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Name: Judiel M.

Pareja Subject: IT and the Law


Course and Year: LLb 2 Date: October 29, 2009

Practice of Law in the Digital Age

Freeman Dyson said, “Technology is a gift of God. After the gift of life it is
perhaps the greatest of God's gifts. It is the mother of civilizations, of arts and of
sciences.” Technology is the force that shapes the destiny of man in this fast changing
world. Life is more convenient and exciting in this 21st century because of the new and
sophisticated technologies that we have. Today we have computers, cellular phones,
medical scanners, robots, spaceships and others. Since we live in a rapidly changing
world, technological advances are increasing quality of life.

Technology and the Law


The effect of this phenomenon is so wide that it reaches the pillars of the legal
profession. The practice of law in the past is very much different now because of the
advancement of technology in our society.
An important key in understanding the effects of technology to the legal
profession is the knowledge of the concept of practice of law. What is practice of law?
According to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, practice of law , “[i]n its most general
sense, involves giving legal advice to clients, drafting legal documents for clients, and
representing clients in legal negotiations and court proceedings such as lawsuits, and is
applied to the professional services of a lawyer or attorney at law, barrister, solicitor, or
civil law notary.” The practice of law is a profession, a form of public trust, the
performance of which is entrusted only to lawyers. Practice of law, according to Justice
Edgardo Paras in Cayetano vs. Monsod, “means any activity, in or out of court, which
requires the application of law, legal procedure, knowledge, training and experience.”
Because lawyers perform almost every function known in the commercial and
governmental world, the definition of practice of law should obviously be too global to be
workable. Practice of law is not limited to litigation, unless the lawyer is one of the

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relatively rare types — a litigator who specializes in this work to the exclusion of much
else. The role of lawyers is vital not only in courts but it also plays a crucial function in
every sector of our society. The legal profession is a vital element in nation building
since no society will exist without rule of law. Hence, we are hoping that our lawyers will
be more mentally, physically and spiritually fit in carrying out their significant
responsibilities in our community.
Now, the world becomes digital. Law today has also entered the digital age.
Everywhere we see products of technology, i.e., the raffling of cases can now be done
electronically. Information technology changes the course of the legal profession. The
way law is practiced - how truth and justice are represented and assessed - is
increasingly dependent on what appears on electronic screens in courtrooms, law
offices, government agencies, and elsewhere. Practicing lawyers know this and are
rapidly adapting to the new era of digital visual rhetoric. This is evident in the case filed
by the UC Legal Aid against Waterfront Hotel for the damages the latter inflicted to the
community. The prosecution is very dependent on pictures and videos to substantiate
its claim. It is evident in the aforementioned case that law and technology go hand-in-
hand in the administration of justice.

The Digital Lawyer


How have lawyers prepared themselves to deal with this technological
revolution? As a profession, lawyers have fallen behind other professions and business
in society. This lapse in learning has consequences. Already lawyers who have made
the effort to keep up with technology have an edge over those who haven't. The “old”
lawyers stuck to the traditional way of practicing law – a boring, time consuming and
stressful manner of doing legal work.
Who is a digital lawyer? M. Ethan Katsh said that Digital lawyer is a lawyer who
is one who has a: “[s]ensitivity to the value, qualities, and capabilities of information in
electronic form is probably the distinguishing characteristic of the digital lawyer. Such
lawyers will understand that supplying the right information quickly is more important
than ever before. Such lawyers will be aware that the "library" of cyberspace can be
virtually any computer or any individual connected to the network. Such lawyers are

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likely to depend heavily on data communications to clients and on a "network" of
colleagues, consultants, acquaintances, and experts.”
The “central change” in the digital lawyer is an understanding of the importance
of information in an environment where new tools for processing and communicating
information make adding value to information and using information to develop new
relationships the central concern of the system of our society.
What are the skills that are necessary to become a digital lawyer in an age where
all law is in electronic format? According to Richard S. Granat, there are at least three
sets of skills that modern lawyers need in order to capitalize on new developments in
information technology, namely: electronic information retrieval skills; skills in electronic
communication; and skills in electronic publishing.
Electronic Information Retrieval Skills
Lawyers were one of the first professions to use automating information
retrieval technology through the use of legal databases. Electronic information
retrieval skills are a broader concept than understanding how to find a particular
case. The digital lawyer understands that the legal world consists of a set of
databases.
Knowing how to design, create, and retrieve information, from data bases,
both legal and non legal, quickly and efficiently is the hallmark of the digital
lawyer.
Skills in Electronic Communication
A second critical skill is to understand how to communicate electronically.
Communication is at the heart of the legal enterprise. Lawyers communicate to
clients, to other lawyers, to courts and agencies.
Skills in Electronic Publishing
By electronic publishing we mean more than word processing. Understanding
modern electronic publishing technology means knowing how to use these
technologies to manage the shift from delivering legal services on a one-to-one
basis to a one-to-many basis that teach clients about the law as well as provide
services to them. It means having the capacity to produce multimedia legal

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documents and file or deliver them electronically any where in the world (Re-
training Lawyers for the Digital age).

Final Words
Confronting our challenges and building upon our strengths- those are the two
polestars that will guide our Judiciary as we enter the new millennium. I hope that with
this advancement of science and technology, our judicial system will become more
efficient, transparent and effective. Lawyers should learn to embrace the benefits
brought by these changes to ensure speedy administration of justice.
Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!

“Lives of great men all remind us


We can make our lives sublime,

And, departing, leave behind us


Footprints on the sands of time.”
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Bibliography:
Book
Villareal, Edgardo II. Legal Profession. Manila: Rex Printing Company,
Inc. 2002
Websites
http://www.digital-lawyer.com/retrain.html
http://www.lawphil.net/judjuris/juri1991/sep1991/gr_100113_1991.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Practice_of_law

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