The switch to legal tech

Last Updated : 21 September 2021, 11:12 IST
Last Updated : 21 September 2021, 11:12 IST

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The legal profession has not been exempt from the pandemic’s effects. Law firms have shut down, there has been a decrease in the number of briefs, retracted agreements and deals, all leading to the loss of livelihoods.

With even lawyers transitioning to a ‘work-from-home’ environment, reskilling on the technological front has become a necessity. As Richard Susskind, the renowned British author and legal advisor notes, there is an urgent need for innovation in the legal profession, both to satisfy the client’s increasingly sophisticated requirements as well as solve problems of access to justice.

With the rise in virtual hearings, e-filings and online dispute resolutions, law firms and lawyers have been forced to embrace new technologies.

Technology in law

The adoption of technology has its benefits. It provides automated processes, eases research, helps in better management of resources, reduces the risk of errors, increases transparency and saves time.

This is reflected in the rapid rise in legal tech startups, which offer different services like e-discovery, online legal services, legal research, case management, and document automation.

Various software offerings now help lawyers and firms in varied domains like document analysis and review; investigation of open source documents using AI and also through data visualisation. Digital tools are also transforming how lawyers prepare for litigation.

There are also software offerings that help with contract lifecycle management, accounting, client management and tasks and teams within the firm.

There is also software specifically designed for lawyers that help with workflow management, customer relationships, project management and collaboration.

They also provide help in resolving commercial disputes and offer an online arbitration module for commercial disputes.

Legal technology is a viable technological option which law firms can adopt to improve their services as it provides for automated processes.

The government has also been proactive to support the implementation of legal tech. It is also pertinent that law schools update their curriculum to include legal tech to enable the students to up-skill themselves before they embark on their professional journey.

However, the flip side to the adoption of legal tech is that it may involve some investment and it is also becoming important for law firms to focus on data security and data protection.

Technological compatibility is another issue that needs to be looked into. Law firms must also invest in training their existing staff members to attract the clients and deliver as per their requirements.

(The author is a law professor based in Bengaluru)

Published 21 September 2021, 11:06 IST

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