Numerous examples show that computing is revolutionizing many professions. Start-up companies are regarded as competitors of aging industries and it seems that soon we will be able to live equipped with only a smartphone… However, there are little-spoken-of companies which are neither start-ups nor large companies; this is the case of legal professions. Yet, IT also influences the future of law firms for example. By studying the current innovations, we can highlight several major trends, some of which could radically change the work of lawyers.
Some start-up companies offer a service that allows individuals to sell standard pre-filled legal documents. I’m not talking here about major legal publishers but about young companies that offer standard contracts at knockdown prices!
If this will obviously never replace the expertise of lawyers and their know-how on major contracts, internet allows these companies to easily communicate with individuals and very small businesses in order to offer them off-the-shelf products.
If this development increases, it is possible that lawyers would face a new form of competition.
As we have seen, internet greatly facilitates communication between individuals and businesses. Numerous websites have been therefore developed in order to connect internet users and lawyers (both parties should be registered on the site). It’s a kind of Meetic for customers seeking a lawyer. This kind of websites are very popular in the United States and emerge in other countries like France.
These matters are double-edged for lawyers. On the one hand, this increases the number of customers for the law firms, on the other, it promotes competition and thus lower prices.
Both these trends are targeting the ultimate customer. Some companies, for their part, help the lawyer in his core business.
The digitization of the decisions of justice and laws is a huge playground for IT developers. Given the number of texts to be analyzed, it is a matter of searching large data, this is what is often referred to as “big data”. The challenges are many: how to connect different pieces of legislation together? use the doctrine? change the laws in the future? follow the litigation? For now, no IT solution could replace humans and if the big firms have developed very sophisticated tools, the solutions can be improved and are still far from being democratized.
Finally, many management software are available. Originally complex and costly, the recent technological evolution allows the development of simpler solutions at a reasonable price with, for example, the massive use of data storage on remote servers. Each publisher has their own solution but there is a real challenge which is to make these management operations intuitive and easy so that they leave the maximum time possible for lawyers to focus on their core business.