they are believed to be more efficient, proficient, and adapt to meeting the requirements of the ever-growing legal industry.


As we have now discussed the significance of acquiring legal tech skills for law students and entry-level legal professionals, stay tuned for our upcoming blog post that will provide practical tips and guidance on how to actually improve these skills.


Author: Dalia Saffideen


29.12.2023
Lawformer Blog

Top 10 Highlights From 2023


2023 was a fantastic year full of new connections, fantastic events, product launches, and more. Join us as we take the opportunity to look back at the last twelve months, celebrate these important moments, and express our gratitude to everyone who supported us on this journey. Here’s our top ten highlights from 2023.


Traineeship and Affiliate Programs Launches


At Lawformer, people are the driving force behind our success. We are grateful for the young professionals: Joy, Dalia, Buse, Irena and Varaa - who joined Lawformer in 2023 and contributed their time and great insights. We are also excited to welcome new trainees for 2024: Zahra, Mitali, and Ariuna, who bring a great amount of passion and knowledge of legal tech to the table. We can’t wait to see what we achieve together.


Growing Fast


2023 was the year of significant growth. Our digital clause library is now used by over 3,000 legal professionals in the US, UK, and beyond for drafting 50+ types of contracts. To those using our platform, we are incredibly grateful for the trust. In case you haven’t explored our digital clause library yet, consider making it your new year’s resolution.


Legal Innovators California


We had the opportunity to participate in fantastic conferences across 8 cities! We had the privilege to be partners of one of these conferences - Legal Innovators California organized by Cosmonauts and the Artificial Lawyer. It was a great couple of days full of insightful talks, great conversations, and exciting new legal tech startups. 



Legal Geek 


When it comes to great conferences, Legal Geek is definitely one that we cannot miss. We had the pleasure of attending their conference twice, in Chicago (Legal Geek North America) and later in London. Both conferences were fun, full of engaging content and fantastic people. For the London event, we had the opportunity to be showcased with a booth, supported by Barclays Eagle Labs and their fantastic LawTech community.



Grace Hopper Award: Finalist


As a female-led startup, we are incredibly proud to have been selected as one of the finalists of the Grace Hopper Award in the Tech Startup Category. This award recognizes innovative tech startups owned or led by women who create value through the use of ICT. We would like to give a massive shoutout to all the incredible women who contribute to making Lawformer what it is today.



Definitive Guide for Legal Tech Startups


We are thrilled to be featured in the 2023 edition of the ‘Definitive Guide to Legal Tech Startups’! As a young startup, it’s an honor to be included among the top 44 game-changers revolutionizing the legal tech space. We would like to give a shoutout to Legal Tech Consultants and Cheryl Wilson Griffin for the opportunity.



Web Summit 2023


This November, we traveled to Lisbon to participate in Web Summit 2023, the largest tech conference that brought together over 70,000 individuals, startups, investors, and ecosystem leaders, all embracing innovation and exploring the role of tech in making our lives better. We were grateful to have been selected for the Startup Showcase and Alpha Program, alongside other promising startups from around the world.


Globalize Silicon Valley Conference


We had a fantastic opportunity to be represented at Globalize Silicon Valley Conference which was held at the Google Cloud Campus in San Francisco. It was a great platform to connect with other exceptional startups, angel investors, and venture capitalists. We’d like to thank the Globalize team for this opportunity.


Hosting joint webinars


In 2023, we brought to you insightful webinars on legal tech and innovation in partnership with Cosmonauts, Level 7 Legal, and Suffolk University. Over 300 people attended, and we are grateful to all the speakers (David, Marie, Timo, Charlotte, Laura, Samridhi, Kajol, Chris) for joining us and sharing their fantastic insights.


Launching Lawformer Classroom


Finally, we are thrilled to announce the launch of Lawformer Classroom, which provides entry-level legal professionals and law students with access to interactive learning resources to develop practical skills in contract drafting. More information will be coming soon. Watch this space…



18.10.2023
Lawformer Blog

From Associate Attorney to Legal Content Creator


When most people think of an Associate Attorney, they envision individuals in big glass offices, covered in paperwork and legalese. While this image holds true to some degree, my recent experience in the legal tech scene offered a refreshing facet of the legal profession. Joining Lawformer as a Legal Content Creator transformed my perspective and reinforced the diverse opportunities a law degree offers.


Why Lawformer?


The legal field is complex and continuously evolving. Though working in a law firm has its unique challenges and perks, I had always been drawn to the idea of broadening my horizons in the legal tech space. Lawformer was founded with a mission to assist legal professionals in drafting contracts more efficiently. Given my daily work with contracts, this was very interesting to me. I could contribute my firsthand experiences, challenges, and insights to refine the product's content and optimize its user workflow.


The Culture of Innovation


My role at Lawformer was quite diverse. I was responsible for drafting clauses, participated in market research, and collaborated closely with the core team. These tasks required not just a robust understanding of contracts, but also the ability to reimagine the existing ways we approach working on complex legal documents. Beyond this intellectually stimulating work, the biggest appeal for me was the company's vibrant culture. Every team member is given a sense of ownership and is inspired to innovate daily, which is something that happens naturally when surrounded by such a dedicated group of people.



Looking Ahead


As an Associate Attorney in the United States, I'm able to effectively leverage the skills and insights acquired from my startup experience. It has certainly given me heightened efficiency and better commercial awareness, which are invaluable when assisting clients.


The legal field isn't just about offices, courtrooms and textbooks. If you're interested in innovation in the legal sector or exploring the role of technology in our industry, I’d highly encourage you to connect with companies like Lawformer and push the boundaries of your legal journey.



13.09.2023
Legal Blog

Can Law Firms Compete with Alternative Legal Service Providers?


The legal landscape is shifting rapidly, metamorphosing from a traditional set-up into an intricate web of service providers, startups, consultants, and tech-savvy innovators. With the emergence of Alternative Legal Service Providers (ALSP), the legal innovation ecosystem is demonstrating the ability to adapt and evolve. This evolution brings about two vital questions: what direction is this trend heading in, and what ramifications will it have for both the overall market and the law firms resistant to change?


The Emergence of ALSPs


Broadly, alternative legal services are those divergent from the traditional method of hiring attorneys from conventional law firms. Over the past decade, ALSPs have become more prominent, delivering an array of services from document review, legal research, to litigation support. Even though often branded as “New Law,” this term may be a mismatch given how entrenched these services have become, especially considering their decade-long presence in the UK and robust establishment in the US and elsewhere.


What sets ALSPs apart is their offer of efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and niche expertise, making them an increasingly attractive option for clients. Initially perceived as competitors, many law firms have now evolved to view ALSPs as collaborators, best exemplified by QuisLex's experience. With over 15 years of operation, QuisLex recalls the early days of competition with traditional firms but notes how proven reliability led to mutual trust and partnership. The driving force behind this shift? Clients' increasing demand for value and efficient management of intricate legal matters, claim ALSPs.


The Array of Services Offered by ALSPs and the Evolving Landscape


The span of services that ALSPs provide has been broad, covering tasks conventionally managed by law firms or internal legal teams. The 2023 Thomson Reuters Report delineated the top ten tasks ALSPs offer corporations in the US, which include: regulatory risk and compliance, legal research, contract management, document review, legal drafting, among others.


Considering the diverse  legal work offered by ALSPs, the industry is transitioning from merely a cost-saving entity to a reliable partner offering expertise and tech-driven solutions. Valued at nearly $14 billion, the ALSP market has seen significant growth over the past six years, with the majority of law firms and corporate law departments employing their services.


Interestingly, the landscape is not homogenous. The report breaks down ALSPs into three distinct types: independent ALSPs, captive ALSPs (internal to law firms), and the Big Four legal service providers. Captive ALSPs, while having the smallest market share, are witnessing the most significant growth, percentage-wise.


Another noteworthy trend is the shift from viewing ALSPs merely as tech solutions providers to consultants on legal technology, underscoring their expanding expertise. This growing sense of collaboration between law firms and ALSPs is palpable.


Glimpsing the Future


As we cast our gaze into the horizon, attempting to decipher the shape of things to come, a few trends seem to emerge in the legal industry. There is a growing sentiment towards collaboration. One can anticipate an era where traditional law firms, ALSPs, and technology vendors come together in seamless partnerships, harmonizing their strengths. The way services are provided might also evolve. Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, there will be a shift towards crafting tailored services, laser-focused on addressing specific client needs. And while we are on the topic of tailoring, major corporations might not always look outside for solutions. They could very well cultivate their own ALSP capabilities in-house, weaving a self-reliant fabric for their legal needs.


Implications for the Market 


Stepping back to view the broader market, the implications of these changes become even clearer. In a diversified and tech-driven landscape, standing out won't be a choice, but a necessity. Firms and ALSPs will have to carve out unique value propositions, distinct identities that distinguish them from the rest. And for those firms rigid in their ways, averse to adaptation? Their journey will be a challenging one. The market will not be forgiving, and resisting change could equate to signing one's own obsolescence. Meanwhile, clients, ever more informed and empowered, will no longer be content with just 'good enough'. They will demand innovation, crave speed, and insist on cost-effectiveness. The benchmarks are being raised, and the industry must rise to meet them.


Therefore, while traditional law firms still have their space, ALSPs are carving a niche by offering cost-effective and specialized solutions. Their rise, in collaboration with evolving law firms, is reshaping the legal landscape, ensuring that client needs are met timely and efficiently.



05.09.2023
Lawformer Blog

Redefining Contract-Drafting: One Clause at a Time


When I reflect on my time as an associate at a law firm, I can't help but think of the countless hours spent on looking for clauses and relevant contract content scattered through folders, files,  and emails. That first-hand experience was the key driver behind the creation of Lawformer, a digital library of contract clauses designed to make contract drafting 60% faster. Looking back, I’m excited to share my journey from a practicing lawyer to co-founding a legal tech platform that serves real problems for real people in the legal industry.


The challenge

As one of the oldest, most conservative industries, the legal profession is resistant to change. As a lawyer, I often found myself knee-deep in databases, searching for a starting point for contracts. The next step was customizing these contracts to cater to my client's unique needs, which involved locating relevant clauses in other contracts and online resources, sometimes taking days for more complex transactions. It wasn't just about finding a clause; it was about finding the right clause. This was a real problem that required a modern solution.


The solution

This precise problem is what gave rise to Lawformer. Our digital library has been built on three foundational pillars: being User-Friendly, Time-Efficient, and Streamlined. The goal was simple: empower legal professionals like me with a platform that would make their daily tasks not just doable but enjoyable.


The journey

Legal tech is a rapidly growing field, with new companies trying to establish their name on the market. But what sets Lawformer apart? I often say it's our Team, Expertise, and Dedication. Our commitment isn't just about crafting a user-friendly interface or providing a vast library of clauses. It's about understanding the needs of every lawyer, paralegal, and legal assistant out there and addressing their daily challenges.


Embarking on this journey hasn't been without its challenges. As innovators in legal tech, we're tasked with winning the trust of a traditionally conservative demographic. But every time a legal professional tells us how Lawformer has made their day more productive, every positive feedback fuels our motivation to do more, to be better.


The Future

So, where to from here? Five years down the line, I envision Lawformer to have revolutionized lawyers' daily routines. Contract drafting will no longer be a dreaded chore but a streamlined process. And as we continue to refine our platform, incorporating invaluable user feedback, I believe Lawformer will set the gold standard in the legal tech industry.



If there's one thing I've learned from this journey, it's that genuine solutions stem from personal experiences. Lawformer wasn't just built as a business venture; it was born out of a real need. As we expand and grow, we promise to always keep our core mission in sight: to empower legal professionals around the world.


Thank you for being a part of this journey of shaping the future of legal tech.


By Teona Vasadze, Co-Founder & Legal Content Lead at Lawformer




24.08.2023
Legal Tech Stories

Bridging Borders with Legal Tech: My Journey with Lawformer

The evolving landscape of law has always interested me, more so when connected with the world of technology. As a senior law student, I've continually sought opportunities that allow me to dip my toes into this intersection. That is why, when exploring ELSA (European Law Students Association) internship opportunities, I was on the lookout for startups that operate in the legal tech space. This is how I ended up with Lawformer.


As an Online Trainee, my main goal was to serve as a bridge between Turkish universities, local law firms and Lawformer, facilitating the collaboration and ongoing feedback loop that supported Lawformer’s global vision of developing a product that the next generation of legal professionals want to use. 


Navigating the world of legal contracts can often be daunting, but Lawformer's platform does an impressive job at simplifying the complex. Be it accessing attorney-drafted clauses or context specific definitions of legal terms, the platform serves as a reliable tool not only for contract drafting, but also for developing contracting skills for entry level lawyers, which is such an important industry skill. 


Being able to contribute to the innovation on a daily basis was a wonderful journey. However, the real highlight of my experience was the team. The endless enthusiasm and commitment of each member of the team toward the shared mission of building a unique product that solves a real problem of real lawyers was contagious. The environment they created was friendly, professional and encouraged constant learning.


Looking back, if there's one thing I wished for, it was more time. Time to delve deeper, to innovate further, and to expand the outreach of Lawformer's digital platform across different countries and organizations. That is why I decided to continue my journey with Lawformer, this time as an affiliate.


Working for startups like Lawformer is an interesting experience because it’s not just about ticking a task off a checklist—it is about the rewarding feeling of contributing to the necessary and useful process in your field. I see my future in legal tech. I'm determined to be the one to bring these innovations to the Turkish legal market and beyond. While doing so, I’m looking forward to working closely with Lawformer's team.


By Buse Kasap,

Trainee, Lawformer

15.08.2023
Legal Blog

Standard Agreements: The Future of Simplified Contracting

In an era where time is money and efficiency is key, the introduction of Standard Agreements promises to revolutionize the contracting landscape. This new model offers a simplified approach to the negotiation process and accelerates the closing of deals. Below, we explore what Standard Agreements are, how they work, and what they mean for the future of legal contracting.


What Are Standard Agreements?


Standard Agreements are a groundbreaking model of contracting that aims to eliminate the tedious back-and-forths traditionally associated with contract negotiations. Unlike conventional methods where customers and providers battle over whose form to use, Standard Agreements begin with a neutral, best-practice template.

Usually drafted by a cross-industry committee of law firms, or independent lawyers, these templates are released free of charge under an open-source license. They provide a uniform starting point that balances the interests of all parties involved.


How Do Standard Agreements Work?


The implementation of a Standard Agreement is a streamlined and flexible process. It begins with a cover page where the client and service provider tailor the Standard Agreement to their unique needs. This tailoring process does not involve redlines or endless negotiations, allowing for a more focused and less acrimonious deal-making process.


Here is a step-by-step look at how it works:


Selection: Parties choose an appropriate Standard Agreement template for their transaction.

Customization: Using the cover page, parties make necessary adjustments to align with their specific requirements.

Finalization: The customized Standard Agreement is executed without prolonged negotiations.


Benefits of Standard Agreements


Users who have adopted this new model report several significant benefits. Firstly, deals are finalized at an incredibly fast pace, thereby saving valuable time. Secondly, the model enhances efficiency as it reduces back-and-forth discussions, leading to a smoother negotiation process. The open-source nature of these templates democratizes access to best-practice legal documents, increasing accessibility. Lastly, the model promotes collaboration by involving various stakeholders in the drafting process, ensuring that the agreements are fair and balanced.


The Future of Contracting


The introduction of Standard Agreements marks a shift in the legal landscape that could redefine how contracts are negotiated and implemented. As more organizations adopt this model, we may see a ripple effect across different sectors, encouraging a new era of transparent, efficient, and accessible contracting.


Standard Agreements also serve as a viable alternative to the increasingly common AI drafting and revision process. As technology evolves, it's essential to recognize the value of both AI innovations and traditional methods, and to use each where most appropriate.

03.07.2023
Legal Blog

Trust and Deception: The Hidden Risks of Blindly Embracing AI

OpenAI's ChatGPT has taken the world by storm, captivating over 100 million users and drawing a staggering 1.8 billion monthly visitors. From paraphrasing to grammar-checking, summarizing to content-writing, AI has revolutionized various industries, and the legal field is no exception. In the legal realm, however, where precision is paramount, ChatGPT's uncanny ability to fabricate facts raises a red flag. After the infamous litigation fiasco surrounding the case Mata v. Avianca, Inc., it is crystal clear that legal professionals cannot and should not place absolute trust in the tool. 


The Case Unveiled


Alleging a knee injury caused by a metal serving cart during a 2019 flight, Robert Mata's case takes a dramatic turn. Avianca swiftly moved to dismiss the lawsuit, citing the expiration of the statute of limitations. However, Mata's legal team submitted objections, in which they cited a series of court decisions to support their argument. But here's the twist: most of the cases in Mata's reply brief were entirely fictional. It was revealed that the research behind the inaccurate brief was not conducted by the lawyer representing the plaintiff, Peter LoDuca, but by his colleague Steven A. Schwartz. A seasoned attorney with over three decades of experience, Schwartz turned to ChatGPT as a tool for finding relevant legal precedents. However, he expressed deep regret over relying on the chatbot, as he was unaware of its potential for generating false information. This way, a New York lawyer found himself entangled in a court hearing due to his firm's use of ChatGPT for legal research.


The Perils of Blind Trust


ChatGPT, while capable of generating text on request, comes with warnings that it may produce inaccurate information. In this case, although the lawyer asked the ChatGPT about the validity of the cases cited, he mistakenly trusted the AI tool's responses without verifying their authenticity – an act, which is definitely reckless for a lawyer. The incident raises concerns about the dangers of accepting AI-generated content without corroborating it through traditional legal research methods.


Lessons Learned


The incident once again shows that legal research is a complex and nuanced process that requires a deep understanding of legal precedent and the ability to navigate a variety of legal databases. Therefore, while AI can be a valuable resource, it should always be used as a supplement rather than a replacement for verified and authentic sources.


The incident serves as a stark reminder of the dangers of blind reliance on artificial intelligence, as the tool's output referenced non-existent legal cases. This is not to say that AI chatbots have no place in legal practice, rather the use of AI chatbots in the legal industry should be approached with common sense. It can certainly increase efficiency and productivity, but it can also lead to unintended legal consequences. Lawyers and legal professionals should exercise caution and vigilance when using these tools, and should always prioritize accuracy and validity when submitting legal documents to the court. Thus, while these tools may have their uses, they cannot replace the expertise and judgment of a skilled legal professional.  


25.05.2023
Legal Blog

5 Reasons Why You Should Attend Legal Tech Conferences

Over the past decade, legal technology has been changing the landscape of the legal profession in various ways. From revolutionizing contract drafting with the efficiency of AI, to catalyzing the emergence of novel professions that extend beyond the realms of traditional lawyering, legal tech is paving the way for an exciting and transformative future in the legal sector.


One of the notable platforms where these developments come to light are legal tech conferences. These events serve as a nexus for the exchange of ideas, networking, and showcasing what's new in the sector. They offer invaluable opportunities not just for tech companies, but also for legal professionals to build their brand and stay informed about ongoing trends. In this blog post, we will highlight the top five reasons why legal professionals should not only consider attending these conferences but also actively leverage them to their advantage.


Networking

In an increasingly interconnected world, it is not just about how much you know, but also who you know and what they know about you. Legal tech conferences are fertile grounds for making new connections, collaborating with other legal professionals, and potentially meeting future clients or partners. They bring together a diverse mix of experts, including lawyers, technologists, entrepreneurs, and investors. Whether you're a solo practitioner looking to grow your practice, a startup founder or a partner at a law firm seeking innovative solutions, these conferences present a myriad of opportunities to network and build relationships.


Branding and Positioning

A strong personal and professional brand is critical in today's legal market. Attending legal tech conferences gives you an opportunity to present yourself as a forward-thinking, tech-savvy legal professional. Engaging in panel discussions, giving talks, or simply being present and active in these events boosts your visibility and credibility in the legal community. It shows you're in touch with the latest developments, positioning you as an innovator in the field.


Staying Ahead of Trends

In the fast-paced legal tech landscape, staying up-to-date with the latest trends, innovations, and industry changes is crucial for legal professionals. Attending legal tech conferences provides an invaluable opportunity to remain in sync with the ever-evolving legal tech scene. These conferences serve as a hub where cutting-edge technologies, tools, and services are showcased, discussed, and analyzed. By actively participating in these events, you gain access to firsthand information about emerging trends, innovative solutions, and disruptive advancements, allowing you to stay ahead of the curve.


Skills Development

Legal tech conferences go beyond just keeping you updated on industry trends; they also provide a valuable platform for skills development. These conferences typically offer a range of interactive sessions, including workshops, demos, and hands-on activities that can help enhance your tech skills and deepen your understanding of new tools and technologies. By actively participating, you gain practical experience and insights that directly translate into improved work productivity and the ability to better serve your clients with the most efficient and cost-effective legal solutions.


Meeting partners and investors

Exhibition areas and investor lounges at conferences provide a valuable platform to connect with potential investors, fostering meaningful interactions and expanding the visibility of your company or service. These dedicated spaces offer a secure environment where entrepreneurs can showcase their offerings, engage in productive discussions, and establish valuable connections. By participating in such events, businesses can seize the opportunity to pitch their ideas, attract investment, and gain valuable insights from industry experts. Maximizing the exposure through these venues enables companies to amplify their reach, build credibility, and potentially secure the resources needed for growth and success.


If you're aiming to expand your career opportunities, attending legal tech conferences is a definitive step in the right direction. Our upcoming webinar brings together legal professionals, entrepreneurs and marketing specialists who will provide insider tips and strategies for leveraging such events. Join us on June 1, 11:00 AM ET and receive exclusive discount codes for two prominent legal tech conferences - Legal Innovators California and Legal Geek North America. Don't miss out on some of the biggest legal tech parties of the year.

 

 

10.05.2023
Legal News

High Cost of Data Breaches: PayPal Faces Class Action Lawsuit

A class action lawsuit has been initiated against PayPal after a cyber-attack resulted in the exposure of personal and financial information belonging to approximately 35,000 customers. The lawsuit alleges that PayPal, the leading online payment services provider, failed to adequately protect the private information of its users, leaving them susceptible to identity theft and other associated harms. 


PayPal released an official statement shortly after the cyber-attack, which revealed that the incident occurred during the period of December 6 to December 8, 2022. According to the statement, the attackers employed a technique called "credential stuffing" where they used login credentials acquired from one organization to gain unauthorized access to accounts at another entity. Although the company maintains that there is no evidence of personal information misuse or unauthorized transactions, it cannot completely rule out the possibility of third parties accessing and potentially acquiring users' personal information. 


Despite PayPal's attempts to downplay the extent of the potential harm, the plaintiffs in the civil lawsuit argue that the company violated the guidelines established by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by neglecting to implement fundamental security practices and comply with industry data-protection standards. PayPal is facing nine different accusations, including charges of unjust enrichment, breach of contract, and negligence per se. The latter refers to a failure to fulfill a duty that is mandated by law, rather than a general legal duty of care, which is typically associated with a standard negligence claim. The claimants seek unspecified monetary damages for breach of several consumer protection laws and request equitable relief in the form of lifetime credit monitoring and identity theft insurance.


In response, PayPal has offered affected users a two-year free subscription to Equifax, a leading consumer credit reporting agency. The subscription includes up to $1,000,000 of identity theft insurance coverage, identity restoration assistance, and other valuable features. The company has further advised users to utilize different passwords for different accounts and turn on two-factor authentication as a precautionary measure to avoid future security incidents.


As PayPal continues to grapple with the aftermath of the cyberattack, the class action lawsuit serves as a stark reminder of the far-reaching consequences of data breaches. With personal and financial information at risk, consumers expect more robust security measures from service providers. As the case unfolds, it remains to be seen how the courts will weigh in on the matter. However, it is clear that the need for adequate cybersecurity measures has never been more pressing, and all organizations should prioritize safeguarding the sensitive information of their users.

24.04.2023
Legal News

DOJ Prepares to Block Adobe's $20 Billion Acquisition of Figma

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is said to be preparing an antitrust lawsuit seeking to block Adobe Inc.’s acquisition of Figma Inc. for $20 billion. The deal is predicted to be one of the largest takeovers of a software startup after Meta Platforms Inc. procured Instagram, a small but rising competitor to Facebook, in 2012.


Figma Inc. is a startup that has rapidly seized a significant market share for designing app and website interfaces. Its popularity can be attributed to its extensive prototyping features, which reduce the amount of manual work involved in creating interface designs. Before Figma was launched, designers usually had to go through multiple iterations of visual assets until finalizing the interface design, but the rising startup introduced tools that facilitate the process more efficiently. In particular, Figma allows designers to animate buttons and perform other tasks, such as resizing ads, without manual coding.


Thanks to these novelties, Figma was on a fast growth trajectory until Adobe – a corporate giant with market capitalization of over $175 billion - announced the proposed acquisition in the years of 2020 and 2021. Although the offers were initially declined, in 2022, Figma decided to accept an offer from Adobe that was double its valuation. This move has been regarded by Wall Street analysts as a sign of intense competitive pressure on Adobe.


The proposed acquisition has raised concerns about its impact on competition in the creative software market, as it would further strengthen Adobe's already dominant position. The Department of Justice has been among the most vocal critics of the deal and is reportedly considering taking a more aggressive approach by filing an antitrust lawsuit. The Biden Administration shares the concern that the acquisition could reduce options for design software used by creative professionals. This is particularly concerning given the increasing importance of digital design in many industries, including technology, advertising, and e-commerce. As a result, the DOJ is closely scrutinizing the deal and weighing its potential impact on competition and innovation in the market.


Despite the criticism and the anticipated lawsuit hurdles, Adobe expects to complete the acquisition of Figma this year and is currently engaging in "constructive and cooperative discussions" with various stakeholders. The spokesperson of Adobe has been relentlessly advocating the deal, claiming that Adobe and Figma have divergent areas of focus. “Figma is a leader in interactive product design, focused on building a collaborative web platform. Adobe is a leader in the creative tools space, helping millions of users create amazing visual content. Together, our vision will help enable millions of consumers to transform their productivity with creativity. We are engaged in constructive and cooperative discussions with regulators in the US, UK and EU, among others,” said the spokesperson. Additionally, Adobe has promised to keep the free-use tier in the program in order not to disrupt Figma's existing development strategy.


While Adobe claims that the deal is harmless, acquiring Figma - a tool that companies use for designing apps and websites and collaborating on ideas - is an audacious step to take a growing competitor off the market, which could result in higher prices. As the lawsuit is yet to be filed, only time will tell how this saga will play out, and whether Figma's acquisition will ultimately benefit or harm the design industry.

18.04.2023
Legal News

The Data Act: Unlocking New Opportunities for Startups

During a plenary vote at the European Parliament on March 14th, the EU lawmakers adopted their version of the Data Act with an overwhelming majority.


The European Commission's proposed Data Act is a highly anticipated legislative initiative aimed at regulating non-personal or industrial data within the European Union (EU). The Act is based on the idea that sharing non-personal data can create a positive cycle within the data economy, which can result in substantial advantages for startups. Greater capacity to generate economic value and to respond to consumer needs right from the outset are a few examples of the benefits the Data Act is expected to bring about.


The Data Act initiative aims to eliminate barriers to data access. It establishes common rules for sharing data from connected products and services, and facilitates data transfers among companies, individuals, and the public sector. It enables customers to easily switch between cloud data-processing service providers, and provides users of connected devices access to data that is often solely collected by manufacturers.


Thierry Breton, the Commissioner for Internal Market, has shed light on the anticipated positive impact the Data Act will bring about. He believes the legislation will unlock a vast trove of industrial data within Europe and help establish a more innovative and prosperous digital economy. Breton emphasized that the Data Act's implementation will ensure that industrial data is shared, stored, and processed in full compliance with European regulations. “So far, only a small part of industrial data is used and the potential for growth and innovation is enormous.” Said Breton. “It [the Data Act] will form the cornerstone of a strong, innovative and sovereign European digital economy.”


While the Data Act is indeed an ambitious goal that startup associations share, there are concerns that several provisions, in their current form, present significant technical and legal challenges. These concerns are centered on the fact that these provisions could create legal uncertainty in how data should be handled and potentially have a negative impact on the quantity and quality of data that startups can gather and process. In order to ensure that the Data Act fosters innovation and growth, startup communities have provided thorough recommendations balancing the incentives and costs involved in the value chain of dataset creation and maintenance. They are recommending that policymakers apply a "litmus test" to the Data Act to assess whether it will attract more entrepreneurs to create and develop their data-intensive startups within the EU.


One of their recommendations is to provide clarity and proportionality on product definition. The startup community believes that the Data Act should remain to exclude products that are primarily designed to display, play, record, or transmit content, such as personal computers, servers, tablets, smartphones, cameras, webcams, sound recording systems, and text scanners. These products require human input to produce various forms of content, such as text documents, sound files, video files, games, and digital maps. The Commission's initiative, as it stands, will offer legal clarity to startups and investors and foster innovation within the EU.


Another recommendation is to provide data sharing obligations in line with the technical and financial realities of startups. The startup community suggests policymakers clarify key concepts to limit the legal burden for startups. For instance, the vast majority of datasets are mixed, containing personal and non-personal data. Policymakers are encouraged to take into account the complexity of designating what is personal or non-personal and applying the respective legal requirements accordingly.


So, although there are several concerns that need further contemplation, it is clear that startups stand to benefit from simplified data access and transfers. To ensure success, policy makers are expected to focus on fine-tuning the data-sharing environment, narrowing the scope of the legislation, and providing clear definitions. Doing so will provide startups with the necessary legal certainty and flexibility to compete and innovate, while also achieving the EU's goal of stimulating a competitive data market, fostering data-driven innovation, and making data more accessible for everyone.


If you're interested to learn more about how the EU is working to protect personal information in the digital space, be sure to check out our blog post on the Digital Services Act. It provides a brief overview of the legislation aimed at ensuring online safety and privacy for all users within the EU.

11.04.2023
Legal Blog

5 Tips for Launching a Successful Career in Law

Are you considering applying to law school or transitioning into the legal industry? Then this blog is just for you. In this fast-paced and ever-changing field, staying abreast of legal trends is critical to achieve success. From exploring unique career paths to honing essential skills and prioritizing your well-being, we will equip you with the knowledge and tools to take your first steps towards an enriching career in law. So, read on to discover how you can make your mark in this exciting field.



There are many more interesting professions beyond traditional lawyering


The legal industry offers a diverse range of career opportunities beyond the traditional role of a lawyer. If you are not keen on practicing law, there are many other options to explore. Legal operations, legal design, legal entrepreneurship, and legal innovation management are just a few of the many careers that you can delve into. It's essential to research different career paths and find the one that suits your skills, interests, and personality. A good approach for doing this is to visit career pages of different companies and checking what positions they recruit for. Alternatively, you can browse LinkedIn to discover people with interesting job descriptions that are shaping new pathways in your specific field.



Develop a mindset that helps you cope with stress


The legal profession is known for its high-pressure work environment, which often leads to stress and anxiety. However, there are several effective ways to cope with the demands of this dynamic industry. Engaging in physical exercise, practicing mindfulness techniques, and taking regular breaks can help alleviate anxiety and promote overall well-being. Moreover, maintaining a healthy work-life balance is paramount. Make time for activities that you enjoy and spend quality time with loved ones. Avoid resorting to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as excessive caffeine consumption or nicotine intake. By prioritizing your mental and physical health, you'll be able to excel in your legal career with a clear mind and a healthy body.



Discover the art of effective self-branding


Self-branding is crucial in the legal industry, and it's essential to learn how to do it right. Building a strong professional network and utilizing social media platforms such as LinkedIn can help you get noticed by potential employers. It's crucial to make sure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and showcases your professional accomplishments and skills. Networking events, conferences, and seminars are also excellent opportunities to meet and connect with other professionals within the legal industry. You can also find and join relevant societies and communities to meet like-minded individuals, here about interesting opportunities and be a part of an ongoing conversation on topics that you are interested in.  



Acquire new skills using AI to automate work


Since the legal ecosystem is evolving rapidly, it's fundamental to keep up with the latest trends and technology. One of the most significant changes in the legal industry is the use of artificial intelligence and automation to streamline legal processes, such as contract analysis, legal research, and document review. Work towards acquiring new skills and stay updated with emerging technologies to remain competitive. Utilizing tools such as ChatGPT can help you escape from repetitive tasks, increase productivity, and improve efficiency in your work. If you don’t know where to start and what skills are relevant to your field, go on LinkedIn and find job postings that you could be interested in. Take a look at their required skills section and find out which technical skills are the most frequently mentioned. This will give you an idea on what market requirements exist in your industry.



Select the optimal institution for your legal education


Choosing the right legal education plays a big role in succeeding in the legal industry. Apart from acquiring a degree in law, it's essential to focus on developing skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication. Joining a reputable law school can help you gain valuable experience, learn from experienced professionals, and develop essential skills. It is also equally important to seek out internships, volunteer opportunities, and other relevant experiences that can help you build a strong foundation for your career.


Therefore, while starting a career in law can seem intimidating, it can be a rewarding and exciting experience. With the right mindset, education, and skills, you can achieve success in the legal industry and strike the right balance between law and life.


If you want to gain more insights into the intricacies of the legal field, take a look at our recent legal talk hosted by Lawformer, where accomplished legal professionals divulge invaluable hacks and tricks on how to successfully navigate the dynamic legal ecosystem.

03.04.2023
Legal News

Xcential Technologies wins major lawsuit against Akin Gump

The legal industry has witnessed a significant development in the Akin Gump v Xcential lawsuit, as the US court denied Akin Gump’s motion to dismiss the counterclaims filed by Californian legal technology company Xcential Legislative Technologies. The lawsuit centers around who really invented a piece of bill-drafting software, and the recent ruling by D.C. Superior Court Judge Juliet McKenna is a major victory for Xcential.



Background of the story


Akin Gump had claimed that Xcential's Bill Synthesis software was invented by Louis Agnello, Counsel at Akin Gump. In October, they filed a lawsuit against Xcential claiming damages, alleging that Xcential incorporated a concept presented to them under a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) by Agnello into their existing LegisPro software. This idea, as claimed by Akin Gump, involves utilizing suggested redline modifications to an existing legislation to produce a draft bill that complies with the appropriate format for Congressional submission, thereby speeding up the bill drafting process, improving precision, and reducing costs.


In its lawsuit, Akin alleged that Xcential failed to provide a prototype despite numerous discussions and demonstrations. Instead, its CEO and founder Grant Vergottini submitted a patent application for a renamed version of Akin's product called 'Bill Synthesis.' For these reasons, Akin is now seeking damages for various claims, which, among others, include misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of a contract, unjust enrichment, and replevin, which allows for the recovery of wrongfully taken goods.


In response, Xcential filed five counterclaims, and the court dismissed the petition with regard to only one of them. The court found that Xcential had adequately asserted the grounds for a breach of contract (count one); sufficiently alleged all elements in support of a claim of misappropriation of trade secrets and confidential information (counts two and three); adequately pled a breach of implied contract that would entitle them to relief if proved to be true (count four).


The ruling represents a significant win for Xcential, which claimed it invented the bill-drafting technology alone. Xcential’s Co-founder and CEO, Grant Vergottini, expressed his satisfaction with the ruling and his commitment to protecting the rights of inventors to patent and market their innovative products. “Only Xcential has created software that functions as described in the patent application for Bill Synthesis. We will not be intimidated into surrendering our know-how and intellectual property to a giant law firm like Akin Gump. This litigation should be a warning to all innovative legal technology providers,” said Vergottini.  


Why is this ruling important?


This lawsuit is a reminder of the importance of protecting intellectual property in the legal industry, particularly as technological innovations become increasingly prevalent. With the increasing use of legal technology, it is essential for firms to protect their inventions from misappropriation.


The case also highlights the need for careful consideration of intellectual property ownership when collaborating on new projects. And since the legal industry continues to embrace technological innovations, it is essential for parties to have clear agreements in place regarding ownership and use of intellectual property before beginning any collaborative projects.

 


31.03.2023
Legal News

OpenAI's CTO, Mira Murati, on balancing benefits & risks of AI

The rise of AI technology has captivated the public's imagination, with companies like OpenAI leading the way in creating software that can answer complex questions, produce content and generate art. However, as the technology evolves, so do the potential threats of unregulated AI. In a recent interview with TIME, OpenAI's Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Mira Murati, discussed the limitations and challenges of working with AI, the software's untapped potential, and the need for proper regulations to govern its use.


ChatGPT, OpenAI's AI chatbot, has caused significant hype for its ability to answer questions and engage in conversations that are eerily human-like. In fact, the newly-released GPT-4 scores in the top ranks for at least 34 different tests in fields such as macroeconomics, writing, math, and virology, exhibiting human-level performance on the majority of these professional and academic exams.


However, as with all AI technologies, ChatGPT has its limitations. Murati explains that ChatGPT is essentially a large conversational model that may make up facts in a very confident way, which presents a core challenge. Nevertheless, she is confident that it can revolutionize the way people learn, making education more personalized and accessible.


Murati further acknowledges that it is important to consider the ethical and philosophical questions that arise with its use. “This is a unique moment in time where we do have agency in how it shapes society. And it goes both ways: the technology shapes us and we shape it,” said Murati. This includes questions about how to govern the use of AI in a way that is aligned with human values and how to prevent malicious actors from exploiting the technology. 


The CTO further believes that companies like OpenAI have a responsibility to bring these issues to the public consciousness in a controlled and responsible way. However, she acknowledges that more input is needed from regulators, governments, and other stakeholders to ensure that AI is used safely and responsibly. While there is always a fear that government involvement can stifle innovation, Murati believes that “it is not too early” for policymakers and regulators to get involved and contribute to an effective governance of the AI.


So, stemming from the interview with Mira Murati, we come to understand that AI’s impact will only continue to grow in the future. While there is still uncertainty regarding how AI will be regulated, we should welcome this transformative technology with open arms while also exercising caution. It is essential to recognize that although AI can bring tremendous benefits to society, we should be proactively taking steps to mitigate its potential negative consequences.

28.03.2023
Legal News

The Potential Ban on TikTok in the U.S.

TikTok, a popular social media platform with over one billion users worldwide, has been under scrutiny by the U.S. government for quite some time. The app's ownership by China's ByteDance has raised concerns about national security risks, censorship, and the potential transfer of personal data of Americans to Beijing. Now, with the possibility of a ban on the horizon, the debate over TikTok's future in the U.S. has become even more heated.


Background of the story


The controversy surrounding TikTok began in 2019 when the U.S. government launched a national security review of the app. The review was prompted by concerns that TikTok could be used by the Chinese government to spy on American citizens or influence political discourse. Due to these concerns, the Trump administration tried to ban TikTok in the U.S. in 2020. However, those efforts were stalled in court on the grounds that such a move infringed guarantees of free speech.


Now, with the Biden administration in place, there are renewed calls for TikTok to be banned or at least heavily regulated. In February 2023, the U.S. government gave state agencies 30 days to delete TikTok from federal devices and systems over data security concerns. While this ban only applies to government devices, some lawmakers are advocating for an outright ban on the app. Cybersecurity and privacy concerns around TikTok are not limited to the U.S. Several countries, including Norway, France, the UK, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Belgium, and Denmark, have already banned TikTok on government-owned devices or cautioned their employees against using the app.


TikTok denies these allegations, stating that it collects the same type of user data as other social media platforms, including Facebook and Instagram. Besides, over 60% of ByteDance is owned by global institutional investors. Shou Zi Chew, CEO of TikTok, testifying at a congressional hearing on 23 March 2023, claimed that the allegations are groundless, since the app protects personal data and prioritizes user safety. “Let me state this unequivocally: ByteDance is not an agent of China or any other country,” said Chew. Because of this, many believe national security concerns are just a cover up and in fact, Zuckerberg is behind the efforts to ban TikTok in the U.S. to eliminate Meta's biggest competitor from the market.


Concerns around the issue


Several legal issues are being discussed in connection with TikTok's future in the U.S. The most important is whether the government has the authority to ban a particular app or platform, since it may interfere with American citizens' right to free speech. Advocates of freedom of expression are predominantly citing the Packingham v. North Carolina case from the U.S. Supreme Court in 2017, where the court deemed that even registered sex offenders shall have a right to access the internet and social media, as they are crucial platforms for exchanging ideas in the present-day. On the other hand, while the First Amendment protects freedom of speech and expression, it does not necessarily apply to private companies or their products. The government has broad powers to regulate interstate commerce, and it could argue that TikTok's Chinese ownership poses a national security risk that justifies a ban.


Some experts argue that a ban could simply lead to the emergence of new, potentially even more dangerous, apps or platforms. Others point out that the global nature of the internet means that a ban in one country is unlikely to prevent access to the app altogether. Despite these concerns, proponents of a ban argue that it is necessary to protect national security and prevent potential harm to users. 


Is there an alternative to an outright ban?


As an alternative to the drastic measure to ban TikTok completely, the government could seek to regulate the app in different ways. For example, it could require the app to be divested from its Chinese parent company and become an independent US-based entity subject to U.S. laws and regulations. Alternatively, it could require TikTok to implement certain privacy and security measures to protect user data and limit potential national security risks.


Therefore, the debate over TikTok's future in the U.S. is far from over. With concerns about national security, censorship, and privacy still looming, the government and private companies must carefully consider the legal and ethical implications of their actions. Whether through an outright ban or regulatory measures, it is crucial to strike a balance between protecting national security interests and respecting the rights of users to free speech and privacy. As the world becomes increasingly interconnected through technology, it is more important than ever to address these complex issues in a nuanced and thoughtful manner.

23.03.2023
Legal News

Protecting Fashion Brands in the Digital Age

In the recent groundbreaking ruling that could have far-reaching implications for the world of fashion and digital art, luxury fashion house Hermès has emerged victorious in a landmark legal battle over non-fungible tokens (NFTs). The case marks the conclusion of the first-ever trial examining NFTs and the decision is expected to serve as a precedent for their use in the industry of fashion.


The dispute centered on Mason Rothschild's MetaBirkins, a collection of NFTs that featured digital renderings of Hermès' iconic Birkin bag. Rothschild claimed that the NFTs were a form of artistic expression protected by the First Amendment. “I am not creating or selling fake Birkin bags. I’ve made artworks that depict imaginary, fur-covered Birkin bags,” stated Rothschild on social media. 


In response, Hermès argued that the use of their trademarked Birkin name and design constituted trademark infringement, since it confused the customers and could potentially harm the reputation of the brand. “MetaBirkins sold at the amount they did because of the Birkin name," said Oren Warshavsky, a lawyer representing Hermès. "People spent that money because of the name MetaBirkin, regardless of which NFT they were getting.”


After less than a month of proceedings, the jury seated in the court in Southern District of New York sided with Hermès', awarding the luxury brand $133,000 in damages, ruling that MetaBirkins didn't qualify as protected artwork, rather they were categorized as ordinary consumer goods. The verdict clarified that intellectual property rights extend to digital possessions and NFTs, highlighting the need for creators to respect these rights and seek permission before using a brand's name or image in their work.


What to expect next?


It is no news that the fashion industry has long been a target of counterfeiters, who produce cheap copies of luxury items and sell them at a fraction of the price. Therefore, the Hermès decision is of particular significance for the emerging market of NFTs, which have exploded in popularity in recent years as a means of selling unique digital assets, including art, music, and fashion. As the market continues to grow, brands are expected to take proactive steps to protect their intellectual property and safeguard their business interests in the digital realm.


The Hermès ruling further serves as an implicit warning to NFT creators that intellectual property law is enforceable on the blockchain and underscores the importance of trademarks in protecting a brand's reputation. Therefore, to avoid the risk of costly trademark infringement lawsuits and potentially devastating financial losses, NFT creators will have the Hermès case at hand as a stark reminder to observe intellectual property rights in the digital age.

20.03.2023
Legal News

The first-ever court hearing took place in the Metaverse

As technology advances, the internet has transcended our screens and entered a whole new realm: the metaverse. This digital universe is a vibrant space where users, embodied by their avatars, can connect and collaborate in real-time, create digital content, conduct business, and, according to the latest precedent, even attend court hearings.


In a recent groundbreaking move, on February 15 2023, the Magdalena administrative court, based in the northern Colombian city of Santa Marta, held a court session entirely within the metaverse. The case involved a plaintiff who brought a lawsuit against the Colombian Ministry of Defense and the National Police. The court magistrate, María Victoria Quiñones, agreed to the plaintiff's request to hold the public hearing in the digital realm and the defendant also accepted this unprecedented arrangement.


During the hearing, Quiñones emphasized the advantages of the metaverse, noting that it enables "real interaction" and allows for the use of immersive technology to improve the efficiency of procedural cases, all while upholding procedural guarantees and principles of digital justice. Speaking through her virtual avatar, the judge explained that although she was physically alone in her courtroom, her colleagues were joining from their offices, the counsel lawyer was working from home, and the other lawyers had connected from their own premises. The physical distance, however, was not at all disturbing by virtue of the metaverse, which “felt more real” to the participants of the hearing than a Zoom meeting. This is an academic experiment to show that it’s possible, and when everyone consents to it, my court can continue to do things in the metaverse, Quinones told reporters, calling the proceedings in virtual reality “simply amazing.”


One of the most significant advantages of utilizing the metaverse for court proceedings is the ability to circumvent physical confrontations and create a welcoming atmosphere for individuals who may be particularly vulnerable, such as child witnesses. This innovative approach to the judicial process not only prioritizes the comfort and well-being of those involved, but also presents a sophisticated solution to traditional courtroom settings that may sometimes prove intimidating or uncomfortable.


Regardless, this approach has not been immune to criticism and scrutiny. Some deem metaverse to be incompatible for court hearings for its clunky and cartoonish avatars. Others consider the practice “unnecessary” and “complicated.” Responding to this reproval, Francisco Bernante, the president of Colombia's criminal bar association, emphasized that metaverse hearings would not become the standard procedure. Instead, he argued that the technology could make justice "more friendly, efficient, and empathetic to the technology and citizens of the future."


As we look ahead, it's clear that the implementation of metaverse technology in the judicial sector may still be several years away due to current limitations. However, we cannot deny the fact that the metaverse is a dynamic and inventive space that will undoubtedly continue to evolve in the years to come. It's worth considering the possibilities and potential implications that such a technological shift may bring about, even if it's not yet within immediate reach.

14.03.2023
Legal Blog

Copyright vs Creativity: The Debate Over AI-Generated Art

Increasing use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has led to a series of challenges. Among them is the recent Intellectual Property (IP) litigation directed at AI generator companies. This has emerged as a key issue that requires careful consideration of both legal professionals and AI specialists.


The controversy over AI-generated art and its linkage to IP rights has been brewing for some time already. The rise of GANs (Generative Adversarial Networks) has allowed AI systems to create digital art that resembles traditional art styles, leading some to question whether such systems are essentially copying the work of human artists. The current lawsuit against Stability AI Ltd., reflects these concerns and could have far-reaching implications for the broader AI industry.


Getty Images, a stock photography company, and a trio of artists have initiated separate lawsuits against AI art generators - Stability AI Ltd., Midjourney Inc., and DeviantArt Inc. – for copyright infringement. Getty has accused Stability AI of “brazen infringement of Getty Images’ intellectual property on a staggering scale.” It has claimed that more than 12 million images have been copied by Stability AI from its database “without permission ... or compensation ... as part of its efforts to build a competing business.” Interestingly, some of the outputs generated by Stability AI include distorted versions of the Getty watermark, leading to a potential trademark infringement claim.


In yet another lawsuit, artists - Sarah Andersen, Kelly McKernan, and Karla Ortiz - have claimed infringement of rights of “millions of artists.” “Until now, when a purchaser seeks a new image ‘in the style’ of a given artist, they must pay to commission or license an original image from that artist,” states their attorney, Matthew Butterick. “Now, those purchasers can use the artist’s works along with the artist’s name to generate new works in the artist’s style without compensating the artist at all.”


While the plaintiffs in these cases argue that the AI-generated content is not transformative and constitutes copyright infringement under the law, the defendants argue that the AI-generated content is not a direct copy of the original works and is therefore not in violation of copyright law. They also contend that the AI systems are designed to create novel content that is distinct from the original works.


Determining whether AI art tools infringe on copyright law can be a challenging task. The vast databases from which these AI tools learn may contain images that are protected under the fair use doctrine. As reported by The Verge, the evaluation of potential copyright law violations requires an assessment of both the "inputs" (the images extracted from these databases) and the "outputs" (the images produced by the AI art generators). This is a complex matter that requires a nuanced approach.


With AI-generated artwork becoming more widespread, these disputes are likely to continue arising, and their outcomes could have significant implications for the future of IP rights and AI-generated works. While Some argue that AI-generated art can democratize access to the arts and allow for new forms of artistic expression, others worry that it could devalue human creativity and take away control over the use of one's own work.

08.03.2023
Legal Blog

Women Who Defined the Legal Profession and Beyond

“Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.”

Maya Angelou,  American memoirist, poet, and civil rights activist.


International Women’s Day marks a day of global celebration, as people across the world come together to honor the remarkable achievements of women in all their diverse forms and spheres. March 8th is an occasion to reflect on the immense progress that has been made towards gender equality, while also acknowledging that there is still much work to be done to achieve true parity. The legal profession is no exception, and the milestone of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act adopted by UK Parliament in 1919 paved the way for women to finally practice law. Today, we recognize the women who have defined the legal profession throughout history. We celebrate those who have fought tirelessly for justice, equality, and human rights, leaving an indelible mark on the legal profession and inspiring countless girls and women to follow in their footsteps.


Women lawyers from all over the world have contributed to the profession in diverse ways, pushing the boundaries and breaking through barriers. Here, we delve into the contributions of a few extraordinary women in the legal profession, shedding light on their inspiring stories and remarkable achievements.


Among the pantheon of women who have made enduring contributions to the field of law, the inimitable Ruth Bader Ginsburg stood out as a beacon of hope and progress. Also known as “Notorious RBG,” she was a U.S. Supreme Court Justice who dedicated her life to fighting for gender equality and women’s rights. Throughout her career, she worked tirelessly for women’s reproductive rights, equal pay, and equal treatment under the law. As the first tenured female law professor at Columbia and a co-founder of the first law journal on women’s rights, she was a trailblazer for women in the legal profession.


Continuing the legacy of women in the U.S. justice system, Sandra Day O’Connor became the first woman to serve in the Supreme Court of the United States. Prior to her appointment, women were significantly underrepresented in the legal profession. O’Connor was a champion for gender equality and worked to ensure that women had equal opportunities in the legal field. She became the first woman to have her name attached to a law school. 


No list of women who have shaped the legal profession would be complete without Constance Baker Motley, first African American woman to become a federal judge. She was a key figure in the civil rights movement and played a pivotal role in desegregating schools and public institutions. She worked alongside Thurgood Marshall on landmark cases, such as Brown v. Board of Education, and also argued cases that resulted in the desegregation of Southern schools, universities, and public spaces.


Another notable woman in the legal profession is Cornelia Sorabji, who was the first woman to study at Oxford University and first female to practice law in India in 1894. Despite facing significant challenges and obstacles as a woman in a male-dominated field, Sorabji was admitted to the bar in Bombay and Calcutta and went on to represent the rights of women and children in British India.


In South Africa, Fatima Meer was one of the country’s first female lawyers and a prominent member of the African National Congress (ANC). She worked alongside other activists like Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, and Walter Sisulu to end apartheid and achieve democracy in South Africa. She advocated for the rights of women, children, and marginalized communities. Till this day, Meer’s legacy continues to inspire social justice advocates around the world.


These women are a few examples of those who have made significant contributions to the legal profession. From the first women to practice law in the United States, such as Arabella Mansfield and Belva Ann Lockwood, to trailblazers such as Ruth Bader Ginsburg, women have played a vital role in promoting justice. Besides, it is not just the women who have practiced law that have made an impact. Women who have worked outside the legal profession, such as activists and politicians, have also advanced the cause of women's rights and gender equality. Women such as Shirley Chisholm, who became the first African American woman elected to Congress, and Gloria Steinem, a feminist icon and founder of Ms. Magazine, have used their platforms to promote social change and challenge gender norms.


At Lawformer, we understand the importance of recognizing the remarkable achievements of women lawyers. We believe that gender equality and women's empowerment are not only fundamental human rights but are also essential for achieving social justice and building a better future for all. As a female-owned start-up, we are proud to be a part of the movement for gender equality and are committed to promoting and supporting women in the legal profession around the world.

 


07.03.2023
Legal Blog

The Importance of Being Tech-Savvy in the Legal World

With the rapidly evolving technological landscape, it's becoming increasingly important for professionals in all industries to integrate digital tools into their daily lives. The legal profession is no exception. With the rise of e-discovery, contract management software, online research, and remote work, lawyers are expected to be proficient in technology in order to effectively deliver services to their clients. 


While there’s no official legal requirement for lawyers to be tech-savvy, it is certainly an expectation of today's legal market. As clients are expecting increasing efficiency of legal services, lawyers who are not familiar with basic technology tools such as word processing, email, and online research will find themselves at a disadvantage. This has become evident as courts and regulatory agencies are increasingly relying on electronic filing and other technology-based systems, which means that lawyers who do not keep up, may struggle to navigate these processes. As ignorance of the law is no excuse, in the same vein, it is now becoming clear that unfamiliarity with technology can no longer be a defense for lawyers who wish to maintain a successful and competitive law practice in the modern era.


In fact, many states in the U.S. have now incorporated technology competence into their ethical rules for lawyers. For example, in 2012, the American Bar Association amended the Model Rules of Professional Conduct to include a comment on technology competence. The comment 8 to Rule 1.1. states that "a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology." The comment goes on to explain that technology competence involves "an understanding of the risks and benefits associated with the use of technology, including its impact on confidentiality, security, and the potential for unauthorized access to client information." This means that lawyers must not only be proficient in using technology but shall also be aware of the potential risks and take appropriate measures to protect client data. 


In addition to ethical considerations, there are practical reasons why lawyers should be tech-savvy. For instance, contract drafting and management represent essential components of legal practice that necessitate meticulous attention to detail and comprehensive understanding of contractual language and legal frameworks. In the era of customized contract resources available online, lawyers who lack the expertise to effectively leverage these tools may have difficulty drafting and negotiating contracts that accurately convey the parties' intentions or managing contractual relationships efficiently. Finally, being tech-savvy can help legal professionals be more efficient and effective in their work. Technology tools such as practice management software, document automation, and online collaboration platforms can assist lawyers with streamlining their workflows and improving communication with clients and colleagues. 


Therefore, to thrive as a legal professional in today's world, there is an inherent obligation to stay informed and abreast of the latest technological advancements. This entails investing time in familiarizing ourselves with tools such as practice management software, document automation, and online collaboration platforms. However, the responsibility of adapting to the ever-changing technological landscape should not fall solely on the shoulders of lawyers. It is incumbent upon educational institutions and state authorities to be proactive in facilitating the integration of technology in the legal sector. The state of Florida, for instance, has mandated that lawyers complete 33 hours of technology training, while Suffolk University Law School has instituted a Legal Innovation and Technology Certificate program that incorporates online courses on technology. These initiatives serve as prime examples of how legal practitioners can be incentivized to enhance their productivity through a comprehensive understanding of technology.


To learn more about developing the right skills for launching a successful legal career, sign up for our upcoming legal talk, taking place on March 7, 10:00 AM PST.



01.03.2023
Legal News

Lawyers on YouTube: What Constitutes Advertising?

The New York State Bar Association's Committee on Attorney Advertising, Solicitation, and Professional Notices has recently issued an opinion on whether revenue-producing YouTube videos made by legal practitioners constitute advertising even if the videos carry educational value. The opinion provides guidance for lawyers to prevent disciplinary actions by the state bar, including but not limited to, suspension or revocation of the lawyer's license to practice law.


While legal professionals are allowed to advertise, the New York Rules of Professional Conduct requires them to comply with the New York Rules of Professional Conduct. Namely, their videos should not: mislead the public, contain false or unsubstantiated claims and be overly promotional. Lawyers shall also include a disclaimer in their videos indicating that they are advertising materials and that the results obtained in the video are not necessarily indicative of the results that will be achieved in a particular lawsuit. Further, according to the opinion, lawyers shall also be mindful of their ethical obligations when creating videos, including their duty of confidentiality to clients and their duty to avoid conflicts of interest. 


However, if the video is purely educational and does not contain any promotional content - then it is equated with writing articles or giving lectures and is not subjected to advertising disclaimer. “Topical newsletters, client alerts, or blogs intended to educate recipients about new developments in the law are generally not considered advertising,” stated the Committee. However, if “YouTube videos include information about the lawyer and their law practice for the primary purpose of obtaining new clients, then such videos would constitute advertising.”


This opinion is particularly relevant for lawyers in New York who are considering using YouTube as a marketing tool. It provides helpful guidance on how to comply with the advertising rules and ethical obligations when creating content. However, it also raises questions about the scope of the rules and the extent to which they apply to YouTube. As more lawyers turn to online platforms to promote their services, it will be interesting to see how state bar associations and regulatory bodies adapt their rules and guidelines to keep up with these changes.

26.02.2023
Legal Blog

Generative AI: Opportunities & Challenges of Legal Professionals


“The legal function has a significant role to play in this process. It should lead, not lag”

Mark A. Cohen, a CEO of Legal Mosaic


Imagine you are a writer tasked with producing a story about a world that does not exist. You have the characters and the plot mapped out, but you are struggling to come up with the descriptive details that will make the story come alive. Technologies such as Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) can help you create vivid, realistic descriptions that transport your readers to the imaginary world of your story. Generative AI is a type of artificial intelligence that can create new content, such as images, videos, and even texts, by learning from patterns in existing data. While search engines such as Google merely generate a list of sources, Generative AI curates, integrates, synthesizes, and produces a well-written, grammatically-correct, and cross-disciplinary work product in a matter of seconds. In light of the digital revolution Generative AI is predicted to bring about, human adaptation to these changes remains a key issue in various professions. And the legal industry is no exception.


The legal sector is known for its dependence on traditional methods. With the rise of Generative AI and other advanced innovations such as ChatGPT, the inherent conservatism of the industry is continuously challenged. “I think it is the beginning of a paradigm shift,” says David Wakeling - head of London-based law firm Allen & Overy's markets innovation group. “I think this technology is very suitable for the legal industry.”


Law has always been a data-driven profession, where lawyers, judges, legalOps and other legal professionals need to analyze and understand vast amounts of information to make informed decisions. The traditional methods of legal research and document drafting are time-consuming and costly. With the rise of generative AI and other advanced tools, the legal industry has the opportunity to automate these processes, thereby improving accuracy and increasing efficiency. Generative AI could be used to draft legal documents, review contracts, and conduct legal research. According to statistics gathered from leading consulting firms, AI-powered tools can automate up to 60% of the tasks performed by lawyers and paralegals. In the next decade, it can save the legal industry more than 8 billion USD and reduce document review time by 75-90%.


Such technological trends instill a legitimate fear in many individuals regarding their job displacement. Deloitte has projected that by 2036, approximately 100,000 legal positions will be automated. However, automation is not threatening every position in the field. According to Daniel Sereduick, a data protection lawyer based in Paris, AI will continue to be utilized for routine tasks that have until now been carried out by paralegals and entry-level lawyers. However, there will continue to be a need for higher-skilled legal professionals capable of interacting with clients, making strategic decisions and employing critical thinking.


While it cannot be questioned that AI tools have the potential to revolutionize the legal industry, they also raise a number of legal and ethical questions. For example, who is liable if a generative AI system creates a document that contains errors or inaccuracies? How can the legal industry ensure that these tools are used ethically and fairly, without infringing provisions on personal data protection? And how can the legal industry prevent these tools from perpetuating bias and discrimination? In Europe, these concerns are especially significant. The use of AI may violate the principles outlined in the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which imposes limitations on the collection and processing of individuals' data by companies. In this regard, Italy's Data Protection Agency recently intervened to prevent Replika, a generative AI chatbot, from using its users' personal data.


That being the case, the future of the legal industry will undoubtedly be shaped by the rise of Generative AI. Through strategic planning and meticulous oversight, the legal sector can harness the power of this technology to relieve lawyers of time-consuming and repetitive tasks, thereby enhancing efficiency, effectiveness and value of their work. However, the transformational potential of Generative AI does not come without challenges. It is incumbent upon legal professionals to navigate these challenges and ensure that the evolution of the industry serves the interests of all stakeholders.  

21.02.2023
Legal Blog

Top 5 Tech Trends That Will Change the Legal Industry in 2023

Over the past decade, the legal industry has undergone a significant transformation. During this time, we have seen the rise of online legal services, the adoption of e-discovery software, and the use of artificial intelligence for streamlining legal processes. As we look ahead, the pace of change shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, we are likely to see a new wave of legal tech trends that will transform the way lawyers and legal professionals work at an accelerated rate. From cloud-based technology to online dispute resolution, let's take a closer look at some of the key legal tech trends for this year.



Cloud-based Technology


One of the most important legal tech trends in 2023 is going to be the widespread adoption of Cloud-based technology. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, an increasing number of law firms and legal departments transition to the Cloud-based applications to facilitate remote work. By storing data in the Cloud, law firms can access legal information from anywhere, collaborate in real-time, and reduce their reliance on paper-based documents. According to Gartner, Inc., the global expenditure on public cloud services is expected to rise by 20.7% in 2023, reaching a total of $591.8 billion, which is an increase from $490.3 billion in 2022.



AI and Automation


Artificial intelligence (AI) and automation will continue to expand in the legal industry in 2023. AI-powered tools will enable lawyers to analyze large volumes of data more quickly, automate repetitive tasks, and make better use of their time. By utilizing AI tools, companies can reduce the time spent managing endless stacks of documents and streamline the process of contract analysis, legal research, and document review.



Blockchain 


In 2023, blockchain technology will become more widely used in the legal sector. Blockchain technology has the power to transform the legal industry by providing decentralized digital ledgers for verifying and recording transactions without involving a central authority. With smart contracts and a digital land registry, blockchain technology can be used to verify ownership and transfer of property, reducing errors, fraud, and making the transfer process more efficient.



Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) 


Online dispute resolution (ODR) will continue to grow. ODR platforms offer an efficient and cost-effective way for parties to resolve disputes online, without the need for face-to-face meetings. This technology can help reduce the backlog of cases in court systems and provide access to justice for more people. One of the leading examples has been the ODR platform within the European Union, which is used by consumers and traders to resolve disputes related to online purchases. The platform facilitates communication between the parties and allows them to find a mutually acceptable solution to their disputes. 



Cybersecurity 


Cybersecurity remains a major challenge for law firms, with sensitive records being exposed and global financial losses exceeding $1 trillion per year. Confidentiality is crucial for legal professionals, who have a duty to protect clients' sensitive information. A top legal tech trend for 2023 is making cybersecurity easier for attorneys. This is made possible through increased investments in tech resources such as secure communication and document sharing tools. Therefore, with the increasing use of technology in the legal industry, cybersecurity will inevitably become a key focus in 2023. Law firms and legal departments will need to take proactive steps to protect their clients' data and ensure that their networks and systems are secure.


Technology will continue to revolutionize the legal sector by enhancing the accessibility, affordability, and efficiency of legal services. One benefit of this is that individuals will be able to access legal services more efficiently and at a lower cost. On the other hand, technology will revolutionize the workflow of attorneys and law firms, giving them tools to automate mundane tasks and focus on what matters most. However, being able to take advantage of this transformation, will require a combination of technical skills and flexible, growth-oriented culture. 


Lawformer remains at the forefront of the legal tech revolution. Using our platform, attorneys can create complex legal documents in a few simple steps. Allowing them to optimize their workflow and free up time for strategic planning. Our qualified attorneys have drafted and compiled all key legal resources so that you do not have to. Join us today and enjoy the benefits of the technology-enabled transformation.  

 

17.02.2023
Lawformer News

Is the Future of Legal Representation in the Hands of Robots?

AI-Powered Lawyer May Soon Represent Defendants in Court


The legal industry was shaken to its core as technology made an unprecedented leap forward in 2023 with the introduction of an AI-powered “robot lawyer” as a legal representative in court. The initiative was cut short soon after the news made headlines, due to a threat by "State Bar prosecutors," who warned the creator of the chatbot that they could face prison time. Although the experiment was foreclosed before its implementation, many are left questioning what such initiatives could mean for the future of lawyers.


Introduced by a British startup DoNotPay, the “robot lawyer” was initially created to provide legal assistance to customers in dealing with late fees or fines, canceling subscriptions and more. In 2020 the company shifted its focus towards incorporating AI into their daily operations, with the objective to reduce the costs of legal assistance and representation in courts. “It’s all about language, and that’s what lawyers charge hundreds or thousands of dollars an hour to do,” said Joshua Browder, the CEO of DoNotPay. 


The “robot lawyer” is programmed to be operated via a smartphone, capable of listening to court arguments and providing advice to the defendant through earplugs on what to say during the proceedings. For the court session scheduled on 22 February 2023, the company had even agreed that if the defendant lost the case, DoNotPay would cover the fine and compensate the customer. While the experimental case may have been shelved, Joshua Browder recently announced on Twitter that DoNotPay is simply postponing its return to the courtroom. With its innovative robot lawyer technology, DoNotPay's plans for the future continue to pique our interest eagerly anticipating its next move.


Although there are already a handful of AI applications assisting lawyers in their work, an AI-powered lawyer would be the first of its kind capable of representing a defendant in court. On the one hand, an AI-powered lawyer would be able to learn from previous cases and use that knowledge to provide more accurate and efficient legal advice for a lower price, however, critics argue that AI would fail to understand the nuances of human language, including slang, sarcasm, and other forms of communication that may not be obvious to a machine. Besides, the problem of ensuring that the AI-powered lawyer operates within the ethical and legal boundaries of the legal profession persists. For example, the system would need to maintain client confidentiality and avoid conflicts of interest.


Despite these concerns, the experiment has shown that technology has the potential to transform the legal industry, and it remains to be seen how AI-powered lawyers will fit into the larger picture. As Browder noted, there may be a need for traditional lawyers to argue complex cases in court, but many routine legal tasks may be better suited for automation. The future of legal representation is still up for debate, but one thing is clear: the role of technology in the legal profession will continue to grow and evolve in the years to come.

15.02.2023
Lawformer Blog

Secrets worth keeping: Why Non-Disclosure Agreements are crucial

Picture a business landscape where confidential information is at risk of being leaked, leaving a company vulnerable to outside threats. Does not sound ideal if you run a business, does it? The unauthorized disclosure of confidential information, among others, may entail damaged business relationships and reputation, and even result in legal liability and loss of competitive advantage. This is where Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) step in, serving as the unsung hero in the protection of a company's confidential information.


A non-disclosure agreement (NDA) is a legal contract between two parties in which one or both agree to keep certain information shared between them confidential. NDAs are commonly used in business to protect sensitive information such as trade secrets, business plans, and proprietary data from being disclosed to unauthorized third parties. By signing an NDA, both parties are legally bound to keep the information confidential, which can provide a significant competitive advantage. In fact, the corporate giant Apple has become known for being one of the most private companies in the world. The company keeps its technology and future products under tight wraps to prevent competitors from copying its innovations and trade secrets.  All of these by virtue of NDAs – also used as a marketing tool to generate excitement and anticipation for new product/feature releases.


While on the surface NDAs may appear like the perfect solution for any businesses, the reality is that their use and effectiveness are a matter of varying opinions. In particular, some believe that NDAs are often overused and can stifle creativity and collaboration, especially in cases where the term “confidentiality” is obscurely construed and broadly applied. In other words, if a company lists "any information obtained at work" as protected information, and the NDA is indefinite, a court will probably rule against this company in the event of a legal dispute. The critics also argue that asking employees to sign NDAs for special projects can lead to feelings of mistrust and dissatisfaction with the company.


A number of recent developments in the U.S. and Europe have prompted questions about NDAs, resulting in the proposal of new regulations that seek to limit their use in certain circumstances. For instance, in recent years, NDAs have come under scrutiny in the U.S. due to concerns about their use in settlement agreements in cases of sexual harassment and abuse. In this regard, President Biden signed the Speak Out Act, which makes an NDA unenforceable in contexts where claims relate to sexual assault or sexual harassment. The European Union has also been considering new regulations regarding the use of NDAs in employment contracts. The proposed regulations would limit the use of NDAs to protect confidential information that is truly sensitive and cannot be protected through other means. These regulations would also require companies to inform employees of their right to report potential legal violations, even if they have signed an NDA.


While such matters persist, it is important to consider all sides of the issue and make an informed decision on whether NDAs are right for your business. It is also important for employees to carefully read the NDA and ask questions, clarifications and corrections where needed.  Hence, if due consideration is given to their limitations and potential consequences, the latest developments in the field can help effectively navigate the complex world of NDAs.


So, it is safe to say that behind every successful business is a well-kept secret - one that's protected by NDAs. The importance of protecting confidential information in business cannot be overstated. By securing trade secrets and confidential data NDAs serve as a vital tool in maintaining a company's competitive advantage. While weighing the potential consequences of not having an NDA in place, let us ponder the crucial role these agreements have played in the success of countless businesses.


If you would like to learn how to draft a high-quality NDA for your business or clients, you can download our free, attorney-drafted NDA guide + template here.


08.02.2023
Legal News

EU's Digital Services Act: A Game-Changer for Online Platforms

With fundamental human rights at its core, the European Union (EU) establishes a landmark content moderation guideline. Through the new Digital Services Act (DSA) the EU promises to empower users to better protect their rights online.


The DSA is the long-awaited Regulation, proposed by the European Commission in December 2020 and entered into force in November 2022 which provides an update to the Electronic Commerce Directive 2000 (E-Commerce Directive). This new legal framework of digital space aims to make the internet a safer place by making sure that harmful content, such as disinformation, does not end up on your screens.


While one can argue that getting rid of the harmful content is the cornerstone of the regulation, others might consider that banning targeted ads, which use sensitive information, is the main objective. The DSA imposes a duty-of-care obligation, including regular risk assessments and reporting, on “very large online platforms,” recognizing the potential risks they pose to fundamental rights. Platforms are also required to clearly label every ad with information about the buyer and other details, making advertising more transparent. Companies like Twitter, which rely heavily on advertising revenue, have stated they intend to continue using targeted ads, which is potentially against the DSA. Such statements have us eagerly anticipating what will happen over the next few months. 


Due to significant changes that the widespread application of this Regulation across the EU’s territory will bring, the DSA has already sparked a heated debate with far-reaching implications for the technology industry and the future of the digital single market. While some argue that the regulations will stifle innovation and harm the tech industry, others believe that they are necessary to address the challenges posed by the digital economy, including illegal content, counterfeit goods, and the protection of personal data.


Currently, as the Digital Services Act (DSA) has become effective, online platforms have until 17 February 2023 to report the number of active users on their website to the Commission. The Commission will use this information to decide if a platform should be considered a large online platform or search engine. If labeled as such, the platform will have four months to follow the rules set by the DSA, including doing an annual risk assessment and reporting it to the Commission. On 17 February 2024, all entities covered by the DSA must be fully compliant with its regulations, as EU Member States are set to have their Digital Services Coordinators in place by then.


Stay tuned for further updates on the development of the DSA to capture its impact on fostering a safer internet space across the whole EU. 

11.01.2023
Lawformer News

Lawformer and Level 7 Legal join forces

Over the last five years, Legal Technology has been growing and transforming the industry at an exponential rate. Legal professionals are under pressure to do more with less - driving the need for technology even higher. Whilst observing this process, we realized that tech alone will not create the efficiency and productivity that our clients need. It has to be thoughtfully combined with strategic hiring, change management, and a cohesive team that is ready for innovation. 


Lawformer and Level 7 Legal have partnered up to shape the future of the legal industry. We share similar goals and are working to solve similar problems in different ways. Founders of both companies believe that change in the legal industry begins at the outset - with universities and law schools. Both teams want to equip new lawyers with the tools and skills required to build a healthy, sustainable career in law. What tools and skills, you may ask? We believe that a modern lawyer must be equipped with practical skills such as drafting using playbooks, legal research, management, and process management – as well as high EQ, communication and people management. By collaborating, we are creating a healthy ecosystem for future lawyers to rely on when launching their career. 



About Lawformer


With the vision that every lawyer can draft high-quality contracts fast, we created Lawformer - a digital library of attorney-drafted clauses available for any type of contract. Lawformer was founded through collaborative efforts of experienced lawyers and tech specialists, with the goal to help simplify contract drafting and legal research processes. 


Lawformer aims to:


- Help entry-level lawyers master contract-drafting and become more employable and well-prepared for the law firm environment.

- Optimize their time and energy.

- Allow senior lawyers to shift their focus towards more strategic tasks.

- Increase revenue and customer satisfaction for law firms.

- Establish an international network of lawyers, law students, and legal tech enthusiasts united around the ambitious goal to shape the future of the legal profession. 



About Level 7 Legal


The origins of Level7 Legal began in 2020 when the CEO/Founder Charlotte Smith moved from the UK to California and launched Limitless Lawyer coaching services. Charlotte began working closely with General Counsel, Chief Legal Officers, Law Firm Associates and Partners to actualize their vision for their personal life, career and cohesive teams. 


The mission of Level 7 Legal is to ensure every legal professional is performing in an inspiring, healthy environment. Achieving organizational optimization and health in the legal industry by building effective, motivated work cultures. Embedding performance management, coaching, and change management programs into every legal team. 


- Level7 helps legal teams unite around a shared mission and purpose. 

- Creates the environment to nurture and develop legal talent. 

- Empowers diverse teams to perform at their highest potential while preventing burnout and disengagement. 



Founders of Lawformer


Founders of Lawformer are experienced transactional lawyers, legal tech and tech specialists previously working with top-tier law firms and international organizations. Three out of five founders of Lawformer (Nako Edisherashvili, Teo Vasadze and George Gugunishvili) collectively have over 20 years’ experience of working as transactional attorneys and contract drafting. Mariam Chaduneli holds a master’s degree in Innovation Technology and the Law, from the University of Edinburgh. She has experience leading innovation and digital transformation projects with the World Intellectual Property Organization and the University of Oxford, giving her unique insights into the digital innovation trends and needs. Lawformer's tech partner, Noxtton, a multidimensional tech and consultancy company, and the CTO, George Javakhidze, have built global tech products for international brands operating in FinTech, LegalTech, and EdTech. Giving Lawformer in-house technical expertise and enabling continuous product innovation and updates.



Founders of the Level 7 Legal


Charlotte and Level7 believe by supporting individual mindsets, assessing and restoring energy, and building trusted partnerships within the organization, you create a cutting-edge legal team.

Charlotte founded Level7 after working in the legal profession for 15+ years, as an attorney and executive coach. Noticing a pattern in the pain points identified by her Legal and Executive clients, Charlotte’s mission was to find a comprehensive solution that would support professionals at all levels of the Legal organization on their journey.

Charlotte Smith is an award-winning lawyer turned leading performance coach who works with world-class legal teams at cutting-edge, rapid growth companies. A UK native now based in the Bay Area, she is considered a leading expert - having coached hundreds of lawyers and legal teams through the pressures of rapid-growth organizations.

 

Marie Widmer is a S.F. Bay Area native with 10 years of experience in the legal industry, from interning in small civil litigation firms in Atlanta to building operations for in-house teams in the Bay Area. She attended law school at Golden Gate University in San Francisco. She has held roles in BioTech, FinTech, Web2, and Web3, building out internal processes and launching tooling and programs for legal, including CLM, eBilling, Ticketing, and privacy. Her love for Legal Operations is driven by the people in this industry. People are the most important part of the legal industry, and Legal Operations leaders are key to building and managing teams of lawyers and legal professionals who are healthy, balanced, and creative.



What can people expect from this partnership? 


This year we will be launching an amazing series of joint content, including legal talks, thought pieces and practical guides for our audiences. This will be especially helpful for law students and entry level lawyers determined to learn to navigate the complex, fast-evolving legal industry. Follow us on social media and make sure you do not miss our webinars, networking events and career opportunities from those that have done it successfully.

31.12.2022
Lawformer News

Lawformer 2022 Highlights

2022 was an exciting and, in many ways, a very successful year for Lawformer. Below are the top 10 reasons why.



Lawformer Launch


After over a year of development and testing, Lawformer was successfully launched in July 2022. We are extremely grateful for all the guidance and support we received over this period. Our special thanks go to Noxtton, for their invaluable work on this project.



Impact Hub Tbilisi Startup Pre-accelerator


From March to June 2022 we were part of the Impact Hub Tbilisi Startup Pre-accelerator, a two month intense program that allowed us to master crucial topics from product development to market validation, digital marketing, branding, communication and finances. In June, we were among 16 successful startups that pitched in front of a large group of investors during the Demo Day.



Partnership with UC Hastings Startup Legal Garage


In September 2022 Lawformer formed a partnership with Startup Legal Garage. Since 2009, Startup Legal Garage has operated under the auspices of UC Hastings College of Law in San Francisco, providing startups with legal resources for free. Through our partnership, members of Startup Legal Garage have been providing consultations and legal services to startups using the Lawformer Clause Library and other legal resources available on our platform. 



Legal Geek


Lawformer was selected among some of the most innovative global startups to be represented at the UK’s standout LegalGeek Conference (Famous Startup Alley) on September 28-29, 2022. Legal Geek is one of the largest legal tech conferences, attracting people from over 40 countries from Government Ministers, general counsels, academics, former athletes, tech execs, law firm leaders and third-sector experts. 



European Legal Tech Association (ELTA) membership


In October 2022 we became members of one of the largest legal tech organizations in the world - the European Legal Tech Association (ELTA), representing one the most influential global communities of experts in legal innovation, LegalTech and digital transformation. It brings together legal tech experts and enthusiasts from Europe and beyond to promote and advance legal technology and its widespread adoption. 



London Startup Conference


On October 20, Lawformer was represented at the London Startup Conference 2022, which brought together over 250 founders, investors and startup enthusiasts from the UK, Silicon Valley and beyond. 



Globalize UK


On November 18, 2022 Lawformer was among the selected group of Georgian startups represented at the Globalize Conference in London, UK. The Globalize UK Conference brought together startups, innovators and tech experts to discuss opportunities that facilitate successful expansion into the UK market. We are proud to be a part of the Globalize community.



Joining Barclays Eagle Labs


In December 2022 we joined Barclays Eagle Labs among 24 most promising startups in the global LawTech community. Barclays Eagle Labs LawTech community brings together most promising LawTech businesses and industry-leading law firms to help solve the challenges that the industry is facing and facilitate collaborative solutions using new and emerging legal innovation.



Winning a 150,000 Grant


In December 2022, we were selected among top 20 innovative startups to win ₾150000 grant in Georgia’s Innovation and Technology Agency’s startup Competition. The goal of the program is to develop innovative products and services with international potential in Georgia, commercialize them, and stimulate the creation of innovative enterprises. The program received a total of 207 applications and we are extremely proud to have been selected among 20 best startups by the investment committee, which is composed of high-level international venture investors: Marvin Liao, Bill Reichart, Steve Hoffman, Naomi Kokubo, and Sasha Michaud.



Touch 2022 Conference


In December 2022 Lawformer was selected among ten innovative Georgian startups to pitch at Touch 2022 - the largest tech conference in the Caucasus region. As part of the conference, our pitch was selected among the top 3, and we presented in front of the large investor audience.



Thank you for reading about our 2022 highlights. We are grateful for an amazing journey so far and cannot wait for what is yet to come. Follow along in 2023 as we take on new challenges and redefine the way lawyers approach their work routines. Wishing you all a happy holiday season from all of us at Lawformer.





04.11.2022
Legal News

Clause Libraries – best solution for mastering contract-drafting

Clause libraries usually provide template clauses that were pre-drafted and approved by lawyers. Having access to a library of this sort, gives students and entry-level lawyers an opportunity to transition to the law firm or in-house lawyer career smoothly and master contract drafting skills.


Clause library is beneficial to lawyers in many ways, including:


Saves time on manually searching for contracts similar to the ones that you are drafting, and searching for specific clauses, cleaning them up to tailor them to your current draft. – Instead of following the outdated patterns you can simply filter a template clause library by the type of contract you are drafting, select, copy and paste the most suitable template clause into your contract. You can even save it in your own dashboard for later use.


Simplified onboarding and training process – by providing access to the template clause library, companies lighten up the transition process for the newcomers. Instead of overwhelming them with archived contract examples, employers can allow employees to explore contract clauses and different formulations of those themselves in order to learn how each clause is used in the context of a specific type of contract. This also significantly decreases the hours senior-level staff spend on contract revision and entry-level lawyer supervision.


Additional functionalities – some clause libraries offer additional functionality to simplify the overall drafting or research processes. For example, the Lawformer clause library suggests you “recommended clauses” based on your previous activity. On the same platform you can explore “Definition of Terms”, through which you can easily comprehend the meaning behind any legal term that you might find in the clause library.

 

 

We believe that every lawyer can draft high quality contracts fast. Join Lawformer today.



27.10.2022
Legal News

Lawformer joins the European Legal Technology Association (ELTA)

We are excited to share that starting this month, Lawformer will become a member of ELTA - European Legal Tech Association. 


About ELTA


ELTA is one of the most influential global communities of experts in legal innovation, LegalTech and digital transformation. It brings together legal tech experts and enthusiasts from Europe and beyond to promote and advance legal technology and its widespread adoption. The unique nature of ELTA’s community lies in its diversity. The organization works with all types of stakeholders relevant to the legal tech field, from law firms to corporate and government departments, to startups, academia and individuals.


Lawformer x ELTA


Lawformer and ELTA have joined forces with the aim of promoting the legal tech field and reaching out to individuals and organizations that can have a significant impact on how technology shapes the future of the legal profession. One of the key goals of Lawformer is to bring together lawyers, law students and legal professionals that are passionate about technology and its role in the legal field. Hence, becoming a member of ELTA will be a major step towards achieving this goal and connecting with individuals and organizations that share the same aspirations.


What to look forward to


As a result of our collaboration, we’ll be providing interesting workshops and webinars aimed at empowering the next generation of tech-savvy lawyers. We will be regularly sharing news updates from the legal tech industry, and information about exciting job opportunities you can tap into. Most importantly, this partnership will facilitate access to a rich and diverse network of legal tech professionals in Europe and beyond and networking opportunities for lawyers, students, and startups.


Follow our website and social media for regular updates on exciting opportunities you can tap into.

15.10.2022
Case Briefs

Weekly Roundup of Landmark Cases Vol. 4

On a regular basis, we identify five interesting case briefs for our subscribers and summarize them in a blog. Below you can find an overview of selected judgements from international and regional courts that shape the modern interpretation of law.



Marbury v. Madison (U.S. Supreme Court)


In this landmark case, the U.S. Supreme Court established the principle of judicial review in the United States, meaning that American courts have the right to abolish laws and statutes that contradict or violate the Constitution of the United States. The case commences in early 1801 after president John Adams lost the presidential election to Jefferson and just two days before his term as president ended, Adams appointed several dozen Federalist Party supporters as judges in an attempt to frustrate Jefferson and the supporters of the Democratic party.



Rosenfeld v. Fairchild Engine & Airplane Corp. (Court of Appeals of the State of New York)


Rosenfeld is a stockholder who alleges that directors wasted company funds in order to maintain their status as directors, and no benefit was intended for the company. The court dismissed the claim asserting that the use of funds was justified because the incurred costs were fair and reasonable. In this decision the Court of Appeals of the State of New York stated that when there is a good faith dispute concerning a significant policy, the directors should be able to use corporate resources to fund proxy solicitations to ensure that the upcoming vote receives the attention that it is due. 



Beizaras and Levickas v. Lithuania (ECtHR)


The case concerns a gay couple from Lithuania who received a large number of hateful, degrading and threatful comments after publishing a photo of them kissing on Facebook. In this case, the ECtHR held that by downplaying the danger of these violent comments, the authorities had at least tolerated the violence. The Court concluded that the hateful comments “were instigated by a bigoted attitude towards that community and that Lithuania’s criminal justice system lacked a comprehensive strategic approach (effective remedy) to protect people from racist and homophobic hate speech.



Airbnb Ireland v. AHTOP (ECJ)


The case concerns a dispute between Airbnb Ireland and the French Association for professional tourism, which claims that Airbnb did not merely connect two parties through its platform but it also acted as an estate agent without holding a professional license. The Court found that services provided by Airbnb Ireland satisfied conditions to be classed as ‘information society service’. Hence, France cannot require Airbnb to hold an estate agent’s professional license as it did not notify the Commission of that requirement in accordance with the Directive on electronic commerce.



In re Walt Disney Co. Derivative Litigation (Delaware Supreme Court)


The case concerns the hiring and firing of Michael Ovitze as executive president and director of The Walt Disney Company. Ovitze was fired without having committed gross negligence or malfeasance, while serving as president. Hence, the company had to provide no-fault termination payment (NFT) and he walked away with $140m for a year's work. The question was whether the directors comply with their fiduciary duties in connection with the president's hiring and termination. The court ruled that the directors did not act in bad faith, and were at most ordinarily negligent, in connection with his hiring and the approval of the employment agreement.



Thank you for reading our weekly summary. Complete versions of these and other case briefs can be accessed in our case brief library.


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24.09.2022
Lawformer Blog

Your Personal Data as a Digital Economy Currency


In July 2021 the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution recognizing internet access as the basic human right, iterating that “the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online”. So the question arises: Is the internet truly free, or do we pay for it with the data we consciously or unconsciously share online? Taking on this question requires digging deep into the business models of some of the largest social media platforms.


It is no secret that the largest revenue streams of Google, Facebook (Meta) and Instagram come from advertising, which is specifically designed to target users based on their location, demographic and online behavior. Over a decade, Facebook advertised that the platform was "free and will always be" - a slogan that was quietly removed from the platform in 2019. Soon after, Zuckerberg admitted that the platform needs to review its privacy policies.


In a 2010 interview with the Washington Post, Mark Zuckerberg claimed that Facebook would give its users better control of their data by adding more simple privacy features and an easy way to turn off all third-party services. However, Facebook - Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018 demonstrated that these promises had failed to come into existence. The investigation showed that Facebook had allowed the third party (Cambridge Analytica) to harvest the data of millions of users, without them being aware of it. More recently, Meta-owned Instagram was fined €405m for violating children's data privacy by facilitating the publication of the child user’s phone number and/or email address as well as by making some child data public.


Data protection legislation makes it clear that using someone's personal information without their knowledge and consent is illegal. Article 7 of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) mandates that the consent must be clear, informed, specific, unambiguous and withdrawable. A particularly problematic situation arises if illegally transferred data is later used to profile a large number of users, target them with tailored political ads, and affect their voting decisions as a result. 

 

 

Why is our personal data so valuable?

 

In 2017, the Economist published a story titled "the world's most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data". Since then, a great deal of discussion has focused on the reasons for such demand for data and the need to regulate big tech. A study conducted by Cambridge’s Psychometrics Centre and Microsoft Research proved that statistical models are able to predict personal details using Facebook Likes alone. Using only a few information points, these models demonstrate high accuracy in determining personal and sensitive details, such as male sexuality 88%, political affiliations 85%, religious beliefs 82%.


Such profiling successfully serves one inherent purpose, to gradually modify users’ behaviors and sell them products, services and narratives that they never intended to buy. Hence, It is no surprise that social media companies view their customers as a source of income, having attributed different values to individual users: for Google you are worth $182, for Facebook $158 and for Amazon the value is as high as $733. 


So, how do we make sure that using these ‘seemingly’ free online services does not turn us into digital products? Particularly in an environment where one cannot even check the weather forecast without being chased by ads for raincoats, umbrellas, and sunscreen.


 

Explore more legal content every day by following Lawformer on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

13.09.2022
Lawformer News

Lawformer partners with Startup Legal Garage

We are excited to announce the partnership between Lawformer and Startup Legal Garage.


Starting this month, members of Startup Legal Garage will provide consultations and offer legal services to startups using the Lawformer Clause Library and other legal resources available on our platform. Startup Legal Garage works with firms from countless innovative industries from around the United States and in the heart of Silicon Valley. Through this partnership, students involved with SLG have gained access to the Lawformer Clause Library which will enhance their practical skills in contract-drafting before graduating law school.


What is Startup Legal Garage?


Since 2009, Startup Legal Garage has operated under the auspices of UC Hastings College of Law in San Francisco, providing startups with legal resources for free. Supervising attorneys at Startup Legal Garage come from top large and boutique law firms in Silicon Valley.


At Startup Legal Garage participating startup is assigned to a legal team composed of a supervising attorney from a top intellectual property or corporate law firm and two law students from UC Hastings. Together, they provide legal deliverables and advice that are invaluable to an early stage startup's development. 



What is Lawformer?


Lawformer is an international platform founded by lawyers for lawyers that helps simplify contract drafting and legal research processes. Through collaborative efforts of experienced lawyers and developers, we have created a unique library of contract clause templates.


Apart from contract-drafting, Lawformer helps lawyers and law students access other useful resources to simplify and accelerate legal research. Our platform combines regularly updated case briefs - summaries of important judicial decisions of international and regional courts condensed in two-three pages instead of the usual sixty. By analyzing your search and activity history, our smart system recommends case briefs that may be relevant to your research, which is basically like having a research assistant for free.


Most importantly, Lawformer is an international network of lawyers, law students, and legal tech enthusiasts united around the ambitious goal to shape the future of the legal profession. If you share our passion, drop us a line and let’s discuss our future together.

08.09.2022
Legal News

Instagram Fined €405m for Violating Children's Data Privacy

The Irish Supervisory Authority, Data Protection Commission (DPC) has fined Meta-owned social media platform Instagram €405m for violating the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The decision came as a result of long-running investigations started in September 2020 on the basis of information provided to the DPC by a third party, and in connection with processing identified by the DPC itself.


This is the second highest fine issued under the GDPR (first being the €746 million penalty against Amazon) and the highest one yet imposed by the Irish Data Protection Commission. Last year, DPC fined another Meta-owned platform WhatsApp €225m for infringements of data protection regulations, followed by a fine of €17m on Meta resulting from an inquiry into a series of 12 data breach notifications.


This specific case concerned two types of processing performed by Facebook Ireland Limited in relation to children’s data. The first type of processing allowed child users between the ages of 13 and 17 to have business accounts, which required and/or facilitated the publication of the child user’s phone number and/or email address. The second type of processing concerned the fact that Facebook Ireland Limited operated a user registration system for the Instagram service through which the accounts of child users were set to public by default. By doing so it made public the social media content of child users, unless their accounts were otherwise set to private by changing the account privacy settings.


Meta claims that the inquiry focused on old settings that they had updated over a year ago and they have since released multiple features to enhance the safety of children and keep their information private. In a statement to RTÉ a Meta spokesperson said: "Anyone under 18 automatically has their account set to private when they join Instagram, so only people they know can see what they post, and adults can’t message teens who don’t follow them. "While we’ve engaged fully with the DPC throughout their inquiry, we disagree with how this fine was calculated and intend to appeal it. We’re continuing to carefully review the rest of the decision."


Although Meta plans to appeal the decision, organizations working on child safety recognize the decision as a step toward safeguarding children's safety online. These organizations actively advocate for the adoption of the Online Safety Bill by the new prime minister of the UK, which is meant to give children strongest possible protection against online threats.

04.09.2022
Legal News

Top Legal News Stories and Blogs: Weekly Roundup Vol. 2


Weekly roundup of top legal news stories and blogs brought to you by Lawformer.


In 2018, the United States (‘US’) Department of Defense submitted a legislative proposal to the US Congress outlining the establishment and structure of the US Space Force (‘USSF’). Does the Establishment of Specialized Space Military Corps Ipso Facto Violate International Law?


Source: Opinio Juris


After capturing Kabul on August 15, 2021, Taliban authorities have imposed severe restrictions on women’s and girls’ rights, suppressed the media, and arbitrarily detained, tortured, and summarily executed critics and perceived opponents, among other abuses. What is the solution?


Source: Human Rights Watch


Facebook faced political scrutiny recently after it was revealed the company had handed over private messages between a young woman and her mother to Nebraska authorities investigating the death and disposal of a fetus. How can tech companies deal with Search warrants for abortion data?


Source: The Washington Post


Almost 1.5 million victims of crime in England and Wales have decided not to pursue their cases, feeding concern that public confidence in the criminal justice system has collapsed. The figures come after the police’s official inspectorate said that a failure to stop thieves and burglars threatens police’s “bond of trust” with the public.


Source: The Guardian


It seems almost certain that we are heading into an economic downturn. Less clear is what impact the slowdown will have on the legal job market. What Impact will the downturn have on legal hiring, and what can you do to prepare?


Source: Law.com


Is AI putting lawyers out of business? If the AI continues to eliminate starting positions of paralegals and research assistants, it is interesting to see how the beginners will manage to still obtain the practical training that is so vital for climbing the legal career staircase.


Source: Lawformer


Only three months after Russia’s full-scale invasion, Ukrainian courts delivered the first convictions for war crimes committed by Russian soldiers in Ukraine since February 2022. Prosecuting war crimes: are Ukrainian courts fit to do it?


Source: EJIL: Talk


The Dutch parliament approved legislation to establish work-from-home as a legal right, making the Netherlands one of the first countries to grant remote working flexibility by law.

 

Source: Bloomberg UK


Millions of people around the world illegally download and stream digital content. This, in legal terms, is called piracy, or violation of intellectual property rights. Despite the fact that piracy is illegal, many argue it is not immoral. Is downloading pirated content the same as stealing?


Source: Lawformer



Thank you for reading our weekly summary. Follow our social media to discover more legal content every day.

27.08.2022
Legal Blog

Piracy Dilemma: Is Downloading Pirated Content Stealing?


Digital TV Research suggests that the amount of revenue lost to piracy has increased from $6.7 billion (2010) to nearly $31.8 billion (2018), while the TV Piracy Forecast’s report estimates that the figure will reach US$52 billion by the end of 2022.


Millions of people around the world illegally download and stream digital content. This, in legal terms, is called piracy, or violation of intellectual property rights. Despite the fact that piracy is illegal, many argue it is not immoral. For example, fundamentalist libertarians believe that all ideas and artistic creations should be held in the public domain, freely accessible to all. They argue that intellectual property restricts free circulation of ideas and expressions that the society could benefit from.


Others think that illegal downloading is the equivalent of stealing, and not only it imposes significant legal costs to the creators, but also discourages them from continuing their work. A number of countries have aggressive policies in place to prevent online piracy. Australia, for example, often shows this message before movies:


“You wouldn’t steal a car, you wouldn’t steal a handbag, you wouldn’t steal a television, you wouldn’t steal a movie. Downloading pirated films is stealing.”


Those in the centre believe that there is still a difference between downloading illegal content and stealing someone’s coat. Due to the virtual nature of it piracy, a lot of people are not even aware that they are committing an illegal act by downloading a film they want to watch. After all, we are told so much about the free nature of the internet. The key difference between piracy and actual stealing is that when you download the content, you do not exclude the owner or anyone else from using it, while in case of stealing a tangible item, you claim it entirely for yourself and everyone else, including the rightful owner is excluded from enjoying it.


Some even suggest that illegal file sharing might in fact be beneficial for the owners. It is true that by downloading the film illegally, you avoid paying the fee to the owner, but the more accessible the product becomes by massive sharing, the more people will want to consume it, which increases its popularity.


In reality, radical approaches to the issue of privacy often lack common sense, and a balance must be struck between protecting intellectual property and imposing sanctions similar to those imposed on common thieves. Such sanctions, on the other hand, need to differentiate between different types of intellectual property, the implications of illegal sharing and the reasonable ways of regulating it. 


Leave a comment and tell us where you stand on issues related to online privacy.


21.08.2022
Case Briefs

Weekly Roundup of Landmark Cases Vol. 3


On a weekly basis, we identify five interesting case briefs for our subscribers and summarize them in a blog. Below you can find an overview of selected judgements from international and regional courts that shape the modern interpretation of law.


Bayatyan v. Armenia (ECtHR)


The case concerns a Jehovah’s witness residing in Armenia, who refused to perform a military service due to his religious beliefs. The applicant was prosecuted and charged by Armenian officials for evading his military duties. The ECtHR ruled that any system of compulsory military service imposes a heavy burden on citizens and in this specific case, the sentence amounted to interference which was not necessary in a democratic society within the meaning of Article 9 (Freedom of thought, conscience and religion) of the Convention.


Osman v. Denmark (ECtHR)


The case concerns a Somali national who obtained a Danish residence permit and moved there with her family in 1995. She was then taken back to Kenya by her father, allegedly against her will when she was still 15. At the age of 17 she applied to be reunited with her family in Denmark, but her application was denied claiming she had been absent from Denmark for more than 12 months and a new residence permit applied to children under 15. The ECtHR found a violation of Article 8 (Right to respect for private and family life) stating that the decision not to renew her residence permit interfered with both her private and family life.


Salini v. Morocco (ICSID)


The dispute concerns two Italian companies Salini Costruttori and Italstrade and the Kingdom of Morocco. The tribunal has to decide Whether the request for arbitration was premature and thus inadmissible. Whether the Italian companies had given up on their rights to take arbitration to the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes by concluding a contract submitted to domestic rules which gave jurisdiction to municipal courts over disputes arising from the contract.


Ville de Nivelles v Rudy Matzak (ECJ)


The Court considered whether time spent by a firefighter, who was at home on ‘stand-by’, qualified as ‘working time’ under the Working Time Directive (WTD). The ECJ dealt with the following questions: Does the Directive allow for member states to exclude the job done by some recruited people from the definition of working time? Should the term working time and resting period be applicable to the concept of home-based on-call jobs? Does the Directive preclude home-based on-call duties as working time even if it requires such attention from the employee, (answering the call within 8 minutes) that it might hinder them from working elsewhere?


In re Fulton (U.S. Court of Appeals)


In this case, the Bankruptcy Code is examined in light of Thompson v. General Motors Acceptance Corp., which holds that the possession of an asset and preventing its beneficial use violates the automatic stay. The City of Chicago retained 4 separate people’s cars due to their inability to pay traffic fines. Each of them filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition and asked for the City to return their cars. The city refused the claim and by doing so, it violated the automatic stay. By applying the Thompson v. General Motors Acceptance Corp. case to the facts, it can be determined that the city violated the automatic stay. As a result, the 7th Circuit affirmed the case.



Thank you for reading our weekly summary. Complete versions of these and other case briefs can be accessed in our case brief library.

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13.08.2022
Legal Blog

Is AI Putting Lawyers Out of Business?


AI is transforming how we live and work. It is performing more and more tasks that were traditionally done by humans and is doing so in a faster and more cost-effective manner. Recently, it has started to cut jobs not only for unskilled workers, but also for those requiring more analytical reasoning, discussion, and interpretation.


The question is: can artificial intelligence help the overburdened public defenders, courts and justice workers perform better? Seemingly yes.


Currently, the legal system heavily relies on paralegals and researchers to obtain, analyze and label information for law firms, which is often expensive and leads to increased rates for clients. However, artificial intelligence is increasingly used by law firms to perform due diligence, research and document processing. In fact, it is predicted to eliminate the positions of paralegal and legal researchers within the next decade. 


The AI can be used to conduct this research much faster, avoiding unwanted expenses and accelerating the judicial process. It can also be a preferred way of interviewing clients as people tend to be more honest with machines incapable of being judgmental. By adopting the AI that performs tasks faster, the lawyers might not be able to bill as many hours, but it will certainly increase the firm efficiency which will eventually improve its reputation and drive more clients toward it.


The AI could also be useful in court rooms for tasks such as jury selection, as it will effectively gather data about potential jurors, their accident history, whether they have served before, the verdicts of previous trial and jurors political affiliations. Some predict it will also have the ability to analyze jurors’ facial reactions and body language to determine positive or negative bias.


Artificial Intelligence can transform and benefit the legal profession if we approach its implementation carefully. It is important to understand that they have unconscious biases. The AI is only as good as the people who teach it and the data used in the teaching process. 


It is unlikely that AI will replace the need for critical thinking in the near future. We will still need educated, skilled lawyers to perform the complex thought process of the legal profession. However, if the AI eliminates starting positions of paralegals and research assistants, it is interesting to see how the beginners will manage to still obtain the practical training that is so vital for climbing the legal career staircase.

 

07.08.2022
Case Briefs

Weekly Roundup of Landmark Cases Vol. 2

On a weekly basis, we identify five interesting case briefs for our subscribers and summarize them in a blog. Below you can find an overview of selected judgements from international and regional courts that shape the modern interpretation of law.


Yukhymovych v. Ukraine (ECtHR)


In this decision, the ECtHR raised two questions: whether the use of lethal force against the applicant's son was justified in the circumstances of the case and whether the conducted investigation was effective. In determining the latter, the court considered the length of the investigative actions and certain irregularities in the process.


Occidental v. Ecuador (ICSID)


The Tribunal discussed two possible infringements of rights, id est the right to specific performance and right to non-aggravation, which the Claimant (Occidental Petroleum Corporation) argued were violated. To respond to the Claimant’s request for provisional measures, the Tribunal considered urgency of providing such measures and whether they would cause irreparable harm to any of the parties involved.


Roe v. Wade (US Supreme Court)


In the landmark decision of 1973, the Supreme Court ruled that the US constitution, namely the right to privacy allowed women to decide on terminating pregnancy. The court established a pregnancy trimester timetable which would govern all abortion regulations in the US by determining when abortion is entirely a decision of a woman vs when the government can intervene to regulate it.


Slovenia v. Croatia (ECtHR)


The decision is thought to have determined new admissibility criterion for inter-state applications under the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).

The application was lodged by Slovenia concerning the unpaid and overdue debts owed to Ljubljanska Banka by Croatian companies. The question is: can a state (Slovenia) lodge an application to protect Ljubljanska Banka’s rights?



M.L v. Norway


The case concerns an applicant diagnosed with an emotionally unstable personality disorder and mild mental retardation, and their rights as a parent.

In this decision, the court raised the question as to whether the member state violated the applicant’s right to private life by depriving them of parental rights when their child was adopted by a foster family.



Thank you for reading our weekly summary. Complete versions of these and other case briefs can be accessed in our case brief library.


Follow our social media to discover more legal content every day.

31.07.2022
Legal News

Top Legal News Stories and Blogs: Weekly Roundup

Weekly roundup of top legal news stories and blogs brought to you by Lawformer.



The United Nations (UN) General Assembly adopted a resolution declaring access to clean and healthy environment a universal human right. 


Source: UN News



The Russian Federation recently adopted a law obliging banks and state agencies to hand over their clients’ biometrics, including facial images and voice samples to the government database. 


Source: OpinioJuris



The Supreme Court will not allow the Biden administration to implement an immigration policy that prioritizes deportation of people arriving in the US illegally who pose the greatest public safety risk. 


Source: Guardian Law



On Wednesday, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sought a court order to block Facebook parent Meta Platforms from purchasing virtual reality (VR) firm Within Unlimited. 


Source: Lawyer Monthly



A month has passed since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. What has happened since and what it means for abortion rights?


Source: Lawformer



The Law Commission of England and Wales provisionally suggests that the English law should explicitly recognize a category of legal objects alongside 'things in possession' and 'things in action'. This is to cope with digital assets such as cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens. 


Source: The Law Society Gazette



Is It Time to Get rid of the Billable Hour? The blog explores whether it is time to get rid of the billable hour in the legal profession, what issues they present and how to address them in a more efficient manner. 


Source: Lawyer Monthly



Twitter Inc. scored an early win against Elon Musk in its fight to make him complete his $44 billion buyout, as a Delaware judge agreed to fast-track the case with an October trial date.


Source: Bloomberg



Thank you for reading our weekly summary. Follow our social media to discover more legal content every day.

22.07.2022
Case Briefs

Weekly Roundup of Landmark Cases


Lawformer brings together summaries of important court decisions, simplifying legal research for lawyers and law students. Lawformer case brief is an executive summary of a court decision. The exact structure depends on the issuing institution, but each case brief summarizes important facts and reasoning of the court in a simple, clear language, easily understood by lawyers and non-lawyers alike.


On a weekly basis, we identify five interesting case briefs for our subscribers and summarize them in a blog. Below you can find an overview of selected judgements from international and regional courts that shape the modern interpretation of law.


A. and others v. The United Kingdom (ECtHR)


The case concerns the detention of eleven applicants on terrorism grounds by UK authorities pursuant to antiterrorist legislation passed after the 9/11 attacks. The court unanimously held that holding prisoners indefinitely under the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 was incompatible with Article 5 (Right to liberty and security) of the European Convention on Human Rights.


M.N and others v. Belgium (ECtHR)


The case concerns the members of a Syrian family who requested visas on humanitarian grounds from the Belgian Consulate in Beirut, Lebanon.

The court deemed the application inadmissible stipulating that individuals who apply for visas at embassies with the intention to seek protection, do not necessarily fall within the jurisdiction of the ECHR State Parties in the sense of Article 1 ECHR, unless they display other relevant links to that particular state.


IOS Finance EFC SA v. Servicio Murciano de Salud (ECJ)


The case concerns late payment in commercial transitions and the creditor's right to request remuneration.

The Court stipulated, that the very purpose of the Directive (on combating late payment in commercial transactions) is to contend with late payments in commercial transactions, thus the creditor is entitled to ask for the interest and compensation from the debtor, even if the debtor is a public authority.


Waltuch v. Conticommodity Services., Inc (United States Court of Appeals)


The case concerns plaintiff, who sought indemnification for unreimbursed legal expenses from his former employer. 

The Court ruled that a corporation cannot bypass a “good faith” requirement to indemnify an employer in a manner that is inconsistent with the state statute, but the employer is entitled to indemnification if the charges against them have been dismissed.


Burdov v. Russia (ECtHR)


The case concerns the applicant was exposed to radioactive emissions during an emergency nuclear operation in Chernobyl. He was continuously granted benefits by national courts, but these decisions remained unenforced. The Court held that there had been a violation of Article 6 (right to a fair hearing) and Article 1 of Protocol 1 (protection of property) of the Convention as the state continuously failed to enforce monetary payments to the applicant.



Thank you for reading our weekly summary. Complete versions of these and other case briefs can be accessed in our case brief library.


Follow our social media to discover more legal content every day.

15.07.2022
Legal News

Roe v. Wade Overturned: What it Means for Abortion Rights

In its decision issued on June 24, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and abolished the constitutional right to abortion, allowing individual states to limit or ban abortion completely.


What is Roe v. Wade?


This landmark ruling of 1973 made abortions legal before a fetus could be viable outside the womb, between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy. It all began when a Texas woman who was pregnant was denied access to an abortion because the state of Texas prohibited abortion except in cases where the mother's life could be endangered. She filed a lawsuit under the pseudonym “Jane Roe” and eventually brought the case to the US Supreme Court where she and her Lawyers argued that the abortion laws of Texas and Georgia were unconstitutional as they infringed on a woman’s right to privacy. 


By a vote of seven to two, the court decided that governments did not have the capacity to ban abortions, since women had a constitutional right to choose. The court, however, did not establish the right to privacy as absolute, instead, it tried to balance a woman’s right of privacy with a state’s interest in regulating abortion.


As a result, the Court announced a pregnancy trimester timetable to govern all abortion laws in the United States. Within the first trimester, it is entirely up to the women to decide on abortion. Throughout the second trimester, governments can regulate/limit abortion to certain extend, but cannot ban it. In the third trimester, the state can ban abortion to save a fetus that could survive independently outside the womb, unless the woman's life or health is in danger.



The recent decision of the Supreme Court


In the recent decision overturning Roe v. Wade the Supreme Court deliberated that the constitution did not expressly or implicitly protect the right to access abortion. It said: “the Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision”. Judge Samuel Alito wrote that “abortion couldn’t be constitutionally protected. Until the latter part of the 20th century, such a right was entirely unknown in American law.”


Human Rights Implications


A recent Supreme Court decision opens the door to individual states to heavily regulate or outright ban the abortion. As a result, thirteen states (Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wyoming) have already banned abortions and it is predicted that a total of 26 states will follow.


It is important to understand access to abortion in conjunction with other important human rights, such as privacy, security, nondiscrimination and so on. Since the Supreme Court has restricted the right to abortion for millions of women, it is intriguing how the US will continue to meet international human rights standards that guarantee access to safe abortion procedures.

01.07.2022

Introducing Lawformer

If you have been following our social media, you are probably wondering what Lawformer is and what exactly it is that we are doing. Lawformer is an international platform founded by lawyers for lawyers that helps simplify contract drafting and legal research processes.


How do we do this?


A team of experienced lawyers and developers have been working together to bring our vision into reality. We have created a unique library of template contract clauses and contract outlines that are integrated into a digital document builder. Using these resources will not only save your time, but will make your experience much more simple and enjoyable.


In addition to these, if you are a lawyer or a law student, you can access other useful resources that will contribute to accelerating your legal research. Our platform combines regularly updated case briefs - summaries of important judicial decisions of international and regional courts condensed in two-three pages instead of the usual sixty. By analyzing your search and activity history, our smart system recommends case briefs that may be relevant to your research, which is basically like having a research assistant for free.


Personalized experience


It is important that you can customize your experience with the individual user dashboard, where you can save and edit content of your choice, receive regular updates on new content, and get recommendations based on your previous activity. You will also have access to our blog, a single hub for legal news stories, career opportunities and events you do not want to miss.


Become part of the growing international community


Lawformer is more than just a resource for completing legal tasks. It's an international network of lawyers, law students, and legal tech enthusiasts that will shape the future of this field. Our community is growing and we are expanding our reach, so join us and become part of this transformative process today.