The week feels like it is getting away from me, some travel, some work, some personal life, but may be able to write about something more substantive I’ve been meaning to tackle for later this week. For today, here is a scattershot of stories all of which involve something previously found to be worthwhile enough to have written about.
First, just a very short period of time after the Baker Hostetler announcement of its use of Ross in its bankruptcy practice, we get the announcement that DLA Piper will be using a competing AI software program known as Kira for document review in its mergers and acquisitions practice. You can read the short ABA Journal story online here. More indications that this is a fast-moving area and that there will likely be more such announcements coming with regularity.
Second, the availability to consumers of an array of other choices for the delivery of legal services has been a frequent topic here. The FTC has long been willing to speak out when state bars go too far down regulatory paths that have the potential to really impact consumers — lawyer advertising being an area that they have, in the past, been not at all shy about weighing in on — and the FTC (in conjunction this time with the Antitrust Division of the US Justice Department) has done so again earlier this month with respect to companies operating in the legal service provider sphere and how the services they offer online are beneficial to consumers. The context involves a North Carolina state senator who requested their input on potential legislation in that state that would address the scope of the definition of the practice of law to carve out certain interactive websites. Specifically, there is apparently pending in North Carolina a bill that, as the FTC/DOJ describes it would:
amend North Carolina General Statutes Section 84-2.1 to exclude from the statutory definition of the practice of law the operation of interactive websites that generate legal documents based on a consumer’s answers to questions presented by the software.27 A website would have to satisfy several conditions in order to be excluded from the definition of the practice of law, and thus for its provider not to be subject to prosecution for the unauthorized practice of law. These conditions include providing a disclosure that the forms are not a substitute for attorney advice or services, and disclosing the provider’s legal name and physical location and address.
The comment of the combined agencies appears to view the bill, as it stands, as being pro-competitive but also provided some further guidance:
The Agencies recommend that the North Carolina General Assembly not adopt restrictions on such software products unless there is credible evidence that they harm consumers, any restriction is narrowly tailored to address that harm, and the benefits of the restriction will outweigh the harm that will likely result to competition. Should the General Assembly receive any claims of consumer harm from interactive websites or similar products, the Agencies urge the legislature to consider whether the evidence substantiates any such actual or predicted harm.
The full comment of the FTC/DOJ is worth a read and you can get it here.
Last, Karen Rubin and the folks at her firm’s fine blog bring you an update on the latest travails of the lawyer I wrote about here in my Drunk and Disorderly is No Way to Attend a CLE piece. You can read there latest well done post here.