California Considers Sweeping Changes to Ethics Rules
A State Bar of California task force formed “to identify possible regulatory changes for enhancing the delivery of, and access to, legal services through the use of technology” recently issued its recommendations.
The recommendations allow:
- nonlawyers to provide specified legal advice;
- nonlawyers to partly own law firms; and
- legal tech companies using technology-driven legal services to engage in authorized-practice-of-law activities if they are certified, registered, and approved by the state.
A vast majority of the more than 400 comments generated by the recommendations oppose the proposals. The Artificial Lawyer blog called the proposals, if successful, “the biggest changes to legal market regulation in American history.”
Source: State Bar of California; Bloomberg Law; Artificial Lawyer
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Did You Know
Justice John Paul Stevens Decided Many Wisconsin-based Cases
Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens died in July at age 99. He served as a justice for 35 years before retiring in 2010.
Justice Stevens also served as a judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, from 1970 to 1975, before President Gerald Ford appointed him to the U.S. Supreme Court.
During that time, Justice Stevens decided numerous Wisconsin-based cases.
He was born and raised in Chicago in the 1920s and obtained his law degree from Northwestern University.
Source: CBS News
“Like a police department without an emergency line, this troubling trend indicates a lack of maturity in legal tech’s cybersecurity practices.”
– Jason Tashea, author of the ABA’s Law Scribbler column.
Tashea said “bug bounties” and “vulnerability disclosure policies” are standard practice in the software and hardware industries.
“Yet, a recent spot check by the ABA Journal of 22 legal technology companies, nonprofits and a federal agency found scant public evidence of bug bounties or vulnerability disclosure policies,” he wrote.
Tashea recommends legal tech providers add these tools to their cybersecurity protocols.
Bug bounties allow hackers who identify errors or vulnerabilities in computer programs or systems to get paid for finding flaws. Vulnerable disclosure policies tell hackers they won’t get sued for prodding the system for vulnerabilities.
Source: ABA Journal
Affected by the Equifax Data Breach?
Equifax’s 2017 data breach exposed the personal information of 147 million people. A settlement includes up to $425 million to help those affected by the breach.
To determine if you are affected, visit the Equifax Breach Settlement website.
When prompted, enter your last name and last six digits of your Social Security number. If your personal information was not affected, the website will generate a “no impact” message. If it has been affected, you’ll receive a prompt to file a claim.
You have the option to file a claim through the website or mail. The online claim form explains the different compensation types. The first option requires you to select from receiving free credit monitoring or $125 (if you already have credit monitoring services).
Next, you can review your eligibility for cash payments up to $20,000 for lost time spent remedying the breach (capped at 20 hours at $25 per hour), out-of-pocket-losses, and up to 25 percent of the cost for certain Equifax products purchased within one year before the data breach announcement.
The Equifax Breach Settlement website includes important deadlines and instructions. It takes just a few seconds to determine if you have been affected, so check today!
Source: Christopher C. Shattuck – Practice Management Advisor (Practice 411™), State Bar of Wisconsin
On the Radar
Marijuana Now Legal in Illinois
Illinois became the 11th state to legalize the use of recreational marijuana, starting in 2020.
The Illinois governor signed the Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act in June. The legislation also grants automatic expungements for marijuana possession convictions involving 30 grams or less. It is estimated that nearly 800,000 convictions will be expunged.
Michigan, through a statewide ballot referendum, approved recreational marijuana use in 2018.
Source: The Hill
DOJ Defends Led Zeppelin
In a copyright dispute between famed rock band Led Zeppelin and the estate of Randy Wolfe, a guitarist for the band Spirit, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed an amicus brief that sides with Led Zeppelin.
The dispute centers on Led Zeppelin’s 1971 tune “Stairway to Heaven.”
The Wolfe estate argues that Led Zeppelin ripped off the famed opening chord sequence from the Spirit song, “Taurus,” written in 1967.
The California federal district judge said “Taurus” fell under a prior version of federal copyright law that did not protect sound recordings, only sheet music.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (en banc) is now considering the case, with the DOJ in Led Zeppelin’s corner.
NBC Legal Analyst Pete Williams explained: “The similar-sounding qualities of the two passages, consisting of an A-minor chord and descending bass line in a chromatic scale, deserve protection only if they are virtually identical, the government said. And under that test, the brief said, Led Zeppelin should prevail.”
Source: NBC News; Rolling Stone