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Archive for the ‘Legal Technology’ Columns

Trust No AI? : Updating the Duty of Competence for the Modern Lawyer

The fear of being replaced by “robots” is not unique to our profession. Automation is predicted to impact even highly skilled workers. But the legal profession is well placed to ride the waves of artificially intelligent systems with confidence rather than panic.[1] We should not be concerned about being replaced—it should be our A.I. assistants that should concern us, particularly those marketed as case or litigation prediction tools.

The legal profession should embrace AI tools that improve efficiencies, access to justice and results for our clients. However, we must set thoughtful norms about how new and old lawyers alike . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Videoconferencing Technologies and How It Challenges the Fundamental Tenets of Our Criminal Justice System in Canada

Since the onset of COVID-19 and the requirements for physical distancing, the Canadian court system has been criticized for being archaic, outdated, out of touch with the modern era and too deeply traditional. Most commentators have vigorously pushed for our criminal courts to utilize videoconferencing technologies to deliver justice – arguing that using videoconferencing technology platforms to conduct court business will be more beneficial to Canadians, ease the growing backlog of cases, reduce cost and improve access to justice.

As a result, courts across Canada have increasingly accepted videoconferencing technology as a fair and efficient way to move judicial proceedings . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

New Frontier of Legal Innovation – Regulatory Legal Innovation Sandboxes

2020 saw unprecedented adoption of legal technology and legal innovation, however, one of the more surprising developments are legal regulatory sandboxes, introduced first in the state of Utah in the United States and now in Canada, by the Law Society of British Columbia. The regulatory sandbox model allows for the experimentation of new alternative business models, including non-lawyer ownership and fee sharing, in a controlled environment under the regulator’s supervision.

The Utah Supreme Court two-year pilot of a regulatory sandbox (a regulatory body under the oversight of the Supreme Court to be called the Office of Legal Services Innovation, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

A Taxonomy for Lawyer Technological Competence

Over the past decade, many commentators, myself included, have argued that lawyers should have a duty of technological competence. This duty now exists: in October 2019, the Federation of Law Societies of Canada amended its Model Code rule on competence to include explicit reference to technological competence. Several provincial and territorial law societies have incorporated this amendment into their respective codes, and more will hopefully soon follow suit.

The fact that there now exists a formal duty of technological competence raises the question of what, exactly, does this duty entail? What does this duty require from lawyers? In a strict . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Ethics, Legal Technology

Goodbye VPNs – Hello Zero Trust Network Access

Virtual private networks (VPN) are very standard these days. But they are riddled with vulnerabilities – and subject to a “man in the middle attack.” They have wreaked havoc in 2020 in a work-from-home environment.

Enter zero trust network access (ZTNA).

An October 2020 Forrester study (commissioned by Cloudflare) offered some key findings.

Working from home compelled firms to transform how they operated in the cloud. However, 80% of the IT decision-makers interviewed said their companies were unprepared to make the transformation. Existing IT practices made it difficult to support employee productivity without security compromises.

As a result, 76% of . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Finding the “COVID Boundary” in CanLII Usage Statistics 🦖

I’m no palaeontologist, but being the father of a 7-year-old boy, I talk about dinosaurs more than the average human. My son doesn’t necessarily have that of a great interest in our prehistoric friends themselves, but his thirst for knowledge about the circumstances of their disappearance is seemingly insatiable.

Those father-son discussions about the extinction of dinosaurs led me down a Wikipedia rabbit hole only to discover the existence of such a thing as the Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary. This boundary is a line of dark dust with high concentrations of iridium, which, according to the leading hypothesis, came from the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Technology

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