Link Round-Up: June 2, 2017

‘Link Round-Up’ gives you a glimpse into the articles that got the most airtime around the Loom Analytics water cooler this week. Published every Friday, article topics include access to justice, big data, legal technology, and what’s happening in the Canadian legal landscape.

  • Of course, the big story this week is yesterday’s announcement that the United States will be withdrawing from the Paris climate accord, to the dismay of many around the world. NPR has republished a December 2015 article entitled ‘So What Exactly Is In The Paris Climate Accord?’ to provide more context. CBA National’s Yves Faguy discusses the legal ramifications of Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement here. He argues that despite the President’s claims to the contrary, remaining in the Paris Climate Accord doesn’t expose the United States to “massive legal liability” — but pulling out of it might.
  • If you’ve been following along with the slow dismantling of net neutrality in the United States, you may be interested in this TechCrunch article on the history of the balance of power between the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission and how we got to where we are now.
  • Here in Ontario, the provincial government has announced that they will be moving forward with some of the recommendations contained within the Changing Workplace Review final report by C. Michael Mitchell and John C. Murray, including broadly amending Ontario’s Employment Standards Act. In addition to these changes, a minimum wage hike has been announced, with minimum wage ultimately going up to $15 an hour in January, 2019.  Slaw’s Yosie Saint-Cyr provides an overview of the changes to the Employment Standards Act that will be undertaken.
  • Legal Feeds reports that in 2016, more women general counsel obtained board positions on Canadian public boards than their male counterparts, with 59% of board positions held by GCs in that year going to women, compared to 45% in the year prior. While female GCs have achieved and exceeded gender parity in board representation in 2016, this is not true of lawyers in general, where only 23% of those in board positions are women.
  • Have a legal short story idea that’s just itching to get out? If you’re in the United States and a fast typist, you have until June 7th to submit a short story to the ABA Journal Ross Contest for Short Fiction. Entries must be no more than 5,000 words and ‘illuminate the role of the law and/or lawyers in modern society.’ If five days isn’t enough time to let your genius truly shine, or if, like us, you have a fairly acute case of ‘being Canadian’, your literary hopes aren’t quite dashed yet. Lawyerist’s 4th Annual Short-Fiction Contest is accepting entries up to August 1st, 2017. ‘Entries must be original, previously unpublished works of fiction of no more than 5,000 words that feature a lawyer as a prominent character.’ There seem to be no geographic restrictions in place.

In a paper published in Northwestern University Law Review, Stanford University researcher Bryan Casey deems the trolley problem irrelevant. He argues that it’s already been solved—not by ethicists or engineers, but by the law. The companies building these cars will be “less concerned with esoteric questions of right and wrong than with concrete questions of predictive legal liability,” he writes. Meaning, lawyers and lawmakers will sort things out.

However, Marshall wants us to know that while the discussion of nuanced self-driving car programming is one we’ll continue hear a lot about in the future, at the moment it may be somewhat of a moot point.

At the moment, robocars cannot discern a child from a senior citizen, or a group of two people from three people–which makes something like the trolley problem highly theoretical.