Will the legal professions survive the current revolution in information technology?

Essay by rashamraUniversity, Master's April 2003

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"The computer will condition every facet of human life in the future, and so far as law is used to regulate that life, it will affect the development of the law."

Legalism , termed by Shklar , suggests that law can be set off form the world around it and viewed as a reasonably stable, logical system which somehow controls the real world that lies outside the system. In the legalistic view, we could almost imagine two worlds, whose inter-connection is the formal communication through the courts. The critics of legalism were right to suggest that the law is not the logical and stable system it is sometimes perceived to be, and that there is no clear barrier between law and the world outside which it is supposed to control. Indeed the two criticisms are linked, since the reason for the non-logicality and non-stability of the legal system is seen to be the fact that it is impossible to erect a barrier to keep the world away .

The critics have never been truer with the advent of the internet. For the past decade we have seen an information revolution, which has affected the entire world. Such seismic impact can also be felt through the whole legal profession and, with the instantaneous and constant flow of relevant information to the right legal users at the right time, some claim it will be the backbone of legal practice . However, the convergence of IT and law will also challenge and threaten the existing configuration of law practice, long heralded for its enterprise in paper-based technology and even as lawyers gradually computerise their work, the use of information technology in the delivery of legal services is not limited to existing law practices. Some critics have claimed that the technology being used to...