Briefs: Cornell’s Tech LLM, Everyone Thinks Law Is Bad At Diversity, Etc.


Another Order To Unlock Another Apple Phone

Just when you thought the dust had settled from the San Bernardino Apple case, thanks to the feds figuring out a way to unlock the phone without Apple’s help, here comes another case where a judge has ordered Apple assist law enforcement in unlocking an iPhone.

Unsealed Friday at the request of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, documents in the case of alleged Columbia Point Dawgs member Desmond Crawford show that Judge Marianne Bowler ordered Apple in February to provide “reasonable technical assistance” to the feds, reports the Associated Press.

“Such reasonable technical assistance consists of, to the extent possible, extracting data from the device, copying the data from the device onto an external hard drive or other storage medium, and returning the aforementioned storage medium to law enforcement, and/or providing the FBI with the suspect personal identification number,” she wrote in an order compelling Apple’s cooperation.

No word on why these feds can’t just chat with their West Coast fed pals and get this phone unlocked without any help from Apple.

Some More Details on Cornell’s Tech LLM

There are real concerns over whether an LLM is a good investment for an attorney, with some sources saying it is more of a cash cow for law schools than anything else. With that caveat in mind, Cornell’s new Tech LLM does sound intriguing. Some key details:

  • 10-15 students in the inaugural class.
  • Most students will have a tech background, and part of the application process involved being presented with a business problem and trying to solve the issue.
  • There will be coursework in intellectual property, internet law, and cybersecurity.
  • Students will work in teams and work with tech and business people.

Unfortunately, it will take a few years to see if this LLM results in any added value in the marketplace, but it may be worth keeping an eye on.

Perhaps the Internet of Things Is Not Ready For Prime Time

We have written before about how the Internet of Things, that cool future where your fridge automatically orders you milk from Amazon and your entire home climate system can be controlled from afar by your smartphone, presents a potential massive security risk.  What we hadn’t really explored, though, is that investing in Things may not be the soundest investment while the kinks are all still getting worked out.

If you were one of the people who shelled out $300 for Revolv’s smart home hub, you’ve probably already heard the bad news: the web service that powers the little gadget is shutting down next month, which will render the thing effectively useless.

Revolv was a smart home startup that was acquired by Google’s home automation company Nest in October 2014 (Nest is now, like Google, a part of the Alphabet conglomerate). The company sold a hub for controlling a wide range of different gadgets, from lights to coffee pots, via a single smartphone app. The catch is that the hub depends on a cloud-based service to communicate with your smartphone. Once that cloud service shuts down, you won’t be able to use the app to control anything.

This almost perfectly encapsulates the problem with new tech replacing old in home automation and the like. Your smart deadbolt may be awesome, saving you the time spent digging out your keys and allowing you to lock it from afar if you forgot when you left the house. But what if the company goes under? What if they pull an Apple and stop supporting older devices or operating systems? You might be wishing for your dumb deadbolt, which will probably outlast you. See also: smoke alarms, thermostats, etc.

Everyone Thinks Law Firms Are Bad At Diversity

Lawyers (especially lawyers that regularly read Lawyerist) know that the profession has a massive problem with diversity. Women, lawyers of color, and LGBT attorneys are severely under-represented at the upper echelons of the profession. BigLaw makes mouth noises about how diversity is important, but hiring managers are still sure the problem of under-representation stems from a lack of qualified candidates, not any sort of bias. Turns out that it isn’t just those of us in the profession that know we are terrible at diversity. Americans in general think we’re awful at it too.

In the McGinn-Repass national diversity survey, 1,156 adult respondents rated eleven different industries — based on what they read or heard, or their own experience — on each industry’s respective efforts to attract and retain a diverse workforce. Based on these ratings, the industries were ranked by largest percent above average to lowest percent below average for perceived commitment to diversity. The final results were weighted based on gender, age, race and household income to be representative of the U.S. population.

Law firms came in dead last with a net-minus 1 score.

Ouch. Industries perceived as the best at diversity: higher ed, health care, restaurants, and hotels.

Can You Figure Out Which Examples Of Terrible Juror Racial Bias Were Upheld?

Over at the Marshall Project, they have put together a really depressing quiz in light of the decision by SCOTUS to hear Pena-Rodriguez v. Colorado, a juror bias case.

During deliberations, a juror confided to others that he knew the defendant was guilty “because he is Mexican, and Mexican men take whatever they want.” The juror, an ex-law enforcement officer, also said that based on his experience, “nine times out of 10, Mexican men were guilty of being aggressive toward women” and suggested that an alibi witness was not credible because he was “an illegal.” The Colorado Supreme Court upheld the conviction last year, ruling that statements made during jury deliberations are confidential.

Head over to the Marshall Project’s quiz to to see if you can figure out which objectively terrible racist comments resulted in cases being upheld, and which led to reversal. I scored 2 out of 7.

Featured image: “ Vintage newspaper boy shouting latest news with megaphone, breaking news, extra edition ” from Shutterstock.


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  • Walker

    “Everyone Thinks Law Firms Are Bad At Diversity”

    Again, can we quit acting surprised that an industry (BigLaw) whose sole function is the preservation of inequality in wealth and power, and maintenance of power In the hands of the existing power elites doesn’t find diversity important?

    I’m not surprised when the KKK doesn’t value diversity, why are you surprised that BigLaw doesn’t either?