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Archive for the ‘Legal Technology’ Columns

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

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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 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

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

New Frontier of Legal Innovation – Regulatory Legal Innovation Sandboxes

2020 saw unprecedented adoption of legal technology and legal innovation, however, one of the more surprising developments are legal regulatory sandboxes, introduced first in the state of Utah in the United States and now in Canada, by the Law Society of British Columbia. The regulatory sandbox model allows for the experimentation of new alternative business models, including non-lawyer ownership and fee sharing, in a controlled environment under the regulator’s supervision.

The Utah Supreme Court two-year pilot of a regulatory sandbox (a regulatory body under the oversight of the Supreme Court to be called the Office of Legal Services Innovation, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

A Taxonomy for Lawyer Technological Competence

Over the past decade, many commentators, myself included, have argued that lawyers should have a duty of technological competence. This duty now exists: in October 2019, the Federation of Law Societies of Canada amended its Model Code rule on competence to include explicit reference to technological competence. Several provincial and territorial law societies have incorporated this amendment into their respective codes, and more will hopefully soon follow suit.

The fact that there now exists a formal duty of technological competence raises the question of what, exactly, does this duty entail? What does this duty require from lawyers? In a strict . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Ethics, Legal Technology

Goodbye VPNs – Hello Zero Trust Network Access

Virtual private networks (VPN) are very standard these days. But they are riddled with vulnerabilities – and subject to a “man in the middle attack.” They have wreaked havoc in 2020 in a work-from-home environment.

Enter zero trust network access (ZTNA).

An October 2020 Forrester study (commissioned by Cloudflare) offered some key findings.

Working from home compelled firms to transform how they operated in the cloud. However, 80% of the IT decision-makers interviewed said their companies were unprepared to make the transformation. Existing IT practices made it difficult to support employee productivity without security compromises.

As a result, 76% of . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology