Most of the time we are focusing on new technology in the Tech Watch section, but I found a really interesting article today about how the practice of Law could be impacted by technology.
It is really hard to believe today, with so much technology available for our use, that the practice of law is so far behind the technological advances used by other industries.
As stated by Ottawa lawyer Bryan Delaney,
[box type=”warning” align=”aligncenter” ]”It’s hard to take law and technology seriously when they still have a typewriter at the courthouse – and a pen remains the judge’s weapon of choice.” [/box]
Knowing people that work within the legal system, this seems like an accurate statement. So much could be done differently, allowing clients to pay less and have it done more efficiently!
Today there are options to how legal services can be obtained, at least in some areas – there are virtual law practices, packaged legal services such as Corporation or LLC formation, and online legal help. Not everything falls under that category of course, there will always be a need for lawyers.
But many traditional law firms are just not automating as much or as fast as they could. It seems like it would be more and more difficult for them to keep up with some of the online services, many of which provide easy-to-understand interfaces that help guide people through the legal speak that can be so intimidating.
It will be interesting to watch the legal industry to see if they begin to use technology more to their advantage. Here are a few suggestions from the Association of Corporate Counsel that would help many smaller firms or small legal departments out there to have more control over their practice.
Face it, our brains are wonderful things, but they just cannot keep track of everything in this fast-paced world. And looking through papers and files and staying current with the latest regulations is a slow and error-prone process.
1. A document management system that could automatically update contract forms with current regulations, and store items like research memos in a library that could be searched easily – you know the same questions/issues seem to come up again somewhere down the road.
2. Lots of regular processes could be automated – accruals and collections, reviewing of bills, legal holds, reporting on spending, liability, ROI, exposure. It is hard to believe that many firms are still keeping track of these items in spreadsheets!
3. Regular updates to where they are in the process of each case – there is “matter management software” that allows timely reporting alerting about important upcoming events and due dates, so that nothing slips through the cracks.
Lawyers are a pretty smart bunch, and the use of technology can help them to focus on the important things, rather than small but important details.