As technology changes and evolves, it significantly impacts how the world around us operates. The growing importance of technology affects everything from the way we read books to the way we learn in schools and colleges.
It should be no surprise that the rise of technology has impacted another area, which is the legal landscape. Not only is it changing the way that law students are taught in universities, but it is also affecting the way that law firms operate. Some of the ways by which technology is influencing legal businesses and the way lawyers work include certain aspects which we will cover.
One of the biggest impacts that technology has on the way people – not just lawyers – work is by making jobs more flexible and less time-consuming. With laptops and smartphones, it is far easier for people to work from home than it has ever been.
Research is one of the most important aspects for lawyers. Most of this research is already undertaken online and can be easily done remotely. Additionally, lawyers can write up legal documents like a summons from the comfort of their home, therefore reducing the need to travel to the office every day.
Depending on how this flexibility is used, it can help improve an individual’s work-life balance. This is particularly important for lawyers, as they are well known for being unable to create a healthy balance in their lives. They do not have to waste time commuting and can instead complete their day’s tasks faster, leaving more time for the rest of their life.
Several low-value legal tasks have now been automated. It has become a lot easier for law firms to manage various responsibilities by using legal ops software which makes it easier to perform tasks like billing, filing, and more while employing a limited staff. Thus, in turn, the firms can spend less budget on staffing, therefore freeing the funds up for other areas of the business.
Additionally, this type of automation frees up staff time as well, which can be spent on high-level work. For example, lawyers can spend more time on casework as opposed to routine admin and paperwork tasks. It also improves the client experience, as the cost savings benefits of automation can be passed on to them. Indeed, this increased automation has even given birth to new positions within law firms – that of support staff to help manage and troubleshoot the software that makes the automation possible.
While it may seem like science fiction, researchers are actually working on technology to help artificial intelligence adjudicate certain cases. This will, of course, not work for all legal issues, only ones where the law is clearly defined, and the facts are uncontested, such as landlord-tenant disagreements. In such cases, not only is the decision relatively easy to guess but the stakes are also limited, which means that software and other artificial intelligence will be able to make decisions.
Allowing AI to rule on simpler cases will leave lawyers free to focus on more complex, messier issues. The cause of this can be anything from unclear precedents to higher stakes cases, all of which require the nuance of a human lawyer and judge to decide. Additionally, all involved parties are usually more comfortable dealing with other people in these types of situations and will also be more likely to trust that the decision was the correct one.
Changes to the law, including the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure enacted by the United States in 2006, mean that all parties involved in any litigation have to preserve relevant electronic documents and produce them as required. Documents that fall under this umbrella include emails, voicemails, instant messages, and other similar items.
This requirement means that lawyers have more documents than ever that they need to go through. Legal firms address this need in various ways, including by employing the help of litigation database management tools and by hiring new staff to help.
Lawyers and other staff don’t just need to read these documents, they also need to be able to analyze and review them. Technology can help with these tasks, as well as help in managing and storing this growing amount of data available to legal professionals and law firms.
Technology plays a major part in all areas of life today, and lawyers and law firms cannot avoid it. Though some people may be hesitant and slow to accept its benefits, especially more conservative firms, no one can deny that technology plays a vital part in every aspect of the legal profession today.
In fact, it can even be seen on the side of potential litigants – the general population has more access to legal information than ever, and they can easily search for answers to legal queries. They no longer have to meet lawyers in person to receive information – chatbot technology allows law firms to dispense basic legal information online. Additionally, more people than ever are opting to meet with their lawyers over virtual meeting platforms and via phone calls.