If you’ve been paying attention to the legal industry recently, you’ll have noticed that there have been a few changes. Like so many other middle-class fields, law is undergoing a transformation, thanks to tech.
This should come as no surprise to those who follow the technology news. We’ve already seen the world of accounting blown wide open, thanks to the rise of smart accounting software that practically anybody can use. And many in the accounting profession expect this automation to continue. In the not-so-distant future, automation is expected to eat up the jobs of accountants entirely, putting an entire industry of people out of work.
Here are some of the latest trends in legal technology and what it means for those in the profession.
Today, if you want a transcript of a trial, you go to a court reporter – a person who writes down and records everything that happens in court. But with the rise of artificial intelligence, it’s no longer clear whether this job will be needed by law firms in the future. Google, for instance, recently unveiled the latest version of its Tensor Flow algorithm, a piece of programming that enables the company to generate its transcription software. Currently, the company’s focus is on machine translation – translating between one language and another – and it has seen significant success. But now that it has achieved significant milestones here, it is moving onto transcription and using Tensor Flow to improve this. Today’s transcription software is still not ideal, but Google thinks that once their language engine understands context, the system will be a lot more accurate.
We’re also seeing artificial intelligence being used to parse documents., Currently, lawyers have to hire dozens of low-level clerical workers to scan legal documents for relevant information. It turns out that thanks to research by IBM back in 2011, machines are now very good at this sort of thing. Already, a legal firm in Japan has replaced a bunch of its legal clerical staff with machines that can provide summary information to lawyers about a case before they go to court.
The DotCloud Boom
Many services are available in the cloud today: everything from IT to secretarial work, as well as thousands of different SaaS options. But what about legal work?
Recently, there have been murmurings that much of the legal industry could move over to the cloud if it gives customers a better service.
Dennis Kennedy, a legal professional writing on the Law Technology website, says that adoption of cloud technology has been widespread in the industry. He says that Dropbox was the most-used cloud service, with more than 58 percent of firms saying that they had a Dropbox account, up from just 51 percent in 2015.
Kennedy also found that other cloud services were being increasingly used, including Google Apps, iCloud, and Evernote.
Kennedy points out, however, that many lawyers are still worried about using the cloud, thanks to security concerns. Yet, despite this, the number of companies using cloud services continues to grow.