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It’s no longer news that the world has changed in so many ways and is still changing rapidly. The norms that we’ve known and become accustomed to for years are being challenged by the emergence of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
This pandemic has uncovered loopholes that have been in our systems. It has thrust upon us the urgent need to upgrade our systems and ourselves, the need to chart, adopt and adapt to the new normal of virtual business transactions and interactions. The legal industry is not left out as well.
There have been several virtual symposiums trying to articulate the needs out there and chart the way forward for adoption and adaptation.
From the recently concluded online conference, “The African Law Firm Strategic Growth Virtual Conference” held on the 28th of April 2020, the following needs among others, were outlined as the key take-aways by Saheed Abiola, from the Ilorin Bar [https://bit.ly/3dVvAJI]
1. “E-lawyering method should also be developed:
Lawyers should take this opportunity of the Covid-19 lockdown not to be confined any longer to the firm’s walls but practice anywhere irrespective of time and distance with the use of web-based databases and software systems to interact with clients and prepare required processes.
2. Law Libraries should embrace virtual practice:
It is no longer a case where legal practice depends heavily on a library of printed information resources but on an e-lawyering approach that depends on electronic information resources such as e-portals, web-based computing devices, online databases and social media.
Virtual libraries or online libraries should be adopted where you can practise law without necessary flipping through the pages of physical law reports before a well-researched brief can be written.
3. Online clientele:
During the lockdown, lawyers have been able to render little or no service at all, especially as there are many clients who are seriously in need of the services of lawyers, but due to distance and the lockdown, there was no way to get the services they had need of as the four-walled lawyer cannot access his bricks. This is where E-lawyering becomes useful.
E-lawyering involves rendering legal services online through web-based technologies and with this, the problems of clients are solved without physical contacts.
4. E-filling System for Court:
The Courts are not left out. E-filing systems should be adopted by the courts so that the courts will not be put on unnecessary hold in times like this. The court finds it uneasy to sit because of the large human resources and the physical contact required. This calls for E-filling system in our judiciary.”
According to him, “I must, however, acknowledge the fact that we have now begun to hear the echo of the introduction of e-filing system from the judiciary in the last few days. My hope and prayer are that the Judiciary makes this a permanent feature in our judicial process nationwide.”
Looking at the ensuing conversations as regards to the transformation of the legal industry, in particular, is undergoing and the opportunities opening up, it would be safe to ask is COVID-19 a blessing in disguise or not? Opinions differ.
Given the averse inclination of the legal profession to the use of technology, change may be difficult and unwelcome, but to thrive in today’s lawyering all, especially in adapting to the way forward, using the above-outlined tools and resources and many others is not optional anymore, but necessary.
The question you might have now is how do you go about it?
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