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textbooks have similarly resisted successfully), but on the other hand, the
turnaround was unsettling given the unmistakable significance for our profession
of the software he was demonstrating.
In a far more simplified example, but on the same spectrum of technological
legal tools, our province recently released an “Online Divorce Assistant”
that helps people fill in forms for uncontested divorce proceedings by guiding
them through a series of questions about their family separation situation.2
While the assistant is not “artificial intelligence” in the 2020s sense
(although it might be in a 1990s MS Word paperclip “it looks like you’re writing
a letter” sense), it is a computer-based tool that expands the self-help
legal ability of those facing an uncontested divorce situation. These are just
two examples of countless software tools changing how the public interacts
with the legal system every day.
To imagine the charge of advanced and basic technologies like these will
upend the worlds of litigators, solicitors and regulators and yet somehow be
turned back by the closed doors of our courtrooms is a bizarre notion. This
is surely why it is difficult, if not impossible, to find a person who believes
that our courtrooms will remain immune to technological change, despite
all appearances to the contrary.
So perhaps we had better start preparing in a serious way for what we all
agree is inevitable.
This inevitability is exactly why our government has reached out to
stakeholders across the justice system to develop a provincial Court Digital
Transformation Strategy, a document which was launched in October 2019.
The strategy is an important part of the government’s commitment to
improving access to justice for British Columbians, providing a clear roadmap
to improve services and accessibility for justice system users and promoting
the use of innovative technology to meet the needs of the judiciary.
Our digital strategy looks at how we can make the legal system more accessible
by guiding individuals through these processes using technology.
For example, the online divorce assistant uses a system of “guided
pathways” of plain language questions that can guide individuals through
any number of court filing processes—not just divorce. The potential for
offering similar digital navigation tools for different court processes is
This tool puts the user at the centre of the process, bringing with this orientation
significant benefits. It decreases the possibility of errors in applications,
which helps court staff and the judiciary, while reducing the time
to disposition. Additionally, and importantly, getting the forms right the