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 ottobre 2018

La FBE, rappresentata da Monique Stengel, ha preso parte alla “Rentrée Solennelle du Barreau de Lille”, il 19 ottobre 2018

La conferenza è iniziata con la presentazione di Basile Ader, Vice-Presidente dell’Ordine di Parigi e Presidente dell’OIAD (Observatoire International des Avocats en Danger). Questo Osservatorio internazionale è stato inizialmente fondato nel 2015 dal Conseil national des Barreaux (Francia), l’ordine di Parigi, con il Consiglio Generale della Abogicia Espanola e il Consiglio Nazionale Forense Italiano. La presentazione video ha mostrato la lista dei paesi in cui gli avvocati sono in pericolo: perseguitati, arrestati, esiliati, uccisi …. Il pubblico è rimasto molto colpito poiché ci hanno anche mostrato i volti dei colleghi in pericolo ….

Dopo un tributo ai colleghi dell’Ordine di Lille che sono morti dall’ultima apertura, il Presidente, il signor Dhonte, ha fatto un discorso molto energico sulle difficoltà della professione di fronte a un rappresentante del Ministro della Giustizia francese. Il Presidente ha anche parlato delle possibilità per la professione, specialmente a Lille, in quanto la conferenza è stata collocata nelle stanze delle “Eurotecnologie”: antichi edifici industriali trasformati in uffici per nuove tecnologie.

In seguito i due vincitori del concorso di eloquenza hanno presentato un finto processo come procuratore e difensore di Claude Lelouch, il noto regista francese presente e alla fine ha presentato una brillante difesa di tutto il suo lavoro!

La cerimonia è stata chiusa da un omaggio artistico alla signora Simone Veil, che è morta quest’anno e ha ricevuto un funerale nazionale a Parigi.

Riunione solenne dell’Ordine degli avvocati di Versailles, 12 ottobre 2018

La FBE, rappresentata da Monique Stengel, ha partecipato alla Riunione solenne dell’Ordine degli avvocati di Versailles

Dopo il commovente tributo ai colleghi scomparsi nell’ultimo anno, la signora Blanchard-Masi, Presidente dell’Ordine degli avvocati, ha presentato una relazione sulle difficoltà, ma anche sulle azioni positive per la professione in Francia. Gli avvocati francesi incontrano le stesse difficoltà di tutti gli avvocati in Europa, in particolare con le nuove tecnologie e la difesa dello stato di diritto.

A questa cerimonia sono stati invitati i Presidi degli Ordini gemellati di Versailles: Quebec, Cracovia e Arges in Romania.

Durante l’evento, i colleghi membri della FBE provenienti da Firenze, Lussemburgo, Cracovia, Belgio e rappresentanti degli Ordini francesi si sono incontrati insieme.

Young Bar Association of Leuven – Cerimonia di apertura dell’anno legale 2018 – 2019 – Leuven, 5-6 ottobre 2018

La FBE è stata invitata dalla Young Bar Association e dall’ordien degli avvocati di Leuven a partecipare alla conferenza annuale dell’apertura dell’anno legale..

Monique Stengel era il rappresentante di FBE. È stata una bella opportunità per incontrare giovani avvocati e rappresentanti di diversi Ordine del  Belgio ed altre nazioni, in un college fra i più antichi d’Europa e del Belgio. Dopo una conferenza su argomenti molto attuali come il ruolo della biologia e dell’identità nel diritto di famiglia, ha avuto luogo una ricezione sontuosa sul tema “Gatsby”, perfettamente organizzata dal Young Bar. Giovani avvocati futuro membri di FBE?