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Technology and the Legal Market Place

According to statista as of January 2021 there were 4.66 billion active internet users worldwide – which is 59.5% of the global population. Of this total 92.6% accessed the internet via mobile devices. Those born in the post war years surely could not have imagined a world where business could be conducted via a mobile phone from anywhere in the world; and the recent global pandemic has resulted in the further increased use of technology such as Zoom and Teams allowing for working collaboration without any direct contact.

The demand for products and service providers to be better, faster and more productive is continuous and the use of evolving technology is seen as the solution to this problem. The growing development and use of technology in many aspects of the work place has seen vast changes in the employment market across the globe, not only in manufacturing where we have all seen images of automated robots building cars, but also within the bastion of the legal market place.

Around the world, justice and legal systems have started to harness the benefits of embracing the use of technology.  Legal research, due diligence and e-discovery are all areas of legal work now using technology to streamline their processes and artificial intelligence (AI) is the new watchword in the legal world. However, there are both ethical and legal consequences resulting from the use of this new technology, as considered some time ago by The Law Society.

Technology has enabled documents to be reproduced consistently using document assembly. The introduction of e-signing of documents is now universally accepted and secure encrypted communication software is readily available to reduce the need for face-to-face meetings. So far, much of the lawtech available has been used to streamline legal services and so help to increase profit margins for legal professionals. However, clients are demanding more. The digital market place has established a client who wants services to be available 24/7 and is willing to change provider to satisfy their requirements. Existing technologies such as chatbots can help to deliver quick answers to typical questions, but the real prize for consumers will be the ability to harness the legal knowledge of experienced legal professionals and make it available to clients in an easy to use way to provide them with self-help options.

Will lawyers be replaced by robots?

Repetitive tasks such as browsing documents and legal research can be performed more quickly and accurately by computer algorithms and mechanisms than by humans, but no algorithm exists to replace a professional lawyer. Computers are unable to understand the connections between words and ideas, or make judgements, and are unable to demonstrate empathy and build trust with a client. Our world is becoming ever more dependent upon technology, however ‘Will robots take my job’ forecasts that there is only a 5% chance of the profession being automated due to the essential qualities required for the occupation such as negotiation skills; persuasion; social perceptiveness; and originality, none of which can be performed by a robot (yet).

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