Changing Scenario of Legal Landscape
FREMONT, CA: Technology has disrupted almost every industry, and the legal industry is no exception to it. It's always been a topic of discussion among the attorneys on how technology has transformed the practice of law. The era of a shift from paper to computers is gloaming, and now the topic of discussion is - 'smart' technology and social media. The impact these technologies have on the legal profession is greater than ever before.
With the invention of driverless vehicles, intelligent robotics in medicine and science, and many other technologically advanced products, the calamities due to human errors have drastically come down. Technology can undoubtedly save lives now with such disrupting features. The change is bliss only to those companies that are implementing the technological advancements methodically and in a manner that keeps the public's safety the foremost priority. But, to err is human. Despite these advancements, errors will not completely disappear. Disastrous personal injury and death will make the litigation files heavier, but the case in many areas of law, the frequency, and types of cases are sure to change.
Accidents due to car crashes were common, and the litigation went as usual against reckless drivers. But, the landscape has changed now. Crashes due to driverless cars have raised a pile of questions as to whom to blame. Some such crashes have resulted to even deaths. This is not the case only with driverless technology; instead, tragedies are also recorded in robotic equipment affecting medical-related litigations and cases of data privacy and security. As technology is undeniably affecting the litigation landscape, the legal industry must be prepared to adapt these changes in the practice of law.
The silver lining is that the legal industry, too, has changed the way of working and is embracing technology. The law firms have started moving to cloud-based software and case management systems, which have automated case flow and deadline management. Offices are paperless now. 'Virtual' meetings with staff and clients are on the rise. A client sitting at Florida can now schedule a meeting with a counsel settled at California, that too, in real-time. Reviewing transcripts on sophisticated computer programs have become easier that allows the user to edit and share notes effortlessly. AI and ML can analyze the enormous volume of data in minutes through e-discovery tools.
Thus, it can be said that technology has altered the course of litigation. Smart cars, smartphones, smart houses, smartwatches, and smart towns have bolstered information on people. Increased prevalence of cameras has empowered juries to watch and judge based on the surveillance footage of any incident. Complex medical injuries, procedures, and financial damages, are now illustrated through computerized visuals and animations in the courtrooms, which are phenomenally instructive and spectacular.
Keeping aside all the benefits of technology, it is time to look at some obstacles and potential dangers that technology poses to the industry. Over-dependence on technology has resulted in the professionals losing some vital skills like interpersonal communication. Hiding too much behind the computer screens, animations, text messages, and PowerPoint presentations has made the professionals lose their ability to engage and connect with colleagues, judges, witnesses, jurors, and, most importantly, with clients. Though technology is exceptionally competent and informative, it cannot replace the impact that a captivating orator could make.
Technology advancements indeed have changed legal professionals and their way of working, but people or clients need a human to consult, guide, navigate, protect, and seek justice. Legal professionals have become physically addicted to phones, computers, and emails, and over-dependence on these devices has distracted them from their sole priority - clients. Unquestioningly clients will be harmed if the technology is allowed to increase stress, anxiety, or disorder among the counsels and that is a real danger.
What legal professional will look in 2020 is to make optimum utilization of technology that makes them better than before, without being distracted.