Login

UAlberta student remotely defends LLM, tackles thesis on how technology can benefit legal practice

Student is the school’s first graduate student to defend his thesis virtually

UAlberta student remotely defends LLM, tackles thesis on how technology can benefit legal practice
Jason Morris

Jason Morris recently completed his LLM in Computational Law at the University of Alberta, becoming the Faculty of Law’s first graduate student to virtually defend his degree.

Before an examination committee convening via Google Meet, Morris defended his thesis, titled “Spreadsheets for Legal Reasoning: The Continued Promise of Declarative Logic Programming In Law,” which contended that the use of programming language could automate legal reasoning through analyzing written law and through applying such analysis to legal issues.

“[F]ittingly, his thesis is about using technology to make the delivery of legal services more efficient and accessible,” said the law school in a news release.

Professor Barbara Billingsley, chairperson of the examination committee and incoming dean of law, considered the remote defence a success both in terms of using meeting technology and in terms of ensuring that the process remained “rigorous and collegial” despite physical distancing constraints.

Given that he operates sole practice Round Table Law from his home in Sherwood Park, Alberta, Morris said that he was already accustomed to conducting hearings and interviews online. “I didn’t find anything suboptimal about the experience, and I don’t think any of the committee members did, either,” he said, stating that the defence had no technical glitches.

However, Morris noted that he had to get used to looking at the camera instead of looking at his own face or at the other faces on the screen. This was a challenge because of the lesson in public speaking to “make eye contact with people.”

Morris is also the first student to have an interdisciplinary degree granted between the University of Alberta’s law school and computer science department. He was also a sessional instructor at the law school, teaching “Coding the Law” to upper-year students.

Morris is a founder of Legal Hackers Edmonton and an ABA Clio Innovation Fellow. He has often been invited to speak at conferences on law and technology. At Round Table Law, his practice centres on wills, mental health law and commercial litigation.

Related stories

Free newsletter

The Canadian Legal Newswire is a FREE newsletter that keeps you up to date on news and analysis about the Canadian legal scene. A separate InHouse Edition is delivered on a regular basis, providing targeted news and information of interest to in-house counsel.

Please enter your email address below to subscribe.

Recent articles & video

Incoming: a COVID-19 employment law litigation wave

Online mediation provides opportunities for gender neutrality

Counterfeit products and websites on the rise amid COVID-19

Roundup of law firm resources on COVID-19: July 3 update

IBA urges governments to take immediate action to dismantle systemic discrimination among police

Canada makes judicial appointments in B.C. and Nova Scotia: Hugh Veenstra and Patrick Duncan

Most Read Articles

Uber’s arbitration clause in contract with Ontario drivers is unconscionable, SCC rules

Canada can – and should – facilitate release of the Two Michaels

Safety first! New Canadian cloud security guidance is issued

B.C. law society suspends lawyer for threatening public officer to get settlement sought by clients