2021-2022 evident Scholarship Winner
Thank you to all the students who submitted essays and congratulations to Samantha Carolina, law student at the University of the District of Columbia School of Law, for winning our 2021-2022 scholarship! You can find Samantha's winning submission below.
Winning Essay by Samantha Carolina:
In the past five years the legal field had adapted to various legal conundrums such as, telehealth/telemedicine and if practicing medicine via the internet across state lines is illegal, or if voicing an opinion on social media that entices public disruption is protected under the First Amendment’s Free Speech, and if forcing a person to use face recognition to access information is a violation of privacy rights under the Fourth Amendment. The more technology becomes advanced and sets a precedent on how people live their day to day lives, the more attorneys must diversify their approach to legal services. For instance, with an increase in online activity during the recent 2019 Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic attorneys must consider all the virtual possibilities of providing virtual services. I believe the legal field will see an increase in the following areas: (1) Electronic Currency; (2) Driverless Vehicles; and (3) Social Media Entrepreneurs. As we know, technological advances are rapidly increasing the way the entire world lives their life and how business is conducted. I believe within the next five years there will be an increasing need for attorneys to incorporate innovative legal practices that encompass evolving technology and phasing out some past legal service approaches such as, in-person consultations, wet signatures (in some instances), and forms of payment.
Within the last 14 years, the world has been introduced to cryptocurrency making the use of electronic currency secure and private, but also untraceable which can be problematic for tracking illegal activity and from the government’s perspective unclear on how to tax the new currency. Since the start of Bitcoin in 2009, there are currently over 6,000 cryptocurrencies recorded as of January 2021. Since cryptocurrency is virtual money not currently held in standard banks and the transactions are mainly anonymous, there are already dozens of legal questions that come to mind on what happens if cryptocurrency disappears, an individual’s account is hacked, illegal activity occurs while using cryptocurrency, and. Who is held accountable for virtual money and how will attorneys provide the best service for their clients when cryptocurrency is evolving daily?
It is inevitable that cryptocurrency will become increasingly more popular which means there will be a pressing need for attorneys to understand the current process, anticipate future use and processes, and help formulate a set a rules and standards for today’s use of currency and for its future use. Presently, the United States along with other countries are trying to figure out how to regulate the sale and use of cryptocurrency and attorneys must be innovative in their approach to provide legal services that will include evolving changes in the use of digital currency.
The next big wave of technology the world has been waiting on, possibly since the Jetsons cartoon, is driverless vehicles. Depending on a person’s age, people have been hearing talk about flying cars, driverless vehicles, and machines not controlled by humans for dozens of years. Now that this technology is finally among us, who will accept the risk of accidents and other issues that may arise from this type of technology. Going back 15-20 years, when the first “self-checkouts” came on the scene in grocery and retail stores, the thought of taking away customer-service interaction, and human control sparked outrage among many people. Other than the main concern of machine malfunction, the big concern was the number of jobs being taken away from people and being replaced by the machines. Fast forward to driverless vehicles, the main concern isn’t something being taken away, but a privilege being enhanced with the added luxury of having a vehicle chauffeur without having to pay the driver. Currently, the Lexus vehicle has the functionality to self-drive and self- park itself. Also in Houston, TX, Dominos Pizza has tested and delivered its first pizza using Nuro’s R2 robot delivery vehicle. The Nuro R2 robot is “autonomous, no-occupant, on-road delivery vehicle with regulatory approval by the U.S. Transportation Department”. According to Dennis Maloney, senior vice president and chief innovation officer for Ann Arbor, of the Dominos in Michigan he believes non-occupant vehicles, especially in the food delivery world is on the horizon and the way of the future. I think it is imperative that attorneys take an innovate approach to the legal issues that are inevitable to arise with new driverless vehicles such as: car accidents, malfunctions, and other legal issues from technological advances.
Social Media Entrepreneurship
One of the most increasingly popular ways people between the ages of 15 – 40 are starting a business is through social media and online platforms such as: YouTube, Ebay, Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, and even SnapChat. Everyone knows of someone whether personally or virtually who has become an internet sensation overnight or (self-made thousand or millionaire). Many people are finding their success using social media, which often allows for free advertising, marketing, and creating a great source of passive income. In the legal realm, there has already been hundreds of legal cases and opinions on whether owners of the social media platforms can be held liable for business owners who promote and sell products through Facebook, or liable for business owners who have a high number of followers on these various platforms and may influence the actions of their followers. These legal issues have been addressed in many ways, but the more technology evolves the more attorneys must stay ahead of the technological world in determining how to best serve clients when legal issues arise.
Innovative Legal Approaches
One of the first approaches attorneys can take to keep up with technology is to consider accepting cryptocurrency as payment. Currently, cryptocurrency is affordable even for low-income families and many people have more cryptocurrency than standard currency including credit cards. The next approach for attorneys to consider is to perform virtual consultations reducing the costs so more people can have access to quality legal services. The third approach is to possibly establish Nationwide technology legal committee that brainstorms on future laws based on technology that is currently not available to the public. Lastly, another innovative approach to enhance future legal services is to remain current on the latest technology, social media platforms, and legal practices to ensure outdated practices aren’t being used to address issues or technology that is continuously evolving.