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Archive for the ‘Legal Technology’ Columns

“Verifiable” E-Signatures

The transition from a world of legal documents on paper to one of electronic documents still encounters difficulties after all these years. One of the main ones seems to be the nature of the electronic signature. I recently described the focus on e-signatures as a “fetish” for its ability to distract analysis from the real issues or to create them when none really exist.

Much of the early law that intended to remove legal barriers to electronic commerce required that valid electronic signatures needed to be as reliable as appropriate in the circumstances. This requirement is misguided. It leaves the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

#HackJustice

In his February 3rd, 2017, Slaw article entitled “Build, Baby Build”, Colin Lachance describes his experience of having individuals share with and seek his advice on building some “app/service/tool that could very well make a valuable contribution to public or professional engagement with legal information or the legal system.” Having come from a law and technology background, I have had the same experience. Often times the questions from aspiring legal tech entrepreneurs center on struggling to understand how or where to begin. I have found that this leads some to overthink things and to not get going. I . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

The Future of Law and “Intelligent” Technologies: Prophecies, Technologies and Opportunities – Part 2

In the first part of this blog post, we looked at the current benefits we are enjoying from technologies resulting from AI research. We also examined some risks accruing when AI approaches are deployed in legal activities where transparency and justifications are required. In the following lines, we will borrow from a recent study made of the impacts of AI on lawyers employment. We will also try to enumerate potential benefits of AI technologies in our own line of business, legal publishing.

In “Can Robots be Lawyers?” (forthcoming in the Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics, (Spring 2017), currently . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing, Legal Technology

The Future of Law and “Intelligent” Technologies: Prophecies, Technologies and Opportunities – Part 1

Career prophets have been announcing the demise of the legal profession for decades already. According to some, the traditional lawyer will soon follow the way of telephone operators, bank clerks and travel agents. Recently, the prophecies have taken a new turn. While outsourcing, offshoring, legal Taylorism—all previous threats of course remain, we are now being forewarned about a new source of disruption: “intelligent software” in law. Once again, prophets insist that those who are not already into it are laggards, and by now we should all know what will happen to them.

In this post, I address the deployment of . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing, Legal Technology

AI Takes Over Google Translate

You may have missed, during the holidays, the news that Google has replaced the technology underlying its Google Translate tool, going from a “phrase-based” system to neural networks (i.e., AI).

The improved technology was announced in September, but it has only recently been made available in the publicly available Google Translate (and only for the most common language pairings).

Translation of legal information is an important issue in Canada. First, language barriers faced by different groups (Indigenous people, Francophone minorities outside Québec, Anglophones in Québec and immigrants) are a significant component of the access to justice problems.

But . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Build, Baby, Build

“I have a great idea for an app”, said the excited caller at the end of the line.

“With just a couple clicks, your phone can […insert really cool function here…]. It will save so much time and money, and you can just imagine the contribution it will make to improved access to justice!!”

At least weekly, but typically more often than that, people share with me their idea for an app/service/tool that could very well make a valuable contribution to public or professional engagement with legal information or the legal system. I love these discussions.

My prior . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Interview With Knights CEO David Beech: Alternative Business Structures Across the Pond

Recently, author Nelson had the pleasure of interviewing David Beech, the CEO of the professional services firm Knights in the UK. David has led the business, originally a law firm, since 2011. His vision for Knights is to become the leading regional professional services business in the UK.

The interview took place on the Legal Talk Network podcast (The Digital Edge: Lawyers and Technology) with co-host Jim Calloway, available at http://legaltalknetwork.com/podcasts/digital-edge/2017/01/will-alternative-business-structures-u-k-law-firms-cross-pond/.

By way of introducing David, he qualified as a corporate lawyer in 1990 and in the late 90’s turned to law firm management until 2004 when . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

A Modern Associate Manifesto (Beta)

A spectre is haunting law firms — the spectre of #NewLaw.

There are three things every law firm associate hates: long hours, working on weekends, and their boss. Oh, you think your junior does not hate you? Oh, ok.

Here is the low-down on the traditional law firm:

1) Partners who own the firm make money by selling associates’ labour.

2) Partners sell associates’ labour by billing clients by the hour.

3) Partners pay associates’ fixed salaries regardless of overtime (but they do, sometimes, pay bonuses).

4) At least in Ontario, Canada, statutory employment standards with respect to hours, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology, Practice of Law

Peggy’s New Gig

Before Siri and Alexa etc, there was Peggy. Back in the 1990’s, she told users of a pioneering practice management system (PMS) when they had an appointment. I found her most useful when I was distracted on the phone, or otherwise missed a visual reminder on the screen. She just did one task, but did it very well. In an English accent, she simply announced “Sorry to interrupt, but you have an appointment soon”

A more recent woman in my life is Amy Ingram from x.ai. She introduced herself to me about a year ago when I tried to make . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

The 5 Technology Trends Lawyers Should Pay Attention to in 2017 and Beyond

As technology continues to play a larger role in our everyday lives, lawyers should be attuned to issues borne from new advancements, and the legal implications that may arise. However, for many lawyers who do not come from a tech background, simply knowing which of countless technology issues they should familiarize themselves with can seem daunting. To assist you in better knowing where to start, here are the five technology issues all lawyer should be mindful of in 2017 and beyond:

1. Legal Automation

Up until now, law firms had not appeared to seriously take steps to automate legal processes . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

A Card Cannot Be Electronic: R v Albert 2016 NBQB 154

New Brunswick drivers are required by the Motor Vehicle Act to carry with them or in their vehicle a card issued by their insurer in a form approved by the government. A motorist who was asked for the card produced an image of a genuine card on her mobile phone. The New Brunswick Court of Queen’s Bench recently held that the image was not good enough. R v Albert, 2016 NBQB 154.

The Decision

At a first trial before a provincial court judge, the court held that the phone display satisfied the demand to show the “card”.

The Crown . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment, Legal Technology

2011: The Year in Tech

Matt Mullenweg is yet another tech billionaire college dropout. He may be less famous than Mark Zuckerberg, but the blogging platform he founded, WordPress, powers 25% of the web, including Slaw.

In a recent podcast, Mullenweg explained that most of the hot topics in technology that the tech press bombards us with at any given time are too early in their hype cycle, and that a better source of inspiration for tech projects is to look at what technologies were considered hot 5 years ago.

So I went back to 2011 and found a post entitled “2011: The . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology