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By Sammi Stickelman
Twitter / LinkedIn
The law is an outgrowth of science.
This is because as science evolves, so must the law.
Science gave us space travel, and with it, the law gave us the five U.N. treaties on outer space. And very recently, science gave us mens rea ... well, sort of. Scientists at Virginia Tech are using brain imaging to identify a person’s thoughts and mental state during a crime. This gives rise to an evolutionary legal question:
Is your head protected from an unreasonable search and seizure?
Similar legal questions and legislative actions are often the evolutionary byproducts of science. But this evolution isn’t limited to the letter of the law. For as science – specifically, technology – evolves, so must lawyers.
And in order to evolve successfully, lawyers must plan appropriately.
Today's practice of law has been transformed beneath technology's weight. Lawyers now write blog titles like “’Friending’ and the Law.” This blog, written by Heath D. Harte, warns lawyers that in today’s technological world, clients have to be careful about who they friend in social media. You know lawyers are evolving (or must evolve) when they have to stop and consider Harte’s question:
What is to stop a lawyer from “friending” an opposing party to gather information?
Social media is one type of technology, but it’s only tangential to the legal world. More intimately connected is the torrent of legal tech aimed directly at lawyers, their practice and the traditional law model. Illustrating this is the explosion of legal tech companies – nearly 700 according to the CodeX LegalTech Index, a database that attempts to highlight the diversity and depth of today’s legal tech innovation.
Old-school legal success is drying up, replaced by today’s steady flow of legal technology. If you think that's an overstatement, at least meet the truth half way. Roland Vogl thinks that the legal-tech truth “probably” falls somewhere in the middle. He says:
There are areas of legal work where highly sophisticated technologies are in use already, and there are areas where legal services are delivered in the same way they were delivered 50 years ago.
So regardless of what you might think, your legal success depends on some technologies that are already in use. And to be successful using these technologies, you have to plan.
According to Victor Li, of the ABA Law Journal, successful utilization of legal technology necessitates a detailed plan that forces a law firm to honestly asses its:
Most lawyers, however, lack the time or foresight to engage in technology planning. Much easier to simply react than to be proactive.
But to increase your firm’s chances of technology success, a detailed and specific plan is critical. As Li advises:
Starting with an assessment of the firm’s current technology, lawyers and the relevant decision-makers and implementers at the firm, should ... conduct a detailed analysis of where the deficiencies and inefficiencies are and what type of software would help solve those problems.
And once you have your new legal software, don’t stop planning. The Business of Law Blog sets out 9 steps that are critical to successfully implementing new legal software. These steps include:
With a little planning, you can prevent legal technology from invading as a hostile enemy. It won’t be a parasite upon your time and money or an antagonist to your learning curve.
With a little planning, legal technology can be transformed from untamed tech to helpful tool. It's not unlike the chair you’re sitting in. It’s now a helpful tool, but it was once an untamed technology, a thought summed up by Douglas Adams, who once said:
We no longer think of chairs as technology; we just think of them as chairs. But there was a time when we hadn't worked out how many legs chairs should have, how tall they should be, and they would often 'crash' when we tried to use them.
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You can connect with Sammi via Twitter or LinkedIn. If you're interested in discussing a legal solution, like Lexis Advance, you can email Sammi at firstname.lastname@example.org.