Reflections of a legal replicant.

Reflections of a legal replicant.

The veteran lawyer of the Legal Department of Telefónica Alejandro Sánchez del Campo is, really, a "legal replicant" who for the last three years has embarked on the very humane adventure of legal reflection through his blog Legal Replicator in which he opens a gateway to connect law and technology with a special attention, replicating him, to robots, "cyborgs" and other devices. 

The author has decided to compile the articles from that blog that together with other collaborations and unpublished material have been transformed into the electronic book (and also on paper) Reflections of a legal replicant. The legal challenges of robotics and disruptive technologies (link: has just been published by Aranzadi and presented in FIDE on recent dates. The book, likeThe future of the professions " by Richard and Daniel Susskind that we discussed in the March 2016 post ( is, without a doubt, a "good book for the moment" following John Ruskin's rating and classification of books to which I alluded in that post. 

The suggestive title of the book and its nice cover, its author Alejandro Sánchez del Campo and the name of Juan Pablo Nieto Mengotti as a prologue were immediate demands not to condemn the book to my queue of pending readings. 

And the fact is that the author and foreword are lawyers who, like me, have had the privilege of practicing their profession, being witnesses –and actors- of the radical transformation of information and communication technologies since the privatization of the sector took place mid 90s. In his caso, from the vantage point of Telefónica, which from a former “national champion” and monopolist has been able to transform itself into one of the undisputed global leaders of the digital revolution. 

Perhaps because of this professional background, the author –as well as his famous prologue- shows the presence of the “traditional” and solid company lawyer –not in vain the book tries to find many answers in our nineteenth-century although well-aged Civil Code- but, at the same time, it preserves the curiosity and spontaneity of the adolescent who does not know "what is happening to him." A bit like those university professors who are always young because of the sympathetic effect caused by contact with their students but who do not forget the classics. Thus, the “legal replicant” turns to Plato and Seneca (p. 35) to seek cyber-solutions to cyber-problems, by "Mare Liberum" by Hugo Grocio (p. 105) to reflect on the new virtual businesses and the caso Uber or, to the Homestead act of Abraham Lincoln's 1862 to seek solutions to the laws that should govern the special mining or colonization of Mars (p. 103). 

Imbued with that freshness, it is explained that one of the chapters of the book deals with “Love and Sex in the robotic world” (p.91) which, I confess, were the first lines I read from the book. And the fact is that the book, as a compilation of articles, admits the interspersed and "disorderly" reading of its chapters as "delicious totum revolutum" that it is. 

Thus, its reading is presented as a visit to a futuristic amusement park where they await us, chapter by chapter, as if the different attractions of the park were treated, small doses of emotion that go from the exploration of the mind of a criminal thanks to fMRI techniques, 4D printers and their legal challenges or even a time travel and everything paid for, of course, with bitcoins and its fascinating “blockchain” support technology that is going to revolutionize the financial and banking sector and the contracting between missing. 

They are pills of knowledge that dissolve quickly in the brain and that bring us closer to some of the pioneering initiatives in this expedition that lawyers and lawyers from all over the planet have undertaken, such as Ryan Calo and the “We Robot” group that started at the University of Miami in 2012 (p. 45) or the new firms, initiatives and entrepreneurs that are revolutionizing the legal profession such as Riverview Law or Axiom Law (p. 122) or IBM and its Watson technology (p. 119). Of course, without forgetting the classics and distilling a concern for ethical aspects and a deep humanism that is perceived from the introduction in which Stefan Sweig and his sublime novel "Stellar moments of humanity" are evoked and, finally and very meritorious, without falling into the charlatanism that we find quite often among some lawyers who delve into the mysteries of the technological revolution without having first understood “the soul of the toga”. 

Does Alejandro Sánchez del Campo dream of electric sheep?

© Javier Fernandez-Samaniego, 2016

Reflections of a legal replicant.

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About the Author

Javier Fernández-Samaniego

Javier Fernández-Samaniego

Managing Partner of Samaniego Law, a law firm specializing in conflict resolution and new technology law. Member of the Academic Council of Fide

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