The rise of a new, digital society, is predicted by popular texts already. This is described in most accounts as a further development of an already increasingly interconnected society, driven by major breakthroughs in the technology field of data communication and processing. There is no dispute about the enormous societal ramifications of the current breakthroughs in digitisation, large-scale data and artificial intelligence (AIs).
The cornerstone for the examination of law and technology is a key fact- in recent centuries human societies have been predominantly dependent on energy and basic resources technology, but societies now are increasingly dependent on communications and IT and information as a key resource. The processing of sound and meaningful information not only transforms the core activities of corporate success, such as governmental and communications systems, businesses and energy production and distribution networks.
It follows, however, that the law cannot manage the technical innovation process merely by arguing that the information revolution has a legal influence. The law can, on the contrary, be easily seen as a technique that governs other techniques and, thus, as a meta-technology that compete with other regulatory methods, for example market forces or social rules. Furthermore, more sophisticated means of implementation through the mechanisms of design, codes, and architecture have been increasingly supplemented by the conventional harsh legal instruments such as statutes and codes, reinforced by a threat of physical sanctions.
There are few remarkable technological advancements to mark turning moments in civilization history. One such breakthrough is the invention of computers. Computers today impact us all more than we may realise. All spheres of life were influenced by the computer revolution. The life of most persons, and notably of the professionals throughout the world, has been dramatically transformed by these small machines. There are many occupations created by computers. They also remove numerous jobs and change the character of countless others. Computers actually have an impact on the way we think of the world as well as the way we think of ourselves.
Technological advances, such as artificial intelligence, enable current software to scan legal documents, simplify communications and discover appropriate lawyers’ casework. This could be concerning as a study also predicts that the existing technology can automate 23% of the job carried out by lawyers.
In the west, the literature published about the use of computers by lawyers is now immense. Indeed, in their day-to-day work, lawyers in developed nations have used computers for a long time. It appears, however, that their use was limited exclusively to word processing or to the storage and recovery of information concerning their clients. In recent times, US computer companies have developed strong computer systems that allow law firms to even use the Internet for many kinds of things, from international communication to legal research.
Computers in India, too, are starting to have an apparent impact on legal management. In fact, a computer provides a legal practitioner with direct benefits. For legal storage, retrieval, legal analysis and forecasting, computer technology is used. The computer has been accepted as a bookkeeping and accounting tool by many lawyers. In essence, the computer and electronic data management as assistance for the lawyer’s office administration operations are still being explored.
However, the other side of this coin is that computers also pose significant legal system problems. Due to the extremely complicated nature of this issue, many lawyers view computer law as an esoteric, highly specialised field where only the privileged and naive dare enter. That being said, it is absolutely possible that the true problems of computers in our society, namely, privacy breaches and the absence of computer designers’ accountability, is the result of the failure of the legal profession to oversee and understand computer development. If lawyers are familiar with the underlying principles of computer technology, they will understand that current legal principles have sufficient flexibility to accommodate such technological change. Only then can the legal community reflect on the essence of the computer, take into account its role in society and establish proper restraints for controlling its development.
The legal influence of technology shows how the present information revolution affects the principles of law. For instance, new areas of crime such as cyber-crime would have been inconceivable prior to the rapid growth of technology and the internet. Moreover, it is worth reflecting on legal mechanisms like copyright and data protection, which have both been made accessible and controlled and protected in digital contexts. The field of techno-regulation or law by design examines how technological advances have forced lawmakers and policy-makers to build intelligent ways of thinking about law enforcement.
The goal of both lawmakers and private organisations, by integrating legal protections in information technology, is to increasingly address the difficulties of the information age through design, code and IT architecture. However, that often leads to the unlawful condition where governments tend to regulate extrajudicial behaviour arbitrarily by imposing standards on individuals that have no choice in their decisions.
Digital capitalism is turning the dynamics of the legal arena by bringing in new players who challenge traditional law-making power (and monopoly) of lawyers. The production and implementation of the law are increasingly intertwined with digital media, which has been possible only because of the rapid technological advancements across the world.
The legal market worldwide is estimated at a whooping USD 600 billion. This is an appealing market for software vendors and alternative delivery services to create products and services that are becoming increasingly essential for legal providers. It is improbable that the legal sector will continue to function in isolation if market trends are not expected to change.
While most companies currently already employ some technology, the needs and goals of a company must continuously be reassessed. Whether it is to give customers a self-service portal or a digital process workflow, new legal technology tools can solve numerous challenges in businesses. Due to the benefits of such technology, a company can achieve more of its aims, such as:
- Enhanced productivity and efficiency: Modern technology can swiftly and easily support regular operations. For example, if a template is available for a particular document, court paperwork can be completed faster.
- Optimised workflow: Lawyers must interact with colleagues and customers quickly and simply, as well as cooperate to effectively execute complex legal work. Using software to help with legal management, processes can be developed and routine checklists may be created that are easy to use, and also ensures that deadlines are adhered to.
Technology continues to impact the legal world on an enormous scale for better or worse. It can be safely said technology has turned law into something that the lawyers of past could have never comprehended. It is important that lawyers can adapt to these advances in technology. There are obvious reasons for adapting this change from a business and profit-making point of view, however, the legal problems stemming from new technologies also need to be noted. For example, it’s not safe for a client to suppose that their personal emails are not being monitored, or that their social media posts will not be brought up in court. Lawyers today need to be aware of these difficulties so that they may better inform their clientele of what can realistically be expected in legal processes.
The ever-evolving laws are always accompanied by rapidly growing technological advancements. A lawyer’s labour cannot be replaced, but may be made increasingly efficient and this is precisely the purpose of legal technology start-ups. The number of laws in the country is increasing over time and the intricacies of the law also rise simultaneously. By using technology, we can endeavour to help lawyers completely investigate their cases by dramatically decreasing the search and research time.
In fact, the government has supported the use of technology for faster delivery of justice. In its study, “Reforms in the Judiciary – Some Suggestions” of the Law Commission of India, it suggested that cases on comparable issues should be pooled together utilising technology, so as to reduces the backlog of cases. It also advised that a legal database be created to make it easier to resolve comparable situations. Another proposal was that judgments might be made available easily and immediately. This demonstrates that the value and the necessity of incorporating legal technology into our legal system is slowly being realised and implemented.
However, the rising competitiveness and commercialization of practises may transform private professionals into more business and profit-minded lawyers, solely interested in securing or expanding their markets. This argues that public control of the new marketplace of digital law is necessary if the core of the law is not to be progressively lost when digital society is transformed. In other words, it is necessary to carefully evaluate how legislation can be maintained in the course of this drastic change, at least for the sake of public benefit.
This Article is written by miss Anushree N. Murthy, 4th year BBA.LLB Student, Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad
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