CCBE AI Conference – Lille, 30.11.18

Last month a long awaited event by all those interested in LegalTech took place at Lille University, France. Announced as one of the most important conferences devoted to technological advancement, the conference attracted great interest from lawyers all over Europe. As a  result, five hundred lawyers registered for the conference.

Bearing in mind the impact of new technology on the development of the legal profession and its significance for FBE Bar members Izabela Konopacka (chair of the New Technology Committee) has been instructed by the presidency to take part in the conference.

The conference took place on the last day of November and coincided with the introduction of the European Ethical Charter on the use of artificial intelligence in judicial systems.

What is AI? What technological legal advancements are available on the market? How to use AI to increase the efficiency and quality of court proceedings? Who bears liability in the situation where AI has made a bad decision? How should  the legislator ensure the protection of Human Rights within the context of using automatic systems based on algorithms?

These were just a few of the many questions raised during the conference in Lille.

It goes without saying, that the future environment lawyers are to work in will be greatly affected by LegalTech. Therefore, the fact that some of us are resistant to technological development pales into insignificance in the face of our clients’ expectations. Clients who have become accustomed to  instantaneous access to information will determine the range of technological advancements lawyers will implement into their practices. As was already discussed during the conference, the era of increased competition among law firms means that those lacking in technological innovation may face difficulties in finding a place within the legal services market. Thus, local and national Bars are under a duty to provide LegalTech training to its members as the trend to “work smart” instead of “work hard” is going to continue in the coming  year – 2019.

Consequently, while the paperless court solution may be an everyday reality for lawyers from Austria and Germany, it is difficult for the majority of us to imagine such a court environment. Here the use of actual paper documents has been reduced to an absolute minimum or completly eliminated by electronic versions. 

However, the above situation where attorneys submit electronic documents  only and are served with electronic documents by courts via an electronic platform is seemingly acceptable in contrast to court judgments delivered by AI based systems.  (referred to as prescriptive justice). 

Such AI court solutions, already used by judges in the USA, raise many questions among legal practitioners. One significant  question asked by lawyers refers to how much access parties and their attorneys have to this solution. It is not hard to imagine the situation where a defective decision generated by AI  is approved and  handed down by the court which subsequently is appealed by one of the parties. In such a case it would seem obvious for the parties and their attorneys to have access to the AI system in the sense that the reasoning behind a decision is given by a human judge and is available. Whereas, an AI based decision is derived from programmed situations and algorithms. As has been pointed out, physical courts using AI as well as the AI system itself should be transparent and accessible to all concerned. It is of considerable importance that AI systems should be used in compliance with Human Rights.

Microsoft director Martin Slijkhuis has also presented other LegalTech options which could contribute to greater efficiency for both courts and public bodies as well as legal practices.

Some of the most interesting  soultions from a legal practitioner’s perspective were the following: 

  1. software used to anonymise electronic documents to remove any identifying information, which is still readable  by the lawyer and client, but  not for third parties. 
  2. software designed to read handwritten documents  and convert them into electronic and computer-typed documents.  
  3. A solution used to digitalise evidence e.g. where software selects the key issues for the case from video to reduce the evidence to a few minutes instead of a few hours when presented in court.
  4. Another highly innovative solution and very useful from a legal practitioners point of view is undoubtedly the CARA system based on AI (CARA AI). CARA  can not only verify any formal requirements for documents i.e. pleadings and assess whether all the relevant rulings for the case at issue have been presented, but can draft its own documents, for instance, a statement of claim, a defence or any other pleadings required.  CARA AI can analyse the legal arguments raised in the pleading as well as make a summary of all the key facts. It may also be used to identify any unfair contractual terms too. 

The above solutions aim at improving the efficiency of legal practices and eliminate  the routine and mundane . time-consuming tasks from its everyday work, which can be just as well performed by an AI system. Thus, an attorney is able to devote much more time to actual lawyering and building good relationships with their clients. 

In summary, it should be noted that the significance of an FBE presence through its representation at the AI Conference in Lille seems unquestionable since it may be in the coming year 2019 which could be revolutionary in terms of the implementation of LegalTech solutions.

FBE International Law Firm of the Future Competition 2019

The Wroclaw Bar Association and The Haague Bar Association are organizing the first FBE International « Law Firm of the Future » Competition from 15th January to 22nd February 2019.

The purpose of the Competition is to promote and encourage innovative thinking of young students and lawyers at the start of their career in a time where traditional law practise is changing rapidly.

Furthermore, the purpose of the Competition is to promote the activities of FBE aiming at implementing new IT solutions among lawyers and to encourage the lawyers to use them in their daily practice.

HUMAN RIGHTS DAY – 10 December 2018

The Federation of European Bars (FBE) celebrates the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, signed in Paris on this day in 1948.

The FBE is proud to defend human rights, access to justice and the rule of law. Our members are aware of the importance of these strong values when in so many parts of the world there is no equality before the law, access to justice is limited to those who have resources, human rights are violated and the rule of law is threatened.

The role of the member bars of the Federation is to support lawyers in defending these values is under threat and we stand together united in our support of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and all those who defend human rights, access to justice and the rule of law.

18th CONFERENCE OF THE EUROPEAN LAWYER’S PROFESSION – Berlin, 8-9 November 2018

The meeting started with a walking dinner on Thursday night 8th November 2018.

The conference took place on Friday morning 9th November 2018 at the offices of the European Commission  Unter den Linden, Berlin.

The topic was the professional activity as a lawyer. Is it still a dream job for the next generation?

There were representatives from about 20, most European, countries.

The CCBE was represented by its second vice-president Margarete Gräfin Von GALEN and the FBE was represented by its general secretary Charles KAUFHOLD.

The keynote speaker Thomas KRÜMMEL presented the situation of lawyers in Germany. It was interesting to note that concerning the revenue there is a gender gap of 24 %. It was largely discussed what exactly caused this gap but no clear conclusion could be drawn.

Following the speaker, in Germany one lawyer comes on 500 inhabitants. This is a very low number compared to other countries, like for example Austria where the number of inhabitants is 1400 per one lawyer.

The participants of the conference also treated subjects like the digitalisation that takes place in many countries while other countries are still far from implementing it.

Digitalisation is making things quicker and, if well done, provides the lawyer, the clients and the judge with better information an easier access to justice.

A presentation of the last developments in European Law was given by Mr Nikolaus VON PETER representing the European Commission.

The discussion had to be interrupted as lunchtime occurred.

In the evening, the traditional Gala dinner took place.

Charles Kaufhold was joined by Monique Stengel, treasurer  and Artur Wierzbicki, head of the Human rights Commission of FBE.

The first speech was held by the special guest, Mrs. Prof. Dr. Juliane Kokott, General Prosecutor by the European Court of Justice with the topic “The European Court of Justice as constitutional Court?”. Table speeches were held about the actual situation of Justice by Mr. Dr. Behrendt, Senator for Justice in Berlin and about actual difficulties of the legal profession by Mr. Freyschmidt, President of the Berlin DAV and Mr. Schellenberger, President of the national DAV. Many European colleagues as well as guests from Korea were participating to this nice evening.

European Lawyers’ day – Paris, 25 October 2018

FBE Vicepresident, Dominique Attias, attended at the meeting held at the French National Bar Associations Council (CNB).

The President of the French National Bar Associations Council, Mrs. Christiane FERAL-SCHUHL introduced this conference, followed by the Paris Bar President, Marie-Aimée PEYRON.

The first round table was devoted to lawyers in danger and, in particular, the situation in TURKEY.

Two Turkish colleagues who had to flee TURKEY presented the poignant situation of detention conditions in Turkey, especially those of women with very young children.

Rentrée Solennelle du Barreau de Lille, 19 octobre 2018

FBE, represented by Monique Stengel, took part in the “Rentrée Solennelle du Barreau de Lille”, on 19 octobre 2018

The conference began with a presentation of Mr. Basile Ader, Vice-Dean of Paris and President of the OIAD (Observatoire International des Avocats en Danger). This international Observatory was initially founded in 2015 by the Conseil national des Barreaux (France) the Paris Bar, witt Consejo General de la Abogicia Espanola and the Consiglio Nazionale Forense Italiano. The video presentation showed the – too long – list of countries where lawyers are in danger: persecuted, arrested, faltered, killed…. The audience was very impressed as we were also shown the faces of the colleagues in danger….

After a tribute to  the colleagues of the Bar in Lille who died since the last Opening, the Dean, Mr. Dhonte,  made a very energetic speech  about the difficulties of the profession in front of a representative of the French Mnistery for Justice. The Dean also spoke about the chances for the profession, specially in Lille as the conference was placed in the rooms of “Eurotechnologies”: ancient industrial buildings transformed in offices for new technologies.

Afterwards the two winners of the eloquence contest presented a mock trial as prosecutor and defender of Claude Lelouch, the well known French director who was present and finally presented a brilliant defence of his whole work!

The Ceremony was closed by an artistic tribute to Mrs. Simone Veil who died this year and was given a national funeral in Paris.

Rentrée Solennelle du barreau de Versailles, 12 octobre 2018

FBE, represented by Monique Stengel, took part in the Solemn Opening of the Bar in Versailles.

After the very touching tribute to the colleagues who disappeared in the last year, Mrs. Blanchard-Masi, Dean of the Bar, gave a report about the difficulties but also about the positive actions for the profession in France. French Lawyers  meet the same difficulties as all lawyers in Europe, specially with the new technologies and the defence of rule of law.

At this ceremony were invited the Deans of the twinned Bars of Versailles: Quebec, Cracow and Arges in Romania.

During the event,  colleagues member of FBE from Florence, Luxembourg, Cracow, Belgium as well as representatives of French Bars, met together.

Young Bar Association of Leuven – Opening ceremony of the Legal Year 2018 – 2019 – Leuven, 5–6 October 2018

FBE was invited by the Young Bar Association and the Bar of  Leuven to participate to the annual Openings Conference. Monique Stengel was the FBE representative. Il was a very nice opportunity at the place of one of the oldest colleges in Europe and in Belgium to meet young lawyers as well as representatives of different Belgian Bars and other countries Bars. After a conference about very actual topics as the role of biology and identity in family law, a sumptuous reception on the topic “Gatsby” took place, perfectly organised by the Young Bar. Young lawyers future member of FBE?