Technology in legal industry
The rapid increase of the legal tech startup is modernizing the business of law. A conservative legal industry is currently undergoing the turmoil of a cultural shift from an all paper work environment to the digitization of legal processes. Most law firms, corporates, and courtrooms are embracing technology through CLM tools, compliance tool, word processing, e-case management, e-billing, legal research, e-filing trademarks and patents, database software tracking of developments and basic document management. The legal industry has been imbued with the ever evolving Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Processing. Currently, social media is filled with passionate debates over technology replacing lawyers.
Lawyers vs. technology
The lawyers are increasingly facing pressure to deliver more value to clients, therefore proactively adopting technology to help improve efficiency. As a lawyer and technology influencer, I have spent significant time exploring the application of technology required for legal services. There is no doubt that automation can reduce the burden and improve legal service delivery in a significant way by easily replacing certain traditional work however at the same time we must realize that technology cannot entirely replace the lawyer’s contribution in legal services. Right from the stage where a lawyer evaluates the technology to find the right fit for their existing legal workflow/processes to matured analysis and opinion work, a lawyer presence is imperative. E-Discovery is one of the most matured technology shops in the legal industry. SME being an essential part of TAR (Technology Assisted Review) affirms the importance of lawyer in e-Discovery till date.
To secure our space in the legal sector we need to differentiate the areas that can be successfully replaced by technology and areas that still require skilled lawyers. For an instance, AI enables lawyers to access much better data than they had been in the past but it cannot substitute the art of negotiation and built-in trusted relationship with clients, therefore, it is essential that we identify the ways of bringing together lawyer and technology.
Gap between legal education and technology
We can’t doubt that the technology around the legal world is developing at a significant rate, but the technology within the legal world is much slower because existing fee earners of firms and corporates find it frustrating and challenging to adapt the technology. To make technology more intuitive for everyone to use it, it is of paramount importance that the legal technology is built with the legal knowledge deep-rooted in it.
This gives a good chance to young lawyers to prove their worth. As young lawyers are curious to learn it is essential for them to understand the method of implementing technology in law. A good open attitude towards technology ensures success in this field. There is no contradiction that ‘tech-savvy lawyers’ or popularly known as ‘T shaped lawyers’ are here to rule the legal world. It is the need of the hour that we have more of such skilled lawyers to successfully implement technology in the legal sector.
Legal technology today is not receiving any serious attention from the law schools. There is an apathetic approach to advance relevant technology learning and so graduates find it difficult to adapt to the already technology savvy work environment. It is the responsibility of the law school to ensure that students are taught a fair mixture of courses that give them information and training in legal subjects, but the situation now demands to prepare them for facing the challenges of digitization.
The law schools in India cannot afford to limit their focus to teaching and research on law only. In fact, the appetite of Indian law scholars for understanding technology has to enlarge, given its contribution in the legal world. A good way to reduce the widening gap between the study and practice of law is an introduction of a mentorship program that pairs law students with practitioners. Connecting students with the legal community, and interacting with professionals will prepare them to easily face the challenge posed by technology.
Future of Legal Industry
The tech walk in the legal industry is crowded and aggressive. A scenario where capable AI may efficiently replace work done by lawyers is pretty far off. But smart companies do understand that a tech-savvy lawyer is an asset for the organization. The making of such lawyers is in hands law schools by introducing law students to technology. This is the first step towards crafting a tech-savvy lawyer who can survive in the advancing legal tech world.
About the author:
Vijayta Sharma is a Project Manager at OmnesLaw. She has a unique blend of SME and Technology expertise, advises law firms and corporations on various value enhancements and has conducted multiple product evaluations. She has successfully integrated technologies and creative workflows for managed review processes and assisted in-house IT team in the development of proprietary e-Discovery project management tool.
We at OmnesLaw strongly believe that the legal industry now lies in the cusp of technology transformation. There is precious opportunity to shape the future by enabling the convergence of Analytics and AI technologies in the legal domain. To know more about OmnesLaw visit www.omneslaw.com.