How comfortable our Advocates are with the New Normal?

Anurag Chakraborty

Legal Intern



Technology has had a major influence on the profession of law in the last few years. Since the rise of the internet, ordinary people have had more access to legal documents and for the last few decades had it. To practitioners, especially the young ones, it can be seen that the profession of law is often evolving. Lawyers once used books to do much of their legal work. Yet now much of the work is conducted online through repositories of legal research such as Westlaw and Lexis Nexis. Recently many developments have arisen which are dramatically transforming the legal profession. One can give the example of Harvard law school, which is often regarded as one of the most prominent institutions imparting legal education, has made all of there cases available to the public at large, through their online platforms they have reached out to many young attorneys who have just began their career and has also contributed vividly to the field of litigation.

When the legal technology market grows, so will the courtrooms themselves. While certain courthouses are sadly not fitted with the required hardware to execute such computer-based systems, there have been extensive efforts at both Supreme court and High courts and to upgrade courtrooms with technical upgrades, such as flat-screen monitors, multi-screen screens, and adequate video / audio signal outputs and inputs. Particularly the Supreme court is continually upgrading the courtrooms to reflect the ever-changing technical advances in jury presentation and litigation. Intriguingly, these changes have helped to narrow the distance between the young and fresh lawyers and the senior advocates.

The role of Artificial Intelligence in the legal field has seen surprising and significant development. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is only beginning to come into its own when it comes to its use by lawyers and the legal industry. Over the next few years, in the field of law, we will find ourselves on the verge of a transition led by the introduction of artificial intelligence – in particular by in-house lawyers. Much as email has transformed the way we do business every day, AI is now omnipresent – an invaluable advisor to nearly any upcoming lawyer. Anyone that will not accept the transition and support it will be left behind.

Practicing Law Without the Law Office:

The most noticeable effect of COVID-19 has undoubtedly been the mass abandonment of the office resulting from social distancing. Workspaces with efficient multi-monitor setups, accessible law libraries, and ample copying, printing, and mailing resources have been replaced by whatever nook will accommodate a laptop at home. Unsurprisingly, makeshift workspaces tend to reduce productivity and increase frustration.The loss of ordinary, day-to-day social interactions has been especially acute for lawyers, especially young ones, for whom personal relationships are an essential part of effective practice. This enforced isolation was, by far, the most commonly reported challenge faced by the young lawyers surveyed.

Fortunately, technology has allowed us to mitigate at least some of the worst consequences of stay-at-home orders. It has been seen that post this pandemic, there has been an increase in conferences which are held online through video. The catch about this is the lawyers who have stated practicing now are being exposed to various new ideas in the legal profession from the experts itself. Although no one can be sure what law practice will look like on the other side of COVID-19, it certainly will not be identical to practice before the pandemic. The mass experiment in working from home has put great stress on lawyers, and particularly on young lawyers. By applying the lessons learned during this forced experiment, however, the legal field has the opportunity to become a more flexible, efficient, and well profession.

Opportunities:

From advising employers how to respond when an employee tests positive for coronavirus to counseling employees afraid of catching it at the office, lawyers are working around the clock to help clients navigate the uncharted legal waters sparked by the rapidly spreading COVID-19.Some law firms have created multidisciplinary task forces to assist clients, both domestic and international, in tackling the myriad challenges posed by the pandemic.These lawyers and firms are helping others at the same time they are grappling with the significant effects of coronavirus on their own operations, such as the need to close their offices and require employees to work remotely.Firms are also bracing for the pandemic’s long-term economic impacts that could boost demand for some legal services, while depressing the market for others.

Technological transformation has a further, critical benefit – that is empowering lawyers to be strategic advisers, instead of administrators. It can therefore be key to firms’ ability to attract and retain the best talent. Upcoming young lawyers are tech savvy and expect that a modern legal practice that they want to commit their career to will be run with appropriate technology and processes. This includes applying technology to remove repetitive, low value (and low intellect) tasks, enabling better working arrangements, and integrating higher up the food chain with clients. If these kinds of opportunities are not forthcoming then the risk is that legal talent will find a home elsewhere – inside start-ups, digital enterprises or even as sole practitioners.

Conclusion:

As the application of technology is a part of everybody’ everyday life, there is an expanding demand for online services. Over a third of companies and almost half of users who use legal assistance say that they want online legal services. Consumers are stirring for technology in conveyancing, particularly to bring transparency and better access to information. Other advantages to using technology to deliver legal services are that the Government are looking to enhance the home buying process, by introducing e-conveyancing to this area of law. The firms are facing ever-increasing competition from other businesses, particularly those which are technology-focused. To struggle with these businesses, firms need to produce equivalent, if not better services, at a similar cost too.

With the most common reason for grievances to the Legal Ombudsman being obstacles, using technology will support firms complete work much faster and accurately. As clients ask services to be turned around promptly, AI applications can automate regular process work rapidly and in half the time a human lawyer can. Faster processing of everyday routine legal tasks joined with better engagement will make clients more fulfilled.

It can be said that although this pandemic did stir the world and most of the countries are in recession, but the legal sector especially in India, it was seen that making the proceeding online turned out to be a boon. Many young lawyers were exposed to the experience of a lifetime which they otherwise would shy away from. Many online courses during this work from home era have hugely befitted them. As of now, the impact of digitalization is only a speculation until we see what the future holds.

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