Canadian Lawyer

June 2020

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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10 www.canadianlawyermag.com FEATURE CROSS EXAMINED SHANNON SALTER is not a technophile. In fact, Salter is far from it. She has been driven by many things in her career, includ- ing a curiosity about governance, a keen awareness of the shortcomings of our legal system and a desire to improve access to justice. But a love of technology was never a motivator. Despite that, Salter is chairwoman of the first online tribunal in Canada, and one of the first in the world, the Civil Resolution Tribunal. Since 2014, she has been responsi- ble for all aspects of implementing and oper- ating this multi-million-dollar project, includ- ing designing online technology processes, collaborating with software developers and reporting on the tribunal's performance. In that role, outside of adjudicating dis- putes, she spends a lot time talking about how technology has improved access to justice for the public, including during the COVID-19 crisis when her tribunal was able to operate seamlessly unlike other courts in Canada. But Salter is also blunt about what technol- ogy can't do. "It's not good enough to check the technol- ogy box. The best way to use technology is not couple of TV channels and no cable. . . . So, it's really quite beyond the realm of anything I could have imagined to be working so much with technology as I am now." Salter did have a strong interest in gover- nance, however, having participated in a youth parliament, which helped her imagine law as a tool for social good. She studied political sci- ence at the University of British Columbia and found as many opportunities as she could to understand the law and politics, including a stint in Ottawa at the Department of Foreign Affairs and volunteering with the International Federation of Liberal Youth, an organization dedicated to the promotion of human rights, democracy and youth political participation. TECHNOLOGY IN SERVICE OF GREATER THINGS Shannon Salter went from being home schooled in rural British Columbia to heading the first online tribunal in Canada, writes Tim Wilbur just to slap a form on your website or to use in courts or e-filing. But it's rather to do the much more profound, difficult change work of using human-centred design to completely reconstruct the justice system around the needs of the public." Salter's upbringing was consistent with a low-tech, human-centred existence that aimed to reconstruct traditional systems. She was home schooled from grade 7 to 10, liv- ing on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia with her family on a hobby farm. Her father, who is an environmental engineer, travelled often, and her mother stayed home with her and her siblings. "We had very basic dial-up internet, [a] ". . . if you get a group of lawyers and IT professionals in a room together and have them design something that is meant to be used by the public, they're going to go wildly off base unless they user test."

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