Chairman of Zinox Group, Africa’s most integrated Information and Communications Technology (ICT) conglomerate, Leo Stan Ekeh has called on Nigerian lawyers to re-invent in line with current technological realities or face the threat of losing relevance in the practice of the legal profession.
Ekeh made this call at the 2016 Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) which held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State from Tuesday August 23rd to Friday August 26th 2016.
While delivering a paper titled: Wealth Creation for the Lawyer in the 21st Century using technology, serial digital entrepreneur Ekeh challenged the audience which included Learned Silks, Honourable Body of Benchers and distinguished Members of the Bar, among others to wake up to the strong and compelling circumstances necessitating changes in the legal market place and forcing it out of its protective cocoon.
While noting that the legal profession is one that is notoriously averse to change, Ekeh disclosed that the survival of any sector, profession or business organisation is directly dependent on its ability to innovate and align itself with the present digital revolution.
“In our present society, technology has permeated almost all sectors, industries and several human undertakings. Many sectors have been overtaken by the internet, mobile phone apps and people’s ability to find free information as against situations they used to pay for. Any organization or sector that refuses to innovate and embrace new technological realities will eventually die.
The law profession must embrace this change and properly align itself to the benefit maximally from the present digital revolution. In this 21st century, a lawyer’s wealth shall be determined by the application of digital technology to his work. It is either the lawyer reinvents himself to the technological realities of the 21st century and its impact on service delivery to clients or the lawyer would eventually disappear from the radar of the legal profession.
According to Ekeh, the revolutions in the field of ICT puts a lot of pressures on the legal profession which makes it imperative for the contemporary lawyer to re-tool in order to remain relevant in the scheme of things.
“Law has been something of a protected industry spared from some of the general business realities applicable to almost all other industries. Lawyers occupy a unique place with monopoly of access to legal knowledge, and no real competition. For instance, the relationship with the client is controlled by the law firm which decides almost entirely by itself how the services are to be delivered, and dictating the costs, pricing, and strategic direction.
“Hence, as long as the status quo served the lawyer, there is no need to innovate or provide cost-efficient services. It is a closed market. But whereas, the seller (the lawyer) appears comfortable with the status quo, he fails to realize that his earnings can greatly be increased by innovation and technology which invariably would cause a disruption of the status quo in the legal marketplace.
“But now, there are strong and compelling circumstances necessitating changes in the legal market place and forcing it out of its protective cocoon.”
According to Ekeh, today’s lawyers stand a better chance of building new and sustainable wealth, only if they upgrade their knowledge and leverage on the numerous opportunities available through technology.
Urging lawyers to explore businesses such as Family Offices which are increasingly being embraced by discreet but very successful clients, Ekeh counselled members of the audience to acquire knowledge on Family Council as well as professional management of Trusts instead of Will which is the cause of unlimited litigations and wastage of saved resources in many families in Nigeria.
In addition, the Zinox helmsman disclosed other areas such as set-up of virtual/digital law libraries, cloud-computing, e-form and drafting templates, digital law reporting, e-conferencing as well as networking and the use of social media which could help the lawyer lend further technological refinements to the practice of the profession.
The session which witnessed a question-and-answer session also had in attendance the Honourable Minister of Communications represented by the Postmaster General of the Federation, Asiwaju Bisi Adegbuyi as well as representatives from the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) among others.