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IT and Law, and Law Schools

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If 'computing and law' as a discipline is to push forward and develop, it will do so best within the context of the law school rather than as a joint enterprise between law and other disciplines. It is in the law school that the understanding of the nature of law is at its height. Yet there are problems here-law schools have a strained relationship with technology and their concept of the breadth of 'legal scholarship' can be limited by conventional (or ideologically-biased) views of law and an undergraduate-oriented view of the law school's purpose. There are also problems arising from the nature of communications between lawyers and computer scientists. In this article, I highlight these problems and also argue for a more developed and extended view of legal scholarship which will be able to incorporate study and research of the impact of the computer upon legal society as well as the legal control of the unwanted elements arising from these new technologies. Most writings on IT and the law school concentrate upon its use as an educational tool. My interest here is not so much in this side of things, but in the research culture of the law school. Whilst there is sometimes a view that the linkage of law school and IT is purely related to the use of technology in legal education, the remit is wider and includes the understanding of the link between substantive law and the context of the new computerized world and also the impact of the computer in the practice of law. This latter aspect is becoming increasingly important with the Woolf reforms and computerization of the procedural elements of law, but also in substantive law: for example, administrative systems are becoming more and more mediated by technology, and administrative law must be reviewed and re-worked in this context.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Law, Queen's University of Belfast

Publication date: 2000-06-01

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