Jason Callaway's Homework Assignments
Brief Biography:
  • BAs in English and History from Oklahoma State University
  • MA in Sociolinguistics from the University at Buffalo, SUNY
  • Currently pursuing a JD at the University of Oklahoma College of Law

Homework Assignment 9

Note: I'm going to refer to both positive and negative types of usage generically

Part 1
1. Who needs press releases when you have Facebook?
A law firm put its Facebook page to good use from a social media perspective. It included the near-mandatory information about recent hirings and awards, but it also included a large number of links to aspects of the firm that I didn't see on a lot of other pages. It included information about employees' pro bono work and outside interests (e.g. an associate's recent showing in an area art gallery), which humanized an otherwise-faceless firm. It also included links to news reports and vlogs by attorneys talking about either cases or specific aspects of the law, which would show a prospective client how a case could be handled.

2. Blog as a window into decision-making.
A solo practitioner had a link to his blog on his website, and what impressed me most was how regular he was in using it. He updated at least once a week from what I could see, often more, and his blog entries were definitely more than Twitter-length postings. Reading through some of those entries gave me a good feel for how he would address a problem I might have in a given area, which would definitely be a plus if I were looking to hire a lawyer.

3. Links to Ask A Lawyer answers.
While this isn't quite social media, it was something that impressed me. One boutique firm, rather than posting a blog, posted the managing partner's responses to questions on the Lawyers.com forums. Doing that had a lot of the same effect of a blog, in that I got to see how that partner worked through a large number of different types of legal problems in their field, but it also gave me a chance to see that partner interact (somewhat) with a person. Having read some of those answers, if I were a potential client I would be much more inclined not only to hire that lawyer but also to follow her advice.

Part 2
1. Twitter replaces the inter-office memo.
A law firm's Twitter feed consisted almost entirely of announcements for lawyers who had recently joined the firm. While that type of information is important, it's only important to people who are already clients or employees of the firm. If I were a prospective client, I would either be looking to hire that particular lawyer or I wouldn't. If I was, then I would likely find out about their being part of the firm through the firm's website or through a phone call, not a Twitter feed. If I wasn't looking to hire that lawyer, then the information doesn't matter at all. Might as well just go back to the inter-office memo; no one outside the office will want to read those tweets.

2. Blogs are too much work.
A law firm had a link on their website to a firm blog, which I thought might be interesting. Unfortunately, while it could have been interesting, the latest entry was from two years ago. While some topics in the legal field stay unchanged for decades, others can change rapidly and repeatedly in that amount of time. Worse, something my not have changed for decades, be changed once, and not be changed again for decades (Hello federal venue and removal statutes!). Two years is a long time, and it's hard to know if something that old is still good law. At that point, keeping the blog on the website becomes more of a detriment to me as a potential client.

3. Nothing at all.
Although this is probably the most obvious, it's also one that seems fairly strange to me—the firm that had absolutely no social media presence at all. No Twitter or Facebook page that I could find, no blog or other media tool on the website. Their website was, essentially, a slightly-more-interactive-than-usual billboard, providing names, telephones, and e-mails but giving me no reason to hire that particular firm. But, the photos on the site were pretty good, so I guess I'd hire their photographer.

Part 3
I did this part using my Facebook account, but my privacy settings preclude creating a link that a non-friend could read. However, here was the text of my post: “'I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it's been.' ~ Wayne Gretzky | Great quote to sum up CALI's Topics in Digital Law Practice Course”



Homework Assignment 8


Find the definition for unauthorized practice of law for your jurisdiction and at least one other state.

Oklahoma (Source)
Rule 5.5. Unauthorized Practice of Law; Multijurisdictional Practice of Law
(a) A lawyer shall not practice law in a jurisdiction in violation of the regulation of the legal profession in that jurisdiction, or assist another in doing so.
(b) A lawyer who is not admitted to practice in this jurisdiction shall not:
  • (1) except as authorized by these Rules or other law, establish an office or other systematic and continuous presence in this jurisdiction for the practice of law; or
  • (2) hold out to the public or otherwise represent that the lawyer is admitted to practice law in this jurisdiction.
  • [Note: Despite quite a bit of looking, I couldn't find any definition of 'practice of law' that this rule could be referring to in either Oklahoma's statutes or its Rules of Professional Conduct]

Colorado (Source)
The unauthorized practice of law is a non-lawyer's taking actions that meet Colorado's definition of the 'practice of law.' In People v. Shell, 148 P.3d 162, 167 (Colo. 2006), the Colorado Supreme Court stated that the practice of law encompasses ““act[ing] in a representative capacity in protecting, enforcing, or defending the legal rights and duties of another and in counseling, advising and assisting [another] in connection with these rights and duties.”


Find three news articles or blog posts on the web describing actual cases of unauthorized practice of law. Look especially for situations where the unauthorized practice of law involved an online activity like a website, social network, or e-mail

“Firm that offers online legal services sues N.C. state bar.” (Source)
Discusses LegalZoom's attempt to be recognized as a source for basic legal forms with a business model that doesn't violate the state's UPL standards.

“Class Action Claims Online Legal Forms Pose a Threat to Consumers.” (Source)
Discusses a class action suit brought by users of LegalZoom to allow forms created by the site to be used in Missouri without violating that state's UPL regulations

“Unauthorized Practice.” (Source)
Discusses the potential ethical violations of a non-resident lawyer licensed outside Arizona attempting to provide online legal services with a website that lists an Arizona address.



Homework Assignment 7

1) Write an analysis describing your impressions of how well the A2J interface works (or doesn’t) and how well it will work if it gets scaled up to larger and more complicated legal documents and situations.
In a lot of ways, I really like the A2J Interface. I thought the use of speech bubbles attached to people made the process more, well, human than the very basic charts and graphs used by the HotDocs forms. I did wish that there was some sense of movement from one topic to the next, as opposed to being teleported from the green circle to the orange circle. I wanted to see actual movement, even if it was just the characters standing still while the 'road' moved beneath them, because that would seem more like I was making progress through the process. Admittedly, I don't know enough about HTML/Java to know if it's possible to do something like that.
I especially liked the explanatory thoughts—e.g. 'What is a conviction?'—because that's exactly the type of issue pro se clients will worry about. Not necessarily what a conviction is, but what does a word, even a relatively everyday word, mean when it's used in a legal setting. It might be helpful if the question author knows that a particular word has a different 'normal' meaning from the precise legal meaning (e.g. a 'privilege') to go ahead and include that in the question.
One thing that I did want to see from using TurboTax is something like a roadmap—some explanation, even if just in a menu, for how the question I was answering fit into its larger topic, and how that topic fit into the grand scheme of the document. For example, the first topic was about whether I met some of the basic requirements for sealing or expunging my record, but I actually didn't know that until most of the way through the questions on that topic. To make a comparison, TurboTax is like a how-to book with a table of contents that you can refer to; A2J was that same book without the table of contents. I don't necessarily think people should be able to jump to the end of the A2J process, just like they shouldn't start at the end of a how-to book, but I would have like to have known where I was going.
Other than that, my only thoughts were relatively minor. For one, the pop-up menu containing A2J didn't always play nicely with my screen size—sometimes, it would expand so far that I couldn't use the Continue/Go Back buttons at the bottom of the screen. Another point, and this goes back to the roadmap a bit, but A2J seemed to end very, very abruptly when you gave a disqualifying answer. Although it's probably not something that could be changed, it would've been nice to get a little more explanation than 'Oh, you have a conviction. You don't qualify. Goodbye.' It wasn't quite that brief, but it did feel that way—I felt out of luck, but I didn't feel like I knew why that was the case.
2) More and more people are accessing the web via smartphones. How should A2J look or act different if it is going to run on the smaller screen of a smartphone? Are there any killer features that it should have? Are there any features, that if missing, would prevent people from using A2J as a smartphone app?

To me, the biggest key is going to be keeping the text readable. Some of the dialog boxes are pretty long, so it'll be important to make sure that people can read them without spending all of their time scrolling around the screen.

I think it will have to look different, because there just won't be enough screen real estate to show everything on the current A2J while keeping the text readable. What I would do is just have the guide and the representation of the client on the screen, maybe only using a waist-up or shoulders-up representation to give as much room as possible. You could use background colors/patterns to show the changes in topic.

For killer features, I don't really feel like I know enough about app design to know what's even possible. I'd want to make sure that the sound capability was still there. Since most phones have a GPS tracking system in them, it would be really good if the app could create a list of people to call for help (e.g. local legal aid services, police departments, etc.) based on the phone's current location.

I can only think of two really important features that would have to be included. First, I think the app should be designed so that all of the text appears in the speech bubbles from the guide/client, and that scrolling the text in one of those speech bubbles doesn't scroll the entire screen or the other speech bubble. Legal information is fairly hard to keep up with, so making it easy to read and understand visually is going to be really important. Along that same line, I'd hope that any of the questions that require typing in a response would use the pop-out keyboard used by, e.g., the Wikipedia app, where in looking at the screen the area to input text is relatively small but upon touching that area it becomes larger and the keyboard automatically appears.

The only other feature that I think the app would absolutely need to have is a connection to some sort of Cloud software or outside server that could be accessed from a public Internet connection. I would say that the vast majority of people don't have their smartphone connected to a printer, and it would do them no good to complete the form online only to be completely unable to print it out. There has to be some way for the user to save their completed document in a place where they can access it later for printing purposes.



Homework Assignment 6

FACEBOOK
You own all of the content and information you post on Facebook, and you can control how it is shared through your privacy and application settings. In addition:

1. For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (IP content), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.

TWITTER
You retain your rights to any Content you submit, post or display on or through the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through the Services, you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed).

Similar Clauses:
1. Both grant exclusive ownership of content to the user.
2. Both give the service a license to use the content.
3. Both deny the user the right to receive compensation for any content submitted through the service

Form EULA
You [own/retain your rights to] the content you post[, submit, or display] to [Service]. By posting [, submitting, and displaying] any content [covered by intellectual property rights] using [Service], you grant [Service] a worldwide, non-exclusive, sub-licensable, royalty-free license to use[, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute] [such Content in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed/any IP content that you post]. [This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.]


Homework Assignment 5

Free legal research: cases, statutes, and regulations

Cases and statutes for Oklahoma can be found here. Oklahoma actually has a great system, set up and run by the Oklahoma Supreme Court, for anyone to use when they need local information. The case database not only includes all cases heard since the appellate courts came into existence, but it also has its own cite checking feature (appropriately named Citationizer).

The Oklahoma Administrative Code and Registers can be found here.


Homework Assignment 4

Define two discrete tasks that could be 'unbundled' from different areas of law practice:
1. Legal research on a topic: The client could present the lawyer with a legal question, or with some facts and a legal question, and the lawyer could do the appropriate legal research to provide all possible answers to the question. In a way, this could serve as a type of preliminary service, where a client who is thinking about taking a legal action, but isn't totally sure, could find out what the law actually says about a topic before making any further decisions.

2. Motion preparation: In essence, this would combine two pieces of a lawsuit that a lawyer is best able to handle: legal research on an issue and persuasive legal writing

Define a task that lends itself to being converted into a 'digital application':
1. Guided contract creation (as a program): Similar to how TurboTax guides you through doing your taxes, I can envision a program containing a large set of basic contract forms for a large number of jurisdictions (e.g. 'Standard Rental Agreement' for 'Arkansas') with guided questions that would allow the parties to write their own contract (e.g. 'Is either party associated with … if so, you should add a _ clause').

List some of the risks involved in 'unbundling legal services':

1. Client connection: because you don't have that one-on-one connection with a client, they could think of you less as 'their lawyer' and more as a faceless (and replaceable) service provider

2. Significant startup concerns: an unbundled legal service would require a relatively significant infrastructure to be already in place before the first clients ever present themselves—the lawyer needs to have limited liability agreements already created that comply with state rules, the lawyer needs to be familiar enough with the practice area to see and adhere to the boundaries set around the service, etc. This is even more true for digital services, which would also require the digital infrastructure (website, various portals, etc.) to exist alongside the traditional infrastructure before an unbundled service could ever be offered.

3. Ethical concerns: there are definite risks for a lawyer, especially one not familiar with unbundling, to take on a task that either cannot be limited (e.g. becoming the lawyer of record but then not participating in all aspects of the case) or limiting involvement in a way that could hurt the client

Think of a digital application that could automate a legal task and, bundled with legal advice, be sold for a fixed fee:
1. Probate proceedings: (From what I understand) Probate proceedings are very form-oriented, with relatively little need for most of what a lawyer could do. A lawyer could create a website that would allow the executor of an estate to figure out what forms they need to be filling out next (and provide some document automation!) alongside a timeline for when those forms need to be filed and how that process should be done. It could also include legal advice throughout the various stages, either in a type of review process, where the lawyer would periodically look over what an executor has done to see if anything isn't correct, or in an on-demand basis, where the person could ask a lawyer specific questions about their proceedings


Homework Assignment 3

Cleveland County
1. No2. No3. For the most part, docket information for any county court is found on the Oklahoma State Courts Network website, but the dockets are divided by judge and case type, not county. Cleveland County's judge's dockets can be found here4. Forms for higher courts, which could theoretically be used at the county court level, can be found here
Oklahoma Supreme Court
1. No2. No3. Theoretically the Supreme Court's calendar is here, but it does not seem to be functioning properly4. Yes, here
District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma
1. Yes, in fact the district requires that the majority of documents be filed electronically using this website2. As far as I can tell, pro se litigants are expected to file using paper, and the clerk's office scans the paper copies into the court's electronic system (see page 21 of the Policies and Procedures Manual for Electronic Filing, available in .pdf here)3. Yes, the link in the sidebar of this page generates a .pdf copy of the day's docket4. Yes, here

Homework Assignment 2

Part 1

Advantages to Document Automation:
1. Enables legal documents to be created quickly without sacrificing the quality of production, which would have negative consequences for both lawyer and client
2. Allows a lawyer to remain wholly focused on the theoretical elements of a case, without becoming bogged down in minutia
3. Ensures that all available options are given at least some consideration, even if they are eventually discarded
4. Provides the solo practitioner or small firm with a resource to streamline their processes, such that they are able to handle more cases because less time is taken in routine document creation
5. Reduces the likelihood that opposing party could make an argument based on the form used in the transaction/litigation

Disadvantages to Document Automation:
1. Requires significant up-front investment in choosing and then learning the system, which could be nullified if the provider ceases operations
2. Necessitates some degree of technical skill for full use, which may not be feasible for all practitioners to develop or keep up to date
3. Creates a disincentive for the lawyer to gain the deep knowledge needed for a thorough understanding of a practice area, which could result in less effective advocacy
4. Fails to prevent the introduction of coding-created errors either into every document (if the error is part of the template) or into specific documents (if the error is part of the responsive answers)
5. Lessens the need for trained lawyers, paralegals, and legal secretaries (this matters a great deal to those of us who will be looking for jobs in a few years!)


Part 2
TO: J. Marley, Partner
FROM: J. Callaway, Very Junior Associate
RE: Document Automation
DATE: Feb. 17, 2012

Mr. Marley:

As you requested, I spent some time using some of the document automation platforms that are currently available in order to determine their utility for our firm. I believe that investing in some amount of document automation would prove incredibly useful for the firm, though it would require some initial investment of both time and resources.

I used two free platforms in my research: the WSGR Term Sheet Generator [Link], which allows for automatic creation of a venture financing term sheet for a new corporation; and the Founder's Workbench [Link], which allows for the automatic creation of the various documents needed to form a new corporation.

The benefits of these two platforms were immediately apparent. As I well know, much of the work that goes into creating any of these documents is the time spent insuring the accuracy of 'boilerplate' language and of formatting the document to the court's specifications. These programs handle those issues with ease. Moreover, both were able to adapt quickly should major additions or subtractions need to be made (e.g. if documents were drafted for three founders and a fourth was added).

Perhaps the best feature of these platforms was their ability to present all of the information necessary for the form to be complete, without ever showing more information than needed. For example, the questions regarding the mechanics of vesting the stock of my fictitious corporation wasn't shown until after I'd determined that stocks would be vested. Conversely, the platform would not allow me to continue without including all necessary information, which would certainly be a boon for any complex and detailed transactional work.

However, these platforms were not without their limitations, which we as a firm would have to address. The most damaging would be that they do not correct small mistakes, such as typing '25' instead of '250,' because the program does not recognize either one as an error. Some of the time saved in document automation would need to be re-invested in time spent proofreading in order to catch those mistakes. However, since we have that process in place already, there would still be a net gain.

Additionally, the platforms only create the forms, without performing any of the other work necessary. For example, the platform might create a document stating that certain information would be in 'Exhibit A, attached,' without ever notifying the user that such an exhibit was ever required. As always, we would need to remain on watch to ensure that we did not submit incomplete information to the court.

Based on my initial research, I believe that document automation would prove beneficial to the firm, and as such I would recommend convening a group to explore our needs and the options available.

Yours,

J. Callaway



Homework Assignment 1

Advantages to a virtual law practice:
1. Allows for flexibility, both for the lawyer and for the client, with regard to the 'business hours'2. Enables a practitioner to work from a variety of locations (including other states/countries), rather than being locked into a specific geographic area3. Provides a platform for streamlining some of the legal processes (e.g. intake interviews), allowing for a lower cost to the client4. Demonstrates a technical savvy that could appeal to a certain consumer base, drawing in clients from that base independent of other considerations5. Eliminates the overhead costs of maintaining a brick-and-mortar office building
Disadvantages to a virtual law practice:
1. Requires a heightened concern for ethical considerations, e.g. practicing law without a license for the particular state, that can almost be taken for granted in a traditional practice2. Necessitates a threshold amount of technical knowledge that, given the continual flux of the industry, must constantly be updated3. Forces the lawyer to be at least partially dependent on the parties transmitting and hosting the clients' data for all information security4. Creates a sub-optimal work environment for those who thrive on personal interaction (with clients, coworkers, etc.)5. Leads clients seeking the look/feel (gravitas?) of a traditional firm to find other counsel, even if the final result would be the same or worse
Definitions:
Virtual Law Practice: "A professional law practice that exists securely online, is accessible to the legal professional and his or her clients, and provides an environment where the client can purchase and access legal services securely online" Source
Digital Law Practice: "The Digital Lawyer is [a] lawyer who practices law making optimal use of networked computer technology// ... The key to understanding the concept of the digital lawyer is the application of information technology to every aspect of the lawyer's practice." Source
eLawyering: "The utilization of the Internet and e-mail networks for the delivery of legal services." (early definition) Source