Access to Justice: A Contest between Legal Skill and Technology?


A current burning debate in legal practice today appears to be the man-made fight for superiority between the skills of legal practitioner and the legal artificial intelligence skill provided by information and communication technology (ICT) loosely tagged as “legal technology.” The essence of the debate is that legal technology can replace legal practitioners’ role. The debate so much irked some conservative legal practitioners to the extent that they detest the mention of ICT or technology. The debate has stratified legal practitioners into four groups. In group one are lawyers that perceive the legal profession as purely the exclusive preserve of strict legal skills of the black letter only. To the group there is nothing legal in legal technology.

The second group is that of lawyers who perceive legal technology as the solution to all legal problem and therefore less legal skill is required to practice as legal technology can provide virtually all the legal skills needed. The third group comprises lawyers who perceive legal technology as a tool to enhance legal skill of lawyers and nothing more. The fourth group has lawyers who are undecided as to the role of legal technology. They are mere spectators or all comers. This paper systematically analyses the positions of each of the formulated approaches and relate them to the role of legal technology in the paramount issue of access to justice in the modern world. The paper considers historical trends of the legal practice and the tools of the trade and brings legal technology into perspective particularly with a view to concluding on its role whether as an “end of lawyering” or “enhancement of lawyering.”

Olubukola Adeyemi Olugasa, Babcock University – School of Law and Security Studies

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