The Impact of Computers on the Legal Profession: Evolution or Revolution?
43 Pages Posted: 18 Sep 2016
Date Written: 2008
Computer enthusiasts like to claim that they have changed the world, and it is hard to deny that computers have had a significant impact. Take some examples from the recent popular press, which tell us that: computer-based matchmaking can replace hit-or-miss human dating; events in Estonia suggest that “cyberwar” may be a new threat; energy shortages may be accelerated by the growing consumption of electricity by computers; technology allows people to move to resort cities and maintain their big-city professional lives, leading to a “transformation of rural communities”; restaurant reservations have moved to a new level because of computerization; and cell phones are used for musical performances. As a singularly information-dependent profession, the field of law could hardly escape the impact of the Information Age. As they do with so many other things, the computer enthusiasts regard this impact as revolutionary. My focus in this Essay is on how to evaluate that claim. To do so, one must be both selective and somewhat general. “The analysis of society and technology has been a central issue in sociology since its beginning,” and it is beyond the scope of this Essay to revisit or recreate such a longstanding undertaking. Thus, examining the range of impacts of computer technology on the legal profession necessarily requires selectivity, which prevents deep examination of many topics.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation