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Archive for ‘Practice of Law: Future of Practice’

How to Master Complex, Unfamiliar Tasks

If you’re about to tackle a complex matter or task in an unfamiliar area, how should you prioritize your first steps? New research shows that you’ll be off to a better start if you focus on learning rather than results. This is especially true if the matter context is unpredictable or dynamic.

I interviewed Dr. Meredith Woodwark – whose research uncovered these findings – to learn more. Woodwark teaches organizational behavior and leadership at the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University. Her research focuses on motivation, learning goals and employee engagement.

Q. How is your research . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training: Law Schools, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice

The Future of Automation in Litigation: Plotting Obsolescence to Survive

“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” – Bill Gates

I predict that the first components of a litigation file to be completely automated are the drafting of:

  • Common Pleadings (e.g. Statement of Claim for “slip and fall”);
  • Affidavit of Documents; and
  • Discovery Plans for common actions.


These documents are rule based, and computer programs love rules. I envision a computer program asking questions at the beginning of the file . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Technology

What Does It Really Mean to “Free the Law”? Part 2

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”


Attributed to Nelson Mandela, that quote fits the experience of groups around the world that sought over much of the past 20 years to make the law freely accessible on the internet. Beginning today (November 9th), dozens of members of the Free Access to Law Movement (FALM), along with other supporters, are meeting in Sydney, Australia where AustLII is hosting the 2015 Law via the Internet conference. Some countries attending are currently at the “impossible” stage and look to achievements in Canada and elsewhere for inspiration of what is possible. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Information: Libraries & Research, Legal Information: Publishing, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Technology

Smart Lawyers Who Feel They Know Less

What is a good lawyer? What is a smarter lawyer, for that matter?

How we evaluate ourselves, and our colleagues, may have historically been based on outdated notions of an encyclopedic knowledge of the law. But in the era of search engines and legal databases, the utility of such skill sets are not nearly as useful as in the past.

Harvey Schachter of The Globe interviewed Edward Hess on how workers can improve in an era balancing on the precipice of machine learning:

…start to change your mental model of what “smart” looks like. We have been trained to believe

. . . [more]
Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice

What Does It Really Mean to “Free the Law”? Part 1

A fantastic development out of the United States last week – Harvard Law School and Ravel Law plan to make access to the school’s entire library of reported U.S. case law available for free on Ravel’s website. In a multi-year effort and at a cost said to be in the millions (exact details not known), some “40,000 books containing approximately forty million pages of court decisions” are being digitized and uploaded to Ravel’s platform, where anybody will be able to search, read and use the material at no cost. This is an incredible advance in open access to law and . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Information: Libraries & Research, Legal Information: Publishing, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Technology

More Than Meets the Eye

When speaking or writing about diversity in the legal profession, the conversation usually focuses on gender, sexual orientation or race and ethnicity. We know that the legal profession does not visibly reflect the makeup of Canada’s general population. This was in fact a conclusion of the Canadian Bar Association’s 2013 Demographic Trends report:

According to the localized statistics available, progress on increasing diversity in the legal profession is not consistent with the make-up of the general population.

We also know that multiple barriers remain for racialized members of the legal profession. The 2014 LSUC report, Challenges Facing Racialized Licensees . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice

Crowd Funding for Justice

Over the summer a non-practising UK solicitor launched “CrowdJustice“. It is a funding platform through which people can combine to build support for and share costs of taking legal action for issues that effect their community.

It is run by a team of lawyers and volunteers based in London.

The Case Owner sets a deadline and funding target for the amount needed to offset the costs. Only when the target is met are the pledges collected and paid to the lawyer’s trust account.Crowd Justice charges a fee if a case is successfully funded.

Cases recently funded or currently . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law: Future of Practice

Reminder: New Quebec Code of Civil Procedures Effective January 1, 2016

Quebec lawyers are reminded that they need to prepare for upcoming changes to the Quebec Code of Civil Procedures passed into law on February 20, 2014. These significant changes are in effect January 1, 2016, and will improve overall access to justice. . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training, Education & Training: CLE/PD, Justice Issues, Legal Information, Legal Information: Libraries & Research, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Legislation

The Medium Is the Message

In “Legal Practice and Legal Delivery: An Important Distinction”, Mark Cohen argues that technology has transformed the delivery of legal services but not the practice of law. He defines delivery as “how services are rendered” and practice as “what lawyers do and how they do it”.

The delivery of legal services is a play with many actors…The days of law firms having a stranglehold over legal delivery have given way to the rise of in-house lawyers and departments, legal service companies, and technology companies “productizing” tasks that were once delivered as services. Again, it is not legal practice that

. . . [more]
Posted in: Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Technology, Technology: Internet

Augmenting the Practice of Law

In a response to comments in my last blog post about IBM Watson I mentioned a presentation that Kyla Moran gave at the last American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) conference. The presentation was called, “Contestant, Doctor, Lawyer, Chef: IBM Watson Moving from Jeopardy to the Legal Landscape,” and if you’re an AALL member you can watch the recording if you click that link.

For non-AALL members Jean P. O’Grady, Director of Research & Knowledge Services, at DLA Piper in Washington D.C., reports on this session in the recent AALL Spectrum: “Hand in Hand with . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Technology

WatsonLaw Next?

Thomson Reuters and IBM announced earlier this month that they will be joining forces to “enhance customer solutions across Thomson Reuters using Watson.” A very interesting, if not a somewhat inevitable, development in 21st century legal research.

In the press release Mike Rhodin, senior Vice President of the IBM Watson Group enthusiastically said:

“Working with Thomson Reuters, and their vast trove of data, is an incredible opportunity to combine Watson’s cognitive capabilities with a global leader in decision making solutions across science, legal, tax, and finance. The result will be accelerated discoveries for the professionals that rely

. . . [more]
Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice

The News of ABS’s “Aliveness” Has Been Greatly Exaggerated

My previous Slaw post has generated, among other things, an unprofessional (and since deleted) comment and criticism that ABS is not dead as I suggested, because the Working Group has only determined that “majority control” by non-legally trained people is dead.

It’s true from a purely technical point of view that ABS can exist with minority ownership by non-legally trained people.

It’s also true that a comatose person whose body is functioning only with the support of a machine, is not dead.

I see remarkable similarities between the ABS debate and those surrounding MDPs at the turn of the century . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Practice of Law: Practice Management