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Faculty of Law
UNB Fredericton

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Dr. Argyri Panezi to examine legal innovation in New Brunswick and beyond

The New Brunswick legal community has a lot to be excited about as UNB Law welcomes Dr. Argyri Panezi, the Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Digital Information Law and Policy. Dr. Panezi brings a wealth of knowledge in the areas of law and technology and IP law, with an emphasis on digitization, artificial intelligence, and legal innovation.

“This CRC appointment is another big step forward for the strategic growth of the law school,” said Dean Marin, “strengthening our research impact and boosting our national profile. Dr. Panezi’s work is at the intersection of access to justice and technology. It aims to address societal challenges by influencing public policy. It will be meaningful not only for our institution but for the entire region and the country.”

Dr. Panezi's research program over the next five years will focus on e-justice, which refers to the use of digital technology in the administration of justice—e.g. electronic filing, electronic discovery, and virtual hearings. Dr. Panezi will build a research team comprised of graduate students and post-doctoral fellows dedicated to identifying best practices in e-justice. By leveraging UNB Law's connections with courts, tribunals, and government agencies, Dr. Panezi's team will help develop recommendations for improving access to justice while protecting privacy and security.

“In addition to research work and policy implications,” adds Dean Marin, “Dr. Panezi’s appointment also adds to UNB Law’s teaching complement, helping address several of our strategic priorities, including offering more specialized courses, and lowering our student-faculty ratio.”

A collaborative space to examine legal innovation in the region

Dr. Panezi is building a research lab that will focus on legal innovation in New Brunswick and Atlantic Canada—specifically, digitization and accessibility of legal information/assets and communication among members and users of the justice system in national and international contexts.

“The lab will promote interdisciplinary collaboration,” said Dr. Panezi. “It will bring together the province’s various communities along with researchers and scholars from across Canada and around the world to discuss the digital transformation in the Justice sector and design the future of New Brunswick’s justice system.”

Dr. Panezi and her team will begin by analyzing and mapping the current state of innovation in the province and Atlantic region, identifying points and issues that need to be looked at in more detail such as data collection, digitization of judicial or court materials, and communication to the public in terms of judicial processes.

The research will then look forward to how judicial reforms could help both citizens and the province move into the digital age and prepare for future challenges. The team will develop guidelines for process and policy improvements and explore opportunities to innovate these policies.

“Lately, I'm obsessed with the concept of the metaverse and how different our world might be decades from now—changes may come sooner than we think. I just want to see how this old institution—the justice system—is adapting and will adapt in the future to rapid technological changes and the evolving needs of citizens in terms of access to information.” 

Technological innovation and access to justice

For Panezi, whose research focus has had a strong focus on access to information and knowledge, the question of technological innovation in the legal field is also a question of access to justice.

“This research will retain my focus on public service institutions and the importance of access to knowledge in the digital age in the justice sector—a topic that I believe has been under-explored. There is an expectation that information should be available online, and this is no different for our older institutions. Having legal information digitized and easily available for citizens unquestionably helps address access to justice.”

The lab will examine the effects of constant technological change and the increasing pressure on the judicial system for efficiency and speed, studying the way these phenomena influence access to justice. Dr. Panezi’s research will also address an issue unique to New Brunswickers. 

“There's an interesting linguistic element that comes into play in a bilingual province like New Brunswick. A large part of this project will also look at the added layer of language requirements as they relate to technological advancements in the judicial sector.”

A Fredericton reunion

If the surname sounds familiar, that’s no coincidence, Argyri’s sister, Dr. Maria Panezi, is UNB Law’s resident expert in trade law, having joined the law school in 2019. When asked how it feels to be working alongside her sister, Argyri replied, “It’s fantastic to be working at the same institution, in the same building as Maria. We’ve crossed paths professionally in the past, when I was studying at Harvard. I was a student, and Maria was a visiting scholar and researcher. I hope we will have the opportunity to collaborate—I just have to convince her that tech is cool.”

Dr. Panezi joins UNB Law as a Tier II Chair, a five-year position, renewable for a second five-year term. Tier II Chairs are recognized as exceptional emerging researchers, acknowledged by their peers as having the potential to lead in their field.

“It is a very exciting opportunity,” said Panezi. “The dream of every researcher is to have this kind of support for their work, and that's really what the CRC program provides and guarantees.”

About Dr. Panezi

A native of Athens, Greece, Dr. Panezi’s academic career has taken her to several distinguished institutions across Europe and North America. After receiving her law degree (LLB) from the University of Athens, she completed her Master of Laws (LLM) from Harvard Law School. In 2014, she was a Visiting Scholar in Intellectual Property Law at the University of California, Berkeley - School of Law. Dr. Panezi completed her PhD at the European University Institute in Florence, examining, "Libraries in the Digital Renaissance - Law And Policy For Book Digitization.” Prior to this CRC appointment, Dr. Panezi spent three years at Stanford University as a research fellow at the Digital Civil Society Lab, where she explored the notion of critical digital infrastructure with a particular focus on open-source software and the regulation of public infrastructures.

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