Law Society of Saskatchewan releases new podcast on the future of law and technology

The Law Society of Saskatchewan has released a new podcast on the changing role of technology in the legal profession. The podcast looks at how technology is being treated in legal education, as well as what the society is doing to react to the changes/

The podcast features Tim Brown, Q.C. Executive Director of the Law Society of Saskatchewan; Martin Phillipson, Dean of the College of Law at the University of Saskatchewan; and Craig Zawada, Q.C., Past President of the Law Society .

Listen to the podcast here. 

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Keep Distance Education for Law Schools: Online Education, the Pandemic, and Access to Justice

Abstract

While distance education made inroads throughout higher education, law schools kept their distance—until a global pandemic forced them all online for a time. Then the gatekeepers to the profession at the American Bar Association and state bars temporarily dropped their limits on distance learning. Now as American law schools prepare to return to normalcy, should distance learning remain an option? This essay argues that it should because it has potential to improve access to justice: distance education can reduce the costs of law school, increasing the supply of lawyers who can afford to provide less expensive legal services. Now is the time for legal regulators to make permanent what they allowed temporarily during the pandemic: distance-education-friendly accreditation and bar admission standards.

Weinberger, Lael Daniel, Keep Distance Education for Law Schools: Online Education, the Pandemic, and Access to Justice (July 27, 2021). Loyola University Chicago Law Journal, Forthcoming,
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The Intersection of Technology Competence and Professional Responsibility: Opportunities and Obligations for Legal Education

Abstract

Technology has fundamentally changed the legal profession and the delivery of legal services. Lawyers routinely use technology, including artificial intelligence, for legal research, e-discovery, document review, practice management, timekeeping and billing, document drafting, and many other tasks. The American Bar Association (ABA) amended the Model Rules of Professional Conduct in 2012 to include an explicit duty of technology competence, and thirty-nine states have adopted a rule requiring technology competence. Further, the ABA adopted a resolution in 2019 urging the courts and profession to address the ethical issues around using artificial intelligence in the practice of law. This essay traces the developing use of technology in the practice of law, examines the ABA’s guidance with respect to the use of technology in practice, and addresses the intersection of legal competence and professional responsibility. Law schools have an obligation to prepare students to be effective, ethical, and responsible participants in the legal profession, which includes technology competence. Further, law schools must establish learning outcomes which provide competency in professional skills needed for competent and ethical participation as members of the legal profession, which also includes technology competence. Law schools have many opportunities to prepare students to be ethical, responsible users of technology in practice. Required Professional Responsibility courses and curricula should include the ethical pitfalls and considerations of using technology in practice. Law schools should also address the intersection of technology and professional responsibility in legal writing courses, clinics, and externships.

 

Thompson, LeighAnne, The Intersection of Technology Competence and Professional Responsibility: Opportunities and Obligations for Legal Education (July 25, 2021).
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Solicitors Regulation Authority of England and Wales publishes latest annual reports

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has published its suite of annual reports, which cover five core topics, these are: ‘Anti-money Laundering‘, ‘Authorisation‘, ‘Client Protection‘, ‘Education and Training‘ and ‘Upholding Professional Standards‘.

Key findings from the reports include:

  • There has been a year-on-year increase in the number of solicitors qualifying through apprenticeships, firms offering recognised training and solicitors gaining higher rights of audience qualifications.
  • There is further evidence of continued growth of the legal sector in Wales, with Welsh firms now accounting for a combined turnover of over £435 million, up from £370 million five years ago.
  • £10.4 million was paid out from the Compensation Fund, up £2.9 million from 2018/19, with the average payout around £28,000.
  • The Upholding Professional Standards Report, includes a review of the diversity characteristics of solicitors involved in the SRA’s enforcement processes. It has been found that as was the case in a similar analysis published last year, there is an over-representation of Black, Asian and minority ethnic solicitors, and men, in both concerns raised and investigated with the SRA when compared with the diversity of the profession as a whole. Based on this the SRA are currently commissioning independent research into the societal and structural factors that might be driving the over-representation in reports made to us, as well as reviewing our own decision making and working to improve diversity data collection.

Anna Bradley, Chair of the SRA Board, has said: “Publishing this suite of annual reviews is an important part of our ongoing commitment to transparency and accountability. Last year was difficult for everyone, and I’m pleased that our reports show that both we and the profession rose to the challenge, adapting to new ways of working, maintaining performance and services and showing real resilience in the face of the pandemic. Since we published our last set of reviews, we have made significant progress in many areas, not least the work now well underway to understand and address what may lie behind the overrepresentation of Black, Asian and minority ethnic solicitors, and men, in our enforcement processes. Our 2019/20 Upholding Professional Standards report again confirms the historic trends we have already seen and reaffirms how important it is that we continue to push on with this work as quickly as possible.”

Access the full suite of reports here. 

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State Bar of California publishes digital annual report

The State Bar of California has published its second digital annual report. The report was conceptualised following the significant changes in the legal industry brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, creating rapidly changing policy goals and public protection requirements.

Donna S. Hershkowitz, Interim Executive Director of the state bar had said “Despite the onset of the challenges brought on by the coronavirus, Californians deserve access to a legal system that serves them with integrity and fairness. The State Bar quickly adapted to ensure that our essential work protecting the public continued. The publication of this report is one of many initiatives we are undertaking to support our strategic goals of transparency, accountability, and proactive communication.”

The 2020 report highlights changes implemented by the State Bar to address the pandemic including:

  • The establishment of a fully remote call centre to maintain service to the public.
  • Shifting examinations to remote administration
  • The creation of a new licensing programme for law graduates to start practice before passing the bar exam
  • Transitioning the State Bar Court to remote proceedings
  • Distributing $11.75 million through the Client Security Fund.

Read the full report here.

 

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Understanding the Metacognitive “Space” and Its Implications for Law Students’ Learning

Abstract

This article builds upon our prior work, contributing to the growing literature addressing development of metacognitive skills in law students. Metacognitive skills include knowledge of strategies that impact thinking and learning, and regulation of thinking and learning related to specific learning tasks. Metacognitive skills are important for learning in law school as well as for successful lawyering.
Herein we describe an empirical study of first-year law students that addresses four primary research questions:
(1) What level of metacognitive knowledge and regulation do law students demonstrate when they enter law school?
(2) Do law students’ metacognitive knowledge and regulation change during the first semester of law school?
(3) Is there a relationship between law students’ academic performance and metacognitive knowledge and regulation?
(4) Does instructional intervention impact law students’ metacognitive knowledge and regulation?
In addressing these questions, we refined the qualitative instruments from our prior study to better capture the interplay between metacognitive knowledge and regulation. In so doing, a metacognitive “space” emerged that provides a visual tool for other researchers interested in assessing student metacognitive skills. We posit that the metacognitive “space” may further serve as a tool for instructors to promote development of metacognitive skills in students, and for students to self-reflect and intentionally regulate their learning.
We found that most students enter law school lacking metacognitive knowledge but with some metacognitive regulation skills. The majority of students ended their first semester with knowledge. However, metacognitive knowledge was not associated with course performance nor was there an effect of instructional intervention on metacognitive knowledge. Metacognitive regulation, specifically use of strategies identified as most effective in law school, was associated with course performance, as was overall level of metacognitive regulation. While there was no effect of instructional intervention on the level of metacognitive regulation, intervention did result in more students reporting use of strategies such as fact patterns, hypotheticals, and working practice problems, strategies supporting both success in law school and successful lawyering.
The article concludes with a discussion of the implications of the work for legal education and future directions for study and practice of metacognition.

Gundlach, Jennifer A. and Santangelo, Jessica, Understanding the Metacognitive “Space” and Its Implications for Law Students’ Learning (July 1, 2021).
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Designing Innovative Clinical Legal Programs to Respond to Changing Social Needs

Abstract

My argument is that Japanese law schools are urged to flexibly design innovative clinical programs to respond to changing social needs so as to maximize the educational effect for law students. As globalization progresses and technological innovations advance, our world is becoming more complex, unstable, and unpredictable. In this era, people in economic needs are more susceptible to uncertainty. They are more likely to confront unexpected hardship and less likely to afford to retain their attorney even if required.

Some countries have their national legal aid programs in operation under their national statutes. This type of system is relatively rigid and less flexible, and sometimes not good at addressing new types of legal problems. For example, in Japan, we have a national legal aid program, Hoterasu, funded by the government. The targeted fields of the program are fixed by the law and other national regulations. On March 11, 2011, an unprecedented huge earthquake and tsunami hit the northern part of Japan, and many of the victims fell into utmost difficulties for the needs, including legal aids right after the disaster. However, Ho-terasu was not able to expand its services for a free legal consultation to those people affected by this disaster until after April 2012 because it took time to amend the relevant laws. In addition to this, although arbitration is now acknowledged as an effective alternative dispute resolution in Japan, people who hope to use arbitration cannot rely on the program of Ho-terasu. As these examples show, the Japanese national legal aid system is not yet perfect. On the other hand, clinical legal education is free from restrictions of national regulations. This trait should be recognized as one of the hallmarks of legal clinics. Clinical legal programs have inherently the potential to be designed for a more flexible platform to dramatically improve access to justice for socially vulnerable people. Throughout this article, I will explore what type of clinical legal programs are truly needed in our changing society, focusing on the flexibility of clinical legal education. Creating client interest-oriented programs also maximizes student learning outcomes in clinical legal education. Students’ motivation for their participation is maximized, and they can obtain basic legal skills required as a legal professional in the most effective manner, especially when a law student can feel the importance of herself and necessity as a legal professional.

In Part II of this article, I will examine examples of how clinical legal education has actually functioned as a social infrastructure in society in the U.S. where this pedagogy developed. Every program that I will introduce here was designed to respond to actual clients’ needs at the U.S. law schools. These opportunities enabled law students to effectively acquire legal skills, sense of responsibility, and ethics required as a legal practitioner.

In Part III, I will share two successful achievements of the clinical legal programs at Waseda Law School: Sports Law Program and International Human Rights Program. Both programs were uniquely created as a client-centered program outside of the scope of the existing national legal aid. In the last Part, I will discuss the future of the clinical legal education required in the Japanese educational settings in the light of successful examples explained in this article, and make concluding remarks.

Shiraki, Atsushi, Designing Innovative Clinical Legal Programs to Respond to Changing Social Needs (June 30, 2021). Waseda Bulletin of Comparative Law,
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Law School in a Pandemic: Student Perspectives on Distance Learning and Lessons for the Future

Introduction

When COVID-19 forced colleges and universities across the United States to send their students home and transition to a distance learning model for the duration of the Spring 2020 term, many faculty and staff had only the time afforded by an extended spring break to shift their curricula to online courses.1 But even if these faculty were given a full two weeks to prepare, that window would have been just a fraction of the four to six months some universities suggest dedicating to the development of a fully online course — to say nothing of the impact the pandemic may have had on their personal and financial wellbeing.2,3

While some undergraduate and graduate faculty were likely able to consult with internal university resources experienced in delivering online education, most law schools had a scarce curricular foundation to build upon. As of the Fall 2019 term, five law schools had received variances from the ABA to offer hybrid J.D. programs, allowing them to deliver parts of their curriculum in a distance learning environment.4 Prior to the pandemic, no ABA-approved law school offered a completely online J.D. program.5

While some law faculty may have had access to existing infrastructure that could house asynchronous learning materials or facilitate live online class sessions, few would have had the preparation or experience to rapidly transition their materials and instruction to a distance learning environment.

Available at AccessLex

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Canadian Bar Association launches truth and reconciliation toolkit for law firms

In June 2021, the Canadian Bar Assocation (CBA) is launching a Truth and Reconciliation toolkit, focused on large Candaian law firms, and helping them to reconcile and renew relationships with indigenous communities in Canada. The toolkit is aimed at firms that are already on a reconciliation journey or would like to begin one, and firms of any size that want to become better allies.

The toolkit contains a comprehensive list of templates, guides and resources to help firms further their reconciliation efforts. It is divided into four sections:

  • Leadership and Governance
  • Learning, Celebrating and Supporting Indigenous Communities
  • Talent Management and Students
  • Law and Legal Traditions

The toolkit includes resources on how firms can ensure their human resource policies are diverse and inclusive and what questions they should ask prospective Indigenous employees or students. It includes guidance on how to ensure firms have a cultural competency lens on their hiring processes. The toolkit also includes a section on Indigenous law and legal traditions is a reference hub for comprehensive glossaries, terminology guides, and many other resources to understand everything from the Indian Act to the United Nations on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and how they apply to the Canadian context.

CBA President Bradley Regehr has said “Whether you are just beginning your reconciliation journey or are already on your way, there are tremendous resources here to help you learn to be a better ally, engage with Indigenous advisors, immerse yourself in Indigenous culture, consider ways to recruit and retain Indigenous talent, and much, much more.”

The toolkit comes in the wake of the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which called for action withing the legal profession. The CBA began in 2016 by committing to do its part to advance the calls to action that fit within our mandate. It established a Truth and Reconciliation Task Force, created a dedicated website and, with NVision Insight Group, developed an accredited educational program called The Path: Your Journey Through Indigenous Canada to educate lawyers about the history of Indigenous-settler relations and the legacy of the Indian Residential School System. It also partnered with Myrna McCallum to launch her Trauma-Informed Lawyer podcast.

Read more about the toolkit here. 

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Top jurists call for regulatory change to increase access to justice

During the 9th June ABA discussion on regulatory change, Vice Chief Justice Ann A. Scott Timmer of the Arizona Supreme Court stated that despite decades of efforts to encourage practising lawyers to perform a minimum of 50 pro bono hours annually to increase access to justice, minimal results have been achieved.

Timmer is part of a growing list of top jurists calling for regulatory change to expand access to justice. Instead of relying on pro bono work to increase legal access, for instance, regulatory changes could lead to nonlawyers handling some routine legal matters. She and chief justices from Utah, Michigan and Texas discussed some of these changes in the inaugural Redesigning Legal Speaker Series, which is intended to provide a forum to explore the legal profession’s regulatory changes underway and the challenges they face. Three ABA entities — the Center for Innovation, the Center for Professional Responsibility and the Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services — have teamed up with the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System at the University of Denver and Legal Hackers to organize what is planned as a quarterly series.

The debut program, Redesigning Legal: Leading from the Bench — Expanding Access through Regulatory Innovation, also featured Chief Justice Bridget McCormack of Michigan, Chief Justice Nathan Hecht of Texas and Chief Justice Matthew Durrant of Utah, and showcased how supreme courts in Utah and Arizona have ushered in regulatory change to expand access to justice.

In Arizona, legal paraprofessionals can now practice in four distinct areas. The state Supreme Court also eliminated model rules that prohibit the sharing of legal fees with nonlawyers.

In Utah, 23 pilot programs have been approved in the state’s seven-year “sandbox” approach, Durrant said. They range from a solo practitioner giving his sole paralegal 10% ownership in the firm to law students at Brigham Young University providing counsel to domestic violence victims.

Hecht, who is also chair of the Conference of Chief Justices, said courts are rethinking their roles because jurists realize pro bono efforts are not sufficient to provide access to the courts for many Americans. McCormack added, “We are going to forge forward in Michigan because this is now the time in the process to try. And the big winner could be the public.”

Read more here.

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