Doctors are practicing surgery on 3-D printed organs. Entire homes are being built by robots. Bank tellers are being replaced by machines. It’s hard to find an industry that hasn’t been disrupted by advances in technology. Yet the legal profession, a sector that’s naturally risk-averse, has managed to remain more or less even-keel.
Now there’s evidence that’s changing.
With major law firms including Bilzin Sumberg sponsoring this week’s eMerge Americas conference in Miami Beach, we’re taking a look at how tech-driven changes are reshaping the way attorneys work — and what advances may be on the horizon.
Online searches have replaced word-of-mouth referrals as the leading method of identifying and researching attorneys, according to a recent Thomson Reuters survey. Internet marketing’s growing impact on the industry is unmistakable, and law firms are embracing the shift by sprucing up their websites, introducing online-based content and blogs, and launching social media channels that serve as platforms for branding and engagement.
Law firm operations
Technology is changing the way lawyers prepare documents, meet with clients and conduct research, throwing a wrench into the day-to-day operations of law firms. Efficiency gained often equates to billable hours lost, so many firms have adopted alternative billing methods. Some firms are hiring chief technology officers charged with educating attorneys, implementing best practices and integrating new software. And cyber-security has been thrust to the industry forefront as firms go over and beyond to ensure confidential information is protected.
Imagine putting on a headset and being instantly transported from a courtroom to the scene of a crime. Future jurors and witnesses may be able to draw their own conclusions based on the way a crime scene looked and sounded at a particular point in time thanks to virtual reality, which could be the biggest technology development to hit criminology since the advent of DNA evidence.