Technology is woven into our daily lives. It is the now, and the future. No institution can disregard it. One does not need to look too far to see mistaken disregard of technology in the past. You may know of the story of a Western Union electrician who, in 1876, sent the company president an internal memo claiming that “[t]his ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.”

As core public institutions, courts need to take a leading role in the implementation of technology in the law and in legal practice. Yet the uptake of technology in courts is not about the use of buzzwords. It is about taking a step back and redesigning the way in which courts function, in order to best incorporate useful technologies while still maintaining the fundamentally human character of these institutions.

This lecture provides an overview of the role of the court in the uptake of technology (both the Federal Court of Australia and other courts in Australia and around the world). It looks at what has been achieved, what could be achieved, and lessons learnt along the way. The lecture then assesses some of the challenges which may arise throughout this process: namely, the practical obstacles which can arise; the need for behavioural change across the profession; ensuring access to (not obstruction of) justice; and the implications of the use of big data and artificial intelligence for public trust and confidence in the courts as public institutions.


Chief Justice James Allsop

About Technology and the Future of the Legal Profession Lecture Series

The Technology and the Future of the Legal Profession Lecture Series will bring together experts from academia, industry and legal practice to debate the ways in which technology is being taken up by the legal profession and the impact that this might have in the future. Accelerating technological change has already affected the legal profession, and it will inevitably have broader effects on law and legal practice in the years to come. The purpose of the lecture series is to highlight the challenges and opportunities that these changes present for lawyers.

The series is organised by the UQ Law, Science and Technology Program.


Harry Gibbs Commonwealth Law Courts
Level 7, 119 North Quay
Brisbane QLD 4000
Federal Court, Court Room 1