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Which Technology Will Most Impact The Future of Law? 25 Experts Share Their Insights

  • 25 June 2019
  • Sam Mire

Lawyers get a bad rap, but without them, civil rights and even the rule of law could easily fall by the wayside. But the legal sector is imperfect, and technology is playing a critical role in making necessary changes, from making representation more affordable to streamlining processes that allow justice to be done.

Industry insiders lend their perspective on the technologies shaping the future of law:

1. Charley Moore, Founder, and CEO of Rocket Lawyer

“In 2019, blockchain is revolutionizing the online legal industry. Rocket Lawyer’s overall mission is to democratize access to as many legal services as possible, which are usually too expensive for the average individual. This use of technology ultimately expands access to justice. By using blockchain, the expectation is that executing day to day commercial agreements can be done more efficiently, and securely. In addition, it will also be less costly for the business or individual. The industry, including our business, is shifting to continue helping folks stay in compliance with the law in an easy, affordable and convenient way. At the moment, the crypto community needs a good lawyer, and we want to provide that to them.”


2. Zachary Strebeck, Attorney at the Strebeck Law Firm

“For me, the Internet itself is what has changed the industry. I have run my practice as a digital nomad for 5 years, from all around the world. The Internet keeps me connected with clients and allows me to run a thriving transactional law practice without having a physical office location. This would have been unheard of just a decade ago.”

 


3. Nance L. Schick, Attorney/Mediator at The Law Studio of Nance L. Schick

“Internet video will have the biggest impact on the legal industry before artificial intelligence. AI will become more important as the datasets become larger, but most experts admit these datasets will not be available to most smaller firms for quite some time. In the meantime, videoconferencing will be increasingly used for client meetings, hearings, court appearances, and online dispute resolution.”


4. Erin Levine, founder of Hello Divorce

“We are definitely seeing an increase in efforts to move away from the billable hour in consumer-facing areas of law. There are several reasons for this but one driving force is that when you utilize technology to automate a large part of your practice, it no longer makes sense to bill based on hours (or minutes) working on a task.”

 


5. Bryan Porter, Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Alexandria, Virginia

“As an elected prosecutor, my expertise lies in criminal law. Right now, the technology with the biggest potential for impact and disruption in my field is artificial intelligence, particularly facial recognition(FR). FR carries with it a lot of potential for good – but also the aconcomitant potential for misuse.”

 


6. Jay Arcata, Lawyer and VP of Client Relations at BX3 Capital

“Smart contracting is a transformative and far-reaching technology that will have a huge impact on the legal industry. Use cases finally are starting to emerge and one cannot help but look to the legal industry as one of the next adopters. For example, a smart contract for travel insurance is presently being used by AXA Insurance Company. Once an event
that triggers the insurance occurs, payment is automatically made to the policy holder via smart contracts. A world where lawyers integrate smart contracts in title recordings, business transactions and supply chain management will become reality in the not-too-distant future.”


7. Andrew Pery, Marketing Executive at ABBYY

“Robotic process automation (RPA) will automate multiple aspects of legal work that, I believe, will allow lawyers to work on tasks with higher-level cognitive demands (and more billable time), and leave technology to perform the more routine legal services such as capturing incoming documents, matter intake processes, invoicing clients, organizing your electronic workspaces, matter management, etc. Then, by adding cognitive skills, simple automation will move toward to intelligent automation by giving human-like understanding to RPA digital workers to truly transform the future of legal work.”


8. Lin McCraw, Owner of The McCraw Law Group

“AI will drive the biggest change in the practice of law since the typewriter. It is already being used to ferret out the most appropriate legal precedent by a simple google search. Content companies that in the past produced law books and case reporters who have all migrated to a
subscription search based format are going the way of the dinosaur. AI will filter down into the hands of the public and will eventually effect the delivery of basic legal services—contracts, wills, divorces, and etc. which will severely hamper the generalist who knows a little about a lot of areas a practice, but who does not really know the nuances of any.”


9. Brian McGovern, Executive Director at Mitratech

“Legal automation is greatly impacting the legal industry and is being used to automate low complexity, high volume work. Legal departments and law firms alike experience the following benefits: Solid integration across the legal ecosystem that lets both sides work better together. Improved visibility into in-house/outside processes for the client. Accelerated responsiveness and efficiency for the law firm. Adoption of a cornerstone technology that paves the way for the downstream arrival of other solutions. Immediate ROI that helps justify future legal tech investment.”


10. Dean P. Sperling, Esq., Attorney at the Law Office of Dean P. Sperling 

“Artificial intelligence clearly will affect the legal industry. It won’t replace an actual attorney in the courtroom anytime soon, but it will heavily impact the documents presently researched and prepared by attorneys. Legal research programs already use rudimentary AI in their search engines using key words for locating cases on topic regarding precedents. More advanced AI in connection with preparation of transactional documents (contracts, sales, wills, trusts), legal briefs (for use in court disputes) will eventually lower the cost of providing such services to clients, much as computer research replaced books, and will “level” the playing field amongst attorneys and those individual representing themselves.”


11. Jim Wagner, CSO at Seal Software

“No more than you can pick a music list or shop online without the introduction of AI in the background, large law practices will incorporate AI heavily into their day-to-day businesses, in many cases without appreciating what the technology companies have done on their behalf in the background. The first step in this introduction of AI is for the analysis of contracts in due diligence. In any meaningful “man vs. machine” contest, the machine is invariably going to win when it comes to identifying basic concepts like change of control, etc.”


12. Lance J. Robinson, Owner and Lead Attorney at The Law Office of Lance J. Robinson

“Cloud-based storage, with its accompanying privacy concerns, comes to mind. Storing information in the cloud makes it easy to access from anywhere, while also reducing the need for bulky, costly on-site storage. As we continue adopting cloud-based storage, I predict there will be a much greater need for software and services that protect the privacy of our law firms and clients. There are serious implications to not addressing these concerns—if your client’s files aren’t secure, you risk running into issues with identity theft, ransomware, or even allegations of malpractice. It’s something we should all be conscious of these days.”


13. Evan Schneyer, founder of Outlaw

“At Microsoft's developer conference a week ago, it was very clear that their focus will be in cloud computing. Understandably so, considering that agile workforces demand systems to be in the cloud for faster workflows, for flexibility in how and where they can work.

How does this affect the legal industry? It's clear that this sector is very attached to MS Word. In theory, moving the Office suite to the cloud would be seamless for the legal sector. However, it's not purpose-built for contracts. There are no robust permission settings, no checkpoints for redlines, etc — if anything, it may expose legal teams to more risk or they have to be more on top of ensuring compliance.

With Outlaw, mitigating risk and understanding deal workflows were the top focusses on how the platform was built. The industry needs to start realizing there is life outside of Microsoft, and there are CLM platforms purpose-built for contracts. Instead they're hacking together software to make MS Office work. Until that movement starts getting momentum, Outlaw can let you export and import (ingest and integrate) docs and pdf for all those MS stalwarts.”


14. Philip Kabler, Professor at the University of Florida, Partner at Bogin, Munns, and Munns

“Two words – online resources. And two more – often free. These enable consumers to engage in basic research and smart document preparation. Note the use of basic. Legal practice is nuanced, and requires a detailed analysis of facts, laws, and outcomes. Online resources may seem to properly auto-populate wills, trusts, contracts, and even lawsuit documents, but they are not fully equipped to best express the facts against the law. That requires well-prepared attorneys who remain updated on evolving cases, statutes, and regulations. And that continuing legal education can likewise be addressed by online resources.”


15. Bryan Lawson, Director of Marketing at Offit Kurman Attorneys at Law

“Social media is a game changer for the way clients find attorneys in the digital age. Not long ago, when someone needed an attorney, they would simply drive to their local law office, aptly labeled “Law Office”—sometimes even without attorney names or law firm branding. Today, lawyers need to continually differentiate themselves and their firms and engage with prospects on social media platforms by sharing knowledge-based content that establishes their expertise to a prospect with a particular need. Content and websites must to be optimized with SEO strategies, frequently supported by advertising.”


16. Pieter Gunst, CEO and co-founder at Legal.io

“The technology that will have the biggest impact on the legal industry is (likely) not a complex piece of technology. Artificial intelligence and “robot lawyers” are common buzzwords at any industry conference. Those technologies certainly add efficiency gains, but they’re only one piece of the puzzle. Efficiency gains only get you so far in an opaque market.

We believe that the technology that will have the biggest impact is a platform that provides access to expertise and pricing data on an industry-wide basis. Similar to how users compare vendors and price-points on Amazon, the platform that collects reputation and pricing data will be the one that solves the core pain-point in the industry and is then able to fundamentally shift buying behavior.”


17. David Carns, Chief Revenue Officer at Casepoint

David Carns“AI technologies such as analytics, predictive modeling and machine learning will help get legal departments a seat in the Boardroom. The AI technologies will allow GCs and legal departments to demonstrate unprecedented value for their organizations by using a data-driven view of cost and performance to control both cost and risk. Forward-looking legal departments and firms will take advantage of legal technology platforms that feature built-in advanced analytics tools to proactively manage the litigation process and make better strategic legal and business decisions.”

 


18. Ryan Steadman, Chief Revenue Officer at Zero

“AI will continue to be the driving force behind productivity innovations and economic growth in the legal industry. Specific operational tasks that AI will transform include: the ability to recoup lost productivity costs such as billable time; reduction of client skepticism of manual time capture and professional fees; increasing profitability by transforming workflows and processes; more predictability around forecasting and budgets. As AI technologies like machine learning evolve over time, firms can be exposed to more related data that can be paired together to create a working dashboard continually increasing precision and generating predictive insights related to costs, workflows and operations.”


19. Candess Zona-Mendola,  Senior Trial Paralegal at The Lange Law Firm 

Candess Zola-Mendola“I think cloud-based servers are starting to become a big deal. Gone are the days that you need to spend $10K on a physical server, that you cannot necessarily access whenever you need it (i.e. while you are traveling). With cloud-based servers, attorneys can access their files and data as long as there is a connection to wifi, eliminating the need for remote access on their computer. A word of caution though, attorneys will definitely need to do their homework to make sure they find one that is secure and reputable.”


20. Raees Mohamed, co-founder and Partner at RM Warner Law

“Artificial Intelligence technology will have the biggest impact on the legal industry. It removes the labor-intensive intake, document review, and contract analysis. It will leave more time for lawyers to dedicate to improving their craft and focus as well as reduce spending. AI technology also has the ability to make social efforts and client communication more efficient through the use of chatbots and auto help. Plus, the increased use of this newer technology provides more opportunities for legal issues and in return, more business. Just look at the recent child privacy issues with Amazon’s Alexa.”


21. Tina Willis, Attorney and Founder of Tina Willis Law

Tina Willis“The future in the legal industry will revolve around video and email, but used in new and creative ways. As far as video, lawyers on the cutting edge have been using video more for marketing, but also for web conferencing with clients, and sending video email messages. With email, the most technically advanced lawyers have started using planned email drip campaigns with all new clients. These emails coincide with specific events in any case, and often include video, so that clients have tailored information. This technique is cost-saving, and case value enhancing, which benefits both the lawyer and the client.”


22. Josh Taylor, Attorney and Lead Content Strategist at Smokeball 

“The technology that will have the biggest impact on the legal industry is automatic time and activity tracking. Lawyers can use automated time tracking to ensure they are correctly calculating the amount of time they spend on each client. They no longer have to guess how long it took them to do a task because new software can do it for them. The industry needs it because lawyers often lose thousands and thousands of dollars by underestimating what they do for clients. With transparency on how a lawyer’s day is actually spent, they can provide accurate records to clients and value their only commodity time.”


23. Dustin Bolander, CIO at Clear Guidance Partners

“The biggest changes are coming from AI & machine learning assisting attorneys and staff. Two good examples are M-Files' (document management software) intelligent metadata layer (IML), which predicts metadata for a given document (such as this is a corporate contract for client XYZ). This is going to be a huge help when looking for and storing information, an unnecessary amount of time at firms is spent trying to locate documents. The other part of this is predictive text, where the system will be able to propose and insert the relevant language. The best current example of this is Gmail's Smart Compose feature, where it will predict a completion of the sentence you are writing, with impressive accuracy.”


24. Michael Elkins, Litigation Attorney at MLE Law

“Social Media (pick whatever platform)! The days of lawyers being in the shadows, getting business solely on word of mouth/reputation are over. Social media allows lawyers the ability to inform the world about their practice, trending legal issues and so much more. Instead of telling  someone about your great oral argument, you can show the world by posting a video. The possibilities are endless. Social media allows lawyers to humanize themselves in ways never done before. As big-business decision makers become younger and younger (think Silicon Valley or tech in general), they want to have a lawyer who is relatable, modern and relevant.

Lawyers may hate social media, but the lawyers that aren’t on social media today are already dinosaurs.”


25. Sun Dahan, Associate Director at the Law Office of Matthew J. Kidd

“I’m going to go with artificial Intelligence, machine learning and automation. The capabilities are endless and we’re only scratching the surface.

Lawyers can and will be able to use the above to create better contracts in half the time, gather better information and assemble more accurate documents faster and bring more clarity into complex legal situations using similar past legal cases. Eventually, this will change how lawyers operate and do legal work.”

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About Sam Mire

Sam is a Market Research Analyst at Disruptor Daily. He's a trained journalist with experience in the field of disruptive technology. He’s versed in the impact that blockchain technology is having on industries of today, from healthcare to cannabis. He’s written extensively on the individuals and companies shaping the future of tech, working directly with many of them to advance their vision. Sam is known for writing work that brings value to industry professionals and the generally curious – as well as an occasional smile to the face.

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