6 Jan 2008

Interactive legal systems: Change with the changing times

When I read this article on Slaw, I really felt that this is it, this is the one thing which is really the future of the Indian legal system. Gone are the days when law used to be the residuary profession of those who could not get a break in other professions. It is really becoming a self-serving, importance-gathering profession and with times to come and advent of technological instruments in the system, it will only gain more weight. Yes really, where the development coincides with a strong legal system, technology is the need of the hour of a modern Indian lawyer. I am sure readers from other jurisdictions will find this article out of place for already such resources are being consistently used in their legal institutions.

Technology does make life easy and also allows the individuals and institutions to make multi-tasking the foreword for growth. This article by Jordon [click here for the full article] reflects the tasks for the lawyers looking forward to give customized solutions to their clients, even before they are able to find the right words for the ailment to seek to look for. Then there is another perspective. Legal systems cannot be cut off from the main-frame social activity. I have always been the supporter of the school which believes that law follows the society and it is in this context that I put that the legal profession cannot afford to cut itself from the changes that take place in the society, of which technology is an important determinant.

The lawyer today can no longer afford to be content with just being undated with the latest citations and amendments. He is not a professional alone whose job is to fight and win cases from his clients. But in fact he is also a harbinger of social change. For it is he that decides as to how suitable the options are, as suggested by other professionals like economists, engineers, doctors etc. in the upcoming state of affairs. It is he who advises their clients of their future course of affairs, even before they have decided to embark upon them.

The lawyer today, therefore has the necessity built upon him to argue not with others but also with himself the need to bring on such interactive dimensions as Jordon suggests, which not only add utility and value to the services he offers but also gives an added advantage to the client in terms of the advantage they derive from such online interactions.

I am not much of a html buff but if I am correct, the cookies and all which the websites place on the users system are meant to in fact carry such tasks and offer customized solutions to the online users. There is no reason why the lawyers cannot make use of such techniques especially when they are relying more and more these days on online communications and have devoted sites and servers catering to their needs. In fact I believe the legal professional has to go a long way and in fact turn out to be more progressive than the rest of the professions for it is only in a favourable and stimulating legal environment that sister professions came their full way and thwart the might of rigour and skill.

I am sure these words sound too huge for an average Indian lawyer for whom technology in law is confined to online causelists and so some extent manupatra, but then I am doubly sure that with the Knowledge Commission working out with its full might in this regard [click here for its report] and also the National Judicial Academy feeding the judges with the latest update in technology and also not to forget the Law Schools who impress upon the younger generation the need to use technology and most importantly how to use it, it seems that the future of legal profession in India is best described as an interactive one.


Amir Kafshdaran said...

In my humble opinion, and somewhat along your line of thought, I strongly believe that our laws must be adapted to follow the societal movement and change. However, I am also a fervent believer that we must, as legal practitioners and professionals in this field, ensure that our laws serve their purpose by being well advertised, understood and properly administered.

I’ve had the opportunity to read your comment on my recent post in connection herewith where you brought up Tax law as an example of how quickly our laws can adapt to changes. It is a very good example but let’s look at it a little closer. In fact, I agree with you in so far as the Tax law landscape does evolve at an incredible pace, even drives me crazy. This is concrete evidence that laws can be tailored as often as necessary. Let’s not forget how our tax lawyers are kept pretty busy in trying to follow and understand such changes, revisions, modifications, amendments, you name it, to our Tax laws. Do we expect every citizen to follow such changes as vigorously as we do? What are the consequences of having such laws continuously evolving?

Technology is more encompassing than tax in our everyday lives; it not only affects many people across the world on a daily basis but it is now an integral part of our social and economic system. I’ll use “contracts” as an analogy as it is also another institution fundamental to our subsistence in collectivity. Laws regulating contracts are relatively stable, and should be so, to preserve the popular confidence in this institution. Any instability may trigger deep and certainly negative impacts on the development and growth of our economy and may potentially paralyze any form of trade among market players. Technology is as fundamental to our economy as “contracts” impacting the global economy and must be properly regulated. Can we afford to have laws, similar to that of Tax constantly in a state of reflux, regulate such a vital activity in our daily lives? This is where we need to pause and reflect what needs to be done in order to achieve the perfect balance between stability and protection but in a global perspective.

You certainly paint a interesting portrait of the issue in your piece.

Tarun Jain said...

well as far as I can relate to this issue of laws been advertised, understood and properly administered, that can be done only upon to a level and not completely.

I totally agree that the laws should be well notified and made known to the people as they affect them all but then the question of making the laws understand to the people takes a presumption that people want to know about the laws.

In my limited interaction with clients and legal fraternity, I find more and more people are inclined to leave the legal work to the lawyers and their kind and are simply not interesting in knowing how things work and what lies beneath the system that operates. To for example a person who want to open a shop in a remote area about which he doesn’t know much, and hardly trust the real estate agency he undertakes. Now in this case, what would be the intuitive reaction of this person? To get himself about the various laws (like background check, terms of the contract of sale, legal relationship with the real estate agent which he engages and his liability in case of fraud etc.) or would be simply be interested in engaging a legal agency which can give him concrete answers to these and other issues which he cannot even contemplate would arise. And what is wrong with his decision to leave the part which is non-sensical to him to the person who is specialized in the matter? After all, everyone cannot be expected to take equal interest in all things and the same goes with law, its not everyone who can understand law and their rights and moreover, everyone has not got the aptitude and same inclination to be aware about the law.

It is here at this juncture that I will set in the second proposition that too much simplicity is also not good for law. For simple laws need not be good laws as well. To illustrate and to take again tax laws, the simpler the rules, the more people will find ways to work them around to get out of the legal regime, for given a choice, no would be voluntary pay a tax. And so complexity has to be brought in the system to plug in the gaps that a simple tax law will bring. And as people become wiser and find newer ways to avoid coming within the taxing regime, the more the law would become complex for newer ways and means would have to be thought to avoid these wiser folks getting away from the tax net.

But then as far as the technological element is concerned, I am surely full heart and might in favour of getting the legal systems in line with the advantageous ways and means which technology has gifted to the modern life and surely I am hopeful, this would make the interactions between the legal fraternity and the institutions with the masses a more pleasant experience.