The Future of Law: Facing the Challenges of Information Technology

The Future of Law: Facing the Challenges of Information Technology

The Future of Law: Facing the Challenges of Information Technology

The Future of Law: Facing the Challenges of Information Technology


Written by a leading expert on computers and law, this important new book book shows exactly why and how information technology (IT) will radically alter the practice of law and the administration of justice. Beyond automating and streamlining traditional ways of providing legal advice, IT is re-engineering the entire legal process, resulting in legal products and information services whose focus will be dispute pre-emption rather than dispute resolution, and legal risk management rather than legal problem solving. With easy and inexpensive access available, IT will help integrate the law with business and domestic life. This book considers the implications, opportunities, and challenges for all concerned in the information society. The IT revolution cannot be ignored, and this book is essential reading for all those who would successfuly adapt to the changes and challenges IT brings.


My first task, then, is to suggest what are likely to be the most significant developments in it over the next ten years.

It might immediately be wondered whether or not it is actually possible to make reliable long term predictions about it. Indeed, it is often argued that long term planning for it is futile because no one can confidently predict what technological advances might be made many years hence. in support of this, it might be said that if a long term forecasting exercise analogous to the one in this preface had been conducted in 1977 it would have neglected the advent of the personal computer (which came to the market in 1981) while a similar initiative in 1987 would have had no insight into the World Wide Web (developed in 1990). Both of these developments fundamentally changed the world of it (and the world generally) but neither could have been predicted. Should we not therefore wait and see what new technologies emerge and focus instead today on making it work for us in the short term?

On reflection, the position today, in 1997, is significantly different from ten and twenty years ago. in particular, it is striking to note that even if there were to be no new advances in it over the next decade as radical or fundamental as the pc and the World Wide Web have been, nonetheless the likely impact of the entirely foreseeable consequences of today's proven technologies will of itself be extremely profound both for the administration of justice and for the practice of law. This was not so ten or twenty years ago, when what was foreseeable then did not promise such pervasive and penetrating change. Thus the predictions of this preface assume no major step changes and yet begin to offer a vision of a justice system and of legal practice which would be quite different from today's. (At the same time, the possibility of some far-reaching, new technical innovations emerging over the next ten years cannot be discounted and this highlights the need constantly to monitor research activities across the world.)

In any event, pragmatic managers often harbour doubts about long term strategy, fearing that it can result in unrealistic and impractical proposals which might distract it specialists as well as users from the basic requirements of keeping existing systems running today and in the short term. There is a danger here; but so long as long term strategy and day-to-day operational work are managed separately (even if closely linked), a strategic approach should actually support ongoing systems administration. It is surely crucial to think ahead, to choose from future possibilities and, in . . .

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