Lawyers Must Embrace Technology to Thrive in Practice – Idigbe SAN
Legal practitioners in Nigeria have been charged to acquire the requite skills in order to thrive in the era of technology and globalisation.
In a key note address at the 2018 Law week of the Kaduna chapter of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), a senior partner at Punuka Attorneys & Solicitors, Chief Anthony Idigbe (SAN), said the new technologies have changed the way of doing things and lawyers must embrace them to remain relevant.
Speaking on the theme : “A Profession Grasping for Breath; Modern Challenges, Prospects and Opportunities of Legal Practice”. Idigbe noted that from the way the legal sector and the judiciary from the way things are going in Nigeria, judges are becoming more technically prepared for the future than the lawyers, pointing out that very soon such, lawyers will begin to face challenges in court if they don’t embrace the new technologies.
He said “clients are becoming more demanding and they are no longer ready to pay too much for legal services, at the same time they want speed and efficiency from lawyers they don’t want waste of time and the volume of work is increasing.”
“So the only solution is to apply technology, technology will able to enable lawyers to do the work within a very short time.”
According to him, the appreciation of technology has greatly increased in Africa, noting however that there is still serious challenge technologically in delivery legal services, adding.
“What we need is more education, more commitment, that is why I appreciate what we have done.”
“We have spoken to lawyers at the grassroot, explaining to them what the variables are and the imperatives for change and that if they don’t change, technology is going to come anyway… there are market forces, competitive forces that other lawyers and non lawyers providing the same services and clients unbundling the services and then moving those that are more process based to completely different countries.
He noted that fresh law graduates of today are not ready because the training they received does take cognizance of the changes that have been brought about by technology and called for a review legal education in Nigeria.
He further advised lawyers to choose areas of specialisation in order to become experts as era of general legal practice is long gone.
He further advised lawyers to belong to network of legal so practitioners as to collaborate and be more efficient.
“Belong to a network. You must learn how to cooperate to become more efficient. I am not saying you must form partnership” he said.
Analysing income control in worldwide legal practice, Idigbe, quoting Jomati report, said: “Domestic markets will always consume a significant proportion of any service providers’ product or investors’ capital but truly significant is the growing level of both inbound and outbound investment between countries which in turn necessitates advisers capable of handling cross-border work”.
He said in Nigeria, it is clear that whilst the top 50 law firms control between 30 to 35 per cent of the fees, but employ less than 2000 lawyers leaving the vast majority of about 188,000 to scramble for about 65 per of the market.
“Survival of law practice for many will depend on their creativity.
How many lawyers made money during the Banking crisis in Nigeria?” he asked.
He said modern challenges of the legal practice include competition amongst lawyers/Non-lawyers- Banks, economic uncertainties, artificial intelligence versus Lawyers- spotting risks in everyday business.
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