November: global access to justice tech developments in the media

2 November

LawforLIfe publishes Resource for PLE Trainers: A practical guide to public legal education. This includes a section on going digital: ‘Attendance and participation in online courses were much better than we expected. This could be due to the fact that people did not have to travel long distances and that our films and webinars required less time than in-person teaching workshops. In terms of PLE outcomes, participants reached similar increases in knowledge and confidence that they normally reach after in-person workshops, although the range of skills we could focus on was more limited. Overall, we still feel that participants would have benefitted from more interactive in- person teaching. However, digital delivery enabled us to connect with groups and individuals who perhaps would not engage in in-person teaching in the same way, and to do so at a difficult and important time. In addition, the videos we created for this programme became “stand alone” learning resources and achieved far wider reach than our in-person teaching would.’

5 November

Canadian case management software company Clio publishes research on impact of Covid 19 on legal practice in the US. ‘Since the beginning of the pandemic, the total number of new legal matters has trended upward. It’s now positioned just below the baseline and has been relatively consistent over the past few weeks, thanks in part to stronger performances by certain practice areas’. ‘Year-over-year billing volumes for August fell to -11% compared to baseline. However, with August’s steady increase in new casework,  billing volumes may increase over the next month as client work gets completed.’ Real estate and intellectual property are doing well. Family and traffic offences are on the up. Employment cases have recovered to a lesser extent.

‘The second most important court ( in Brazil was hacked. The ransomware affected judge’s emails accounts and ALL the court cases among others. It’s so far the largest attack in a government website,’ reports cyber lawyer Adriana Antunes Winkler.

6 November

IBA conference session speculates that lawyers will become more like Uber drivers, according to the Law Gazette. ‘At the end of the day,’ said panel participant and Canadian lawyer Aaron Baer, ‘we are just service providers. And when you watch the disruption in service providers in all other industries, why wouldn’t we be next? Consumers want convenience, they want affordability and they want good service. And to get there we need to rethink how we traditionally do the work.’

Alexandra Summer gives tips on staying connected during remote working for the ABA. Suggestions include a weekly scheduled coffee break, hosting a virtual fitness class, circulating funny or personal photos (not for grumpy old me, this one), hosting virtual learning programmes (more my puritan-influenced style). ’No matter what strategy your office takes to work on remote team building, remember the most important fact: everyone needs non-work related adult interaction. 

LexisNexis company Lex Machina reports on employment litigation trends in the US. Basically, litigant has held steady with only a small decline over the Covid period.

ABA reports on tech uptake among its members: ‘The general trend seen in the 2020 Survey is that the larger the firm, the more likely it is to have formal technology measures and procedures in place. With greater size, however, comes less familiarity from individual respondents regarding the technology and security decisions being made. Smaller and solo firms are more likely to be behind with adopting formal processes and plans for technology, and especially so with security. The lack of formalized processes, however, does not necessarily mean the smaller firms are not adopting technologies—more so that the specific plans larger firms have are more likely to be comprehensive and formalized out of necessity due to standardization needs with more employees. Many of the responses remained close to where they were in 2019, which would indicate firms have not made significant adjustments to technology plans or processes in the last year. But as responses were collected before COVID-19 swept the world, they serve as an interesting bookmark in history ahead of what are likely to be very different results next year.’

9 November

Online awards ceremony for The Lawyer raises £48,000 ($64,000) for the English and Welsh Free Representation Unit.

Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) to research why so many opt out of small claims mediation, according to Law Gazette: ‘A surprised HM Courts & Tribunals Service has commissioned research into why people are choosing to opt out of mediation for small claims of up to £500. Since September 2019, HMCTS has been running a pilot where parties receive an automatic appointment for mediation and must opt out if they do not wish to go down that route.’

Kentucky develops an app for registering tenants as protection against eviction during the pandemic. It is state-specific but its author Ben Carter says: ‘it would only take someone who is moderately nerdy and curious about the platform to duplicate our app and provide state-specific information for their users.’

8 November

Clio blog editor Teresa Matich writes interesting piece on ‘top legal industry trends to follow in 2020’. These are gleaned from Clio conference chats. The top 2 emphasise the importance of the human: ‘As far as legal technology goes, I think the trend is people learning to blend in-person interactions with technology. I think a lot of people, when tech was newer, thought it was all tech or nothing. But now it’s more about blending that in-person and personalized interaction with tech is where things are going.”

President-elect Biden to establish task force on online harassment of women. 

The Guardian reports that ‘Thirty thousand “robot soldiers” could form an integral part of the British army in the 2030s, working alongside humans in and around the frontline, the head of the armed forces said.’ That is a quarter of the current army. ‘The MoD [Ministry of Defence] says its policy is that only humans will be able to fire weapons, although there is growing concern about the potential danger of unrestricted robot warfare, led by the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots.’

9 November

‘Legal Aid Service of Northeastern Minnesota (LASNEM), Legal Aid of Western Missouri (LAWMO), and Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services (SMRLS) are collaborating to create an open educational resource on process improvement for legal aid organizations.’

10 November

‘A web app developed by Legal Aid Chicago and Chapman and Cutler.’ reports ABA Journal, ‘helps automate the process to expunge or seal records of marijuana arrests and convictions in Cook County, Illinois. The expungement process in Illinois can be complicated even for volunteer lawyers.

Law Society consults on principles behind LawTech.

Internet founder Sir Tim Berners-Lee, reports the BBC, has been working on one of the biggest challenges for the NHS: ‘how to give people some control of their medical data while making sure it can be shared with all of the doctors and other healthcare workers who need it.’ His idea has the name ‘Solid, a web platform which allows users to store their data in what is called a Personal Online Data Store – or Pod. It’s not just an academic project. The technology behind it is being developed by a company called Inrupt with some major venture capital backers.’

The Sun reports that ‘THE UK’S first autonomous delivery vehicle has hit the roads – giving a glimpse into how technology is set to transform the parcel delivery industry. Kar-go [geddit?], a state-of-the-art self-driving delivery bot built by Academy of Robotics, uses artificial intelligence and a specially developed package management system to provide contact-free delivery.’

‘Dozens of Amazon’s Ring smart doorbells have caught fire or burned their owners after being fitted with the wrong screw,’ reports BBC.

11 November

Latest Re-imagining Law podcast interviews Brendan Lacota of innovative Australian not for profit, JusticeConnect.

Digital Guardian reports that ‘The 100 largest #cyber incidents of the past five years… totaled $18 billion in reported losses and 10 billion compromised records.

The Guardian reports ‘Robotic lie detector tests at European airports, eye scans for refugees and voice-imprinting software for use in asylum applications are among new technologies flagged as “troubling” in a UN report. The UN’s special rapporteur on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, Prof Tendayi Achiume, said digital technologies can be unfair and regularly breach human rights. In her new report, she has called for a moratorium on the use of certain surveillance technologies.’

12 November

‘In Portland, Maine voters approved a ballot measure to ban the use of facial recognition technology by local police and city agencies. Portland joins other cities such as Boston, San Francisco, and (the other) Portland, Oregon that have already banned the use of this technology.’ 

Tesla faces possibility of large German fines for failures in battery recycling. 

14 November

‘“5 steps to a successful #probate application” has been published by @HMCTSgovuk – 35% of online applications are ‘stopped’ by #HMCTS due to missing or inconsistent date.’ Blog helps practitioners reduce potential errors in applications.

‘Pro Bono Net, in partnership with the Atlanta Legal Aid Society, Inc., is pleased to announce the launch of Georgia Legal Connect, an online platform that enables Atlanta Legal Aid to enroll, manage, and connect staff and pro bono attorneys with remotely located clients for advice, counsel, and form preparation.’

16 November

The [Australian] Commonwealth has agreed to a settlement worth $1.2 billion over its unlawful Robodebt recovery program, which raised automated debts against welfare recipients … The Robodebt scheme has been widely criticised for using computer algorithms to raise debts against hundreds of thousands of welfare recipients, with little to no human oversight.’

Richard Susskind develops his argument at IBA conference that ‘the state should be helping parties online understand their rights and obligations; understand the options available to them. The state should be online providing tools to help them organise their evidence to formulate and present their arguments.’

18 November

Peoples Law School in British Columbia gets 180 plus people for online PLE webinar on settling estates.

19 November

BBC reports that Apple will pay $113m to settle multi-jurisdictional cases in the US which alleged that it had intentionally slowed down older models of iPhone to encourage sales of new ones.

LAPD bans use of facial recognition systems.

20 November

‘TIME has recognized Upsolve as one of the 100 best inventions of 2020. @upsolvebk’s free web app helps low-income families who cannot afford lawyers file bankruptcy.’

21 November

Facebook, Twitter and Google are working with a coalition of governments including the UK and Canada to fight misinformation and conspiracy theories around Covid vaccinations,’  reports BBC.

23 November

Microsoft produces downloadable pamphlet on remote working.

24 November

‘The Ministry of Justice said there will be further evaluations of the use of remote hearings to help inform the longer-term use of audio and video technologies,’ reports Solicitors Journal.  ‘The commitment was set out in the government’s response to the Justice Committee’s July 2020 report and recommendation on covid-19 and the impact on courts.An intiial evaluation is to explore issues including barriers for users such as those with disabilities or mental health issues. The findings are expected to be made available in early 2021.’

Citizens Advice reports that it has helped more than 1m people since Covid 19 pandemic broke out and gives detail. Massive rise in redundancy claims.

25 November

Facial recognition AI may be dodgy for police forces but it is handy for farmers in identifying sick cows.

26 November

JusticeConnect releases findings of report Self Help for Common Legal Problems: Understanding the ‘Missing Majority

Solicitors Regulation Authority reports that £2.5m stolen from solicitors by cybercrime in first half of 2020, a rise of three times that for the previous period.

Leave a Reply