Technology has always been at the forefront of advancing society, and the legal world is no exception. In the past few decades, the practice of law has been changed in various ways—legal research expanded from books to the internet, and these changes have caused many lawyers to adjust. Here are some technological advancements that have changed the profession of law for the better:
Digitalization and public access
Harvard Law School announced in 2015 that with the help of Ravel Law, an analytics platform and computer-assisted legal research firm, they were able to digitize the U.S. case law, one of the biggest compilations of legal materials in the world. Dubbed the Caselaw Access Project, the resources are free and available for anyone who has access to the internet.
It was formerly known as the “Free the Law” initiative, a fitting name for a project that has aimed to help academics, practitioners, non-profits, researchers, law students, and anyone who wants to sift through 40,000 books and millions of court decisions. The most authoritative and comprehensive database for American law is now online and accessible for anyone who wishes to see them, thanks to the advancement of technology and Harvard’s willingness to maximize it.
AI for legal research
Artificial intelligence has been on the rise for a while now, and the legal world can also stand to benefit from it if it’s done right. A legal research company called ROSS Intelligence started using an IBM computer called Watson and has tasked it to perform legal research on their behalf. They tried to get Watson to interpret and understand legal terminology and look up statutes and case law.
Other law firms are now developing a similar technology that will allow law practitioners to delegate many tasks, giving them more time to focus on their work. Chatbots have also been incredibly helpful to lay people who want access to legal information and lawyers who may not necessarily have the time to answer mundane law questions that people send on the internet. An example is an app called Docubot, which helps users generate legal documents.
AI can also allow modern software to streamline communications, scan legal documents, and find relevant law practitioners’ cases. Since many of the work done by lawyers can be automated, technology can help them focus on more crucial tasks.
Due to COVID-19, many lawyers have resorted to or are also now looking into virtual offices or teleconsulting. Now, clients can consult with their lawyers without meeting face-to-face, allowing practices and firms to save money on large overhead costs. Attorneys may now only need to rent spaces for more important meetings like mediations or depositions.
Technology-based CLE programs
Lawyers never stop learning because as society evolves, so does its laws. And with the advancement of technology in the legal world, law practitioners also have to adjust and ride the waves of change. It would be a mistake for modern lawyers to neglect the technological advancements that have taken place in the legal system in recent years. It’s no surprise that many states have introduced mandatory tech CLE (continuing legal education), which requires lawyers to take up courses in cybersecurity, information technology, and various technological tools, methodologies, devices, and platforms applicable to and appropriate for practicing law.
Criminal justice has also benefited greatly from many technological advancements in the legal field. For one, it has given law enforcement more state-of-the-art resources and tools like GPS systems, robots, high-powered computer systems, and advanced cameras.
Information exchange and databases have also advanced in sophistication, allowing investigators and law practitioners to gather and exchange information in faster and more efficient ways. It has also improved processes like fingerprinting, gunshot detection and positioning, tracking, and many others—making it easier for lawyers to do their part.
Efficient subpoena services
Serving subpoenas is one of the most crucial parts of a case. If done wrong or if served improperly, it can backfire on the party who served it. Thanks to technology, many reputable subpoena server agencies can efficiently and professionally serve the subpoena while providing clients with real-time email updates and GPS tracking.
Law must keep up with the speed at which technology is advancing. Technology plays a part in many sectors of society—the legal sector included—and bar associations and states must keep their eyes peeled on what else is coming up int the horizon.