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Modern Law: Transforming our courts using technology

Professor Karen Eltis of the University of Ottawa talks to us about our courts’ modernization efforts and the challenge of maintaining public trust in the system.

Disruptive technology

“We need to be cautious. This is a time when resources are limited and technology provides these seemingly simple, inexpensive and very seductive solutions,” says Karen Eltis, author of Courts, Litigants and the Digital Age and our latest guest on Modern Law. “Technology is not a silver bullet for access to justice and we have to be really careful […] as we embrace technology, that we do so in a way that is open, efficient and inclusive.”

To be clear, Eltis is a strong advocate of modernizing the justice system by technological means. But she points to two possible problems that require our undivided attention. The first is that our justice system depends on private platforms, and so there is a risk our interactions with it become mediated by commercial actors. This, she explains, can be problematic when viewed through the lens of judicial independence. Eltis’ second concern is that we substitute “poor man’s justice” for access to fair procedural justice in the name of efficiency.

More broadly, this is a conversation about proactively nurturing and maintaining people’s trust in our judicial institutions.

Eltis is a law professor at the University of Ottawa who specializes in artificial intelligence, innovation law and policy, and cybersecurity. She is also the contributing editor to the CBA’s No Turning Back report on justice Issues Arising from COVID-19.

You can listen to our whole conversation in the embedded link below, or by following "Modern Law" on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or Stitcher.