Future of Law and Technology

Malaika Naidu

The relationship between law and technology forms a strong basis for discussion and debate. Both are intertwined, and any discussion would be incomplete without acknowledging the other. Any conversation regarding the legal profession has to take into consideration the role that technology will play in forming its future. Similarly, the development of technology must acknowledge and consider the legal framework within which it operates.

Today, we see most of the world going into a gig economy. A gig economy is a market characterised by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work as opposed to permanent contract employees. The gig economy has its pros and cons. For starters, it’s great for employees because it gives them the freedom to move between jobs without being tied to one establishment. Also, it works well for employers because their human resources costs reduce. Instead of keeping a roster of employees permanently on their payroll, they only keep key employees and hire part-time / freelancers as and when required.
This modern work structure is now echoing through the legal world too. Not as rapidly as in most other fields of business, but eventually, it will.

In times of economic hardships, clients expect high quality and efficiency, especially given that they are billed by the hour! To be successful, lawyers and firms will have to acknowledge the benefits that technology has to offer and integrate these features to best serve their clients. Fortunately, legal practice does consist of some repetitive tasks which can be automated. The opportunities are boundless.

On the flip side, with automation and new technologies, there is increased uncertainty for the workforce. Companies can now automate processes and identify solutions quickly and more effectively, without having to invest in heavy human resources for the same.

Role of Tech in Law

In today’s market, there are management softwares that help your firm track time spent on each file, relevant documents, clients’ billing and such. Making operations more efficient. Contract management software has become a popular tool too. With a database of existing drafts, it allows users to create contracts and review them without tediously copy-pasting from random templates. This software also makes it possible to track the cycle of the contract and set alerts for relevant dates pertaining to the contract. 

Even so, legal data analytics remains perhaps the most promising innovation. This analysis is used to extract information that could answer how different cases are related, the probability of a judge’s ruling, what are the chances of success based on previous cases in the same and other jurisdictions, etc. What we have come to know as Big Data, is now trending as Big Law in the legal world. This new approach will allow practicing lawyers and legal academics to conduct better quality research in a shorter time, thereby increasing efficiency and output, which is exactly the demand in this fast-paced market.

Even tools as simple as chatbots are making their mark. Often, a consumer needs a single question answered or basic references. Instead of doing arbitrary research on Google or depending on random word of mouth advice like…
“I think you need to file a complaint with the police first and then the cyber cell…”
“You definitely need a criminal lawyer; all courts don’t do civil matters…”
… consumers can now pop in a question to the website chatbots of legal firms. There is also the convenience of immediately knowing whether the firm can or cannot help you in your matter. Won’t that be handy!

Think about it, crime is becoming far more advanced with information technology and internet just waiting to be abused. Justice systems might as well get on board instead of resisting change. What are your views on adapting technology into the legal world?