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Library Philosophy and Practice 2011

ISSN 1522-0222

Information Communication Techonology (ICT) Use as a Predictor of Lawyers’ Productivity

Jide Owoeye
Principal Librarian
Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies
Lagos, Nigeria

Introduction

Information Communication Technology (ICT) is an umbrella term that includes all technologies for the manipulation and communication of information. The work of legal practitioners involves a high level of documentation and information processing, storage, and retrieval. The information intensiveness of a lawyer’s responsibility is such that tools and technologies that would speed up the documentation, management and information handling are not only important but professionally necessary. The value of accuracy, correctness, completeness, relevance and timeliness are characteristics of information which ICT systems do generate to meet lawyer’s information needs.

The role of lawyers in any society is essential. In the early days, before the coming of the Europeans, each community in Nigeria had its own system of rules and practices regulating human behaviour. These were undocumented but known to all. Penalties which ranged from ostracism, payment of fines, and community service with close monitoring. With the advent of colonial masters, the common law of England was introduced and customary law with some modifications was retained. It is the common law and customary law that have evoloved into the court systems that are the Nigerian legal system (Holdsworth, 1976, Omotola and Adeogun, 1987 and Gerbert, 1998).

The legal system is essential to maintain stability and order in the society. Lawyers in any civilized society settle fundamental human rights, disputes and clashes. A legal practitioner in Nigeria is a barrister as well as a solicitor whose primary duties are; advocacy, litigation, counseling, preparation of legal document, etc. A lawyer defends his client (s) in the court of law by applying the principles of law to the evidence available, by providing relevant facts. Lawyers enlighten the public of their constitutional rights and ensure that people are not deprived of their fundamental human rights such as freedom of association, speech, opinion, religion etc.

Ekundayo (1995) and Oyebode, (2005) pointed out that, the services of lawyers are needed in almost all human endeavours such as banks, insurance, companies, government institution etc. Omekwu,  (2003) posited that computers in a lawyer’s office are useful for the performance of the following functions to:

  • check and input information and ensure correctness and completeness.
  • sort information into designed sequence, store data for future reference and use.
  • refer lawyers to previously stored information, carry out calculation functions, analyze and summarize data.

Based on the three major functions above computers in lawyers offices could be applied in many area of law practice such as litigation, advocacy, criminal law, commercial law, environmental law, insurance, etc.

Omekwu (2004) also indicated that, the use of digital technology has led to migration of lawyer’s instrument of trade to electronics formats. Judicial decisions and all other sources of information germane to the work of lawyers are now available in electronic format. Many of these materials can be accessed online. Many legal scholars, researchers and judicial officers have all discussed how these developments will impact on legal practice now and in future.

Eke (2006) wrote that ICT is impacting different sectors of Nigerian economy, especially in legal profession. Due to the importance of ICT in the development of Nigerian legal system, there is a paradigm shift from acquisition of print information resources to electronic resources in law libraries. For instance, availability of the Internet or related computer network (such as Local Area Network) can provide quick access to relevant legal information in electronic format in law libraries than is manually possible. Hence, effective adoption and use of ICT in law libraries will be immensely beneficial for sustainable development in Nigeria by ensuring that relevant and current information is made available for legal practice for enhanced productivity.

Katsh, (1994) had written on the emerging generation of digital lawyers and on how to re-orient the legal practitioner to cyber space. Widdison (1995) described a new practice of law on the internet. Wall (1998) provided empirical evidence to prove how IT is shaping legal practice in United Kingdom. Azinge (2002) identified five key areas of IT relevance to lawyers. The main points are summarized below;

  • Internet access to judicial decisions; with basic IT facilities like a personal computer, a dial-up or wireless connectivity. A lawyer can now access judicial decisions of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, and all the House of Lord Judgments. The same is applicable to the judgments of many U.S. Courts. Online legal databases like Lexis/Nexis and Westlaw are already a practical experience of legal professionals in developed countries.
  • Electronic Communication: Digital technology provides the platform for lawyers to:
  • transmit and receive messages from clients, colleagues and the court system.
  • gain access to the internal know-how of the institutional memory of a law firm and
  • provide access to information on specific subject matters.
  • Documentation is a cardinal aspect of the legal institution responsibilities. The legal process is undoubtedly documentation-intensive. Whether in drafting agreements for clients, or legislative drafting or litigations, preparing writs or even judges writing their judgments.
  • Litigation support service. Information technology is relevant to the lawyers’ management and control of the diverse documents which they have to master in order to advance and prepare their clients’ case. It relates to efficient use of IT systems for the efficient storage and speedy retrieval of such documentation.
  • IT system allows a lawyer to work on many documents simultaneously while at the same time downloading materials from the internet. He can copy and paste one document to another or from one section of document to another.
  • ICT is also relevant in the area of basic text retrieval, use of CD-ROM systems and quicker and more qualitative service to clients and cooperation between counsel, clients, courts and law investigation and enforcement institutions.

However, it is worthy to mention that ICT use in developing countries has been hindered by many problems which include; insufficient fund allocation, inadequate manpower requirement, power outages, prohibitive cost of importation of hardware, software and the accessories of ICT, conservatism on the part of management and unfavourable government policies. Others include; lukewarm attitude towards alleviating the sufferings of academic institutions by the government, lack of training culture in ICT skills, inadequate infrastructures such as personal computers and communication facilities. Ogunleye (1997); Adeyemi, (2002); Chifwepa (2003); Ikem and Ojo (2003); Ibeagwan (2004); Badu  (2004); Osunade and Ojo (2006) and Olalude  (2007).

According to Aina (2004), ICT has become an important field for all information professionals. This is because of its relevance and application to tasks in libraries and information centres. He further explained that the major application of ICT to information professionals is in the areas of networking, online searching, CD-ROM technology, library automation and the Internet. Also Odunewu and Olashore (2009) reported that information and communication technologies have been dominant in information provision, processing and handling. Through the use of Internet a user is able to access through ICT bibliographic and full text information in several millions document descriptors used for describing the documents needed.

For information communication technology to be meaningful there must be result, output or productivity. Productivity in economic term is described as output per hour. In the manufacturing sector the process of calculating productivity is straight forward while in the service industry it is more difficult to calculate. This is so because; it is difficult to quantify exactly how output should be measured. For instance, how does one measure the productivity of a lawyer? Do we measure the amount of revenue he generates, the number of clients he attends to, or perhaps, the number of cases he successfully wins in the court? Generally, productivity is defined as output per hour worked. In the legal industry, the measure that is widely used in developed nations (USA, UK, Germany, etc.) is the number of billable hours. This method is however, a poor one, because billable hours are not what are being produced.

Another measure of lawyer’s productivity would be firm’s profitability per employee per hour worked. This measure would allow one to measure the effects of technology on productivity in real terms. In Nigeria, only few lawyers bill by the hour but look into variables in charging their clients, e.g., the nature of case, likelihood of speedy execution, position and wealth status of person (s) in involved, environment (location) of the case, etc.

However, there should be a consensus on how productivity should be measured. The bedrock of this study is the application of ICT which is an input that could enhance work productivity of the legal practitioner. This study will therefore attempt to find out information communication technology use as predictor of lawyers’ productivity in Lagos state, Nigeria.

Objectives – considering the crucial roles of ICT in the society, the main objective of this study is to investigate ICT usage as predictor of lawyers’ productivity in Lagos State, Nigeria.

While the specific objectives are to:

1. identify the available ICT resources in the law firms of Lagos State.

2. determine the extent to which ICT resources are used for lawyers’ productivity in the law firms of Lagos State.

3. identify the areas of ICT use in the law firms of Lagos State.

4. identify the problems associated with ICT use in the law firms of Lagos State.

Methodology

The target population for this study was practicing lawyers or commercial lawyers in Lagos State, Nigeria.

Forty  law firms in Lagos State were used as indicated in table 1.

Cluster sampling was used to select respondents across the twenty (37) local governments in the state. The population was divided into clusters of lawyers in the thirty seven local governments; ten local governments were randomly selected. These local governments are; Ikeja, Lagos Island, Mainland, Surulere, Kosofe,Oshodi/Isolo, Shomolu, Ikorodu, Epe and Badagry. In each of the selected local governments, law firms were purposefully selected based on availability and use of ICT resources in these offices..

Questionnaire was the only method used for data collection for this study. The number of questionnaire administered to the forty law firms was 805, while 615 were returned, giving a response rate of 76.4%.

Table 1: Law Firms in Lagos State

S/N

Name

Address

City

Number of lawyers

1.

Gani Fawehinmi Chambers & Library, Rotimi Williams (SAN)

35 Adeniran Ajao Road, Ajao Estate Anthony Village

Ilupeju.

25

2.

Femi Falana & Co.

Obafemi Awolowo House, 29/31 Awolowo Way, Ikeja

Ikeja

14

3.

Femi Sunmonu & Associates

S.A. Sunday Adigun Street,Alausa Ikeja CBD

Ikeja

17

4.

A.B. Kasumu (SAN)

6 Eric Moore Close, Surulere

Surulere

12

5.

Abdulai, Taiwo & Co.

Goodwill House

27 Ikorodu Road, PO Box 536, Yaba

Yaba

18

6.

Chigbu & Chigbu & Co.

53 Razaq Balogun Street, Surulere

Surulere

16

7.

T.A. Aguda & Co.

104 Babs Animashaun, Surulere

Surulere

8

8.

Tunji Abayomi & Co.

34 Aje Street, Sabo Yaba

Yaba

28

9.

B.U. Benson (SAN)

84 Ogunlana Drive

Surulere

12

10.

Oladipo Bali & Co. Suite CB

Adeniran Ogunsanya Shopping Complex  (UTC) Surulere

Surulere

16

11

AELEX,7th Floor, Marble House

1 Kingsway Road, PO Box 52901, Ikoyi

Lagos

36

12.

Austen- Peters & Co.

Pent House Floor, Foreshore Towers,

2 A Osborne Road Ikoyi

Lagos

19

13.

Ayo Afilaka & Associate, Ambassadors Chambers

7 Ogba Road, Moshalashi, Agege.

Agege

18

14.

Akinjide & Co.

4th Floor NCR Building, Broad Sreet, Lagos

Lagos

17

15.

Akinosun, Odusolu, Thomas & Iruka  (AOTI)

3rd Floor, Ribway House, 95 Igbosere Road Lagos Island

Lagos

18

16.

Obafemi Adewale & Co.

3/9 Olukoleosho St., Off Simbiat Abiola Way, Ikeja.

Ikeja

10

17.

Idreez & Idreez Chambers

183 Akowonjo Road, Agege.

Agege

18

18.

Chief Ladi Rotimi – Williams Chambers.

20 Idowu Martins Street, Victoria Island, Lagos

Lagos

10

19.

Dr Olu Onagoruwa Chambers

No 220 Herbert Macaulay Way, Yaba

Yaba

25

20.

Seun Aderibigbe Chambers

9 Amort Road, Badagry

Badagry

18

21.

Spurgeon Ataene & Co, Blessed Chambers

7 Jebba Street, Ebute Metta (West).

Ebute Metta

4

22.

Maleyatan Adegboye, Ojuolape Chambers

32 Adegbola Street, Railway Crossing, Ikeja.

Ikeja

29

23.

Alesinloye & Associates

2nd Floor/Emmanuel High St. Ogudu Ojota.

Ojota

11

24.

Rhodes & Rhodes

27 Lagos Road Epe.

Epe

12

25.

Awoma & Awoma & Co.

4 Raji Abayomi Street, Mafoluku Oshodi.

Oshodi

9

26.

Olisa Agbakoba (SAN).

Associate Martins Complex

34 Creek Road, Lagos.

Apapa

13

27.

Abioye, Abioye & Co.

16 Kofoworola Crescent, Off Awolowo Way, Ikeja.

Ikeja

20

28.

Dare Akande & Co.,

John West House, Acme Road, 2nd Floor, Suite 215, Ogba.

Ogba

4

29.

S. A Adesanya (SAN) & Co.

2 Tinubu Square, Lagos

Lagos

12

30.

F.W. Osadebay-Akpunonu & Co.

4 John Bull Square, Badagry

Badagry

14

31.

Abiodun Dada Doherty & Co.

Top Floor Suite A3 Adeola Adeoye St. Off Toyin Street, Ikeja.

Ikeja

6

32.

Abdul Kareem, Fajimite & Co. Inukan Chambers,

Kanyinsola House, 6 Palm Avenue, Epe

Epe

10

33.

Yinka Oyeniyi Farounbi & Co.

11 Agric Road, Ikorodu

Ikorodu

13

34.

Wale Babalakin & Co

24 A Campbell Street, 8th Floor, Broad Street Lagos

Lagos

47

35.

Adewumi Fatunde & Co.

25 Ita Alewa, Ikorodu

Ikorodu

13

36.

Dr Tunji Braithwaite & Co

34 Okesuna street, Lafiaji, Lagos

Lagos

16

37.

Igbaji Mike Oti & Co.

10 Pako Otunba Lane, Ikorodu

Ikorodu

11

38.

Nya’ Osahon Ihenyen & Co.

Ikeja Plaza Suite B 325, 3rd Floor, 81 Mobolaji Bank Anthony Way, Ikeja, Lagos

Ikeja

4

39.

Jare Kembi & Co.

4 Coker Street, Epe

Epe

5

40.

Osuolale & Co

7 Adio Street Mangoro Bus Stop Epe

Epe

6

TOTAL

615

Results and Discussion

The data collected were analyzed using percentages and frequencies based on a number of variables. These variables include; demographic information about the respondents, availability of ICT resources, areas of ICT use in law practice; frequency of ICT use and level of lawyers’ productivity.

Table 2: Age Distribution Range of Respondents

Age range of Distribution

Frequency

Percentage %

21-30

31-40

41-50

51-60

61+

151

200

170

68

28

24.6

32.5

26.6

11.1

4.2

615

100

Table 2 shows the age range distribution of the respondents. The data indicates that 151 (24.6) of the respondents are between 21-30 age range, 200 (32.5%) are between 31-40 age range, 170 (26.6%) between 41-50 age range, 68  (11.1%) between 51-60 age range and 26 (4.2%) of the respondents were 61 years and above. It can be inferred from the data that the middle age group used more ICT facilities than other groups. This may be due to their level of awareness where as the older age group respondents rank the least.

Table 3: Distribution of Respondents according to areas of specialization

Areas of Specialization

Frequency

Percentage %

Advocacy

Solicitors

Both

69

48

498

11.1%

8.0

80.9

615

100.0

The data in table 3, shows that 69 (11.1%) of the respondents practice as advocates, 48 (8.0%) practice as solicitors and 498 (80.9%) practice both as advocates and solicitors.

This indicates that majority of the respondents in Lagos state practice both as advocates and solicitors, whereas in the more advanced countries (UK, USA) once you are a solicitor you cannot practice as an advocate and vise visa.

Table 4: Educational Qualifications

Educational qualifications

Frequency

Percentage %

LLB, BL

LLM

PhD

410

196

9

66.6%

31.9

1.5

615

100.00%

The data in table 4 depicts that 410 (66.6%) possessed LLB and BL, 196 (31.9%) had LLM and 9 (1.5%) were with PhD degrees.

It could be inferred from the findings that majority of the respondents had their first degree in law in addition to Bachelor of law which is one of the qualifications to practice in Nigeria. This is followed by LLM which is the second degree in law and the least is PhD. This may imply that attainment of higher degrees in law is not a prerequisite to professional efficiency and competency but an added advantage.

Table 5: Availability of ICT resources

S/N

ICT Resources

Readily available

Very readily available

Readily not available

Very readily not available

1.

Telephones (Land lines, mobile phones and intercoms)

220

 (35.8%)

395

 (64.2%)

_____

_____

2.

Desktop PC

130

 (21.1%)

270

43.9%

160

 (26.1%)

55

 (9.9%)

3.

Laptop PC

195

 (31.7%)

180

 (29.3%)

145
 (23.6%)

95

 (15.4%)

4.

Photocopier

198

 (32.0%)

282

 (48.0%)

80

13.0%

55

 (7.0%)

5.

Internet (e- mail)

125

 (20.3%)

218

 (35.5)%

171
 (27.8%)

101

 (16.4%)

6.

Law book on CD Rom

132

 (21.5%)

168

 (27.3%)

187

 (30.4%)

124

 (20.8%)

7.

Scanner

127

 (20.7)

173

 (28.1%)

114

 (18.5)

201

 (32.7%)

8.

Tele-fax

102

 (16.7%)

158

 (25.6%)

178

 (28.9%)

177

 (28.8%)

9.

Law Reports on CD ROM

126

 (20.5%)

135

 (21.9%)

146

 (23.7%)

209

 (33.9%)

10.

Online Access to celebrated cases.

97

 (15.4%)

113

 (18.4%)

123

 (20.3%)

282

 (45.9%)

11.

Law Journals on CD ROM

100

 (16.2%)

140

 (22.8%)

134

 (21.8%)

241

 (39.2%)

12.

Computerized library

73

 (11.9)

120

 (19.5%)

193

 (31.4%)

229

 (37.2%)

13.

Database in law management system  (Lexis) West law, Pc law JSTOR), etc.)

128

 (20.8%)

149

 (24.2%)

131

 (21.3%)

207

 (33.7%)

14.

Electronic court proceedings.

118

 (19.2)

179

 (29.1%)

143

 (23.2%)

175

 (28.5%)

Table 5 shows the availability of ICT resources, in the following categories.

Telephones, (landlines, mobile and Intercoms) with 615 (100%), rate of availability. It shows the highest rate of availability. This study inferred that every lawyer had access and used telephones both for official and personal maters. Next on the list of ranking is photocopier with 480 (80%). Other ICT resources with high availability ranking are; Desktop Pc, 400 (65%), laptop PC with 375 (61.%) available and 240 (39%) not available, the internet with 343 (55.8%) available and with 272 (44.2%) not available.

ICT resources that were fairly available were law books on CD-ROM with 300 (48.8%) availability and with 305  (51.2%) non availability, and electronic courts proceedings with 297 (48.3%) availability and 318 (51.7%) non availability.

Whereas, the following ICT resources indicated high rate of non availability (not available); Tele-fax, Law reports on CD-ROM, Law Journals on CD-ROM, Data base in Law management and the least on the table was computerized library system with 422 (68.6%) non availability and with 193 (31.4%) availability.

Table 6 Areas of ICT Use

S/N

Areas of law practice

Yes

Freq. per.

No

Freq. per.

1.

Administrative

509 82.8%

106 17.2%

2.

Alterative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

423 68.8%

192 31.2%

3.

Constitutional law

384 62.4%

232 37.6%

4.

Corporate and Business law

461 74.9%

154 25.1%

5.

Criminal law

458 74.4%

157 25.6%

6.

Employment and labour law.

341 55.4%

257 41.6%

7.

Environmental law

389 63.3%

226 36.7%

8.

Human right

487 79.1%

126 20.9%

9.

Litigation

355 57.7%

260 42.3%

10.

Political

400 65.0%

215 35.0%

11.

Others

368 59.8%

247 40.2%

From Table 6, presents the views of respondents on areas of law practice. Respondents indicated high rate of response in all the areas of law practice. The highest being administrative law with 509  (82.8%). Followed by Human Right with 487 (79.1%) and so on, where as the least area of law practice from the table is Employment and labour law with 341 (55.4%). The result of the finding showed that, the respondents made use of ICT resources in all the areas of law practice.

Table 7: Extent of ICT use

S/N

IT Resources

Lowly Used (LU)

Highly Used (HU)

1.

Telephones

31 (5%)

584 (95%)

2.

Desktop PC

123 (20%)

492 (80%)

3.

Laptop PC

237 (38.5%)

378 (61.5%)

4.

Photocopier

106 (8.9%)

499 (91.1%)

5.

The Internet (E-mail)

230 (37.4%)

385 (62.6%)

6.

Law Books on CD-ROM

380 (61.8%)

235 (38.2%)

7.

Law Reports on CD ROM    

393 (63.9%)

222 (36.1%)

8.

Law Journals on CD-ROM

411 (66.8%)

204 (33.2%)

9.

Online Access to celebrated cases

455 (70.7%)

180 (29.3%)

10.

Databases in Law Management Nexis-Lexis, West law , JSTOR etc

347 (56.4%)

268 (43.6%)

11.

Scanner

330 (53.6%)

285 (46.4%)

12.

Tele-fax/facsimile

483 (78.5%)

183 (21.5%)

13.

Electronic court proceedings

337 (54.8%)

278 (45.2%)

Table 7 provides information on the extent of ICT use in the law firms. The result shows that the following resources were highly used; telephones (mobiles, land line and intercoms) photocopier, Desktop PC, the Internet and laptop (PC). Telephones with 584 (95%) topped the list followed by photocopier with 499 (91%). Whereas the following were lowly used; law books on CD ROM, law reports on CD-ROM, online Access to celebrated cases, Database in law management, scanner, Tele fax and Electronic court proceedings. Tele fax ranked the least lowly used ICT resource with 483 (78.5%). This may likely be due to the fact that the ICT resource, is our of date.

Table 8: Perceived Productivity of Lawyers.

S/N

Perceived Productivity of Lawyers

Yes

No

Frequency

percentage

Frequency

percentage

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

More cases are us on because of ICT use

It leads to professional income generation

It leads to faster and speedier execution of cases

It allows me to send and receive information from

clients colleagues and the court systems.

It enables me to have less stress in writing briefs

It improves client service

It reduces risks

It cuts costs

439

382

456

357

309

387

365

341

418

71.4

62.1

74.2

58.0

50.2

62.9

59.3

55.4

67.90

176

233

159

258

306

228

250

274

197

28.6

37.9

25.8

42.0

49.8

37.1

40.7

44.6

32.1

Table 8 shows the perceived productivity of lawyers using IT resources from the list of items. From the list of items, respondents were asked to say Yes or No. The result showed that 456 (74.2%) agreed, that the use of ICT resource leads to “faster and speedier execution of cases’, followed by ‘more case are won’ because of ICT use with 439 (71.4%).

Generally, all the items ranked high and the least, ‘it makes me to have less stress in writing briefs with 309 (50.2%) said Yes, and 306 (49.8%) said, No.

Table 9: Problems Associated with ICT use.

S/N

Problems Ass. with ICT use

YES

NO

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

Inadequate funding

Incessant power outage

Poor maintenance culture

Hardware/software problem

Poor knowledge of computer usage

Harsh tropical Environment.

Limited market

Unstable government policies.

540 (87.8)

521 (84.7%)

468 (76.1%)

34.7 (56.4%)

351 (57.1%)

322 (52.3%)

390 (63.4%)

328 (53.3%)

75 (12.2%)

91 (15.3%)

147 (23.9%)

268 (23.9%)

264 (42.9%)

293 (46.7%)

225 (36.6%)

287 (46.7%)

Table 9 shows the problems associated with ICT use. Majority 540 (87.8%) of the respondents indicated ‘Yes’ for inadequate funding as the major problem hindering ICT use, while fewer respondents  (12.2%) indicated ‘No’. The respondents agreed with other problems by indicating ‘Yes’ but with high rating ‘No’.

Conclusion and Recommendations

The relevance of ICT adoption and use in the various law firms for effective, efficient and speedy administration of justice, in Lagos State, Nigeria need not to be over-emphasized.

The practice of legal profession in Nigeria is a challenging one and quick access to and retrieval of appropriate legal information by judges, lawyers, researchers etc in the emerging digital age require effective adoption and use of ICT in the law firms. The findings of the study have revealed that, Lagos state law firms are currently making progress towards participating in the global adoption and use of ICT. The paper recommends effective human capacity building and user education programmes for sustainable use of ICT in Lagos State law firms. Besides, heads or owners of law firms in Lagos State should increase their level of funding towards enhanced participation in the ICT integration. The Federal government should provide enabling environment such as efficient and stable power supply in addition to relevant ICT policies to include lower tariff on all imported ICT equipments, accessories to boost ICT adoption and use in Nigeria.

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