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Recently I attended We Robot hosted by the UW School of Law. It was a blast with every talk covering interesting issues and raising discussion between experts in multiple fields. I’m going to highlight two talks that I think especially interesting from a legal perspective. Those talks were Legal and Ethical Issues in the Use of Telepresence Robots and Unfair and Deceptive Robots.


First off is the discussion Friday afternoon on the paper Legal and Ethical Issues in the Use of Telepresence Robots: Best Practices and Toolkit. I recommend reading the paper, the content is a smooth read and only a dozen pages. It should take 10 minutes tops, unless you follow up on the citations.


To set the groundwork, telepresence robots are robots that users can access remotely they can sense and interact with their environment to give their users agency. They are often the rough size and shape of a human to help people present interact with them as though they were there in person. Despite this the presence of another person present to serve as a mediator was required to get people to treat the robot as a person, though with wide spread use and more anthropomorphic bodies this may change. The talk explored some of the implications of someone potentially working through a Telepresence robot across borders. Another issue is how to deal with the fact that a telepresence robot can easily have superhuman senses and how that would impact a reasonable expectation of privacy. We probably won’t see any immediate changes in the nonprofit legal sector but in the near future it’s reasonable to expect to see firms with a dispersed clientell to use telepresence to save their lawyers the time and expense of travel. Most likely it would be telepresence robots located in libraries, they are ideal in location and mission.


Following that Saturday morning we discussed Woodrow Hartzog’s paper Unfair and Deceptive Robots. Hartzog’s thesis is as more robots come into use by consumers in the form of self driving car, drone, household helpers, and the like the risks the consumer will be exposed to. And the best agency to deal with those risks is the FTC. We explored some of the ways that we are already dealing with similar issues with spambots and the risk of a hacker accessing out personal information and how these issues are going to be amplified in the future. Talk then turned to how the FTC is good at fostering new technologies with a light hand, the internet being a prime example. A secondary theme was that the presentation and reception of a technology can be more important than the technology itself. While there are differences fundamentally Google Glass and the iPhone do the same thing, however received radically different receptions.


One of the final talks I also want to mention was the panel Robot Economics which featured Colin Lewis, Andra Keay, Garry Mathiason, Esq. There was a lot of talk on how how robots are going to impact the workplace and how that would ripple out to the rest of the economy. Of particular note the legal profession is going to change quite a bit in the not so distant future. Automation is already eating away at some of the drudge work with e-discovery, in the future we can expect lawyers to be able to spend a lot more time working on the complex and legally interesting problems while leaving the bulk of the rest of the work to machines.


More information about the participants as well as the papers and panels can be found at


Iron Tech Lawyer



What: Iron Tech Lawyer: Access to Justice Edition


When: Tomorrow (4/22) at 1:15 EST/10:15 PST


Who: Students at Georgetown Law


Where: Streaming at no registration required.


Why: In this event students at Georgetown Law form teams to develop tools over the course of a semester that in some way increases access to justice or improves the quality of service. One example of a tool that is showing this year is the Lone Star Legal Aid Disaster Assistance & Recovery Tool, a tool that quickly and easily helps you evaluate what resources are available to you after a natural disaster. After each team presents on their project a panel of judges made up of both Georgetown faculty outside experts will choose winners. In addition those viewing online can vote on their favorite project for an audience choice

An excellent video that introduces Iron Tech lawyer can be found here.


Aimed primarily at those with a handle on the basics of Excel this webinar covers some more advanced topics like parsing data, sorting data, and booleans. We go in depth to some of the little tricks that can let you make Excel do things you didn't know were possible for it.
The handbook that has everything we covered in training and much, much more can be found here.
You can help us make more and better videos by filling out a survey.



OneNote is Microsoft’s best new organizational and collaborative tool and it can be used across multiple platforms (i.e. computer, phone, kindle, iPad, etc.).  If you aren’t using OneNote yet, you should learn how it can be one of the most useful tools Microsoft has to offer.  This training covers the basics and beyond. You will learn how to use OneNote to organize information in both your professional and personal life.

The handout can be found here.

A survey that you can complete to help us provide more and better webinars in the future can be found here.





Expert System Development

Full RFP here:

Legal Aid of Nebraska (LAN) is a private, state-wide, non-profit law firm providing civil legal services to individuals throughout Nebraska who meet the eligibility requirements promulgated by the Legal Services Corporation.


LAN is initiating this Request for Proposals (RFP) to solicit responses from vendors interested in creating an “expert system” to guide self-represented litigants (SRLs) through an informational/educational process that will result in forms and instructions for SRLs.




  1. Purpose: 


         LAN is initiating this Request for Proposals (RFP) to solicit responses from vendors interested in creating an “expert system” in specific substantive areas. For purposes of this RFP, an “expert system” is one that contains a sufficient knowledge base to address self-represented litigants’ questions, of increasingly complexity, in the areas of landlord/tenant law and debtor/creditor law.


         Depending SRLs’ answers, the SRL will be directed to the appropriate solution:

  • Informational videos;
  • Handbooks;
  • Legal forms (made available through A2J Author) relevant to the substantive area, with step by step instructions for completion & how to present their case in court; and
  • A referral to the LAN intake line, the Nebraska Volunteer Lawyers Program in the form of a completed application based on data provided by the SRL or other appropriate community agency.


         LAN anticipates that the expert system will be a free-standing web-based product that also can be accessible through particular portals, i.e., LAN’s website or The Nebraska Judicial Branch website.


  1. Goal:


Our goal is two-fold: to divert calls for assistance where the limit of our service consists of advice and the provision of forms; and to assist in removing the procedural barriers that prevent ordinary citizens, who cannot afford an attorney and/or are ineligible for LAN services, from effectively representing themselves in court. The means of obtaining the goal is the creation of a virtual self-help web portal where citizens can obtain the required self-help information, tutorials, tools and forms necessary to represent themselves.


As such, the goal of this RFP will be to create an expert system a SRL can use to answer simple questions, obtain the information and forms necessary to prepare to defend/prosecute a civil case in county court, apply for help through an on-line application or obtain a referral to an appropriate agency in the community.


The end product should be a “beta” model of a statewide triaging portal for Nebraska that would collect data from a person with a civil legal issue and, using algorithms within the expert system refer the user to a specific URL for the most appropriate online resource or to one of a number of programs participating in the portal-based referral process. The expert system would receive as inputs information on the nature of the civil legal issue, the complexity of the issue, the capacity or sophistication of the user, and the desired referrals or referral parameters of participating resources and programs. The system will produce as its output the optimum referral for that user.