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

Big Deals Roundup: September to December 2020

Federal Court of Appeal affirms summary judgment in patent prosecutions

Cannabis sector in Canada stoked for M&A activity in 2021, Norton Rose Fulbright lawyers say

Voting closes soon for top Ontario regional firms

Workplace mental health issues a challenge as pandemic hangs on: Stewart McKelvey managing partner

Federal justice department extends funding for sex trafficking victims

Most Read Articles

Doug Ford’s hypocrisy in firing lockdown critic Roman Baber from the Conservatives is stunning

B.C. lawyer honoured for role in legal fight to eliminate discrimination against LGBTQ2SI+ community

Post-pandemic litigation may include remote will witnessing

Alberta QB justice with niche in commercial and insolvency law retires