The Legal Sector is Ripe for Technological Innovation

No industry has gone untouched in the face of technological change. At first, industries that rely on physical instruments tend to feel the effects first. Healthcare and education, for example, are often the first societal sectors to find use in new devices and software. However, it doesn’t take long for all industries to eventually adopt new technologies that advance various fields. The legal sector is one such field that is gradually realizing the effects of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), remote work, and social media.

Not only is the legal sector being changed by technology from the inside, but the very nature of the practice forces the sector to confront issues on technology from an outsider perspective. Laws and policies around emerging technologies require lawyer’s to build more profound knowledge of these subjects, and as a result, new areas of practice arise as well.

This article will take a deeper look into how the legal sector evolves at the same pace as technological change. Understanding the relationship between law and technology will reveal the legal sector’s crucial role in society.

Technology is changing the legal sector from the inside out

These days, it’s impossible to talk about societal changes without mentioning how the COVID-19 pandemic has boosted the adoption of specific technologies and behaviours surrounding them. Almost every industry on the planet has seen a shift to remote work, for example, alongside new policies set in place for those still working in the office.

In the legal industry, moving specific processes into the virtual world was not only possible but a necessity. This led to an increase in virtual hearings and court cases, with all participants interacting from home. Interestingly, the shift to remote proceedings has sped some of these processes up, as the inconveniences of travel no longer inhibited participants.

Pandemic aside, lawyers and law firms have also steadily established a presence online. To increase the visibility of their practices, lawyers have taken to social media to share their knowledge with colleagues and potential clients. Platforms such as Twitter have become a popular place for lawyers to facilitate conversations and share insight about hot topics while building a community among colleagues and clients.

Emerging technologies also have a role to play in how the inner workings of the legal sector are changing. With the massive amounts of data and information law firms have to contend with, mainly in the form of historical court cases, law facts, and client intake, it’s quite the task to have to parse it all. Where AI comes in is in the ability for these highly efficient systems to sift through massive amounts of data and draw meaningful connections between it all. Law firms are in the process of digitizing extensive archives of law information so that advanced systems can take on the task of organizing this information. No longer will lawyers need to visit massive libraries and thumb through old books to find past cases that will aid them with policy-making.

But the quick pace of technological change also invites new precedents that the legal sector will need to deal with. Moreover, policy-makers often need to be at the forefront of this change. Consequently, new fields of law are being birthed at faster rates. Cybersecurity, blockchain, and environmental technology are just a few areas of the legal sector being reshaped daily.

Challenges that the legal sector will face going forward?

Due to how technology brings rapid change to society, the legal sector has to constantly look outside of itself to keep policy up-to-date. As a result, the same technology shaping the legal industry from the inside is also what it addresses in practice.

Emerging technologies such as self-driving cars, blockchain technology, and AI will offer some of the sector’s most significant challenges in the coming years.

For instance, the legal grey areas of self-driving cars prompt discussion over how they fit within the various types of personal injury cases and insurance claims resulting from accidents. How a self-driving car decides who to protect in a complicated scenario is known as the Trolly Problem.

Furthermore, the blockchain and cryptocurrency space is currently considered the “Wild West” because the Security Exchange Commission (SEC) doesn’t know how to classify and treat all of the digital currency projects out there. Blockchain databases are a technology that could enhance the legal sector internally, but at the same time, lawyers are the ones needing to build policy around them.

Finally, AI could simultaneously pose one of the biggest threats and most significant benefits to society. Still, there is currently very little regulatory oversight regarding the development and deployment of such a powerful technology. Moreover, advanced AI is still primarily in the research phase, so it’s harder for lawmakers to anticipate the disruptions it’ll have on society.

All in all, it’s exciting to see an industry that is often associated with dusty books and bored lawmakers being coupled with technological advancement. The legal sector is arguably at the center of modern change as they must adapt and shape the use of new technology to keep everyone safe. Thus, watching how the legal sector approaches emerging technologies will inform how society progresses after that.