Episode 3 of 'Life and Lessons in Law' with James Kamau, Chair, DLA Piper Africa

Africa Legal Podcast

24-10-2023 • 35 mins

In this third instalment of Life and Lessons in Law with James Kamau, Tom Pearson chats to him about the increasingly blurred lines between law and technology. James Kamau, chair of DLA Piper Africa and Managing partner of DLA Piper Africa Kenya, IKM Advocates, has a deep-rooted passion for legal development and upskilling Africa’s legal sector services. He agrees that technology has redefined the legal sector and that, to stay ahead of the rapid pace of digital developments, lawyers not only have to embrace the evolution but also find ways of maximising its benefits. Kamau has been in the industry long enough to have witnessed the transition from using manual typewriters and walking to the post office to send letters to now harnessing the benefits of computer- and web-based programs that provide efficient services to clients. Listing various end solutions that technology can provide to lawyers, Kamau says technology helps to create greater efficiency and therefore profitability in the practice of law and also facilitates greater access to justice. “From a practitioner’s point of view, one has to look at how to create these efficiencies that enable internal collaboration, and collaboration when dealing with clients,” he says. “Like a lot of things in life, you need to be alert and be able to read and understand the developments in the local markets … sometimes you also need to associate with what the international law firms are doing,” he added. There are still many law firms that lack cross-sector engagement with technology, and Kamau puts this down to three factors: the legal profession being conservative and highly regulated, the possibility of today’s chosen technology being outpaced with newer versions by tomorrow, and concerns about quality assurance. Despite these concerns, Kamau says perceptions and attitudes towards intersecting law and technology must change, as this is a significant barrier. “We need to look at technology as an enabler, not as a replacement of the human user, and [understand] that it augments the way we work,” he commented. He adds that firms have no option but to embrace technology, and those that don’t “are going to be left behind” by their competitors. Kamau and Tom further discuss the impact and efficiencies of tech and wrap up the conversation with forward-looking trends – an AI judge, perhaps?

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