Lawyers’ Day: from tradition to digital boom

“Today there is no legal practice without technology. Lawyers who are not engaged in the world of technology cannot properly practice their profession,” says Professor Gustavo Kloh of the FGV Rio de Janeiro Law School.
11 August 2022
Lawyers’ Day: from tradition to digital boom

Practicing law now means staying up to date, adaptability and digital transformation in legal systems. Today, August 11, is Lawyers’ Day in Brazil. To celebrate these professionals, FGV News spoke to professors Anderson Schreiber and Gustavo Kloh of the Rio de Janeiro Law School.

The following interview looks at topics related to digital acceleration within the legal environment and how these changes are directly affecting the profession’s everyday routines.

How has digital acceleration impacted law as a field of study and profession?

Anderson Schreiber – In two ways. First, by opening up a whole range of new demands and new conflicts, as we see, for example, with the issues of civil liability on social networks, fake news and deep fakes, as well as discussions on subjects such as tax breaks for e-books. In short, there’s a series of new issues brought about by digital acceleration, which have demanded and will continue to demand legal solutions. On the other hand, the impact of digital acceleration on law is related to the tools that have become available for legal professionals to carry out their work.

Gustavo Kloh – The work of legal professionals is now immersed in high-tech environments. They work with computers, cell phones, virtual reality, the metaverse, serving people, interacting with technology, responding to bots and interacting in networks. So, today there is no legal practice without technology, at least in Brazil. Lawyers who are not engaged in the world of technology cannot properly practice their profession.

What have been the main benefits and challenges brought about by digital acceleration?

Anderson Schreiber – The main challenge has been for lawyers and legal professionals in general, who did not grow up in the digital age, to incorporate this process into their work. This has been the main challenge in this transition, preventing people from becoming digitally excluded overnight. As a benefit, legal proceedings have become faster. The law has moved closer to social needs and its application has become more efficient.

Gustavo Kloh – The legal world was extremely traditional before this digital boom. People associated the legal profession and everything involving the world of law with a certain conservatism. That’s not how things work these days. Computerization has resulted in great optimization of manpower in the legal area and this is a huge benefit. A smaller number of professionals can now serve more people. I would say that the main challenge arising from this computerization is to continue to be able to administer justice while responding to the specific needs of each case.

How has law contributed to digital acceleration?

Anderson Schreiber – A series of legal rules is in place, protecting and stimulating the development of new technologies, thereby contributing to digital acceleration.

For example, the Copyright Law and Software Law of 1998 sought to protect technological products in the digital world. A 2005 law also provided a series of tax benefits for companies to invest in research projects.

What legal career options have emerged together with digital acceleration?

Anderson Schreiber – I will mention a few of them. First, there are visual law professionals, who use design and linguistics techniques to draft legal documents and petitions, making them more accessible to readers. There is also the issue of law techs or legal techs. These companies are investing in technology to make legal work simpler, more efficient and more agile. Finally, law communicators play the role of democratizing access to legal knowledge, presenting the area in a slightly simpler and more instructive way, using language that is closer to young people.

What skills should lawyers pay attention to in this new context?

Anderson Schreiber – Lawyers’ education now has a transdisciplinary focus. They need to understand more than just the law. This was already true in the past, as history, philosophy and sociology knowledge interacted directly with law. Now, however, new technologies have made this evident in relation to other scientific fields.

Gustavo Kloh – The legal professionals of the 21st century are working with data protection, anti-corruption measures and technological tools. They are producing legal software, especially bots, to help draft legal documents. So, there are several activities that lawyers perform today that did not exist until recently.

What can we expect in future regarding the impacts of digital acceleration in this area?

Anderson Schreiber – Increasingly intense use of legal software and artificial intelligence, especially to execute repetitive, general, bureaucratic tasks. This will free up time for lawyers to reflect more deeply about the law. In addition, I think we will see advances in jurimetrics techniques, including with regard to risk management and petitions, as artificial intelligence will help with this process.

Another interesting development will be the advancement of smart contracts, involving self-executing computer protocols to facilitate or reinforce contract negotiation or execution. All this technology will help professionals, perhaps enabling them to dedicate themselves with more energy to the essence of law in society.

Gustavo Kloh – We can expect all kinds of things in the 21st century, given that the most incredible aspect of technology is its ability to change human relationships. So, lawyers must also be prepared to change everything they have been doing. The ability to learn and change is much more important than the ability to do certain things.

This article is part of a special series called “Connections for the Future,” launched on July 22, which is Social Scientists’ Day in Brazil.

Learn about FGV’s law courses.

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