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A Companion to the Philosophy of Technology by Vincent F. Hendricks, Stig Andur Pedersen, Jan Kyrre Berg Olsen Friis

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Chapter 79

Technology and the Law

RICHARD SUSSKIND

The technology that has exerted the greatest impact so far on the practice of law and the administration of justice is information technology (IT). It is both intuitively obvious and jurisprudentially sound to recognize that the law, with its heavy dependency on documents, information services and knowledge resources, is a fertile application area for IT. However, the full potential of IT has not yet been realized in most legal systems, partly because of underinvestment by governments and private-sector legal businesses and also because lawyers, in general, are often late adopters of new technology.

In recent years, there has been growing uptake of IT by legal practitioners, including lawyers who work in law firms, advocates who specialize in court work, and legal advisers who operate in-house within businesses and governments. In the 1970s and 1980s, the dominant uses of IT by these lawyers were in the back office – for word processing, accounting and administrative purposes. It was later recognized, in the 1980s and since, that information systems could be used to capture and share the collective know-how and experience of a legal team, so that databases of standard-form documents and legal opinions were developed and made easily accessible to lawyers from their desktops. As elsewhere, however, it was the advent of the Internet that led to IT becoming mainstream amongst practicing lawyers. Since the late 1990s, email has become ...

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