Technological adaptation in lawyers and law firms has started sluggishly. LexisNexis started the revolution by digitizing jurisprudence and magazines in the 1970s, and WestLaw followed suit in the 1990s – and paper was slowly replacing email. Yet, as Josh Harder and Bob Goodman wrote in 2014, the average law firm hasn’t changed much in terms of customer experience in over a century. Legislative changes for career development have been slow as companies tend to be cost independent as additional costs typically flow seamlessly to the customer. So the model offers no incentive to introduce technology for law firms, as greater efficiency means fewer billable hours.
But over the years, things have changed in technology and law. Let’s look at these developments in technology and law, and also see how technology is already affecting legal careers.
Development in technology and law
In 2012, the American Bar Association revised its professional rules to require attorneys to stay informed about the risks and benefits associated with key technologies. The winds of change were already blowing. More and more clients were adapting to technology and hiring legal advisors in-house to reduce costs.
Time pressures and demands increased and, most importantly, the technology industry for law firms was booming. The risk of falling behind the competition suddenly made the pain of the change bearable. Their customers’ expectations have changed, so not adapting to the technology has cost more. Hall & Wilcox’s Joni Pirovich stated, “With technology trends ubiquitous across industries, it is now up to law firms to ensure lawyers have a good source language to interpret technology concepts and how they interact with legal principles.”
The rise in law firm technology has taken some people by surprise. Forbes found that law firm investments grew 713% – nearly $ 1.63 billion – in 2018, largely aided by the introduction of eDiscovery, an electronic way to find important information-specific investigations or lawsuits.
How technology affects career development legislative changes
As improvements in legal technology change the legal landscape today, the profession has changed too. The automation of legal methods has forced legal secretaries, paralegals, attorneys, and other professionals in the industry to familiarize themselves with an ever-evolving range of legal search software, presentation, database, telecommunications, spreadsheet, and word processing programs. Technology for lawyers has influenced every factor in the legal space, from corporate practices and law firms to document management and litigation.
Here are some ways technology is impacting and will affect career development legislative changes:
Various secretarial, billing and administrative processes have already been automated to some degree, especially in larger companies that have invested in technology and change, as well as in smaller companies or by individual lawyers. They have all turned to controlled outsourced services powered by technology to save costs.
The exercise of the law advantageously involves a large body of research into specific cases and the documents and details available, as well as the wider context of the legal model. In any event, technology provides legal organizations with new means that greatly facilitate the investigation and development phase of a triumphant conclusion of a case.
By engaging in heuristic analysis and case studies that use machine learning, up to 70% of the costs associated with tracking a case could be further reduced. A machine learning platform can accomplish this, among other things, by searching digitized copies of prevailing and previous credentials, legal reports, legal briefings, previous cases, printed legal documents, etc. and then pulling out the relevant information that relates to the case at hand.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Legal AI solutions are basically sophisticated processes used to train computers to perform daily tasks and / or to search through huge amounts of data. One of the most important real-world AI applications in law firm technology is predictive coding. This is a type of review backed by technology that assesses the importance of large volumes of documents in determining electronic disclosure. According to Brown v. BCA Trading and others, predictive coding has become mandatory in certain cases and a mix of iterative computer training and keyword searches are used to assess the importance of each particular document.
In the age of digitization, big data refers to both processes and large amounts of data sets that are used to retrieve, examine and derive values from these data sets. Lex Machina is a great example of how big data can power technology for law firms. Lex Machina is a “legal analytics platform” that enables attorneys to determine the best litigation strategies by looking up trends in the outcomes of previous related cases. Several law firms have a treasure trove of their own big data in the form of user data from websites and customer databases.
Although the traditional legal industry has hesitated to adopt technology, it is now penetrating every stage of legal practice. We are expected to see important developments in the law changes for professional development in the years to come. While the future is difficult to predict, companies that stay up to date and informed are most likely to benefit from the latest innovations and developments in the industry.