A Hackathon That Won't Stop


June 2020

A few months ago, terms like “court technology,” “justice reform,” and “legal innovation” occupied the fanciful imagination (or woes) of a handful of lawyers, but very few paid much daily attention. Cue the sudden suspension of the courts due to COVID-19, however, and the entire justice sector was struck staring at the smoldering remains of its trial schedules, paper-based registry services, and nearly every recognizable aspect of our brick-and-mortar legal system. What happened next could be the biggest legal hackathon in history. This issue’s theme is “emergent law in a changing world,” but the vibe from the trenches of civil procedure during COVID-19 was more like “pack 10 years’ worth of legal innovation into the business end of a flare gun and fire it straight into the sky.” Remotely sworn affidavits erupted into life, the Court of Appeal fled to Zoom, and the provincial government threw judges carte blanche power to rewrite Rules of Court on the fly (Ministerial Order M121). While the impacts of COVID-19 on substantive law will be felt for years to come, the changes to civil procedure have been extraordinary and it’s unlikely the justice system will ever recork the technological genies let loose during the pandemic. Luckily Courthouse Libraries BC is one of the 30 organizations on the Ministry of Attorney General’s new Justice COVID-19 Response Group, and our mission remains strong. We’re working harder than ever to provide you with the expertise, remote information resources, free CPD training webinars and seamless virtual assistance (see courthouselibrary.ca) to keep you oriented and informed in this ongoing legal hackathon.