Don’t Allow Robot Become A Lawyer, Don Advises

Prof. Abiodun Amuda-Kannike (SAN)

A Professor of Law and Dean, Faculty of Law, Kwara State University, Professor Abiodun Amuda-Kannike (SAN) examines the worth of technology to legal practice in the digital age.  As it is a fact that technology has affected not only the country Nigeria, the world in general but most specifically, the effect of technology on legal practice in modern day has come to stay and it is high time that both the law students, the judges, the members of the legal profession, both seniors and juniors whether categorized as members of the outer or inner bar must key into this new trend for survival in the legal profession.

The silk emphasized that before now, (modern time), access to case laws and statutes are very difficult, as most lawyers may not have most law reports and statutes in their offices to use either in chambers or in court.

As of today, many of the case Laws and statutes can be found through the internet especially by pressing the necessary buttons on your Laptop, computer, phones and other accessories. Those outfits where one can subscribe for electronic law reports and statutes includes a law pavilion which is an electronic Law report and Research software powered by GIT Limited Nigeria Weekly Law Reports which now has electronic Law Reports.

READ FULL PRESENTATION BY PROF ABIODUN AMUDA-KANNIKE (SAN) DELIVERED AT THE FACULTY OF LAW, EDO STATE UNIVERSITY UZAIRUE, EDO STATE OF NIGERIA ON 7TH DAY, OF JULY 2022 BELOW.

THE IMPORTANCE OF TECHNOLOGY IN MODERN DAY LEGAL PRACTICE.

A PAPER PRESENTED BY:- PROF ABIODUN AMUDA KANNIKE, SAN, FCIAP, FCE, FCIArd, DEAN, FACULTY OF LAN, KWARA STATE UNIVERSITY, MALETE, VIA, ILORIN, KWARA STATE, WHICH PRESENTATION TOOK PLACE AT FACULTY OF LAW, EDO STATE UNIVERSITY UZAIRUE, EDO STATE OF NIGERIA ON 7TH DAY, OF JULY 2022.

Presenter Email: amudakannikeabiodun@gmail.com

Presenter Phone Number: 08033256756

Keywords:

  • Importance
  • Technology
  • Modern Day
  • Legal practice

INTRODUCTION

From the topic dealing with this presentation, it is a fact that technology has affected not only the country Nigeria, the World in general but most specifically, the effect of technology on legal practice in modern day has come to stay[1] and it is high time that both the law students, the judges, the members of the legal profession, both seniors and juniors whether categorized as members of the outer or inner bar must key into this new trend for survival in the legal profession.

It is therefore important that in our quest to deal with the above subject matter properly, there exist the need to define in a nut shell, the following terms in order to appreciate the presentation.;

                        (i)         Importance

                        (ii)        Technology

                        (iii)       Modern Day

                        (iv)       Legal practice

IMPORTANCE

Importance means the quality or state of being, it also means a quality or aspect having great worth or significance. It implies a value judgment of the superior worth or influence of something or someone.[2]Importance also means quality of something being significant, valued, or necessary in a particular situation it also connote, influence, power or status[3]

TECHNOLOGY

The term technology includes electronic or digital products including its systems. It means the application of scientific knowledge for practical purpose, especially, in industry and other human activities. It means also the use of machinery and equipment which were developed from the branch of knowledge dealing with engineering or applied science.[4]

The word technology was developed through the Greek word in the early 17th century as, “techne” and “logia”. “Techne” means “art” “craft” while “logia” means “logy” connoting “knowledge”. Technology is the application of scientific knowledge to the practical aims of human life or, as it is sometimes phrased, the application of scientific knowledge to the change and manipulation of the human environment.[5] Technology is a broad concepts which deals with species usage and knowledge of tools and crafts and how it affects species ability to control and adapt to its environment. Technology refers to tools and machines that are used to solve real – world problems. Technology is usually a consequence of science and engineering.[6]

MODERN DAY

This refers to the new or modern aspects of a place, an activity or a society.[7] Modern day also means something which is existing today, it is also used to indicate that someone or something of the present is similar to someone or something of the past.[8]

Modern day also means belonging to recent times or in the precentor contemporary time. Furthermore, it refers to the characteristic of the present, contemporary trends in legal practice for example. It is also viewed as belonging to the modern era, since the middles ages.[9]

LEGAL PRACTICE

Legal practice is the carrying out of the profession as a lawyer. “practice” is a “noun”, whereas “practise” is a “verb” a noun is “a thing”, verb is a word which shows action. In American English practice is both a “noun” and a “verb”.

Practice, connote the form, the manner and the order of conducting and carrying on suits or prosecutions in the courts through their various stages according to the principle of law and the rules laid down by the respective courts. Practice refers to the name of the act whereas practise means to do something repeatedly to enhance ones skill.[10]

Having introduced us to the subject matter of this presentation, through the introduction and definition of various terms involved, it is necessary to discuss the importance of technology in modern day legal practice but using Nigeria in most instances as our case study, we shall look at the bottle-necks associated with this importance and then proffer recommendations without missing out the summary and conclusion.[11]

IMPORTANCE OF TECHNOLOGY IN MODERN DAY LEGAL PRACTICE

(1)       IT HELPS THE LEGAL PRACTITIONER TO GET ACCESS TO CASE LAWS AND STATUTES.

Before now, (modern time), access to case laws and statutes are very difficult, as most lawyers may not have most law reports and statutes in their offices to use either in chambers or in court.[12]

As at today, many of the case Laws and statutes can be found through the internet especially by pressing the necessary buttons on your Laptop, computer, phones and other accessories.[13] Those outfits where one can subscribe for electronic law reports and statutes includes law pavilion which is an electronic Law report and Research software powered by GIT Limited.[14]Nigeria Weekly Law Reports which now has electronic Law Reports.[15]

There are so many electronic Law reports around the world as at today including Nigeria in such a way that once you press the button, especially where you have access/links to such law reports, even at the comfort of your office, the house or even in the court, you can make use of such law reports and statutes electronically as a modern day technology.

2.         IT ASSIST THE LEGAL PRACTITIONER TO HAVE IMMEDIATE ACCESS TO PRECEDENTS FOR DRAFTING OF DOCUMENTS

In the time past, it was difficult for legal-practitioners to have precedents for drafting legal documents and he may need to have only few text books on precedents. There is no gain saying in the fact that precedents assist legal practitioners to come out with excellent draft for legal processes/legal documents.[16]

As at this modern time, the legal practitioner now have access to the “best legal document drafting software” as current as this year 2022.[17]Legal Document drafting software automates the creation and distribution for legal documents for attorneys and legal practitioners. Legal document drafting solutions software houses legal documents templates of various types, which includes, business formation, many other precedents. This also integrates with legal practice management software. For example smokeball is a cloud based legal practice management software which automatically records time spent on each matter in order to submit your bill of charges.[18]

3.         E-LAWYERING AND VIRTUAL LAW PRACTICE.

For a very long period of time, the legal practice are usually conducted through physical appearance of the legal practitioner before the court and other Quasi-judicial bodies but the modern day practice especially through technology and which was further heightened as a result of “Covid-19” health epidemic, a legal Practitioner in a very far distance can conduct his cases, relate with his clients and necessary witnesses via WhatsApp, video calls on face-book, zoom links and other electronic means and proceedings will just be almost the same as if it was physically done.[19]

In fact Prof Oyewo[20] specifically stated that the Nigerian Judiciary Information Technology policy document should be speedily institutionalized.

4.         E-FILING OF COURT PROCESSES.

This is electronic filing of legal processes in court which is different from the paper work filing of court processes or keeping some in the court file which could get lost, destroyed or even stolen. With electronic filing system, all the processes are now from time to time, electronically filed. Therefore, electronic filing can be described as a computer-based system for storage, cataloging and retrieval of documents. It replaces the tangible, hardcopy paper documents with electronic files, which can be stored on individual computer or in a larger data basis.[21]

The positive effects of electronic filling can also be seen in the

fact that there are no longer the need for paper, ink, filing cabinets, over-nighting time – sensitive documents. All document managing/management can be done directly from electronic filing system, couple with the integration of electronic signatures and online forms. This is the style of what the term, “going paperless”.[22]There exist e-filing in Rivers and Lagos State judiciaries among other state. There exist e-filing at the court of Appeal.

5.         IT ENABLES FASTER WORK PRODUCTIVITY

Through the use of technology in legal-practice, the computer/technology itself and most especially when added with the use of “Robots”, the legal-practitioner who probably has ten or about twenty lawyers in chambers, may not need anyone of them again, he may also need “no secretary” as “Robot” can be commanded to do all the work involved in legal practice even at a faster and accurate way. This will reduce costs on wages, slow completion of work, less friction and laziness of staffs.[23]

The lawyers in modern day are now interested in the use of artificial intelligence for legal practice. Artificial intelligence (AI)is defined as a discipline of computer science which aims at developing machines and systems that can carry out tasks considered to require human intelligence system with little or no human intervention. There is now a “robot lawyer” built that interviews users about their legal problems, and once answers are gotten, it then, use the answers to completely answer the problems  and it then submit the paper work on such users behalf.[24]

USE OF ELECTRONIC EVIDENCE IN COURT

Another added advantage of technology in modern day legal practice is the use of electronic evidence because before now especially in Nigeria, electronic evidence usage was not specifically made as part of our law in relation to the law of evidence.[25]

As at today in the legal practice, electronic evidence has been provided for and lawyers now tender electronic evidence in support of their cases in court. This is usually called “computer generated evidence”.[26]

The opportunity of presenting electronic evidence is provided for under Section 84 and Section 258 of the Evidence Act. Therefore the definition of document under the Act is now wide enough to include computer generated information or evidence and other form of evidence ancillary to it.[27]

We can therefore state that this is an added advantage which technology or the recognition of technology has given us as advantage in modern day legal practice both in Nigeria and as it relates to several countries all over the World as at today.[28]

PROBLEMS OF TECHNOLOGY IN MODERN DAY LEGAL PRACTICE

1.         Cloud Adoption

This method is to be used and being used to secure and control clients data which is of utmost importance to a legal – practitioner. However, the legal industry has not been fully integrated into this usage and a lot of many legal specifics in this situation is lagging behind. The conversion of time and billing systems, documents management system are usually difficult and expensive for security and easy remote access to the documents/system.[29]

2.         Cyber Security

There are usually difficulty in Cyber Security there may be cyber security in the office but usually there is non usually where you have home-office or co-working environment.[30]

3.         Software Solutions and Integrations

As a result of the use of technology in modern day for web meetings, including video conferencing, there are different channels upon which the group of people could be involved in such meetings and conferencing connectivity or inter connectivity of such technology may become difficult and they are usually difficult. While some may use micro-soft teams, others may make use of Zoom, Google, Whatsapp, Face-book, or even Jitsi, and others. The services are not as common to each other.[31]

4.         Information Technology Training Difficulty

As a result of new technology coming out from time to time, there is the need for training and retraining by the legal firm

which may involve a lot of money [32] and time and not all the legal-firms may be able to pick the bills and also spare out precious time for training and retraining of staff. Some may not even go for any training or further training again, which is ultimately a negative impact to the potential advantage of technology in modern day legal practice.[33]

5.         Effect on Law Practice

The legal practice is now being taken over by technology, and it may become difficult for some lawyers to survive if technology is fully in place especially in Nigeria. For example, legal practice to a large extent are now run by machines, computers and other electronic gadgets. We now have; Document Automation, Alternative Legal Service Provider (ALPs), Rocket Lawyer, Law firms on the cloud including virtual firms. These are computers answering legal questions, replying legal questions and providing legal solutions. We equally have Robot Lawyers.[34]

6.         Inadequate or Bad Network

The network especially in Africa is inadequate or epileptic in such a way that major work to be done are either delayed or cancelled. Even filing processes electronically takes time to go through or sometime, it may reverse itself. This has caused lots of cases not to go on or even some files may even disappear.[35] One may not even be able to access some case laws and statutes to be used. Without a back-up such as hard-copies, a legal-practitioner or even the judges may run into serious problem.

Even Tele-conferencing, video-conferencing court sittings, meetings may be disrupted because of network and it has

occurred on number of occasion.[36]

7.         Books, Journals and Seminars on role of technology in legal practice are inadequate.

            There exist only few books on the role of technology to legal-practice and where such books or journals exist, they are mixed with other issues and not directly on the point. Furthermore, most often seminars take place on several areas of law, but no adequate attention has been given to this area of law, which can either make or mare legal practice.

SUMMARY

We have been able to look at the keywords and their meaning to this presentation and which keywords are; (i) importance (ii) technology, (iii) modern day and (iv) legal-practice.

We have also been able to explain the various importance of technology to the modern day legal practice and the need for legal-practitioner to harness the importance of technology to their modern day to day legal-practice.

Having appreciated the importance of technology as stated above, in order to do justice to this work, we also examined the various challenges/problems associated with the use of technology in modern day legal practice.

We also proffered recommendations which will enable the legal-practitioner to over-come the challenges associated with the use of technology in modern day legal practice.

RECOMMENDATIONS

(1)       Legacy software should be replaced with something new instead of waiting for modernization of the product.

(2)       There is the need for an increase in the awareness about cyber security especially among the employees. There should be an IT Department to improve security protocols which will ultimately translate to reduction in risk, human errors and avoidance of cyber security problems.

(3)       It is important that in order to overcome problem of software non common usage, there is the need to use same by all those that may be involved in teleconferencing or video conferencing instead of different software.

(4)       There should be training from time to time on the use of technology and adaption to new form of technology. There should be money kept inform of keeping them like contribution towards training so that not until a training is necessary that one begins to look for funds to sponsor the training. There should be an account where funds are kept and dropped in preparation for trainings.

(5)       It is recommended that Nigeria should not completely embrace technology in such a way as to cause serious unemployment for lawyers. If such technology which is already in place are being used, it should not take the work of a legal practitioner especially the young lawyers who desire legal practice and who are to or who have gradually embraced technology to assist their work but not to take over the legal practitioners is work.

(6)       The network in Africa especially Nigeria should be improved upon. The network providers are making a lot of money; therefore, they should be made to re-invest in adequate provision of network services. The NCC should play its supervisory role in this regard adequately.

(7)       There should be more books and journals in this new area of law especially in Africa and most especially Nigeria. There should be seminars and conference in order to sensitise the members of the legal profession whose job is now at the mercy of modern technology but who must adjust to the modern way of practicing law.

CONCLUSION

From our discussion, it can be seen that there are lots of importance in technology to modern day legal practice but the challenges are also enormous. It is therefore necessary to overcome lots of those challenges in order to reap the accruing benefits.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

A.         BOOKS/JOURNALS

1.         Dr Jerry Amadi; Contemporary Law of Evidence in Nigeria: VOL 1, published by Pearl Publishers 2012 pages 359-360

2.         Dr Collins Obioma Chijioke: The law and practice of affidavit and documentary evidence…. 2015 pages 83-106

3.         Alaba Omolaye Ajileye: Electronic Evidence…. 2019 page pages 73-101

4.         Alaba Omolaye Ajileye: Electronic Evidence…. 2019 page pages 73-101

B.         INTERNET MATERIALS

1.         Importance; Meriam – Wedster Dictionary: see https//www.meriam.webster.com accessed through the internet on 21/6/2022 at 5pm.

2.         Importance; Collins English Dictionary; see https://www.collinsdictionary.comaccessed through the internet on 21/6/2022 at 5:30pm.

3.         Technology; see https://www.britanica.com accessed through the internet on 23/6/2022 at 1am

4.         Technology; Collins English Dictionary; see https://www.collinsdictionary.com accessed through the internet on 23/6/2022 at 2am

5.         Technology; New World Encyclopedia; see https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org accessed through the internet on 23/6/2022 at 3am

6.         Modern Day; see https://www.collinsdictionary.com Accessed through the internet on the 23/6/2022 at 4am

7.         Modern Day; see https://www.merriam.webster.com Accessed through the internet on the 23/6/2022 at 4:10am

8.         Modern Day; see https://www.freedictionary.com Accessed through the internet on the 23/6/2022 at 4:10am

9.         Technology and The Legal Profession in Nigeria: The impact of technology on the Legal Industry. See https://threshold.attorneys.com. Accessed through the internet on the 25/6/2022 at 1am.

10.       Law Pavilion; see https://Lawpavilion.com. Accessed through the internet on 25/6/2022 at 1:15am

11.       Nigeria weekly Law Report: see https://nwlronline.com. Accessed through the internet on 25/6/2022 at 1:25am

12.       Precedent Documents: See https://guides.Law.stanford.edu. Accessed through the internet on 26/6/2022 at 1:49am

13.       Best Legal Document Drafting Software in 2002 See: https://www.g2.com>categories. Accessed through the internet on 25/6/20022 at 2am

14.       E-Lawyering and virtue Law Practice; See https://www.digitalcommons.uni.edu. Accessed through the internet on 25/6/2022 at 3am

15.       Lawyers urged to adopt e-practice to tackle COVID-19 Pandemic; The Guardian: 14th December, 2021 See https://guardian.ng. Accessed through the internet on 25/6/2022 at 5am

16.       What is Electronic filing; See https://www.diligent.com>insights. Accessed through the internet on 25/6/2022 at 4:40am

17.       Benefits of Switching to an electronic filing system. See; https://www.dynafile.com>benefits. Accessed through the internet on 25/6/2022 at 6am.

18.       Benefits of Technology for the Legal Profession see: https://rodin.com.au>news.benefi… Accessed through the internet on 25/6/2022 at 8am

19.       Artificial Intelligent is on the case… See https://observer.com Accessed through the internet on 25/6/2022 at 10am.

20.       Prof A. Amuda-Kannike SAN; Admissibility of evidence as it relates to Electronic Devices, Social Media And Forensic Science: A paper presented at conference of Magistrate Association of Nigeria, Bayelsa chapter: see https://www.carlumegboro.com Accessed through the internet on 26/6/2022 at 1:30am

21.       Technology Challenges and Opportunities: see https://www.schgroup.com Accessed through the internet on 26/6/2022 at 2 am

22.       Justice Zanna: How technology is posing threat to legal practice; see https://businessday.ng Accessed through the internet on 26/6/2022 at 3am

C.         STATUTES

1.         Section 84 of the Evidence Act

2.          Section 258 of the Evidence Act


[1] A great number of legal practitioners have still not realised that they must be in tune with technology in order to be involved in modern day legal practice.

[2] Importance; Meriam – Wedster Dictionary: see https//www.meriam.webster.com accessed through the internet on 21/6/2022 at 5pm.

[3] Importance; Collins English Dictionary; see https://www.collinsdictionary.com accessed through the internet on 21/6/2022 at 5:30pm.

[4] Technology; see https://www.britanica.com accessed through the internet on 23/6/2022 at 1am

[5] Technology; Collins English Dictionary; see https://www.collinsdictionary.com accessed through the internet on 23/6/2022 at 2am

[6] Technology; New World Encyclopedia; see https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org accessed through the internet on 23/6/2022 at 3am

[7]  Modern Day; see https://www.collinsdictionary.com Accessed through the internet on the 23/6/2022 at 4am

[8] Modern Day; see https://www.merriam.webster.com Accessed through the internet on the 23/6/2022 at 4:10am

[9] Modern Day; see https://www.freedictionary.com Accessed through the internet on the 23/6/2022 at 4:10am

[10] Ibid

[11] These are necessary ingredients of presentations such as the one under reference here.

[12] Technology and The Legal Profession in Nigeria: The impact of technology on the Legal Industry. See https://threshold.attorneys.com. Accessed through the internet on the 25/6/2022 at 1am.

[13] Ibid

[14] Law Pavilion; see https://Lawpavilion.com. Accessed through the internet on 25/6/2022 at 1:15am

[15] Nigeria weekly Law Report: see https://nwlronline.com. Accessed through the internet on 25/6/2022 at 1:25am

[16] Precedent Documents: See https://guides.Law.stanford.edu. Accessed through the internet on 26/6/2022 at 1:49am

[17] Best Legal Document Drafting Software in 2002 See: https://www.g2.com>categories. Accessed through the internet on 25/6/20022 at 2am

[18] Ibid

[19] E-Lawyering and virtue Law Practice; See https://www.digitalcommons.uni.edu. Accessed through the internet on 25/6/2022 at 3am

[20] Lawyers urged to adopt e-practice to tackle COVID-19 Pandemic; The Guardian: 14th December, 2021 See https://guardian.ng. Accessed through the internet on 25/6/2022 at 5am

[21] What is Electronic filing; See https://www.diligent.com>insights. Accessed through the internets on 25/6/2022 at 4:40am

[22] Benefits of Switching to an electronic filing system. See; https://www.dynafile.com>benefits. Accessed through the internet on 25/6/2022 at 6am.

[23] Benefits of Technology for the Legal Profession see: https://rodin.com.au>news.benefi… Accessed through the internet on 25/6/2022 at 8am

[24] Artificial Intelligent is on the case… See https://observer.com Accessed through the internet on 25/6/2022 at 10am.

[25] Dr Jerry Amad:; Contemporary Law of Evidence in Nigeria: VOL 1, published by Pearl Publishers 2012 pages 359-360

[26] Prof A. Amuda-Kannike SAN; Admissibility of evidence as it relates to Electronic Devices, Social Media And Forensic Science: A paper presented at conference of Magistrate Association of Nigeria, Bayelsa chapter: see https://www.carlumegboro.com Accessed through the internet on 26/6/2022 at 1:30am

[27] Dr Collins Obioma Chijioke: The law and practice of affidavit and documentary evidence…. 2015 pages 83-106

[28] Alaba Omolaye Ajileye: Electronic Evidence…. 2019 page pages 73-101

[29]Technology Challenges and Opportunities: see https://www.schgroup.com Accessed through the internet on 26/6/2022 at 2 am

[30] Ibid

[31] Ibid

[32]Ibid

[33] Ibid

[34] Justice Zanna: How technology is posing threat to legal practice; see https://businessday.ng Accessed through the internet on 26/6/2022 at 3am

[35] This is a very serious draw back on the use of technology in legal practice.

[36] Practically, we have been on zoom even for judgment of court where the network was epileptic

THE END

Published By: EDITOR

CARL UMEGBORO is a prolific writer, public affairs analyst and an Associate, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (United Kingdom). He holds a Bachelor of Laws degree (LLB Hons) and a renowned columnist in all national newspapers in Nigeria, Africa Press Reviews, TheWorldNEWS and numerous foreign media including Park Chester Times, New York, USA. Umegboro is a regular guest-analyst to many TV and radio programme on crucial national issues. To send your opinions, articles and reports to the Admin, contact: +234 (0) 802 318 4542, +234 (0) 705 710 1974, +234 (0) 817 318 4542. Email: carl@carlumegboro.com, umegborocarl@gmail.com

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