Law Student At Leading Edge of Innovation

Alec McIlwraith-Black focuses on technology and the law

Staff Writer - 28 May 2019

With clubs, teams, competitions and volunteering, law students typically juggle many different things beyond the classroom - but only a few students increase their engagement to extraordinary levels.

Alec McIlwraith-Black, '20 JD, is one of those students. Not only was he a part of the inaugural Legal Innovation Conference in 2018 and the student liaison of the 2019 edition, presented in co-operation with Dean Paul Paton, he is co-president of the Law and Business Student Association, an editorial board member of the Alberta Law Review, and a competitive mooter. Additionally, McIlwraith-Black was the only North American student shortlisted for the 2019 Justis International Law and Technology Writing Competition. Oh, and he made time to sing in Law Show, too.

"The Legal Innovation Conference was an awesome opportunity to do something that would help put UAlberta Law on the map in terms of legal innovation," said McIlwraith-Black about the conference, which this year attracted experts in cybersecurity, ethics, artificial intelligence and other technologies. "It's fundamentally a question of how lawyers and law firms can adapt and thrive in the age of disruptive pressure from technology and from new business models."

In his first year of law school, McIlwraith-Black had chances to meet many prominent legal experts across Canada while planning the conference. He hopes it will be part of the legacy he leaves behind once he graduates.

For the Justis competition, McIlwraith-Black adapted a paper from his Professional Responsibility class that concerned how lawyers' use of technology might be regulated, and the sort of fiduciary duty and competence obligations that come along with technology in legal practice.

"As the paradigm shifts for the legal industry, technological disruption ramps up and clients continue to demand more for less," said McIlwraithBlack. "But that challenge presents a great opportunity for lawyers to redefine ourselves."

McIlwraith-Black isn't just good on paper; he is also an accomplished oral advocate, winning the Dean's Cup in 1L and the Brimacombe Cup in 2L, and taking Eighth-Best Oralist in the Davies Corporate/Securities Moot.