Taking Innovation to the Profession was a key message at our February 2019 Provincial Council.1 It is a message that I and others would like to bring to you.
We could dismiss the innovation discussion as one of current novelty. In the past, I have done just that. However, there are increasing pressures to innovate our justice system – the ever-increasing number of self-represented litigants; the financial cost of doing the same and having less impact; the unmet need of those with legal issues who seek resolutions outside of the justice system; and without a lawyer and the expanding use of technology in other sectors in society. I see these pressures as opportunities to re-imagine our work as lawyers and the value that we bring to society.
So, what does “innovation” mean? As we look to modernize the justice system, themes are emerging.
Innovation means shifting our perspective. The work of A2JBC championed by Chief Justice Bauman encourages a Triple Aim2 approach where access to justice goals are influenced by three elements: improved population access, improved user experience and improved costs. This has proven to be a successful approach in the health sector.
Innovation means more than just using the latest technology – it means partnership and collaboration. Finding new or different ways to address justice challenges, with participation across the justice sector, Richard Fyfe, QC, BC’s Deputy Attorney General, spoke of the ongoing collaboration with the BC Aboriginal Justice Council and Métis Nation BC to develop Indigenous justice reforms (e.g. developing conceptual models for Indigenous justice centres, reforming our approach to Gladue, and
exploring the use and expansion of Indigenous courts) as examples of low tech, innovative work.
Innovation means the re-organization of existing components. As resources remain scarce and gaps in service grow, we need to re-think existing systems. Lynne Charbonneau, Lexterna consultant, spoke to the re-alignment of communication between the business group and the legal risk and compliance group within a multinational financial institution. Ms. Charbonneau poses the question:
Instead of organizing engagement and communications by categories of law, regulation and internal standards, why not organize the latter around the stages of the customer journey?
Innovation also means making lawyers more relevant. Lexis Nexis innovates by empowering lawyers to make better decisions, get better results and be more productive. The company has taken a proactive approach, combining its global legal database with semantic search, data visualization, predictive analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence to create new decision tools and insights for legal professionals.
Chilwin Cheng of Ascendion Law is a thought leader in the adoption of technology and business systems in legal practice. His innovations in document management and use of support litigation and research companies allow him to reduce costs and better serve his clients.
Innovation means using technology to solve problems. The Civil Resolution Tribunal (“CRT”) has leveraged technology to provide information to self-represented litigants and to guide them through a resolution process. There are valid criticisms of the CRT. However, its creativity in leveraging technology is to be applauded.
Qase is an online delivery of legal services (e.g. file management and sharing, scheduling, messaging, videoconferencing, and payment processing) similar to booking travel or shopping online. It is an especially attractive service for small and solo firms and those who provide unbundled services.
CBABC and our innovation partners want to bring you into the innovation conversation. Let us re-imagine and re-design our justice system together.
Keep an eye out for a future innovation event: Gillian Hadfield, law professor, economist and writer of Rules for a Flat World: Why Humans invented law and How to Reinvent it for a Complex Global Economy.
1 Taking Innovation to the Profession, (Feb 2, 2019) – Presenters: Larry Alexander (Gall Legge Grant Zwack), Erin Schnarr (Lexis Nexis), Dan Zollmann & Jaclyn Megens (Qase), Tom Spraggs (Spraggs & Co) Chilwin Cheng (Ascendion Law), Lynne Charbonneau (Lexterna), Joshua Lenon (Clio) and Richard Fyfe, QC Deputy AG (BC Ministry of Justice) | ↩
2 The Access to Justice Triple Aim | ↩
Margaret A. Mereigh