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Archive for the ‘Legal Technology’ Columns

eLitigation – Training Future Litigators for the Profession They Will Join

In March 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic changed our legal world the way no one could have imagined. Our courthouse went from a beehive of litigation activities to a silent graveyard. Practice directives containing emergency measures were issued and activated to deal with the change. Our civil litigation system that historically relied on an in-person process to undertake almost every task – from the filling and service of litigation documents to routine chambers applications and trials – suddenly moved to the online world built on technologies.

The legal profession was forced to adopt technologies to address administration and litigation needs at . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education, Legal Technology

Artificial Intelligence, Algorithmic Racism and the Canadian Criminal Justice System

Recidivism risk assessment is the process of determining the likelihood that an accused, convicted, or incarcerated persons will reoffend. The process is aimed at assisting in the determination of the appropriate limitation on the freedom of the subject. With innovation in technology especially in the area of artificial intelligence (AI), recidivism risk assessment tools built on AI technology are now well-developed and used in the criminal justice system. Algorithmic tools are increasingly being used in the Canadian criminal justice system in pre-trial, sentencing, and post-sentencing phases in predicting the future criminal behaviour of accused, convicted, or incarcerated persons. The increasing . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

What Kind of Fool Am I (That Doesn’t Use MFA)?

Those of you of a certain age will remember the song “What Kind of Fool Am I?” That song was about love, but for Pete’s sake, why is it that some lawyers keep insisting that they won’t use MFA (multi-factor authentication)?

Thanks to our good friend Ben Schorr (who works at Microsoft) for sending us an August 7 Microsoft update on why multi-factor authentication is so critical. It is short, sweet and should be read by anyone who has resisted multi-factor authentication (and there’s a lot of you!).

From the post:

When you sign into your online accounts –

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Technology

Smart Contracts at the World Bank

The concept of smart contracts has been around since the 1990s. The basic idea is that contracting parties would reflect some part of their obligations in computer code. This code would be able to recognize (or be told) when conditions for action had been met, or not, and then perform the obligations (execute the contract) or impose penalties for failure to meet the conditions.

This seemed to promise significant reduction in transaction costs, notably of monitoring to see if conditions were satisfied and of execution of the obligations. (Other transaction costs of business, like finding potential deals and negotiating their . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Digitizing Law


One of the first instances of recorded law we are aware of is the Code of Hammurabi. It was literally etched in stone. If you read about it, what strikes you is how little has changed about how we record laws in roughly 3700 years. We learned to put laws on parchment. Then paper. Then typesetting, and photocopying. Eventually, we began to digitize images of the pieces of paper on which the law was written. But all of these were just different ways of recording the etchings in the stone so people could use them.

While significant progress has . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

On Legal Ethics and Artificial Intelligence

There continues to be extensive discussion about artificial intelligence and law, and concerns are regularly raised about the ethical and moral issues this presents, so I was happy when Marcelo Rodríguez invited me to be on a panel at the American Association of Law Libraries Conference on “Legal Ethics in the Use of Artificial Intelligence” with Kristin Johnson, Steven Lastres, and with Kim Nayyer moderating this year. Here’s the session description:

There is a pressing need for both innovators creating the datasets as well as users such as law librarians and attorneys to be aware of the ethical implications of . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Technology

Ten Cybersecurity Lessons Learned About Working From Home

The year 2020 will be remembered as the year that lawyers were catapulted into the future. As a result of COVID-19, the majority of law firms suddenly found themselves thrust into a work-from-home (WFH) environment. Some were prepared for working remotely, but many were not. We’ve helped a lot of lawyers transition to a different working environment by providing training and implementing new technologies in their practice. Along the way, we’ve learned some things about how lawyers have responded to the pandemic. Here are ten cybersecurity lessons we’ve learned about WFH.

  1. Home networks are 3.5 times more likely to have
. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Technology

Ten Years of Technology Columns

My most recent column for Slaw.ca, Mutual Recognition of Methods of Authentication, completed ten full years of bimonthly columns here on any technology topic I chose to write about. This time I will dip into some of the highlights to see if there has been any progress, theoretical, practical or personal, on them. I have also published numerous occasional pieces here over that period and before, usually also on technology.

Technology

My first column, in 2010, was on Robot Law. Some of the concerns discussed there – such as the capacity of robots to have an autonomous legal . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

What I Learned About Innovation From Learning How to Code

I recently completed Harvard’s CS50: Introduction to Computer Science, offered online though edX. Given my role as a Legal Tech and Innovation Specialist, I work with a lot of technology. Gaining a deeper understanding of computer science seemed like an enjoyable side-project. I was partially correct.

(Sample code from one of my projects)

While learning about concepts like data structures, memory, and arrays is incredibly helpful, I was not prepared for how challenging it would be to apply these concepts into workable programs. Things that programmers can do without effort took me hours: iterating across a linked list of . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Double Whammy on Law Firms: COVID-19 and the Troubled Economy

When lawyers turned the calendar page to January 2020, they could not have dreamt of the two-fold nightmare that would descend upon the profession so quickly. A global pandemic and a tanking economy at the same time? We thought we had seen the end of hard times when we finally emerged from The Great Recession in 2009. Some of our lawyer friends still have lines of credit to pay down from that recession.

While government leaders say the economy will “come roaring back” or “I’ll bring the economy back,” most lawyers are skeptical, to say the least.

The New Normal

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Technology

Mutual Recognition of Methods of Authentication

This essay examines an international dimension of trust in electronic commerce: how to give legal recognition in one country to electronic documents from another. Recognition involves attributing legal status to electronic messages exchanged across borders. The usual phrase is “mutual recognition”. Mutual recognition means reciprocal recognition: A recognizes B’s e-documents because B recognizes A’s.

It is not logically necessary for cross-border recognition to be mutual. A could recognize B’s reliability standards and thus give effect to its documents even if B does not return the favour. However, in practice it is likely that a country that accepts another country’s standards . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Word Wizardry for Lawyers

I spend a lot of time in this column talking about the future of legal technology. Today, I’d like to give you something a little more practical, and help you use the technology you already have.

Let me share with you the one thing that I wish every lawyer and law student knew about Microsoft Word: Multilevel lists.

In the toolbar of Microsoft Word you will find Multilevel lists just to the right of bullets and numbered lists.

Click on that button, and a menu appears. You’re going to want to click on “Define New Multilevel List…”

In the screen . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology, Technology: Office Technology