I teach a Directed Readings in Law Reform course at Osgoode Hall Law School. The assignment (not my creation, but used the first year the course was taught and I thought it a good idea) is to develop a law reform proposal, ostensibly to the Law Commission of Ontario. Thus the students are to use the LCO’s mandate and take into account its values and principles and approaches to the analysis of law reform projects. Although the LCO’s mandate explicitly includes the consideration of technology to increase access to justice, none of the students — who are “regular” age law students — have proposed a “technology” project per se.
Only one student referred to “technology” at all and that, keeping in mind John G’s post on whether a law on cyberbullying is needed, was in a paper on whether there should be an explicit law against workplace bullying; the student pointed to cyberbullying in the workplace as something to be addressed in the LCO’s study.
The other proposals are all good proposals, topics worth addressing, but none of the students advanced a proposal about how access to justice can be increased through technology or, more specifically, how new technologies can be used to make law more effective, relevant or accessible or to clarify or simplify the law. Perhaps this is because our course was more or less devoid of any serious discussion about technology (or of any frivolous discussion for that matter), or because none of the LCO’s current projects or reports say much about the use of technology; even so, I only now belatedly realize that this just wasn’t at the forefront of these young people’s thinking about improving the law. And that surprises me.