How will brain-monitoring technology influence the practice of law?

Neurotechnology is used to interact directly with the brain by monitoring and recording brain activity or acting to influence it. Advances in decades to come could lead to lawyers grappling with the human rights implications of brain monitoring and manipulation.

Neurotechnology can be implanted in the brain but it may also be external to the body in the form of a headset, wristband or helmet.

Our latest horizon scanning report, Neurotechnology, law and the legal profession, sets out the:

  • challenges and opportunities that developments in neurotechnology may bring for the profession, and
  • impact it may have on cognitive performance and the way lawyers work

How could neurotechnology affect you?

Our report unpacks:

  • what neurotechnology is
  • its emerging ripples of impact in society, and
  • the potential challenges, opportunities and questions facing the legal profession and the practice of law

We look at the legal implications of neurotechnology developments including:

Some tricky questions for the law will emerge, such as: “where do people end and the devices they use begin?”

Moving further into the future, it might be worth considering the possibility of lawyer and technology becoming less distinct than they are now.

Who wrote the report?

For this report we invited Dr Allan McCay to consider the emerging impacts of neurotechnology on law and the legal profession.

Dr McCay is deputy director of the Sydney Institute of Criminology and an academic fellow at the University of Sydney Law School.

He was named by Australasian Lawyer as one of the most influential lawyers of 2021 for his work in neurotechnology and the law.

Read the full report

Neurotechnology, law and the legal profession (PDF 9.3 MB)

Read a three-page summary of our 'Neurotechnology, law and the legal profession' report (PDF 1.1 MB)

Read an update to the original report, published in July 2023, covering new developments in the area (PDF 265 KB)

Find out more

Discover our horizon scanning series which discusses emerging topics and their possible impacts on the law and legal profession.

Our horizon scanning reports are one part of our wider futures and foresight programme. We explore drivers of change, emerging signals and ask questions about the future to help our members prepare for longer-term possible worlds.

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