Many have come to perceive law as slow, difficult and distant from daily life, in fact, most people see law as a system that is too complex they often don’t want to dabble into, this mostly as a result of the way it has been presented over the centuries. Lawyers are seen as very cautious and inflexible. But just like everything else in life change happens and law is not an exception. Law is changing and technology is the big factor.
Legal professionals are adopting technology innovations to improve the efficiency in their practice. The last century has marked the beginning of most technological changes that have successively changed the way law is practiced globally. I highlight just a few of these innovations below.
Audio-visual presentation is a very effective way of presenting, it easily grabs attention and retains it, truly effective audio-visual presentation increases retention by 45 percent. Presentation software such as the Microsoft’s PowerPoint has been used in many legal cases. Now 3D animation, video and medical imaging technology are essential parts of many litigators’ toolkits in more advanced countries and should be part of ours too.
Recorded interrogations, now adapted during interrogations, make it less likely for police to abuse suspects during interrogations and also protects police officers accused unjustly of misconduct against an accused during interrogation. Jurisdictions have begun requiring recorded interrogations at the beginning of this century after high-profile cases lend credence to the defendants’ claims of coerced confessions.
One of the most notable development in criminal law has been the use of DNA evidences. DNA fingerprinting is now nearly indisputable and incontestable as evidence in courts; and over thousands of people wrongly convicted of crimes have been set free because of new DNA analysis and matching. DNA evidences has in turn inspired the development of DNA databases.
The Blood typing first appeared in the 1920s to narrow down a pool of suspects in a matter by blood type, or to connect a child and alleged parent, which led to more accurate genetic paternity testing in the 1960s, with 80 percent accuracy rates. Those rates have improved to 99.99 percent accuracy in modern time. Also, digital forensic investigations, which is a branch of forensic science that deals with investigation and recovery of materials discovered on digital devices, have been able to recover incriminating emails in investigations. Today, certified forensic examiners use specialized software and tools to collect, analyze and review digital evidences in a forensically accurate format. Most often Computer crimes are successfully tackled using this tactic.
The Internet and computer have played astounding roles in revolutionizing the legal work practice. The Desktop Word processing and now Google Docs (Google Documents) with collaborative online editing tools is edging into the lawyer’s toolkit. The cloud software makes it possible to rent applications without having to manage the IT overhead this is useful particularly for small firms or solo practitioners who can’t afford expensive information technology. Law firms now take on the internet to advertise their practice, build their brands as well as provide vital information for clients and potential clients. Thanks to the blogs, any law firm can easily publish commentary and research for potential clients using search engines. In particular, LinkedIn, an online social networking site which launched in 2003, has become a useful online tool for locating lawyers to network with and for clients to research an attorney’s background. Also, since 2006, Twitter has provided a place for lawyers to post 140-character messages for the world.
There is a lot more technology has done to progressively change the face of law, these changes have made law more flexible and more effective. It is important we are constantly improving and innovating, because as we all know life itself is about change. As a lawyer, I welcome these changes and encourage the Nigerian legal system and legal practitioners to take advantage of these innovations to improve serving justice, also in ensuring and maintaining efficiency in performance.
– Moses Oruaze Dickson