“If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.”
– Tancredi in The Leopard, by Giuseppe Tomasi de Lampedusa
As is tradition in the legal profession, the opening of Law Term is marked with black tie dinners and religious ceremonies. The Honourable T E F Bathurst AC, Chief Justice of New South Wales, delivered an insightful speech titled “The place of lawyers in politics” at the Opening of Law Term dinner.
For the profession, marking the opening of a new Law Term gives it time to reflect on the year that has passed and meditate upon the one ahead.
In his speech, the Chief Justice said (at ):
“As the beneficiaries of a legal education, lawyers belong to a privileged class who can navigate the complexities of legislative drafting and understand the concrete implications of policy decisions, with the obligation to use this knowledge to the advantage of society.“
With the passing of each year the pressures and pace of the administration and practice of law increase. The introduction of new technologies over the past 25 years has dramatically changed the way in which a practitioner goes about using legal knowledge to fulfil their obligation to society.
While it has always been the case that lawyers must know the law as it applies to a particular matter and be aware of any changes that may affect their client’s position, in the economic pressures of the digital age it is expected that one is able to (almost) instantaneously ascertain the relevant current law.
The words spoken by Tancredi in The Leopard are particularly relevant to the administration and practice of the law in the digital age. Digital disruption in the law (namely the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning) will continue to be a ubiquitous presence in day to day practice.
The role that technology, when used for the greater good, can play in promoting the rule of law cannot be underestimated. Tools such as JADE Professional and electronic portals such as those for the Victorian Reports and New South Wales Law Reports harness the power of technology not only to allow the courts and the profession at large to continue to use their knowledge to the advantage of society, but also to make the law more accessible and relevant to the ordinary citizen.
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