These days it’s difficult to find an industry that is not affected by advances in technology. The legal industry is no exception, as tech innovations continue to offer lawyers more tools, additional opportunities – and threats to their necessity. Here are several of the most interesting ways technology is affecting modern day legal services, and what those changes may mean in the future.
Legal Prediction Services: Legal prediction services do indeed try to predict the results of legal cases. More specifically, quantitative legal prediction systems use data on a client and the details of their problem to judge if they are worth representing, how likely it is that the case could be won, and what sort of arguments should be made in the courtroom. Ideally these services can be used to immediately scan the history of similar cases, find precedents, and give lawyers automated advice on how to proceed. But they can also be used by law firms to cherry-pick the most lucrative cases or those with the highest possibility for success, so there is plenty of room for potential misuse…and for law firms to make their relationship with technology clear.
Law? There’s An App for That: Actually, there are multiple apps, from Ask a Lawyer to Shake. These new apps offer everything from legal advice for common misdemeanors to legal forms and contracts customized to what the client wants to accomplish…and without the legal fees that would have come with a visit to an attorney. This type of software (and related websites) are especially popular among the younger generations and threaten to change the legal landscape forever, diminishing revenues that lawyers once received for completing similar tasks. For now, lawyers can still help with many simple services because of the way regulations differ between states and similar conundrums, but technology is busy catching up.
The Rise of Cloud Tech: A similar change is occurring in the commercial world, where cloud tech services and outsourcing are passing tasks onto vendors and partners with enough experience to complete tasks or offer fill-in-the-blank forms. This means fewer legal questions from HR, payroll and other departments, and therefore less use of legal services overall. Once again, automation is beginning to replace traditional legal services, this time in the commercial world.
Technology and Client Loyalty: Before you decide to get rid of lawyers altogether, keep in mind that technology can also help make law firms much more efficient and customer friendly. From online surveys to social, it is easier than ever for lawyers to get feedback on their performance. It is also changing the realities of billing per hour. When technology can now help lawyers accomplish a task in minutes that once took hours, how does the lawyer bill the client – especially in today’s tech savvy world where clients can post their opinions online. Reports such as the 2012 Altman Well Chief Legal Officer Survey have reported that 77 percent of clients surveyed switched law firms that year, a high turnover rate that lawyers can fix by focusing more results-oriented services and less on old-fashioned client relationship models.
Cool with Collaboration: Collaborative services are also on the rise among law firms. Thanks to cloud tech and instant digital communication, it is very easy for law firms to contact each other and refer clients. This leads to new efficiencies when developing industry tools that all lawyers can use, compiling industry data, or simply referring a client to another firm with more a specialty in the right field. Clients are also seeking more collaboration on their end, creating ways to share costs and services amongst themselves.
Security: Now that so much sensitive financial and legal data is being stored online, law firms need to prove that their security levels are up to the task. This is especially important for commercial clients deeply invested in risk management. The legal IT department is more important than ever before.
James Goldman is a professional blogger that understands and provides information for social security disability and veterans disability claims cases. He writes for the Law Office of Debra J. Venhaus, an experienced disability benefits lawyer.