Experts, advisors, academics and industry insiders have been saying it for so long it’s almost become a joke; the Age of Legal Technology is coming, and the existing way of practice is on the cusp of systemic change.
But perhaps now finally is the time that we begin to see the changes in how law firms operate, from back office to front.
Stanford Law School’s CodeX Centre for Legal Informatics recently conducted an audit of the legal technology landscape. It’s aim was to map which companies are out there, the technology they are employing, and the problems they are looking to solve.
At present there are two views being heard loudest. On the one side we have those who are predicting that the era of the robo-lawyer, driven by AI, is imminent. Developments in technologies surrounding computational law will make vast swathes of the legal profession redundant.
On the other side are those who believe that the current technologies in development are in essence simply a more streamlined way of delivering legal services the way they have been for years. They are augmenting law practice, facilitating case management and delivery but still requiring the trained lawyer to perform the primary functions.
As this article by Stanford Law School lecturer and Executive Director, Roland Vogl, outlines the reality is that we are somewhere in between.
In mid-August 2016, Uber expanded its reach and acquired the self-driving trucks company Otto. And since mid-September Pittsburgh residents have been able to catch self-driving Uber rides. The message to Uber drivers is now clear: Don't rely on Uber providing that extra income for much longer.
For many years the legal profession was reluctant to embrace the shift towards an increasingly digistised world. While everything from education through retail to finance and even taxi firms embraced the benefits the technology-driven world offered, law firms were reluctant to change practices which had been in place for decades (if not centuries).
But it appears that significant change is about to sweep through the industry. Perhaps it is a result of a changing of the guard, with more digital natives joining the workforce. Or maybe it is down to available solutions maturing to meet the strict demands of lawyers. Regardless, we are excited and curious to see the direction law will take as it alters to embrace the new technologies.
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