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Archive for the ‘Legal Technology’ Columns

Electronic Wills Down Under and Closer to Home

This column canvasses some recent developments in the law affecting electronic wills and reviews the Canadian position.

The forms an electronic will might take have been tested down under in recent years. Consider if the law anywhere in Canada would have, or should have, produced similar results.

Australia

In Yu, Re [2013] QSC 322, the High Court of Queensland gave probate to a will contained in the iPad of the deceased Mr. Yu, who had killed himself. The will was done up like a traditional will, i.e. with the heading ‘last will and testament’, and it contained many of the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

What Lawyers Need to Know About Blockchain

As I am writing this, one bitcoin is traded at about USD$17,600. In 2013, bitcoin traded at about USD$100. I thought it was a scam at the time and did not buy any. Since then I’ve changed my mind and started thinking, writing, and building about and around bitcoin and other blockchain technologies. It helped that I am both a computer programmer and a lawyer and that I had economics training. So if you are a lawyer and you missed the bitcoin rush but interested in catching up in your knowledge, read on.

Bitcoin is one way of using a . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology, Practice of Law

Beware the Legal Precedent

Any legal tech company or firm that tries to systematize legal agreements have faced the challenge of finding that perfect agreement as the precedent for automation. That perfect agreement, be it shareholder agreement, employment agreements, or a master service agreement that all lawyers can agree on, that will be the perfect epitome of that agreement. Without such a thing, firms and legal technology companies alike are left with little hope of standardizing and automating a key legal task: the drafting of legal agreements.

There are many reasons law firms and legal tech companies would want to identify a model agreement: . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

7 Reasons to Celebrate Legal Research and the Fact That It’s There to Stay

In his book What Technology Wants, Kevin Kelly (the founding executive editor of Wired magazine) writes that:

History is rife with cases of misguided technological expectations from the inventors themselves. Thomas Edison believed his phonograph would be used primarily to record the last-minute bequests of the dying. The radio was funded by early backers who believed it would be the ideal device for delivering sermons to rural farmers. Viagra was clinically tested as a drug for heart disease. The internet was invented as a disaster-proof communications backup. Very few great ideas start out headed toward the greatness they eventually . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Technology

December 2017: A Late ILTA Recap and the Re-Flourishing of the Document Management System

In August I attended ILTACON, which bills itself as “the premier educational and networking event for the legal sector…ILTACON is the best place to learn what works, what doesn’t and what’s next in legal technology.” This conference is always highly anticipated and always delivers. It’s run and organized well, with excellent panels and a fantastic vendor hall. It’s a four and a half day whirlwind event, leaving everyone exhausted.

I really loved the conference app– a wonderfully built-out tool with session descriptions, tags, ability to choose sessions and add photos. It was a great help in deciding which sessions to . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

A Dozen Disaster Recovery Tips From the ABA Law Practice Division

From co-author Nelson: Normally, I write SLAW columns with Sensei VP John Simek, but in light of the recent and horrific disasters experienced by American law firms, I teamed up with Jim Calloway, Director of Management Assistance Program at Oklahoma Bar Association, to offer these disaster recovery tips.

  1. Immediately after a disaster, there is only one thing that matters – human life. Do what you can possibly do to help those in need and to ensure the safety of those who work with and for you. Supply your employees with all the support resources you can.
  2. Establish communications. Hopefully,
. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Technology

Can Computer Programs Produce Legal Arguments?

“Today, we look for information. In the future, information will look for us,” says Dr. Ya-Qin Zhang, Ph.D. and president of Baidu, one of China’s largest Internet companies and a leader in global artificial intelligence (AI).

AI systems have generated much speculation and it has many lawyers, including myself, wondering if lawyers could be replaced by robots. Personally, I thought the headlines that say lawyers would be replaced by computers was a bit exaggerated. Take persuasion and negotiation, or formulating legal arguments in court, or assessing the credibitility of a witness for example. I find it hard to believe that . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Reliable Electronic Transferable Records

You may recall that the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) has recently adopted a Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records. An overview report made at the time is here. The text of the Model Law, along with a Guide to its Enactment, are here. Some previous attention to this project has been paid on Slaw here (2011), here (2012) and here (2016).

Transferable records

Transferable records are those that carry property rights with them, so one can transfer the property by transferring the document. Examples include negotiable instruments such as warehouse receipts, bills of lading . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Good Old Hyperlinks

By the time I was figuring out my stance on artificial intelligence, the legal tech talk had already moved on to blockchain. So I decided to write about something even more outdated – hyperlinks.

Links are the backbone of (legal) information systems

In research information systems we use citation information heavily. In the legal field, the cited-citing connections allow us to group documents into smaller universes. This feature of legal information is being exploited by virtually all providers for use in hyperlinking, to create citators, to provide the ability to note-up documents, and to rank search results. Citations can be . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Equustek, Blockchain and Uncensorable Search

This summer, the Supreme Court of Canada released its decision in the Google Inc. v. Equustek Solutions Inc. matter. As you may have read, one of the major concerns with the decision is that it has the potential to open the door for a new type of censorship on the Internet. For instance, this EFF article on the decision is named “Top Canadian Court Permits Worldwide Internet Censorship”.

For the purpose of this post, I don’t need to take a stand and tell you if I think this case was rightly or wrongly decided. That said, it’s fair to assume . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Non-Horror Vendor Stories: Successful Relationships

My last two posts focussed on tips for vendor demos and vendor horror stories. I promised, though, I would be fair to the many excellent vendors in our ecosystem. In this final vendor-related post, I relay some “above and beyond” stories I’ve collected.

Coming Through with the Business Case

As our clients push us to provide better metrics on our legal services, so too have we turned this focus inwards. It’s hard to get a business case or project approved without some good numbers to back up the ask. This is where vendors can, and do, save the day.

About . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

The Blockbuster That Is Blockchain: What It Means to the Practice of Law

Several years ago, a Canadian attorney and good friend of ours, invested $10,000 in bitcoin. Clearly, he is a lot smarter than us. We can’t even imagine the extent of his profit – several days before we started to write this article, bitcoin hit an all-time high of $4,991.66 on September 2, 2017. It is down slightly as we write, but our friend certainly hit a jackpot.

We become aware of bitcoin wallets a few years ago, as husbands (mostly) began to hide assets from their soon-to-be ex-wives in those wallets. And then came a barrage of ransomware attacks. Law . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology