Coronavirus’ impact is felt especially hard by professional associations, which were forced to cancel or change the format of their in-person conferences. These conferences not only draw in substantial revenue, but also promotes their projects, membership, and scholarship to the greater professional community. As a newish tech law librarian, one of the first organizations that came to my attention was Stanford’s CodeX, and I was brimming with excitement for their FutureLaw Conference 2020.
CodeX is Stanford’s Center for Legal Informatics. The FutureLaw Conference is a one-day conference that “focuses on the way technology is transforming the law, and redefining the methods in which individuals interact with legal systems and institutions.” Past conferences have been a valuable way to keep up-to-date with new technologies and their impacts on legal education and practice. The cancellation of the in-person conference was blow to the law librarian community, but CodeX graciously offered the conference in a free online format.
Topics from the online conference include implications of recent natural language processing breakthroughs, regulatory reform to increase access to justice, “no-code” platforms for legal tech development, legal innovation in Sub-Saharan Africa, AI and cybersecurity, facial recognition, and VC investment. I noticed a few audio hiccups but overall, the virtual conference was an amazing production considering that most of the presentations came together weeks after the cancellation of the conference.
Given the rise of no-code or low-coding platforms to create technology solutions for law firms, I found the “The Surge of No Code Platforms for Legal Tech Development” of particular interest. The session included CEOs, practitioners, and legal educators with experience with no-code platforms. No-code or low-code platforms refers to technology that allows non-computer programmers (like lawyers) to create legal tech applications that would typically require coding experience. These tools range from document automation to expertise automation. Claire Johnson Raba, a clinical teaching fellow at the UC Irvine Consumer Law Clinic, noted that the ethical and attorney competency concerns of no-code applications should be addressed in a law school environment in order to incubate these technologies to prevent future malpractice. Because these applications are becoming more popular within the private sector, I believe that it will only be a matter of time before law students are expected to have some experience with automation technologies. The presentation itself discussed a wide variety of topics, surpassing my expectations from a one-hour podcast panel discussion.
Virtual conferences may be the current operating procedure given the coronavirus pandemic, but I hope it will not become the norm. While CodeX and several other conferences are switching to a virtual format, I feel that the conferences are lacking without the networking opportunities, questions from the audience, and awesome vendor swag. However, CodeX FutureLaw 2020 still lived up to my expectations providing high-level discussion about emerging technologies.
For the full agenda and links to each presentation to CodeX FutureLaw 2020: https://conferences.law.stanford.edu/futurelaw2020/agenda/