Legal Technology & Legal Practice

Legal Technology & Legal Practice

15 August, 2016

Innovation in legal technology has not only changed the face of legal practice, but has also created new areas of demand in the legal market.

“Globally, demand for e-Discovery, forensic technology and data governance services continue to grow in the legal, forensic, and consulting fields,” says Mike Race, a Senior Consultant with ZSA. While it may be difficult to pin down the exact size of the e-Discovery market, at least one source estimated last year that the e-Discovery market with respect to U.S. litigation alone was worth about $41.2 billion – nearly the size of Libya’s GDP. LexLocom, a Toronto based legal process-outsourcing consultancy, is continuing to thrive as it provides assistance to numerous law firms and legal departments across the country with their e-discovery and document review assignments.

“The speed of growth of demand for e-Discovery has outstripped the local supply of adequately capable and experienced leaders,” says Race. Indeed, new software programs have been designed to technologically-assist in document review, such as predictive coding programs.

But technological innovations are being implemented not only in the context of e-Discovery. More legal tasks previously requiring dedicated staff are being automated. British Columbia and Newfoundland courts have moved towards e-filing systems, and courts in Ontario have begun to follow suit. Recently, the first “Parking Ticket Robot Lawyer” was even developed. This artificial intelligence machine was reported to have successfully contested 160,000 parking tickets in London and New York – all free of charge.

Before you throw in the towel and give way to your new, robotic competitors, the following are a few tips and strategies you can take to bolster your practice and remain relevant:

1.       Learn about legal technologies.

Lawyers should be mindful of new technologies being developed, especially with increased pressures to provide more cost-effective services.

Sojourner King, Managing Consultant with LexLocom, says that while recruiting law firms may not yet be overtly asking about candidates’ tech-savvy, star candidates will take steps to educate themselves on technologies relevant to their practice. “A lawyer who really understands technology is always going to have a competitive advantage,” says King.

This can be done by taking even a few small steps. For one, lawyers can work on becoming more proficient with the software tools they already use in their practice to increase their productivity. “This is very important as law firms shave costs by cutting down on administrative staff,” adds Race.

2.       Think outside the box.

Legal professionals may also consider further training in other, non-legal skills in order to improve their own practice. This may include project management and data analytics.

Growth in legal tech has contributed to one additional trend: the commoditization of legal services. King notes that this is a trend that should not be ignored, and may allow lawyers one additional avenue to improve their practice. Legal professionals should assist their employers in exploring ways to manage legal projects in a more cost-effective manner.

“Take the time in the few non-billable hours you can muster to learn about commoditized legal services and how they may help your practice,” King advises. “It can make a world of difference.”

Legal technologies have changed legal practice. In a time when clients are increasingly concerned about the bottom-line, lawyers that understand technology and how it can improve their practice stand only to benefit.

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