User rating and review systems are a staple of today’s modern economy. Ratings on Airbnb affect whether a listing attracts travelers; ratings on Uber affect whether a driver can continue to taxi passengers; ratings on Upwork affect whether freelancers attract clients. Indeed, the fate of many businesses may depend on the online ratings it receives from influential ratings apps like Yelp or TripAdvisor.

Most people rely on these ratings to some extent when making consumption decisions. They reduce what economists call “transaction costs” — costs that are incurred in the course of an exchange. …


Why aren’t there guaranteed contracts in the NFL?

…I actually don’t know — it doesn’t make tons of sense, for reasons we’ll get into — but I’m also not sure how much it matters. I’ll explain, partly because I don’t want to seem insensitive, but mostly because I think it’s a useful way to think about the relationship between compensation and risk.

First, the problem:

Unlike the NBA and MLB, professional football players are not rewarded with fully guaranteed contracts. In fact, the three-year deal Kirk Cousins received from the Minnesota Vikings back in March [2018]was the first such fully…


America’s getting older. Apparently, this means that automation’s coming quicker.

Here’s the short of it:

In a recent paper, Daron Acemoglu (MIT) and Pascual Restrepo (Boston University) document how changing demographics impact automation. After crunching the data, the pair concluded that aging populations are associated with faster automation. Specifically, the authors make the following findings:

[D]emographic change — measured by an increase in the ratio of older to middle-aged workers — is associated with greater adoption of robots and other automation technologies across countries and with more robotics-related activities across US commuting zones. …


In 2015, I took a deep-dive into natural gas markets. I recently rediscovered my research & report. Here’s a slightly retouched (but still dated) version, published in hopes that it condenses a lot of learning into a short-ish read.

Over the past few decades, rising global energy demands and oil prices, a renewed desire for resource diversification and independence, and an increased sensitivity to environmental concerns, have stimulated investment in alternative sources of energy. This climate facilitated the development of techniques like hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. Such innovations have drastically improved the economics of harnessing energy from formerly unconventional…


Almost 2 billion files containing US citizens’ personal data were reported leaked in 2017.[1] And yet, despite data breaches’ frequency, courts have struggled to reach consensus on whether their occurrence give victims standing to sue.

Modern-day confusion traces back to Article III of the Constitution, delimiting federal judicial power to “cases” and “controversies.” To have standing to sue, the Supreme Court set out three requirements: the plaintiff must have “(1) suffered an injury in fact (2) that is fairly traceable to the challenged conduct of the defendant and (3) that is likely to be redressed by a favorable judicial decision.”[2]


Smart contracts are widely hailed as one of the most transformative applications of the blockchain technology. Many of its proponents have touted its potential to reduce legal work, and even eliminate the need for contract litigation altogether.

So just what are these things?

Smart contracts are computer protocols meant to digitally facilitate, verify, or enforce the execution of contracts. Smart contracts can self-execute when certain conditions are met, seamlessly enforcing contractual obligations without the added expense of a middleman. Though the idea of smart contracts preceded the blockchain, the blockchain is thought to add value by making these contracts immutable…


This is a reprint of my comment on occupational licensing, initially published in Berkeley Technology Law Journal — the top-rated and most-cited Technology Law Journal in the country.

The Supreme Court’s 1889 decision in Dent v. West Virginia, concluding a state may adopt a physician licensing scheme to protect public health and safety, introduced government gatekeeping to a narrow set of occupations via licensing requirements.[1] This power was exercised only moderately in the past, as less than five percent of American jobs demanded a license in the 1950s.


It’s a strange thought, to sue someone for permitting you to be born.

But it’s a thing.

In law, a “wrongful life” action describes a lawsuit filed by a plaintiff against a defendant for their role in having brought them into this world. Typically, this action is brought by a severely disabled person against a doctor or hospital for failing to prevent their birth.

The argument goes like this: (1) the doctor negligently failed to inform the child’s parents about their then-unborn child’s disability/genetic predisposition; (2) had the parents known of the child’s disability/genetic predisposition, the parents would have either…


85 percent.

That’s how many court cases some estimate are won or lost upon selecting the jury, before trial even begins. I know what you’re thinking: that sounds high. I think so, too. But even if the reality is half that estimate, its implications are startling: regardless of the arguments presented at trial, a large proportion of jury members’ verdicts can be predicted before they set foot in the courtroom.

Justice, then, depends in no small part on the jury selection process. In the U.S., lawyers select jury members. If either lawyer has reason to think a juror is prejudiced…

Daniel Chase

Berkeley Law. Interested in all things law, tech & finance. All opinions are mine, all typos are someone else's.

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