Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Information Communication Techonology (ICT) Use as a Predictor of Lawyers' Productivity

Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Information Communication Techonology (ICT) Use as a Predictor of Lawyers' Productivity

Article excerpt

Introduction

Information Communication Technology (ICT) is an umbrella term that includes all technologies for the manipulation and communication of information. The work of legal practitioners involves a high level of documentation and information processing, storage, and retrieval. The information intensiveness of a lawyer's responsibility is such that tools and technologies that would speed up the documentation, management and information handling are not only important but professionally necessary. The value of accuracy, correctness, completeness, relevance and timeliness are characteristics of information which ICT systems do generate to meet lawyer's information needs.

The role of lawyers in any society is essential. In the early days, before the coming of the Europeans, each community in Nigeria had its own system of rules and practices regulating human behaviour. These were undocumented but known to all. Penalties which ranged from ostracism, payment of fines, and community service with close monitoring. With the advent of colonial masters, the common law of England was introduced and customary law with some modifications was retained. It is the common law and customary law that have evoloved into the court systems that are the Nigerian legal system (Holdsworth, 1976, Omotola and Adeogun, 1987 and Gerbert, 1998).

The legal system is essential to maintain stability and order in the society. Lawyers in any civilized society settle fundamental human rights, disputes and clashes. A legal practitioner in Nigeria is a barrister as well as a solicitor whose primary duties are; advocacy, litigation, counseling, preparation of legal document, etc. A lawyer defends his client (s) in the court of law by applying the principles of law to the evidence available, by providing relevant facts. Lawyers enlighten the public of their constitutional rights and ensure that people are not deprived of their fundamental human rights such as freedom of association, speech, opinion, religion etc.

Ekundayo (1995) and Oyebode, (2005) pointed out that, the services of lawyers are needed in almost all human endeavours such as banks, insurance, companies, government institution etc. Omekwu, (2003) posited that computers in a lawyer's office are useful for the performance of the following functions to:

*check and input information and ensure correctness and completeness.

*sort information into designed sequence, store data for future reference and use.

*refer lawyers to previously stored information, carry out calculation functions, analyze and summarize data.

Based on the three major functions above computers in lawyers offices could be applied in many area of law practice such as litigation, advocacy, criminal law, commercial law, environmental law, insurance, etc.

Omekwu (2004) also indicated that, the use of digital technology has led to migration of lawyer's instrument of trade to electronics formats. Judicial decisions and all other sources of information germane to the work of lawyers are now available in electronic format. Many of these materials can be accessed online. Many legal scholars, researchers and judicial officers have all discussed how these developments will impact on legal practice now and in future.

Eke (2006) wrote that ICT is impacting different sectors of Nigerian economy, especially in legal profession. Due to the importance of ICT in the development of Nigerian legal system, there is a paradigm shift from acquisition of print information resources to electronic resources in law libraries. For instance, availability of the Internet or related computer network (such as Local Area Network) can provide quick access to relevant legal information in electronic format in law libraries than is manually possible. Hence, effective adoption and use of ICT in law libraries will be immensely beneficial for sustainable development in Nigeria by ensuring that relevant and current information is made available for legal practice for enhanced productivity. …

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