Where Law meets Technology: An Introductory exploration of Law-Tech
Hamza Qayyum 05-08-2023
With the world moving towards modernization and innovation, the people around the globe are working more behind the screens than in person with an employer. The development of information and communication technology has altered how people interact with one another and with governments. Indeed, the 21st Century has experienced a surge in technological development, making it possibly a period that history will look back on as the one in which progress manifested most quickly. The world has made its way towards modern technology and left the traditional work course. However, a question arises regarding the relation between Law and Technology. The relation is said to be both, simple and exceedingly complex. The incorporation of technology in legal field has brought about insightful changes in the practice leading towards the emergence of “Law-tech”. This article addresses the question as to whether the Law should regulate technology and the problems brought by the prevalence of tech or adopt contemporary technologies to enhance justice access and eliminate adjudication delays. It will explore the impact on the legal sector and analyze the prospective challenges and opportunities it offers.
“Tech knowledge makes Lawyers more productive and could be key to increasing access to justice”
John Stewart, Florida Bar Board of Governors
In recent times, technologies have provided support and have substituted the traditional method of providing legal services along with improving the functioning of the Judicial system. Law-tech is the acronym for legal technology and it has covered a wide range of processes which once used to be man generated. Moreover, there is always a constructive and a destructive sight. In relation to the constructive sight of Law-tech, it has undoubtedly increased the efficiency, productivity and growth in the legal field. It has reduced costs as the things which once a man used to do are now done by technology and that too within seconds along with that, it has been providing better and precise outcomes for clients and organizations.
If we look back towards the COVID time period, a survey by American Bar Association showed that more than 70% of lawyers used online meeting tools to communicate with their clients. Not only this, online legal research databases have played a significant role in innovating the legal structure but also facilitated the practitioners and the researchers in several ways. By utilizing these databases, the working capacities have become more efficient and effective. By incorporating the technology, data protection and cybersecurity has been increased as well, there are less chances of documents being lost or damaged and it proved to be sustainable. Also, the processes of managing cases in the court have become speedy and less overwhelming which contributes towards the betterment of justice system.
Moreover, the technology has taken over some of the legal areas such as Legal research, content review, document automation, legal advice and electronic discovery. It can be said that law-tech is opening opportunities in the legal profession and providing greater access to legal services across the globe. Lawyers having access to technology will open a new specialized legal market and low-level litigation can be easily resolved by legal technology at a very low cost. The term law tech was derived as it describes functions of the legal industry just as Reg-Tech, the technology that aids in regulatory compliance, does. FinTech, on the other hand, combines finance and technology to speed up the digitalization of the financial and insurance sectors.
Moving towards the courts approach on Law-tech, the Landmark judgement of Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah in the case of Meesha Shafi emphasized on the use of technology in the legal system. Some brief facts about the case were whether she was entitled to give her evidence virtually as she was not present in the country at that moment. As per the substantive law, the witness shall be examined in open court, in the presence of a judge. After careful observation, the judge believed that the goals of the law are defeated by sterility and stagnation. He then elaborates on the idea of “updated construction,” which holds that since each generation is subject to the laws that it inherits, the legislature is assumed to have intended for the laws it passed to typically be applied in a way that gives effect to that intention in light of any subsequent changes in circumstances that have occurred since the law’s passage.
This case along with some other case with time had set some new grounds for incorporating technology however, a question arises that whether the law will embrace technology or will it just merely continue to control it. As a matter of reality, where social reality changes, the law must too. As justice Shah quoted:
“Just as the change in social reality is the law of life, responsiveness to change in social reality is the life of the law”.
The destructive sight is also notable, as technology has led towards job displacement, ethical concerns, lack of human judgement and most importantly, reliability and accuracy of work have been compromised. Technology will undoubtedly have a negative impact on the environment, the economy, and even the very foundation of our social values. As a result, it is critical that our policymakers are aware of the wide range of factors that advance alongside technology in order to effectively use it while minimizing associated risks. It is therefore important to mitigate the downsides of the usage of technology in such a way that the pros of the technology outweigh the cons and its used for the betterment and innovation of the legal field.
When it comes to technological innovations in Pakistan, there is a need to overcome the absence of proper infrastructure and extend opportunities for innovation to legal fraternity as they are required to keep up with all global technological advancements and must stay informed of new breakthroughs in these fields. The Legal education system should focus on the training of lawyers as law-tech has presented a great challenge to the law schools and have made them revise their curricula.
The development of new technology is the study’s biggest obstacle since it is completely changing the legal professions and forcing a complete reinvention of the industry. Legal knowledge also includes a number of characteristics that make it easier for it to be automated and digitalized; in fact, it has been said that it was the forerunner of scientific disciplines like bibliometrics and even bibliometric indicators like citation index measures. Therefore, it is incomprehensible how this subject has been neglected for so long; perhaps this is because the moment is appropriate in the age of communications. Another reason for difficulties in adoption of developmental changes in the technology is the precedential and conventional nature of legal system and with that, the rapid pace of technological advancements which make it difficult for our legal systems to cope up with these rapid advancements and incorporating them.
Opportunities-wise, if we look, AI-based systems may offer precise legal counsel and analyze vast volumes of data that law firms and legal advisers will utilize to enhance management and boost efficiency. As a result, this technology ought to be used in civil and administrative domains as well as those that streamline administrative procedures. These, like other technology advancements, will lower the cost of the judicial system and increase everyone’s access to justice.
However, Technology-related issues in Pakistan are far more basic than regulation. Our people’s lack of technology and digital literacy is a major problem and it is necessary for our nation to even consider being parallel with the rest of the developed world. Conclusively, Technology is omnipresent in the society and it has transformed the traditional legal framework and together law-tech has many transformations to make. However, it will come with some costs. But the adequate policies and legal framework regulating the impact of technology and awareness programs can outweigh the downsides of technology and overall revolutionize the legal sector.