I wrote this post in the middle of January. Some unlucky mishandling resulted in it being published just now. Part of my blog was trying to make good fun of colleagues in the industry who were getting close to releasing a product announced as imminent over a year ago. But their product was finally rolled out… before my post. I will have to remember this the next time I think about mocking colleagues.
What remains true is the cold over Montreal. At least that part of my post remains accurate. The picture attached shows how lucky we are in Quebec. While the whole world suffers from global warming, here in Quebec we can still enjoy a good old days’ polar winter. Actually, as you can see it is even getting better than in the past, it is some sort of garden of Eden for winter lovers.
Let’s continue now with the January post and let’s hope that my other predictions will not be struck by the same fate as that post.
Daniel Poulin, February 20th 2015
As I am writing this post, we are still in January. It’s cold as all get-out in Montreal and the partying, if over, is still close behind. Laziness brings me to the usual January topic: musing about what is in store for the New Year?
My first prediction is that the new SOQUIJ portal will be launched this year (see the press release here), so let’s be on the lookout for that. In the same spirit, I can announce that my own company, Lexum, has started messing around with improving the way people research the law in Canada. We will see by year’s end if it will be Lexum’s turn to be the butt of a similar long struggle to get any useful results. Together, these elements bring about a lot of expectations for the next twelve months and will remind you of 2005, the year that Butterworth introduced the all-new 5-hole loose-leaf format at the CALL-ACBD Conference in Saint-John’s. But let’s not get distracted by past major events, this post is about the future…So, what of importance could happen in our field this year?
On the policy side, one may wonder if the “Open Data” policies, and more specifically open legal data policies, will survive, thrive or die. It is difficult to say. On the one hand, open data is good for the economy and economic development is good. However, on the other hand, with the oil prices and government revenues in free fall, will governments remain interested by investing to improve access to data? One may wonder. Still on policy matters, could 2015 be the year when the Canadian Judiciary revisits the issue of courts’ role in minimizing the personal information found in judgments and, when required, in providing redacted documents? Over the last ten years, British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec courts have been at the forefront of ensuring the openness of court proceedings by providing for distribution documents proper to be circulated.
What changes can we anticipate in legal technologies this year? If you want to show off as a techie in Costco’s aisles or around the court house, don’t look for glasses in the Google Store, you will have to continue one more year with your Bluetooth ear set. In the past, I used to visit Court Technology Conferences. Year after year, one of the hottest items was the Dragon software promising to replace your Honor’s two-finger keyboard hammering by a more elegant dictating. This device at least taught us Québécois to better articulate. From what I hear, Dragon was less successful in English Canada. Despite its unequal performance in improving legal officers’ pronunciation, Dragon was a clear business success. This year, Nuance will be introducing Dragon 13! And new speaking corrective devices have been brought to the market; SIRI can also contribute to improve your dictation ability. However, be careful for what you ask.
What changes in accessible legal content? Last year, CanLII’s “CanLII*Connects” initiative drew a lot of well-earned attention, what will it be this year? My guess is that in 2015 we will see the depth of CanLII, its historical scope, passing the threshold from being fine for current stuff to being enough for usual legal research (except in a small set of cases where a comprehensive historical research is in order). This qualitative change comes out of 15 years of cumulative investments made towards CanLII by various Canadian Law Societies. Moreover, in recent years, several of these societies have led their own historical extension projects to the scope of the case law for their province, bringing this scope far beyond 2000. The aggregate effect of these initiatives is also now clearly showing. CanLII now offers over 200,000 decisions anterior to its inception (in 2000).
Changes in services in 2015? E-filing? Let’s face it, today, if you are living in Canada, a query for the term “e-filing” on Google will get you the Canada Revenue Agency website as your first, your second and your third result. Actually, the “Federal Court Electronic Filing System” stands alone in the middle of a full page of e-filing information about the Revenue Agency (under the catchy domain name “cas-ncr-nter03.cas-satj.gc.ca”, probably chosen to confuse the North Korean secret services). Some of the older SLAW readers may remember my paper presented in Lyon in 1995 about the soon to be generalized e-filing in courts (as Scripture says “No prophet is welcome in his hometown”). More seriously, could it be that we will get through 2015 without seeing more generalized progress in the way lawyers transact with courts? I can hardly believe so, so let’s assume that we will see much progress in this field in the next month.
January 2015, Daniel Poulin