Deskside Chat with Samantha Lucifora of Monkhouse Law

Oct 24, 2019

Samantha Monkhouse

Samantha Lucifora, Senior Associate, Monkhouse Law
Samantha is a Senior Associate at Monkhouse Law practicing in employment, human rights, and disability law. In her practice, she deals with a diverse range of employment and disability issues for employees. In addition, she aids employers with preventing, planning for and navigating various workplace issues.Samantha has appeared as counsel before all levels of court in Ontario including the Court of Appeal, Divisional Court and Superior Court.

This is part three of a series of deskside chats with Associates at North American firms leading the way in innovation.

What does the word “innovation” mean to you?

I would say the word innovation is the application of creativity in order to change processes or the way things have always been done for the better.

As a lawyer, conducting legal research is a large part of the job. How has artificial intelligence aided in your process? What are some of the key benefits you’ve noticed?

I think the first key benefit is the speed at which you can access a lot of information. Legal research, therefore, can be done quicker, allowing for better time management. I think the second benefit I’ve realized is flexibility. I no longer need to be in a library or physically in my office to complete tasks.

What parts of your job would be impossible or at least more difficult to complete without the use of artificial intelligence?

I would say every facet would at least be more difficult without artificial intelligence. It has changed the way we get information. As I mentioned earlier, it really allows you to access a lot of information in very little time. Additionally, information gathering has become a much more flexible process. I can be anywhere in the world and still quickly access information on Ontario employment law that I may need for a client. Your work overall becomes better and you’re able to produce high-quality and accurate legal advice for your clients.

A common fear amongst young lawyers is that tools using artificial intelligence will one day replace them. What are your thoughts on this as someone who leverages AI in their day-to-day work?

I don’t think that is the case. The goal of AI is to improve processes and make things more efficient. It doesn’t replace the work still needing to be done by lawyers but instead alters what you spend your time doing. It may call for new skills or different skills to emerge amongst the legal profession, but it will not wholly replace the work that a lawyer does. If anything, it advances the work you do and your ultimate output to the client.

Blue J L&E has caught on quite well with users at Monkhouse Law. What do you think contributes to Monkhouse Law’s innovative nature?

We try to offer our clients access to justice. We strive to provide legal services to clients who may not otherwise be able to receive them. In order to do that, we need to keep our fees low and in order to keep your fees low, you need to be efficient.

Our firm’s commitment to access to justice means we are constantly looking at new innovations that will allow us to be more efficient. Also, we are a relatively young firm so I think we can be more open and flexible to using technology, which helps adoption.

How important is it to you to be forward-thinking in a field deeply steeped in tradition?

I think it’s very important. If you are forward-thinking, it allows you to be different, and when you’re different, it allows you to stand out. Standing out helps give you a competitive advantage against other firms. Law can sometimes be a competitive market and so the more your firm does to communicate a competitive edge to clients, the better you are overall.

Has there ever been a time where advocating for an innovative idea has been difficult? What did you learn from that experience?

Changing people’s processes, or the way it’s been done a thousand times before, you can get some pushback as people are comfortable with what they know, and they don’t want to learn a new process. I have found it’s helpful focusing not so much on what will change but rather the benefits that will be realized because of said change. For example, focusing on the fact that they’ll be more efficient and have more time to spend on the tasks they like helps to communicate in a way that opens them up to the change.

The advent of technologies like artificial intelligence seems poised to make a large impact across multiple professions, including law. How do you foresee artificial intelligence will affect lawyers, and the practice of law in general, moving forward?

I think ultimately technology will make way for some reduction in legal fees which will, in turn, increase access to justice. I think it will allow lawyers to help more people and touch more people’s lives.

For the profession, I think it will actually help improve the lives of lawyers by allowing for more flexible working arrangements and a reduction in time spent on tedious tasks.

Is there a specific feature that you particularly like in Blue J L&E? How has this feature benefited you in your work?

I really like the Case Finder function as it tends to be more creative in looking through cases. For example, it will often catch cases I miss using a standard keyword search via Westlaw or CanLII. It really has allowed for broader information to be returned to you while also sticking within the bounds of the type of cases you’re looking to find, which can be difficult to achieve via a standard keyword search.