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Exploring the Impacts of Digital Technology on Legal Education

By: Dr. Kaknika Lin

In today’s world, being a “lawyer” does not merely refer to a professional who knows all laws and regulations. It is not enough for a lawyer to know the laws. Today’s lawyers are advisors and counsellors in various sectors and industries of the economy. Modern lawyers are aware of trends, practices and key concepts existing within the sectors they practice in.

A modern business lawyer not only knows the laws and regulations related to “doing business,” but also understands how businesses operate. Similarly, a technology lawyer must acquire a thorough understanding of basic technology-related concepts and terminology and apply that understanding to their analysis of the applicable laws and regulations. Therefore, our educational system should focus on creating academic programs that complement the needs of the industry, after identifying the skillsets required by the economy.

In this 21st century and globalised digital world, the widespread adoption and use of digital technologies is undeniable. As evidenced by the recent Covid-19 pandemic, digital connectivity has played an ever more important role in people’s lives, be it working from home, distance learning, virtual meeting, online trading, e-government, e-business and e-citizenship.

Due to the accessibility afforded by e-commerce, a growing number of businesses now either have some or most of their operations globally or they engage in cross-border affairs and transactions on a regular basis.

Governments around the world are adapting to these fast developments of emerging digital technologies, by harnessing their potential in stimulating growth and innovation while attempting to regulate certain aspects of these technologies. An example of how governments have leveraged the use of digital technologies is by digitalising their delivery of public services and using social media as a platform for public awareness and engagement. As a result, legal advisors for governments must endeavor to find creative solutions to address potential legal issues that might arise from our continuing reliance on the digital medium.

The development of emerging technologies and the swift pace at which these technologies are embraced and adopted do not, however, come without any challenges. Globally, issues arise and present a substantial problem for businesses and national governments, such as cybersecurity as related to cyber-attacks and

hacks, data protection and privacy as related to well-publicised cases of powerful multinational corporations abusing the personal data in their hands, and labour issues as many workplaces have migrated to fully remote or many workplaces have employees in different countries.

The force of digital technologies has pushed existing issues to the forefront of global discussions again, such as issues related to governance, global development, equality and inclusion, and social justice.

Cambodia has recently adopted the Digital Economy and Society Policy Framework 2021-2035, which serves as a roadmap to develop digital citizens, digital government, and digital business through digital transformation. Cambodia has committed itself to becoming a Digital Nation by 2035. As the government continues to implement its policy framework, more citizens, regardless of the industry and sector in which they work, must also engage in continuing education in order to stay abreast of new developments in Cambodia, the region, and the world.

Our current educational system is gradually embracing the use of technologies in the classroom and integrating modern technologies to support learning by, for example, digitalizing our academic resources to increase access.

As a next step, our educational institutions must also design and develop academic curriculums and contents with a focus on the various aspects of digital technologies and law, as well as legal practices in the digital context. Therefore, undergraduate and postgraduate academic programs (Bachelor’s, Master of Laws, or Master of Legal Studies) should focus on the intersection of law and other disciplines, such as digital technologies, and prepare students to confidently analyse complex legal issues that arise due to the fast-growing developments of digital technologies and consider different approaches to the solutions for these issues.

The author is Head of Legal Counsel and Adjunct Professor of Law at American University of Phnom Penh

Reference: Khmer Times

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