Law and Legal
Via LLRX – What Do Lawyers and Hackers Have in Common – This commentary by Michael Ravnitzky is based on a thought provoking premise – “The activities of attorneys and the activities of hackers are not as different as you might expect, if you define hackers as creative, unconventional problem solvers. Each explores vast spaces of complicated systems, looking to see how they work, both in ways intended and unintended, and to see what they can be made to do…”
The New York Times – Corporate lawyers at Paul Weiss, a prestigious Manhattan law firm, often spend their days scouring the fine print of client documents and government regulations. But for the past few months, they have been on a different search. In the firm’s Midtown offices, about 75 lawyers have been trying to find more than 400 parents who were separated from their families at the southern border this year and then deported without their children. Paul Weiss, where partners charge more than $1,000 an hour and clients include the National Football League and Citigroup, is looking for these parents, pro bono, as part of a federal American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit against the Trump administration over its family separation policy. Big Law — a nexus of power where partners are often plucked for top government posts — has emerged as a fierce, and perhaps unexpected, antagonist to President Trump’s immigration agenda. While pro bono work is nothing new, over the past two years, major law firms have become more vocal and visible in pushing back against the administration’s policies.
Top firms have a well-earned reputation as cautious defenders of the establishment, and immigration is generally considered a safe area for pro bono work because it rarely conflicts with corporate clients. Still, both supporters and critics of the president’s agenda have noticed that large firms have been behind several of the biggest court battles. “What’s different here is that the firms are on a wholesale basis, and dramatically, challenging the behavior of the White House,” said Stephen Gillers, a law professor at New York University and an expert in legal ethics.
- Hogan Lovells, which has more than 2,500 lawyers and revenues that topped $2 billion last year, challenged the travel ban and is one of several firms opposing the administration’s plan to cut federal funding to so-called sanctuary cities.
- Covington & Burling, a century-old Washington firm with clients such as Uber and JPMorgan Chase, has fought to preserve Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA. WilmerHale, another prestigious Washington firm whose top clients include Facebook, represented Chicago in its own successful sanctuary cities case and filed a lawsuit to compel the administration to disclose data on family separations.
- This month, Arnold & Porter, an international firm that has advised clients such as the World Bank, represented nonprofits in New York to block the administration’s plan to add a citizenship status question to the United States census…”
The New York Times – “…Ms. Jovin is a new member of a city subway ecosystem known for its string-instrument musicians, break-dancers and religion preachers. About four times a week, she schleps a foldable table and a chair to locations such as a triangular sidewalk plaza outside a subway entrance off 72nd Street or inside the underground expanses of Grand Central Station or Times Square and sets up the Grammar Table. Its laminated sign reads: “Vent! Comma crisis? Semicolonphobia? Conjunctive adverb addiction! Ask a question! Any language!” Ms. Jovin, 53, knows that a better understanding of the role of conjunctions will not put a stop to political divisions. But in a world of coarse discourse, why not create a little common ground by parsing past participles? “Language studies is something people can bond over and enjoy without getting into a huge fight,” she said. (Unless you’re 4 or 5, perhaps.)..”
Fast Company: “There are more habitable planets in our galaxy than humans living on planet Earth. But the nearest one is about 70 trillion miles away, which means that, for now, and for the foreseeable future, Earth is the only life-supporting rock hurtling through infinite space we’ll ever know. It’s really not the best idea to let it burn up–and key to keeping it cool are the massive rainforests of the Amazon. Sadly, we’ve had a hard time not cutting them down. A new project should help prevent–or at least slow down–that hot future. If all goes to plan over the next six years, a project led by Conservation International will become the largest tropical reforestation project in history. Seventy-three million trees will sprout up across what’s known as the “arc of deforestation,” in the Brazilian states of Amazonas, Acre, Pará, Rondônia, and throughout the Xingu watershed. The short-term plan is to restore 70,000 acres (the area of 30,000 soccer fields) that have been cleared for pastureland to their former forested glory…”
“NO MATTER how much alphanumeric complexity you add to passwords, chances are they’re still not strong enough. Don’t worry, mine are even weaker. Against all advice, I’m only willing to deliver the bare minimum asked of me when it comes to mixing numbers, letters and symbols. I stupidly use the same passwords for multiples sites, I rarely change them (unless forced to), and I hide them in very obvious places. Any grade-school computer nerd could hack me on most platforms were it not for an extra layer of security: my YubiKey 5 (from $45, yubico.com). This encrypted device is a unique two-factor authentication system similar to what you’re already using (right?) to bolster your online security. If you’re not, here are the basics: When logging into a site with two-factor from a new device, entering a password triggers the site to text you a randomly generated code you then type in to complete a login. It seems foolproof at first—no phone, no code. But anything digital is ultimately hackable and online criminals have already found crafty ways to intercept texts.
Here’s what’s different about the YubiKey and its competitor the Google Titan ($50, store.google.com): They must be in hand and physically connected to a device before you can access online accounts—either plugged into a USB port or pressed against a phone (which activates the key via Near Field Communication)…”
- Top 10 Tips for Solos In its Briefly Speaking contest in 2018, the ABA asked for its members to offer their words of wisdom to solos. Here are some of our favorite entries, along with the winning advice in the solo lawyers category, by Andrew Clark of Pickerington, Ohio.
- Top 10 Tips for Young Lawyers In its Briefly Speaking contest in 2018, the ABA asked for its members to offer their words of wisdom to young lawyers. Here are some of our favorite entries, along with the winning advice in the young lawyers category, by Brijesh Patel of Clearwater, Florida.” [h/t/ Mary Whisner]
Engadget – “The trend of blundering into the void of adopting new tech, damn the consequences, full speed ahead, continues this week. The Telegraph tells us about “a number of UK legal and financial firms” are in talks with a chip company to implant their employees with RFID microchips for security purposes. Ah, security purposes, our favorite road to hell paved with some kind of intentions. Is it like when Facebook took people’s phone numbers for security purposes and handed them to advertisers? Sorry, I’m just a little cynical right now. The report explained the purpose of corporate bosses chipping their workers like a beloved Pekinese is to set restrictions on areas they can access within the companies. “One prospective client,” The Telegraph wrote, “which cannot be named, is a major financial services firm with “hundreds of thousands of employees.”
Jowan Österlund, founder of chip-implant company Biohax at the center of this deal, told the outlet: “These companies have sensitive documents they are dealing with. [The chips] would allow them to set restrictions for whoever … In a company with 200,000 employees, you can offer this as an opt-in,” said Mr. Österlund. “If you have a 15 percent uptake that is still a huge number of people that won’t require a physical ID pass.”
“As more private companies upload judicial opinions, state and federal regulations and other public court documents, attempting to copyright those documents may prove futile. After all, many public court documents are deemed uncopyrightable and essential for public consumption…”
“…Over a period of four months, from high summer to late autumn, the Guardian dispatched writers across the American west to examine how overcrowding is playing out at ground level. We found a brewing crisis: two mile-long “bison jams” in Yellowstone, fist-fights in parking lots at Glacier, a small Colorado town overrun by millions of visitors. Moreover, we found people wrestling with an existential question: what should a national park be in the modern age? Can parks embrace an unlimited number of visitors while retaining what made them, as the writer Wallace Stegner once put it, “the best idea we ever had”?
“…Horseshoe Bend is what happens when a patch of public land becomes #instagramfamous. Over the past decade photos have spread like wildfire on social media, catching the 7,000 residents of Page and local land managers off guard. According to Diak, visitation grew from a few thousand annual visitors historically to 100,000 in 2010 – the year Instagram was launched. By 2015, an estimated 750,000 people made the pilgrimage. This year visitation is expected to reach 2 million…“Social media is the number one driver,” said Maschelle Zia, who manages Horseshoe Bend for the Glen Canyon national recreation area. “People don’t come here for solitude. They are looking for the iconic photo.”
Gizmodo – “…While many have feared the potential of deepfakes to spread misinformation in the here and now, these videos could distort reality long after today’s fake news goes viral if they’re improperly archived as legitimate. Gizmodo spoke with several historians, archivists, and professors who were familiar with the deepfakes phenomenon, some of whom had pragmatic concerns about it. Fortunately, archivists have rigidly established principles meant to catch forgeries and screw-ups, but these protections are only as strong as the institutions that provide them. Roger Macdonald, the director of the television archive at the Internet Archive, characterized deepfakes as “a looming threat” since last year, when researchers showed they could create realistic fake videos of former president Obama synced to audio clips…”
Via LLRX – Technology giants didn’t deserve public trust in the first place – This commentary by Zachary Loeb synthesizes the increasingly frequent calls for oversight, regulation and even breaking up giant tech companies who have strayed way beyond their initial mission statements of “don’t be evil” and “helping you connect and share with the people in your life.” Public opinion has decidedly changed on issues concerning Big Tech, and Loeb’s opinion piece distills user concerns into a concise review of the boundaries of “public trust.”
Via LLRX – Blockchain Challenges – V. Mary Abraham shares her notes from the new Blockchain in Government conference, part of the KMWorld 2018 Conference, that was held November 7-8, 2018 in Washington, D.C. The program speaker was Marcus Ralphs, CEO, ByzGen Ltd. who shared his real-world challenges, both technical and organizational, as well as tips for others starting to use distributed ledger technology.
New on LLRX – The Music of the Algorithms: Tune-ing Up Creativity with Artificial Intelligence – In this article, Alan Rothman engages us with significant insights into how the music business is using artificially intelligent music composers, producers and performers that challenge the boundaries of intellectual property and human versus AI musical production. Rothman offers perspective and resources that address whether the dawn of new music produced by AI is upon us, what are the consequences for the artists, the consumers, and the legal system that may be called up to deal with conflicts that will invariably arise.
Fernandez, Pablo, 18 topics badly explained by many Finance Professors (October 20, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=
“This paper addresses 18 finance topics that are badly explained by many Finance Professors. The topics are: 1. Where does the WACC equation come from? 2. The WACC is not a cost. 3. The WACC equation when the value of debt is not equal to its nominal value. 4. The term equity premium is used to designate four different concepts. 5. Textbooks differ a lot on their recommendations regarding the equity premium. 6. Which Equity Premium do professors, analysts and practitioners use? 7. Calculated (historical) betas change dramatically from one day to the next. 8. Why do many professors still use calculated (historical) betas in class? 9. EVA does not measure Shareholder value creation. 10. The relationship between the WACC and the value of the tax shields (VTS). 11. Beta and CAPM do not explain anything about expected or required returns. 12. Difference between the expected and the required rates of return. 13. It has been very easy to beat the S&P500 in 2000-2018. 14. Apply the logic principle “Never buy a hair growth lotion from a man with no hair” to your investment advisors… and to your professors. 15. Rational investing in equities. 16. Volatility is a bad measure of risk. 17. About the unhelpfulness of the Sharpe ratio. 18. Common errors in portfolio management and wrong advices.”
The World Cities Culture Report 2018 is now available for download here.
“Launched today at the 2018 World Cities Culture Summit in San Francisco, the World Cities Culture Report 2018, supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, is the most comprehensive report ever published about culture and the role it plays in shaping life in major cities worldwide. The report is based on extensive data and practice research to reveal how 35 major global cities are in the vanguard of policymaking. Against a backdrop of a changing world order, increasingly divisive national politics and crises of national identity in countries around the globe, the World Cities Culture Report 2018 highlights a change in approach from local governments in world cities. Recognising that cultural investment over the last 20 years has sometimes unintentionally contributed to social pressures in global cities, the report finds that urban cultural policy is shifting towards more egalitarian and citizen-centred models. The report showcases a wide range of innovative cultural practice and demonstrates a growing inclusivity, with culture open to a greater range of people, practitioners, art forms and new spaces…”
More reasons why libraries and librarians will continue to play a critical role as we confront the rising tide of communications’ disconnect:
“We may sleep with our smartphones and spend multiple hours a day staring at device screens, but almost of half of American adults say they prefer in-person communication, per a poll by SurveyMonkey for “Axios on HBO.”
- Why it matters, from Axios managing editor Kim Hart: The rapid rise of social media and smartphones led some experts to worry that digital communication would replace face-to-face interaction, potentially leading to weaker relationships and less productivity.
- The results show that adults still value the human connection of an in-person conversation over text messages by a 21-point margin.
Coming distractions: The proportion of teens who prefer in-person interaction has plummeted from 49% in 2012 to 32% today. Texting is now the favorite mode of communication, per a survey of 13- to 17-year-olds by Common Sense Media.
- 54% of teens agree that using social media often distracts them when they are with people, and 44% say they get frustrated when their friends are using their phones while hanging out.
- Yet 55% say they hardly ever or never put their devices away when hanging out with friends…”
The Hamilton Project Framing Paper – The Geography of Prosperity – “Over the last several decades, the fortunes of regions and communities across the United States have stopped converging. Evolving patterns of trade and technology, among other factors, have created concentrated prosperity while leaving many places behind. In order to formulate an effective policy response at the local, state, and federal levels, it is necessary to understand how economic activity has shifted, as well as the factors that are associated with success or failure for particular places. To present a full picture of which places are thriving, how that picture has changed over time, and what factors are associated with success or failure, we created the Vitality Index, which measures the economic and social well-being of a place. We find that places in 1980 with higher levels of human capital, more diverse economies, lower exposure to manufacturing, higher population density, and more innovative activity tended to have higher vitality scores in 2016. Further, both the differences in fiscal capacity among states and declining migration rates can reinforce differences in economic outcomes across places. The analysis in this chapter underscores the complicated overlap of gaps across places: differences across regions, states, and counties are all substantial, as are differences within counties.”
Folks – how this just became an issue is rather odd given all the important “news” we are trying to wrap our heads around every day – but just in case you missed this topic – to clarify – a pumpkin is a squash – we all know that. We also know that Halloween pumpkins are full of seeds (which are yummy when roasted), and the flesh of the squash rarely reaches American tables in any cooked form.
Via Snopes – “As much of 90 percent of pumpkin sold in the U.S. (and 85 percent worldwide) is a proprietary cultivar known as a Dickinson pumpkin, which are less photogenic than the type of pumpkins commonly used for display purposes.” And if you have a dog or more than one (always best, especially if they are rescues), they love “pumpkin” and it is very nutritious as a treat or part of their regular diet.”
So enjoy your pumpkin/squash pie on Thanksgiving and the days thereafter. This pie holds up well for days – and it is good for you. Leftovers!
LawSites – Bob Ambrogi – “Companies that provide services for accessing federal court dockets were caught off guard last week when a number of federal courts began sending notices to attorneys urging them to exercise caution when using such services. Some vendors said that the caution did not apply to them, while others said they were taking steps to address the concern. The cautions from the courts related to the possibility of attorneys inadvertently providing vendors or others with access to confidential sealed documents. The courts urged attorneys not to share their CM/ECF (Case Management/Electronic Case Files) credentials with vendors. Attorneys use these credentials to access electronic case files and electronically file case documents. Sent Nov. 15 and 16, the notices came directly from several federal district and bankruptcy courts. The exact text varied, but the gist was the same..” [Bob’s article includes the responses by various services to the issue raised about the compromise of customers’ CM/ECF credentials on their respective systems.]
See also the Washington Post: Julian Assange has been charged, prosecutors reveal inadvertently in court filing.
Who knew – not me – Faang companies?? OK, so here is the article via The Guardian: US stock markets continue to fall, erasing 2018 gains – “Technology stocks slid again and fears of a trade war with China worried investors. Much of the fall has been driven by troubles at the so-called Faang companies (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google) whose phenomenal growth had driven stock markets to record highs…”