“The internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow”
We belong to a generation that came with the advent of computing technology and witnessed the leap internet has led to, across every sphere dotting the global map. Thus, it is only natural for a field as organically dynamic as law, to be enmeshed with the revolution that the internet has brought. While internet technologies have added certain areas of law such as cybercrime, surveillance issues and made some areas more complex, such as copyrights law, there is no denying that the advantages are far too many. In this post, we explore how the internet is shaping legal practice globally and navigate through the potential possibilities it has added to the legal profession.
- Enhancing access and information
While we know that more than a third of India still lacks access to internet technology, with mass campaigns like Digital India and improvement in literacy rates, there is certainly some enhancement in access to rights and information which are now freely accessible. There are several online campaigns aimed at issues like consumer protection, cyber harassment and tax compliance.
- Availing legal services at the click of a button
With better access and enhanced information, came websites catering specifically to niche segments that did not require physical presence such as filing of income tax returns, patent and trademark registration, annual compliances etc. While these tasks took months, several visits to notaries, registrars and other administrative divisions, the total time required has been significantly reduced with the seamlessness and immediate responses that emerging computing technologies have made possible.
- Legal outsourcing becoming seamless
While traditionally, legal outsourcing was restricted to local limits of the city or state, the widespread use of internet technology and its integration with major government portals has made legal outsourcing easier, wider and more convenient. Instead of routinely visiting a chartered accountant for tax advice or signing returns, a legal outsourcing firm with experts in another part of the country can seamlessly offer this service with greater adaptability and tailoring to suit specific business needs.
- Courts utilising automation
As courts become the end-point of all legal disputes, it was necessary for courts to adapt to digitization in several of its functions including record-keeping, case-listing, providing an online copy of the verdict, to moving towards accepting WhatsApp messages as appropriate service of summons. We have also inched towards a globalized regime where presence can be recorded in court through video calls and Skype.
- Legal Research made easier
Several simultaneous developments in digitizing legal records, court processes, judgements and procedures led to setting up of multiple legal research websites that initially provided search features which could be carefully refined to suit specific research. In recent years, these websites have been wonderfully embracing artificial intelligence for upgrading legal research with several dynamic features that have reduced the time involved in research significantly while integrating quality and content with the latest developments. This applied element of law has been shaping not just legal practice but also changing the way legal researchers, students and professors approach the study of law.