Former Chief Justice, Frank Clarke SC described the introduction of technology in the courts during the Covid-19 pandemic as a “forced experiment” in his address to an audience of legal practitioners and students at a legal technology conference held in TUS Midlands Athlone Campus.
The conference titled ‘New Frontiers and Tech Pioneers’ assembled a range of expert speakers from academia and the legal profession to speak about the impact of technology on the courts, the judiciary, and legal education, as well as opportunities for entrepreneurs.
Organized by the law team of TUS Midlands, the event highlighted the dramatic changes that technology has brought about in legal practice.
The event opened with conference convenor Alison Hough welcoming everybody and introducing the keynote speaker Frank Clarke SC, former Chief Justice. The former Chief Justice spoke about the drive to modernize the courts, accelerated by the pandemic which he described as a “forced experiment”. He spoke of the need for an “iterative interaction between the people who are going to build the system and the people who are going to use the system”. Mr Clarke spoke about the need for equity of access to technological solutions in court, noting the difficulty of achieving dynamic collaboration between judges in online court and also the efficiencies and improved speed that can be achieved through technology.
Informative Conference Panels
Mr. Clarke chaired the first conference panel on ‘Access to Justice’ in which three speakers considered the topic from different perspectives.
Nap Keeling BL, solicitor with McCann Fitzgerald Solicitors and former barrister, spoke about the practitioner’s experience of access to justice through technology during the pandemic, and the positive and negative effects of the rapid shift to online courts during the pandemic.
Dr Rónán Kennedy from University of Galway spoke about the user experience