By Henry Uche, Lagos

Nigerian lawyers have been charged to incorporate Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other digital and technological tools in their legal practice while rendering services to their clients.

Panellists at the 2024 Legal Business Conference in Lagos organised by Legal Business Network Int’l (LBN) unanimously agreed that acquiring the requisite tech skills like AI is necessary for their practice and the development of Nigeria’s economy.  Convener of the confab, Ifeoma Ben, who is the founding partner of The Law Suite, said AI is never a threat to the legal profession and would not by any means take over the job of lawyers. However, legal practitioners must invest time and money in AI and other tech tools for awesome service delivery.

“AI has revolutionised almost everything, and we should not be left behind. In order to create and add value to our clients, we need to develop ourselves tech-wise to build our brand.” The lawyer expressed concern over lawyers who are still operating in analogy mode. “AI cannot take over everything, it’s just an enabler to serve our clients better, as the same saves time, minimises cost and boosts efficiency and effectiveness.”

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She urged the academic community to upgrade their curriculum to incorporate the study of AI. This, she said, would prepare and position upcoming legal practitioners to be ‘fit and proper’ for the challenges ahead, adding that lawyers who were called to the bar 20 years ago do not know much about AI.

“Law faculties in our universities should borrow a leaf from the trend and incorporate AI, we may not create a new AI department but we can expand existing courses to educate students on the relevance of AI and other digital applications in this profession.”

While AI (despite its shortcomings), remains the way forward for many persons and corporate organisations, she urged her colleagues to factor in the place of ethics in their works as well as remind themselves to deploy human intellects to refine what they offer, saying, “We must consider the ethical side of AI, and always use our human intellects because AI is powered by humans.

“Meanwhile, teachers of Law should go back and develop themselves in AI and other digital/ tech skills to be able to impact the same knowledge to their students, as the world is evolving rapidly, this is because you can not give what you don’t have,” she submitted.