How Technology Will Change the Practice of Law

– by Michael Williams, Partner, GILBERT + TOBIN


Automation is not what most professionals have in mind when they think of how technology will affect their disciplines. The legal profession is no different. Up until now, technology in law has been a search for greater efficiencies based on the same underlying model of practice. However, there are new technologies based on automation that are on the verge of becoming a reality. Think artificial intelligence (AI), smart appliances and driverless cars. The same impetus to automate routine tasks, behind these technologies, is now coming to legal practice.



Legal Eduction in the Blockchain Revolution

– by Mark Fenwick, Wulf A. Kaal,  & Erik P.M. Vermeulen


The legal profession is one of the most disrupted sectors of the consulting industry today. The rise of Legal Technology, artificial intelligence, big data, machine learning, and, most importantly, blockchain technology is changing the practice of law. The sharing economy and platform companies challenge many of the traditional assumptions, doctrines, and concepts of law and governance—requiring litigators, judges, and regulators to adapt. Lawyers need to be equipped with the necessary skillsets to operate effectively in the new world of disruptive innovation in law. A more creative and innovative approach to educating lawyers for the twenty-first century is needed.



Use of Electronic Discovery and Cloud- Computing Technology by Lawyers in Practice

– by F Cassim Associate Professor, Department of Criminal and Procedural Law, University of South Africa

In the present electronically driven world, it is vitally important for lawyers to understand advancing or new technology and to have adequate computer literacy in order to best represent their clients. The so-called “e-information explosion” requires lawyers to request, produce and manage electronic documents in order to protect their clients’ interests and to obtain a strategic advantage over their opponents. Lawyers or legal practitioners should adapt to technological changes, develop an awareness of the unique challenges posed by the advances in technology, and embrace technology’s role in both their practices and the legal system. This article examines issues pertaining to electronic discovery and cloud-computing technology in civil practice in South Africa, the United States of America and the United Kingdom. The article also examines current electronic discovery (e-discovery) practices and the use of cloud-computing technology in the United States of America and the United Kingdom to ascertain whether useful lessons can be gleaned from these jurisdictions for possible incorporation into South African law.

The study notes that, while South African law has taken great strides to address advancing technology, useful lessons from abroad can be adopted such as, inter alia, the need for greater preservation of electronic evidence; the use of a wider definition of the term ‘document’ to include all types of electronic information and future technological developments; the amendment of the rules to include the discovery of electronically stored information; the use of the proportionality principle in trials, and the incorporation of the cost-shifting regime. The article concludes that lawyers need to learn more about relevant law such as the ECT Act and POPI, and embrace advancing technology more enthusiastically, yet responsibly, in order to succeed in their new competitive and changing legal environments and to provide the best service for their clients.



The Use of Electronic Discovery and Cloud- Computing Technology by Lawyers in Practice: Lessons from Abroad

How Artificial Intelligence Will Affect the Practice of Law

– By Benjamin Alarie, Anthony Niblett & Albert H. Yoon

Artificial intelligence is exerting an influence on all professions and industries. We have autonomous vehicles, instantaneous translation among the world’s leading languages, and search engines that rapidly locate information anywhere on the web in a way that is tailored to a user’s interests and past search history. Law is not immune from disruption by new technology.

Software tools are beginning to affect various aspects of lawyers’ work, including those tasks that historically relied upon expert human judgment, such as predicting court outcomes. These new software tools present new challenges and new opportunities. In the short run, we can expect greater legal transparency, more efficient dispute resolution, improved access to justice, and new challenges to the traditional organization of private law firms delivering legal services on a billable hour basis through a leveraged partner-associate model. With new technology, lawyers will be empowered to work more efficiently, deepen and broaden their areas of expertise, and provide more value to clients. These developments will predictably transform both how lawyers do legal work and resolve disputes on behalf of their clients. In the longer term, it is difficult to predict the impact of artificially intelligent tools will be, as lawyers incorporate them into their practice and expand their range of services on behalf of clients…



How Artificial Intelligence will Affect the practice of Law

The Great Disruption: How Machine Intelligence Will Transform the Role of Lawyers in the Delivery of Legal Services

– By Fordham Law Review

Law is an information technology—a code that regulates social life. In our age, the machinery of information technology is growing exponentially in power, not only in hardware, but also in the software capacity of the programs that run on computers. As a result, the legal profession faces a great disruption. Information technology has already had a huge impact on traditional journalism, causing revenues to fall by about a third and employment to decrease by about 17,000 people in the last eight years1 and very substantially decreasing the market value of newspapers. Because law consists of more specialized and personalized information, the disruption is beginning in law after journalism. But, its effects will be as wide ranging. Indeed they may ultimately be greater, because legal information is generally of higher value, being central to the protection of individuals’ lives and property…



The Great Disruption_ How Machine Intelligence Will Transform the