Canada’s online legal magazine.

Archive for the ‘Legal Technology’ Columns

Some Thoughts on Black Box AI and Law

The term artificial intelligence (AI) has been justly criticized for its lack of specificity. Essentially it means anything that we are still impressed that a computer can do, which is, of course, a moving target. The most talked about AI technology is currently machine learning, and this is what is driving the majority of black box systems that are raising concerns in the legal sector.

In this context, black boxes refer to systems that accept inputs and present outputs of various kinds without making it explicit how the decision was reached. Black boxes can occur for many reasons, some technical, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Lawyers Addicted to Technology: Cutting the Cord

Not exactly a new subject, is it? And yet the pandemic has brought a new focus to technology addiction as way too many lawyers worked longer hours at home than they ever did at the office, their overtired, burning eyes fixed on their monitors.

As the pandemic receded and lawyers ventured out, we heard a regular theme about technology – “I can’t let go.” Finally, a chance to take a vacation emerged in the summer of 2021 and we proved to be pretty terrible at relaxing sans technology.

Technology Itself Gives You Tools to Cut the Cord

Your phone is . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Is Remote Work a Thing Now?

My son recently announced that the small law firm website design company he works for will be giving up their trendy office space in Vancouver’s Gas Town and permanently moving to a remote work environment. He was ecstatic, as he LOVES working from home. But my husband (a school teacher near retirement) insists that most workers prefer the sociability of a traditional face-to-face workplace and that despite expert predictions, remote work won’t be a serious thing after the pandemic. It made me wonder where law firms might fall on the scale. (I learned that the answer has significant marketing, HR, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing, Legal Technology, Practice of Law

Small and Midsized Law Firms Slammed by Ransomware

A Warning for Law Firms

The first of the quarterly 2021 surveys appeared during April – and the news isn’t good for small and midsized law firms. Note these ominous words from Coveware, a highly regarded aggregator of global ransomware and cyber extortion data, which published the Coveware Quarterly Ransomware Report (Q1 2021):

The most notable change in industries impacted by ransomware attacks in Q1 was the Professional Services industry, specifically law firms. Small and medium sized law firms continue to succumb to encryption ransomware and data exfiltration extortion attacks. Unfortunately, the economics of many small professional service firms

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Technology

Regulating Artificial Intelligence and Automated Decision-Making

The Law Commission of Ontario has been reviewing the principles and impact of artificial intelligence (AI) in the Canadian justice system for some years. Its three points of focus have been on the use of AI in criminal justice, in civil justice and in government. A report was issued in late 2020 on criminal justice aspects. It was described in Slaw.ca here.

The second report is on government uses, under the title Regulating AI: Critical Issues and Choices. As with the criminal paper, there is a helpful Executive Summary as well.

Regulating AI presents a lot of challenges, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

What Will the Future of Law Practice Be?

Earlier this year, I attended a virtual, all-day workshop, Building the Next Legal Practice, by the Center of Legal Innovation in Australia for LegalTech Week. At the event, were asked to envision the future legal industry of 2025.

Compared to Canada, Australia has had non-lawyer ownership for over 20 years and as such, Australian lawyers operate under a different regulatory environment. Australian lawyers had very different predictions for the future of practicing law than a similar group of Canadian lawyers would. I will elaborate on some of these and then relate them to the Canadian context.

1. Half of the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Lawyers Moving Past Passwords

Passwords have been around since the early days of mainframe computing. Believe it or not, passwords were not originally designed to prove identity. The betting money is that computer passwords first showed up at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the mid-1960s in order to track time when using a mainframe computer: The Compatible Time-Sharing System (CTSS).

Today, passwords are used to help authenticate the identity of the computer user. From a security perspective, the problem is that people use crummy passwords, forget them and even reuse them across multiple systems. At the end of the day, if someone has . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

What’s on the Horizon for Law Firms in 2021?

Jim Calloway, Director of the Oklahoma Bar Association’s Management Program, frequently speaks with us about the future of law. Recently, Jim recorded a Legal Talk Network podcast with Sharon which bears the same name as this article. You can find the podcast at https://legaltalknetwork.com/podcasts/digital-edge/2020/12/whats-on-the-horizon-for-law-firms-in-2021/.

The authors continue the discussion below.

We were glad to see the backside of 2020. But 2021 carries many uncertainties with it and that makes predictions risky. Fortunately, we are not averse to risk‑taking and it is a worthwhile effort to make predictions, especially about things we’re fairly certain will come to pass.

One thing . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Artificial Intelligence and Law Reform: Justice System

Artificial intelligence (AI) is sometimes thought of as a cure for the complexities of the world, but perhaps even more often as a threat to humans. Stephen Hawking said that “[w]hereas the short-term impact of AI depends on who controls it, the long-term impact depends on whether it can be controlled at all.”

At a somewhat less general level, a good deal of concern has been expressed about the impact of artificial intelligence on the law, and notably on the criminal justice system. My own musings are here. That article considered the evolution of AI from painstaking mimicry of . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Looking Forward: Forecasting Technology Developments in the Legal System

Over the past year of researching legal technology and learning more systemic ways of thinking about the future, I have become quite interested in the discipline of futurism especially the work of Amy Webb. What most interests me about it is looking at the present and trying to extrapolate what current trends mean for the future in the short, medium, and long terms. I am less interested in looking out many years and saying what I think will happen without showing the work of how I got there, so here is my view of the legal technology, practice, and information . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

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