Canada’s online legal magazine.

Archive for the ‘Legal Technology’ Columns

Make Lawyers Smarter, Not Dumber, or Worse, With AI

This might be one of the more important things you read. It’s purpose is to direct you to a submission to the Law Society of NSW Future of Law & Innovation in the Profession (FLIP) Commission of Inquiry. Robyn Bradey is a mental health consultant to the Law Society, NSW Legal Aid and other organisations. Her submission is among the many excellent videos to download. This one should be compulsory viewing for every lawyer, and their management teams.

Robyn is testament to the benefits of a culture of diversity, and the foresight of those driving FLIP which also saw . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Trade Agreements to Promote Electronic Commerce

Commercial Law Reform

Commercial law almost always follows commercial practice. Businesses innovate and the law tries to catch up, validating some practices and regulating others.

It is risky for law reform to get out in front of commercial practice, for a number of reasons. The rules may fail to have their desired effect, because business can be more complex than legislation. The rules may restrict innovation, because the methods by which they grant legal effectiveness channel practices into known and safe directions. The rules may simply be wrong, because the rule-makers have not appreciated the dynamics at play among the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Using Non-Legal Apps for Current Awareness

I’m delighted to take this column over from my dear friend, mentor, and former boss, John Gillies. As John’s work has narrowed and deepened into precedents, he asked me to step in. Thanks, John, always, for your personal and professional support!

My subsequent columns will engage more specifically on legal technology (which, I see from the recent Slaw survey, is readers’ favourite topic! Pressure much?) . With this initial contribution, let’s start with widely-available tools that legal professionals can turn into set-it-and-forget-it vehicles for current awareness consumption.

Current Awareness: Automation is the Answer!

Certainly, continuing legal education requirements ensure . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Finding and Effectively Using an Expert Witness

In the summer of 2016, author Simek had the pleasure of joining a Pennsylvania Bar Association panel comprised of both testifying experts and judges to explore how to find and effectively use a good expert.

It seemed to author Nelson, sitting in the audience, that she was hearing a series of rapid-fire tips so she endeavored to jot them down, in no particular order, to offer the collective wisdom of the panel. Here are some of the many valuable tips she heard:

  • It’s important to find an expert who will be cool under fire, as they must survive cross-examination with
. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Technology

Smart Contracts?

Click to view full-sized image. Image source: pricewaterhousecoopers

People have long used technology to help them make and carry out their contracts. Even an old-fashioned vending machine offers goods to the public, understands an order for particular goods, recognizes execution by the buyer through the deposit of the appropriate payment, and delivers the goods.

However, we do not usually think of the vending machine as smart or its implied contract of sale to be a smart contract. Apparently we need to see a computer to attach that label. A smart contract these days is generally considered a contract the performance . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Do Not Fear Robot Lawyers—Fear Robot Clients

Tech is famous for its shorter and shorter hype cycles. Robot lawyers were all over the twitters only a few months ago and now people actually yell at you for even mentioning the thing. Of course, robot lawyers should not even have surfaced in the first place because no one is remotely close to building them. Lawyers should not fear for their livelihoods.

But there is something that is much more important than robot lawyers. It’s robot clients. Or at least the proliferation of machines, automated transactions, and standardized processes where lawyers once controlled the terrain.

Let’s start with an . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Mined Gems From 2016 SLTS Conference

James Williams, a commentator on the article “Meet ROSS, the bankruptcy robo-lawyer employed by some of the world’s largest law firms”, laments the lack of reference to supporting research, or consultation with the “40 year old research community that has long focused on the use of technology in a legal setting” in Toronto. My SLAW column “The Long Tale of 2 Systems” highlighted the role both Toronto and Sydney played in the development of legal technology.

So while IBM’s Watson was mentioned a few times at the 10th annual Sinch Legal Tech Sydney Conference (#SLTS16), . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Stealing Your Professional Identity: Online, It’s Just Too Easy

Increasingly, professional services are available through global online platforms. It’s a popular concept and Upwork is a leading example.

Upwork is a global freelancing platform with twelve million registered independents (sellers) and five million registered clients (buyers). The result of a merger between two mega-sites (eLance and oDesk), Upwork is probably the world’s largest such platform.

Through Upwork, businesses find and work remotely with independent professionals all over the world. Hirers can find freelancers in the areas of app and software design, engineering and data science, business and administrative services, creative services such as writing and graphic design and even . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Plus Ça Change, ….

Incremental change, disruption, new approaches, … we’ve talked about these issues for a long time. A long time! I plunged into the legal KM “pool” at the turn of the century, and it seems that, 16 years on, we’re still talking about many of the same issues. Granted, there are differences now, one of the most notable being that there were no legal-specific search engines available at the time. But although such search engines are available, their high all-in cost is such that, even now, only the larger firms and in-house departments have them available.

Recently, I attended a meeting . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Pseudonymity and Online Collaboration in the Legal World

Not wanting to miss on the chance to hear from tech luminaries such as Tim O’Reilly and Reddit founder Alexis Onahian, I attended StartupFest in Montreal in mid-July. This post is about Ohanian’s talk (and the stream of thoughts that ensued) which was entitled “The Future of Community”. Since this is pretty vague, let me explain that Ohanian discussed the value of pseudonymity (and, in passing, the cuteness of bleps) and argued that pseudonymity was what allowed people to be themselves on the web and what in turn fuelled the seemingly more collaborative spirit that he observes on Reddit. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Why Do Lawyers Resist Ethical Rules Requiring Competence With Technology?

Recently, the Virginia State Bar Council voted to adopt changes to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct. The changes were based on the American Bar Association’s modifications to the Comments of Rule 1.1 respecting Competence (“…a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with technology…”) and Rule 1.6 respecting Confidentiality (“(c) A lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to prevent the unintended disclosure of, or unauthorized access to, information relating to the representation of a client.”)

What’s reasonable? The Comments go on to list relevant factors:

  1. the sensitivity of
. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Technology

The Long Tale of 2 Systems

The article, “7 Reasons Why European Cities Are Going To Beat U.S. Cities As Hubs For Innovation” reminded me of two cities: Toronto and Sydney. These cities had quite a few legal IT commonalities starting 30 years ago:

  • Both had 5 out of the 10 largest law firms standardise on lawyer-friendly graphical user interfaces (GUI) years before the rest of the legal world got it,
  • By democratising access to computers, a community of lawyers interested in lawyer-enhancing IT bloomed, and cross-pollinated each other from across the world,
  • Toronto was first out of the blocks with Peter Hart’s Legalware
. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Technology