Digital Law Forum looks at how artificial intelligence is changing the field of law

Two-day conference features local and international experts

Carmen Rojas - 7 February 2022

The second annual Digital Law Forum is bringing the law and tech communities together to examine issues that are rapidly changing the legal profession.

“Artificial Intelligence & the Law: Myths & Reality” is a virtual event taking place on February 15 and 16. It is co-hosted by the Faculty of Law, AI4Society (Artificial Intelligence for Society), a University of Alberta signature area, and the Digital Law and Innovation Society, a future-focused Faculty of Law student group.

Organizers hope the event — which aims to connect practitioners and researchers from law, technology and the public sector — will be a chance to build bridges across disciplines and grow the digital law community.

“Canada is at a really interesting moment right now to consider what AI looks like for our society and how the legal community can engage,” said third-year law student Hero Laird, the forum’s coordinator and founding president of the Digital Law and Innovation Society.

From the widespread use of smartphones to the adoption of facial recognition technology by law enforcement, Laird points out that AI already affects lawyers’ work, regardless of their area of practice.

“We as a sector need to know enough about [AI] to understand and engage professionally with it,” said Laird. “It’s not an easy problem — it requires deep technological expertise and it also requires deep legal expertise, but if we come together I think we can do some great work.”

The line-up of speakers for this year’s forum taps into that required knowledge, with insights from both local and international experts.

The first day will focus on examining present and emerging issues affecting the development of law and technology. Speakers and topics include:

  • James Grimmelmann, Tessler family professor of digital and information law at Cornell Tech and Cornell Law School, who will deliver a keynote address entitled “Authors and Readers, Humans and Machines: Copyright and AI”

  • Teresa Scassa, Canada Research Chair in information law and policy and professor, University of Ottawa, speaking about the current state of AI regulation in Canada and the world

  • Justice Avril Inglis, Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta, delivering a “Note from the Bench” about how AI is affecting the judiciary

  • Dominique Bohn, chief officer and assistant deputy minister with the Government of Alberta’s Digital Innovation Office, providing a view from government on the changing landscape of AI and the law

  • Colin Lachance, co-founder and CEO of, LIDI and Jurisage, providing insight about legal data and emerging opportunities in Canada

  • Bart Verheij, chair of artificial intelligence and argumentation and head of the Department of Artificial Intelligence at the University of Groningen, and Randy Goebel, professor of computing science at the University of Alberta, discussing how AI already affects the legal profession

Day two focuses on how to start moving law and tech ideas into action. Featuring Len Polsky, manager of legal technology and mentorship for the Law Society of Alberta, it will be a working session focused on participant’s specific ideas and how they can find support from Alberta’s new Innovation Sandbox initiative, along with other resources for legal innovation and reform.

Laird hopes participants will come away from the forum with a better understanding of the connections between law and technology, and a desire to take a proactive approach to the way these two areas interact in our society.

“It’s an exciting time to engage in law and digital innovation across disciplines.” said Laird. “With AI changing so much about society, I think law has a really pivotal role to play."

For a full list of sessions and to register, visit the Digital Law Forum event page.