Legal Skills: Making a Real Change in Nigerian Legal Education

Abstract

The hallmark of legal education is the transfer and acquisition of knowledge of legal theories and skills. The purpose of this chapter is to examine those legal skills that are crucial to both the study and practice of law. This chapter argues that legal education in Nigeria is confronted with a crisis that can be attributed to the non-teaching of functional legal skills to initiates of the legal profession, on the assumption that such skills would naturally be learned by law students on entering the legal profession. It calls for a transformational change in the teaching approach in Nigerian legal education, from the present asymmetric approach of teaching law to one that is integrative and comprehensive in nature and capable of producing functional lawyers.

Solomon, Ekokoi, Legal Skills: Making a Real Change in Nigerian Legal Education (February 3, 2020). Legal pedagogy,

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Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in the Legal Profession: The Significance of Giving Voice and Listening to Persons Who Experience Discrimination, Bias, and Harassment

Abstract

Let’s admit it, harassment and bullying are endemic in the practice of law. Horacio Benardes Neto, the President of the International Bar Association (IBA), made this observation in introducing an IBA report, called Us Too: Bullying and Sexual Harassment in the Legal Profession. Published last year, the report was based on findings from the largest-ever global survey of nearly 7,000 legal professionals in 135 countries. The survey revealed that one in three female respondents and one in fourteen male respondents had been sexually harassed at work. Additionally, one in two female respondents and one in three male respondents reported being bullied at work.

Fortney, Susan Saab, Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in the Legal Profession: The Significance of Giving Voice and Listening to Persons Who Experience Discrimination, Bias, and Harassment (May 20, 2020). JOTWELL (May 20, 2020) (reviewing Veronica Root Martinez, Combating Silence in the Profession, 105 Va. L. Rev. 805 (2019)), Texas A&M University School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper Forthcoming,

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Canadian Law Schools Must Do Their Part to Help Combat Climate Change

The intensifying physical and socio-economic effects of climate change, mainstreamed by political debates and scientific evidence on anthropogenic disruptions to the global climate system, have motivated changing legislation, regulation, litigation, and institutions. But legal education is not keeping up; climate change has not yet been taught well and broadly in Canadian law schools. While a few schools have offered climate law courses, the majority have not done so in any systematic way. The unprecedentedly expanding demands from youth and students for aggressive climate action should call the attention of law schools to the roles they should play in combatting climate change.

Chen, Ling, Canadian Law Schools Must Do Their Part to Help Combat Climate Change (January 6, 2020). Policy Options (February 18, 2020),

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Unguided: Social Media Usage in the Legal Profession and the Need for Practical Guidance

An unprecedented ethical dilemma currently faces the legal profession, how to ethically utilize social media. Lawyers who choose to utilize social media in their legal practice are not provided any ethical guidance on how to properly use social media. Specifically, there are currently no uniform guidelines for state bar examiners to emulate these guidelines from. Existing rules of professional conduct address competence, the duty of confidentiality, and legal advertising but none of these rules address the applicability of each topic to social media usage. Social media usage and the traditional practice of law require different rules, so it is inexcusable for lawyers to be instructed to apply existing rules to their ethical dilemmas. To illustrate the lack of guidance provided to lawyers, one can simply consult the guidance that judges, physicians, pharmacists, and nurses are provided regarding social media usage. To provide guidance that the legal profession desperately desires, the largest bar association in the United States, the American Bar Association (ABA), must create rules that address ethical social media usage and add them to the existing Model Rules of Professional Conduct. This can be accomplished by the ABA addressing competent social media usage, confidentiality when using social media, and using social media without violating advertising and solicitation rules. As a result, state bar regulators can be confident in the guidance provided by the ABA and adopt these rules in their jurisdictions, and legal practitioners will no longer face the ethical pitfalls that currently plague the profession.

Tims, Blake, Unguided: Social Media Usage in the Legal Profession and the Need for Practical Guidance (January 24, 2021).

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Entity Regulation, Litigation Rights and the Changing Meaning of Professionalism at the Bar of England and Wales

Abstract

Entity Regulation, Litigation Rights and the Changing Meaning of Professionalism at the Bar of England and Wales The Legal Services Act 2007 provided a framework for a liberalised marketplace for legal services. The most significant responses to this by the Bar appear in the Bar Standards Board Handbook, which was first released in January 2014. This included changes allowing for barristers to engage in litigation and enabling the Bar Standards Board to regulate entities rather than just individual barristers. This article places these changes within the existing theoretical understanding of the legal professions and professionalism, and argues that they open the door for a significant shift in the way that the discourse of professionalism is used in relation to the Bar.

Mason, Marc, Entity Regulation, Litigation Rights and the Changing Meaning of Professionalism at the Bar of England and Wales (2020). Legal Ethics, Forthcoming,

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Legal Technology and the Future of Women in Law

Abstract

Much has been written about how automation will change the legal profession as a whole, less so about how automation might affect women in legal practice. This paper briefly maps the likely changes that legal tech (legal technology) will bring to the provision of legal services, and explores how these changes might affect the barriers to advancement that women face in the profession. It determines that, while the use of legal tech may improve women’s work/life balance and overall job satisfaction by bringing about more flexible working hours, positive changes to the billing hours’ system, and fairer hiring and promotion mechanisms, an unfettered inclusion of legal tech might lead to increased working hours for less wages, increased competition for case files among associates, and the perpetuation of existing gender biases when using algorithms in the hiring and promotion process. Finally, the paper makes several recommendations on how law societies, bar associations and other relevant regulatory bodies could ensure that legal tech promotes rather than hinders Equality & Diversity in the legal profession. It proposes that:

(1) detailed data on men and women lawyers should be collected to better inform equality and diversity policies;

(2) law firms should be required to report on their progress in pursuing equality and diversity;

(3) management techniques to promote work/life balance and more flexible pricing systems should be encouraged;

(4) female entrepreneurship in legal tech should be promoted; and,

(5) technological due process procedures should be required when using algorithms in law firm management to ensure fairness, accuracy and accountability

Munisami, Kayal, Legal Technology and the Future of Women in Law (2019). 36 Windsor Yearbook of Access to Justice 164, 2019.

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Listening and Relational Lawyering

Abstract

Legal professionals spend much if not most of their time listening to others, including clients, witnesses, co-workers, and judges. And yet, lawyers are notorious for being poor listeners. Perhaps this helps explain why the legal profession consistently gets ranked as one of the least trusted professions. The primary reasons for clients’ dissatisfaction have more to do with lawyers’ poor communication skills, and specifically, their poor listening skills, rather than about legal outcomes or the cost of their services. The weakness of lawyers’ listening skills is perhaps unsurprising given that listening traditionally has not been taught in the core law school curriculum. Nevertheless, a growing number of legal academics are calling for teaching listening as part of a broader set of relational perspectives and practices that can inform our understanding of law as well as legal practice, and perhaps can shift the legal culture as a whole toward being more relational. A relational approach, which the author refers to as “relational lawyering,” starts from the premise that all human beings are interconnected and share the same basic needs and interests. This chapter discusses the evolution of listening and highlights developments within and outside of legal education that are resulting in listening being viewed as a core competency. It then turns to what it means to teach listening holistically as a part of a relational framework and offers innovative tools and practices for incorporating a relational approach to listening into the training of legal professionals, including attorneys and judges. The chapter concludes with some thoughts about future directions for teaching listening within the legal field.

Brooks, Susan L., Listening and Relational Lawyering (July 1, 2020). Susan L. Brooks, Listening and Relational Lawyering, in Handbook on Listening (Worthington & Bodie, eds. 2020).
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Law, Artificial Intelligence, and Natural Language Processing: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to My Search Results

Abstract

Renowned legal educator Roscoe Pound stated, “Law must be stable and yet it cannot stand still.” Yet, as Susan Nevelow Mart has demonstrated in a seminal article that the different online research services (Westlaw, Lexis Advance, Fastcase, Google Scholar, Ravel and Casetext) produce significantly different results when researching case law. Furthermore, a recent study of 325 federal courts of appeals decisions, revealed that only 16% of the cases cited in appellate briefs make it into the courts’ opinions. This does not exactly inspire confidence in legal research or its tools to maintain stability of the law. As Robert Berring foresaw, “The world of established sources and sets of law book that has been so stable at to seem inevitable suddenly has vanished. The familiar set of printed case reporters, citators, and second sources that were the core of legal research are being minimized before our eyes.”

In this article I focus on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and natural language processing with respect to searching. My article will proceeds as follows. To understand how effective natural language processing is in current legal research, I go about building a model of a legal information retrieval system that incorporates natural language processing. I have had to build my own model because we do not know very much about how the proprietary systems of Westlaw, Lexis, Bloomberg, Fastcase and Casetext work. However, there are descriptions in information science literature and on the Internet of how systems with advanced programing techniques actually work or could work. Next, I compare such systems with the features and search results produced by the major vendors to illustrate the probable use of natural language processing, similar to the models. In addition, the use of word prediction or type ahead techniques in the major research services are studied–particularly, how such techniques can be used to bring secondary resources to the forefront of a search. Finally, I explore how the knowledge gained may help us to better instruct law students and attorneys in the use of the major legal information retrieval systems.

My conclusion is that the adeptness of natural language processing is uneven among the various vendors and that what we receive in search results from such systems varies widely depending on a host of unknown variables. Natural language processing has introduced uncertainty to the law. We are a long way from AI systems that understand, let alone search, legal texts in a stable and consistent way.

Callister, Paul D., Law, Artificial Intelligence, and Natural Language Processing: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to My Search Results (October 14, 2020). 112 Law Library Journal 161-212 (2020).
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Augmented Lawyering

Abstract

How will artificial intelligence (AI) and associated digital technologies reshape the work of lawyers and structure of law firms? Legal services are traditionally provided by highly-skilled humans — that is, lawyers. Dramatic recent progress in AI has triggered speculation about the extent to which automated systems may come to replace humans in legal services. A related debate is whether the legal profession’s adherence to the partnership form inhibits capital-raising necessary to invest in new technology. This Article presents what is to our knowledge the most comprehensive empirical study yet conducted into the implementation of AI in legal services, encompassing interview-based case studies and survey data. We focus on two inter-related issues: how the nature of legal services work will change, and how the firms that co-ordinate this work will be organized. A central theme is that prior debate focusing on the “human vs technology” aspect of change overlooks the way in which technology is transforming the human dimensions of legal services.

Our analysis of the impact of AI on legal services work suggests that while it will replace humans in some tasks, it will also change the work of those who are not replaced. It will augment the capabilities of human lawyers who use AI-enabled services as inputs to their work and generate new roles for legal experts in producing these AI-enabled services. We document these new roles being clustered in multidisciplinary teams (“MDTs”) that mix legal with a range of other disciplinary inputs to augment the operation of technical systems. We identify challenges for traditional law firm partnerships in implementing AI. Contrary to prior debate, these do not flow from constraints on finance to invest in technical assets. Rather, the central problems have to do with human capital: making necessary strategic decisions; recruiting, coordination and motivation the necessary MDTs; and adjusting professional boundaries. These findings have important implications for lawyers, law firms and the legal profession.

Armour, John and Parnham, Richard and Sako, Mari, Augmented Lawyering (August 21, 2020).

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A Critical Analysis of the Online Court

Abstract

It is no secret that many judicial systems across the globe are stumbling beneath a heavy burden of thousands of suits filed eve- ry year in court. The need to optimize the judicial system of Eng- land and Wales led Lord Justice Briggs to write a comprehensive report about the subject, in which he suggests the establishment of a model, the first of its kind in the United Kingdom, which he terms the “Online Court.” In Civil Courts Structure Review: Final Report, he sets out the details of this Online Court, which I will analyze in this article.

The article contains two main parts. In the first part, the model is analyzed and broken down by its three stages. The advantages inherent to the Online Court are presented, including: saving time and money, making the court accessible to the disadvantaged, and reducing the caseload of each courtroom. Although there are many advantages, the Online Court has some serious drawbacks, including enabling frivolous lawsuits and the threat of identity theft by either party or even by a third party.

In the second part, I will attack the crux of the matter, tackling the attendant issues raised by moving legal proceedings to a virtual environment. These aspects relate to the absence of legal representation envisioned by the model, as well as the concern of false testimony. In the final analysis the pros of this model far outweigh the cons. Indeed, the model is a desirable template which should first be employed as a pilot program, dealing with civil proceedings which may be easily resolved and claims involving relatively small amounts of money. Further down the road, this model may be applied to additional proceedings involving cases which are more expensive or more complex.

Ultimately, the online legal system proposed constitutes the first step toward accommodating the court system to the innovative reality of the Internet Age, in a manner which is both systematic and controlled. The aim is to streamline existing legal proceedings and to make all legal services accessible, with the overarching ideal of “justice for all” as the guiding principle.

Menashe, Doron, A Critical Analysis of the Online Court (2018). University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Law, Vol. 39, No. 4, 2018,

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