Karim Benyekhlef, who has been a professor in the Faculty of Law since 1989, will be taking on the role, which has been renamed the LexUM chair, in honour of the work done by the LexUM laboratory from 1993 to 2010.
Benyekhlef is the founder of both Lex Electronica, the first-ever online French-language journal and of Cyberjustice Laboratory, an international initiative based in Montreal that seeks to improve access to justice by putting information technology in the hands of the courts. The laboratory has 36 researchers at 20 universities around the world.
Lexum, a private company which spun-off from the LexUM lab in 2010, is providing a $2.5 million endowment for the chair.
Benyekhlef will be taking over for Daniel Poulin, who retired as a law professor earlier this year and was recently appointed a professor emeritus at U de M. Poulin continues to work as president of Lexum.
Université de Montréal has had an outsized influence in Canadian law through the LexUM lab, which Poulin led. LexUM was one of the first organizations in the world to start publishing legal decisions online when it begun posting Supreme Court of Canada judgments in 1994.
At one point in the 1990s, LexUM was responsible for publishing a third of all the Canadian legislation and case law that was available online. But it was in 1999 that LexUM partnered with the Federation of Law Societies of Canada to start the Canadian Legal Information Institute, better known as CanLII. Since then, CanLII has been one of the influential actors in disseminating legal information to the Canadian public.
Poulin and LexUM were also influential in creating a neutral citation system for case law in Canada.
Since Lexum become a private company in 2010, it provides software products for Canadian and international courts, as well as companies, to distribute and deal with large amounts of legal information.
Benyekhlef’s mandate will be to work on improving access to legal information in Canada, according to Arnaud Joakim, a spokesperson for Lexum.