Canada’s online legal magazine.

Archive for ‘Technology’

University of Windsor Leddy Library Creates Story Map on Missing Children of Indian Residential Schools

I am always on the lookout for innovative ways that libraries have found to create great stories about complex legal or historical issues that have many moving parts.

This one is quite remarkable: the Leddy Library at the University of Windsor has created a site that tells the story of the Missing Children of Indian Residential Schools using maps.

This intereactive visual representation of the residential school locations across Canada uses data from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report to document the experience:

“The recent discoveries of more than 1,700 unmarked graves at the sites of former residential schools in

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Information: Libraries & Research, Technology: Internet

40 Short Tips for Better E-Mail

I don’t know if you’re like me but despite being a heavy user of e-mail, I am still often puzzled by it. More specifically, by how we often fail to use it to its full potential.

How many times does it happen that you receive an e-mail from a professional contact, a client or a supplier/vendor, perhaps even from an important work colleague, and you have so much trouble deciphering its meaning that you pick up the phone or get on chat to ask the sender what exactly they want you to do?

Given how insanely busy so many of . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous, Technology: Internet

Does Canada Need ‘Right to Repair’ Law

Those of us who view the “no user serviceable parts inside” phrase as a challenge rather than a warning will sympathize with the right to repair movement.

The movement is a growing phenomenon. It arises from frustrations when manufacturers of everything from electronics to cars to McDonald’s ice cream machines make it difficult for anyone else to repair what they make.

The poster child for the movement is farm equipment manufacturers that refuse to give access to software on the machines. That prevents both equipment owners and other repair shops from servicing them. Other methods used by manufacturers include making . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous, Technology

Automated Affidavits to Confirm Residency

On April 16, 2021, the Province of Ontario introduced new measures under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, which would allow law enforcement to stop individuals and vehicles, asking them the reasons for leaving their home.

The government believed it necessary to stop COVID-19, as part of their broader support to a complete lockdown and stay at home order to battle a third wave of the virus.

The amendment to O. Reg 294/21 stated,

(2) Schedule 1 to the Regulation is amended by adding the following section:
Requirement to provide information
2.1 (1) This section applies as of
. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues, Technology

Lawyers and Computers 25 Years Ago

I recently looked at a book on my shelf called “The Internet Handbook for Canadian Lawyers” published in 1996. It’s rather amusing to look at it from today’s lens and see how much has changed in the last 25 years. It explains in detail topics that at the time were cutting edge, but today are second nature to children, or are long obsolete.

Section headings include: “What Exactly is the Internet?”, “Can the Internet do Something for my Practice?”, “Finding Good Stuff with Archie”, “The Mother Protocol – TCP/IP”, “Using Encryption Programs to Stop Snoopers”, and “Navigating Gopherspace”.

It says . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law, Technology

Justice System Needs a Champion to Move Modernization Project

Don’t turn back, but don’t stand still. Work with justice system partners to share best practices, figure out how to make the system work better for the people who need it to work for them, and how to mitigate the unintended side-effects of change.

That sums up – very briefly – the recommendations in the final report from the Canadian Bar Association’s Task Force on Justice Issues Arising from COVID-19, presented to the Association’s annual general meeting on Feb. 17

The task force, established in April 2020, drew together representatives from CBA Sections and committees, its partners in the justice . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Legal Information, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Technology

Square Pegs: Changing the Courts to Fit the Technology

When discussing the modernization of the justice system the conversation can often be about how we adapt the technology to replicate the bricks-and-mortar experience.

But how might the institutions and decision-makers themselves adapt to work with the emerging technology?

Legal scholar Tania Sourdin talks about three primary kinds of technology in the context of the justice system:

  • Supportive – things like online legal applications that support and advise people using the justice system
  • Replacement – things that replace the role of people, such as e-filing technologies and online dispute resolution
  • Disruptive – things that fundamentally alter the way legal professionals
. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues, Legal Information: Information Management, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Technology

Is It Time to Rethink Lawyer Licensing, Including the Bar Exam in Ontario?

In an article by Slate.com, Pilar Escontrias proclaims “It’s time to see the bar exam for what it truly is: the relic of a racist club.” The bar exam in the United States has a “sordid history as one of the many racialized gatekeeping mechanisms into the practice of law. The legal profession was a virtually unregulated, open field of practice for generations until immigrants, Black, and Jewish people started applying for bar admission in the late 19th century”. Suddenly the bar exam emerged. One reason for the bar exam was to act as a gatekeeper against minorities.

In . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law, Technology

Scales of Justice: Balancing Privacy Rights With Surveillance Economy

“Minds have been opened and changed over the past few months,” legal author and commentator Richard Susskind wrote in a 2020 article titled The Future of Courts. “Many assumptions have been swept aside.”

The global pandemic has forced lawyers and justice system stakeholders out of their normal physical environments and into what on the surface appears to be the safe harbour of the virtual world. Remote hearings may protect us all from a virus; the platforms that make them possible may, however, have their own issues.

An internet truism is that if you’re not paying for the product, you are . . . [more]

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

Courtbot: Should Courts Text You About Your Next Court Date?

As we have seen in the last year, technology can improve access to justice. A new product called Courtbot is another great example of technology improving interactions with the courts.

The new App Courtbot helps remind litigants of upcoming court appearances. It is a text-messaging App based in Oklahoma.

According to its website, once clients text their case number to Courtbot, clients receive an automatic reminder of court dates. Courtbot claims that “research shows that reminders work… Around 25% of the people in Tulsa County Jail are waiting for their cases to be heard, costing taxpayers up to $25,000 per . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology

CBA Task Force Examines Pandemic’s Effect on Justice System

January 4, 2021, marked exactly one year since the first published reports of a disturbing new virus in Wuhan, China.

That virus, COVID-19, has touched us all in the past year on personal and professional levels. We’ve all had to accept individual restrictions for the public good, and to adjust to new ways of doing things.

It’s also true that in the legal profession at least we’ve been able to find some silver linings in these trying circumstances. For example, the pandemic pressed the accelerator on justice system modernization that groups such as the CBA have been advocating for years. . . . [more]

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

Who Is a Legal Information Specialist in 2021?

About a million years ago…wait, that was just 2020.

Back in 2011-2012 I was invited to collaborate with colleagues on Legal Information Specialists: A Guide to Launching and Building Your Career with colleagues from the Canadian Association of Law Libraries. At the time, Annette Demers asked contributors to gather some quotes from our colleagues about the value they considered in having a Legal Information Specialist team member. As uncomfortable as it was, I asked colleagues to write something. My colleague James T. Casey, QC who was then Managing Partner of Field Law wrote this which appears on page . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information: Libraries & Research, Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Technology