IT & the Lawyer

IT the law and the future

The author of The Future of Law: Facing the Challenges of Information Technology and Transforming the Law: Essays on Technology, Justice and the Legal Marketplace, foresees an IT-based "paradigm shift" over the next twenty years, which will transform the legal profession and the way in which legal services are delivered to the marketplace. This shift will result in online legal services becoming the main way in which the law is conducted. By using technology to capture and disseminate legal expertise, the law will reconnect with society and open the "latent legal market", thereby enabling the average person to understand their legal position, rights, obligations, entitlements and remedies.

Two forms of electronic commerce
Professor Susskind distinguishes between two forms of electronic commerce using the Internet. The first use enhances the traditional work and working methods of lawyers, such as lawyer-to-lawyer communications and online resources. The other, potentially more important use, provides entirely different forms of legal services, like the opportunity for clients to go onto the Internet and find out what is happening. For example, how much of the clients' money has been spent, who is actually looking after their interests and how are their matters progressing. Clients will also be able to instruct their lawyers online. These client-relationship systems will not only change the traditional services lawyers deliver but also the way in which lawyers interact with their clients.

Consequences of client demands
Eventually demands by clients for a better level of communication will transform back office systems, such as existing practice management and document management systems. Lawyers will have to understand and invest in these client-relationship systems. Both large and small firms will be threatened by these changes and to survive they will have to constantly redefine the space in which they can develop and deliver a really profitable online service.

Two types of lawyers
He sees the commoditisation of work resulting in two types of lawyers emerging. The first type being the advisory lawyers who do the high-end advisory work, and the second type being the knowledge or information engineers - they're the lawyers who actually package and formulate the online services and systems. Since only lawyers have sufficient knowledge and understanding to model the law and put it into a system, Susskind believes that by educating lawyers to think and practice law differently, what appears avant garde today will one day become as mainstream as having a phone or a fax machine.

Article on Lexpert

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