Key Emerging Technologies and Their Implications for Legal Professionals

Even though the pace of technological developments can be dizzying in today’s world, people are generally happy to jump on the latest trends. Consumers keep up with the latest gadgets, and companies can be expected to upgrade their systems every few years.

Those in the legal profession, however, can be understandably hesitant to adopt such innovations. Wherever technology breaks new ground, regulations and complications often follow. The last thing a firm wants is to have its data compromised by unauthorized access or new practices to fall afoul of subsequent compliance rules.

Still, some degree of change is inevitable when it comes to adopting legal technology. This doesn’t change the fundamental practice of law.

Clients will still want to work with compassionate teams, such as Lewis & Matthews, P.C. Human beings will continue to debate and evaluate each case’s merits.

But where does emerging technology hold real potential to make a difference for law practitioners and their clients?

AI for predictive coding

The ease of communication in the digital age has also led to an exponential growth in documentation from a legal standpoint. Everything we say has the potential to be archived and accessed, whether it’s through a text, chat message, or email.

This can be a good thing because legal teams have a vast amount of documentation at their disposal, much of it in electronic form. Yet it also threatens to overload the people involved with the time-consuming task of sorting through these documents for relevance.

Parsing through a mammoth inventory of digital information is nothing new for artificial intelligence. Google’s search engine has been doing it for decades. You need the right set of algorithms, and that’s what predictive coding promises.

This technology has been available for a few years now, but adopting it isn’t always straightforward. A human lawyer with extensive experience is needed to ‘train’ the AI so that it can categorize documents based on relevance.

Still, a firm that routinely handles large volumes of documentation will reap the rewards by freeing up its paralegals and junior lawyers from hours of tedious work. And with machine learning improving each year, it’s getting easier and cheaper to implement a predictive coding system for e-discovery.

cyber security

Machine learning for cybersecurity

The year of the pandemic brought about a collective shift towards the digital in our lives and jobs. People who hadn’t been working from home or shopping online saw those activities become a part of their daily routines. And this change was accompanied by a rise in cybercrime.

The more activities we carry out online, the more data we entrust to potentially insecure environments. This creates a lucrative target for hackers. And law firms that lack adequate cybersecurity solutions are particularly vulnerable.

Devices used by legal professionals may contain myriad documents with sensitive information. Hackers could use that data to access trade secrets, financial statements, or other confidential information that could then be held for ransom or used in insider trading schemes.

Cybersecurity systems have many facets that can be improved upon, from employment practices to internal audits. But once again, machine learning can help. Using UEBA (User Entity and Behavior Analysis), firms can detect unusual activity within the organization. In turn, this helps to narrow down on potential security vulnerabilities and risky practices.

Better use of existing communications

Legal organizations may look forward to adopting more technology that’s specific to the industry. Like the rest of us, the people working in this field will need to become better at using existing communications tools, such as video conferencing. This will help to maintain client relations and improve collaboration among teams and with external partners.

At the same time, companies can leverage AI’s capabilities in more ordinary ways that are already being implemented in other industries. Automation can be a useful tool to assist clients with general inquiries or finding and populating commonly used forms.

The AI-based aspect can go hand-in-hand with a renewed focus on the human elements to create a better client experience. If you visit a legal company’s website and are greeted by a chatbot, that indicates they are investing in automation so that people can focus on value-generating tasks.

Communicating with empathy, and making the experience easier for prospective clients, aren’t what you might think of in cutting-edge technological developments. But for today’s law professionals, they remain a timeless area for improvement. And modern technology continues to offer us new ways to do better at providing that human connection.

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