How is technology impacting the practice of law? Nicole Black, attorney and legal technology evangelist at MyCase addressed this question in a presentation to students and faculty at the Future of Law Lecture Series. Black discussed how the confluence of advancements in many areas of technology are automating and streamlining essential legal tasks and forecasted a future in which artificial intelligence (AI) software is an accurate, reliable and standard legal tool.
According to Black, technology is advancing at rates never before seen. “Computing power doubles every 10 months, and this exponential growth is expected to continue on an even greater scale for the next two decades,” she said. And yet for many attorneys, incorporating technology into legal practice is not second nature. Black’s goal is to help “bridge the gap,” educating lawyers on ways to take advantage of this new reality. One way she suggests is to delegate fundamental backend processes such as billing, workflow management, or document assembly to law practice management software, a transition that can save firms valuable time and resources.
The next big trend in legal technology Black said, is software that incorporates AI. According to the 2019 ABA TECHREPORT, a comprehensive publication which explores how attorneys are using technology, the use of AI software is not standard practice. In fact, Black stated, only 8% of lawyers who responded to the Legal Technology Survey are currently using artificial intelligence-based technology tools, and most of these represent large firms. However, she believes that increased user trust and affordability will boost the use of AI technologies into the mainstream. “AI software is only just now coming of age and many of the AI-based tools are in their infancy. In most cases AI software has a long way to go until it becomes both useful and affordable for the solo and small firm attorney,” she said.
Black argues that lawyers and law students should stay abreast of current technologies including the advances in legal AI software to better position themselves for the future. “Many law schools aren’t doing a great job educating students to succeed in the face of all the changes. They’re failing to adapt to changing times and, instead, many are focused on maintaining the status quo as long as it’s profitable,” Black said. “BYU is one of a handful of law schools that is emphasizing tech.”
Citing recent studies, Black predicts that legal research, contract analysis, and data analytics will be the first areas of legal practice to benefit from AI. “Cutting edge technologies like data analytics software and artificial intelligence are here to stay,” she said. Black insists that lawyers shouldn’t fear automation. “AI is your friend. It will give you more choices not less.”