The current technology offers a lot of opportunities if you are in the legal profession. In the past, lawyers, paralegals, and their assistants toil until midnight to type and print documents, do research, interview clients, and prepare for their legal battles the next day. It takes them weeks and sometimes, months, to prepare for a court battle or trial.
Even if they are only going to handle a simple divorce and child custody proceedings, the amount of manual work they have to do prevents them from having time for their own families.
And then, enter the technology and all the wonderful benefits it has given the world throughout the years. With technology at the help, everything is reachable. A witness who is now living in another country can be initially interviewed via Zoom. During the pandemic, court proceedings were done via teleconference. There is no stopping technology and what it does for the legal industry.
That does not stop there. All over the world, law firms are investing in legal tech incubators. They are launching their own space to speed up the development of legal technology. This is going to be bigger in the coming years because law firms are increasingly becoming aware of the emerging trends in their clients’ demands. Automation, artificial intelligence, and digitalization are at the core of these demands.
It’s not only in the legal profession that technology is being used. In courts, experienced bailiffs were only too happy to welcome the use of body cameras to protect both themselves and the people being served with court orders. For a time, there were complaints about certain abuses committed in the bailiffs’ course of fulfilling their duties. The simple solution is to use body cameras that will show exactly what happens in a given situation.
With regards to the managing, leasing, auctioning, and takeover of properties, which falls on bailiffs to execute in certain instances, technology can also help reduce the human element and tackle allegations of corruption. In some cities, these properties are being auctioned on the internet with the fees directly going to a government agency responsible for the implementation of a court order. This eliminates the instance wherein bailiffs have to play a role in the takeover of properties sequestered by the courts.
Obviously, law firms are using technology and the internet for documentation, client management, and administrative management. It’s a no-brainer to think that the legal industry is now dependent on tools and apps that eliminate pesky administrative tasks and the reliance on lawyers and paralegals. Lawyers need not be involved in every stage of the documentation process. Artificial intelligence gave rise to programs that automate contract review, regulatory work, and due diligence.
The use of templates for contracts and other documents also made the work easier. There’s now a management software that will come up with sales processes and contracts, reducing the need for the lawyer’s intervention in these legal services. The machine-learning capabilities of these programs paved the way for the legal profession to provide better services.
During the height of the pandemic last year, basic technology played a crucial role in the delivery of legal services. Many of the important court hearings were done via Zoom (that is if the judge allows it). Even online notarial services suddenly found their own niche. Researching documents, witnesses, evidence, and other things suddenly became more efficient because of cloud technology.
Impact on the Legal Industry
Technology has three major implications on the legal industry: accessibility, efficiency, and affordability. Lawyers and law firms are more accessible now because of the internet. Teleconferencing made it possible to consult with lawyers about legal matters that concern you. There are also free resources on the internet that will guide you on what steps you should take next. Templates of contracts and agreements are also available.
The vast resources of the internet allow lawyers and those in the legal profession to provide better services. Now, lawyers can handle a variety of cases because it is easier to do research and find resource people. Many of the things that would usually occupy their time before can now be executed by technology.
Finally, legal services are more accessible because they are also more affordable. Since the whole process of legal firms can now be optimized using technology, there are fewer employees that these firms have to pay. They don’t need to pass on the expenses to their clients. Legal technology is a one-time up-front investment. After that, it will continue to provide the benefits that are the reasons you invested in the first place.
In many ways, technology changed many industries not only in the legal profession. But if you have to gauge, you can see how impactful technology has been in the legal industry and how it brought the industry to where it is now. The ability of the whole industry to transition into a digital world enabled it to reach and serve more people.