At some point in my research, and I am guessing this will be the case for others as well, I chanced upon the writings of one Professor John Flood. A Professor of Law at Griffith University, John Flood has written extensively on the changing nature of the legal profession, amongst other things. But that is not all.
Here is the (slightly delayed) second part of “Fortnightly with John Flood” (FwF) series where the professor answers a question or two on legal education. (Read Part 1 here)
Early on in the Happy Lawyer podcast, you mention that in the legal world, legal academics are perhaps the most resistant to change – why do you think that is the case?
Law has high status and esteem. Very often lawyers dominate governments and their legislatures. Lawyers are able to command strict monopolies on who can practise. These tendencies push law in a conservative direction with little impetus for change. However, I don’t think this attitude can be maintained.
Monopolies are being challenged in areas like trade agreements and the like. New professional service providers are offering legal services–look at legal process outsourcing in India. Law and lawyers must respond to change and challenge or find themselves made redundant. There is nothing sacred about being a profession. It can grow or it can disappear. With machine learning and the like law can be offered to communities from outside the jurisdiction which will make it virtually impossible to stop or regulate.
Legal academics are conflicted by this. They are only just learning that such new technologies like blockchain can run smart contracts without human intervention. But their own backgrounds, intellectual and disciplinary, makes it difficult for them to catch on to what is happening. I suspect it will be up to newer generations of academics and lawyers to meet these challenges.
I’ve been a faculty member in a number of law schools and in each I could count on the fingers of one hand those who might understand something of how technology could change law. The remainder were either indifferent or openly hostile to the prospect and therefore wouldn’t invite it in.