Lawyers, Courts, and Technology

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Many lawyers assume that the Court process is unable or unwilling to take advantage of available electronic technology. Sometimes they are correct.

The problem is often one of communication. In many Ontario centres the lawyers are unaware until the last moment of who will be presiding over their case; and most often judges are unaware of the cases they will be asigned until the day before the hearing or trial. Many judges (myself included) will ask during a pre-trial or management session just what preparation has been made by the parties to reduce the use of paper. Too often that is the first time the issue has been raised or thought about by counsel, often because the lawyers do no think the Court will be receptive.

The bar should initiate with Court administration just what they would like to do with technology in their particular case, and most often steps will be taken to accommodate where possible. We still have both some judge and some lawyers who are unwilling to adapt, however the numbers of both are slowly diminishing. The message for both willing lawyers and judges is: if you don’t ask in time you may not be efficiently able to use technology. So ask. We all have to keep trying.

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