New Zealand Law Society - A conference for all lawyers

A conference for all lawyers

This article is over 3 years old. More recent information on this subject may exist.

Such is the importance of technology in legal practice today and into the future that every lawyer, particularly those who are leaders in their firms, should seriously consider attending the upcoming Cyber Law Conference, says the conference chair Judge David Harvey.

Run by NZLS CLE Ltd, the conference will be held in Auckland on 5 May and Wellington on 6 May. It will also be available on lawyers' computers via a live stream on 6 May.

"What we have to recognise," Judge Harvey says, "is that we are moving into an entirely different paradigm from that most lawyers are used to.

"Most lawyers, and I speak for myself and probably the generation following me, have been brought up in a pen and paper world. We are used to laws that were drafted for pen and paper, located in the print paradigm. What has happened is that this has all changed and it has kind of crept up on us in some respects.

Photo of Judge David Harvey
Judge David Harvey

"We are now looking at a completely different way of looking at information.

"In some respects lawyers have caught up with this and are not alien to it. We have online filing with the Companies Act and we have online registration under the Land Transfer Act. That's been forced on people in many respects. It has become a default.

"But there is still not really an understanding of how of all this works and the problems it can cause.

"Lawyers are not the greatest adopters of new technologies and they are not the greatest advocates of change.

It forces change

"The fact of the matter is that the digital paradigm forces change upon us. I only have to think, for example, about electronic discovery. Some people still look on discovery as being a paper-based thing to the extent that they will print out discovery from electronic files and go through it and assess relevance rather than going on screen and using software tools that are available to do that.

"That, to me, is a complete waste of space, waste of time and waste of paper. And a waste of money too.

"Lawyers really have to get on board with this new paradigm because if not, they are going to find themselves in difficulty.

"In the United States, for example, the American Bar Association has made it a requirement for lawyers to have awareness of technological issues that affect the substantive law and affect their practice.

"It will be deemed a competence issue if you don't have a certain level of awareness, understanding of the technology.

Competency an issue

"So we have got an issue here – are you competent to practise if you don't understand technology?

"There will be a lot of people who will tremble at this and say 'why should I?' The answer to that question is that change is coming, change is here and you've got to understand it, because if you don't you are going to have some real problems in advising your clients and practising law effectively."

The Cyber Law Conference, Judge Harvey says, is for all practitioners and it's a "very necessary upskilling – getting a hold of some of these cutting edge issues that we will be dealing with."

The conference will be a "full on" day.

"We have got a really vibrant group of people talking on a whole lot of issues. One of the things that we will be talking about, for example, are the dangers that exist in the online environment – things that practitioners should be aware of.

"We will be looking at all sorts of issues like that, cyber security, and also the issue of safety online and there will a discussion, although it's not a feature, on the Harmful Digital Communications Act.

"Interestingly enough, we did a similar conference last year, and two years before that we had another conference. It was felt by NLZS CLE that because of the pace of change and because of the wide variety of issues that arise, we should do another one this year, rather than wait for the two years."

More information about the conference, as well as registration, is available at You can contact NZLS CLE at 0800 333 111, email

Lawyer Listing for Bots