From using paper and pens to researching various legal cases on the internet, the legal industry has undergone technical transformations in recent years. The theory “Transform the practice of law for good” has become a bandwagon for law firms across the globe. The impact of technology is both propitious and unfortunate; every rose has its thorn. Nevertheless, there are incredible tools to streamline the legal process including Clio, Lawcus, Time Matters, and Practice Management. But whether it is managing deadlines, tracking billable hours, or running a mobile office with ease, challenges continuously emerge. The goal of these tech advancements typically centres around eliminating managerial inefficiencies that can impede practice. They also aim at forming one comprehensive practice management platform.
The Role of Blockchain
Blockchain technology is a new way to track asset ownership while excluding the need for mediators. This topic dominated the financial services space in 2016, and as a result, blockchain is now seen as a relevant tool that manages legal restraints such as intellectual property, real property, and legal administration.
Designed and executed on a blockchain, smart contracts are an application of blockchain technology that supplements existing legal contracts. They allow the ownership of real assets to be controlled digitally.
Mizuho Financial Group and IBM provide a good case study. Both have announced the building of block-chain platforms for managing their trade operation and supply chain efficiency. All trade exchange documents will be digitized to make them easily accessible for clients.
The emergence of AI has impacted every industry and the legal sector is no exception. It has the potential to seamlessly complete e-discovery, document review, legal research, to name a few. For example, Rose intelligence, an AI tool, can reply to all questions entered by lawyers. LawGeex, a contract review instrument, says it can detect risks more precisely and proficiently than any human lawyer could.
But without human intervention, robots are not yet proficient enough. According to Stephen Poor, chairman emeritus of Seyfarth Shaw LLP, “it’s important to think about automation not as replacing jobs, but replacing tasks; not replacing humans, but augmenting humans.”
If one wants to optimize an AI tool, a good understanding of the underlying process is required. According to Poor, “if you have a bad process and use an AI that does the same thing, you are just making it faster, not more efficient”.
The Cloud Technology
The legal sector is under tremendous pressure regarding data security. The emergence of cloud computing has eliminated the anxiety of data loss among law firms. Cloud computing is a flexible practice, which will continue to grow, giving lawyers the ability to access necessary information anywhere at any time. Currently around 86% of law firms are embracing cloud computing with regards to data security.
Virtual Court Rooms
Governments, businesses, and individuals can save a considerable amount of money by moving courts online. It also helps state and district courts to manage their tasks efficiently, helped by online dispute resolution.
The Civil Resolution Tribunal in British Columbia has seen great success with virtual courtrooms. Countries like the US, Australia, and the Netherlands are taking initiatives to embrace virtual courtroom technology.
Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO)
With the potential to create a $8bn dollar market by 2020, this model encompasses shifting of non-core legal activities such as paralegal, litigation, legal research, and document review, to an external legal process outsourcing company that offer cost-effective services. Mostly located in India and the Philippines, these companies benefit law firms by reducing cost, providing access to talent, reducing turnaround time and providing flexibility.
Technology has deeply impacted the law practice management. There are many tools introduced to the market for processing legal tasks with ease and accuracy. This is only the beginning as the technology keeps on changing and law firms need to adapt to new tools, changing the way they practice in order to strive and succeed in a highly competitive field.
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