The Legal Technology Resource Center’s Women of Legal Tech initiative aims to promote diversity and celebrate women in legal technology. This initiative started in 2015 with a list of innovators and leaders in legal technology. With this year’s additions, this list now includes 132 talented and influential women leaders. Every Monday and Wednesday we will introduce a woman from our class from 2021. Today we have Catherine Bamford!
Shannon Salter is Chairman of the Civil Resolution Tribunal of British Columbia. You can find her on Twitter @shannonnsalter.
What are three points that describe you?
- Chairman of the Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT), the world’s first online tribunal integrated into the public justice system.
- Strong advocate of human-centered design and reform of the justice system to improve access.
- Long suffering cat and children’s butler and trier of a DIY project (at least once)!
How is teleworking / quarantine going for you?
I’ve been working remotely for 6 years now, as have most of our CRT teams so I’m used to it. However, I didn’t expect to be home schooling two kids last year while I work full time and of course so many of us are on that boat. There are many ups and downs. I am incredibly grateful and happy, and I also miss friends, family and colleagues very much, as do all of us.
How did you get into legal engineering?
I am a trained lawyer and started my civil litigation career with a large law firm. After a few years I realized that I wanted to work for better access to justice projects. I completed a Masters of Laws from the University of Toronto in 2011, focusing on constitutional issues and access to justice, and then was appointed as a judge on an appeals tribunal for workers’ compensation. From there I had the opportunity to take over the chairmanship of the CRT and I was very excited about the access to the judicial potential. All in all, I got into the role with no legal background, but I think one of the strengths of lawyers is the ability to quickly pick up on new subject areas and learn how to apply them. I obviously had no idea I was going to do this when I was studying law, but being part of the CRT is my dream job and I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to be part of an incredible team.
What projects have you been focusing on lately?
At the moment, at the CRT, we are focused on doing everything we can to give those affected by COVID-19 access to justice. We are also working hard to ensure that our own staff and tribunal members have everything they need to get through this difficult period, both personally and professionally. One of our other priorities is the implementation of our “Plan of Reconciliation”, our strategy to take concrete steps towards reconciliation with the indigenous peoples in our province. At the same time, we are working on our upcoming expanded responsibility for disputes over personal injury to motor vehicles from May 2021. We are also redesigning our accessibility features to ensure that we provide state-of-the-art access for people with disabilities.
Is there a legal technical resource that really helped you when you started out in the field?
This isn’t a specific technical resource, but I’ve read a lot about how change happens, how people are brought together in a shared vision, and how we can find our blind spots and challenge our assumptions. I think these are all invaluable legal technology skills. The more we can bring in interdisciplinary expertise, the stronger our product becomes. In that sense, Daniel Kahneman’s thinking, fast and slow, is an oldie, but a goodie.
What advice would you give other women interested in studying legal technology?
The legal technology world needs you! A large part of our success at the CRT has been our diverse team, which consists mostly of women. By incorporating diverse experiences, backgrounds, and perspectives into the design and testing of our system, we were able to ensure that it works for the multitude of people we serve. Get in, you bring tremendous value to an industry that needs more votes! In practice, reach out to women who are doing what you hope one day will do and ask for an informational interview. We are sometimes shy or worried about wasting other people’s time, but making these connections and benefiting from mentoring is very important.
Greet another legal engineering woman who you admire or have learned from!
Reach out to a fantastic UX / UT expert, Trinity Wolfe, who worked with our community lawyers to help create accessible, understandable, publicly accessible interfaces. She brings enormous skills, intelligence, commitment and empathy to her work. She also has the coolest name ever!