Certain types of business are renowned for their conservatism, and legal practices all but epitomize conservatism. However, technology has changed many of the ways we do business, and the legal profession has not been untouched. We look at some of the ways in which technological advances have impacted the way law is practiced and examine possible advances that may be adopted in the near future.
Although it was certainly possible to talk to a lawyer using remote platforms in the past, the recent requirement to maintain social distancing has led to an uptick in remote consultations. While some of us may miss face-to-face meetings with legal experts, there’s no denying that it’s convenient to simply pick up the phone or log in to a chat platform when we need to consult a lawyer.
Some firms, like Phoenix personal injury lawyers Lamber Goodnow are even willing to conduct initial case review remote consultations for free. If they do not believe it possible to make a strong case in your favor, that’s where it ends. If they believe they can assist, paid services commence.
Telecommuting is a logical next step. If lawyers needn’t meet clients at their offices, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t work from home. Basic technologies suffice for internal communication between lawyers and their teams.
Sifting Through Documents
Those of us who have dealt with lawyers at their offices may well remember the bulging files that their offices seemed to be packed with. There was paper, paper, and still more paper. Just finding relevant documents, sifting through external documents related to cases, and seeking evidence, was a massive, time-consuming task.
But these days, most documents are digitized, and advanced software can do the job for them. This cuts the costs the client must cover, and ensures that nothing is missed. It’s simply a matter of entering specific keywords and allowing the software to do the rest.
Technology is getting smarter all the time. Artificial intelligence and machine learning enable a variety of advances and possible future changes in the way law is practiced. Already, IBM’s “Watson” is able to understand legal terms and can look up case law precedents and relevant statutes.
Contract reviewing software is already a reality. Whereas reviewing contracts was once a painstaking process that could only be undertaken by human beings, it can now be automated – at least, up to a point. Further advances are expected, and we can expect even greater efficiency in the future.
Although we do not yet do all our legal business with robots, we may soon be doing a large part of it with intelligent machines. Already, certain apps allow users to ask simple legal questions and receive accurate responses. This technology is still in its infancy, and chatbots can only handle simple queries, referring more difficult ones to live law experts.
However, it’s only a matter of time before chatbots learn to handle increasingly complex matters – though human lawyers will have the edge in non-standard matters for the foreseeable future. For now, it’s the simple matters that allow chatbots to talk sense, while chatbot responses to complex questions can, occasionally, be hilarious!
Technology is Already Reducing Legal Costs
The time spent by highly qualified individuals doesn’t come cheap, but technology is already reducing the time needed to perform routine tasks, and lawyers are able to pass on the savings to their clients. As technology applicable to the legal field continues to develop, professional legal help will become ever more accessible to ordinary people. True “Justice for All,” as opposed to justice to those who can afford the best lawyers, is coming soon.