As we surge ahead into a new decade, technology adoption in the legal profession continues to expand. It’s getting more and more difficult for the traditionalists and dissenters to hold out.
From online legal research platforms, to cloud computing, to document automation, the last decade saw a slew of advancements to bring legal services firmly into the 21st century.
For the coming decade, lawyers and the general population alike will enjoy the fruits of the legal tech boom. At least that’s the opinion of noted legal futurist Richard Susskind. That’s where we begin our look at the top legal tech trends for the 2020s.
Online Courts and Access to Justice
Technology will transform our court system, Susskind says in his new book, Online Courts and the Future of Justice. And legal professionals would be well-advised to take his vision seriously. After all, he predicted, in 1996, that in the new millennium lawyer-client communications would be conducted by a fledgling technology called “email”. Many scoffed at his suggestion. We all know how that turned out.
Now, the technology for Online Courts — the determination of cases by human judges but not in physical courtrooms – is ripe, suggests Susskind. He knows the mere suggestion is causing some lawyers and judges to react with everything from “skepticism to outrage.” But again, let’s not forget about that silly old “email” prediction of his.
Legal professionals already make good use of smartphones and tablets to access clients and information while out of the office. WiFi network availability is already fairly ubiquitous.
Now, with the impending rollout of 5G making those network speeds infinitely faster, lawyers and their smart devices will be living life in the fast lane, and increasing productivity dramatically while on the go. Speedier downloads and uploads of documents are just the tip of the iceberg of the benefits 5G will bring.
No longer just that annoying little marketing pop-up on websites asking how they can help you, chatbots will be used more and more to do some of the work of paralegals, while answering clients’ questions around-the-clock.
Chatbots can help free up a lawyer’s time from routine and unbillable work, allowing more time for actual lawyering.
In the previous decade, AI started to gain ground in the legal sphere with such applications as legal research, due diligence, and document automation. Many experts envision AI in the 2020s being used to analyze years of trial data in order to predict the outcome of cases.
Even farther into the future, the dreaded question for the legal profession is ‘Will these AI and machine-learning algorithms actually be adopted as a means for making judicial decisions?’
For now, many hope that we’re safe to kick that can down the road a bit. Perhaps we’ll revisit that question during our look at the Top Legal Trends of the 2030s…
Note: For a look at a well-established technology that hundreds of firms across Canada have already adopted, and a groundbreaking new secure document exchange platform, visit the Korbitec homepage.