LawTech is exactly what the name suggests. It is the buzz word used to describe how technology is assisting the legal profession. So what are examples of LawTech and what are the benefits? Is technology helping deliver better legal outcomes?
Connecting Clients with Lawyers
People have become a lot more knowledgeable about legal services and the benefits of seeking out affordable and transparent legal advice. Therefore, the electronic marketplace that connects clients and lawyers or law firms is a logical movement forward. Absolute Barrister is a UK based general legal service that allows people to get legal advice through their online cloud computing system. With a password, their clients can speak with a barrister directly via a message board, share documents by uploading them to the platform (even by taking a photo on a smart phone), and manage their case by simply logging into their profile.
Movements Towards the Cloud
Speaking of the cloud, is this going to become more common? In today’s fast-paced world, online security and the process of consistently backing up files, legal professionals and law firms will be urged to move towards cloud systems to save documents and communicate with clients. Communication portals can also be a much more appealing way to stay in touch, especially when those conversations should remain confidential. Not only are cloud systems becoming more affordable and accessible, but they offer specialised protections for sensitive information.
Legal Research and Greater Access to the Law
Aren’t we all complaining about being stuck in the office for too many hours a day? Technology has greatly assisted the time-consuming task of legal research. For example platforms such as CaseText, Ravel Law and Judicata helps lawyers to identify relevant cases, statutes and regulations and thus streamlines the entire research process. Even better, CaseText is free, as they are working towards making the law free and understandable. Again Judicata believes that lawyers time and energy is best spent analysing information, rather than collecting it.
Both CaseText and Judicata show how technology can make the law accessible to people outside the legal profession, and at no cost. Ravel Law, on the other hand, is not free, but it also helps lawyers to find and interpret legal information quickly. This platform also includes a unique service which gives lawyers who are preparing for litigation, an insight into how particular judges think, write and rule.
Law firms are also jumping on board new technologies that streamline the process of billing clients. The great thing about legal billing software is that it enables law firms to offer alternative fee arrangements. This is important, considering the trend that clients are becoming more cognisant of competitive legal fee arrangements.
Making Legal Processes Easier
LawTech that makes dispute resolution easier is always a welcome development. Online dispute resolution (ODR) has emerged to assist people to get their legal matters sorted in the comfort of their own home. For example, eBay’s resolution centre, resolving over 60 million small consumer disputes annually, indicates the success of ODR in providing fast, fair and quick dispute resolution. Motivated by eBay’s ODR, Hiil in the Netherlands, has developed an online-based dispute resolution platform called Rechtwijzer 2.0, that supports people to work out problems such as divorce and separation, landlord-tenant issues and even employment disputes. When clients need further advice or direction, Rechtwijzer 2.0 provides mediation, adjudication, and a neutral review of all agreements, created from the initial process.
Closer to home, a SmartSafe app has been developed by the Domestic Violence Resource Centre in Victoria, Australia, to assist women to collect and store evidence in family violence matters. It functions as a diary almost, but with extra features and security that Internet technology can facilitate. The app was developed with direction from police and family violence liaison officers so that the most valuable evidence is collected.
There is an abundance of ways in which technology is helping make the law easier not just for legal professionals, but for everyone. And we have only scratched the surface! Those lawyers and firms that do not welcome LawTech may well be left behind.
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