The traditional Czech-German-Slovak lawyer’s forum, which took place on the 3rd-4th November 2023 in Dresden, this time was dedicated to the topic “Digitalization as an opportunity for the future of the legal profession” chosen by the Saxon Bar Association.
“The number of lawyers is decreasing and the profession of lawyer no longer seems so attractive, however, the demand for legal services remains high. The practice of advocacy and the provision of legal services is becoming increasingly complex, which is why we need the benefits of digitization.” she noted in her opening remarks President of the Saxon Bar Association (RAK Sachsen) Sabine Fuhrmann.
On behalf of the Czech Bar Association, the participants of the forum were greeted by its vice-president JUDr. Monika Novotná (pictured), which confirmed that ČAK is also struggling with the downward trend in the number of lawyers and paralegals. “I see the process of digitization for advocacy as one with the possibility to reduce stress and replace routine work with creative work”, Monika Novotná stated, among others, and also reflected on advocacy as a leading force in the digitalization process, with the fact that it is necessary to take into account that even digitalization can be a good servant, but a bad master.
After the introductory presentations by the representatives of individual bar associations, the participants of the forum listened to several other interesting lectures.
First presentation Dirk Hartung, executive director of the institute, on the subject of Digitization of advocacy and education, and her first slides, who reported that CHATGpt 4 had successfully passed the bar exams in the US, may have “eaten” the thought processes of many of the attorneys present… Artificial Intelligence (AI) is simply a resonating topic, and research and testing of AI is of interest to many companies. And they are increasingly showing that lawyers will need to use AI to survive in the legal services market, in relation to legal services complexity, demand and productivity. Other graphs of the presentation then revealed step by step the gradual improvement of AI in various legal areas when searching for information, but also pointed out its shortcomings. Dirk Hartung identified AI education as very important; law students want to be educated in the field of Legal Tech, reform of the education system in Germany in this regard, including the inclusion of Legal Tech in the curriculum, is therefore necessary.
The second contribution was made by a Czech lawyer JUDr. Tomáš Plíhal from the law firm AK Janák, s.r.o He focused on data boxes. He explained in detail the legal regulation in the Czech environment and the necessity of data boxes as part of digitization in the legal profession at the present time.
In his speech, he reflected on artificial intelligence as a direct threat to advocacy. “It was 1921, when on January 25, the premiere of the play by Karel Čapek RUR took place in the National Theater in Prague. In this play, the word “robot” appeared for the first time. Čapka’s play was a sensation when it was translated into thirty languages, including English, in just two years. And because these languages didn’t have their own version of the word ‘robot’, the term began to spread around the world.” It is therefore possible to say with exaggeration that the beginnings of AI date back more than 100 years and that its “cradle” was Prague. Artificial intelligence will and will significantly affect not only advocacy, but also other legal professions, either positively or negatively, the author stated in his contribution.
Peter Hense, attorney from the law firm, SPIRIT LEGAL Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH from Leipzig spoke on behalf of the Saxon Bar Association on the topic “Interdisciplinary teams: the secret of successful modern law firms” and dealt with competitiveness on the legal services market. He mentioned that it will be necessary to change the business models of law firms, which will have to adapt to the upcoming state of AI. “Let’s not fall prey to AI, but let’s meet AI by being well-informed, building the necessary infrastructure and testing. Test best practices specifically in the case of AI or the first mouse is often caught in the trap while the second gets the cheese.” reported by Peter Hense.
He then described the state of electronic justice and its basic pillars of e-justice and e-advocacy in Slovakia JUDr. Dominik Okenica, attorney and partner Okenica & Co., s.r.o., from Bratislava. He mentioned the use of an electronic mailbox, a mandated qualified certificate, which enables the unequivocal identification of a lawyer as a person signing an electronic filing, and mandatory electronic communication between courts and lawyers (which does not yet apply in criminal matters) as essential for advocacy. He also informed about the e-claims system, which operates in Slovakia as part of a special portal for electronic submissions, as well as about the electronic court file, which enables passive access of both the party to the proceedings and his legal representative to the court file.
Dominika Okenici’s presentation at the Czech-Slovak-German Bar Forum in Dresden ended.
Next year, the Slovak Bar Association, which took over the baton from the Saxon Bar Association, will propose what lectures Czech, German and Slovak lawyers will hear and discuss next year.
M.Sc. Lenka Vojířová, head of the Department of International Relations of ČAK
Photo: the author