Legal Tech Trends For 2016

Tech meets law

As the new year approaches, so do innovative ideas in the tech world. Every year technology seems to advance more and more at a rapid pace. Technology has found a way to consolidate with the legal system and will continue to expand overtime.

In 2016, you can expect the legal system to take an approach that most old school lawyers won’t know how to utilize but will have to adapt to the changes made such as iRobot intelligence (artificial intelligence), data analytics, face-to-face communication with clients using computer software and an increase in new law firms and decrease in old law firms.

The iRobot Affect (artificial Intelligence):

Remember when you thought the movie “iRobot” was just another movie with special effects and computer generated intelligence? Well, iRobot will become more than a movie in the future of the legal system. The process of these iRobot’s, will contribute to making lawyers’ lives much easier by dealing with contracts and other paperwork. However, if these iRobot’s are able to complete this task, who knows what they will be able to accomplish in the future.

Let the Data Analytics State the Facts

As most industries are transitioning to the use of technology to maintain organization through capturing data, such as doctors, veterinarians and now lawyers. One thing lawyers are always dealing with is paperwork from different cases and contracts. By utilizing data gathered through different tools such as Lexis Nexis’, law firms will be able to narrow down the importance and relevancy of a specific case or contract and give them a one up on the competition. Capturing data will not only benefit a law firm but will also contribute to relaying information to potential clients, who are interested in the firm’s services.

A High increase in start-up law firms and decrease in old law firms

The creation of law firms, will start increasing because of the accessibility of technology. New lawyers are starting to learn and understand the shift of technology and the benefits of leading to  success. Some lawyers, may be against incorporating tech into their system of practicing of law, but if they don’t acclimate to this trend, it will lead to lawyers losing out on major opportunities, especially since Millennials and Generation Z are the consumer businesses should focus on catering too.

Making a Connection through Communication

Do to the time period that we live in today, people are focused on gathering and conversing about information the fastest and most affordable way possible. Lawyers will start turning to communication host, to stay in contact with multiple clients, to help manage with a busy schedule. This would save time and money traveling to meet with a client and more time focusing on paperwork. Communication is host like Skype, Oovoo and Legalar will be used as a main tool for communication. Most of these communication tools are free for a one on one conversation, but if you want more features, of course it would cost, but nothing outrageous that a lawyer or client couldn’t afford.

Lawyers will have their hands full in the future, dealing with the transition from the traditional methods to the tech methods. However, this will be a learning experience that will not only benefit them for being a lawyer, but will provide the knowledge they could use in their personal lives. To learn more about the tech trends in the legal system you can find out more information here.

Civil Forfeiture Has Its Days Numbered

Civil forfeiture laws enable law enforcement agencies, like state and local police forces, to seize any property that is suspected of being involved with criminal or illegal activities. In order to do this, the authorities do not need to prove the owner of said property guilty of anything. In many cases, police has seized money from people for carrying what they considered “too much” of it, saying that it could be money from the sale of drugs. However, the owner of the money does not need to get arrested or charged with anything.

The burden in cases of civil forfeiture has always been on the property owner to prove that property’s “innocence” through the court system. However, before that even happens, authorities can then liquidate that property and, in many states, keep the profit and use it at their discretion. Many see civil judicial forfeiture as the single most important threat to property rights across the United States. But with attention recently focused on this issue, states like Montana and New Mexico have begun enacting laws to reform civil forfeiture laws.

As of July 1st, both Montana and New Mexico will see two major reforms go into force. In Montana, the government and its enforcement agencies are various levels, are now required to first obtain a criminal conviction before they can seize and liquidate a person’s property. This also goes as far as turning the burden of proof unto the state and not the person who had their property seized because it was used by someone else to commit a crime. Prior to this, if your neighbor was suspected of using your car to commit a crime, the state had the power to seize it and sell it without accusing you, the owner, of participating in the criminal act. Profit from the sale could then be pocketed by the agency involved.

New Mexico, on the other hand, went a lot further than Montana in its blow to civil forfeiture as we know it – it abolished it. Law enforcement agencies can only seize property after a criminal conviction has been obtained and instead of pocketing the profit, the money will be deposited into a general fund.

The Institute for Justice, which has been leading the fight for reform of civil forfeiture laws, hopes that these landmark reforms in Montana and New Mexico will continue to pave the way for more reforms across the country and, ultimately, at the federal level. Civil forfeiture creates a financial incentive for law enforcement agencies to continue to seize property. In many cases, money seized by local authorities have been used to pay for entertainment and other nonessential things. Many supporters of civil forfeiture law reform believe that the money could also be put to better use, such as going toward education funds across the states. The following Institute for Justice video provides an excellent overview of what civil forfeiture is and why reform is needed:

Obama Administration: Big Change to Immigrant Detention Policy

The Obama Administration has announced that it will commence taking action on a new policy to address the crisis found within several immigrant detention centers across the United States. The new policy will allow for immigrant mothers and children held at these federal detention centers to be released on bond, after which they must appear in court to hear out their requests for asylum within the U.S.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Jeh Johnson, stated that the conclusion had been reached and that the Administration believes that substantial changes need to be made for the sake of families with children. Criticism over living conditions at these detention centers had been mounting for some time. Sec. Johnson also stated that continued detention for families after they have established eligibility for asylum, or any other relief under U.S. laws, would be inefficient and not the best way to make use of these resources.

Critics of this change in policy are citing the potential for increased security risks or flight risks, but the Department of Homeland Security has dealt with such criticism by pointing to the bond amounts and how they are set to discourage any such actions. DHS will attempt to ensure that they can interview families that are eligible to be released as soon as they can, so that they do not have to spend any more time in these facilities. The detention program is criticised for its subpar living conditions, especially for families with children, causing many families to suffer from depression and trauma following months of uncertainty. There have also been accusations of abuses occurring in many of the centers.

This new policy will make it easier for families currently detained or fearing detention to find a faster path toward asylum or avoid detainment altogether. There are tens of thousands of women and children held in centers across the country.

Immigration Law Approval in the US and Canada

Abogado Aly Immigration LawDoes immigration really help the economy? What kind of specific immigration law helps the economy? In Canada today, only about one third of the population believe that immigration is a hindrance rather than an opportunity. According to Jeffery Reitz, Canadians are convinced on the economic advantages of immigration. So much so that in areas of economic distress, Canada implements incentives for immigration to those areas. Even unemployed workers insist that immigration is beneficial.

In Canada, under the point system, there is a greater flow of skilled labor mostly from industrialized countries. When looking at the labor market, immigration represents a shift outward to the right of the labor supply curve which decreases the real wage rate. In Canada this should only affect the high-skilled labor market because they do not allow low-skilled labor into their country. Therefore, immigration of high-skilled labor into Canada should decrease the real wage rate for high skilled jobs like doctors and engineers. In turn, this decreases the wage inequality gap by reducing the wage rate for high end jobs while keeping the low end job wage rate constant. Canadian statistics show that for every 10% increase in the immigration population, real wage decreases by 4% and real wage for people with post graduate degrees is decrease by 7% . In the United States there is the opposite problem. Since most of the United States’ immigrants come in the form of low skilled labor, this reduces the wage rate in the unskilled labor market while keeping the skilled labor market relatively constant. This widens the inequality gap with regard to the real wage rate.

A study done by Stephen A. Camarota, a research director at the Center for Immigration Studies, states that for every 1% increase in the low-skilled immigration population comes a .8% decrease in native low-skilled wages . Borjas states that there is a 44% change in the wage gap between unskilled natives attributable to immigration, whereas there is only a 4.7% change in the wage gap between skilled natives attributable to immigration. Since the United States also allows high-skilled labor to enter the labor force, the wage rates in high-skilled labor fields are also reduced because of the simple increase in supply; however, since there is a much greater inflow of low-skilled immigrants willing to work for a lot less, the wage decrease becomes a lot lower for low-skilled jobs than high-skilled jobs thus increasing wealth inequality. This distinction between wealth equality is a major issue and is a main reason why so many Canadians approve of immigration whereas more and more Americans every year are disapproving immigration.

Religious Freedom Law in Texas

Abogado Aly Religious Freedom LawThe quest for agreement in the socio-political realm is hard to take on, and often leads to unsettling discord that calls for a compromise from all sides in argument. When issues of political reform are up in the air, advocates from both sides come into the forefront and offer their unabating, often conflicting perspectives. In Texas, however, the merging of two ideas which have historically caused disgruntled unrest passed with relative ease and is inspiring residents of the state to push neighbors to come to a similar understanding.
The law passed in Texas under then-Governor George Bush in 1999, peacefully bridged the gaps between a strong religious community and equally strong proponents of civil rights who wanted to secure anti-discrimination laws. Fifteen years later, Texas still shows a strong balance between the freedom of religious practices and the protection of civil rights. The members of the state, however, worry about the slowed resolutions in Indiana and Arkansas whose laws for religious freedom leave out important language explicitly protecting against discrimination of individuals, for example gays and lesbians, who pose a threat to the liberty of following religious tenets. That is, the freedom of religious practice granted under their laws may leave questions of bias unanswered. Indiana’s Governor Pence assures nobody will have the right to discriminate and deny someone an opportunity based on personal principles. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act takes effect July 1 and “would prohibit laws that ‘substantially burden’ a person’s freedom of religion” unless the government has more compelling reasons for doing so.2
In 1997 the Supreme Court overruled a 1993 decision saying laws that apply generally on a federal level do not apply to state laws, urging states to draft their own responses to growing questions and concerns over civil liberties. Today, Texan Republicans aim to add an abridged version of the law to the constitution solidifying its legitimacy for future rulings. More than anything, civil rights groups are worried the freedoms of practicing religion granted under law will be enough to reinterpret the protections guaranteed to groups facing discrimination. Still, lines are not evenly split as many churches, religious groups, businesses and civil groups are coming together with intentions to craft the fairest legislation that denies none his unalienable rights.

 

2015 Law Changes in Texas

Abogado Aly Texas Civil LawThere were several laws changed in Texas at the beginning of this year. Below are a list of some of the critical laws that became instated January 1st, 2015.

House Bill 62 – Prohibits all judges from holing financial interests in private rehabilitation or community residential facilities and correctional facilities.

House Bill 500 – An amendment in the Tax Code to broaden the definition of what is retail trade. The new services included in what is considered retail trade are rental-purchase agreements, auto shops, and the leasing or renting of event supplies, tool, construction equipment and furniture.

House Bill 3838 – A new requirement for motorcycles that are made to carry more than one individual. These types of motorcycles are required to have handholds and footrests for the use of the passenger.

Senate Bill 492 – A prescribed pediatric extended-care center without their appropriate license will be charged with a class B misdemeanor. Everyday the care center operates without the appropriate license will count as a separate offense.

Senate Bill 1806 – This gives the Harrison County Court at law, which was a misdemeanor court, jurisdiction with the 71st Judicial District due to high volumes of family law and civil law cases.

HB 41 – Raises the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.

HB 48 – This law establishes review commissions after an individual is exonerated of a crime.  This law is put in place to prevent wrongful convictions.

HB 76 – Allows individuals to register to vote for the first time. The secretary of state will be responsible for implementing an official state website to allow voters to register online.

HB 80 – This law is set in place to prohibit texting and driving. The offense is now a misdemeanor with a fine of at least $25 dollars and at most $99 for first time offenders. For multiple offenders, the crime is punishable by $100 – $200.

HB 97 – Abolishes the statute of limitations for aggravated sexual assault and sexual assault.

 

4 Legal Trends to Watch Out For in 2015

Abogado Aly Civil Law in 2015A new year brings a new set of legal trends put in motion to fix an underlying issue that became prevalent in 2014. Here are the top legal trends to watch in 2015:

1)    Changes in Washington – 2015 is the first time since 2009 where Congress has a one-party control of both the House and Senate. This unified congress may lead to an increase in legislative output and coordination between the two parties. Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell stated that Congress will be focused on passing legislation to decrease government spending, increase energy production, revisions on the Affordable Care Act and other laws, and a review of the current tax code.

2)    Laws in Higher Education – Due to increased national attention, there will be more processes put forth to decrease and the number of sexual assault and violent cases on college campuses. Future findings of the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights will lead towards a more thorough process on Title IX’s best practices. In Washington, Congress will take steps to promote campus safety as well as more definitive guidelines to hinder confusion and mandatory reporting to local law enforcements. Higher education institutions must make ensure that their school protocols and procedures fall in line with Title IX and the Cleary Act, among other acceptable state laws.

3)    eDiscovery – The changing environment of electronically stored information will most certainly take effect in alterations to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedures. These alterations will look to amend the ways in which data is preserved and e-discovery sanctions. The laws put forward are expected to favor large corporations with large quantities of ESI. These laws are also expected to include computer-assisted reviews with predictive coding as the industry continues to mature.

4)    Developments in Wage-Hour Class Action – 2015 is shifting towards the year of the employer this year in terms of wage-hour class action lawsuits. This coming year shows signs of laws moving towards “issue certification” and more limited populations in-order to classify for a collective action.

 

Lawyer Discusses Civil Law and Ferguson

Abogado Aly Civil Law Charles OgletreeAfter the ruling of the grand jury involved in the case of police brutality in Ferguson, Charles Ogletree, a Harvard Law School Professor, answered a few questions on the legality of the ruling, according to an article recently completed by The Daily Illini.  His thoughts were issued in the question and answer section of a presentation he was making at the Alice Campbell Alumni Center; the talk was about civil rights, police brutality and what comes next in the nation.  The grand jury involved in the case was ruling on the legality of the actions of police officer Darren Wilson, for the death of Michael Brown.  For Ogletree, the legality of the case is cut and clear—he believes Wilson should be arrested and indicted.  However, alternatively, the grand jury was unable to indict the police officer.  Ogletree wasn’t necessarily surprised; he claims that he did not think Wilson would be indicted because he’s a police officer, and officers of the law are rarely indicted, according to him.

As a result, students at the university that was hosting Ogletree for the presentation organized a march.  This was only one march of many that resulted around the country; Ogletree himself organized one for his students at Harvard.  In the question and answer portion of the presentation, one audience member asked Ogletree what was needed to keep a movement like this mobile.  For Ogletree, numbers are crucial; groups need to always be growing, allowing the initiative to become bigger and different than any others in the nation.  Ogletree also said that this is very feasible for those against the Ferguson ruling; he declared that here isn’t one state that the citizens can say people of color aren’t treated differently based in their race.

Ogletree isn’t just leading marches to make a stand against this issue.  The legal team representing Michael Brown’s family has already approached him, expressing interest in approaching the case from a civil law perspective.  Ogletree responded that that is a prospect he would be very much interested in, and has agreed to lend his support to the case.

Civil Law Presents Conflicts for Republicans

Abogado Aly Civil Law Houston TexasIt has become a standard amongst American society that when the individual sees they have been wronged, they are able to take their assumedly powerful foe to court.  The proceeding trial is often envisioned as a dramatic battle between good and evil, with the wronged party assuming they will always win, and manage to extract some monetary compensation out of the ordeal.  However, this standard amongst society in the United States can often be taken too far, in the eyes of some Republicans.

In an article recently completed by The Gilmer Mirror, the court proceedings of the state of Texas against the federal government of the United States were summarized.  The list of items the Lonestar State is suing over included air quality, health care, banking regulations and money for education.  In addition to this, school districts across the state are suing their state government.  The issue has become so extensive that Texas has been forced to hire “trail lawyers,” which specialize in civil law to defend against criminal indictments.

This conflict has resulted in two separate groups of opinion.  One side firmly believes that there should be limits placed on the number of lawsuits filed against businesses; however, this same group often encourages proceedings against the federal government, in the name of the cause they are fighting for.  Republicans in the state of Texas believe the court system is being taken advantage of by these very people.  Twenty years ago, George W. Bush, who was running for governor at the time, saw this problem, and proposed a possible solution.  The result was his four pronged campaign approach, which focused on a reform to civil justice, education, juvenile justice and welfare.  Conveniently, this sought to both rectify the “lawyer bashing” that had started to become popular, while also serving as an attack on his Democrat opponent; Democrats were notoriously a favorite in terms of donations from lawyers at the time.  Essentially, the reform made it harder to file some civil lawsuits.  While civil justice lobbyists have continue to fight the reform, the beliefs started with Bush’s campaign remain cemented into Republican campaigns to this very day.

 

Texas Companies Under Heat for Violations Against Americans with Disabilities Act

Abogado Aly Americans With Disabilities ActA new online article done by the “Austin Business Journal” discusses recent action taken by Texas civil right groups. The civil rights groups are suing cab companies for violations regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act. The two civil rights groups in question are ADAPT and Texas Civil Rights Project. They have filed over 30 lawsuits across Texas against Uber, Lyft, and Yellow Cab stating that these companies do not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

ADAPT is a grassroots organization fighting for equal rights for people with disabilities. The Texas Civil Rights Project is a non-profit organization focusing on educating people and aiding litigation for economic, social, and racial injustices. ADAPT and Yellow Cab have been battling in litigation for years regarding the companies disability practices. Uber and Lyft are new to the industry; however, they have been completely absent in their efforts to make their service accessible for people with disabilities.

These startups are content with catering to a more young mobile group rather than complying the Americans with Disabilities Act because it makes their business move faster. Lyft, for example, does not have cars that are wheelchair accessible, in Austin, yet. Yellow Cab has been known to leave people with disabilities waiting for hours.
Both Yellow Cab and Lyft have released statements saying that their companies are committed to servicing the entire community with emphasis on people with disabilities.

Other businesses in Texas have been sued as well. Some of these businesses include residential lofts and condominiums, the Austin Club, La Michoacana Meat Market, and a Pizza Hut. Nightclub roof decks that are only accessible by stairs are a violation of the disabilities act and are also being sued. Medical facilities that do not provide deaf patients with an interpreter are also subject to litigation.

These are basic civil laws that many businesses seem to be ignoring. These civil rights groups have to take the law into their own hand and make a stand against businesses not complying with this basic civil law.