The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

Yves Faguy

Q&A

Mark Tamminga on the future of blockchain and legal services

By Yves Faguy September 15, 2017 15 September 2017

Mark Tamminga on the future of blockchain and legal services

 

In June, Gowling WLG announced it was signing on as a founding member of the Toronto-based Blockchain Research Institute, to study the emergence of the distributed ledger technology (DLT) behind Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies. CBA National caught up with Mark Tamminga, a partner and leader of Innovation Initiatives at the firm in Hamilton, to discuss the impact of blockchain on the legal services industry.

CBA National: Where are we in terms of the evolution of blockchain?

Mark Tamminga: It’s like 1994 in our understanding of the web, where it took a universal browser like Mosaic to get people to see it is a great tool that allows for this tremendous worldwide communication platform. Really there is no such thing as the blockchain. We have multiple blockchains, so just as there are many social networks with different purposes, there will not be one blockchain to rule them all. 

Read More
CBA Futures

Legal futures round-up

By Yves Faguy September 8, 2017 8 September 2017

Legal futures round-up


Inspired by the CBA Legal Futures report on Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services in Canada, here’s our regular round-up of noteworthy developments, opinions and news in the legal futures space as a means of furthering discussion about our changing legal marketplace.

Thomson Reuters recently shared findings that show 484 per cent increase in global patent filings for new legal services technology in the last five years, the bulk in 2016 being filed in the U.S. (38 per cent), China (34 per cent) and South Korea (15 per cent).

To Mark A. Cohen, the findings are evidence that China is “fast becoming a force  in the global legal marketplace… actively working on tech solutions – including artificial intelligence.” For an overview of top Chinese legal tech companies, check out this rundown by Artificial Lawyer.

A new index has been launched to measure innovation in legal services delivery among law firms. Behind the effort is Daniel Linna, the director of the Center for Legal Services Innovation at Michigan State University College of Law.  His hope is that buyers of legal services will use the index to gauge the efficiency of their law firms. 

Read More
Justice

Judging sexual assault trials: Best put it in writing

By Yves Faguy September 6, 2017 6 September 2017

Judging sexual assault trials: Best put it in writing


In her recent Canadian Bar Review article, Dalhousie Associate-Professor Elaine Craig reviews the trial record in R v Al-Rawi, in which a provincial court judge found the accused not guilty of sexually assaulting a highly intoxicated woman, found partially naked in the back of his cab. In his oral judgment, Judge Gregory Lenehan said the Crown hadn’t proved beyond a reasonable doubt her lack of consent. His widely reported comment that “clearly a drunk can consent” drew strong criticism across the country.  To be fair, Craig pins some of the responsibility on legal counsel, whom she suggests failed to uphold some legal protections that should have been afforded to the complainant under Canada’s rape-shield provisions. But she makes a strong case for writing as a thinking process, when making the case that judges in sexual assault cases should be required to provide written decisions (in addition to undergoing more rigorous sexual assault training): 

Read More
Legal innovation

Why law firms are paying attention to blockchain

By Yves Faguy August 30, 2017 30 August 2017

Why law firms are paying attention to blockchain

 

 

A new index has been launched to measure innovation in legal services delivery among law firms. It’s the creation of Daniel Linna, the director of The Center for Legal Services Innovation at Michigan State University College of Law.  His hope is that buyers of legal services will use the index to gauge the efficiency of their law firms. 

As Robert Ambrogi notes, the index is not without its shortcomings. For starters it focuses on large law firms, even though smaller outfits play a big role in driving innovation.  And by Linna’s own admission, it relies heavily (based on Google advanced searches) on what law firms say about their innovation efforts on their websites. There is no guarantee that they are doing anything meaningful.

Still, the index offers a window into how firms see the innovation landscape evolving. And the emerging technology that appears to have captured their imagination is blockchain – even more so than artificial intelligence.

A reason for this may be, as Bill Henderson suggests in a recent post, that blockchain-based “smart contracts” and their potential to automate and enforce contract terms are “closer to lawyers’ natural wheelhouse.” And as Henderson observes, that will have an impact on the substantive aspects of law, as well as business of law itself.

Read More
CBA Futures

Legal futures round-up

By Yves Faguy August 22, 2017 22 August 2017

Legal futures round-up

Inspired by the CBA Legal Futures report on Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services in Canada, here’s our regular round-up of noteworthy developments, opinions and news in the legal futures space as a means of furthering discussion about our changing legal marketplace.

First a quick look at what’s happening around the world.

A new legal blockchain consortium has been announced. It brings together several law firms and legal tech companies, including IBM Watson Legal and US law firms Baker Hostetler and Orrick. The consortium will be looking into issues around the use of blockchain and smart contracts.

European law firm Fieldfisher has investsed in a digital platform that will automatically generate and update documents required during start-up funding rounds.  The idea is to help start-ups and investors negotiate and close deals remotely and more quickly.

Jim Neath, interviewed on why he left his position as global head of litigation at British Petroleum to consult on data analytics, said that law firms will ultimately move away from apply analytics internally to conduct data review”: “My own view is they will come to see high end computer analytics as not their core competency.”

Read More