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This article is written by Charul Mishra, from Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad. In this article, the author has dealt with the importance of Legal Technology and the need for its regulation in the present times.

Introduction

In the present times, the Legal System of our country has come to such a stage where the technology can now establish its regime. The inclusion of technology in the legal world has an encouraging future. With the advancement in research and technology, it has become a necessity for every field to introduce technology into its system. Concerning the field of law, the young law practitioners and research scholars are open to such change and encourage the use of technology. The use of technology increases the efficiency of legal offices and the productivity of small tasks like clerical work. Due to this, various legal-tech companies are venturing into online services and products such as artificial intelligence, Big Data, E-filing, Intelligent Knowledge management, online creation of legal documents and contracts, and most importantly online legal database companies. Apart from this, new technology is the key to empower firms to meet these changing demands and have a client-centric approach. Legal technology allows clients to know how much fees they have to pay and the day-to-day progress of the lawyer on their case. They also show clients information in a precise and concise manner.

Online Legal database companies and artificial intelligence are the recent hot topic in terms of legal technology. artificial intelligence is predicted to bring a significant change in the litigation sector which would help the litigants help their clients with better solutions and remedies. While Online Legal databases have become another technology which is used by most of the lawyers and law firms in present times. Although it seems to play an indispensable role in the education of law students’ as well in the working of legal practitioners, relying on such online portals becomes doubtful. Besides, it has also become very necessary to regulate the usage and advancement of such legal technologies to maintain healthy relationships between the legal sector and technology.

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Kinds of legal technology

In today’s world, various legal technologies have been introduced to make the practice of law more efficient. Some of these technologies are still developing while others have shown quality work in the field of law. Following are the recent legal technologies which have been introduced in the present era to encourage technology in the field of law:

1. Artificial Intelligence

It is the most important subject in artificial intelligence including computers that replicate thinking ability, i.e. to think exactly like a human brain. Law, as a discipline that needs thinking of a human brain, is full of opportunities for such technology to improve what you are doing and what service you are offering. Elements of artificial intelligence have been in the legal profession for quite a long time, but now it’s much more extensive. For example, when a lawyer searches for a document in his office’s digital systems, instead of just returning any result that exactly matches the search terms, artificial intelligence can read all of his documents instantly, gain an understanding of what they’re about beyond the title, and produce the relevant results.

2. Machine learning

Machine Learning is a part of artificial intelligence. This technology works in such a way that if a person searched a document for the first time in this machine or application and that person didn’t the results provided by the machine on that research, the machine learns that and next when that person searches the same thing on that machine or application, instead of providing the same result it did last time, will provide more relevant and genuine results. Such the ability of this technology is permanent.

This kind of technology has increased efficiency in various sectors especially in the area of law because of its improving accuracy and reliability which can surpass human ability in the same domain within a few years.

3. Document automation

Although this technology has been introduced in various sectors of the country, legal practitioners are not completely sure to use this kind of technology. In this technology, early adopters of document automation now have teams of specialists who turn a few hours of partner time into resources while also generating best-practice precedents that can persist across a global firm for years.

In the public sector, where the legal departments have experienced pressure to cut expenses over the past decade, the untapped potential of paper production is greatest. They will exchange skills between offices, industries, and regional areas by automating key papers, and free-busy lawyers in the public sector to perform specific value-added activities.

4. Predictive analytics

Predictive Analytics is also a part of artificial intelligence where programmers point their processing power at a set of data and teach it what to look for and then wait as the program turns up the right conclusions with startling speed and efficiency. Legal practice is a sector that generates mass amounts of data, much of it public i.e. witness statements, M&A filings, court reports, etc. All this data is ready to be exploited for the benefit of clients. For example, there’s a company in Florida that uses AI to analyze public litigation data sets to predict with unnerving accuracy the win rates of lawyers, versus other lawyers and before particular judges. Predictive analytics might seem like a far-off concept until a client uses it to find the one lawyer that consistently beats your team.

5. Cloud-based case management

Many firms already have case management systems with them, but others including mid-sized and smaller law firms are stopping short of a cloud-based framework transformation. They believe like consumers are taking a huge risk in trusting their private details, so it wouldn’t feel appropriate to take the details so stored in the business setting, with a third party. The only trouble with this technology is that there is a third party with whom all the data is stored so the reliability is doubtful.

6. E-filing

A lot of courts are offering e-filing, even if it’s not yet mandatory. You can submit all the documents your court needs electronically, at any time of day, without the monetary and environmental cost of printing out reams of paper. The risk of court files being lost, or one party not receiving the proper documents, disappears almost immediately. The major advantage is for the citizens as they can access court filings online with low or no fees at all. This brings transparency and accountability to the justice imparting system that can seem opaque and inaccessible to many. Also, individuals can get their documents filed quicker and a faster-moving court system is better for all sides.

7. Intelligent knowledge management

Knowledge management has been guarding and marshalling the intellectual energy of the legal firms for a long time. However, the use of artificial intelligence to Knowledge management systems has the potential to revolutionize the way firms work. artificial intelligence-enabled Knowledge Management means that when a document enters the system, that system analyzes the document and figures out all the areas of the law that are relevant to the document. It then suggests relevant authorities, other documents, and distribute the document to all teams and individuals that could potentially be impacted by it.

8. Blockchains

It is a digital database that holds a big list of records of transactions in which each block has a timestamp and is tied digitally to the previous block. Blockchains don’t need intermediaries, so they can enable disenfranchised people to exchange things of value without needing powerful arbiters – like lawyers. They also offer an unalterable digital record.

Encouraging chances for legal technology in times of COVID-19

Because of the COVID-19 crisis, which may have triggered a realization that long-term remote working is both technically feasible and perhaps a more wallet-friendly solution to large office buildings. The most noticeable of those improvements may already be apparent among lawyers already working from home. It is suggested it’s likely that the big law firms can be used solely to handle essential things such as client meetings and maybe some paralegal jobs. In such situations, technology is the only support that would make the work of legal firms easy and effective. Video Conferencing and Conference are the lower-level use of technology which was done until now. But with the need for social distancing and the safety of the individuals, better use of technology is required immediately.

The legal sector and the legal practice, among various fields of occupation, is at an early stage of conversion. The impact of Covid-19 on legal practice will change this and it would be realized that any field, be it law or business, needs to be able to assess its legal procedures and exposures, and strategically align technology, systems, and processes to enable simple things like finding and analyzing legal contracts quickly and efficiently, rather than relying on the human capital of its internal or external lawyers. It will help in the delivery of better legal services i.e. from the way teams are structured, how they operate, and the architecture of systems and tools that support the delivery of services. These changes will be enabled by the availability, and broader use of, a range of different providers of those services like tech-enabled products and their services.

Need for laws to regulate legal technology

How technology should be regulated is an issue as it has differentiated opinions in any sector be it science, financial services, or the law. The first opinion states that an approach of zero or minimum control by regulation might unreasonably kill the use of potentially beneficial technologies before we have had a chance to see what they could do. This innovates a feeling that technology is better unregulated and free from restrictions. Some associates also think that they must take a hands-off approach because they do not have the vires or technical competence to get involved.

But on the other way, the legislations are needed to regulate the technology so that no one can misuse it for any illegal purpose. Also, without regulation, the use of technology would be disruptive and would not be healthy within the legal community. The rules and regulations are required to prevent the lawyers and their clients from the worst situations like a data breach, cyber-crimes, and unreasonable security issues. Although, various IT issues have been regulated by the Information Technology Act,  2000, and Information Technology Rules of 2011. But, for present times, we need more strict and abled laws that would comply with the present need for technology and its use in the Legal sector.

Conclusion

Technology, like in any other sector, is helpful to go hand in hand with the present times of the world. The adoption of legal technology in law firms and legal agencies can go on a long way in improving their efficiency and also brings with it the promise of new clients. It creates flexible legal services, escalates transparency, and reduces the chance of errors in documentation. It is well said that the development of legal technology straddling the entire legal sector delivers benefits on a much larger scale. There is no doubt that technology, if used correctly, is faster and more efficient than any human individual. This can prove to be of great assistance to any law firm. A high level of analysis can be done in a matter of minutes. If all documentation is online, and handled by artificial intelligence, the chances of errors are much lesser. But excessive or unreasonable use might cause trouble as well. This is why legislation is required for the better and regulated use of legal technology. Regulation is not only about managing the use of technology within the practice of law but also about securing the public interest and other public policy goals. The legislation will often autonomously seek to establish rules to help them function and develop their regulations. But as of now, legal technology has a long way to go.

References


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