In the field of law, innovation is no more a fad or passing craze but a necessity. The digital transformation of the legal environment that has occurred over the past two decades, makes it impossible for the professionals in the field to continue carrying out their operations sans technology. The resources, man hours and time that technological tools save, makes it impossible to continue to compete with peers without technology. From receiving copies of orders online to searching for the most appropriate case law to using data analytics for compiled information and report, (and the list goes on), technology is here to stay and will only evolve (read innovate).
One cannot however ignore the fact that there are concerns regarding the security and privacy aspects of depending on technology. Cyber hacks, ransom ware attacks, data corruption, and theft have become all too common a part of the business world. The solution for these lies in being aware and consciously safeguard; and also increase the understanding of technology within the legal space.
INNOVATION AND THE DISRUPTIVE IMPACT OF TECHNOLOGY ON THE LEGAL SECTOR
Picture the process of legal research before online tools came into existence, sitting down with at least 3-5 books and taking down notes by hand for each relevant portion, is what comes to mind. This is not how legal research looks like anymore (Thank God!). Advancements in artificial intelligence and natural language processing have made a huge difference to the way precedents can be searched for and applied to the matter at hand. Searching by name, keywords, unique ID number of the case etc. makes the process so much easier, faster and rewarding.
Previously an intern or trainee would be tasked to create a list of documents and diligently cross reference it to a shelf of files. With the advent of e-discovery tools, we can sift through hundreds of thousands of documents in a matter of minutes and that too from anywhere.
AI and its many wonders do not stop at legal research. AI makes it possible for lawyers to manage their many documents with ease. These documents can include anything from contracts to agreements to annexures to additional material. All of this is done effortlessly through analytics, document automation and online tracking of all important elements in a document. Picture receiving all you need to know about a given document in bullet points on the move and then picture this getting better. This is what technology has always aimed to do.
Learning about the law no longer means having to necessarily attend a class, go to library, or be submerged in mountains of books. Legal technology has improved access to the word of the law and has then gone a step further by assisting in understanding the word as well. All of these are available just a few clicks away. The pandemic further taught us that even the traditional setting of attending a class and being surrounded by books is possible on our screens itself, with the help of technology.
Online Dispute Resolution
An alternative type of justice that makes use of technological tools to arrive at a compromise at a cost that is acceptable to all parties. The idea is to ensure that people do not hesitate away from the authorities because of the delay and huge expense generally associated with the process of dispute resolution before the court of law.
Volume of Data
The legal system creates vast quantities of data
every minute. Judgments, precedents, and legislative interpretations all generate additional data, which contain the facts and insights necessary for winning lawsuits and facilitating transactions. Machines are better at finding the relevant information from this high volume data, and are more accurate.
Contract creation and automation tools enable lawyers to produce contracts or other documents through the use of a questionnaire format, templates and an intuitive clause library.
Search Technology has helped us move from a word search system, FAQ’s to answer questions posed in natural language.
Are fully digitalized in their environment. The legal industry has to thus brace up to leverage technology more and more, for the next generation of lawyers to take advantage of its many talents.
Faster Information capture, data transfer and data analytics
Something as basic as capturing information in a central place makes it possible to use data analytics (instead of gut feeling) to produce better reports on which future decisions can be based.
Platforms enable constructive collaboration between legal services providers and various stakeholders, including clients, thus bringing about increased transparency and ensuring a higher level of client satisfaction.
Better resource management
Earlier, junior lawyers spent time performing odd jobs like gathering, storing, managing, and processing documents, etc, or informing lawyers about their daily schedule, date of hearing, etc. Legal tech takes over the routine, mundane and repetitive work, thus allowing them time to work on the real deal.
Decline in risk of errors
Another importance of technology in law sector is that it cuts down the risk of errors that might be possible because of overlooking or misinterpretation of any fact and figure, ultimately bringing a drastic change in the judgment or transaction.
Learning 'legalese' and having legal conversations could be one next step to dealing with routine questions about what law applies, or what is the best course of action in a given set of circumstances.
Technology is redefining the legal field, as it is redefining the rest of the business landscape. Legal Tech is augmenting the work of a lawyer in manifold ways and changing the Indian legal landscape for the better.
The new age solutions help in making legal professionals’ routine tasks easier and more efficient. Since technology isn’t going away, legal professionals need to ensure that they are investing in the right tech solutions that fit their needs.
However, we must be mindful, that there is a risk of just focusing on the technology. It is equally important to focus on, its design, its intended use, and the people who will use it. Alongside managing the project, one needs to
manage the people and the business changes required embedding technology, or else projects will fail.
As one futurist puts it, change has a habit of beginning "almost imperceptibly and then explodes with unexpected fury”.
About the Author:
Priyanka is the COO at Manupatra Information Solutions P Ltd, India a 22 year old legal-tech firm which pioneered Online legal research in India, and specializes in designing and developing technology products to simplify operations for professionals in the legal ecosystem.