The advances in technology have greatly transformed how we now work and will continue to do so.
The computer has the ability to do amazing things. We only need to look at the impact of automation and the use of artificial intelligence, with the likes of IBM’s Watson and more its use with the Chess Grandmaster.
We probably all use the likes of Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, internet banking and even instant messaging in our personal lives. These days we have the flexibility to access these applications on multiple devices and from different locations.
At the same time we see the dramatic headlines of “robots replacing lawyers” or how technology has the potential to result in job losses, which does little to encourage us to embrace technology. Often it may put us off.
Although these headlines potentially do have some degree of merit, it is no different to the impact that technology is having in other professions or industries.
The technology is available
The technology is there – it is getting lawyers to adopt it.
Traditionally the legal profession has generally been slow adopters of technology, but this is changing as international developments and practices are also impacting here in New Zealand.
It is important to explore how to leverage technology effectively to help improve the efficiency of lawyers and their firms.
The opportunity to perform legal tasks better
The availability of technology enables us to do things better, better than we do at present and for less money.
When we look back a few years there has been considerable change in how the practices of law firms have evolved.
How we access case law, research, manage documents, dictate, bill and communicate has all changed significantly over that time. Many of these tasks previously were manual exercises, mostly involving paper methods and took considerable time to complete.
The days of teams of lawyers doing document review, or sifting through files are over. Many of these tasks are being performed quicker, cheaper and more accurately through the assistance of technology.
Many of the technologies are a lot more accessible, which provides increased opportunities for lawyers to take advantage. This especially helps firms that may not have the same resources available as some larger firms, but still have highly skilled legal staff.
What does the future hold?
Each year we see greater advancements in technology, and also how firms are using it.
Clients expect technology to be used efficiently by their lawyers and their firms. They now want value, speed and innovation from their law firms.
In the future, there will be further automation of tasks that are time consuming, costly and presently performed by humans. Further automation of legal tasks will enable law firms to be more innovative in how they service their clients.
Lawyers will be able to focus on practising law and providing expert legal advice for their clients, instead of being restricted by time consuming administrative tasks.
We need to know this
Technology competence now needs to be at the forefront of practitioner’s minds. Being tech savvy is an essential skill for lawyers and will become more so as technology evolves further.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to practise law without an understanding of technology, or to have access to someone who can provide assistance to help you work more efficiently.
It is important for lawyers and their firms to keep abreast of the developments in this fast changing area. Even if you are not currently embracing some of the technologies available, it is important to at least be aware of what opportunities that technology may bring, both today and into the future.
How to learn more about leveraging legal technology
Lawyers and all legal support professionals can learn more about leveraging technology at LawTech NZ in Auckland on 11 May.
The one-day conference provides a platform to educate, showcase and encourage greater adoption of technology by lawyers and their firms.
Keynote speakers include Rod Drury, the CEO and founder of New Zealand’s most innovative and successful technology company Xero, together with Judge David Harvey and Justice Raynor Asher.
They are joined by representatives from the Serious Fraud Office, Microsoft, Russell McVeagh, Shortland Chambers, Lowndes Jordan and many more leading legal and technology experts. The speakers will share their experiences to encourage greater adoption of technology by New Zealand law firms.
LawTech NZ provides the opportunity to hear the experiences of what firms are currently doing here and abroad, at the same time as predicting how technology may be used by lawyers and their firms in two or even five years’ time.
The event provides lawyers and their firms with the opportunity to see the technologies themselves, to assist in evaluating if they may assist their practice.
LawTech NZ will equip lawyers and their organisations with greater knowledge and the confidence to embrace technology both now and into the future. For more information see www.lawtechnz.com.
Innovation through the use of technology is becoming a game changer for providing legal services. Knowing how to leverage technology more effectively will help lawyers and their firms practise law more efficiently.
Andrew King is the founder and strategic advisor at E-Discovery Consulting (www.e-discovery.co.nz), where he manages the entire discovery process or provides independent advice on any aspect of it. He also organises New Zealand legal technology event LawTech NZ. Andrew can be contacted on 027 247 2011 or firstname.lastname@example.org.