Legal Innovation Lab | Research | Faculty of Law | UNB

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Faculty of Law

Legal Innovation Lab

The Legal Innovation Laboratory at UNB Law is dedicated to the study of law, technology, and access to justice.

The principal aim of the Laboratory is to study participatory policy-making methods in e-justice design to enhance access to justice in New Brunswick. The research team focuses specifically on bilingual and multilingual communities in the Atlantic Canada region.

We undertake research projects focused on the digital transformation of justice systems in New Brunswick. Our research projects explore how to resolve some of the tensions that are arising from the digitization of justice systems, such as privacy, security and accessibility.

The Legal Innovation Laboratory has formed collaborations with the UNB Legal Clinic to build electronic legal aid tools, and with the Canadian Institute for Cybersecurity to promote the study of cybersecurity and law in Atlantic Canada.

The Laboratory is funded by the Canada Research Chairs Program through Dr. Panezi’s CRC Tier-2 grant, the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation, and the Canadian Bar Association’s Law for the Future grant.

Research

The Legal Innovation Lab investigates legal and institutional changes in the age of AI. This includes, among others, copyright law questions, and questions on data privacy and cybersecurity.

The laboratory was launched in January 2023, one month after OpenAI’s introduction of ChatGPT to the world. It was already apparent that AI applications, and specifically generative AI, have the potential to revolutionize but also disrupt the production and access to legal data, the offering and access to legal services, and in the long run possibly also entire fields of law.

The Lab research team contributes to the complex and proliferating debates on law and AI from various distinct angles:

Consultation on Copyright in the Age of Generative Artificial Intelligence: On Jan. 15, 2024, Joshua Dickison (UNB Libraries Copyright Office) and Argyri Panezi (Legal Innovation Laboratory at UNB Law) responded to the Federal Government Consultation on Copyright in the Age of Generative Artificial Intelligence on behalf of UNB Libraries.

Engines of Infringement: Copyright Infringement, AI, and Canada’s Orphan Works Framework: Jacob Powning studies how Canadian copyright law addresses infringement scenarios in the context of AI-assisted creations. More specifically, he explores scenarios where innocent prompts lead to autonomously generated diffusion-based AI output substantially similar to an existing artists’ work.

Global claims for digital sovereignty – Quo vadis, Canada? Kyle Cullen explores how Canadian laws, such as the recent Online News Act (Bill C-18) or the draft Digital Services Tax Act, are evidence of national policy attempts to exercise sovereignty online specifically over technology giants. He studies the concept of cyber-exceptionalism and how it influences stakeholders’ responses to policy and legislative developments.

Argyri Panezi investigates national efforts to protect critical digital infrastructures. She examines how systemic vulnerabilities contradict national digital sovereignty claims.

Video | The proposed Bill C-26: A Framework to Protect Canadian Critical Infrastructures: Talk by Argyri Panezi, organized by the Canadian Institute for Cybersecurity in the context of the 2023 CIC Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Introduction by Dr. Windhya Rankothge.

National efforts to protect critical digital infrastructures: Systemic vulnerabilities and claims for "digital sovereignty”

  • Conference program: Talk by Argyri Panezi, at the Atlantic International Humanitarian Law Conference organized by the Canadian Red Cross, the University of New Brunswick and Dalhousie University.

Collaborations

Risks & liabilities associated with machine translation: With John O’Shea, Argyri Panezi investigates legal risks and liabilities associated with legal translation in the age of machine translation and generative AI. 

  • Working paper: Extended abstract accepted to the 1st Workshop on Generative AI and Law, co- located with the International Conference on Machine Learning, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA. 2023

Law in the Metaverse: With Anidjar Leon, and Nizan Geslevich Packin, Argyri Panezi investigates the infrastructural role of data and questions about privacy in the AI-powered Metaverse.


We research digital transformation processes in justice systems, with specific focus on the Atlantic Canada region and on New Brunswick’s justice system. We engage with local stakeholders and user communities to discuss current problems and propose solutions.

It is possible to use a smaller province such as New Brunswick as a microcosm of Canada because its size and demographics make it feasible to gather meaningful data and insights representative of linguistic, Indigenous, urban, and rural populations, among others. New Brunswick’s unique features generate insights that are impactful within the province, across Canada, and beyond.

While mindful of unique local parameters, New Brunswick’s potential role as a Canadian microcosm and a success-story of technological leapfrogging is central to this research program’s design.


2023 Summit

Partnering with the Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice, the Legal Innovation Lab organized the inaugural New Brunswick Access to Justice Summit. To our knowledge this was the first of its kind in the province.

The Summit was held at UNB Law on the 28th and 29th of August 2023, and brought together members of the judiciary, government, legal services, and civil society of New Brunswick, together with experts from other provinces, including from Québec, Alberta, and British Columbia, and the federal government. During the Summit, the Honourable J.C. Marc Richard, Chief Justice of New Brunswick revived the New Brunswick Access to Justice Committee.

The Summit was born out of a desire by members of the New Brunswick Justice community to understand the impacts and adjustments brought about to the justice system in response to the Covid-19 health crisis. It provided the space to brainstorm solutions to improve the delivery of justice services in New Brunswick, starting with family law needs.

It launched an action-plan and longer-term research plan to be led by the UNB Law Legal Innovation Laboratory in collaboration with local stakeholders and community. The Legal Innovation Laboratory will undertake a series of empirical studies to help inform future reform initiatives and will plan and host subsequent Summits inviting members of the public to participate in the design of justice reforms.

NB Access to Justice Summit | Program

NB Access to Justice Summit | Video discussions

  • Christine O'Doherty, Executive Director CIAJ: Christine O'Doherty, Executive Director CIAJ discusses how the UNB Access to Justice Summit was initiated. Interviewed by Argyri Panezi, Canada Research Chair | UNB Law, UNB Legal Innovation Laboratory
  • Hon. J.C. Marc Richard, Chief Justice of New Brunswick: The Honourable Marc Richard, Chief Justice of New Brunswick discusses the benefits of digital transformation to the New Brunswick justice system. Interviewed by Jacob Powning, Researcher | UNB Law, Legal Innovation Laboratory

2024 Summit

Our team is currently organizing the 2024 Access to Justice Summit, which will take place on August 26 and 27 at the UNB Faculty of Law. Working themes are bilingual case-management and electronic filing.


The Legal Innovation Laboratory collaborates with the UNB Legal Clinic to build an algorithmic tool and platform to assist Legal Clinic clients with filing for unconsented divorce in New Brunswick. The Laboratory’s research team works with the UNB Legal Clinic team to:

  1. write a decision tree algorithm that helps users decide whether and how to file for uncontested divorce in New Brunswick,
  2. design and test a user-friendly bilingual (English and French) platform embedding the algorithm and linking to court registries for direct filing,
  3. design and communicate to New Brunswick communities a pilot program for assistance with uncontested divorce petitions,
  4. supervise a select number of Legal Clinic students who will help clients use the platform over the course of the pilot program, and
  5. conduct a preliminary assessment of the pilot program.

The project is supported by the Canadian Bar Association Law for the Future Fund.


Members of the Legal Innovation Lab are working to propose changes to the New Brunswick Courts’ official website. We hope to propose changes and updates that will improve New Brunswickers’ equitable access to information about the courts.


Teaching

As part of the law school curriculum, Dr. Panezi teaches courses on law and technology focusing on topics relevant to the research at the Legal Innovation Laboratory.

The Technology Law and Policy course offers students an introduction to the broader field of law and technology, focusing specifically on digital technologies, and a survey of contemporary legal topics which include telecommunications regulation and Internet governance, the regulation of AI, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

The course is structured in two parts. The first part focuses on both case-law and theory tracing the original debates in the field, and looking primarily at online speech, privacy, and copyright as well as questions of jurisdiction. The second part of the course focuses on current legal debates in Canada and globally specifically covering:

  1. Internet governance;
  2. global attempts to regulate online platforms and “big tech”;
  3. AI regulation and IoT.

The final session of the class will provide an overview of rising debates on Web 3.0 and Quantum technology.


Along with the many promises, our increasingly digitized world comes with ever-growing security risks. Can law and policy help us manage the risks?

Leaks of consumer data, disinformation, cyber-espionage campaigns conducted by private companies and intelligence agencies, malware targets etc., all raise common questions at the intersection of law and cybersecurity.

The seminar examines these questions aiming to provide a comprehensive view of the current cybersecurity challenges and how they intersect with law. It introduces cybersecurity as a global risk and focus on challenges related to public and private law aspects of cyber regulation, at a national, regional, and international level.

In this seminar students get the chance to read national security strategies, focusing specifically on the Canadian strategy and legislative framework (the recently proposed Critical Cyber Systems Protection Act in Bill C-26), and study current topics which include the battle against mis- and disinformation, surveillance, cyber-terrorism and the dark web, and cyber-insurance policy.

The seminar also covers select topics at the intersection of cybersecurity and international law touching upon intelligence, cyber-espionage, and cyber-operations. The class periodically features guest speakers, scholars and practitioners, experts in certain topics covered.



News and upcoming events

Electronic filing program in development for New Brunswick's court system | Philip Drost | CBC News | Feb. 11, 2024

Legal Innovation Lab leading digital transformation of N.B.’s justice system | Hilary Creamer Robinson | UNB News | Jan. 17, 2024

Artistry to advocacy: Jacob Powning is forging a unique path | NEXUS, UNB Law Alumni Magazine | Fall/Winter 2023

Dr. Argyri Panezi to examine legal innovation in New Brunswick and beyond | NEXUS, UNB Law Alumni Magazine | Spring/Summer 2023


May 27, 2024: Technology & Access to Justice Roundtable

August 26 - 27, 2024: 2nd NB Access to Justice Summit



People

Argyri Panezi

Dr. Panezi joined UNB Faculty of Law in 2023, after being awarded the Canada Research Chair in Digital Information Law and Policy (Tier 2). She holds a law degree from the University of Athens, an LL.M. from Harvard Law School and a Ph.D. from the European University Institute.

Dr. Panezi’s research at UNB is funded by the Canada Research Chairs program, the New Brunswick Innovation Foundations, and the Canadian Bar Association. Prior to that she conducted research at the European University Institute, UC Berkeley School of Law, NYU School of Law, Stanford University, and at IE Law School, and has been funded by several prestigious institutions including Stanford University, the Ford Foundation, the Onassis Foundation and the Greek State Scholarships’ Foundation.


Jacob Powning

Jacob Powning is a second-year law student interested in private law and the relationship between law and new technology. Jacob plans to work in civil litigation in the future and hopes to continue researching the intersection between AI and the law.

Before attending Law School Jacob worked as an artist craftsman. His work included research at the British Museum. During this career Jacob was awarded creations grants from ArtsNB and the emerging artist of the year award for New Brunswick. Jacob is also a founding member of 21inc., a New Brunswick youth leadership initiative.

Jacob has a BA in Philosophy and is a Master of Interdisciplinary Studies (M IDST) in Philosophy, History, and Literature. He was awarded the Lieutenant Governor’s silver metal after his BA, and he completed his Master’s research with funding from Social Science and Humanities Research Council. He holds a Lord Beaverbrook Scholarship in Law.


Kyle Cullen

Kyle is a second-year law student at UNB. His current research interests surround the concept of digital sovereignty, such as interjurisdictional data flows, cyber-exceptionalism and data localization policies. He hopes to explore the legal balancing act of maximizing the benefits derived from open data flows while simultaneously ensuring that sensitive information is secured.

Prior to commencing law school Kyle worked in finance and operations management roles for a large online retailer and in the public healthcare system. His experience includes designing, formalizing, and implementing administrative processes within the constraints of information management systems.

Kyle holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Major in Accountancy) from Concordia University and an MBA (Major in Finance) from McMaster University.



Contact us

If you want to know more about our projects, give us your feedback, participate, or just connect, please email argyri.panezi@unb.ca.