Where tech and law collide. Keeping attorney jobs safe from robots The insight from panelists of “Finding a Job in an Automated Future” could be valuable to lawyers, who have been hearing buzz about robots taking away entry-level work. Robbie Allen, of Automated Insights—a company whose artificial intelligence produces news stories, among other things—said automation will not reduce the total number of jobs because it will create new jobs. Some careers, he said, will enjoy stability and security as long as they require certain characteristics, such as human ingenuity, creativity, entrepreneurship, a willingness to learn, knowledge of data analysis, or an ability to communicate well through words. Co-panelist Dennis Mortensen, of the virtual meeting scheduler x.ai, agreed that automation will lead to new jobs, particularly ones where people with expertise train the tech. It also will give workers more time to focus on tasks that robots can’t do. “Just because you can have an intelligent agent read 1,000 pages of legal documents,” Mortensen said, “doesn’t mean I’m going to go fire my paralegal. I might just want her to work on something different.” Mortensen recognized that while some professions, such as accounting, are more susceptible to job loss, he thinks we will adapt. “The bleak view believes there is no more human imagination,” he said. “I don’t see that humans will want to give up that easily.” The sharing economy “The sharing economy can bring you tremendous experiences, but who is responsible when something goes wrong?” In the CLE session “Law and Policy Fundamentals of the Sharing Economy,” Washington, D.C., attorney Gerard Stegmaier addressed this question, which is often faced by lawyers representing platforms like Uber and Airbnb as well as the people who use them. According to Stegmaier, these sharing-economy enterprises say they are just software that creates an environment in which peer-to-peer exchanges can happen—and thus aren’t responsible for incidents like injuries at properties rented online or assaults by drivers of ride-sharing services. Many also argue that they shouldn’t have to classify workers as employees instead of independent contractors. But critics claim this less regulated environment undermines local needs and effective governance. Stegmaier shared his top practical considerations for lawyers who represent sharing-economy companies, which included having an action plan for when things go wrong, designing agreements to mitigate risks, and considering intellectual property issues, like who owns the rights to a product if it was created through collaboration. Online terrorism and free speech All panelists of the session “How to Fight ISIS Without Breaking the Internet” agreed: Policymakers should not ask tech companies to censor terroristic activity. Shahed Amanullah—of Affinis Labs, a business incubator focusing on Muslim communities—said the Internet shouldn’t be blamed for the Islamic State’s relative success at recruiting, which he said has more to do with the group preying on people who have experienced economic destabilization, marginalization in the West, and technological change. The only way to confront terroristic online messaging, Amanullah said, is to disperse more powerful content. Lisl Brunner, of the Global Network Initiative, said that in many countries, terrorism speech laws are used to stifle the speech of political rivals. Additionally problematic is the increasing practice of holding companies liable for content that users post, which Brunner said violates due process. Rebecca MacKinnon, of New America’s Ranking Digital Rights project, said some social media companies are putting more language about terrorism into their terms of service, and many are tending to go overboard with censoring. “A better long-term response,” she said, “is to let counter messaging thrive.” Regulating drones In the session “Policies Impacting Drones and the Future of Flight,” Marke Gibson, the Federal Aviation Administration’s senior adviser on unmanned aircraft systems, said a final rule regulating nonhobbyist drones is expected in late spring 2016 and that there will likely be a separate rule issued for drones weighing less than 4.4 pounds. Until this happens, he said, all commercial flyers should apply for a section 333 exemption, which allows for relief from current requirements. Jon Resnick, of drones company DJI, said the 333 exemption process is overly burdensome and slows innovation while also decreasing public safety by pushing some flyers to ignore the regulation altogether. Good rules that the industry likes, he said, will enhance compliance. And because the FAA decides how national airspace is regulated, Resnick said he expects eventual preemption of local and state rules on drones, including those in the Lone Star State, which he described as “innovation crushers.” Greg McNeal, of AirMap, recognized that the FAA is working more with the industry but said he also would prefer loose regulations. “Let’s allow innovation to take flight,” he said. While acknowledging that “the key way forward is partnership,” Gibson said there are limits. “What we’re witnessing now is the most fundamental change in aviation in our lives. [The FAA takes] our public trust very seriously. So—innovate, but safely.” Three standards for fair use in filmmaking Michael Donaldson, who has represented filmmakers from Oliver Stone to Richard Linklater, led the session titled “Fair Use Docs & Fiction Films— Everybody Is Welcome!” Donaldson explained that fair use is based on the intent of copyright that appeared with the founding of America. “The reason we have copyright is not for big corporations to make money off a little mouse that is 70 years old,” he said. “It’s to encourage you to make works of art.” Donaldson then laid out three standards that need to be satisfied for a fair-use claim to be successful: 1) the copyrighted asset must illustrate or support a point; 2) the creator of the new work must use only as much of the asset as is reasonably appropriate; and 3) the connection between the point being made and the asset being used must be clear to the average viewer. Attorney addiction and the Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program A panel titled “Substance Abuse and Dealing with Addiction” at one of the biggest parties of the year? The dichotomy was not lost on the attorneys and handful of musicians attending the CLE event. The State Bar of Texas had its own representative on the panel, Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program Director Bree Buchanan, who gave an overview of TLAP and discussed the 2016 study by the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation and the American Bar Association Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs, which found that lawyers experience more substance abuse and mental health problems than other professions. Buchanan noted the importance of recognizing ways in which lawyers are a little different, such as a propensity for trying to hide their problems. The most important way to ensure that more attorneys with problems come forward, Buchanan said, is to let people feel safe to expose their struggles. “We’ve got to take some of the stigma and the shame out of this. We need to create a community where it’s OK to talk about it.”
Published by State Bar of Texas. View All Articles.
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