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Archive for ‘Technology’

How Many Wake-Up Calls Do Our Legal Profession and Court System Need?

Last week, the Toronto Star ran a widely publicized story about a criminal proceeding, in which the accused was charged with drug offences. He earned $16,000 in 2015, which was too much for legal aid but not enough for a lawyer. Therefore, Justice Ian Nordheimer of the Ontario Superior Court stayed the proceedings until the government paid for counsel.

Sadly, stories like this are too common. The legal system, too convoluted to navigate without a law degree, means that the most vulnerable are left in the lurch. Compelled to interact with the judicial system yet unable to afford counsel and . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Technology

Of Cybernetic Shysters, Artificial Intelligence and Guardians of the Rule of Law

“Here I make an intelligent being out of a bunch of old wires, switches and grids, and instead of some honest advice I get technicalities! You cheap cybernetic shyster, I’ll teach you to trifle with me!”
And he turned the pot over, shook everything out onto the table, and pulled it apart before the lawyer had a chance to appeal the proceedings.

– The Cyberiad

Happy Monday! Like F. Tim Knight, I am getting back on the “blogwagon” this morning with an overdue post… also about AI following the session I was a panelist on at the recent Canadian . . . [more]

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

Artificial Intelligence: “If You’re Not at the Table …”

I seem to have fallen off the blogwagon lately and am now attempting to turn my mind back to some writing. So I’ll start by reporting on one of the sessions I attended at the recent Canadian Association of Law Libraries conference held in Vancouver, from May 15 to 18. The session took place on the afternoon of May 16 and featured: Steve Matthews, Slaw publisher and contributor and founder of Stem Legal Web Enterprises; Ivan Makonov, Executive Director at Lexum; Eric Laughlin, Managing Director of the Corporate Segment, Thomson Reuters; and Nate Russell, . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology

No After-Hours Emails – Can You Imagine?

France now has a law against after-hours emails to employees. Does this make sense to you? Could you get your work done on this basis? Is that question your concern, or is it up to the employer to organize your time more effectively?

Can such a law apply to professionals or others who do not punch a clock?

Are the benefits worth the inconvenience … given that the benefits go to the employees and the inconvenience to the employers, to a large extent.

When France legislated its 35-hour week, over 15 years ago, one consequence was that people had a . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law, Technology: Office Technology, ulc_ecomm_list

Emerging Tech – Potentially Awesome and a Privacy Quagmire

I attended an event last night where Duncan Stewart of Deloitte talked about their TMT predictions for 2016.

It reinforced for me that the future of tech and what it will do for us is potentially awesome. But also at the same time the amount of information that is being collected and stored about each of us is staggering. That creates real privacy challenges, and real possibilities for abuse. And because the information is there, there is a tendency for government and business alike to want to use it.

One scary aspect is that the more we get used . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Legislation, Technology

We Are All Worrying About the Wrong Thing

While lawyers in Canada were debating whether licensed paralegals should have a limited role in family law, and before that contemplating entity-based regulation, alternative business structures, and the articling crisis, change was already happening without them.

This week the century-old American law firm, BakerHostetler, announced they have hired their first digital lawyer, ROSS, the artificial intelligence system based on IBM’s Watson. What can ROSS do for this firm, one of the largest in the country?

According to the ROSS website, it can provide a highly relevant answer to a question posed in natural language. You don’t get thousands . . . [more]

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

Enemy of the State – Still Topical

I recently watched the 1998 movie Enemy of the State . It is a spy thriller about a lawyer being smeared by politicians because they believe he has information that can implicate them in criminal matters – the murder of a politician who was opposing a privacy bill that is really a bill empowering mass surveillance. They use sophisticated, unsavoury, unethical, and illegal methods to watch him, discredit him, and retrieve the evidence. No one is watching the watchers, who are out of control.

While like any disaster movie the plot is a bit over the top, it was fascinating . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous, Technology

Of Smartphones in an Age of Privacy Breaches and Paranoia

“Several were almost tharn—that is, in that state of staring, glazed paralysis that comes over terrified or exhausted rabbits, so that they sit and watch their enemies—weasels or humans—approach to take their lives.”
– Richard Adams, Watership Down

Go to enough legal tech conference sessions and you’ll eventually catch the fear. It may start with a shocking statistic or factoid —”80% of big law firms have been targets of hackers” or “The FBI unofficially recommends paying the cryptovirus ransom”— and it will escalate quickly into a litany of sinister sounding jargon and neologisms.

Phishing scams. Botnet zombie armies. Malvertising. Heartbleed. . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology: Internet, Technology: Office Technology

Barreau Du Quebec Position on Hourly Billing Report Long Overdue

On March 24, 2016, the Barreau du Quebec (Quebec Bar Association) released a report « La tarification horaire à l’heure de la réflexion » (in French only and translated to say Hourly Billing: A Time for Reflection) calling for an end to hourly billing by lawyers and law firms in the hope of improving access to justice for the public and a better work-life balance for lawyers. . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training, Education & Training: CLE/PD, Justice Issues, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Practice of Law: Marketing, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Technology, Technology: Office Technology

Making Canadian Culture Go Viral

I’m not even sure who watches television any more.

Most of us stream content these days, and much of that content isn’t even Canadian. So why is our Federal government still spending millions of tax dollars subsidizing traditional media?

That’s a question Mélanie Joly, Canada’s new heritage minister, is asking Canadians. Yesterday she announced an open consultation “to strengthen the creation, discovery and export of Canadian content” in a new digital world. She told the CBC,

As we adjust to the realities of rapid technological advances and changing consumer behaviour, I am launching consultations to better understand the challenges

. . . [more]
Posted in: Substantive Law: Legislation, Technology

Sabbaticals for the Self-Employed

This mountain gorilla really knows how to take a break.

Many law firms and organizations now offer sabbatical programs as a workplace benefit. As long as employees meet defined criteria and plan carefully, they’re able to take a few months off without much risk.

But given that I’m self-employed and that I work alone most of the time, I didn’t think that a sabbatical was really an option for me. A carefully cultivated – or lucky – opportunity could come knocking at any moment. What if I wasn’t around to answer the door? When you’re self-employed, you need to . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Technology: Office Technology

Of Tweeters Laureate and Judicious Public Outreach

Last week’s BC Provincial Court’s #AskChiefJudge Twitter Town Hall went off with nary a glitch, and even received some fanfare in the Vancouver Sun for its being the first (known) instance of a time when a Canadian chief judge has taken to Twitter to answer live questions. Dave Bilinsky and Colin Lachance both shared news of this last week.

It proved many things—one of them being 2010 really is a pretty long time ago.

The Courts’ Affair with Twitter Since 2010

Back in 2010 only a fraction of courts even held a Twitter handle—7% according to a CCPIO report of . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Miscellaneous, Technology