The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

Yves Faguy

The Pitch 2018

Getting to know The Pitch finalists: PatentBot

By Yves Faguy April 30, 2018 30 April 2018

 

As part of a weekly series leading up to The Pitch 2018, the legal innovation startup competition put on by the Canadian Bar Association and Law Made in partnership with LexisNexis, we’re publishing interviews with the five selected finalists to get to know them better.  This week’s Q&A is with Valentin Pivovarov​ (featured in the above video), managing director of PatentBot, a legal chatbot that helps users register their trademarks.

CBA National: What are the origins of PatentBot?

Valentin Pivovarov: The idea came from our BDO Artem Afian and CEO Nataly Vladimirova. We saw that the procedure of trademark registration – which is quite similar in most countries – could be disrupted and this market. So our team created chatbots because it’s simple to create them, and easier than to build a full website. We started to build our bots in late May. Once we built a better version of PatentBot, we posted about it on Facebook and we got 800 customers in one day.  It was really impressive for me, because we had no marketing, and no advertising.

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Access to justice

How an adversarial system can adapt to the rise of self-represented litigants

By Yves Faguy April 26, 2018 26 April 2018

How an adversarial system can adapt to the rise of self-represented litigants

In a recent Canadian Bar Review article, Jennifer A. Leitch notes an uptick in members of the traditional middle class joining the ranks of self-represented litigants. With time these litigants -- “not otherwise marginalized within society” -- are likely to take a more critical view of the legal profession’s value. Leitch also discusses how our adversarial system of justice is being forced to evolve as a result of the extraordinary growth of self-representation:

This approach to truth-seeking in an adversarial system is problematic due to the fact that the truth-finding process is often idealized but not always functional. The reality is that the adversarial process tends to ignore inequalities within the system and between the parties.

These inequalities may stem from a lack of resources (e.g., monetary) or a discrepancy in skills or experience such that one party is disadvantaged in terms of being able to investigate and present their best case and test the opposing party’s case. The result is that inequalities between the parties leave the truth-finding mechanism open to manipulation and this serves to undermine the objectives of the system as a whole. One example in this regard is cross- examination. Notwithstanding that cross-examination is often touted as an essential component of the truth-finding process in an adversarial system, the benefits of cross-examinations may also be subverted through rhetorical manipulation and imbalances in lawyers’ resources and/or skills. This further helps to discredit “opposing testimony known to be truthful.” At best, cross-examinations may discover and reveal untruths, but may be less effective at discerning the truth. At worst, the process of cross-examination reflects an affront to the dignity of those being cross-examined. The consequence of this manifestation of adversarialism is that the legal system becomes “more and more removed from the substantive justice concerns of ordinary people.”

Interestingly, Leitch suggests it might be time to accept SRLs as a normal feature of our modern civil justice system, which would require rethinking the code of conduct rules around the legal profession’s engagement with SRLs, possibly borrowing from inquisitorial norms, and redefining the responsibilities of lawyers toward them.

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The Supreme Court

Reactions to the Comeau "free the beer" ruling

By Yves Faguy April 25, 2018 25 April 2018

Reactions to the Comeau "free the beer" ruling

Predictably, the Supreme Court’s ruling in Comeau has been greeted with a good measure of disappointment. Emmett Macfarlane was among the first to set the tone:

It’s the pitch-perfect case for why judicial deference to a legislature can still be inappropriately political, even activist. And as a result of this politicized timidity, we get a resounding absurdity. As economist Mike Moffatt tweeted, “With today’s SCC decision, there are fewer trade barriers for Ontario companies to sell to Michigan than to Quebec. This is a problem.”

It’s an absurdity of constitutional interpretation that the Court routinely allows in the context of federalism but would never countenance in other areas of law. But mostly, it’s just absurd.

Asher Honickman calls the unanimous ruling “bizarre:”

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The Pitch 2018

Getting to know The Pitch finalists: Digitory Legal

By Yves Faguy April 24, 2018 24 April 2018

<p> <iframe allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Yd0Nywz3lfo" width="560"></iframe></p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> As part of a weekly series leading up to <a href="http://www.cbapd.org/details_en.aspx?id=NA_pitch18">The Pitch 2018</a>, the legal innovation startup competition put on by the Canadian Bar Association and <a href="https://lawmade.com/">Law Made</a> in partnership with <a href="https://www.lexisnexis.ca/en-ca/home.page">LexisNexis</a>, we&rsquo;re publishing interviews with the five selected finalists to get to know them better.&nbsp; This week&rsquo;s Q&amp;A is with Catherine Krow (featured in the above video), CEO and founder of Digitory Legal, a cost analytics and management platform for law firms and corporate legal departments.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> <strong>CBA National: What are the origins of Digitory Legal?</strong></p> <p> <strong>Catherine Krow :</strong> Practising as a litigation lawyer, I realized that this profession &mdash; this industry &mdash; is evolving. And to succeed in this market I really believed that law firms would need to start examining how they do things, and adopt new technology and really make some changes to better meet the business needs of their clients. I found this exciting and saw a chance to do something new and different and focus less on the practice of law and more on the business of law.</p> <p> <strong>N: Explain what Digitory Legal does.</strong></p>

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Legal marketplace

Another English firm goes public

By Yves Faguy April 23, 2018 23 April 2018

Another English firm goes public

Rosenblatt Solicitors has just announced its intentions to go public. It would be the fourth English law firm to do so since the liberalization of the market for legal services in England and Wales five years ago. The other three are Gately, Keystone and Gordon Dadds.  

According to Rosenblatt chief executive Nicola Foulston, the principal reason is to grow its dispute resolution practice in London and  “to take advantage of the disruption in the UK legal marketplace.”

Matt Byrne at The Lawyer notes that the reasons for going public can vary from one firm to the next, whether it is to attract a different kind of talent or fund growth through acquisitions. And though firms have been shy about making jumping in the fray, we can expect to see more law firm IPOs in the coming months:

Inevitably, there will be speculation about which firm will next go public. Personal injury giant Irwin Mitchell has long been seen as a candidate, while brand-savvy Mishcon de Reya is said in some circles to have at least considered an IPO last year. Highly profitable litigation boutique Stewarts could also make sense.

What is notable with the trio of deals so far in the UK is that the firms have different reasons for going public, highlighting the fact that each is a different type of firm. And while Gateley, which floated in 2015, is at the more traditional end of the market (IPO notwithstanding), the latter two deals underline the extent to which the market is reshaping. Indeed, it is the shape of the new breed of firms that might offer clues as to where the next IPO will come from.

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