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FIGHTING CYBERCRIME: THE FUTURE OF DIGITAL LAW

Anna Garland is a Course Director of undergraduate Law at Staffordshire University’s School of Justice, Security & Sustainability.
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As a result of the global digital society, the world is increasingly operating in the virtual sphere, revolutionising many industries, including law. Technology has been instrumental in bringing a profession rooted in traditional practices into the modern era. However, this digitisation presents new challenges for the legal profession to conquer.

With people increasingly living and working in the digital sphere, lawyers have adapted to deal with new legal issues. The reliance on technology in business and industry has made cybercrime as big a threat as national security risks, and data from DCMS reveals how four in ten businesses (39%) have reported cyber security breaches or attacks in the last 12 months. The rise of social media has also opened new avenues of criminal activity, whether it be revenge porn, racist abuse, grooming or scams – and lawyers of the future must be trained to deal with this.

To be better equipped to confront the problems of the digital age, law students must learn the core concepts of digital law, to answer the big questions from ‘should robots have rights?’ to ‘how can we reduce cybercrime?’

Digital skills are becoming increasingly key across industries, and law is no different. The need for basic digital skills in the workplace has increased with 82% of job openings requiring some form of digital skills, according to the Department of Education. The migration of evidence systems, briefing documents and even witness testimonies in court to the digital space highlights how digital skills will be increasingly important to thrive in a career in law.

Many forms of legal advice can now be accessed through apps, AI and interactive websites to name just a few examples. For a versatile law career, future legal professionals should become accustomed to using and developing such technologies – and training is needed to do this. Studying digital law as a part of a law degree can give students experience in these fields and prepare them for versions of legal careers that the future holds.

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At Staffordshire University, students can choose the digital law pathway as part of their LLB Law degree course, learning both the legal challenges the digital space presents and the digital skills to thrive in careers.

Digital research projects give students direct practical experience of utilising technology to solve real-life legal problems. Through exploring the digital law pathways, students are not only well-prepared for traditional legal careers like being a barrister, solicitor, or a chartered legal executive, but can also go into careers that are adjacent to law. For example, careers in compliance and regulations within businesses as well as retail management are complemented by the thorough understanding of digital markets, contracts and regulations taught through the digital law pathway.

Digital law is by no means set to replace traditional law degrees but instead, act as an extra avenue of teaching where students are prepared for the ever-evolving discipline. Students must be taught the foundations of digital law to prepare for legal challenges of the future, and develop the skills required to help solve them.

Anna Garland is a Course Director of undergraduate Law at Staffordshire University’s School of Justice, Security & Sustainability.

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