Law and Legal
Creative Commons Blog: “The Cleveland Museum of Art is one of the most visited art museums in the world, and soon it will become one of the most important online collections as well. Today, we are announcing a release of 30,000 high quality, free and open digital images from the museum’s collection under CC0 and available via their API. CC0 allows anyone to use, re-use, and remix a work without restriction. In line with the museum’s mission to work “for the benefit of all people in the Digital Age,” the Cleveland Museum is leading the charge for comprehensive metadata and open access policy. The museum sees its role as not only providing access, but also creating sincere partnerships that increase utility and relevance in our time.
Creative Commons CEO Ryan Merkley joined museum director William M. Griswold and Chief Digital and Information Officer Jane Alexander at the CMA to announce this release. “I hope this model of working closely together with visionary organizations will be one that we can replicate with other museums, and that this will become the new standard by which institutions share and engage with the public online,” he said. The museum’s leadership echoed the sentiment…”
Triassic Cancer—Osteosarcoma in a 240-Million-Year-Old Stem-Turtle. Yara Haridy, MS; Florian Witzmann, PhD; Patrick Asbach, MD; et al Rainer R. Schoch, PhD; Nadia Fröbisch, PhD; Bruce M. Rothschild, JAMA Oncol. Published online February 7, 2019. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2018.6766
“Paleopathology, the study of ancient disease, is a vital way by which we understand the evolution of pathogens, immune systems, healing physiology, and ultimately the environment. Cancer research has focused on its prevalence in various organisms and has found that although some animals have a high propensity for cancer, others seem to be resistant. The prevalence of cancer in the tree of life is certainly interesting, but its antiquity should be regarded with equal interest considering the increase in human cancer, which has been related to environmental and genetic changes, and the extreme rarity of cancer in the fossil record. This study documents bone cancer in a 240-million-year-old reptilian amniote from the Triassic period, which adds an important data point to the history of cancer in tetrapod evolution. Herein, we present a case study of an osteosarcoma, a highly malignant bone tumor, on the femur of the shell-less stem-turtle Pappochelys rosinae from the middle Triassic period of present-day Germany. The appearance of the tumor on this specimen conforms with present-day periosteal osteosarcoma in humans.”
The New York Times: “Google’s navigation app Waze is known for providing real-time, user-submitted reports that advise drivers about potential thorns in their roadsides. But one feature has Waze in conflict with law enforcement officials across the country: how the app marks the location of police officers on the roads ahead or stationed at drunken-driving checkpoints. Over the weekend, the New York Police Department, the largest force in the nation, joined the fray, sending a letter to Google demanding that the tech giant pull that feature from Waze. In the letter, which was first reported on by Streetsblog, the Police Department said that allowing people to share the locations of sobriety checkpoints impeded its ability to keep streets safe.
“The posting of such information for public consumption is irresponsible since it only serves to aid impaired and intoxicated drivers to evade checkpoints and encourage reckless driving,” the department’s acting deputy commissioner for legal matters, Ann P. Prunty, wrote in the letter. “Revealing the location of checkpoints puts those drivers, their passengers, and the general public at risk.”..
The New York Times: “As reporters and editors find themselves the victims of layoffs at digital publishers and traditional newspaper chains alike, journalism generated by machine is on the rise. Roughly a third of the content published by Bloomberg News uses some form of automated technology. The system used by the company, Cyborg, is able to assist reporters in churning out thousands of articles on company earnings reports each quarter. The program can dissect a financial report the moment it appears and spit out an immediate news story that includes the most pertinent facts and figures. And unlike business reporters, who find working on that kind of thing a snooze, it does so without complaint. Untiring and accurate, Cyborg helps Bloomberg in its race against Reuters, its main rival in the field of quick-twitch business financial journalism, as well as giving it a fighting chance against a more recent player in the information race, hedge funds, which use artificial intelligence to serve their clients fresh facts.
The A.P., The Post and Bloomberg have also set up internal alerts to signal anomalous bits of data. Reporters who see the alert can then determine if there is a bigger story to be written by a human being…”
Numerical cognition in honeybees enables addition and subtraction. Scarlett R. Howard1, Aurore Avarguès-Weber2, Jair E. Garcia1, Andrew D. Greentree3 and Adrian G. Dyer. Science Advances 06 Feb 2019: Vol. 5, no. 2, eaav0961 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aav0961
“Many animals understand numbers at a basic level for use in essential tasks such as foraging, shoaling, and resource management. However, complex arithmetic operations, such as addition and subtraction, using symbols and/or labeling have only been demonstrated in a limited number of nonhuman vertebrates. We show that honeybees, with a miniature brain, can learn to use blue and yellow as symbolic representations for addition or subtraction. In a free-flying environment, individual bees used this information to solve unfamiliar problems involving adding or subtracting one element from a group of elements. This display of numerosity requires bees to acquire long-term rules and use short-term working memory. Given that honeybees and humans are separated by over 400 million years of evolution, our findings suggest that advanced numerical cognition may be more accessible to nonhuman animals than previously suspected.”
“ACUS is pleased to announce the launch of the continuously-updated electronic edition of the Federal Administrative Procedure Sourcebook. The Sourcebook is a joint initiative with the Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice of the American Bar Association, which published the most recent editions of the Sourcebook. The Sourcebook is an annotated compilation of the key legal sources—including the Administrative Procedure Act, the Freedom of Information Act, the Congressional Review Act, and executive orders—governing nearly every aspect of administrative procedure. The electronic edition provides ready access to many of the valuable sources highlighted in the Sourcebook and will be updated with significant developments, including statutory amendments and executive orders, and additional government documents, articles, and other sources as they become available.
“This online sourcebook will be an indispensable resource for Congress, the federal courts, government agencies, researchers, and especially the American public,” said Matthew L. Wiener, ACUS’s Vice Chairman and Executive Director. “It will provide, for the first time, free and easy access in one place to the statutory and regulatory law governing federal agencies.”
LawSites: “…Serena Wellen, senior director of research information at LexisNexis, revealed during a Legalweek media briefing that the legal research platform Lexis Advance will soon include chatbots to help guide users in their research. “Our goal is to make legal research more guided in a more conversational experience,” Wellen said. Called Lexis Research Assistant, the bot is slated to be released within the Lexis Advance platform within the next few months. Eventually, users will be able to interact with multiple sub-bots for various tasks related to their research workflow…”
Inc.com – A new study from Harvard reveals that open-plan offices decrease rather than increase face-to-face collaboration: “Over the decades, a lot of really stupid management fads have come and gone, including:
- Six Sigma, where employees wear different colored belts (like in karate) to show they’ve been trained in the methodology.
- Stack Ranking, where employees are encouraged to rat each other out in order to secure their own advancement and budget.
- Consensus Management, where all decisions must pass through multiple committees before being implemented.
It need hardly be said that these fads were and are (at best) a waste of time and (at worst) a set of expensive distractions. But open plan offices are worse. Much worse. Why? Because they decrease rather than increase employee collaboration. As my colleague Jessica Stillman pointed out last week, a new study from Harvard showed that when employees move from a traditional office to an open plan office, it doesn’t cause them to interact more socially or more frequently.
Instead, the opposite happens. They start using email and messaging with much greater frequency than before. In other words, even if collaboration were a great idea (it’s a questionable notion), open plan offices are the worst possible way to make it happen. Previous studies of open plan offices have shown that they make people less productive, but most of those studies gave lip service to the notion that open plan offices would increase collaboration, thereby offsetting the damage. The Harvard study, by contrast, undercuts the entire premise that justifies the fad. And that leaves companies with only one justification for moving to an open plan office: less floor space, and therefore a lower rent…”
The Intercept: “…An unavoidable takeaway of “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism” is, essentially, that everything is even worse than you thought. Even if you’ve followed the news items and historical trends that gird Zuboff’s analysis, her telling takes what look like privacy overreaches and data blunders, and recasts them as the intentional movements of a global system designed to violate you as a revenue stream. “The result is that both the world and our lives are pervasively rendered as information,” Zuboff writes. “Whether you are complaining about your acne or engaging in political debate on Facebook, searching for a recipe or sensitive health information on Google, ordering laundry soap or taking photos of your nine-year-old, smiling or thinking angry thoughts, watching TV or doing wheelies in the parking lot, all of it is raw material for this burgeoning text.”
Tech’s privacy scandals, which seem to appear with increasing frequency both in private industry and in government, aren’t isolated incidents, but rather brief glimpses at an economic and social logic that’s overtaken the planet while we were enjoying Gmail and Instagram. The cliched refrain that if you’re “not paying for a product, you are the product”? Too weak, says Zuboff. You’re not technically the product, she explains over the course of several hundred tense pages, because you’re something even more degrading: an input for the real product, predictions about your future sold to the highest bidder so that this future can be altered…”
The Hill: “The National Park Service (NPS) will retroactively pull from congressionally appropriated funds to pay for the park maintenance and other operations the Trump administration authorized during the partial government shutdown, according to an internal NPS memo obtained by The Hill Wednesday. Dan Smith, NPS’s deputy director and its top official, told staff in an emailed memo that the agency will reverse its earlier, controversial decision to use park visitor entrance fees to pay for maintenance and staffing needs under the shutdown. Instead, he said the NPS will use money from the spending bill Congress approved to end the shutdown to pay for those costs. “We have confirmed with the [White House] Office of Management and Budget that the NPS can move obligations made during the appropriations lapse form the FLREA fee account and apply those obligations to the National Park Service annual operating account,” Smith said, making reference to “rec fees” collected under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA)…”
Smith’s announcement Wednesday came shortly after Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee panel that oversees the Interior Department’s budget, asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to determine whether it was illegal to use park fees to pay for operations during the shutdown…”
Washington Post: “…Since his first month in office, with his first weekend forays to his private retreat in Florida — Mar-a-Lago — questions have been raised about the cost of those trips. This isn’t simple to figure out, given that the total includes costs incurred by various government agencies as well as costs associated with Trump’s Secret Service protection. Although estimates of the cost existed, it would require a great deal of information from across the government to come up with an accurate total. The Government Accountability Office gathered that information. On Tuesday, it released a report looking only at Trump’s first four trips to Mar-a-Lago as president: on Feb. 3-6; Feb. 10-12; Feb. 17-20; and March 3-5, 2017.
…The immediate question, of course, is how those costs extrapolate to all of Trump’s visits. This invariably leads to some apples-oranges problems, but we can make some reasonable estimates. The GAO report notes, however, that much of the costs of the trips were incurred by the air travel to and from Palm Beach, including transporting people and material needed to support the president while there. (About $7.4 million of the total was spent by the Air Mobility Command and 89th Air Wing.) If we, therefore, assume a blanket average of $3.4 million per trip, regardless of duration, the total the government has spent on Trump’s trips to the resort tops $64 million…”
LA Times: “Twenty years ago, Martin Quezada was told the end was nigh. The sun was setting on the typewriter. Computers were king.Twenty years later, Quezada’s shop, International Office Machines in San Gabriel, is still in business. The downturn happened. But it did not defeat Quezada, now 61, who kept his doors open. He had loyal customers — small-business owners set in their ways, retirees unwilling or unable to learn to use a computer. He branched out into copiers and printers. He held on. Then young people took an interest in antique typewriters. A group of street poets brought Quezada several to repair. The typewriters were used to write poetry on demand for passersby. People ask Quezada to fix old typewriters they purchased on the internet. He sometimes buys them himself at thrift shops and flea markets. He recently found an Underwood from the 1940s at a yard sale.
In his backroom workshop on a recent afternoon, Quezada pulled handfuls of desiccated ribbon from the 70-year-old machine. He removed the rolling pin-like platen and coaxed tiny springs into place with hooked instruments that resemble dental tools. If a reporter were not present, he said, he would talk to the typewriter, expressing his frustration with the machine’s finicky innards. “I will say some things to the machine. I think it helps, when I let him know how I feel.” But Quezada’s admiration for the machine is clear. The Underwood and its kind “are like Mercedes, like Rolls Royces,” he said. They belong to an era before planned obsolescence, when people did not just replace, but repaired, what they owned…”
Vias FAS: “The CIA has around 140 projects involving or related to artificial intelligence, CRS noted (citing a 2017 story in DefenseOne). See Artificial Intelligence and National Security, updated January 30, 2019.”
Via FAS: Executive Branch Ethics and Financial Conflicts of Interest: Disqualification, CRS Legal Sidebar, January 31, 2019
Via FAS – Declarations under the National Emergencies Act, Part 1: Declarations Currently in Effect, CRS Legal Sidebar, February 1, 2019, and Declarations under the National Emergencies Act, Part 2: Declarations No Longer in Effect, CRS Legal Sidebar, February 1, 2019.
GovExec: “A new study released by the Senior Executives Association paints a dire picture of the federal workforce, one that is stretched too thin, hampered by old technology and the target of partisan attacks. Without a significant overhaul, agencies may fail to provide adequate services when they are needed most, the researchers found. The report, released last week, seeks to answer the question in its title: “Are Declines in U.S. Federal Workforce Capabilities Putting our Government at Risk of Failing?” The conclusion of the authors, longtime government observers and practitioners, is not reassuring: “Has the U.S. federal government reached a point where critical operations might fail in stressful events that are likely to occur? This was this project’s animating question. Based on the data collected in this study, it appears the answer to these critical questions is yes.” [h/t Pete Weiss]
ITLA KM: “In many law firms, the Marketing and Business Development teams (MBD) are experiencing growing demand for their services. While that speaks to the visibility and value placed upon these professionals, it can result in long hours and additional stress on the department. As a way to alleviate some of the time and resource pressures, MBD teams have been turning increasingly to, and partnering with, Library and Knowledge Management (KM) teams for research, data and other support. After consulting some colleagues from the U.S. and Canada, we have identified a number of ways that firms might maximize the value of this cross-team collaboration.”
ZDNet: “Cyber-criminal groups are exploiting a Gmail feature to file for fraudulent unemployment benefits, file fake tax returns, and bypass trial periods for online services. The trick is an old one and has been used in the past. It refers to Gmail’s “dot accounts,” a feature of Gmail addresses that ignores dot characters inside Gmail usernames, regardless of their placement. For example, Google considers email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, and email@example.com as the same Gmail address. Regular users have been using this feature for years to register free trial accounts at online services using the same email address, but spelled out in different ways. More recently, a scammer group learned to use dotted Gmail accounts to trick Netflix account owners into adding card details to scammers’ accounts — registered with the user’s dotted Gmail address. The legitimate “update your card details” Netflix email would arrive in the real user’s inbox, who’d later update the scammer’s account without knowing…” [h/t Lea Wade]
Menkel-Meadow, Carrie J., Thinking or Acting Like A Lawyer? What We Don’t Know About Legal Education and are Afraid to Ask (January 23, 2019). Book chapter in The State of Legal Education Research: Then and Now and Tomorrow (Ben Golder, Marina Nehme, Alex Steel and Prue Vines, eds. TaylorFrancis/Routledge, Forthcoming 2019; UC Irvine School of Law Research Paper No. 2019-07. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3321352
“This essay (the keynote address at International Conference on Research on Legal Education at the University of New South Wales, December 3-5 2017) reviews the “Big Bangs” in American legal education from “thinking like a lawyer” (classical Socratic education), developing legal theory, critical thinking, jurisprudence, critical legal studies, critical race and feminist theory, “acting like a lawyer” (clinical and experiential educaton), “being a lawyer,” (legal ethics and professional responsibility education, socio-legal and law economics study (“law and…….”), and comparative, internationalization and globalization studies. The essay then queries whether “law and technology or artificial intelligence” suggests a new era of legal education or “the end of lawyers and legal education” as we know it. (Answer: No). The essay identifies some things we know about these different contributions to legal education, but also suggests important questions that require further empirical study to test the various claims made about the best ways to structure legal education. Should one size fit all? How might the modern world finally come to grips with models of education developed in the nineteenth century that are often still in use. How is legal education variable in different legal systems—are we converging or diverging in legal pedagogy?”
DeStefano, Michele, The Law Firm Chief Innovation Officer: Goals, Roles, and Holes (November 11, 2018). University of Miami Legal Studies Research Paper No. 18-39. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3282729 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3282729: “So many lawyers are sick of hearing that they must “innovate or die,” yet their clients call for innovation continues to be loud; and, although not clear, it is clearly resounding. Demand for innovation is old news; now, clients are going even further – requesting in pitch proposals (RFPs) that law firms demonstrate how they have innovated or how they will innovate or be innovative. Even those clients who do not use what might be better called ‘the i-word’ ask for it in other forms, including demanding cheaper, better, faster, services or asking for ‘collaboration’ within the firm, or with other competing law firms or legal services companies on projects and panels…
One way law firms are answering this call [for innovation] is by appointing, identifying or hiring someone in the role of what is sometimes called, the chief innovation officer (CINO), or some other title that signifies this person is the head of innovation. The very first time I heard of the role of CINO at a law firm was in April 2015. Inspired, I decided to investigate. Over the past couple years, I have interviewed more than 100 GCs, heads of innovation at law firms, and law firm partners to uncover what is meant by the hackneyed i-word in the law market, to understand lawyers’ views of innovation, and to explore the role of the CINO at law firms. One of the many questions I sought to answer was whether designating someone as the head of innovation at a law firm is an effective way to meet changing marketplace demands and satisfy clients’ expectations. This article explores that question along with others concerning the CINO role. It is divided into two parts. This part, Part 1, begins by overviewing the goals and roles of a law firm CINO as described to me by my interviewees. Part 2, to be published in January 2019, highlights the holes that I believe exist within and between the goals and the roles. It concludes by providing three recommendations to law firms to help mend the holes so that the roles are better leveraged and the goals are better met.”