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Will the Real Coronavirus Patient Please Stand Up?

By: Cam Kollar

Firemen picture.jpg

While on quarantine, some people are currently bored while others are baking bread. As a law student, my quarantine days are spent eating, reading, and writing. Rinse, wash, repeat. The world has been on quarantine for about two months going on five years. A little over a month ago, a young man was of the mind to conduct his own social experiment on Facebook.[1] The goal of his social experiment was simple, he wanted to prove how important it was for people to be educated and do their own research before assuming everything they read or hear is true.[2] But the way that he went about it was to draft a Facebook post telling his family and friends that he had tested positive for coronavirus.[3] In his post he also stated that the doctors had told him that the virus was now airborne.[4] The problem was that he had made the whole thing up.[5]

Although we have the right of free speech, it is not without limits.[6] As the Court explained in Schenck, “[t]he most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic.” Although this is a common statement that is often repeated, it no longer carries the same impact it did when it was first used.[7] During the preceding time period when the Schenck opinion was written, there were some significant theater fires, notably the 1903 Iroquois Theater fire in Chicago.[8] The devastating fire resulted in more than 600 dead, due to flames, smoke, and being trampled during the massive panic to escape the building.[9] When the Schenck court incorporated the rhetorical device in their opinion, it evoked strong imagery and powerful emotions.[10] Until the quarantine, the modern day equivalent analogy would have been ‘you don’t shout he has got a gun at a school.’[11]

Few things come to mind that are able to cause mass hysteria, but I vividly remember the time shortly after September 11, 2001, when the fear of anthrax laden mail gripped the public’s attention.[12] The anthrax attacks of 2001 and 2002 used anthrax spores enclosed in mailing envelopes and were mailed to several news agencies and then in a second round, mailed anthrax envelopes to a pair of senators.[13] Extremely dangerous, inhalation of those anthrax spores was 90 % fatal unless the victim is treated immediately with massive doses of antibiotics.[14] Untreated, death can occur within three to twenty-four hours, even from extremely low quantities of exposure.[15] Significantly contributing to the widespread fear, some experts estimated that a single gram of effectively distributed anthrax could kill more than one-third of the U.S. population.[16] Ultimately from these mailings, 22 people were sick with anthrax and five died.[17] In the midst of the legitimate anthrax attacks, adding to the paranoia were the fake attacks where envelopes filled with flour, sugar, cornstarch, Tylenol, sand, talcum powder, body deodorant, or even parmesan cheese were sent in the mail.[18] In fact, more than 15,000 anthrax hoaxes were made nationwide between September 2001 and August 2002.[19] In response to these threats, large volumes of mail were put into quarantine by the U.S. Postal Service.[20]

No matter the year, there are always dangers that can cause mass panic. As a result, some states have laws to protect the public from themselves. Texas is one such state. In Texas, there is a criminal law which penalizes the false alarm or report if someone knowingly initiates, communicates, or circulates a report of a past, present, or future offense or other emergency that he knows is false or baseless and that would ordinarily cause action by an official or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies, place a person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury, or prevent or interrupt the occupation of a place to which the public has access.[21] The Facebook post that the young man drafted, spread quickly across the county where he resided, with anxious people calling the local hospital.[22]

The social experiment may have been about trying to teach a lesson in not always believing what you read online[23], but instead it became a lesson in responsible behavior. While none are appropriate behavior, unlike yelling fire when there isn’t one or sending fake anthrax spores, covid-19 is a virus-something that you can’t see without a microscope. The lies about the virus’s capabilities, especially in these times, irresponsibly impacts hospital resources that are already heavily taxed. Furthermore, unlike most other social experiments, people did not realize they were being tested on, and the lies spread with no way to contain the “experiment.” The young man has been charged with the offense of False Alarm or Report.[24] We may have a right to say almost anything, but that privilege is not without responsible limits.

Using the best analogy to explain first amendment limitations: in 1919, “You don’t scream fire in a crowded theater;” in 2018, “You don’t scream he has a gun, in a school;” in 2020, “You don’t lie about Covid-19 airborne transmissions for social experiments on social media.”

[1] Joe Tidy, Coronavirus: ‘I Faked Having Covid-19 on Facebook and Got Arrested’, BBC (Apr. 24, 2020),

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] Id.

[6] E.g., Schenck v. United States, 249 U.S. 47, 52 (1919).

[7] See Fire in a Crowded Theater, Legal Talk Network (June 28, 2018), (explaining the common catchphrase as ‘You can’t yell fire in a crowded theater’).

[8] See id.

[9] See id.

[10] See id.

[11] See Legal Talk Network, supra note 7.

[12] See Jackson Landers, The Anthrax Letters That Terrorized a Nation Are Now Decontaminated and on Public View, Smithsonian Mag. (Sept. 12, 2016),

[13] See id. (describing the anthrax spores in these anthrax envelopes as looking like baby powder).

[14] See Ira P. Robbins, Anthrax Hoaxes, 54 Am. U.L. Rev. 1, 5 (2004).

[15] See id.

[16] See id.

[17] See Landers, supra note 12.

[18] See Robbins, supra note 14 at 4.

[19] See Ira P. Robbins, Anthrax Hoaxes, 54 Am. U.L. Rev. 1, 3-4 (2004).

[20] See Landers, supra note 12.

[21] See Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 42.06 (West 2019).

[22] See Tidy, supra note 1.

[23] See id.

[24] See id.

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Zooming Back? Analyzing the Financial Market Amidst Global Pandemic

By: Patrick Macher

empty times square new york This Picture of Times Square Says It All

The Bad:


“We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine,” President Donald Trump reassured the public on January 22, 2020.[1] At the time, COVID-19 seemed like an other-worldly issue, but less than fifty days later, the United States got a taste of the impact the rest of the world had already learned to fear.[2] On March 09, 2020, the largest point plunge in history for the Dow Jones Industrial Average tore through the hopes of bullish traders as the reality of the inevitable spread of coronavirus set in and dropping oil prices foreshadowed the looming recession.[3] The Dow dropped so fast that the point loss triggered a “circuit breaker,” which is a fifteen minute automatic trade halt after a 7% loss.[4] The stock market turned bearish falling over 20% from the recent highs.[5] The Dow hit its March low on the 16th as it traded for a measly $22.00, a far cry from the $48.76 it was trading for a month prior.[6] In 8 calendar days COVID-19 flipped the Dow Jones, a blue-chip market index, on its head and sent American investors straight into self-quarantine.


The Worse:


The unemployment rate is a lagging recession indicator, meaning that once it starts to drop, the economy is already amidst the recession.[7] The U.S. unemployment rate jumped to 4.4% in March as the number of unemployed went from 1.35 million to over 7 million in the span of a few weeks.[8] The rate is projected to rise in April as March’s numbers stem from a mid-March, largely pre-quarantine, survey.[9] Unemployment numbers demonstrate household economic risk, but perhaps equally important is the real economy of credit, which drives the commercial economy.[10] As the financial system faces shock, liquidity problems hamper credit investment lines, which damage capital formation and ultimately growth.[11] The ugly end result is a crippled commercial sector with a damaged household profile unable to spend companies out of the recession, ultimately paralyzing any prospect of economic growth.[12]


The Hopeful?


It would be great to say the economy is going to bounce right back to pre-quarantine highs once the fear of coronavirus subsides, but there are simply too many uncertainties and unknowns.[13] The government has feverishly fought to combat the recession with drastic rate cuts and the largest financial emergency stimulus package in history.[14] On March 15, the Federal Reserve cut lending rates to virtually zero in an attempt to mitigate the damage to the economy and encourage credit lending.[15] On March 27, President Trump signed a historic $2 trillion legislation aimed at helping American workers, small businesses, and industries grappling with the economic disruption, such as the utterly halted airline industry.[16] Dow investors seem to be optimistic to the influx of household capital and lowered credit rates as it has climbed to the $36.56 mark just less than a month after its historic $22.00 low.[17] Opportunistic investors are hawking to take advantage of a historically low market and this may be falsely stabilizing the economy.[18] Unfortunately for most investors and the U.S. economy, uncertainty and unknown run rampant in this unprecedented global pandemic.[19] The most important unknown is the most obvious: the course of the virus.[20] If the virus is successfully controlled and economic restrictions are lifted in the next month, experts predict the economy could bounce back within the first half of the year.[21] However, if the virus is not contained and the economy must endure the effects of social distancing through the course of the summer, McKinsey consultants predict that it could take up to two years for the GDP to recover.[22]

[1] See Linda Qiu et al., The President vs. the Experts: How Trump Played Down the Coronavirus, N.Y. Times (Mar. 18, 2020),


[2] See Kimberly Amadeo, How Does the 2020 Stock Market Crash Compare with Others? the balance (Mar. 17, 2020),


[3] See id.


[4] See Yun Li, Plungiung Stocks Triggered a Key Market ‘Circuit Breaker’ –Here’s What That Means, CNBC (Mar. 16, 2020, 4:06 PM),


[5] See id.


[6] See Dow Inc., Yahoo Finance (Apr. 12, 2020, 9:53 PM),


[7] See Kimberly Amadeo, Unemployment Rate, Effect, and Trends: Why Every Jobless Person is Not Counted as Unemployed, the balance (May 06, 2019)


[8] See United States Unemployment Rate, Trading Economics, (last visited Apr. 13, 2020).


[9] See id.


[10] See Carlsson-Szlezak et al., Understanding the Economic Shock of Coronavirus, Harvard Business Review (Mar. 27, 2020),


[11] See id.


[12] See id.


[13] See Annalyn Kurtz, How Quickly Can the U.S. Economy Bounce Back? That Depends on the Virus, Cnn Business (Apr. 02, 2020, 6:23 AM),


[14] See Foran et al., Trump Signs Historic $2 Trillion Stimulus After Congress Passes It Friday, Cnn Politics (Mar. 27, 2020, 7:00 PM),


[15] See James Royal, Winners and Losers From the Fed’s Emergency Rate Cut, Bankrate (Mar. 15, 2020),


[16] See Foran et al., supra note 15.


[17] See Dow Inc., supra note 7.


[18] See Klein et al., COVID-19 and Shareholder Activism–The Impact, Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance (Mar. 31, 2020),


[19] See Kurtz, supra note 14.


[20] See id.


[21] See id.


[22] See id.


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TikTok: Internet Fad, or Objectively Bad?

By: Sheridan Maxey

Since the emergence of the internet, fads have come and gone in waves. Today the most widely known internet fad is TikTok. Just a few years ago, before Tike Tok, the platform known as Vine was widely popular among younger individuals.[1] On Vine, many individuals would post comedic videos, post their rants, or just talk to their fans.[2] In 2017, Twitter pulled the plug on Vine opting to convert it into a camera app; this rendered the original Vine app as an archive for the old videos that were posted.[3] A China based app which was previously known as was changed to TikTok in 2018.[4] This began TikTok’s rise to notoriety, becoming one of the top downloaded apps in the Apple and Google Play stores.[5] One can argue that the popularity of Vine helped pave the way for TikTok to become such a hit with the masses. Vine, being as popular as it was, did not go without its own issues though. Originally, Vine had a virtually unfiltered search engine which allowed users, underage and of the age of majority, to hardcore pornographic videos with just a few choice keywords.[6] This issue caused one explicit video to be labeled an “Editors Pick” on the app, which was quickly removed.[7] Similarly, TikTok’s ascension to fame has not come without some scrutiny.

TikTok has had its share of legal troubles around the world, one notably in India where the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology banned TikTok from the Apple and Google Play stores, asserting that the platform was promoting pornography and illicit content.[8] Additionally, back in 2019, the United States’ Federal Trade Commission levied a $5.7 million fine on TikTok for illegally collecting personal information of children under age thirteen.[9] The fine was coupled with a requirement that TikTok remove all videos created by children under thirteen.[10] Both the United States Army and Navy have also been prohibited from using TikTok due to rising security concerns.[11] Some of the lawmakers argued that TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, may be forced to relay intelligence to the Chinese Communist Party.[12] In November 2019, TikTok refused to speak with a congressional committee about the service’s relationship with China.[13] Instead, the company stated that it did not store the information obtained from the United States in China, and that the TikTok data was not subject to Chinese law.[14] TikTok’s denial of appearing before a congressional panel and its light reassurance cause more concerns over the service and whether its privacy policies are adequate.[15] As of now, there have not been any reports of TikTok’s stored data being sold or relayed to China or other nations. However, it is beginning to appear that people are more worried about this China-based internet fad than its predecessor. Perhaps actions like the fines from the FTC and the ban from Indian app stores will be enough to dissuade TikTok from eventually using its service maliciously, or perhaps TikTok will fade away similarly to how Vine did. Only the tick-tock of the clock can tell.

[1] See Jim Tobin, What is TikTok’s Shelf Life, Considering Vine Withered And Died?, Forbes (Feb. 10, 2020), (stating that Vine was the popular platform for young people before TikTok).

[2] See Casey Newton, Why Vine Died, The Verge (Oct. 28, 2016), (detailing the numerous uses for the service).

[3] See Janko Roettgers, It’s Official: Twitter Has Shut Down Vine, Variety (Jan 17, 2017), (highlighting Twitter’s shutting down of the previous Vine app).

[4] See Dami Lee, The Popular App Has Been Rebranded As TikTok, The Verge (Aug. 2, 2018), (noting that became TikTok on August 2, 2018).

[5] See Usman Qureshi, TikTok, ZOOM Top the List of World’s Most Downloaded Apps in March 2020, iPhone in Canada (Apr. 8, 2020),

[6] See Garett Sloane, Porn Problem for Twitter’s Vine App, New York Post (Jan. 29, 2013), (stating that a simple search of the keyword “#porn” resulted in pornographic videos).

[7] Id.

[8] See Ingrid Lunden, TikTok Downloads Ordered to be Blocked On iOS and Android in India Over Porn and Other Illegal Content, TechCrunch (Apr. 16, 2019),

[9] See Sherisse Pham, TikTok Hit With Record Fine for Collecting Data On Children, CNN Business (Feb. 28, 2019), (detailing the fine that TikTok was made to pay).

[10] See Todd Spangler, TikTok to Pay Record $5.7 Million FTC Fine for Alleged Violations of Children’s Privacy Law, Variety (Feb. 27, 2019), (stating that TikTok must comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act).

[11] See Nicole Gaouette and Ryan Browne, US Army Bans Soldiers Drom Using TikTok Over Securuty Worries, CNN Politics (Dec. 30, 2019), (stating that the Army, Navy, and lawmakers were concerned about the security risks of using TikTok).

[12] Id.

[13] Id.

[14] Id.

[15] Id.


Virginia Gambling: Legalization Creating Clarity

By: Jacob Newton

Playing casino style slot machines in Virginia may soon become a reality. House Bill 4 Lottery Board; regulation of casino gaming (the “Bill”), proposes an amendment to the Code of Virginia, which would expand gambling and gaming rights throughout the Commonwealth to include classic slot machine casino gambling.[1] The Bill will give the power to grant gambling to localities and Virginians across the Commonwealth will get the chance to vote if they want casino gambling inside local communities.[2] The Bill is still subject to the Governor’s approval, but Virginia lawmakers have given approval to the Bill to allow voters in Bristol, Danville, Richmond, Norfolk and Portsmouth to hold local referendums later this year to approve casinos.[3] The Governor has until 11:59 p.m., April 11, 2020 to take action on the Bill.[4]

Lawmakers are conflicted by the desire to keep the revenue of Virginian gamblers inside the state’s economy,[5] and the negative morality associated with gambling. Due to this conflict, they have been continuously making exceptions to Virginia Code § 18.2-326, the statute penalizing illegal gambling.[6] Even though lawmakers have been making exceptions to the general rule against gambling, they have been reluctant to legalize the most common type of gambling, the casino style slot machine[7]

Gambling machines that look and operate similar to the classic casino style slot machine are common within Virginia, even though the casino style slot machine is currently illegal in within the state’s borders.[8] The legality of these casino-like slot machines are possible because the exceptions to Virginia Code § 18.2-326 have been expanded or exploited to make the machines fit under specific exceptions.[9] The advancement of technology has transformed the gambling industry and created gray areas in need of defining.[10] One prevalent example of these exceptions to Virginia Code § 18.2-326 is Va. Code Ann.§ 18.2-340.15 (the charitable gaming exception).

The charitable gaming exception was legalized in 1973, making it the earliest exception to the criminality imposed upon gambling in Virginia.[11] It provides charitable gaming shall be permitted in the Commonwealth as a means of funding qualified organizations.[12] A qualified “organization” is defined by the statute as a volunteer emergency services organization operated exclusively for religious, charitable, community or educational purposes; athletic association or booster club; veterans; fraternal association or corporation operating under the lodge system; local chamber of commerce; or any other nonprofit organization that raises funds by conducting raffles that generate annual gross receipts of $40,000 or less, provided such gross receipts from the raffle, less expenses and prizes, are used exclusively for charitable, educational, religious or community purposes.[13] The list of qualified organizations is implicitly an exhaustive list meant to target specific types of organizations.

The types of gambling allowed under the exception permits qualified organizations to conduct raffles, bingo, network bingo, and instant bingo games.[14] Instant bingo closely resembles the classic slot machine and is provided for by statute.[15] Electronic pull-tabs are an electronic version of a single instant bingo card or pull-tab. The electronic pull-tab is a predetermined game outcome in electronic form, distributed on-demand from a finite number of game outcomes by a distributed pull-tab system.[16] The specifics of the machines are highly regulated by the charitable gaming board, but the machines still resemble a slightly watered down version of a classic slot machine because they operate at the press of a button and display symbols in the form of a crisscross.[17]

Some companies are charging potential gamblers a nominal lifetime membership fee to use the electronic pull tab machines and claiming to fall under the lodge system definition of qualifying organizations.[18] Specific companies are not listed because they do not advertise this on any platform. Companies using this method have essentially placed themselves in this category already carved out by the charitable gaming statute, and the Charitable Gaming Board has yet to condemn or approve this method. This is just one example of a gray area surrounding the legal boundaries of gambling in Virginia.

The legislative trend is moving toward complete legalization of casino slot style gambling in Virginia. However, “dancing” around compete legalization puts stress on local government and law enforcement to maintain the gray boundaries of the expanding amount of exceptions. If the Governor signs House Bill 4 Lottery Board; regulation of casino gaming, then Virginia will be one step closer to alleviating the pressure of maintaining those boundaries.

[1] Va H.R. 4, 1127 Leg. Session (2020).

[2] See id.

[3] See Associate Press, Virginia to expand gambling options, legalize casinos, WHSV 3 (Mar. 08, 2020, 4:48 PM),

[4] See HB 4 Lottery Board; regulation and control of casino gaming, Virginia’s Legislative Information System (last visited Oct. 6, 2008),

[5] See Gregory S. Schneider, ‘Boring’ no more? Virginia has already begun embracing casino-style gaming, Wash. Post (July 7, 2019, 1:00 PM),

[6] See Va. Code Ann.§ 18.2-340.15; Va. Code Ann.§ 18.2-334.3; Va. Code Ann.§ 59.1-364.

[7] Riverboat Gaming Commission with riverboat gaming, Va H.R. 2400, 1110 Leg. Session (1995).

[8] See generally House Bill 1609 (describing the functions of the historic horse racing machines); 11 Va. Admin. Code § 15-40-410 (2019) (describing electronic pull-tab bingo).

[9] See Va. Code Ann.§ 18.2-340.15; Va. Code Ann.§ 18.2-334.3; Va. Code Ann.§ 59.1-364.

[10] See IN THIS ISSUE: CULTURAL PRODUCTION IN A DIGITAL AGE: Digital Gambling: The Coincidence of Desire and Design, 597 Annals 65.

[11] See Va. Code Ann.§ 18.2-340.15.

[12] See id.

[13] See Va. Code Ann.§ 18.2-340.16.

[14] See Va. Code Ann.§ 18.2-340.22.

[15] See id.

[16] See 11 Va. Admin. Code § 15-40-410 (2019).

[17] See id.

[18] See Va. Code Ann.§ 18.2-340.16.

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Strong AI Will Necessitate UBI

By: Ryan Leonard

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a buzz-phrase of sorts that refers to at least two classifications of computational technology.[1]  First, there is weak AI, which refers to the a computer system (broadly defined) with the ability to perform a specific task, better (more accurately, more efficiently, etc., depending on the task) than its human counterparts.[2]  For example, in 1997, a program was developed that could defeat the world’s best chess players in a game of chess.[3]  In 2016, Tesla Motor Company unveiled cars capable of driving more safely than their human counterparts.[4]


The second broad category of AI is strong AI, which refers to a not-yet-existent technology that is capable of performing all tasks better than its human counterparts.[5]  Because of the rate of advancement in computational technology,[6] strong AI is likely to be developed unless humanity is destroyed, or severely incapacitated, first.[7]


Strong AI has the potential to have a snowball effect because, logically, it would be able to build more sophisticated AI than humans were able to build in the first place.[8]  The AI that was built by AI would itself be able to produce a superior version of itself, ad infinitum.  Putting aside spooky hypotheses that such advancement would leave humanity at the mercy of its robot overlords, there is still the issue of how the US economy, or any economy for that matter, would operate.


Weak AI alone is already, at least for the time being, a threat to certain low-skill jobs.[9]  Truck drivers, toll booth operators, among others, can, and to some extent, already have seen their jobs taken over by machines.[10]  Strong AI poses a threat not just to low-skill repetitive jobs, but to highly complex jobs as well.[11]  Therefore, in theory, strong AI would be able to produce engineers, surgeons, and programmers with skills far superior to any human that has every lived.  In a world in which computer-powered machines can do everything better than humans, there would not be a single job that a human would be better suited to perform than a computer (by definition).  And yet, with machines doing the farming, the building, the transporting, the diagnosing, etc., there would be no shortage of goods or services.  In a world of perfect abundance, but 100% unemployment, Congress will need to change all currently existing laws relating to social programs and supplant them with new legislation establishing a universal basic income (UBI).


UBI, if implemented, would be a program that would send a specified amount of money to all citizens and permanent residents in regular intervals.[12]  In contemporary politics, UBI, as recently popularized by former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, would set that specified amount at $1,000 per month for every adult.[13]  In a world with strong AI, Congress would need to consider an amount far higher, as the amount would need to be an income that could be entirely relied upon by everyone.  Among many serious scientists, the emergence of strong AI is considered a viable possibility, if not a certainty.[14]  Congress should begin considering the appropriate legal framework for keeping a functioning economy in place.





[1] See Kathleen Walch, Rethinking Weak vs. Strong AI, Forbes (Oct. 4, 2019, 6:30 AM),

[2] See id.

[3] See Samuel Gibbs, AlphaZero AI Beats Champion Chess Program After Teaching Itself in Four Hours, Guardian (Dec. 7, 2017, 7:41 AM),

[4] See Marco della Cava, Tesla Announces Fully Self-Driving Cars, USA Today (Oct. 19, 2016, 8:05 PM),

[5] See Walch, supra note 1.

[6] See David Chandler, How to Predict the Progress of Technology, MIT (March 6, 2013),

[7] See Sam Harris, Can We Avoid Digital Apocalypse?, Sam Harris (Jan. 16, 2015),

[8] See Kelsey Piper, Why Elon Musk Fears Artificial Intelligence, Vox (Nov. 2, 2018, 12:10 PM),

[9] See Gwen Moran, Your Job Will Be Automated – Here’s How to Figure Out When AI Could Take Over, Fortune (Aug. 1, 2019, 6:00 AM),

[10] See id.

[11] See Harris, supra note 7.

[12] See Abby Vesoulis, This Presidential Candidate Wants to Give Every Adult $1,000 a Month, Time (Feb. 13, 2019),

[13] See id.

[14] See Piper, supra note 7.

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Relationship Management Redefined Through Data

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By: Symposium Speaker, Lucy Bassli

Law firm relationship management has been driven by personal connections and personal relationships. Very little has changed, but the future methods of relationship management will veer away from the personal and move towards more objective and empirical foundations. Data will become a staple in those relationships and will drive which relationships continue and which ones may end.[1]

Data allows law firms to answer corporate legal departments’ most basic questions about legal work: How many? What kind? How much? When those questions are accurately and capably answered, relationship management is optimized.

The two-pronged mission is to look for ways in which data can make firms more effective while delighting their clients with insights they don’t currently have. Think of it this way: as providers of a service, if there is some aspect of the work that is repeat business from a client, there are always valuable insights that the client might not have access to. Perhaps the client would enjoy a summary, with some visuals, that clearly outlines basic data points: how many matters, what types, total fees, applicable discounts, etc.

There are three steps through which data will enhance client relationship management. First, collect the data, which sounds easy but law firms for the most part are still largely lagging behind on that score. Next, have efficient methods to access and analyze the data across the firm. Finally, use the first two steps to come together with the corporate legal department/client in essentially new, transparent ways of working together, where everyone is on the same page, everyone is accessing credible data and where outcomes, both operationally and financially, are visible and understood.

Step 1
Every law firm sits on oceans of data. They probably know this in some intrinsic way because every legal department craves more and more of it and wants to use the existing data more efficiently.

But how do they collect the data trove efficiently and coordinate among practice groups throughout the firm? How do they access the data they have, especially in their time-keeping and billing systems? These are problems that need immediate attention because every attorney, whether in-house, law firm, legal aid, or other area can use data to improve the quality of the service or the relationship with the client.

Data should be used to optimize processes, to support additional resources, to increase efficiencies, for public relations and social outreach, and most importantly, to justify innovative changes.

Beyond the basic operational aspects, are there additional, more substantive data points that will give clients some perspective that they have obtained only anecdotally?

At a minimum, the following data must be collected

-Information about how many items of work or matters have been done by the firm within any given period of time (month, quarter,year). In data speak this is volume.

-Information about the actual work is always interesting to the clients. Even having the ability to show the categories of work helps inform the client at a more macro level about the kind of legal work that the business is requesting.

-Patterns about the work is the next level of the categorization of the work.

-The ultimate value, as perceived by the business, is data about the timeliness of the legal support. How long things take in legal is always valuable data when a client or business (almost inevitably) complains about how long legal review takes.

Step 2
Leveraging and communicating in a concise way relevant data allows law firms to easily answer the client’s most basic questions about the legal work, including how information is gathered, analyzed and what it means to new and ongoing relationships.

It is amazing how much value a client can and should derive from an analysis of basic data points. A good example of data-influenced decisions is found in tracking turn-around times. Gone should be the days when lawyers say “it depends” when asked how long a piece of work should take. An “operationally inclined lawyer” should be able to analyze the oceans of data related to past work experience and give a good estimate of when the work will be completed. As in other types of services, there can be caveats for unexpected scenarios or complications, but there must be an expectation set with the clients, because they deserve it. Law firm clients should be treated like customers of a service — after all, we are used to it from Nordstrom and Amazon, why not from the most expensive law firms? Or any law firm?

There is nothing like data in order to create efficiencies. Gathering easily available information embodies two ideas: find and organize the information and make it readily accessible for effective, actionable analysis.

Data also helps inform substantive aspects of the legal practice. Collecting data about the terms in negotiated contracts will help to inform the position of the legal department and will increase speed of negotiations going forward. Sample terms and standard templates can only be improved upon once data shows that the existing terms are constantly negotiated, and resulting terms show a pattern. Litigation data is similar, when litigating similar issues. Tracking outcomes becomes critical, so that mistakes are not repeated. Surely this is not novel, but how the data is collected is key. It should be searchable and reportable in an easily consumable format. Other areas where there is recurring work (patent applications, employment law questions, acquisitions, and so on) there is always data that can be collected and analyzed for future similar work.

Relationships managed with data are transferable when partners retire or want to train upcoming junior partners. These relationships allow for continuity and the relationship then becomes broader than two people: it is between a law firm and a corporate legal department.

Step 3
While the first and second steps may seem daunting enough, it is actually the third step that requires the greatest change management and reconsiderations of culture. Judging the quality of a relationship based on empirical data is quite different from subjective sentiment and historical context of a personal relationship.

The real magic happens when the law firms and their corporate clients collaborate together on the data analysis. It is important to remember that there are three parties for whom the data is critical. Beside the firm and the corporate legal department they support, there is the actual corporate business. That is the ultimate customer of the legal service. The law firm and legal department have to align forces to deliver the best service. Only the combination of data from both entities will provide the full picture.

For example, to truly understand how long a piece of legal work takes, it is just as important to assess how long it was in the hands of the corporate legal team, as in the hands of the law firm. Those two data points are critical in order to understand the experience of the business owners who are seeking the legal support, and undoubtedly need it in a timely fashion. By coming together on these data points, the legal teams together will best serve the business.

Relationships managed with data are transferable when partners retire or want to train upcoming junior partners. These relationships allow for continuity and the relationship than becomes broader than two people: it between a law firm and a corporate legal department.

[1] The concepts in this chapter is derived from my book, The Simple Guide to Legal Innovation, and from articles, speeches and courseware presentations.


Another Data Privacy Lawsuit Against Google: How Is Personal Data Actually Being Used?

By: Rebecca Meadows

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Students of all ages are familiar with the increasing role of technology in the classroom. Outpacing all rival technology brands working on educational technology, Google is working especially hard to make its presence known in this sphere.[1] By 2017, over 30 million school students –over half of the school students in the country – were using Google education applications.[2] In addition to offering Chromebooks for educational use, Google offers G Suite for Education – a collection of easy to use tools for collaborative learning.[3] It took Google only five years to create this kind of presence by using creative sales methods, such as working directly with teachers and administrators to test and promote Google’s products.[4]

However, Google is hoping that these students will continue as Google customers by encouraging them to eventually transition from educational Google accounts to regular consumer Google accounts and applications.[5] This is significant because Google earns most of its revenue through online advertising, which it customizes through sophisticated use of personal data.[6] This has parents very concerned that Google is using data from the online activities of students.[7]

The attorney general of New Mexico raised these concerns in a complaint filed against Google on February 20, 2020.[8] The complaint alleges that Google has used effective marketing strategies to drive adoption of their services in schools, including advertising as a free and purely educational tool, but also including claims that Google takes data privacy very seriously.[9] Google promised that it would never collect students’ data for its own commercial purposes, but the New Mexico complaint alleges that Google intentionally did just that.[10]

The complaint alleges that Google has violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).[11] According to COPPA, any online service that collects personal information from children must provide notice to the child’s parent about its data collection practices, and must obtain consent from the parent prior to any collection or use of data.[12] Google Education collects personal information such as physical location, website history, contact lists, and behavioral information.[13] Furthermore, Google ordinarily does not allow children under the age of 13 to have a Google account, because Google is aware of COPPA and its rules for children.[14] However, Google was using the unique position of Google Education to get around that limitation.[15] Google did not notify parents of the types of personal information that it collects from the children, and also did not attempt to obtain parental consent for this data collection.[16]

The complaint also alleges that Google’s data collection in violation of COPPA constitutes a deceptive act that unfairly affects commerce, and therefore also violates the New Mexico Unfair Practices Act.[17] Google’s deceptive practices include the harvesting of personal data without the knowledge or consent of students’ parents, as well as committing material misrepresentations by having students sign a Student Privacy Pledge that was misleading and omitted the extent of the privacy violations.[18]

The third and final cause of action listed in the complaint is that Google intruded upon seclusion of all New Mexico citizens.[19] This claim explains that citizens of the state have reasonable expectations for their privacy, and Google intentionally intruded on those private affairs by intentionally designing the Google Education services to improperly gain data.[20]

Google has previously been accused of violating federal children’s privacy law, and just last September had to pay $170 million to settle a lawsuit regarding the illegal harvesting of children’s personal data through YouTube.[21] However, in 2015, Google had signed a pledge on student privacy, promising to not “collect, maintain, use or share student personal information beyond that needed for educational purposes”, as well as promising not to collect data for behavioral ad targeting.[22] These data privacy lawsuits against show that Google has broken that pledge and the law by continuing to gather children’s data for their own commercial uses.[23]

[1] See Natasha Singer & Daisuke Wakabayashi, New Mexico Sues Google Over Children’s Privacy Violations, N.Y. Times (Feb. 20, 2020),

[2] See Natasha Singer, How Google Took Over the Classroom, N.Y. Times (May 13, 2017),

[3] See id.; G Suite for Education, Google,

[4] See supra note 2.

[5] See id.

[6] See id.

[7] See id.

[8] See Complaint, New Mexico v. Google LLC, (D.N.M. 2020), No. 1:20-cv-00143-NF-KHR, 2020 WL 837510.

[9] See id. at 2, 4

[10] See id. at 4, 5.

[11] See id. at 59.

[12] See id. at 60.

[13] See id. at 5.

[14] See id. at 8.

[15] See id.

[16] See id. at 67, 69.

[17] See id. at 73.

[18] See id. at 77, 80.

[19] See id. at 88.

[20] See id. at 89, 91.

[21] See supra note 1.

[22] Id.

[23] See id.

Legal Education and Remote Learning: Law Schools in the State of Pandemic

By: William Nash

Students enter 'uncharted territory' of learning at home ...

Currently, there are numerous undergraduate schools and law schools alike cancelling in person classes and moving to a remote learning solution for the foreseeable future due to the fast spreading nature of the Coronavirus in America.[1] New York School of Law was the first to close doors on March 4th.[2] This stark switch to remote learning for law schools poses obvious questions to the learning environment and its effectiveness in today’s law schools. In communities heavily based on communication and personal interaction, questions of professor’s capabilities, course engagement, and timely completion of courses are all raised.[3]

The moving conditions under Coronavirus have also raised concerns regarding the standards of the American Bar Association.[4] Standard 306 of the ABA Standards and Rules of Procedure define remote education and actually limits for credits for all ABA schools.[5] The ABA also wrote a guidance memo regarding the issues at hand, stating while remote learning might be necessary, there is a serious concern for schools with a lack of the necessary technology, as well as professors who are inexperienced with this method of teaching.[6]

There has been a relative amount of advocation for remote learning within law schools.[7] In California (a state who has pushed to legitimize remote learning law schools) has found there to actually be a higher bar pass rate for remote learning law schools compared to traditional law schools.[8] In addition, there has already been a steady increase in online tools including readings, quizzes, and lectures present in traditional law schools.[9] Video conferences have even become more prevalent for hands on questions.[10] It is important to note however, while we are in the wake of this pandemic, the remote learning that has been advocated for is relatively well prepared, unlike the remote learning we may see from schools in the coming months.

There are numerous issues from student’s perspective with the current regime, including but not limited to a lack of structure and a complete change in learning method.[11] Students have been learning primarily through a Socratic method but are now having to study more by application.[12] Likewise, there is concern with adequate study space while libraries are closing.[13] While these are more general concerns, there are many more concerns specific to certain students including items like childcare and health affecting one’s ability to learn under this regime.

Because of the issues that might harm a student’s ability to learn, many schools have shifted to a pass/fail grading regime as opposed to the traditional curved grading.[14] Gillian Lester, the Dean of Columbia Law School, stated in a recent release that the shift is in regards to the “fairness among students.”[15] While the shift may cause issues such as job searches for students, many schools thus far have agreed that the benefit to “even the playing field” outweighs the burden.[16]

The new remote learning as well as the changes in policies will be closely viewed in the coming weeks regarding their effectiveness and efficiency.



[1] See Staci Zaretsky, T14 Law School Cancels Classes Due to Coronavirus Outbreak, Above the Law (Mar. 9, 2020, 12:12 PM),

[2] See Amanda Robert & Stephanie F. Ward, Coronavirus and Law Schools: More Universities Shifting to Online Classes, ABA Journal (Mar. 12, 2020, 10:47 AM),

[3] See Jen R. Reise, Your Law School Went Online – Now What? Here’s How to Adapt to Remote Learning, ABA for Law Students (Mar. 11, 2020),

[4] See generally Amanda Robert & Stephanie F. Ward, Coronavirus and Law Schools: More Universities Shifting to Online Classes, ABA Journal (Mar. 12, 2020, 10:47 AM),

[5] See id.

[6] See id.

[7] See Martin Pritikin, California’s New Frontier: Accreditation of Distance Learning Law Schools, The National Jurist (July 23, 2019, 9:33 AM),’s-new-frontier-accreditation-distance-learning-law-schools.

[8] See id.

[9] See id.

[10] See id.

[11] See Jen R. Reise, Your Law School Went Online – Now What? Here’s How to Adapt to Remote Learning, ABA for Law Students (Mar. 11, 2020),

[12] See id.

[13] See Gabriel Kuris, The Impact of the Coronavirus on Legal Education, U.S. News (Mar. 23, 2020),; id.

[14] See Bob Van Voris, Harvard, Other Top Law Schools Drop Grades as Classes Go Online, Bloomberg (Mar. 23, 2020, 10:03 AM),

[15] See id.

[16] See id.

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Is Cryptocurrency Really That New?

By: Cassidy Crockett

By now, we’ve all heard of Bitcoin, the digital money (cryptocurrency) that can be traded anonymously (the only identifiable information is your chosen username) and securely, despite having no physical presence.[1] This is done via “blockchain,” a way of keeping publicly accessible, decentralized records.[2] Bitcoin is no longer the only cryptocurrency, joined by a multitude of digital currencies, but they all use the same technology and base idea — a currency that is tracked by all users and almost completely anonymous. Many people believed that cryptocurrency would be the money of the future, and many still believe this currency could change the way the world works.[3] However, it continues to fall out of favor, and many people believe that its only use is on the dark web or by criminals.[4]  It continues to baffle people around the world who see it as a new way for criminal activity to spread.

Many see cryptocurrency as a never before seen technology. It allows people to buy illegal items with untraceable money. It allows criminals to be paid for their acts without a way to track them down. But is this really new? Physical currency has been used in many forms throughout history, including our current paper money. Physical money is also untraceable. When a person takes their change from the cashier and gives it to another cashier or puts it into a friend’s birthday card, there is no ledger writing the serial number of that bill and tracing it to the person spending it. The only new action here is buying an item remotely. Rather than buying drugs in a physical alleyway, it is now possible to buy them on the internet. Criminals can launder money via a virtual blockchain transaction instead of having to go through the effort of setting up a business. Corporations can use blockchain to move money in secret rather than offshore it.[5] These bad actions are happening now and have been happening for a long time. Cryptocurrency didn’t invent these actions, it just made them easier. It seems that bitcoin functions almost exactly like cash, but with the added element of remote activity.

As is often the case, people look to analogies to explain life around them and cryptocurrencies are not any different. Even I have already analogized them to cash. This is also the case in the crafting of new laws or stretching of old law to fit a new concept.[6] Economists have argued over how to regulate bitcoin, as a currency, security, or as a new entity entirely.[7] However, it seems that bitcoin is not the thing in need of regulation here. If bitcoin is just as anonymous as cash, it seems that the action or those allowing the actions should be regulated. Of course, criminal actions such as drug trafficking and piracy are already heavily regulated and penalized. If one were to separate the actors and technology you would have the people transacting with the cryptocurrency, the blockchain technology itself and cryptocurrency/blockchain operators.

In order to properly regulate the criminal activity that the anonymity of cryptocurrency brings, it is essential to regulate thing. Here, it would likely make the most sense to regulate blockchain. As the ledger is publicly available, operators can monitor the transactions in real time.[8] This would allow investigators and law enforcement to follow the money. Responsibility placed on these actors would be more likely to be administrable due to the fact that they are not anonymous, and they are able to be held accountable.

If cryptocurrency is to become the money of the future, it is imperative that it is regulated properly. As of now, most people who are not involved in the tech world or economics see cryptocurrency as criminal cash or an abstract concept. The reality is that cryptocurrency isn’t a scary new concept but just a remote version of paper cash. As such, it should be subject to at least some form of regulation and as it is decentralized and unbacked by any government, responsibility must lie with either the cryptocurrency or blockchain administrators. As long as this money is coming in through these anonymous channels with no oversight, it is too easy to launder and evade taxes.[9] The best option we have is to place this in the hands of the administrators who know this best and hold them responsible rather than trying to force this technology into a box it doesn’t quite fit into.

[1] Jake Frankenfield, What is Bitcoin?, Investopedia (Oct. 26, 2019),

[2] Nathan Rieff, Blockchain Explained, Investopedia (Feb. 1, 2020),

[3] Ameer Rosic, What is Cryptocurrency? [Everything You Need to Know], BlockGeeks (2017),

[4]See, e.g., Nathaniel Popper, Bitcoin Has Lost Steam. But Criminals Still Love It., N.Y. Times (Jan. 28, 2020),

[5] See, e.g., Alma Angotti and Anne Marie Minogue, Risks and rewards: Blockchain, Cryptocurrency and Vulnerability to Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Tax Evasion, 2018 PRINDBRF 0250 (Nov. 19, 2018) (Westlaw Practitioner Insight Commentary).

[6] See generally, Cass R. Sunstein, On Analogical Reasoning Commentary, 106 Harvard L. Rev. 741, 743 (1992)(outlining how the law is shaped by the use of analogies).

[7] Brian Edmonson, Can Bitcoin Regulations Make Cryptocurrency Safer?, The Balance (Mar. 11, 2019),

[8] See Angotti & Minogue supra note 5.

[9] See id.

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