By Hussaini Sani Esq
The bourgeon technological advancements are causing significant disruptive challenges at all levels of our economy, including the old age traditional legal profession which in many cases has been the subject of criticism by pro-modernists for unable to keep up with the pace of change.
Now, the legal profession is finally succumbing and experiencing the digital disruption that has swept through so many industries over the last decade. Legal systems all over the world have already started working hard to keep pace with the rapid evolution of technological changes happening in our societies.
For a profession in which development has tended to be phylogeny and gradational for much of its history, the legal profession is now faced with a tread of change that has put serious pressure and strained exigencies on many lawyers. It’s transforming all aspects of lawyering, creating new ways of working in new emergent markets with new roles and complexities, opening up new opportunities while the moribund traditional norms dissipates with a waning pace.
Law, whether understood as a profession, a method of solving disputes, a tool to achieve justice, a superstructure in the hands of powerful to protect their interest, or more simply, an instrument to guide human behavior, is at its core an intellectual endeavor that depends on handling, storing, interpreting, and sharing knowledge as well as information. This traditional roles have received a huge disruptions in technology as leading technology and resources have been deployed, such as cloud computing, data and artificial intelligence (AI) in the various fields.
On this premise, coming together in a form of mutual synergy between the Bar, the Judiciary and the Council of Legal Education to consider the kinds of technologies that will shape the environments in which we live and how they will impact the laws and governance of Nigeria is an important first step in addressing these challenges.
The NBA administration must focus on equipping lawyers on this aspect of emergent necessary trend both at the business and legal practice sections of the Association. Law firms too must examine their practices and adjust to the new world of technological shift if at all they want to stay afloat in the competitive market the new technological shift carved. But the overwhelmed burden for now lies on the Council of Legal Education. The Council needs to do away with moribund courses and established novel 21st century curriculum that will provides students with the technical skills to thrive in the digital world, and also the ability to navigate the complex ethical, legal and social implications of these new technologies.
They must focus on both readying their students for these challenges ahead and also preparing them for other roles in which their knowledge and skills can be used.
But in adapting to meet these new challenges, it is important Nigerian universities and law schools recognise that some of the traditional skills they impart to students will continue to be valuable for a long time to come. They should rather be harnessed and hybridised with modern novel skills and knowledge.
But on a more serious note, the Council of Legal Education and the universities must not close their eyes, and do nothing while they are faced with the disruptive emergence of technological advancements in an environment into which students are graduating with a burning and necessary need to be innovative so as to be successful.
The educational wing of the profession must be responsive in creating opportunities for students to develop new skill sets that will set them up to succeed against the disruptive digital innovations, even as the expectations of lawyers continues to shift over time.
Hussaini Sani is a Lawyer and a digital technology enthusiast.
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