LEGAL INFORMATICS – A PERSONAL APPRAISAL OF CONTEXT AND PROGRESS

Richard Susskind

Abstract


This chapter is an account of the prospects and progress of information technologies in the legal professions as seen through the author’s own journey in the field. In an edited extract from the author’s book, The End of Lawyers?, the chapter suggests that lawyers have insufficiently adapted to the opportunities presented by legal informatics and by the information society. Their challenge is to identify their distinctive skills and talents, the capabilities that they possess that cannot, crudely, be replaced by advanced systems; or by less costly workers supported by technology or standard processes; or by lay people armed with online self¬help tools. The market is increasingly unlikely to tolerate expensive lawyers for tasks (guiding, advising, drafting, researching, problem¬solving, and more) that can equally or better be discharged by less expert people, supported by sophisticated systems and processes. Therefore the jobs of many traditional lawyers will be substantially eroded and often eliminated. At the same time, new law jobs are likely to emerge which may be highly rewarding, even if very different from those of today. The market will determine that the legal world is inefficiently resourced and is likely to drive out excesses and unnecessary friction and, in turn, we will witness the end of outdated legal practice and the end of outdated lawyers.

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