This article discusses three legal technology trends for the upcoming year. These include advancements in artificial intelligence, the rise of online dispute resolution platforms, and using augmented/virtual reality as legal tools.
The world is moving faster than ever. New technologies are emerging, and existing products are becoming more efficient. Advancements in artificial intelligence, online dispute resolution platforms, and virtual/augmented reality are changing the legal landscape as we know it.
You may be wondering what these technologies are and how they apply to the legal space. This article will explore just that so you can stay informed as the legal industry continues to evolve.
AI is a branch of computer science that simulates human intelligence. Examples of artificial intelligence at work include a responsive chatbot or a system like Siri that responds to your questions. Machine learning is what helps AI get “smarter.” Machine learning systems send data to AI, allowing it to evolve and improve over time.
AI is being used for contract review, workflow automation, predictive analysis, onboarding, and everything in between. The AI software market within the legal industry is expected to grow by more than 28% between 2021 and 2026.
When it comes to contracts, it’s been proven that using software to conduct the first pass review makes users over 51% more productive, and increases revenue by about 9% on average. AI can review thousands of contracts in a matter of seconds, making the process far more efficient and accurate than it could be when operated by a person.
Workflow automation is one of the most common use cases for AI in the legal field. It optimizes the efficiency of repetitive tasks within a law firm. It makes operations run smoother and allows employees to focus on more important tasks.
Many client relationship management systems make use of workflow automation. For example, a new lead is brought in from Intaker and immediately gets added to your CRM dashboard.
In most of these systems, lawyers can mark lead status, accept intake forms, automate billing, collect e-signatures, text clients, and more. Workflow automation allows for more scalability within the firm and reduces the chances of human error.
Predictive analytics allow lawyers to compare a case they are currently working on to past cases. From here, they can assess the possible outcomes and improve their strategy. A great example is when making decisions about whether to settle or go to court.
Lawyers will no longer be relying as heavily on their instincts and past knowledge but will have a wealth of data at their fingertips from which to make decisions.
AI is used to help lawyers capture new leads through technology like Intaker. Intaker's website chat automates empathy and allows lawyers to create a connection with website visitors instantly. It includes an automated response system that follows up with leads as soon as they fill out the chat. As a result, lawyers are converting more leads to clients.
Another use of AI is software such as Chat GTP, a chatbot launched by OpenAI. It can write articles, create code, draft social media posts, etc.
It's more convenient than Google because it instantly provides all of the most valuable information on a given topic.
It still is not advanced enough to write an article without edits, but it is a powerful tool. Many lawyers must draft papers and write blog posts, which could eventually become automated.
At the same time, there are current limitations. Bloomberg Law explained, "For one thing, lawyers have a duty of technical competence, and would be expected to understand how the chatbot works—and what its benefits and risks are—if they use it in their practice."
Chat GTP is an advanced software that few people fully understand. Additionally, it has pulled wrong information before, which could be detrimental in a legal setting. It also has a knowledge cutoff of 2021, meaning that it doesn't have the most current information on some topics.
While Chat GTP may not be perfect, it is making leaps and bounds in the tech world and won't be going anywhere. In time, we will learn the scope to which it can be applied to law.
Online dispute resolution, or ODR, allows people to resolve minor and medium-level legal cases online. ODR is beneficial in terms of both time and cost. Cases are generally resolved 80% faster than in traditional courts and cost 70% less.
ODR also increases accessibility for those seeking legal solutions, making for a more equitable justice system. Although it's not suitable for complex issues, it can be great for resolving straightforward cases like e-commerce disputes.
Critics argue that it removes the human element because you can't see people's faces. At the same time, it allows people more time to think before they react, which can be beneficial.
Virtual mediation has also become a necessity during the pandemic and since has remained a convenient way to resolve low-level disputes promptly.
Augmented reality adds objects to a live view, whereas virtual reality is an entirely immersive experience. For example, with augmented reality you could add a piece of furniture to an existing room. Whereas with virtual reality the entire room would be computer-simulated.
AR could allow witnesses to join the courtroom without having to attend in person. The benefit is that it would enable a victim to avoid being re-traumatized. Still, on the other hand, it removes the human component that can help jurors empathize with a victim.
VR simulations can allow law students to practice being in court or lawyers to rehearse before trial. Crime scenes can also be modeled in 3D, or reenactments can be shared. A problematic aspect of this is that while VR gives the sense of being there, it still doesn’t entirely convey the experience of being in a person’s shoes at a given time.
It has been proven that VR improves comprehension, meaning it can be an excellent tool for learning and displaying evidence. While all of the pros and cons of introducing AR/VR into the legal space are still up for debate, it’s undeniable that these tools are becoming increasingly popular.
As with all new technologies, there will be a season of trial and error to determine how they can enhance legal processes and improve the justice system.
As a lawyer, there is so much innovation to keep up with. While you're not necessarily in control of the external environment including the use of VR and ODR in the courtroom, you do get to decide which technologies are right for your firm.
To remain competitive, it’s important to improve efficiency and stay current with legal technology developments.
If you aren’t already using a chatbot or CRM, now is the time to find one that fits your needs. It’s also important to educate your staff on the updates in legal technology in order to make well-informed decisions for the firm.
Ultimately, it’s of great importance for your law firm to begin learning about legal tech and implementing automated systems to streamline workflow.