The Brief No. 36: New Thoughts, Same Deeds

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April 24, 2019

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Practice management tools can provide plenty of help for small law firms when it comes to streamlining operations and lightening the workload. But with countless to choose from, it can be hard to tell which tools will actually be assets and which will be ill-conceived time drains. That’s why we’ve consulted with our expansive network of clients to bring you The Best Tools for Small Law Firms. Don’t let choice overload keep you from utilizing the best software for your needs.

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Everything is Not Fine: The Democrats finally received the full Mueller report that they have been demanding for the past two weeks. Kind of… well, not really. The heavily redacted report is under scrutiny for its delayed publication and significant modifications, while some have even questioned the medium on which it was distributed. Still, there is much more to the redacted report than Attorney General William Barr’s 4-page summary revealed, which critics insist wildly misrepresented the special counsel’s findings, and as greater context fills in the gaps between Barr’s initial excerpts, the president’s assertion of exoneration loses credibility.

Raising the Bar: In a troubling trend for students and professors alike, bar exam results have experienced a steep and steady decline in recent years. While some attribute the fall to a decline in student performance entering law school, others point to evolving teaching methods that focus more on addressing the needs of students and less on closed-book exam preparation. The most recent MBE scores may point to a positive turn, but students should take it upon themselves to make thorough use of available preparation resources to fully halt the skid.

Outside the Box: The importance of the role of a jury in trial cases has been represented dramatically on screen, and is further evidenced by the countless resources advising lawyers on how to improve their jury selection (to sometimes  unethical ends). Serving on a jury is also one of the few experiences shared by nearly all American adults (despite efforts from some). In one lesser explored facet of the jury trial, a recent article from Psychology Today explains how court proceedings can have lingering psychological effects on jurors, even leading to PTSD diagnosis in a  particularly horrific case. In some instances, courts have taken measures to provide counseling following potentially traumatic trials. These additional layers should decrease the binary perception of jury duty—seen as either courtside seats to a high-profile case or a boring slog through hours of legal-speak—and increase our appreciation for it as a necessary civil service.

Internal Affairs: Women looking to break into the tech industry may be avoiding Microsoft for the foreseeable future, following a series of concerning developments from within the company’s communication networks. First, a group of employees utilized a Q&A with CEO Satya Nadella to protest Microsoft’s treatment of female colleagues, alleging incidents of discrimination and sexual harassments. Later, other staff members openly questioned the value of diversity on a company message board, including a female manager who criticized incentives to provide opportunities to women and minorities. While Microsoft’s official statements have opposed discriminatory practices, how they react to these recent events remains to be seen.

You Think, Therefore I Am: How do you legislate the ownership of thought? This is the question faced by those in the trenches of intellectual property disputes, sifting through tangible evidence for origins and footprints of intangible equity. As technology rapidly expands the rate of communication (and, hence, the exchange of ideas), more and more companies struggle to keep the lid tight on IP. For tech startups, whose entire existence may hinge on the custody of a single concept, settling these disputes outside of the courtroom can save valuable resources. Technology may also be the solution for helping thwart future IP theft, with AI systems that can be programmed to recognize motive, enhancing preventative cybersecurity measures.

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Hosted by Sam Glover and Aaron Street, the Lawyerist podcast is a weekly show about lawyering and law practice that features successful lawyers and other interesting people. In this episode, Glover and Street talk to Ed Walters, author of “Data Driven Law,” about the role of data in legal practices, why there should be more of it, and when it can be completely useless.

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