THE ADVOCATE 265
VOL. 78 PART 2 MARCH 2020
By the Honourable David Eby, Q.C.*
PREPARING FOR THE INEVITABILITY OF TECHNOLOGY IN OUR
En route to the bencher’s retreat last summer while reviewing the materials
for the meeting, I was pleasantly surprised to find that my cousin, Ben
Alarie, was a keynote speaker on the topic of artificial intelligence and the
Ben had been invited by the Law Society to speak about his rapidly growing
company, Blue J Legal, which uses artificial intelligence to predict outcomes
in tax litigation based on specific fact scenarios. According to their
website, ninety per cent of the ten largest accounting firms in Canada and
eighty per cent of the ten largest law firms in Canada use their predictive
As a lawyer, you may recognize the function performed by this software.
After all, predicting probable outcomes in tax litigation is a function usually
reserved for, well, lawyers.
In the discussion following his presentation, issues raised about the
ethics of a piece of software “practising law” (and who could be held
accountable for such practice) were quickly turned upside down. Ben told
the audience that instead of spending time considering how to regulate a
helpful legal tool, the benchers should be considering whether it is negligent
for a lawyer not to be buttressing legal analysis of a client’s exposure
with readily available artificial intelligence tools given the demonstrated
success of the approach.
Certainly part of my cousin’s judo move on the discussion was marketing
for his firm (and resistance to regulation that legal research databases and
* The Honourable David Eby, Q.C., is British Columbia’s Minister of Justice and Attorney General.