Latest from The Ethical Investigator

Great work by the Atlanta Journal Constitution on an issue that’s bugged me for years: the brazen violation of federal law by investigators and the lawyers who hire them. At issue is the Gramm Leach Bliley Act, meant to protect the confidentiality of banking records. You are not allowed to pretend to be someone else in order to trick the bank into handing over account information, and with a few narrow exceptions, you need…
The non-legal press doesn’t usually get very deep into questions of legal ethics, but New York Magazine did a reasonable job of it in its hard-hitting piece this week on “The Bad, Good Lawyer” David Boies. The article asks whether Boies has crossed an ethical line, principally in his work on behalf of Harvey Weinstein (This blog argued before that he did, in The Weinstein Saga: Now Featuring Lying Investigators, Duplicitous Journalists, Sloppy Lawyers.)…
Artificial intelligence doesn’t equal artificial perfection. I have argued for a while now both on this blog and in a forthcoming law review article here that lawyers (and the investigators who work for them) have little to fear and much to gain as artificial intelligence gets smarter. Computers may be able to do a lot more than they used to, but there is so much more information for them to sort through that humans will…
An entire day at a conference on artificial intelligence and the law last week in Chicago produced this insight about how lawyers are dealing with the fast-changing world of artificial intelligence: Many lawyers are like someone who knows he needs to buy a car but knows nothing about cars. He knows he needs to get from A to B each day and wants to get there faster. So, he is deposited at the largest auto…
Do you ever wonder why some gifted small children play Mozart, but you never see any child prodigy lawyers who can draft a complicated will? The reason is that the rules of how to play the piano have far fewer permutations and judgment calls than deciding what should go into a will. “Do this, not that” works well with a limited number of keys in each octave. But the permutations of a will are infinite.…
We’ve had a great response to an Above the Law op-ed here that outlined the kinds of skills lawyers will need as artificial intelligence increases its foothold in law firms. The piece makes clear that without the right kinds of skills, many of the benefits of AI will be lost on law firms because you still need an engaged human brain to ask the computer the right questions and to analyze the results. But too…
Decent investigators and journalists everywhere ought to have been outraged at news over the weekend in the Wall Street Journal that appears to have caught a corporate investigator masquerading as a Journal reporter. According to the story, the person trying to get information about investment strategy and caught on tape pretending to be someone he wasn’t was “Jean-Charles Brisard, a well-known corporate security and intelligence consultant who lives in Switzerland and France.” Fake news we…
Just back from the ABA’s family law conference where I gave a talk on asset searching, I heard a wonderful talk from the “father of unbundling” of legal services, Forrest “Woody” Mosten. He is a high priced divorce lawyer practicing in Beverly Hills, and yet makes a great living in never going to court. Instead, he lets others do that and spends a lot of time working for an hour or two at a…
Anyone following artificial intelligence in law knows that its first great cost saving has been in the area of document discovery. Machines can sort through duplicates so that associates don’t have to read the same document seven times, and they can string together thousands of emails to put together a quick-to-read series of a dozen email chains. More sophisticated programs evolve their ability with the help of human input. Law firms are already saving their…
By now, if a lawyer isn’t thinking hard about how automation is going transform the business of law, that lawyer is a laggard. You see the way computers upended the taxi, hotel, book and shopping mall businesses? It’s already started in law too.  As firms face resistance over pricing and are looking to get more efficient, the time is now to start training people to work with – and not in fear of – artificial…