The Ever-Changing World of Legal Technology

By: Bryan Campbell, Chief Operations Officer

When it comes to innovative and cutting-edge technology in the legal field, the world changes very quickly. Here are a few important things to know about the impact of technology on the future of legal research and eDiscovery.

Law Firms Automated

McKinsey Analytics says that 23% of the work performed by lawyers could be automated by leveraging the right technologies. This would allow lawyers to delegate the more routine processes and activities to automation technology, and more importantly, focus their time and efforts on their expertise:  finding solutions to their clients’ legal problems.

Automation also means that a subspecialty of law will emerge, centering around the process, implementation and defensibility of automation technology.

Rise of the Machines

The automation technologies we are talking about are, in reality, artificial intelligence (AI) programs. Artificial intelligence embedded in legal software can scan legal documents, keep communications running hitch-free, and help practitioners research relevant case law. In the not-so-distant past, this work was delegated to paralegals or first or second-year lawyers. Today, this work is done by intelligent software programs.

Over the last five years, there has been a 484% increase in global patent requests for legal technology.  Some tools that lawyers find readily available today include accounting tools, legal document templates, security encryption for email, and other legal programs, like the all-important data storage.

The legal software also provides organizational assistance with respect to materials used during trial and for keeping track of e-discovery.  An example of such assistance is trial presentation programs that have eliminated the need for actual slides for evidence at trial. It’s just one way that software programs can help the attorney present case evidence in easily understandable bits for a jury’s consumption. Such programs make it simple to upload and access all trial materials.

Cybersecurity for Lawyers

The American Bar Association (ABA) Model Rules of Professional Conduct require lawyers to consider cybersecurity as a consequence of the duty of competency. The rules also require attorneys to communicate with their clients to enable them to make informed decisions regarding matters represented. That means that the security of communications is another primary concern. And, naturally, lawyers must comply with the ABA’s Opinion 477 which requires lawyers to take special care not to unintentionally disclose sensitive client information. Cybersecurity then is a lawyer’s duty to his client.

Not paying attention to cybersecurity is fraught with the risk of a security breach – and security breaches can be expensive for everyone affected.

The 2019 survey participants indicated that 31% have an incident response plan which is an improvement over the 2018 response of just 25%. Incident response plans should be crafted in accordance with applicable laws, professional obligations in light of the type of practice and facts/circumstances of the practice, and the standards set out by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (also known as NIST).

To learn more about heightened cybersecurity risks in law firms in today’s world, you may enjoy the June 2020 article from law360.com entitled “Cybersecurity Steps for Law Firms Amid Heightened Risks.”

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