Nigerian lawyers face the risk of being rendered redundant and irrelevant by the development of information and communication technology if they do not adopt innovative trends in their practices.
Speaking at the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Lagos Branch Annual Law Week held in Lagos, Olabode Olanipekun, Managing Partner of Wole Olanipekun & Co., noted that contemporary legal profession is driven by technology and innovation. “To survive, to avert what we have termed future shock, the individual must become infinitely more adaptable and capable than ever before,” Olanipekun said, quoting Alvin Toffler. “He must search out totally new ways to anchor himself, for all the old roots – religion, nation, community, family, or profession – are now shaking under the impact of the hurricane with its accelerative thrust.” He noted that several artificial intelligence software have been designed to help lawyers in their practice, including those that engage in legal reasoning and emulate the decision-making process of humans. Recalling that Brian Solis had termed this age of digital transformation as “Digital Darwinism,” Olanipekun observes: “In minimizing costs and maximizing efficiency for instance, lawyers and law firms around the world are doing well to tap into the expansive resource of social media, adopt virtual workplaces and enhance the use of online platforms.” According to Olanipekun, with the advent of technology, clients have become more discerning and impatient, adding that “the average 21st century client is not willing to wait for many things.
This is clearly why Arbitration and other forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution have come to the fore in extant times. Clients now want documents critiqued, opinions rendered or contracts prepared in record time, yet, same must be accurate.” Olanipekun who spoke on “The indispensable young professional,” noted that age is no barrier to attainment in law, “neither is your pedigree and background.” His words: “While becoming a silk might be ‘1000 miles away,’ it actually begins with the first minutes of meetings or court proceedings taken, the first motion prepared, the first client interviewed, the first brief written, the first application moved, the first deal closed for a client, the first trial handled and the first victory of loss suffered.” The theme of this year’s Law Week which attracted the cream of Nigeria’s legal profession was ““Building and sustaining a vibrant law practice: Prospects and challenges.” Highlights of the well attended law week included a lively debate on Entertainment Law by Dr. SID and Emem Ema of KUSH fame, a keynote address by renowned corporate lawyer and boardroom guru, Gbenga Oyebode MFR as well as the performance by King Wasiu Ayinde Marshal (KWAM 1) at the black-tie dinner in honour of the retiring Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Olufunmilayo Atilade.