ATOKI AYOMIDE ISRAEL is an associate at Yusuf O. Ali & Co, a General Practice Law Firm located in Ilorin, Kwara State, Nigeria. At the moment, he is into General Practice, and hopes to carve a niche for himself in the field of Energy Law. He is a lover of all that is noble.
QUESTION 1: What do you understand by Legal Technology and do you think lawyers should be scared of being replaced by technology?
ANSWER: Legal Technology has been defined to mean the use of technology and software to provide legal services as against the traditional conservative approach of physical encounters,
paper and pen. It is the adaptation of the advantages of technology to ease the work of lawyers and also make it look seamless. It is worthy of note at this point that Legal Technology companies are organizations established with the aim of disrupting the conventionally conservative legal market by giving people access to online software that reduces or even eliminate the need to consult a Lawyer. In a breath of thought, this is a good one for development and civilization but a bad one for a lawyer whom would stop getting funds from actual consultancy. ATOKI AYOMIDE ISRAEL is an associate at Yusuf O. Ali & Co, a General Practice Law Firm located in Ilorin, Kwara State, Nigeria. At the moment, he is into General Practice, and hopes to carve a niche for himself in the field of Energy Law. He is a lover of all that is noble.
On whether Lawyers should be scared of being replaced by Legal Technology: It is obvious that legal technology cannot completely usurp the role of a Lawyer as I haven’t seen a technology that can physically go to court on behalf of a client, maintain courtroom decorum, examine and cross examine witnesses, adopt addresses and make oral submissions. A Lawyer cannot be completely replaced by technology in the sense that Technology should be an aid to the work of a lawyer and not essentially an alternative. The wide range of a Lawyer’s job which transcends beyond consultancy is an assurance that despite the existence of technology and the activities of legal tech startups to provide online solutions to legal problems without actually seeing a Lawyer, the role of a lawyer cannot be replaced by technology.
QUESTION 2: In your practice area, has technology had any positive effect or otherwise and HOW?
ANSWER: Technology has had numerous positive effects on my practice area. The role technology is currently playing in my practice of law is a sterling one. Let me state few ways technology is helping my practice as a Lawyer.
LEGAL RESEARCH: There was a time when lawyers did all of their legal research using books. This could pose a big problem of having to locate the particular book containing the required information. As good as books are, the advent of electronic research through the use of Legal research databases such as LawPavilion, Westlaw, LexisNexis, Legalpedia has helped to make the work of a lawyer easier especially when it comes to research on case laws.Presently, I have an unrestricted access to Law Pavilion at my place of work and this has really helped me when it comes to research on cases. I can easily put up the subject matter in the search column and get diverse cases relating to the said subject matter. To make it more interesting, Law Pavilion has a feature for alternate citation where I can easily get the citation of the same case on hard copy Law reports such as the Nigerian Weekly Law Report, Federal Weekly Law Report, Supreme Court Monthly and several others.
LEGAL DRAFTING:Several Conveyance and corporate law agreements have templates online that could be easily adapted to prepare a document without waste of time. The features of Microsoft Word too also help a great deal in preparation of court processes and agreements. APPLICATIONS: There are several legal applications that can be easily downloaded on google play store for easy and convenient accessibility to the content of those applications. If instance, if I have a Criminal case for hearing and I’m on the defense, rather than sweating under the jackboots of the weightiness of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, the Evidence Act, the Constitution and the Penal Code, I can softly go to the court with my tab containing applications of these laws and conveniently surf through while I make allusions and submissions in court. These applications right now are almost the best things happening to me considering the ease of access I have to them.To be more factual, some days ago in Court, the High Court Judge I appeared before came to Court with his tab from where he confirmed a lot of information during the course of proceedings and this was really pleasing because it made the entire process really fast.
COMMUNICATION: Technology has helped me to easily communicate with clients through social media platforms. Documents have also been sent and received by me on these platforms.
QUESTION 3: How do you think Lawyers should keep ahead of technology?
ANSWER: I think Lawyers should keep ahead of Technology by having open minds towards the fact that Technology is not a replacement for Lawyers but rather a tool to be harnessed towards the improvement of Legal practice and Client Services. Lawyers should learn and follow the trends of Technological developments so that we won’t stay behind while the rest of the world advances. With the rise of technology in the Legal profession, the Nigerian Bar Association is making it mandatory for Lawyers to undergo a Continuing Legal Education program that is technology based. This will especially help older lawyers who are not abreast with the recent trends in technology to learn how to use new things like Law Pavilion, Westlaw, Legalpedia and how to surf the internet for research purposes. Lawyers can get ahead of technology by learning how to use the internet themselves and not just relying on paralegals to do the technical work. It is very glaring that lawyers especially in Nigeria have little understanding of how far technology has come in the Legal profession and where technology is eventually taking the practice of law to.
QUESTION 4: What three applications have you been using lately that have an effect on your practice?
ANSWER: LAW PAVILION,LEGALPEDIA and LEXISNEXIS
QUESTION 5: How have you and your law firm adapted to the trends of legal technology and using it as a tool to improve client services.
ANSWER: My law firm, asides having a rich Library also has subscriptions with several Legal applications that are aiding our performance and output as a law firm. I need to also mention that my law firm has adequate internet facilities, hardware and software that are used for Legal research, case preparation and client satisfaction. All staff of the firm can access free internet facilities anytime of the day and as such helps us to be more productive by keeping up with trends of legal technology and use. Personally, I am an internet/technology freak and as such open to learn new things about technology and how I can be more resourceful through my knowledge of advanced technology use. I have adapted to legal technology by putting the technology around me to use especially in my work as a lawyer.
QUESTION 6: What would be your advise/suggestions to lawyers and stakeholders in the legal industry?
ANSWER: My advice to Lawyers and stakeholders in the Legal industry is that we must be ready to embrace the new trends and development in the world of science and technology. The world is becoming digital and we must not be left behind because we remain an important part of the fabric of the society.Lawyers should as well explore the various opportunities in the technological world towards becoming better persons first, and then Lawyers. I still hold the view that technology cannot replace lawyers and thus encourage lawyers to use technology as a tool of practice. Maybe someday, our society will do away with personal hearings and courts will decide cases based on transmitting digital signals and reading a computer or perhaps, computer programs will operate as judges. I’m quite certain that this is very close to being impossible at the moment, so until this becomes possible, my colleagues and I still have to wake up in the morning, pick up our case files and do the work of a Lawyer.
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