In Tandem with Evolving Technologies

Manuel Calzada, Director, 2GEDAR

Manuel Calzada, Director, 2GEDAR

Single Source for Substantive Legal Information

In setting up 2GEDAR, we are trying to address some of the big obvious challenges facing a globalised legal profession which is increasingly no longer restricted to any one specific jurisdiction. We are no longer able to work from the USA without needing to address legal issues arising in India, or China, or Australia, and vice versa. We want to address sectional issues related to capture, search, and sharing of legal information and analysis. Personally, I find far too much information is available for any one person to troll through, and that it takes inordinate resources to extract what is relevant and applicable. We also find that much of what is useful is unnecessarily expensive in an age where much information is available for free. From my experience with International Organizations and the private sector, I find that our general collective inability to handle Big Data is holding back the legal profession which in many respects remains mentally chained to a Gutenberg printing press mentality, and we locked ourselves in smaller and smaller operational cells, so that we increasingly know more and more about less and less, and in the process we lose the concept of the legal professional who can speak with some confidence in a number of areas of legal practice.

“We aim to set up a single site where we can publish, store and easily direct users through the myriad of sites towards readily available information”

With 2GEDAR we aim to set up a single site where we can publish, store and easily direct users through the myriad of sites towards readily available information. We also want to break the cycle where legal writers do so generally for free and for the sole financial benefit of Gutenberg-style publishing houses with a self-interest in paper publishing and e-books at unjustifiable prices. We want to pay legal writers and give them due credit; we want to collate all possible current sources of substantive legal information and ensure maximum exposure, and accessible as easily as it is for general information is available in, say Wikipedia.

Ahead of the Technology Curve

The sheer pace of technical change is overwhelming for most lawyers, even recent graduates who are infinitely more tech savvy than my own generation. It is getting to the point that we can’t even keep up with the ever increasing functions of a smartphone, let alone the enormity of data and data sources out there. I am one of the “Keep It Simple Stupid” generation, and that it is a maxim worth keeping. We are flooded with sources, modalities, volume, and so on. So much so that we have a tendency to switch off entirely where keeping up with the technology needs to be at the expense of keeping up with up to date legal skills. Also, even theoretically simple platforms such as twitter can profoundly change the way we have traditionally addressed colleagues. For instance, I was recently misquoted in a tweet made during a public presentation, in a manner that the mere fact that the tweet had been made could have had profound implications if not corrected. It has made me very much aware that this ‘new’ technology and its viral potential could have consequences beyond previous expectations. I no longer speak ONLY to the audience in front of me, but potentially to anyone with access to any social site anywhere in the world. It has its plus and minuses, but one negative aspect is that the potential negatives are restricting my willingness to be as frank as I may have been otherwise. We have much to learn about the use of new technologies.

Bridging the Technology Chasm

I think I have tried to gradually evolve with the times from a technology perspective, often ahead of the curve of my own organizations, which have often remained behind the technological curve, unable to even become aware of new developments, let alone how to adapt them to their traditional activities. As a manager I also find a generational chasm which may be impossible to bridge at times with older practitioners often still struggling with basic MS Word formatting functions and well behind the ball with web searches from what younger generations find plainly simple and obvious. From that respect I try to bridge this technology gap between generations within my office. This was not something that was even dreamt of when I was in law school and legal research meant to spent countless hours going through volumes and volumes of case law hoping to find that magic bullet.

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