Has Technology caught up with Lawyers? 

Image Credit: Kingsley Ugochukwu Ani L.P

Lawyers, like every other professionals, have been caught up by the need for digitization in legal practise and the use of core technology. However, this is still a very far cry. Why? As lawyers, we are a pedantic bunch and slow to change. We have always loved our textbooks and case Files. So why  bother with disruptive tech? Eh? 

Many lawyers are of the view – including the young lawyers who have little to no legal practice experience – hold the view that their computer usage can always be palmed off to the secretary/typist. As one contemptuously put it: *How can I have a secretary and then also have to do my own typing*? *What am I paying her for then*? They believe that it is not their business to deal with technology. Some labor through computer usage. Some don’t bother. The list is endless. Some also are extremely well-versed in computer usage. I know of one who is also a computer programmer in addition to being a lawyer. So, with whatever you meet in your dealings with law practice professionals, please do not be surprised.

As for digitizing certain legal procedures, that issue is being well addressed now. Certain electronic reports have occupied the market as pay-for-subscription services for lawyers to get law reports. One of such is Legalpedia.

The challenges faced by legal practitioners in the use of digital solutions in the legal sector here in Nigeria is gigantic. It is stunning, really, considering the fact that we are fully into the 21st century and technology should have been embraced by all professionals. 

For legal professionals, the major challenges faced is the lack of computer-friendliness needed to work through technological usages for a lot of professionals. You may not believe this, but some lawyers cannot navigate a common email system, neither does many know what LinkedIn is (I write from painful personal experience with such lawyers in the past), alongside other things. In other words, many lawyers are tech illiterates even though they are top of their game in the legal field. Looking into this, you will then have to understand how difficult *it will be to talk of creating a digital solution* for such lawyers. They simply cannot use it. *This is the first, and possibly the most important challenge* for the legal professionals. There are other inarguably other problems, but I believe this is the first and most important. However, many are married to tech, and this is commendable. 
I have a work-map already placed for the services legal professionals might need. However, taking into consideration the fact that digital solutions (and other long-term corporate-business development) providers/professionals will have to work around the glaring techno-illiteracy that is still prevalent in the legal profession. *In other words, whatever solutions to be developed will need a friendly UI for its users* in order to be fully appreciated in certain areas in Nigerian legal practice (places like Lagos already have quite full digital-friendly lawyers).

Honestly, it would be an impossible, unwanted suggestion that lawyers should get computer appreciation training. Many will argue that there is no time. Because of this, it cannot be suggested to individual lawyers but to firms, as a whole. And it is also *not* enough to merely suggest digital training and then walk away from their air-conditioned offices. No sir. If you suggest it, then you have to get a road map ready for their digital learning, *AND YOU HAVE TO BE READY TO TEACH THEM*!!! There is nothing else that can work. Lawyers need to be taught computer appreciation skills, but in-house, or on a consulting basis, not as a mere suggestion to them. They will merely laugh if you go that route! I have been involved in the long-term business development strategy sessions with other freelance consultants for a firm, and this was the major route accepted. And it will work. Just get a road map ready for them. For those already well acquainted with computers, kudos. But do more. There’s always room for more. 

Apart from doing my little best to try and educate fellow lawyers on the need to use technology, and then to chastise them when they bring seemingly insurmountable tech problems to me to solve which really is a walk in the park, I will have to say that I have tried. I have created solutions, work maps. They just have to follow through.  As the saying goes: *USE YOUR TONGUE TO COUNT YOUR TEETH*. It is left for individuals to decide. To be or not to be tech literate, that’s the question. 

If they decide that they need my assistance on what skills to acquire and possible lesson plans and time schedules to work it out, I create same willingly and then charge for it. After all, premium service demands premium payment and anything offered for free is disregarded as being bullshit.

A digital solution to be created for legal professionals will need to be all-encompassing, working both case-management and practice-management systems.

The foregoing is the main summary of needed work. Whatever solution to be created will now be split into several hundreds of sub-divisions and classifications depending no areas of specialization of the end user.

Without tech, businesses die. There’s no negotiation for this. 


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