John Wu is currently studying at Osgoode Hall Law School As a University undergrad studying biology and philosophy, John Wu interned at a hospital while it was digitizing patient records. Witnessing and aiding in the transition and seeing the improved information flow, he later entered law school with ideas on how to fill similar gaps in the legal profession.

He met his business partner Paolo Tonelli at Ryerson University’s Legal Innovation Zone and Tonelli – a law-school grad and computer whizz – had an idea for a legislation tracker, which would enhance access to legal information for lawyers and businesses. The two founded Codify Legal Publishing and have produced a cannabis-law legal tracker. Their service scans the internet twice-daily for legislative changes and keeps customers current on any changes to cannabis law. They plan to expand their technology to other practice areas.

Canadian Lawyer spoke with Wu about his business, his history and the future.

Can you explain to me how it works?

The software scrapes information from dozens and dozens of sources across Canada. So this includes legislatures. This includes the Gazette. This includes the Department of Justice websites.

Traditionally, the reason why scraping this information and putting it together has been tough in the past is because all this information is formatted differently. The government of Alberta website is formatted very differently from the government of Saskatchewan. So the same software wouldn’t work for both. What makes our software a little bit different is that it takes all these different formats, and it standardizes it into a single machine-readable format.

So once it standardizes, our systems are able to sweep across pretty much the entire Canadian legislative landscape with relative ease and filter out the things that we’re looking for. The system is constantly scraping the web, across all these different sources, for new bills and regulations, as well as updates to statutes. And we’re typically able to complete about two sweeps a day.

It always kind of bugged us in the past, from the lawyers we talked to, especially the ones that smaller organizations, it seems like they relied mostly […]

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