It’s been noted for a long time that the legal profession is very traditional and that its practitioners are afraid of change. Change, on the other hand, is the only constant. No industry is immune to digital and technical disruption in this era of fast technological progress. The approach lawyers practice is likely to vary substantially over the next decade, according to predictions. According to recent studies, up to one-third of legal activities could already be automated.
The legal industry has slowly and steadily begun to adopt and embrace various components of modern and emerging products, not just because of the COVID-19 pandemic but for other reasons as well. Document management, case management, knowledge management, time recording and billing, and other functions have traditionally been handled by software in advanced legal offices. Recent technological advancements have enabled the legal profession to automate various operations and function more like a service business than a ‘profession.’ Technology-enabled efficiencies have resulted in greater service levels, higher quality, and, in certain situations, lower legal costs for clients.
According to the 2017 Law Firm Flexibility Benchmarking Survey, 64.7 per cent of law firms allow their lawyers to work from home. Setting up unified communication technologies enables lawyers to operate from wherever while diversifying how they connect with clients and one another.
Lawyers can improve their productivity by utilising these tools. They can communicate with clients from anywhere and at any time.
Lawyers and clients can easily communicate with one another through instant messaging, email or web conferencing with unified communication and collaboration tools. Instead of visiting a law office, clients can communicate with them Lawyers through the Internet.
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Document scanning and digitization
The digitization of court cases and other official papers was one of the first examples of modern technology being used in the field of law. In the United States, for example, state and federal court rulings were made public and available to lawyers. In India, for example, instead of searching through books and periodicals, one can just conduct a case law search online. Physical libraries in legal offices are gradually being replaced by the cloud and data centres. Incorporating machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) into research processes can help boost efficiency and accuracy while also lowering expenses.
Lawyers must spend countless hours going through records to uncover important evidence while preparing cases. Digital versions of these documents are now available in the majority of cases. Email, mobile devices, database archives, and IoT devices could all provide evidence. Paralegals are frequently assigned to eDiscovery activities. The time taken to complete the entire procedure can be costly to the clients.
A number of keywords and phrases can be searched using advanced analytics, as well as extraneous documents can be removed with automation.
Assistance and planning
Case research in legal cases can also benefit substantially from AI. Natural language processing, machine learning, and technology-assisted human review are used by platforms like Lex Machina, a legal analytics solutions platform, to produce case resolutions, remedies, findings, and correct counsel and party data. It provides the resulting data in a way that allows legal professionals to quickly access insights and analyse trends relevant to a particular legal situation. This has the ability to bridge the knowledge and experience gap between seasoned litigators and newer lawyers.
Taking Advantage of Analytics
Time-consuming and routine legal operations can be handled by analytics and insights. Textual strands and the context of complex legal statements can be decoded using natural language processing.
Artificial intelligence is being used by IT startup LawGeex to study documents and automate the updating and approval process. According to the organisation, analytics can cut the cost of contract evaluations by 90% and save law firms 80% of the time they would normally spend on contract review chores.
Collaboration and client interaction
Clients are experiencing a variety of changes, in addition to its impact on the way lawyers work. Lawyers will be able to fulfil their clients’ shifting demands and expectations thanks to new technology. Lawyers, like everyone else, were forced to work from home during the lockdowns. Because of the significant use of video conferencing, collaborative working tools, cloud services, secure document signing, internal communication channels such as Slack, online security, and other technology, efficiencies were preserved and client work did not suffer. Given the popularity of remote working during the epidemic, some law firms may continue to use it.
Other legal issues are affected
Blockchain, a relatively new technology, is important in the realm of law and is rapidly becoming an event that is affecting industries all over the world. The ability to store data in a non-fungible ledger is the most important characteristic of blockchain.
Smart contracts, which also employ AI, are one application of blockchains. Smart contracts are self-executing computer protocols that allow users to create customised draughts based on input from attorneys and clients. Another use of blockchains is in the awarding of intellectual property rights, where the ownership of the IP can be easily validated.
The implementation of new and emerging technologies is frequently viewed as a two-edged sword, with both benefits and drawbacks. The biggest concern about the adoption of new-age technology is that they will render lawyers superfluous in some practise areas. While it’s easy to believe this tired cliché, the truth is that new technology will complement rather than replace lawyers.
Increased efficiencies and the ability to function more efficiently will arise from digitization throughout law firms and other legal organisations, allowing management to monitor the internal capacities and capabilities of their business and optimise overhead expenses.