Link Round-Up: Feb. 11, 2016
‘Link Round-up’ gives you a glimpse into the articles that got the most airtime around the Loom Analytics water cooler this week. Published each Thursday, article topics include access to justice, big data, legal technology, and what’s happening in the Canadian legal landscape.
- Although jurors are supposed to render a verdict based only on information heard in the courtroom, it’s hard to ignore the ever-present pull of Google. On Slaw, Heather Douglas looks at two Ontario Court of Appeals cases involving jurors performing “forbidden searches”.
- If you’re one of the thousands of Canadians using a fitness tracker, you may be interested in whether your Fitbit data could end up being used as evidence. The Toronto Star reports that Fitbit data was used by a Calgary law firm in 2014 to demonstrate decreased levels of activity after one of their clients was in a car accident. However, the same article raises an alarm about the relative security of fitness tracker data, and whether it’s reliable. (When looking at the value of these devices as evidence, also worth noting is just how many users abandon fitness trackers after a relatively short period of time.)
- Does birth order have an impact on the judicial system? On the SCOTUS blog, Andrew Hamm looks at a fascinating Law Society Review paper that examines the characteristics of first-born and later-born judges in the US:
“In keeping with the expectations of birth-order socialization, McGuire finds a linkage between the political preferences of members of the Court and their birth order, with first-born Justices more conservative and later-born Justices more liberal, even accounting for other factors that contribute to an adult’s political ideology.”
- It’s an understatement to say that it can be extremely challenging for vulnerable populations to access and navigate through the complexities of the legal system. On ABlawg this week, Alysia Wright examines access to legal services in women’s shelters, and suggests improvements to the current model.
- Over on The Court, Zinejda Rita breaks down the controversial R. v. Elliott verdict.
- Dr. Julie Macfarlane of the National Self-Represented Litigants Project published a guest article on Now Toronto this week highlighting the rise of self-represented litigants (especially in family court) and the growing legal marketplace that caters to them. She covers the growing body of legal professionals offering "unbundled" services like court prep and document review, as well as the general access to justice hurdles faced by litigants who can't afford to retain counsel.
- Also on the family law A2J front, the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General is calling for consultation regarding "whether or not paralegals and other legal service providers, such as law students and law clerks, should provide legal assistance in certain family law matters." Responses are open until the end of April.
- On Slaw, John Gillies gives an in-depth report on 2015’s trends in legal technology, from Ross Watson to the cloud to the question of whether lawyers have a “duty of technology competence”.