How is technology creating opportunities in the legal community?
Legal community and technology
The legal community has aversed to technology mostly. While laptops have substituted typewriters, in the bigger scheme of things, this is minuscule or, at best, the legal community has witnessed a negligible change. The legal field has continued to operate in the manner as it has been doing in the past.
Furthermore, a gap exists between different legal communities in terms of technological presence in a developed country’s legal system than a developing county’s legal system. Also, there exists a technological gap in the legal system within a country. For example, in India, the New Delhi High Court is more technology-friendly than other state’s High Court.
Both corporate and litigation sides of the legal field are witnessing tectonic shifts vis-à-vis technology. While corporate legal work is gradually adapting to technological changes like Artificial intelligence, blockchain technology, cloud computing, and others, the litigation side is gradually automating and technological changes such as Litigation management software, case management, online filing of cases, and other technological tools.
The legal field has operated in a technology vacuum resulting in inefficient systems tackling legal issues. To illustrate, approximately 3.5 crore cases are pending across courts in the Indian judicial system. Little has changed in the recent past, although the backlog has been persistent over a long period.
We introduce technology in any field to improve the process that exists in a particular field or change how elements in that field interact with each other. Stakeholders often look for innovating things since staying the same is regressing. The environment we interact with, digital or otherwise, is continuously evolving, and the processes need to adapt to the organic environment.
Technology in the legal field has streamlined inefficient processes both for attorneys and organizations that have a legal department. On the other hand, technology has ensured that justice is just not a concept but something that masses can access.
The interplay between the legal community and technology
As technology continues to permeate the legal field, let us examine how and in what ways technology has impacted the legal community:
Litigation has largely been an unpredictable terrain where a case outcome can swing either way. However, we are observing legal technology firms developing analytic tools that can predict the outcome of a case with increased accuracy. For example, the launch of Context by Lexis Nexis has brought a predictable factor to litigation results. It analyzes the language of judgments of a particular judge and establishes arguments and cases that the respective judge will find convincing.
One may be able to identify a pattern concerning the judge’s opinion and accordingly predict the outcome of their case.
Improved Legal research software
Legal research has been viewed as a protracted process since ploughing through dense texts and extracting relevant information can be a drawn-out process. However, legal research tools claim to use A.I (Artificial Intelligence) for analyzing the search keywords and display the most relevant search results.
Use of Chatbots
Applications and Websites use chatbots to answer legal queries of users. Attorneys or humans do not answer these queries, but chatbots analyze the query, process it, and generate the answer automatically. However, this method has its limitations and needs a major overhaul before we can accept it as an integral part of the legal community.
Case management and Matter management
Case management has transformed from mere storage to analyzing the workflow of the organization or attorney and creating database accordingly. Further, it automatically schedules an appointment with the clients aligning with the attorney’s schedule, arranging the contact list, managing documents, and recording data for billing purposes. The information is centrally stored and can be accessed from anywhere.
Matter management is broader in scope and entails several aspects of corporate legal practice. It allows the user to create and open a matter, assign attorneys and timekeepers to matters, and report on who worked on what matters and for how long, to name a few. Matter management creates a structure within an organization that ensures managing workflow in a better way, thereby leading to effectively managing resources.
Smart contracts/Blockchain Technology
Blockchain technology-based contracts are gaining popularity since they cannot be altered and can be accessed by all the parties. It ensures transparency and enforcing the rights of parties under the contract. Furthermore, these smart contracts are automatically executed, and records particular events aligning with the terms mentioned in the contract.
Litigation Management Software[LMS]
Attorneys use LMS to chart a litigation path where clients are updated with case developments and also costs associated with the process. It enables the client to weigh in factors like costs, among other things, and decide whether they want to initiate or continue with the case.
Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM)
Corporates are adopting CLM to manage their contracts effectively. CLM organizes each stage of contract management ranging from pre-executing to post-executing contracts. It ensures that the firm doesn’t miss the project deadlines, enforce their rights, electronically execute the contract, and other aspects. It also saves the firm from expending resources on low-value work like searching for documents or looking for files etc.
We should not forget that technology is no magic bullet or panacea for the issues plaguing the legal field. Technology is just a facilitator of digital transformation but not the sole agent of change. Change in procedural laws, along with technology, will create a more significant impact rather than counting on technology only.
Technology cannot eliminate the human element completely, and technology is a tool for collaborating among different facets of the legal field by helping break the silos. It’s the technology that has foregrounded the vital factor that is people cooperating among themselves- social skills- and not just skill to interpret the law. We cannot deny that jobs will be lost owing to computers. However, new job opportunities will be created, particularly in data analytics, legal design, and other tech-based domains.
About the author : Suryash Kumar, working at Vidma Consulting Group LLP, who loves exploring the uncharted territories. He has always been fascinated by the legal field, and he believes writing is one of the ways through which he contribute to the growth of the legal field.