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Monica Goyal

Monica Goyal is the Director of Legal Innovation for Caravel Law. In her role as Director of Legal Innovation, she evaluates new technologies and implementation within the firm. She has overseen the implementation of their internal contract and document automation system, design and implementation of their client onboarding process, and the implementation of our corporate services solutions.  She is a part-time lecturer at the TMU Lincoln Alexander Law School where she teaches Critical Approaches to Data, Algorithm, and Science in the Law. Monica was formerly an adjunct professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, and the Institute of Future of Law Practice. Monica has a Bachelor of Applied Science from the University of Waterloo, as well as a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University. She began her career working for major telecommunications companies such as Toshiba, Nokia, and Nortel, before earning her Juris Doctor degree from the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. In 2023 Caravel Law was Excellence Awardee for LexisNexis Canada Award for Best Use of Technology In a Law Firm, and this year Monica was nominated for Canadian Lawyer most influential lawyer in the changemaker category. She has been named as one of the 10 Women to Watch in Tech in the Journal of the American Bar Association and has won a 2017 Fastcase 50 Award.


Please tell me a bit about your role as Director of Legal Innovation and how you shepherd innovation projects.

As the Director of Legal Innovation for Caravel Law, I am responsible for identifying and implementing innovative technologies that can enhance the delivery of legal services. I am responsible for considering client solutions, but also research and deploying technologies that would assist lawyers in their work. While at Caravel, I have led the development of innovative legal solutions for our clients, such as MyCaravelBackpack, a tech-enabled startup package that provides essential legal documents and guidance for entrepreneurs.

My role as the Director of Legal Innovation involves finding and testing innovative technologies that can make legal services better. I leverage both my engineering background and my experience as a lawyer to create solutions within the firm and for our clients. I take a user centric approach to my work. Where I am always trying to put myself in the shoes of our lawyers and clients and think about what they need. I do not just settle for the first solution, but I keep trying different things and asking for feedback along the way. We do a lot of pilots and experiments before we decide to use a technology within the firm.

One of the ways we foster innovation is by training our lawyers on how to use new technologies effectively. I like to try out different solutions with them and get their feedback on what works and what does not. I also run regular workshops and sessions to help them learn new skills and tools. Change management is a key part of any successful legal innovation project.

Considering your efforts to make legal solutions more accessible and affordable, what challenges do you face in maintaining the balance between technological advancement and the human element in legal services?

My first legal tech start-up was My Legal Briefcase, which assisted people with their small claims court matters. What I quickly found out from that venture was that clients really didn’t want to do their legal matters by themselves. They just couldn’t afford a lawyer, especially for small matters where it didn’t make sense. So, from that point, I’ve always thought about how technology can augment lawyers’ capabilities, not as a replacement but an enhancement. Therefore, I always try to use technology in a way that complements and supports our lawyers and clients, rather than replaces or diminishes them. For example, we have a corporate service offering which employs technology and law clerks. This is really a “human in the loop” service. We have taken a process approach to thinking through basic corporate legal matters such as incorporating a company or amending articles of incorporation. Those areas of document creation have been automated, project management systems are employed to assist with the work, and then we have law clerks who ensure that the work is completed correctly. Our technology solution is employed such that our clients can then get additional benefits from it, such as virtual minute books, or corporate diagram software that they typically would not receive with a legal service.

How has your background in electrical engineering and experience with major telecommunications companies influenced your approach to legal practice and the development of legal tech solutions?"


My background in engineering has influenced my approach to legal practice and the development of legal tech solutions in several ways. First, it has given me a deep understanding of the technical aspects of various technologies, such as data analytics, artificial intelligence, and software engineering. I can leverage this knowledge to evaluate and assess existing legal technology products and services. I also can use my knowledge to learn innovative technologies such as how to configure chatbots, or how to code documents for document automation. Second, as I have mentioned before, I take a user-centric approach to my work, I learned this through my engineering work. It enabled me to adopt a problem-solving and design-thinking mindset, which is essential for developing user-centric and value-driven legal tech solutions. I have learned how to identify the root causes of problems, generate and test hypotheses, iterate and improve prototypes, and incorporate feedback from users and stakeholders. Third, it has taught me how to communicate and collaborate effectively with different audiences and disciplines, especially those who have a different level of technical expertise or background. I have learned how to bridge the gap between the technical and the legal domains, and how to translate complex concepts and ideas into simple and accessible language.

In your experience teaching over the last 10 years in the area of AI, data and technology, what do you think law students need to know and why?


I have heard some say that what will replace lawyers is not AI (Artificial Intelligence) but a lawyer using AI.  AI, data, and technology are key areas for any law student to know, especially as the legal industry incorporates more AI and technology into their workflows. With continuous advancements in AI that only get better and better, it seems reasonable to suspect that the use of AI in legal services will only become greater. Lawyers will need to be fluent in how to use the tools, law students should be educating themselves in these areas. Coming into the industry with that knowledge will set these students apart from their peers, and even from older lawyers whose knowledge of technologies may be lacking.

However, I also think that AI, data, and technology are not enough to make a good lawyer. Law students also need to develop an understanding of the law. They should be thinking about those area of law where automation or AI will not have an impact such as advocacy, or negotiation, and focus on developing those skills.  Law students also need to understand the limitations and risks of AI and technology, and how to ensure that they use them in a responsible and accountable manner.

In the courses I teach, I tend to the take a more practical approach. I integrate education of the technologies, data science and AI with practical examples, and teaching of the platforms. What I feel is important at the end of the day is a willingness to try new tools and experiment with them. Inevitably the tools we use today will not be the tools we use tomorrow. So, what’s important is that students embrace the use of AI, data and technology in their work, and become lifelong learners who can adapt and thrive to changes in the legal landscape.

In your view, what are the most pressing ethical considerations that arise from the integration of technology in legal practices, and how should the legal industry address these challenges?


One of the most pressing ethical considerations that arise from the integration of technology in legal practices is the protection of client confidentiality. As lawyers, we have a duty to clients to ensure that information is kept confidential and not exposed to third parties. Lawyers are now using mostly cloud-based applications where our information is stored in a third parties computer systems. Further, we now have AI tools that are processing, storing, and potentially retaining our input information. The most pressing ethical consideration for lawyers is how our client confidential information is being used, processed, and secured by third party companies. Further, cybersecurity is and will continue to be a huge issue as there will continue to be cyberattacks targeting law firm.

The ethical considerations facing lawyers are not insurmountable issues. I have seen over the last decade, how lawyers have matured in their understanding of software and cloud technologies. One positive development I have observed is that software vendors have become more responsive and attentive to the specific needs and expectations of law firms. This undoubtedly has come about because lawyers or their firms have been impressing upon software vendors the importance of data security and privacy is to them. Further, many law firms already have programs in place to educate their lawyers on cybersecurity issues. I would also encourage them to spend time on educating lawyers on what questions they should be asking software vendors about AI tools, such as how data is retained or whether data is used in training of models. Lawyers and/or law firms will also need to develop clear policies and procedures for the use of technology in our work and ensure that they comply with the relevant Rules of Professional Conduct. Technology can be a great enabler for legal practice, but we need to make sure we address our ethical obligations and responsibilities.


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