Technology in the legal industry isn’t a new concept. For a while now, electronic systems have helped firms to improve their efficiency and billings. But now, technology has evolved, hence, the way it is being used in the legal sector has evolved too. Today, it has come to represent a digitally fuelled transformation of the legal services industry, which is driven by Artificial Intelligence and blockchain technology.
When technology is brought into the legal fraternity, there’s always suspicion and paranoia which arises with it. Consequently, it raises the question if technology is reliable in this sector?
The 2008 financial crisis was a period where there was a significant growth of technology within the global legal industry. The crisis caused greater client demands, immense cost-cutting pressures and also exposed a lack of standardization between firms and departments. Under such case, adoption of tech was entirely forced and inevitable, there wasn’t any such provision of choice. Adoption of technology therefore arose from a place of compulsion and need.
Since its inception, there has been constant fear among most legal practitioners, that AI is an obstacle to their jobs and livelihoods. As reliance on technology is increasing, it creates a factor of concern about the reduction in their billable hours. Apart from this, concerns related to security and privacy aspects are never ending. Cyber hacks, ransomware attacks, data corruption, and theft, all these have become a common part of the business world.
A survey revealed that 36% lawyers are still unaware of the set of technologies used in law firms. Consequently, one can state that the above-mentioned mishaps caused due to technology stem from an incomplete and superficial understanding of technology in the legal space. The Indian Bar Council stated in one of its articles that, “90% of advocates and hon’ble judges throughout the length and breadth of the country, are unaware about the technology and about its nuances.”
The use of AI has been more than ever before. This has caused a ruckus in the workforce, causing a belief that it will replace the human labour. Moreover, let us not forget the ‘innovation gaps’ it has been causing. Firms which leveraging technology have been enjoying higher efficiencies and greater economies of scale.
To reduce cyber hacks and improve privacy and security, global regulations have been introduced. For instance, the GDPR Act, on non-EU companies using EU-based cloud services and similarly for the US, where companies feat customer data many be disclosed to the government under the US Cloud Act. Switzerland has also introduced a strong privacy-led approach to its cloud policy. Firms may also be tempted to use private Clouds but those can be expensive to set up and might have security risks that could expose data. There can be further challenges in integrating legacy tech software with unified communications, security risks that pop up between IT infrastructure suppliers and software.
As proper and adequate regulations are brought and implemented in the tech, it can revolutionise how the law is practiced. It can help in streamlining client communications, allowing lawyers across geographies to work remotely or from their home spaces. It will even allow unified communication and collaboration, allowing lawyers and clients to share data using various devices and software replacing face-to-face meetings. A positively implemented regulation will also help to automate eDiscovery, helping lawyers to sift through mountains of data and evidence in digital form using analytics and automation software. Another benefit it will allow is effective case management. This allows firms to schedule meetings, organize their documents, share files, automate billings, all through a centralised database, allowing easy coordination between colleagues and clients.
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