Saturday, February 24, 2024

Counseling Creators: Influencers, Artists and Trendsetters Negotiation Competition and Conference

If you happen to be in Miami or think it's worth it to fly there next week, this is for you. I'll be moderating the panel on regulatory considerations for promoters and influencers and we have student teams competing from all over the country. 

February 29 - March 1
University of Miami

Content is king. We live in the golden age where content creators, artists, and influencers wield power and can shift culture. Brands want to collaborate. Creators need to be sophisticated, understand deal points and protect their brand and intellectual property. Miami Law will be the first law school in the country to pull together law students with leading lawyers, influencers, artists, creatives and trendsetters for a negotiation competition and conference.  

Negotiation Competition - Thursday, February 29 

Where

Shalala Student Center, 1330 Miller Drive, Coral Gables, FL 33146

Who Should Participate

This competition is ideal for law and business students. THE. TEAMS ARE FINALIZED ALREADY.

What to Expect

Participants will have the chance to represent influencers, brands, artists, fashion companies and other creators in the first ever Counseling Creators: Influencers, Artists and Trendsetters Negotiation Competition

  • Register a team of law students (can include business school students)
    1. Team of up to 4
    2. Individual registrants will be placed on a team
  • In advance of the competition, you will be assigned two negotiations where you may be representing your favorite influencer, brand, artist, or fashion company negotiating the compensation, deliverables, and key deal points
  • Industry judges will grade your negotiation and provide feedback
  • Top teams will advance to the final negotiation to be held live during the conference 

Conference - Friday, March 1 

Where

Lakeside Village Auditorium, 1280 Stanford Dr, Coral Gables, FL 33146

Who Should Attend

This conference appeals to all lawyers, law students, brands, influencers, artists and creators for the first ever law school conference on Counseling Creators: Influencers, Artists and Trendsetters.  

What to Expect

  • Panel conversations + Keynotes
  • Topics such as: The Business of Content Creation, Fair Use for Content Creators, Clearances for Creators, The Brand Deal, Compliance and Regulatory Considerations for Creators, Promoter Liability
  • Opportunity to network and learn from industry leading creators, brands, and lawyers and more

PROGRAM (Subject to change)

9:00am - 9:15am         Opening Remarks

9:15am - 10:15am       The Brand Deal

Moderator: TBA

Speakers:

Jennifer Karlik, Director of Business Development, CAA Brand Management
Michael Calvin Jones, SVP, Creators, Wasserman
Mark Middlebrook, VP, Legal Affairs, Fanatics Collectibles
Michael Isselin, Partner, Entertainment & Media Group, Reed Smith
Jonathan Seiden, Senior Vice President, Associate General Counsel, Endeavor


10:20am - 11:20am    Fair Use and Clearances for Creators

Moderator: Vivek Jayaram, Founder, Jayaram Law and Co-Director, Arts Track, Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Program at Miami Law

Speakers:
John Belcaster, General Counsel, MSCHF and Miami Law Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Program Advisory Board Member
Katie Fittinghoff, Creative, MSCHF
Matt Rayfield, Creative, MSCHF


11:30am - 12:30pm    Athletes as Content Creators
 

Moderator: Greg Levy, JD ’10, Associate Dean & Director Entertainment, Arts & Sports Law Graduate Program, Miami Law

Speakers:
Kirby Porter, Founder, New Game Labs
Michael Raymond, Founder, Raymond Representation
Bob Philp, Sr. Executive, Sports Partnerships & Talent Management, Roc Nation Sports
Darren Heitner, Founder, Heitner Legal


12:30pm -1:30pm      LUNCH
 

1:30pm – 2:20pm      Creator Fireside Chat


2:25pm - 3:25pm       Regulatory Considerations and Promoter Liability for Creators

Moderator: Marcia Narine Weldon, Director of Transactional Skills Program, Miami Law

Speakers:
Toam Rubinstein, JD ’13, Senior Associate, Entertainment & Media Group, Reed Smith
Mr Eats 305, (@MrEats305), Food, Travel, & Lifestyle Creator & Law School Graduate
Tyler Chou, Founder and CEO, Tyler Chou Law for Creators


3:30pm - 4:30pm       The Fashion Collaboration

Moderator – Carolina Jayaram, CEO, The Elevate Prize and Co-Director, Arts Track, Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Program at Miami Law

Speakers:
Demeka Fields, Counsel for Global Sports Marketing, New Balance
Danielle Garno, Partner and Co-Chair of Entertainment Practice, Holland & Knight and Miami Law Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Program Advisory Board Member
Matthew Growney, Founder, Thermal Brands; Sr. Advisor (Fashion/Creative), PUMA & Stella Artois

 
4:40pm - 5:30pm       Competition Final

 

For More Information

Contact [email protected] or 305-284-1689.

 
 
 

February 24, 2024 in Compliance, Conferences, Current Affairs, Law School, Lawyering, Legislation, Licensing, Marcia Narine Weldon, Music, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 26, 2024

Are Lawyers, Lawmakers, and Law Professors Really Ready for AI in 2024?

We just finished our second week of the semester and I’m already exhausted, partly because I just submitted the first draft of a law review article that’s 123 pages with over 600 footnotes on a future-proof framework for AI regulation to the University of Tennessee Journal of Business Law. I should have stuck with my original topic of legal ethics and AI.

But alas, who knew so much would happen in 2023? I certainly didn’t even though I spent the entire year speaking on AI to lawyers, businesspeople, and government officials. So, I decided to change my topic in late November as it became clearer that the EU would finally take action on the EU AI Act and that the Brussels effect would likely take hold requiring other governments and all the big players in the tech space to take notice and sharpen their own agendas.

But I’m one of the lucky ones because although I’m not a techie, I’m a former chief privacy officer, and spend a lot of time thinking about things like data protection and cybersecurity, especially as it relates to AI. And I recently assumed the role of GC of an AI startup. So, because I’m tech-adjacent, I’ve spent hours every day immersed in the legal and tech issues related to large and small language models, generative AI (GAI), artificial general intelligence (AGI), APIs, singularity, the Turing test, and the minutiae of potential regulation around the world. I’ve become so immersed that I actually toggled between listening to the outstanding Institute for Well-Being In Law virtual conference and the FTC’s 4-hour tech summit yesterday with founders, journalists, economists, and academics. Adding more fuel to the fire, just before the summit kicked off, the FTC announced an inquiry into the partnerships and investments of  Alphabet, Inc., Amazon.com, Inc., Anthropic PBC, Microsoft Corp., and OpenAI, Inc. Between that and the NY Times lawsuit against OpenAI and Microsoft alleging billions in damages for purported IP violations, we are living in interesting times.

If you’ve paid attention to the speeches at Davos, you know that it was all AI all the time. I follow statements from the tech leaders like other people follow their fantasy football stats or NCAA brackets. Many professors, CEOs, and general consumers, on the other hand, have been caught by surprise by the very rapid acceleration of the developments, particularly related to generative AI.

However, now more members of the general public are paying attention to the concept of deepfakes and demanding legislation in part because the supernova that is Taylor Swift has been victimized by someone creating fake pornographic images of her. We should be even more worried about the real and significant threat to the integrity of the fifty global elections and occurring in 2024 where members of the public may be duped into believing that political candidates have said things that they did not, such as President Biden telling people not to vote in the New Hampshire primary and to save their votes for November.

For those of us who teach in law schools in the US and who were either grading or recovering from grading in December, we learned a few days before Christmas that Lexis was rolling out its AI solution for 2Ls and 3Ls. Although I had planned to allow and even teach my students the basics of prompt engineering and using AI as a tool (and not a substitute for lawyering) in my business associations, contract drafting, and business and human rights class, now I have to also learn Lexis’ solution too. I feel for those professors who still ban the use of generative AI or aren’t equipped to teach students how to use it ethically and effectively.

Even so, I’m excited and my students are too. The legal profession is going to change dramatically over the next two years, and it’s our job as professors to prepare our students. Thompson Reuters, the ABA, and state courts have made it clear that we can’t sit by on the sidelines hoping that this fad will pass.

Professionally, I have used AI to redraft an employee handbook in my client’s voice (using my employment law knowledge, of course), prepare FAQs for another client’s code of conduct in a very specialized industry, prepare interview questions for my podcast, and draft fact patterns for simulations for conferences and in class. I’ve also tested its ability to draft NDAs and other simple agreements using only ChatGPT. It didn’t do so well there, but that’s because I know what I was looking for. And when I gave additional instructions, for example, about drafting a mutual indemnification clause and then a separate supercap, it did surprisingly well. But I know what should be in these agreements. The average layperson does not, something that concerns Chief Justice Roberts and should concern us all.

How have you changed your teaching with the advent of generative AI? If you’re already writing or teaching about AI or just want more resources, join the 159 law professors in a group founded by Professors April Dawson and Dan Linna. As for my law review article, I’m sure a lot of it will be obsolete by the time it’s published, but it should still be an interesting, if not terrifying, read for some.

January 26, 2024 in Business Associations, Compliance, Consulting, Contracts, Corporate Governance, Corporate Personality, Corporations, CSR, Current Affairs, Ethics, Human Rights, Intellectual Property, International Law, Jobs, Law Firms, Law School, Lawyering, Legislation, Marcia Narine Weldon, Research/Scholarhip, Science, Teaching, Technology, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 13, 2023

Listservs, Emails, Texts, and Maintaining Relationships

As I reflect on the current contentious world environment, I cannot help but note the impact that electronic communication has on maintaining quality personal and professional relationships.  Although it sometimes may seem that business law professors are less impacted by domestic and global events, our work's engagement with broader economic, social, and political issues and our individual intersectionalities can keep us in the throes of it all.  As someone who cares deeply about (and believes in the power of) human relationships and interpersonal communication (leading me to co-design and co-teach small group communication course for our leadership curriculum), I offer some food for thought here.

We all enjoy free speech.  And I respect that right deeply.  I bear a tattoo on my body (an open "speech bubble" on my right scapula) as a symbol of that belief.

I also believe in the careful, considerate exercise of that important right.  I have written a bit about this before, in another blog space, arguing for well considered communication.  My conclusion in that post?

Just because a person can say something in the exercise of their rights to free speech, does not mean that the person should say something. And if someone chooses to say something, the way in which the communication is made can make all the difference. Through mindful collegiality, Ubuntu, civility, and other conduct reinforcing inclusion, a lawyer-leader can motivate action and loyalty in and outside their law practice.

Although I wrote that post back in February of 2022, what I say in the post still rings true to me.

Electronic communication seems to be an enabler of suboptimal behaviors in this regard.  I am, of course, not the first to observe this.  But I see relationships falling apart right and left (political pun acknowledged) because of people's choices in using electronic communication, especially (although not exclusively) in group settings.  Most recently, as some of you readers know, this has been happening on the Association of American Law Schools Section on Women in Legal Education listserv.  This has saddened me.  That group, and the listserv that binds us, has historically been an inclusive space.  I hope we can revive that ethos of inclusion, even as long-term members of the section determine to disengage from communication in that forum.

There is so much information on the Internet about etiquette in electronic communication.  In the course I taught this semester, my co-instructor and I assigned some of those publications.  We had a robust discussion with the students.  Some expressed their surprise at the way certain words and phrases in emails and text messages may impact the reader in unintended ways.  We discussed whether to communicate electronically at all, and if so, how.  We assigned out-of-class work on related issues.  I felt good about the information we conveyed and the discussions we had.  That positive feeling was borne out when one of the students in the course used the material in another course (Corporate Finance) in which I also am the instructor.

I wish we had covered listservs in our course.  I plan to add that to future iterations of the course.  I have discovered that many organizations, undoubtedly struggling with the threat that listservs will disrupt group relations, have formalized rules about their usage.  This seems like a sensible approach to help avoid (or at least limit) the disrespect that may be shown to listserv managers and moderators in the event of a conflict over the appropriate use of the listserv.  For example, the American Bankruptcy Institute has listserv guidelines.  They provide instruction on best practices (including a statement on topic scope) and also on prohibited practices.  Among the prohibited practices is one that seems relevant to communications I now notice more frequently.

Subjects Generating More Heat Than Light

Occasionally, a subject will come up that generates lots of posts because of its controversial nature. If the discussion threatens to overwhelm our mailboxes or becomes nasty, we will ask that those interested in discussing it further take the discussion off the list.

Do not challenge or attack others. The discussions on the lists are meant to stimulate conversation, not to create contention. Let others have their say, just as you may.

The guidelines also include instructions on brevity, advise users how to alert readers to message content and length, and caution folks to "[o]nly send a message to the entire list when it contains information that everyone can benefit from."  Other websites I reviewed offered similar guidance (in some cases using some of the same wording).

I offer all of this up for what it may be worth to you.  I am committing myself to working on being the best group member I can be because I value my relationships with members of the groups to which I belong.  These people have helped me ride over many bumps in my personal and professional lives over the years.  They have supported me in handling stress caused by deaths, recessions, bullying/verbal abuse, a global financial crisis, a global pandemic, a number of wars and political conflicts, and much more.  I know my students will benefit more from my teaching if I can manage that stress.  I also aim to teach them some of what I have learned about the importance of relationships as opportunities arise.

Moreover, as I earlier noted here on the BLPB, I am writing an essay that connects with this topic based on a presentation I gave at the annual Business Law Prof Blog symposium, "Connecting the Threads," last month.  The essay, Business Lawyer Leadership: Valuing Relationships, will cover the connection of business law and lawyering to relationship building and maintenance.  It will be published in a forthcoming (spring 2024) volume of Transactions: The Tennessee Journal of Business Law that will feature works presented at the symposium together with faculty and student commentary.  I will post on the essay and the volume once online access is available.

November 13, 2023 in Current Affairs, Joan Heminway, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 10, 2023

Ethical and Practical Issues for Lawyers Using AI

I’m a law professor, the general counsel of a medtech company, a podcaster, and I design and deliver courses on a variety of topics as a consultant. I think about and use generative AI daily and it’s really helped boost my productivity. Apparently, I’m unusual among lawyers. According to a Wolter’s Kluwers Future Ready Lawyer report that surveyed 700 legal professionals in the  US and EU, only 15% of lawyers are using generative AI right now but 73% expect to use it next year. 43% of those surveyed see it as an opportunity, 25% see it as a threat, and 26% see it as both.

If you’re planning to be part of the 73% and you practice in the US, here are some ethical implications with citations to select model rules. A few weeks ago, I posted here about business implications that you and your clients should consider.

  • How can you stay up-to-date with the latest advancements in AI technology and best practices, ensuring that you continue to adapt and evolve as a legal professional in an increasingly technology-driven world? Rule 1.1 (Competence)
  • How can AI tools be used effectively and ethically to enhance your practice, whether in legal research, document review, contract drafting, or litigation support, while maintaining high professional standards? Will it be malpractice NOT to use GAI in the future? Rule 1.1 (Competence), Comment 8, duty to understand the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology; Rule 1.3 (Diligence)
  • How can you obtain and document informed consent from clients when using AI tools in your practice, ensuring that they understand the risks, benefits, and alternatives associated with these technologies? Rule 1.4 (Communication); Rule 1.6 (Confidentiality of Information)
  • How can you obtain and document informed consent from clients when using AI tools in your practice, ensuring that they understand the risks, benefits, and alternatives associated with these technologies? Rule 1.4 (Communication); Rule 1.6 (Confidentiality of Information). Tip- Make sure your engagement letter discusses the use of technology and specifically addresses the responsible use of GAI.  If needed, amend your engagement letter. Adequately anonymize client information in your prompts. Make sure to opt out of data sets. Check the terms of service and privacy policies of your AI tools.
  • How do you rethink billing clients and what’s ethical if you have reliable AI models that can do some work in a fraction of the time? Is it still ethical to bill by the hour or do you use a flat rate? Rule 1.5 (Fees)
  • How can you effectively explain and defend the use of AI-generated evidence, analysis, or insights in court, demonstrating the validity and reliability of the methods and results to judges and opposing counsel? Rule 3.3 Candor Toward the Tribunal; Rule 4.1 Truthfulness in Statements to Others
  • What measures should you implement to supervise and train your staff, including paralegals and support personnel, in the responsible use of AI tools, ensuring that ethical and professional standards are maintained throughout the practice? Rule 5.1 (Responsibilities of Partners, Managers, and Supervisory Lawyers); Rule 5.3 (Responsibilities Regarding Nonlawyer Assistance)

Then there are the harder questions:

  • How many lawyers and legal professionals will you replace?
  • How many should you replace?
  • Who and how will you retrain and upskill?
  • Should your firm be developing your own large language models as some are already doing?  What are the risks? The 2022 ABA Legal Technology Survey Report found that accuracy is the top barrier preventing many lawyers from adopting AI. Some insurance brokers have indicated the existing GAI tools are not fit for law practice because of reliability, accuracy, confidentiality, and copyright concerns,

If you're ready to take the deep dive or maybe just dip your toe in the AI waters, here are some resources to help you get started on the journey. Of course, with the way things are changing so rapidly on the legislative and tech development front, this list could be relatively useless in the next few weeks.

ABA House of Delegates Resolution 604

Task Force on Responsible Use of Generative AI for Law- MIT

NIST AI Framework

FTC AI Guidance

EEOC Artificial Intelligence and Algorithmic Fairness Initiative

National Conference of State Legislatures-2023-legislation

SEC Investor Advisory Committee Establishment of an Ethical Artificial Intelligence Framework for Investment Advisors

ABA Task Force on the Law and Artificial Intelligence

Health AI Partnership

National Association of Insurance Commissioners

ISO 27701- International Standard for Protecting Personally Identifiable Information

Partnership on AI

Are you using generative AI in the classroom? How are you preparing the next generation of lawyers? If you’re a practicing lawyer, are you ready to be part of the 15% this year or the 73% next year? 

November 10, 2023 in Current Affairs, Ethics, Law Firms, Law School, Lawyering, Legislation, Marcia Narine Weldon, Teaching, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 13, 2023

What Business Lawyers Needs to Ask their Clients About Generative AI Usage

Last week I had the pleasure of joining my fellow bloggers at the UT Connecting the Threads Conference on the legal issues related to generative AI (GAI) that lawyers need to understand for their clients and their own law practice. Here are some of the questions I posed to the audience and some recommendations for clients. I'll write about ethical issues for lawyers in a separate post. In the meantime, if you're using OpenAI or any other GAI, I strongly recommend that you read the terms of use. You may be surprised by certain clauses, including the indemnification provisions. 

I started by asking the audience members to consider what legal areas are most affected by GAI? Although there are many, I'll focus on data privacy and employment law in this post.

Data Privacy and Cybersecurity

Are the AI tools and technologies you use compliant with relevant data protection and privacy regulations, such as GDPR and CCPA? Are they leaving you open to a cyberattack?

This topic also came up today at a conference at NCCU when I served as a panelist on cybersecurity preparedness for lawyers.

Why is this important?

ChatGPT was banned in Italy for a time over concerns about violations of the GDPR. The Polish government is investigating OpenAI over privacy issues. And there are at least two class action lawsuits in California naming Microsoft and OpenAI. Just yesterday, a US government agency halted the use of GAI due to data security risks. 

It’s also much easier for bad actors to commit cybercrime because of the amount of personal data they can  scrape and analyze and because deepfake technology allows impersonation of images and voices in a matter of seconds. The NSA and FBI have warned people to be worried about misinformation and cyberthreats due to the technology. On a positive note, some are using GAI to fight cybercrime.

Surveillance and facial recognition technology can violate privacy and human rights. Governments have used surveillance technology to tamp down on and round up dissidents, protestors, and human rights defenders for years. Now better AI tools makes that easier. And if you haven't heard some of the cautions about Clearview AI and the misidentification of citizens, you should read this article. A new book claims that this company could "end privacy as we know it."

What should (you and) your clients do?

  • Ensure algorithms minimize collection and processing of personal data and build in confidentiality safeguards to comply with privacy laws
  • Revise privacy and terms of use policies on websites to account for GAI
  • Build in transparency for individuals to control how data is collected and used
  • Turn on privacy settings in all AI tools and don’t allow your data to be used for training the large language models
  • Turn off chat history in settings on all devices
  • Prevent browser add-ons
  • Check outside counsel guidelines for AI restrictions (or draft them for your clients)
  • Work with your IT provider or web authority to make sure your and your clients’ data is not being scraped for training
  • Use synthetic data sets instead of actual personally identifiable information
  • Ensure that you have a Generative AI Security Policy
  • Check vendor contracts for AI usage
  • Enhance cybersecurity training
  • Conduct a table top exercise and make sure that you have an incident response plan in place
  • Check cyberinsurance policies for AI clauses/exclusions

What about the employment law implications?

According to a Society for Human Resources Management Member Survey about AI usage:

• 79% use AI for recruiting and hiring

• 41% use AI for learning and development

• 38% use AI for performance management

• 18% use AI for productivity monitoring

• 8% use Ai for succession planning

• 4% use AI or promotional decisions

GAI algorithms can also have significant bias for skin color. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released research showing that "not just dark African-American faces, but also Asian faces were up to 100 times more likely to be failed by these systems than the faces of white individuals.”

Then there’s the question of whether recruiters and hiring managers should use AI to read emotions during an an interview. The EU says absolutely not

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has taken notice. In a panel discussion, Commissioner Keith Sonderling explained, “carefully designed and properly used, AI has potential to enhance diversity and inclusion, accessibility in the workplace by mitigating the risk of unlawful discrimination. Poorly designed and carelessly implemented, AI can discriminate on a scale and magnitude greater than any individual HR professional.” The EEOC also recently settled the first of its kind AI bias case for $365,000.

What to do 

  • Use AI screening tools to disregard name, sec, age, national origin, etc.
  • Use bots for interviews to eliminate bias because of accents
  • Check local laws such as New York City's automated decision tools guidance for employers
  • Be careful about training large language models on current workforce data because that can perpetuate existing bias
  • Review the EEOC Resource on AI

Questions to Ask Your Clients:

• How are you integrating human rights considerations into your company's strategy and decision-making processes, particularly concerning the deployment and use of new technologies?

• Can you describe how your company's corporate governance structure accounts for human rights and ethical considerations, particularly with regards to the use and impact of emerging technologies?

• How does your company approach balancing the need for innovation and competitive advantage with the potential societal and human rights impact of technologies like facial recognition and surveillance?

• As data becomes more valuable, how is your company ensuring ethical data collection and usage practices?

• Are these practices in line with both domestic and international human rights and privacy standards?

• How is your organization addressing the potential for algorithmic bias in your technology, which can perpetuate and exacerbate systemic inequalities?

• What steps are you taking to ensure digital accessibility and inclusivity, thereby avoiding the risk of creating or enhancing digital divides?

• How is your company taking into account the potential environmental impacts of your technology, including e-waste and energy consumption, and what steps are being taken to mitigate these risks while promoting sustainable development?

• Are you at risk of a false advertising or unfair/deceptive trade practices act claim from the FTC or other regulatory body due to your use of AI?

Whether or not you're an AI expert or use GAI in your practice now, it's time to raise these issues with your clients. Future posts will address other legal issues and the ethical implications of using AI in legal practice. 

October 13, 2023 in Compliance, Corporate Governance, Corporations, CSR, Current Affairs, Employment Law, Ethics, Human Rights, Law Firms, Lawyering, Legislation, Marcia Narine Weldon | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 7, 2023

Matteo Gatti on Corporate Governing

I am excited to highlight the recent posting by Matteo Gatti of his draft paper entitled Corporate Governing: Promises and Risks of Corporations as Socio-Economic Reformers.  I got a preview of this work at the National Business Law Scholars Conference back in June.  The title of the paper is both descriptive and clever, as the abstract below reveals.

Corporations are involved in public affairs: racial equity, women’s rights, LGBTQIA rights, climate efforts are just a few examples of an increasingly long list of areas in which corporations are active and vocal. One phenomenon is well-known: corporations promote, contrast, or finetune governmental initiatives through political messaging. In addition, corporations perform quasi-governmental functions when the actual government cannot (because of its dysfunction) or does not want to (because of its political credo) perform such functions. Economists, legal scholars, and policymakers are split as to whether corporations should take this role.

This Paper contributes to the literature in several ways. First, it maps various areas of reform by corporations in the socio-economic sphere. Then, it provides legal and policy frameworks for corporate governing by analyzing the underlying conducts under our current laws and by evaluating its multifaceted normative merits: Is there a business case for corporate governing? Is corporate governing strategically wise for corporations? Does it help social advocacy and society at large? Does corporate governing undermine actual government and imperil democratic institutions? Further, this Paper assesses corporate governing by looking into its promises and risks from a corporate and from a societal perspective and singles out two risks. First, corporate governing cannot help society in fields in which corporations have a conflicting interest, like on themes such as antitrust, tax, labor, privacy, financial and corporate reform. Second, with corporations having a greater role in policymaking, citizens may become less accustomed to expecting reform via traditional politics: addressing this risk requires efforts from citizens, civil society, and politicians to preserve democratic values and institutions—corporate governance can help but cannot be the driving force.

The article offers helpful, coherent observations about and analyses of the roles business firms play--and should play--in political governance, as well as the possible effects of those political governance engagements.  I look forward to spending more time with this work!

August 7, 2023 in Corporate Governance, Corporations, Current Affairs, Joan Heminway, Research/Scholarhip | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 28, 2023

Is Your Law School Ready for Generative AI? Fifteen Questions You Should Consider

Greetings from SEALS, where I've just left a packed room of law professors grappling with some thorny issues related to ChatGPT4, Claude 2, Copilot, and other forms of generative AI. I don't have answers to the questions below and some are well above my pay grade, but I am taking them into account as I prepare to teach courses in transactional skills; compliance, corporate governance, and sustainability; and ethics and technology this Fall.

In no particular order, here are some of the questions/points raised during the three-hour session. I'll have more thoughts on using AI in the classroom in a future post.

  1. AI detectors that schools rely on have high false positives for nonnative speakers and neurodivergent students and they are easy to evade. How can you reliably ensure that students aren't using AI tools such as ChatGPT if you've prohibited it?
  2. If we allow the use of AI in classrooms, how do we change how we assess students?
  3. If our goal is to teach the mastery of legal skills, what are the legal skills we should teach related to the use of AI? How will our students learn critical thinking skills if they can rely on generative AI?
  4. How should we keep up with the rapid pace of change?
  5. How will adjuncts use AI with our students if they are already integrating it into their practice? Alternatively, will adjuncts see the use of AI as cheating?
  6. If students use papers as writing samples, should there be attestations indicating that they are AI free? Same question for journals/law reviews.
  7. Can clinicians and others use generative AI to help with access to justice? If so, how can we ensure that the information is reliable and not a hallucination??
  8. How should schools assess faculty coming up for promotion and tenure? Will junior faculty feel pressured to rely on AI to be more productive?
  9. Can generative AI be helpful with students with disabilities and neurodivergent students? AI tools can help with creating study schedules, note taking (organizing by topic), time management, summarizing large articles, staying on task, academic support tool, ascertaining how long will tasks take, planning meals and more. If a policy prohibits the use of generative AI in the classroom, should its use be a reasonable accommodation?
  10. Do we as faculty members have the growth mindset to deal with this change? Or will we teach the way we always do, which may do a disservice to our students. How do we prepare our students to deal with generative AI in practice?
  11. Do you need a uniform policy or should each professor have their own policy? Should the default policy be that students cannot use it for work that gets academic credit unless the professor has specifically opted in?
  12. Should we embrace AI especially for students who can’t write? Is using ChatGPT any different from using a calculator? Is it any different from asking a partner for a template so you don't have to start from scratch?
  13. Should we use more in-class exams? Should they be closed book? Do we need more oral presentations? How might this affect space planning at exam time?
  14. Should class participation count for more than it already does?
  15. If you're not familiar with generative AI tools, where should you start?

How many of these questions have  you asked yourself, your colleagues, or your dean? If you have some best practices or thoughts, please share them in the comments. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 28, 2023 in Compliance, Conferences, Contracts, Corporate Finance, Corporations, Current Affairs, Ethics, Law Firms, Law Reviews, Law School, Lawyering, Marcia Narine Weldon, Teaching, Technology, Web/Tech, Writing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 7, 2023

Generative AI Is the Greatest Thing Since the Discovery of Fire And/Or Will Kill Us All

Depending on who you talk to, you get some pretty extreme perspectives on generative AI. In a former life, I used to have oversight of the lobbying and PAC money for a multinational company. As we all know, companies never ask to be regulated. So when an industry begs for regulation, you know something is up. 

Two weeks ago, I presented the keynote speech to the alumni of AESE, Portugal’s oldest business school, on the topic of my research on business, human rights, and technology with a special focus on AI. If you're attending Connecting the Threads in October, you'll hear some of what I discussed.

I may have overprepared, but given the C-Suite audience, that’s better than the alternative. For me that meant spending almost 100 hours  reading books, articles, white papers, and watching videos by data scientists, lawyers, ethicists, government officials, CEOs, and software engineers. 

Because I wanted the audience to really think about their role in our future, I spent quite a bit of time on the doom and gloom scenarios, which the Portuguese press highlighted. I cited the talk by the creators of the Social Dilemma, who warned about the dangers of social media algorithms and who are now raising the alarms about AI's potential existential threat to humanity in a talk called the AI Dilemma.

I used statistics from the Future of Jobs Report from the World Economic Forum on potential job displacement and from Yale's Jeffrey Sonnenfeld on what CEOs think and are planning for. Of the 119 CEOs from companies like Walmart, Coca-Cola, Xerox and Zoom, 34% of CEOs said AI could potentially destroy humanity in ten years, 8% said that it could happen in five years,  and 58% said that could never happen and they are “not worried.” 42% said the doom and gloom  is overstated, while 58% said it was not. I told the audience about deepfakes where AI can now mimic someone's voice in three seconds.

But in reality, there's also a lot of hope. For the past two days I've been up at zero dark thirty to watch the live stream of the AI For Good Global Summit in Geneva. The recordings are available on YouTube. While there was a more decidedly upbeat tone from these presenters, there was still some tamping down of the enthusiasm.

Fun random facts? People have been using algorithms to make music since the 60s. While many are worried about the intellectual property implications for AI and the arts, AI use was celebrated at the summit. Half of humanity's working satellites belong to Elon Musk. And  a task force of 120 organizations is bringing the hammer down on illegal deforestation in Brazil using geospatial AI. They've already netted 2 billion in penalties. 

For additional perspective, for two of the first guests on my new podcast, I've interviewed lawyer and mediator, Mitch Jackson, an AI enthusiast, and tech veteran, Stephanie Sylvestre, who's been working with OpenAI for years and developed her own AI product somehow managing to garner one million dollars worth of free services for her startup, Avatar Buddy. Links to their episodes are here (and don't forget to subscribe to the podcast).

If you’re in business or advising business, could you answer the following questions I asked the audience of executives and government officials in Portugal?

  • How are you integrating human rights considerations into your company's strategy and decision-making processes, particularly concerning the deployment and use of new technologies?

 

  • Can you describe how your company's corporate governance structure accounts for human rights and ethical considerations, particularly with regards to the use and impact of emerging technologies?

 

  • How are you planning to navigate the tension between increasing automation in your business operations and the potential for job displacement among your workforce?

 

  • How does your company approach balancing the need for innovation and competitive advantage with the potential societal and human rights impact of technologies like facial recognition and surveillance?

 

  • In what ways is your company actively taking steps to ensure that your supply chain, especially for tech components, is free from forced labor or other human rights abuses?

 

  • As data becomes more valuable, how is your company ensuring ethical data collection and usage practices? Are these practices in line with both domestic and international human rights and privacy standards?

 

  • What steps are you taking to ensure digital accessibility and inclusivity, thereby avoiding the risk of creating or enhancing digital divides?

 

  • How is your company taking into account the potential environmental impacts of your technology, including e-waste and energy consumption, and what steps are being taken to mitigate these risks while promoting sustainable development?

 

  • What financial incentives do you have in place to do the ”right thing” even if it’s much less profitable? What penalties do you have in place for the “wrong” behavior?

 

  • Will governments come together to regulate or will the fate of humanity lie in the hands of A few large companies?

Luckily, we had cocktails right after I asked those questions.

Are you using generative AI like ChatGPT4 or another source in your business 0r practice? If you teach, are you integrating it into the classroom? I'd love to hear your thoughts. 

July 7, 2023 in Business School, Conferences, Corporate Governance, Corporate Personality, Corporations, CSR, Current Affairs, Ethics, Human Rights, Intellectual Property, Lawyering, Legislation, Management, Marcia Narine Weldon, Science, Teaching, Technology, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 19, 2023

Celebrating Juneteenth: Corporate Governance Intersections

Corporate governance has become a bit of an alphabet soup over the years--CSR,* DEIB,** and ESG*** (among other initialisms) are all part of the current practical lexicon for those of us working with businesses.  As a day celebrating the emancipation of the last enslaved Black Americans, Juneteenth, connects with so many of those acronyms in one way or another.  Businesses have been noticing.

For example, Hassina Obaidy's June 13, 2023 article, Juneteenth in the Workplace: Why your company should celebrate, posted on the website of workplace training and compliance provider Emtrain, offers one perspective on Juneteenth and CSR.

Black Lives Matter has taught both individuals and companies what allyship can really look like. We’ve also learned that the passing of time is not enough to make real change. Companies need to support employees that come from demographics that have historically been marginalized through company policies, workplace culture, and corporate social responsibility (CSR). Giving employees a day off to celebrate Juneteenth and engage with their communities in a productive way is one step leaders can take to move the needle on CSR.

Similarly, in an article entitled Seven thoughtful ideas for observing Juneteenth in the workplace, Christina Bibby at employee benefits leader Mercer offers that Juneteenth presents an opportunity to "[o]pen company dialogues about racism and diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB)."  Specifically, she suggests that firms

[c]onsider sending out a focused leadership message about Juneteenth, sharing your DEIB strategy and progress metrics, or conducting Q&A sessions and listening sessions to better understand Black employee experiences at your company. You might also tap into expertise in your community by inviting internal or external guest speakers to talk about the history and significance of Juneteenth, social justice, or related DEIB topics.

And Brandy Hyatt's piece on Juneteenth and Environmental Justice, published by nonprofit environmental advocacy organization Vote Solar, suggests several connections between environmental and social concerns.

If we take a closer look at the legacy of slavery and racism, we see that environmental justice and climate change deeply burden Black and brown communities, poor neighborhoods, and Indigenous peoples. The resulting impact exposes and exacerbates inequalities. A study from 2017 found that Black people are 75% more likely to live near a polluting industrial or services facility, leading to higher rates of premature death from pollution. In order to truly confront and end the environmental injustice, we must undo our current structures of power and control to reimagine the system to better serve historically disadvantaged communities.

There is much more that can be said here about Juneteenth and corporate governance.  But you get the point: Juneteenth, along with certain other holidays (e.g., Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Veteran's Day), offers businesses a time to reflect and act on matters of importance to firm governance, including matters relating to a business's relationships with its employees and greater communities.  That reflection and action may serve corporate interests in promoting, practicing, or supporting CSR, DEIB, and ESG.

_____

* Corporate Social Responsibility

** Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Belonging

*** Environmental, Social, Governance

June 19, 2023 in CSR, Current Affairs, Joan Heminway | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 19, 2023

University of Miami Law School Seeks Law & Technology Resident Fellow: Apply by July 1, 2023

I'm excited to announce this new position. It's particularly timely as just this morning, I had breakfast with venture capitalists, founders, and others in the tech ecosystem nurtured and propelled by the founders of Emerge Americas. This is a great time to be in Miami. Here are the details.

The University of Miami School of Law seeks to appoint an Inaugural Law & Technology Resident Fellow.  

This will be an exciting opportunity as the Fellow will join a vibrant community of scholars and practitioners working at the intersection of law and technology. Miami-Dade County and the surrounding Tech Hub is enjoying a dramatic expansion in technology-related startups and finance.  MiamiLaw has an established J.D. degree concentration in Business of Innovation, Law, and Technology (BILT). Faculty have set up numerous technology-related programs including Law Without Walls (LWOW) and the We Robot conference.

MiamiLaw currently offers courses in: AI and Robot Law; Blockchain Technology and Business Strategies; Digital Asset and Blockchain Regulation; Digital Transformation Services: Business & Legal Considerations; Dispute Resolution; Technology and The Digital Economy; E-Sports; Electronic Discovery; Genomic Medicine, Ethics and the Law; Intellectual Property in Digital Media; Introduction to Programming For Lawyers; NFTs: Legal and Business Considerations; Scientific Evidence; Tax Issues Relating to Movement of Foreign Tech Founders Into Miami in the 21St Century; Space Law: Regulating and Incentivizing Private Commercial Activities in Outer Space; a Startup Clinic and a class in Startup Law and Entrepreneurship; The Digital Economy and International Taxation--National and International Responses; Law, Technology, and Practice; Law, Policy & Technology; and Tiktok, Twitter and Youtube: The Legal Framework Governing Social Media.

We aim to enhance these substantial and growing technology-related activities by hiring a Law & Technology Resident Fellow. We seek a recent law graduate interested in studying and teaching about the impact artificial intelligence (AI) will have on the legal field, from the impact on legal education to the impact on legal practice and legislative reform.  We are specifically interested in candidates who would connect our students and our faculty both with new technologies and with tech startups in Miami.

In order to provide a space for training of and experimentation by the law school community, the initial Fellow also will be responsible for designing and then setting up an Artificial Intelligence Technology Lab—which could be real or virtual—that will, among other things, support faculty in their courses and research. The Fellow would be expected to teach one technology-related course, subject to approval by the Vice Dean and the law school’s Curriculum Committee, once the Lab is functional.

Applicants must have completed their J.D. degree prior to the beginning of the fellowship. Experience with Artificial Intelligence as it pertains to law and law practice, or optionally a degree in Computer Science or a related field, would also be helpful. The fellowship begins on August 1 and lasts for one year; a Fellow in residence may apply for a second year of support.

The University of Miami offers competitive salaries and a comprehensive benefits package including medical and dental benefits, vacation, paid holidays and much more.

Applications should include the following:

  • A cover letter indicating your interest in the Resident Fellowship
  • A resume or CV
  • A law/graduate school transcript
  • Two letters of recommendation

Applications for the Law & Tech Resident Fellowship must be received no later than July 1, 2023.

Please apply online and submit an application in electronic form to Carolina Morris ([email protected]).

The University of Miami is an Equal Opportunity Employer - Females/Minorities/Protected Veterans/Individuals with Disabilities are encouraged to apply. Applicants and employees are protected from discrimination based on certain categories protected by Federal law. Click here for additional information.

If you have any questions about what it's like to work at UM or live in Miami, please reach out at [email protected].

May 19, 2023 in Corporations, Current Affairs, Jobs, Law School, Lawyering, Marcia Narine Weldon, Technology, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 5, 2023

Ten Questions Lawyers Should Ask Themselves about AI

A few months ago, I asked whether people in the tech industry were the most powerful people in the world. This is part II of that post.

I posed that question after speaking at a tech conference in Lisbon sponsored by Microsoft. They asked me to touch on business and human rights and I presented the day after the company announced a ten billion dollar investment in OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT. Back then, we were amazed at what ChatGPT 3.5 could do. Members of the audience were excited and terrified- and these were tech people. 

And that was before the explosion of ChatGPT4. 

I've since made a similar presentation about AI, surveillance, social media companies to law students, engineering students, and business people. In the last few weeks, over 10,000 people including Elon Musk, have called for a 6-month pause in AI training systems. If you don't trust Musk's judgment (and the other scientists and futurists), trust the "Godfather of AI," who recently quit Google so he could speak out on the dangers, even though Google has put out its own whitepaper on AI development. Watch the 60 Minutes interview with the CEO of Google.

Just yesterday, the White House held a summit with key AI stakeholders to talk about AI governance

Between AI-generated photos winning competitions, musicians creating songs simulating real artists' voices, students using generative AI to turn in essays that fool professors, and generative AI's ability to hallucinate (come up with completely wrong answers that look correct), what can we as lawyers do? Are our jobs at risk? Barrons has put out a list.  IBM has paused hiring because it believes it can gain efficiencies though AI.  Goldman Sachs has said that 300 million jobs might be affected by this technology. I'm at a conference for entrepreneurs and the CEO of a 100-million dollar company said that he has reassigned and is re-skilling 90% of his marketing team because he can use AI for most of what they do. 

Should we be excited or terrified? I've been stressing to lawyers and my students that we need to understand this technology to help develop the regulations around it as well to wrestle with the thorny legal and ethical issues that arise. Here are ten questions, courtesy of ChatGPT4, that lawyers should ask themselves:

  1. Do I understand the basic principles and mechanics of AI, including machine learning, deep learning, and natural language processing, to make informed decisions about its use in my legal practice?
  2. How can AI tools be used effectively and ethically to enhance my practice, whether in legal research, document review, contract drafting, or litigation support, while maintaining high professional standards?
  3. Are the AI tools and technologies I use compliant with relevant data protection and privacy regulations, such as GDPR and CCPA, and do they adequately protect client confidentiality and sensitive information?
  4. How can I ensure that the AI-driven tools I utilize are unbiased, transparent, and fair, and what steps can I take to mitigate potential algorithmic biases that may compromise the objectivity and fairness of my legal work?
  5. How can I obtain and document informed consent from clients when using AI tools in my practice, ensuring that they understand the risks, benefits, and alternatives associated with these technologies?
  6. What are the intellectual property implications of using AI, particularly concerning AI-generated content, inventions, and potential copyright or trademark issues that may arise?
  7. How can I assess and manage potential liability and accountability issues stemming from the use of AI tools, including understanding the legal and ethical ramifications of AI-generated outputs in my practice?
  8. How can I effectively explain and defend the use of AI-generated evidence, analysis, or insights in court, demonstrating the validity and reliability of the methods and results to judges and opposing counsel?
  9. What measures should I implement to supervise and train my staff, including paralegals and support personnel, in the responsible use of AI tools, ensuring that ethical and professional standards are maintained throughout the practice?
  10. How can I stay up-to-date with the latest advancements in AI technology and best practices, ensuring that I continue to adapt and evolve as a legal professional in an increasingly technology-driven world?

Do you use ChatGPT or any other other generative AI in your work? Can you answer these questions? I'll be talking about many of these issues at the Connecting the Threads symposium and would love to get your insights as I develop my paper. 

May 5, 2023 in Compliance, Corporations, CSR, Current Affairs, Ethics, Financial Markets, Human Rights, Jobs, Lawyering, Legislation, Management, Marcia Narine Weldon, Teaching, Technology, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 24, 2023

Quotables: Lipton & Edwards on TripAdvisor

Friend-of-the-BLPB Tom Rutledge alerted me earlier today to a Thomson Reuters piece on the TripAdvisor reincorporation litigation that quotes not one but two of our blogger colleagues: Ann Lipton and Ben Edwards (in that order).  Ann is quoted (after a mention and quotation of one of her recent, more entertaining tweets) on the Delaware judicial aspects of the case.  Ben is quoted on the Nevada corporate law piece.  So great to see these two offering their legal wisdom on this interesting claim.

Ann's tweet (perhaps predictably) offers a different "take" on Nevada law than Ben's press statements.

Ann: “I tell my students, Nevada is where you incorporate if you want to do frauds . . . .” 

Ben: “The folks here are people acting in good faith, trying to do what’s right – not cynically racing to the bottom . . . .”

And then Ben gets the last word: “Nevada . . . has become a home for billionaires leaving Delaware in a huff.”

Beautiful.

April 24, 2023 in Ann Lipton, Business Associations, Corporate Governance, Current Affairs, Delaware, Joan Heminway, Litigation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 27, 2023

Stetson Law Symposium: Elon Musk and the Law

Last Friday, I had the privilege of speaking, with other colleagues, at the 2023 Stetson Law Review Symposium on "Elon Musk and the Law."  (See the flyer on the program, below.)  This symposium grew out of a discussion group I organized at the 2022 Southeastern Association of Law Schools Conference.  I posted about it here back in May of last year.

I could not have been happier with the way the symposium worked out.  The Stetson Law students, faculty, and administration were well organized, kind, and fun--a total pleasure to work with.  And I got excellent questions and feedback on my early draft paper, Representing Elon Musk, which focuses attention on the lawyer-client relationship under the American Bar Association's Model Rules of Professional Conduct.  I look forward to seeing the final published proceedings in two forthcoming books of the Stetson Law Review.

*               *               *

Stetson2023(flyer)

March 27, 2023 in Conferences, Current Affairs, Ethics, Joan Heminway, Law Reviews, Research/Scholarhip, Writing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 17, 2023

Wake Forest Law - ESG and Blockchain

I am honored to be speaking later today on ESG, blockchains, and corporate governance at this symposium at Wake Forest University School of Law.  This practitioner-centered symposium promises to offer significant information useful to my teaching and scholarship.  My fellow speakers hail from law firms and other organizations across the United States.  I am excited to share and learn!

WakeForest2023(Flyer)

March 17, 2023 in Conferences, Corporate Governance, Current Affairs, Joan Heminway | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, March 5, 2023

"Keeping Your Own Counsel" - Walter Effross

Friend-of-the-BLPB Walter Effross recently informed me of his blog, Keeping Your Own Counsel (subtitled “Simple Strategies and Secrets for Success in Law School”). The blog is a companion piece to Walter's new book designed for pre-law and law students, also entitled Keeping Your Own Counsel. Walter let me know that one can check out the book’s table of contents, preface, and first two chapters through Amazon’s “Look inside” feature and that a summary of six of the book's themes is in his most recent blog post.

He also noted that his February 25th blog post provides links to his conversations with leading in-house and outside counsel about the definition and goals of, career opportunities in, and ways to remain current on, the increasingly relevant practice of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) law.  He specifically recommends one of those conversations--the one with Fox Rothschild LLP partner David Colvin--even to law students who are not specifically interested in ESG because it addresses practical ethical issues.  He indicated (and I agree) that the overall post may be of particular interest to our readers.  So many of us are focused on ESG and related regulation in our work at the moment . . . .

I send congratulations to Walter on the blog and the book, along with gratitude that he alerted us to both.

March 5, 2023 in Books, Current Affairs, Joan Heminway, Law School, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Lawyers, Law Students, and Mental Health

Warning: this post addresses suicide.

I was supposed to post yesterday about a different topic but I'm posting today and not next week because someone needs to read this today.

Maybe it's you. Maybe it's your "strong" friend or colleague.

I found out yesterday that I lost a former student to suicide. She lit up every room she walked into and inspired me, her classmates, and everyone she met. I had no idea she was living in such darkness. Lawyers, law students, compliance professionals, and others in high stress roles are conditioned to be on top of everything. We are the strong ones that clients and colleagues rely on. We worry so much about the stigma of not being completely in control at all times, that we don't get help. We worry that clients won't trust us with sensitive or important matters. We worry that we won't pass the character and fitness assessments to get admitted to the bar. 

The CDC released a report this week showing an alarming rise in depression, suicidal thoughts, and anxiety among our youth. The report noted that:

  • Female students and LGBQ+ students are experiencing alarming rates of violence, poor mental health, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
  • The rates of experiencing bullying, sexual violence, poor mental health, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors indicate a need for urgent intervention.

According to nami.org, one of the most respected organizations on the mental health:

1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year
1 in 20 U.S. adults experience serious mental illness each year
1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year
50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24
Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10-14 

Those statistics don't surprise me. I have a family member who lost his first friend to suicide at age 12 and has lost almost ten others in the past ten years to suicide or overdoses. I have other family members who have been hospitalized repeatedly for mental health crises and others who refused to get help and were homeless. When people ask my why I care so much about my students and coaching clients, this is why. It's personal for me.

It's why I got mental health first aid certified when the University of Miami offered the training to staff and professors and why I'm often the only lawyer in the room at conferences and trainings with social workers, neuroscientists, and therapists who are getting their certifications. I stay in my lane, of course. But I want to understand more and I want to do my part to help change the profession because lawyers are in the top 10 for rates of suicide. We have disproportionately higher rates of depression, anxiety, and substance use disorders. Although I've been a happy lawyer for over thirty years, I know I'm a unicorn.

So here are some resources. This list could be pages long so I've compiled links that also refer to other resources:

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

American Bar Association Mental Health Resources

Mental Health First Aid Training (I highly recommend this training and have completed it myself through my law school)

National Alliance on Mental Illness Resource Directory

Institute for Well Being in Law

Lawyer Assistance Programs by State

ABA Substance Use and Mental Health Toolkit for Law School Students and Those Who Care About Them

If you are a parent, especially of young children, get educated as soon as you can so that you can spot the signs early and support your children so they don't end up in these statistics. Ask your school administrators if they are familiar with the CDC's What Works in Schools Program.  Tell your school board and elected officials that mental health is a priority and vote for candidates who understand this as the public health crisis that it is. Sit down with your kids and watch The Social Dilemma. It may not change their addiction to social media, but it will help you understand why this generation is suffering so much that school districts have filed suit about the mental health impacts.

If you're a law student, check out the resources above. Don't get your health advice from TikTok or Instagram unless it's from a trained professional  (although I did do a TikTok video telling people to get help).

If you're a law professor, do you know where to send your students if they come to you seeking help? I have the cell phone number of our Dean of Students and I know I can reach out to her at any time if I'm worried about a student. I also share my family's story with my students so they feel safe asking for my guidance. I don't act as their therapist, but it's my job to prepare the students for the difficulties of the profession, and not just how to redline a document or argue a motion. 

If you're a law firm partner, consider investing in real training for your lawyers and your staff.  Don't just bring in someone to talk about mindfulness or diversity, equity, and inclusion once a year so you can check that box off. Invest in long-term, consistent, evidence-based training and coaching for your staff and lawyers at all levels (yes, managing partners too). Look at and reconfigure your billable hours requirements and layoff plans. Are they realistic? Are they really necessary? If you're comfortable, share your personal story of dealing with mental health challenges with your associates so they know you're human and have some empathy even as you have them billing over 2000 hours to get a bonus. 

If you're a general counsel, ask your firms about what they do to protect and preserve mental health, just like you ask about DEI initiatives. 

This is resource list is clearly just a start. What resources or tips do you have for those who are struggling in the profession? What will you today? If you do nothing else, share this message with others. It could be a matter of life or death for someone you know. 

February 18, 2023 in Current Affairs, Family, Law Firms, Law School, Lawyering, Marcia Narine Weldon, Teaching, Wellness | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 3, 2023

Are People in the Tech Industry the Most Powerful People in the World? Part One

My mind is still reeling from my trip to Lisbon last week to keynote at the Building The Future tech conference sponsored by Microsoft.

My premise was that those in the tech industry are arguably the most powerful people in the world and with great power comes great responsibility and a duty to protect human rights (which is not the global state of the law).

I challenged the audience to consider the financial price of implementing human rights by design and the societal cost of doing business as usual.

In 20 minutes, I covered  AI bias and new EU regulations; the benefits and dangers of ChatGPT; the surveillance economy; the UNGPs and UN Global Compact; a new suit by Seattle’s school board against social media companies alleging harmful mental health impacts on students; potential corporate complicity with rogue governments; the upcoming Supreme Court case on Section 230 and content moderator responsibility for “radicalizing” users; and made recommendations for the governmental, business, civil society, and consumer members in the audience.

Thank goodness I talk quickly.

Here are some non-substantive observations and lessons. In a future post, I'll go in more depth about my substantive remarks. 

1. Your network is critical. Claire Bright, a business and human rights rock star, recommended me based on a guest lecture I did for her class. My law students are in for a treat when she speaks with them about the EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (that she helped draft) next month.

2. Your social media profile is important. Organizers looked at videos that had nothing to do with this topic to see how I present on a stage. People are always watching.

3. Sometimes you can’t fake it until you make it. This is one of the few times where I didn’t know more than my audience about parts of my presentation. I prepared so that I could properly respect my audience’s expertise. For example, I watched 10 hours of video on a tech issue to prepare one slide just in case someone asked a question during the networking sessions.

4. Speak your truth. Going to a tech conference to tell tech people about their role in human rights and then going to a corporate headquarters to do the same isn’t easy, but it’s necessary and I had no filter or restrictions. I didn't hold back talking about Microsoft-backed ChatGPT even though they invited me to Lisbon for the conference. It was an honor to speak to Microsoft employees the day after the conference with Claire, Luis Amado, former head of B Lab Europe, and Susana Guedes to discuss sustainability, ESG, diversity, and incentivizing companies and employees to do the right thing, even when it's not popular.

5. Explore and leave the hotel even when you’re tired. I was feeling run down last Friday night and wanted to stay in bed with some room service. Manuela Doutel Haghighi (one of my new favorite people) organized a dinner at an Iranian restaurant owned by a former lawyer with 6 badass women, and I now have new colleagues and collaborators.

Stay tuned for my next post where I'll cover some of my remarks.

 

 

February 3, 2023 in Compliance, Conferences, Corporate Governance, Corporate Personality, Corporations, CSR, Current Affairs, Ethics, Human Rights, International Business, Lawyering, Marcia Narine Weldon | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 16, 2023

MLK and ESG

I have given several talks on ESG (environmental, social, and governance) matters in the past few months.  And, of course, it is a subject discussed in the classroom.  As we celebrate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. today (and this week), I could not help but feel that his work provided a foundation for—somehow embraced—current ESG discussions and actions.  So, I went poking around on the Internet.

I guess I am not the only one who noticed this connection.

On the environmental part of ESG, Los Padres ForestWatch offers that:

Dr. King’s actions and teachings led to many important acts being passed in congress including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. It’s through this work that Dr. King created a movement that was meant for us to understand how we are mutually tied together and that all life is interrelated. It’s this structure of thinking that has led many to believe that his work was the early structure for the Environmental Justice Movement. We see after Dr. King’s passing that environmentalists were able to pass the Clean Air Act of 1970, the Clean Water Act of 1972 and the Endangered Species Act. All of which that had a direct effect on communities of color which are often marginalized and impacted heavily by climate change.

Yet, Dr. King's social issue impacts—including especially the social justice effects of his work—are far more central to communities and corporations.  Jeff Hilimire notes in a piece published on the Hands on Atlanta's website, that "[a]fter fighting for human rights for all Americans, Dr. King began to focus on employment and corporations as the next evolution of equality. He believed that companies have a responsibility to be forces of good in the world, and that their influence could make powerful change."  Finally, Natalie Runyon at Thomson Reuters Institute hints at governance accountability when she notes in an online article that, while Dr. King would view current ESG efforts favorably, "Dr. King . . . stated that words are not enough—action must follow, with measurement to demonstrate progress."

I will be giving Dr. King's connection to ESG more thought this week as we celebrate his legacy. But regardless of Dr. King's level of responsibility for ESG, his work resonates for me in ESG discussions and debates.

January 16, 2023 in Corporate Governance, Current Affairs, Joan Heminway | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Can The Next Generation of Lawyers Save the World?

An ambitious question, yes, but it was the title of the presentation I gave at the Society for Socio-Economists Annual Meeting, which closed yesterday. Thanks to Stefan Padfield for inviting me.

In addition to teaching Business Associations to 1Ls this semester and running our Transactional Skills program, I'm also teaching Business and Human Rights. I had originally planned the class for 25 students, but now have 60 students enrolled, which is a testament to the interest in the topic. My pre-course surveys show that the students fall into two distinct camps. Most are interested in corporate law but didn't know even know there was a connection to human rights. The minority are human rights die hards who haven't even taken business associations (and may only learn about it for bar prep), but are curious about the combination of the two topics. I fell in love with this relatively new legal  field twelve years ago and it's my mission to ensure that future transactional lawyers have some exposure to it.

It's not just a feel-good way of looking at the world. Whether you love or hate ESG, business and human rights shows up in every factor and many firms have built practice areas around it. Just last week, the EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive came into force. Like it or not, business lawyers must know something about human rights if they deal with any company that has or is part of a supply or value chain or has disclosure requirements. 

At the beginning of the semester, we discuss the role of the corporation in society. In many classes, we conduct simulations where students serve as board members, government officials, institutional investors, NGO leaders, consumers, and others who may or may not believe that the role of business is business. Every year, I also require the class to examine the top 10 business and human rights topics as determined by the Institute of Human Rights and Business (IHRB). In 2022, the top issues focused on climate change:

  1. State Leadership-Placing people at the center of government strategies in confronting the climate crisis
  2. Accountable Finance- Scaling up efforts to hold financial actors to their human rights and environmental responsibilities
  3. Dissenting Voices- Ensuring developmental and environmental priorities do not silence land rights defenders and other critical voices
  4. Critical Commodities- Addressing human rights risks in mining to meet clean energy needs
  5. Purchasing Power- Using the leverage of renewable energy buyers to accelerate a just transition
  6. Responsible Exits- Constructing rights-based approaches to buildings and infrastructure mitigation and resilience
  7. Green Building- Building and construction industries must mitigate impacts while avoiding corruption, reducing inequality, preventing harm to communities, and providing economic opportunities
  8. Agricultural Transitions- Decarbonising the agriculture sector is critical to maintaining a path toward limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees
  9. Transforming Transport- The transport sector, including passenger and freight activity, remains largely carbon-based and currently accounts for approximately 23% total energy-related CO2 global greenhouse gas emissions
  10. Circular Economy- Ensure “green economy” is creating sustainable jobs and protecting workers

The 2023 list departs from the traditional type of list and looks at the people who influence the decisionmakers in business. That's the basis of the title of this post and yesterday's presentation. The 2023 Top Ten are:

  1. Strategic Enablers- Scrutinizing the role of management consultants in business decisions that harm communities and wider society. Many of our students work outside of the law as consultants or will work alongside consultants. With economic headwinds and recessionary fears dominating the headlines, companies and law firms are in full layoff season. What factors should advisors consider beyond financial ones, especially if the work force consists of primarily lower-paid, low-skilled labor, who may not be able to find new employment quickly? Or should financial considerations prevail?
  2. Capital Providers- Holding investors to account for adverse impacts on people- More than 220 investors collectively representing US$30 trillion in assets under management  have signed a public statement acknowledging the importance of human rights impacts in investment and global prosperity. Many financial firms also abide by the Equator Principles, a benchmark that helps those involved in project finance to determine environmental and social impacts from financing. Our students will serve as counsel to banks,  financial firms, private equity, and venture capitalists. Many financial institutions traditionally focus on shareholder maximization but this could be an important step in changing that narrative. 
  3. Legal Advisors- Establishing norms and responsible performance standards for lawyers and others who advise companies. ABA Model Rule 2.1 guides lawyers to have candid conversations that "may refer not only to law but to other considerations such as moral, economic, social and political factors, that may be relevant to the client's situation." Business and human rights falls squarely in that category. Additionally, the ABA endorsed the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights ten years ago and released model supply chain contractual clauses related to human rights in 2021. Last Fall, the International Bar Association's Annual Meeting had a whole track directed to business and human rights issues. Our students advise on sanctions, bribery, money laundering, labor relations, and a host of other issues that directly impact human rights. I'm glad to see this item on the Top 10 list. 
  4. Risk Evaluators- Reforming the role of credit rating agencies and those who determine investment worthiness of states and companies. Our students may have heard of S&P, Moody's, & Fitch but may not know of the role those entities played in the 2008 financial crisis and the role they play now when looking at sovereign debt.  If the analysis from those entities  are flawed or laden with conflicts of interest or lack of accountability, those ratings can indirectly impact the government's ability to provide goods and services for the most vulnerable citizens.
  5. Systems Builders- Embedding human rights considerations in all stages of computer technology. If our students work in house or for governments, how can they advise tech companies working with AI, surveillance, social media, search engines and the spread of (mis)nformation? What ethical responsibilities do tech companies have and how can lawyers help them wrestle with these difficult issues?
  6. City Shapers-  Strengthening accountability and transformation in real estate finance and construction. Real estate constitutes 60% of global assets. Our students need to learn about green finance, infrastructure spending, and affordable housing and to speak up when there could be human rights impacts in the projects they are advising on. 
  7. Public Persuaders- Upholding standards so that advertising and PR companies do not undermine human rights. There are several legal issues related to advertising and marketing. Our students can also play a role in advising companies, in accordance with ethical rule 2.1, about persuaders presenting human rights issues and portraying controversial topics related to gender, race, indigenous peoples, climate change in a respectful and honest manner. 
  8. Corporate Givers- Aligning philanthropic priorities with international standards and the realities of the most vulnerable. Many large philanthropists look at charitable giving as investments (which they are) and as a way to tackle intractable social problems. Our students can add a human rights perspective as advisors, counsel, and board members to ensure that organizations give to lesser known organizations that help some of the forgotten members of society. Additionally, Michael Porter and Mark Kramer note that a shared-value approach, "generat[es] economic value in a way that also produces value for society by addressing its challenges. A shared value approach reconnects company success with social progress. Firms can do this in three distinct ways: by reconceiving products and markets, redefining productivity in the value chain, and building supportive industry clusters at the company's locations." Lawyers can and should play a role in this. 
  9. Business Educators- Mainstreaming human rights due diligence into management, legal, and other areas of academic training. Our readers teaching in business and law schools and focusing on ESG can discuss business and human rights under any of the ESG factors. If you don't know where to start, the ILO has begun signing MOUs with business schools around the world to increase the inclusion of labor rights in business school curricula. If you're worried that it's too touchy feely to discuss or that these topics put you in the middle of the ESG/anti-woke debate, remember that many of these issues relate directly to enterprise risk management- a more palatable topic for most business and legal leaders. 
  10. Information Disseminators- Ensuring that journalists, media, and social media uphold truth and public interest. A couple of years ago, "fake news" was on the Top 10 and with all that's going on in the world with lack of trust in the media and political institutions, lawyers can play a role in representing reporters and media outlets. Similarly, lawyers can explain the news objectively and help serve as fact checkers when appearing in news outlets.

If you've made it to the end of this post, you're either nodding in agreement or shaking your head violently in disagreement. I expect many of my students will feel the same, and I encourage that disagreement. But it's my job to expose students to these issues. As they learn about ESG from me and the press, it's critical that they disagree armed with information from all sides.

So can the next generation of lawyers save the world? Absolutely yes, if they choose to. 

January 14, 2023 in Business Associations, Business School, Compliance, Conferences, Consulting, Contracts, Corporate Finance, Corporate Governance, Corporate Personality, Corporations, CSR, Current Affairs, Ethics, Financial Markets, Human Rights, International Business, International Law, Law Firms, Law School, Lawyering, Management, Marcia Narine Weldon, Private Equity, Shareholders, Stefan J. Padfield, Teaching, Technology, Venture Capital | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 23, 2022

Give Yourself the Gift of Understanding Contract Drafting and Negotiation In Miami or Virtually February 2023

It's the holidays and it's time to treat yourself and members of your team to practical training and fantastic networking in sunny Miami in February. We don't have bomb cyclones down here. The Transactional Skills Program at the University of Miami School of Law couldn't be more excited to host the How to Contract Conference from February 15-17, 2023. 

Thumbnail_ContractsCon Flyer - 1 page (12-23-2022)

  • ContractsCon is a training and networking EXTRAVAGANZA focused on the practical contract drafting and negotiating skills that in-house counsel and contracts professionals need to know. 
  • This event is a zero-fluff, to-the-point training on the nitty-gritty details. ContractsCon includes:
    • speakers who get the in-house experience and can explain why we draft the way we do
    • training centered around provision-level playbooks for you and your company to use when you return to work
    • workshops that provide a deeper dive into more nuanced topics and include interactive group activities
    • ContractsCon Playbook, featuring the advice and drafting approaches discussed at ContractsCon
    • access to How to Contract’s SaaS Contracts Training Library, with 20+ hours of training videos, the Cloud Services Agreement Playbook, and lots more (through March 31, 2023)
    • CLE pending in 26 states for up to 7 hours for virtual ticket holders and up to 13 hours for in-person attendees
  • ContractsCon is an annual training and networking event for in-house counsel and  contract professionals presented by How to Contract and Law Insider and hosted by University of Miami School of Law. This 2-day event will feature over 20 live training sessions with some of the most well-known contract experts.
  • Our promise is to share with you the core skills and expertise you need to work in-house on commercial contracts. All you have to do is show up ready to learn.
  • ContractsCon is designed for in-house lawyers and professionals who want to learn:
    • the insights and techniques needed to handle the commercial contracts filling their inbox every day,
    • how experienced lawyers manage risk, work efficiently, and make the hard decisions in challenging circumstances,
    • WHAT to say, WHY to say it that way, and HOW to reach the best-negotiated deal you can with your contract counterparties.
  • Give us two days of your time and you'll walk away with enhanced skills that enable you to better protect your company and clients. You'll gain more confidence.  You'll finally leave those "I don't know" and "I'm not sure" frustrations behind you. You'll also be able to network with other lawyers and professionals who share your desire to improve your skills and overcome any traces of imposter syndrome. 

Click here to get your ticket. And I'll see you in Miami, mojito in hand (after I do my session, of course).

December 23, 2022 in Conferences, Contracts, Corporations, Current Affairs, Law Firms, Law School, Lawyering, Marcia Narine Weldon, Negotiation | Permalink | Comments (0)