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JILT 2009 (3) - Closing Editorial

This is the final issue of the Journal of Information Law and Technology, before it transforms into the European Journal of Law and Technology. JILT itself was the child of the Law Technology Journal, so the history of the journal began in 1992 and it has been serving its readership for 18 years. Throughout that period the force and energy underpinning the journal has come from Abdul Paliwala its editor since that inception. Abdul's ideas gave rise to the journal and his efforts kept it going – and kept it going as a open journal, available to the research community free of barrier and of payment. A constantly changing team of support worked with Abdul at Warwick, and they should all be thanked for their efforts, too.

Of primary concern to Abdul was that technology should be seen to be an integral part of the law school. In 1992, there were still academic staff who refused to use word processing, barely accessed a legal database, and thought it would all just go away and leave them alone. Abdul never left them alone – always looking to technology in law as a positive factor and encouraging through the pages of JILT a vision of legal education which saw technology as an aid, not just as something which should be controlled and regulated.

Abdul's goals with JILT were also high. He was particularly enamoured with the concept of a journal as a form of communication between the readership and the author, rather than one way from author to reader. In his first editorial 1996 (1) he posited:

“This journal deliberately sets out to be experimental … our objective is to not merely to take text from paper and reproduce it as text on screen but to develop a “living” journal which will encourage a community of scholarship, built on the traditional principles of rigorous academic discourse but adapted to take advantage of the new technologies. Electronic journals can do many things that paper cannot. Our experiment is to develop through a process of trial and error a system of conferencing, debate and discourse that will continue to develop even after initial publication. We also hope it will be a system that our readers will enjoy using.”

In the event, Abdul's optimism did not quite match the willingness of the JILT readership to communicate so freely. But one can see that Abdul (certainly before most of us) foresaw the internet as a different form of academic communication: who would have imagined legal blogs all over the place but Abdul? From his very first steps with law and technology in the 1970s (his early work was with citations systems – a topic forgotten for years but now back on the agenda with LawCite from AustLII) Abdul has always been at the forefront, always encouraging new ideas to be reported in JILT.

Why bring JILT to an end? JILT was international in content when few others were, and when European issues of law and technology were limited. Now Europe generates a constant stream of Directives relating to technology. There is also much more interaction between European law schools and academics than there ever was in the early 1990s. We hope that the EJLT will build upon JILT, not necessarily in as experimental a mode as JILT was intended to be, but to act in that same role as a free to user journal publishing high quality articles which is open to every reader free from barrier and payment. The focus will be more European to encourage a wider readership in the European law school. Abdul will continue in the role of Founding Editor of EJLT, but the day to day details will be handled by others.

So some sadness is certainly appropriate as JILT comes to an end. However, we hope that the EJLT will take the best of JILT and – with a bit of tweaking – form it into something which Abdul will continue to see as evidencing the core of his goal to have a technologically astute law school.

Philip Leith
Queen's University