University of New South Wales - Faculty of Law - Computerisation of Law

Computerisation of Law

Reading Guide - Computerisation of Legal Practice

Graham Greenleaf

Last updated 27 October 2000

= Required reading. All other links indicate optional reading.

1. Objectives

The objectives of this topic are for you to understand the range of technologies that are affecting legal practice. Litigation support / court technologies are covered in a separate reading guide, as are legal research systems. This Reading Guide pulls together a range of technologies not considered elsewhere, and readings on their impact on the legal profession.

 This version of the Reading Guide only provides a list of introductory readings for each sub-topic.

 Some topics include:

2. Impact of technology on the legal profession

3. Knowledge-based technologies in legal practice (compliance systems etc)

Knowledge-based systems can be developed by law firms either as internal tools used by lawyers to assist in the generation of advice to clients, or documents. Alternatively (as with Blake Dawson Waldron below) they can be developed to allows clients to do routine legal work themselves, without need for further reference to the law firm in most cases.

 The following papers use the technology used by Blake Dawson Waldron as an example:

4. Digital signatures / PKI and the legal profession

Encryption and digital signatures, and the framework within which these can be used (Public Key Infrastructure - PKI) are of great importance to the legal profession and legal practice in many areas, including filing of legal documents of many types, privacy and security of email exchanges of documents, authentication and non-repudiation in transactions, and so on.

5. Legal practice via Internet

Some lawyers are attempting to carry on legal practice in a different sense of 'virtual': by providing legal services to clients with whom they do not have face-to-face contact, but instead deal with all aspects of a matter remotely via the Internet.

 A modification of this is to provide some types of information and advice services only to clients. This is often carried out by use of 'extranets', where clients have privileged / controlled access to a law firm's website beyond that available to the general public.