How Technology Is Changing The Field Of Law
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Technology is changing all industries in a raft of different ways and the legal industry is no exception.
With the help of Marc Lamber of Lamber Goodnow, we took a closer look at a variety of the different ways that things are being changed by tech
1. Basic Tasks Are Being Automated
When you think of a lawyer, you probably picture someone sitting in an office surrounded by stacks and stacks of paper. Today, however, many basic legal tasks that were once handled directly by lawyers are now being automated. For instance, a recent story discussed how Telstra is exploring the possibility of issuing automated nondisclosure agreements
. For people entering the legal field, this type of automation may make finding a job more challenging. If basic legal tasks can be completely automated, there most likely will be fewer job openings for legal professionals. At the same time, however, new jobs are being created for people who are capable of designing effective automation programs.
2. Smart Contracts Are Eliminating Boring Administrative Tasks
Smart contracts are designed to take care of basic administrative duties on their own. A good example can be seen with a sales contract for a vehicle. With a smart contract, the ownership of the vehicle is transferred automatically as soon as the necessary signatures have been attained.
One interesting project you may want to undertake in the classroom is deciding which tasks are good candidates for automation and which ones need to be handled by a human. What are some of the considerations that you have to take into account when implementing automation? These issues don't necessarily have to relate directly to coding. Instead, they can also involve other issues like ethical or economic concerns.
3. Working Conditions Are Becoming More Flexible
Technology is changing the way that people in the legal profession work. For instance, because the vast majority of research regarding legal issues can be done through the Internet, many professionals in the legal field are able to telecommute.
The legal industry is notorious for requiring lawyers to work long hours, keeping them from other parts of their lives. Thanks to today's technology, however, it is much easier for lawyers to find a balance between the time they spend at work and the time they spend at home. That is not to say that modern technology is perfect. The fact that legal professionals are constantly connected at all times of the day and night can wind up posing issues, as well.
Coders are making it easier than ever for people in the legal field to complete their work through innovative advancements in search tools and document creation technology. At the same time, however, being constantly connected isn't necessarily ideal.
4. Artificial Intelligence May Play A Role In Making Decisions
Some legal issues are extremely cut-and-dry. In situations where no one is contesting the facts of a case or where the law is clearly defined, artificial intelligence may have a role to play in deciding cases. Although this may sound a little bit scary, it is something that could work in the right situations. Imagine, for instance, that you were issued a fine for a relatively minor offense like a parking ticket. If you decide to contest this fine, artificial intelligence could be used to decide your case.
Of course, this won't work in every scenario. Part of why the courts exist in the first place is to interpret the law. Many legal issues are quite murky. Additionally, there is often a lot at stake depending on how a case is decided. It is extremely unlikely that artificial intelligence would ever be used to decide high-stakes cases like murder trials. One of the reasons why the legal system is so effective is because people trust that they are being given a fair chance to prove their innocence. If cases were decided by artificial intelligence that was powered by extremely advanced code, trust in the system could erode, making people less willing to accept their sentences.
From a coding standpoint, it would also be necessary to seek legal guidance. A number of liability issues could crop up. As an example, what would happen if the code provided someone with legal advice that was wrong? Would the responsibility for the error fall at the feet of the coder or at the feet of the lawyers who provided the legal framework to the coders to enter into the system?
5. Data Mining Could Make The Role Of Lawyers Easier
Lawyers spend a lot of their time gathering information and conducting research. Data mining could be used to facilitate this process. By gathering information on topics like how judges respond in different scenarios or where evidence is likely to exist for specific types of cases, lawyers can get a better idea of how best to handle their cases.
Of course, there are ethical considerations that need to be taken into account when it comes to data mining. For instance, would you be comfortable knowing that a lawyer had used data mining to figure out which judges would be sympathetic to their case?
6. Do Lawyers Need To Learn How To Develop And Use Technology To Stay Competitive?
Joshua Bowder created an innovative chatbot known as DoNotPay. Some people refer to this chatbot as the first robot lawyer in the world. Its primary purpose is to provide people who are dealing with fines with legal tips and advice. The app, which is free to download in the US, does a relatively good job of making the law more accessible. It does fall short in certain areas, however. For instance, if it can't figure out what the user is looking for, it sends them to Google, which is not very helpful at all.
These types of apps do an excellent job of showing students how technology can positively affect the lives of other people. People who are currently learning how to be coders can get a better idea of how the technology they create can be used to simplify common tasks and to create better lives for users.
Can you think of any other ways that technology is affecting the legal field? What other professional areas are being affected by advancements in modern technology? If you have answers to these questions or would like to add anything else to the discussion, please feel free to comment below.
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