BSB to use AI to carry out online testing

The Bar Standards Board has announced on the 12th May 2020, that the Bar Professional Training Course and Bar Transfer Test assessments, that were delayed from April to August, will be carried out online with the assistance of Pearson’s OnVUE secure global online proctoring solution, which will allow for remote invigilation. Allowing the exams to take place within this timeframe will then allow for students with pupillage offers to take these up in the Autumn, rather than causing further delays.

The BSB has said that the “OnVUE system uses a combination of artificial intelligence and live monitoring to ensure the exam is robustly guarded, deploying sophisticated security features such as face-matching technology, ID verification, session monitoring, browser lockdown and recordings.” However, some criticism has come about suggesting that the system may prejudice students with young children, as the system automatically ends the test if another person is detected in the presence of the examinee.

BSB director-general Mark Neale said: “Since the current health emergency began… students and transferring qualified lawyers have had to face considerable uncertainty, which we very much regret, and I am delighted that we can now deliver centralised assessments remotely in August with Pearson VUE’s state-of-the-art online proctoring system.”

For more information see the full article on the BSB site.

 

LSB podcast on how education might adapt to technology

In its latest episode of the ‘Talking Tech’ podcast, the LSB interviews Dr Adam Wyner, Associate Professor of Law and Computer Science at Swansea University. The podcast focuses on how education and regulation might change to ensure legal professionals are better equipped to deal with and meet the challenges posed by a new tech-focused environment, as well as how these individuals can start to drive technological innovation.

Listen to the LSB podcast (42 minutes long)  and download the accompanying paper as a PDF.

Program to offer Georgia Law students virtual internships with judges

Ana Maria Martinez, the head of the Georgia Latino Law Foundation, is organising a virtual judicial internship program for second-year law students who have had their summer associate internships cancelled.

The virtual internships with Georgia judges are open to all second-year students, at the state’s ABA-accredited law schools; and the deadline to apply is May 15. The program will last for five weeks and is unpaid, but will give students the experience of working in a judicial office.

Martinez, who is a staff attorney for DeKalb County State Court Judge Dax Lopez said: “It gives law students opportunities to have a substantive summer and feel like their hard work wasn’t wasted this year. It’s a way to expose them to new connections, how the court system works and perhaps a new mentor.”

Law students will be asked to commit to a minimum of 20 hours per week, which will be flexibly arranged around judges’ and attorneys’ schedules. Students will meet with judges or attorneys twice a week via Zoom.

See the full article on Law.com.

New Zealand Law Society – consultation on access to justice report

On the 14th May 2020, the New Zealand Law Society released the draft research report: ‘Access to Justice – a stocktake of initiatives’. The goal of the report is to assist the Law Society in taking a people-centred approach and to better understand the legal system from a consumer perspective. The Society hopes to bring in innovative and new thinking, to improve access to justice in New Zealand.

Law Society President, Tiana Epati, notes that “Our aim is to build a picture of the range of access to justice initiatives across Aotearoa New Zealand and to engage with stakeholders to better understand that broader landscape. Alongside this, we are also building a fuller picture of international initiatives.”

Consultation on the draft report is open from now until 3 August. Any questions or comments can be directed to accesstojustice@lawsociety.org.nz. A copy of the report is available as a PDF.

 

ABA establishes group to look at the post-COVID-19 response

On the 13th May 2020, the American Bar Association announced the formation of the Coordinating Group on Practice Forward, with the aim of providing insight on the emerging challenges and opportunities confronting the legal profession and the justice system arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.  The coordination group will disseminate ABA resources as well as organise seminars, publications and other resources to coordinate ABA members and the profession, and to help to identify innovations and new ways of providing legal services that will arise following the COVID-19 crisis.

ABA President Judy Perry Martinez has said: “The American Bar Association is the preeminent body in the country positioned to exercise its convening power and provide the kind of thought leadership that the legal profession needs now. Adjusting to the new legal realities in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic will be a major focus for the ABA moving forward. That is why President-elect Trish Refo and I are working together to help the legal profession rethink what may or may not be essential to sustaining lawyer-client relationships, maintaining quality, ethics and competency, and assuring public protection in both the civil and criminal justice arenas.”

Ms Refo has said: “We are going to leverage the power of the entire ABA to address all of the changes to the practice of law that will arise out of this extended period of remote working. Our work will help lawyers in all practice settings to better serve their clients.”

For more information see the full article on the ABA site.

Law Society of New South Wales welcomes electronic witnessing of legal documents

Richard Harvey, President of the Law Society of New South Wales, has welcomed changes implemented by the NSW government and Attorney General, allowing for electronic witnessing of legal documents.  The move has come about as a temporary reaction to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, and has been added to the Electronic Transactions Regulation 2017.

Mr Harvey has said:

“As a result of COVID-19 restrictions, many solicitors contacted the Law Society expressing concern about the difficulties that the restrictions have created for the witnessing of legal documents.  The Law Society immediately raised these concerns with the NSW Government, and I would like to thank the Attorney General for moving so quickly to enact these provisions.  I am pleased that solicitors now have a practical alternative for the witnessing of documents in the coming weeks and months.”

For more information click here.

 

California Bar moves towards regulatory sandbox

The Board of Trustees of the State Bar of California took a 9-2 decision on the 14th May 2020 to form a working group to look into forming a regulatory sandbox in which innovative legal service providers would be subject to fewer regulations. This could include limiting unauthorised practice of law rules, as well as removing limits on fee sharing and partnership between lawyers and non-lawyers.

The decision is a major step forward in a potential move towards innovative business structures in California, following a vote to delay the decision by the Board in March, with board members saying they needed more time to consider the proposals.

Following the board meeting, which was held over Zoom, Chairman Alan Steinbrecher (who as Chairman did not vote) said: “This is a significant step and I think it will lead to an exciting future,”.

For more information see:

IBA joins condemnation of dismantling of Iranian Bar Association

The International Bar Association and the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) have joined over 12,000 Iranian lawyers to condemn a new draft bill proposed by Mohammad Mosadegh, Legal Deputy of Judiciary.

The draft bill would replace the current Iranian Bar Association with a ‘Supreme Council for the Coordination of Lawyers’ Affairs’, with seven members appointed by the government. Currently, the executive-body of the Bar are freely elected, however under the new proposals all would be selected by the government.

Over 12,000 Iranian legal professionals and 180 former Iranian judges have jointly signed a letter of protest, in which they call for Chief Justice Ebrahim Raeesi to revoke the bill, and end the ‘illegal interference’ into the Iranian Bar Association.

International Bar Association President, Horacio Bernardes Neto, commented: “As the global voice representing international legal practitioners and bar associations, we are deeply concerned by any encroachment of the rights of Iranian lawyers and threats to their independent professional association. We call upon the Iranian government to observe international law and revoke the bill immediately to preserve the Iranian Bar Association’s independence.”

For more information click here.

Philippines Supreme Court lowers passing grade to include more “techy lawyers”

The Supreme Court of the Philippines has passed a resolution lowering the passing grade for the bar examination from 75% to 74%. The adjustment was made in light of ongoing difficulty caused to students by the COVID-19 crisis, as well as a desire to introduce younger lawyers with more technology skills into the profession.

The adjustment resulted in a pass rate of 27.36%, the pass rate would have been 23% pre-adjustment. This means that of the 7,685 students who took the exam almost 300 extra students passed, taking the total from 1,760 to 2,103.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said that “the legal framework has morphed in such a way that techy lawyers are in demand. Laws governing electronic transactions and penalizing offences committed through cyberspace have been enacted, and the way our legal institutions operate has been modified to cope with and make use of computer-driven technologies,”

See the full article on the Rappler site.

Law Society of Ontario to allow online examinations

The Law Society of Ontario has announced that they will allow their June Barrister and Solicitor exams, and their July Paralegal exams to take place online in response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

CEO Diana Miles has said: “The Law Society is confident that the new online delivery model will continue to ensure entry-level competence which is in the public interest. This will also provide candidates with an opportunity to fulfil the requirements of the licensing process during this unprecedented crisis.”

For more information see the full article on the Law Society of Ontario site.