Beyond every iota of doubt, the world is now a global village. Technology has permeated every aspect of human life. In science, art, medicine, business, finance, communication, and law, the impact of technology is conspicuous. While every sphere of life has put technology into use, the use of technology in law is clearly posterior.
More significantly, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as its aftermath, has made the use of technology in all spheres of human life indispensable. In Nigeria, the extent of the utilization of technology even with the new normal is umbrageous. Thus, this paper emphasizes the need to deploy technology in its full scale to use in respect of law in Nigeria.
Law has been defined as “the discipline and profession concerned with the customs, practices, and rules of conduct of a community that is recognized as binding by the community”. On the other hand, new normal refers to a current situation, norm, or event which is different from what has been experienced before but is expected to become usual or typical. For the purpose of this article, the law includes legal practice and the legal profession. The new normal is the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and the present outbreak of the Omicron variant.
The outbreak of COVID-19 took its toll on businesses, corporations, individuals, and the government. In order to cushion the effect of the pandemic on legal practice and education, the utilization of technology was prompted. However, there is still a clear under-optimization of technology in both legal practice and legal education. It is necessary to ask the question: what are the benefits of technology in relation to law, especially in a trying moment like this.
Legal technology has numerous benefits in light of the new normal. Foremostly, technology facilitates effective learning in spite of distance barriers. With the use of technology, a global classroom can be created for law students even from different institutions to interact and learn. While observing the contactless protocols as a result of the raging pandemic, legal education can be continued uninterruptedly.
More importantly, the use of client relationship management (CRM) as a contrivance of technology to the law cannot be overemphasized. In countries like the USA, UK, Canada, and France, CRM has proved vital not only to business but also to law firms. Through the use of this technology, client data and other confidential information can be effectively stored, while also making it seamless to keep track of clients’ information, send emails, notifications, and invitations to clients.
Majorly, if legal technology is fully optimized, virtual court proceedings will be a gratifying experience for lawyers and judges in Nigeria. This is not to assert that virtual court proceedings are not obtainable in Nigeria, rather it is asseverated that the virtual experience is a rollercoaster for both lawyers and judges. This is due to low literacy of the use of virtual technology by the actors. For instance, difficulties are experienced in interactive displays, video testimony, and the use of multiple screens to show processes and exhibits during a virtual courtroom. This is the opposite of the scenery in developed legal climes like the US where the process is seamless and enjoyable.
The benefits of legal technology are also more felt in areas of video conferencing for firm meetings, seminars, workshops, and webinars. Legal technology has come in handy in respect of case management and research. Vivid applicative examples are LawPavillon, LexisNexis, and Westlaw.
Unfortunately, the numerous benefits and opportunities that technology essentially holds for legal practice and education in Nigeria cannot be actualized with little know-how and technological illiteracy that subsists among lawyers and law students.
Alchemizing law and technology in Nigeria: Quo Vadis
Having shown that law and technology have not been fully synergized despite the array of benefits that the chemistry holds, what then is the way forward?
It is very important that lawyers and law students need to be made aware of the benefits of technology to legal practice and education respectively. For lawyers, the most vocal avenue to realize this sensitization is the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA). NBA has several branches that comprehensively oversee the activities of legal practitioners in Nigeria. To achieve effective optimization of technology in legal practice, the executives of these branches should be saddled with the ‘sensitization’ responsibility.
Exigently, some of the provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC) need to be revisited. These provisions should be reformed and re-couched in a manner that behooves legal practitioners to utilize relevant legal technology. Additionally, the requirements to become a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) should be so updated that it requires an applicant to have certain legal technology in his chambers before he is conferred with the rank.
Also, the use of technology, as well as its importance to legal practice, should be taught to students of law in their various institutions. In respect of this, practical technical know-how and not theoretical knowledge should be taught to these students as budding lawyers. In this way, the future of the legal profession will be fully digitalized.
As the new variant of COVID-19 – Omicron continues to rage all over the world, Nigeria, especially the legal sector, can be best braced for this new reality by adopting the use of technology. Prima facie, the benefits of the utilization of legal technology in Nigeria far and widely outweigh its challenges.
 Encyclopedia Britannica, ‘Law’ (Britannica, undated) https://www.britannica.com/topic/law accessed 17 December 2021.
 Dictionray.com, ‘New Normal’ (Dictionary.com, undated) https://www.dictionary.com/browse/new-normal accessed 17 December 2021.
 Asha Singh, ‘Importance of Technology for Lawyers in the Coming Times’ (LegalKart, undated) https://www.legalkart.com/legal-author-blog-listing/legalkart-editor accessed 21 December 2021.
 M.T. Adekilekun, ‘Legal and Infrastructural Challenges to Remote Court Proceedings in Africa During Covid-19’ (Institute for African Women in Law, undated) https://www.africanwomeninlaw.com/posts/Legal-and-Infrastructural-Challenges-to-Remote-Court-Proceedings-in-Africa-During-Covid-19 21 December 2021.
 See Uche Matthew, ‘Making Legal Technology A Viable Sector in Nigeria’ (Mondaq, 20 December 2021) https://www.mondaq.com/nigeria/fin-tech/1142658/making-legal-technology-a-viable-sector-in-nigeria accessed 21 December 2021.