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The Future of Law

Modern technology has developed rapidly and now pervades all legal entities. How do you think advances in technology will further impact the legal profession and practices over the next ten years?

Chris Watson

on 4 March 2013

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Transcript of The Future of Law

The Future of Law Law Technology is changing the face of legal practice. Much of the labour intensive workload seems destined to be inherited by computers and data systems, eradicating the need for time consuming research.

What will not change is the value of the lawyers ability to build relationships and advocate the various causes and injustices within society. They do this by communicating information clearly and fluently, managing projects and people well, and solving each client’s problems creatively and efficiently. This will continue to be critical to their success and something that technology should enhance rather than erode. With more knowledge and resources available to people outside of the usual channels there could become a 'black market' industry supplying ubiquitous, and erroneous information, thereby jeapordising the integrity of the legal profession. How is Technology Changing Legal Practice? Geography Finance Ethics With fast and cheap communication systems across the globe it has never been easier to conduct client meetings, issue legal motions, or study the latest legal journals without leaving the office. Local has now become Glocal. Firms that do not invest in this wider network may see many clients lost to competitors capitalising on technology providing face time with little more than a click of a button. A movement towards a more localised and personal approach between lawyers and clients could counteract against the increasing emphasis on impersonal, automated services. Clearer communication and old school techniques of handwritten notes and smartphone free facetime could help generate better client trust in a technological age (Zahorsky, 2011). The legal profession is changing. The World Wide Web and telecommunications are elements of the technological movement that law practices in. However, they are also elements that have pervaded into the actual practice of law itself. Rates of charge - If machines cannot fulfill all criteria they will almost certainly save on time. A lawyers value therefore will be more based on the attributes technology cannot touch such as knowledge and judgement. As services become faster and more automated the recoverable hourly rate will be made obsolete changing the business models of legal practice. (Cohen 2010). Law firms face large costs in developing or using technology within legal practice. New legal expert systems are being designed to assist in cases that would have otherwise taken a team of lawyers months (Palazollo 2013). Many firms will face rising costs in outsourcing such services to IT specialists, as well as seeing clients bypass the traditional routes altogether. Arguments against such programs say that law is too complex and judged on humanistic precedents that artificial intelligence would not be sufficient alone to predicate on. Conclusions This presentation will focus on three key areas that have been affected. The video below from the ignite law conference 2011 explains further the growing concerns over ethics and responsibility within a technological age: References Bowcott, O (2013) 'Trial by Google a risk to jury system, says attorney general' The Guardian, 6 February. Accessed 11 Feb 2013:

Cohen, Richard (2010) 'Could the Freemium model work in legal services'. The Law Society Gazette, 15 July. Accessed 11 Feb 2013:

Moles, R N (1987) Definition and Rule in Legal Theory: A Reassessment of Hart and the Positivist Tradition, quoted in: Popple, James (1996). 'A Pragmatic Legal Expert System'. Applied Legal Philosophy Series. Dartmouth (Ashgate). Accessed online 11 Feb 2013:

Palazollo, J (2013) 'How a Computer Did the Work of Many Lawyers'. The Wall Street Journal, 17 January. Accessed 11 Feb 2013: http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2013/01/17/how-a-computer-did-the-work-of-many-lawyers/

Rose, N (2011) 'Tesco Law - not the big bang, but it will change the face of legal services'. The Guardian, 25 March. Accessed 11 Feb 2013: http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/2011/mar/25/tesco-law-alternative-business-structures

Zahorsky, R (2011) 'The Future of Law Practice: Is It What You Think?' American Bar Association Journal, April 11. Accessed 11 Feb 2013:
http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/the_future_of_law_practice_is_it_what_you_think An example of this is the recent proclamation by the UK Attorney General, Dominic Grieve QC, that smart phone technology is affecting a juries decision making process with a 'trial by google' phenomenon (Bowcott, 2013). "Law, positive morality and ethics are inseparably connected parts of a vast organic whole. Judgments are involved at every stage of the legal process and machines cannot make judgments" (Moles, 1987). The Legal Services Act 2007 has opened up the potential for alternative business models to impose on the current legal market, with more emphasis on cheaper, user friendly services. Although good for competition it allows for commercial interests to hold sway in an industry reliant on trust and objectivity (Rose, 2011).
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