Technology has had a tremendous influence on the legal profession during the last several years. Society now has far more access to legal information than they had in previous decades, due to the emergence of the Internet. Similarly, the practice of law is equally evolving. Legal research which was previously done manually and tediously is now almost seamlessly conducted with online legal research resources such as Westlaw and Lexis Nexis.
Emerging Innovations: Chatbots and Legal Apps
Chatbots and legal apps, among many other forms of legal tools are making waves in enabling greater accessibility to legal services. There is now greater access to a vast amount of legal information due to the advancement of technology. There are a variety of applications which enables one to ask legal queries and to almost receive feedback instantaneously. Those inquiries are sometimes addressed by a computer with templated answers rather than a human lawyer. Consumers often used these applications to obtain answers to common legal issues.
Benefits of Technological Solutions
The use of legal technology is considered cost and time efficient. Lawyers are freed from mundane tasks enabling them to concentrate on more value-added tasks. Legal tech tools which are widely available in the market provide opportunities to perform tasks with greater accuracy and efficiency as grunt work is autonomously completed by technological solutions. Innovative solutions enable lawyers to accept technology in a rapid, intuitive, and dependable manner and is therefore more likely to be deployed in the legal sector. The rise of virtual offices which is considered a viable strategy also affords greater flexibility as lawyers may now practice law more effortlessly while saving money on overhead expenditures.
Increased capabilities and legal research databases are also transforming the legal profession. For example, some databases have categorized case law and legislation through predictive and statistical deductions on matters such as how frequently a court has decided in favor of clients on a certain legal matter. In order to provide a larger range of information, databases are now integrating non-legal sources such as newspapers and online articles.
Technology is also seen as a means to address the access to justice gap. Proposed remedies to the access to justice problem have centred on ways to provide clients with more resources to obtain legal services, such as alternative pricing structures like contingency fees, greater legal aid money, and legal expenditure insurance. The combination of commercial strategies and technology is employed to narrow the access to justice divide. The goal is to deliver legal services at a price that is more affordable and thus accessible by those who are less privileged.
Drawbacks of Technological Solutions
There are several challenges with the use of technological solutions in the legal sector. The primary concern has been on the issue of security and data privacy. There are difficulties that might arise with data breaches as a security breach can have significant ramifications. Cyber security threats and ransomware are prevalent, lawyers are therefore vested with the responsibility to protect their clients’ information which includes keeping such information safe and secured. It is essential that adequate precautionary measures are adopted to ensure that such risks are mitigated.
Cost of technological solutions also remains a challenge for smaller firms who may not have sufficient funds allocated for technology implementation.
The Misconceptions of Emerging Technologies
Despite the promises of technology, these solutions are merely tools to complement lawyers in performing legal tasks. The truth is that legal technology is not a panacea and will not solve nor address all legal issues. There is little point delving into a new tech deployment without a thorough grasp of the challenges that is intended to be solved, as well as the people and procedures that govern them. It is therefore imperative to identify the relevance of technological solutions prior implementation.
Keeping up with the Digital Era
With the development of technology in the legal sector, senior members of the legal fraternity are advised to rise to the challenge and embrace change. Bar associations have also required members to attend seminars in an effort to ensure that the profession is keeping up to times with recent developments. Overall, there are great opportunities as well as challenges with technology in the legal sector. The legal profession should keep evolving and reinventing itself to adapt and stay competitive in a digital society. Continuous upskilling and learning new legal and non-legal talents will broaden knowledge and enable greater leverage to connect those skills and experience to specialized positions.
Likewise, clients, will anticipate that lawyers will use technology to become more efficient and cost-conscious. Lawyers are appreciated when they use complicated problem-solving abilities to assist clients in making better judgments. As technology becomes more ingrained in the profession and takes over less difficult legal duties, that strategic adviser function becomes even more necessary and thus far more valuable.
Legal training and education must equally transcend in tandem with emerging technologies. There must be greater curricular innovation and the necessary connection between legal academics and the practicing profession to associate what is taught in law schools with the practice of law, as is seen in other design-based professions like medicine and engineering.
The Evolving Legal Sector
The law is progressing, and this evolution is, for the most part, beneficial to clients and the legal profession. The drawbacks that come with lawyers altering their practices is recognized and change is disruptive as it alters individuals and processes. However, it is equally imperative to acknowledge that change is achievable and is inevitable. It is a continuous process which may be leveraged for greater opportunities. As Richard Susskind said, it is essential for the sake of clients and the judicial system, that lawyers embrace change. There is a responsibility to the court to make the administration of justice easier. Lawyers must therefore defend the fundamental principles of the rule of law and justice in order to fulfil this obligation. The role also entails adjusting and discovering new approaches to assist clients in obtaining justice in a changing environment.
Josephine Bhavani Rajendra
Head of Legal and Compliance Ambani Consultancy & Trading
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