Technologies have risen today to a very unreachable and unbeatable level of which they are likely to go higher than can be imagined in period to come. This situation has thrown everyone into a situation where everyone is caught up unaware of the development of technologies. In this struggle, government has been confronted with several issues related to technologies such as technologies crimes or cyber-crimes so to say, dissemination of hate speeches, cyber-terrorism (specifically), cyber-bullying (where one person intimidates or threatens another via the cyber or electronically), scammers’ cause of discomfort to citizens and unaware-users of the technologies, hackers’ efforts, commercial/businesses in technologies and generation or loss of revenue by the government to tech-practitioners who are without means of remitting taxes to the government, etc., the situations which have continued to compel government to formulate several policies and or laws regulating technologies and many more are yet to be seen.
Also, the world is growing technologically even to such extent as it is today where meeting with clients physically or clients meeting with lawyers physically is getting faded away and or have no importance in the legal practice anymore. Hence, this paper is aimed at energizing Nigerian lawyers on the need for them to get engaged into the tech practices and to be abreast of the Nigerian government’s tech-laws and or regulations both generally, in civil and in criminal areas of practices.
The word ‘technology’ or ‘tech’ is defined by the Online Webster Dictionary as ‘the use of science in industry, engineering, etc. to invent useful things or to solve problems’, ‘a machine, piece of equipment, method, etc., that is created by technology’.
As of today, it will be surprising to know that for every technology that exists as either: gadgets such as phones, etc, equipment, software, applications, among others, there are laws and regulations regulating all of those. Nevertheless, the question is ‘where are Nigerian lawyers?!’ Do we even research to meet up or find out about all of those laws?! There are several seminars organised by individuals as services to humanity even free of charge to lawyers but only very few are seen to have attended! The Nigerian Bar Association, Abuja Branch, under the Chairmanship of Mr Folarin Aluko had of recent (though not the first time), organized a tech-law Discussion Series on the topic ‘Legal Practice in the Digital Eco-system’. Ask how many lawyers were chanced so to say, to attend the programme?! Though, lawyers were in high numbers but not as expected! Also, the A & E Techlaw Forum (a workshop) for startup was also organised by the A & E Law Partnership on the 5th day of November, 2019, on the theme: ‘The Intersection of Law and Technology’ featuring sessions on: Opportunities for tech startups in the law and justice sector; and exploring solutions to regulatory challenges facing tech startups. Ask me how many lawyers attended that programme?! Surprising! In deed! Very unfortunately, there are those young lawyers who are caught up by such question as to ‘there exists a faction in so and so branch of the Nigerian Bar Association’ therefore, I prefer to sit on the fence and not participate in any of their programme! It is worthy for this person to note that ‘participation’ is for his own personal benefits! What the NBA Abuja Branch under the Chairmanship of Mr Folarin Aluko has done and has been doing is to create opportunities for you as lawyers whether young or senior.
It is your own personal decision to decide whether you would like to benefit and equip yourself with such opportunities! At least, the time when the village crier who goes about ringing bells to community members to disseminate information is gone and the time of technologies has brought the advent of social media and other platforms where information is disseminated so that no lawyer will say that he never got to know that such capacity building sessions are being held! Whatever you gained at such programme remains with you and not with the organisers! So, it is really important that lawyers must leave out of the olden days ways, manners and styles of doing things and consider creating time to build more capacity in themselves especially the young lawyers, so that that bright future envisaged would have started from today!
Furthermore, we have heard and or seen situations where those lawyers abroad through technologies, are taking and or sucking the fat briefs in Nigeria right from abroad without stepping into Nigeria through technological advancement or with the aid of technologies, whereas, Nigerian lawyers are typical of still preparing their drafts handwritten and taking same to business centers for typing in public despite the confidentiality innate in the legal practice! When would we as Nigerian lawyers change our orientation, I ask, please?! The constant thing in life they say, is ‘change’ but it does not seem that Nigerian lawyers are ready to change for advancement and or development, hence our careless attitude to technologies! Permit me, if I have my ways, my child who would be a lawyer will rather study Computer Science or Information Technology in addition to his study of law! The world is advancing and we must advance alongside! Same happens to tech-libraries. When some of us do not see some of our colleagues in the physical library, we tag him as unserious without knowing that we are the ones that are not serious really! The colleague that is being seen as unserious is in his room or hostel, with updated e-library that affords him the opportunity of reading through and researching in the world’s library! Yet, you are there saying that he is not serious! Really?! It is alright! The future will judge!
Finally, I am of the firm believe that having read this paper, whenever you as a lawyer hears about a seminar or Discussion series or other programme in technologies or tech-laws, I am convinced that you would be the first to participate with punctuality! The truth also is that all these programme could have been paid for if not rendered for free of charge, yet, it costs us discomfort to attend and add more exposure! All these are the bases of my question in this topic that ‘where do Nigerian lawyers stand?!’. So, where do you as a Nigerian lawyer stand?! Let the answer be rhetoric!