Canada’s online legal magazine.

Archive for ‘Technology’

Virtual Court Proceedings: Fictional and the Real Thing

Addicted as I am to tv dramas (and sometimes comedies) about the law, I’ve been watching All Rise. Located in Los Angeles, it follows the professional lives of various characters involved in the criminal court there (and as a “popular” show, it also follows their personal lives). Sometimes it raises some important legal issues, but its finale was its best performance: it did a fine job of responding to the coronavirus crisis by being filmed on Cisco Webex, with all the actors working from their own homes. Apart from the kind of personal issues many people are facing in our . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law, Technology

Redesigning the Legal System: Let’s Start With What It Takes to Achieve Justice

There have been for years many outspoken proponents of using increased advanced technology in the legal system: use of technology by lawyers, remote court and tribunal hearings, increasing accessibility of information — substantive and navigational — for users of the legal system, and making decision-making systematic through algorithms. In certain respects, using technology has proceeded apace (providing online information, for example), but in others, it has been slow (for instance, court proceedings). Two of the major reasons for heralding increased use of technology are that it makes the legal system more efficient and that it responds to the needs of . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Technology

Can a Chatbot Answer Legal Questions?

The People’s Law School in British Columbia is offering free legal information through a Chatbot on Facebook.

@chatwithbeagle answers questions through Facebook messenger at

The chatbot starts off saying:

I work for People’s Law School. I’m here to sniff out information to help you with common legal problems. My goal is to empower you to take action.
Recognize, though, that I’m a bot, not a lawyer. I can get you up to speed on the law and suggest tips to move things forward. But it’s on you to take the next step.
I can help with these topics.
. . . [more]
Posted in: Technology

Why the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal Has Barely Missed a Beat During the Pandemic

The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal has been fully functional for almost the entire time period during the pandemic. The court has easily transitioned to web-based hearings at the end of March 2020, – as announced here. Hearings are being heard in their ordinary order, in the same numbers as before the pandemic.

Saskatchewan’s swift success in switching to online appeals is due to changes made over 8 years ago. Around 2012, the Court of Appeal switched to electronic filing and electronic case management by using the software eCourt

eCourt is an integrated electronic software system configured to meet

. . . [more]
Posted in: Technology

On Gut Punches And Optimism

The Chairperson of the American Bar Association Center for Innovation, Dan Rodriguez, resigned his position suddenly in February of this year, more than a year before the planned end of his term. The move was a surprise, and coincidental with the controversial conclusion of the Center for Innovation’s efforts to have the larger ABA adopt policy statements in favour of experimentation in regulatory reform.

Official statements suggest that the departure was not a result of the vote, specifically. But it seems likely Rodriguez’ departure was related to the larger political machinations.

Among legal technologists it is generally accepted that there

. . . [more]
Posted in: Technology

Pandemic Emphasizes Paperless Roadblocks

I’ve been a fan of paperless and virtual documents and signatures for a long time. Despite the advantages, many steadfastly stick to paper. Many are moving online, but are only part way there.

The transition to paperless and electronic signatures is not always easy, and there are roadblocks that can get in the way. Too often there are one or more steps in a process that require paper or a wet signature that bring things to a halt.

For example, in Ontario we can get articles to create new corporations online, but to amend or amalgamate, we need 2 original . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law, Technology

Using Apps for Contact Tracing: Can We Protect Privacy?

Governments in Canada have yet to officially use phone data to track and trace people who may be infected with COVID-19. However, there has been discussion around using a system in Canada similar to Singapore.

In Singapore, the app being used to track and trace people who may have contracted COVID-19 is “TraceTogether”. TraceTogether uses bluetooth technology to track nearby phones. People can then opt-in to have their information provided to the Ministry of Health if they test positive for COVID-19. Once the Ministry has the information, it alerts people who came across the infected person.

In Canada, a . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology

Zoom, Zoom, Zoom… Videoconferencing in the Room

Love it or hate it, everyone is on Zoom these days, including lawyers.

The company notes that daily use went up from 10 million users a day in December 2019, to over 200 million daily users in March 2020. On March 23, 2020 alone, the app was downloaded 2.13 million times globally.

Social distancing during COVID-19 has in no insignificant way pushed the use of this platform to new levels, with share prices going from $70 in January to $150 by the the end of March 2020. Yet, the platform was never designed with this type of use in mind. . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions, Technology

Changes to Our Courts: How COVID-19 Is Changing the Landscape

“How will COVID-19 change the legal industry and what will it look like After Coronavirus? Short answer: the coronavirus will turbocharge legal industry transformation. It will propel law into the digital age and reshape its landscape. The entire legal ecosystem will be affected—consumers, providers, the Academy, and the judicial system.” – Marc Cohen in the article “COVID-19 Will Turbocharge Legal Industry Transformation

Marc Cohen explains that the timeline for digital transformation has been truncated. We will not see a permanent return to the old ways. “The coronavirus has turbocharged law’s move to a virtual workforce and distance learning. . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law, Technology

Commissioning Affidavits: The LSO Is Only Part of the Picture

To many people’s delight, the Law Society of Ontario has stated that it is interpreting section 9 of the Commissioners for Taking Affidavits Act to include virtual commissioning. Reponses to a Slaw post by Pulat Yunusov from last November, in support of the LSO’s then position against virtual commissioning were dismissive of his concerns about virtual commissioning; they also illustrate the eagerness with which people are keen to throw off the bonds of in-person commissioning. (Yunusov stressed the importance of the ritual, as well as the inability of meeting some requirements through technology.)

However, the LSO is not the only . . . [more]

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

Houston, We Have a Problem With Your Termination

Written by Daniel Standing LL.B., Editor, First Reference Inc.

In modern times, employers and investigators alike must be increasingly technologically savvy. Evidence can take on many forms, including texts, emails and information posted to social media accounts. Many employers provide phones to their employees which are password-protected and rely on virtual storage of data in the “cloud.” As the workplace becomes further digitized, and as more offices become mobile or virtual, workplace investigations will increasingly target such elusive electronic data. As illustrated in the recent British Columbia labour arbitration decision District of Houston v. Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions, Technology, Technology: Office Technology

Covid-19 Tech and Security Resources

For every good deed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic (such as telcos not charging for long distance or data overages) there is someone trying to take advantage of it.

It’s not just people buying all the hand sanitizer they can get and reselling it online for a profit. Bad actors have been sending malware and phishing attempts disguised as Covid-19 emails.

At the same time, more people than ever before are working remotely. IT departments are scrambling to set people up who have not worked remotely before, and to scale up to support larger numbers. Some businesses are revisiting . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous, Technology