Technology-driven change

June 15th, 2012 by Altman Weil

Freshfields attorneys Timothy Harkness and Dana Post point out two 2012 court rulings that they believe signal a new era in the legal industry:

“Over the past few decades, the technology revolution has profoundly changed the marketplace as machines have replaced humans in virtually every sector in the global economy.  The impact of technology was particularly felt in sectors such as the automobile industry where skilled workers were replaced by automated labor in the forms of computers and robots.

Many attorneys, however, felt that the legal profession was insulated from the changes that had rocked other industries.  They were wrong.  Indeed, those paying attention to the practice of law in recent years have witnessed signs that the legal profession is about to experience the same sort of transformative change that revolutionized the automobile industry towards the end of the 20th century.  

Computers, once thought of as tools for lawyers, are well on their way to replacing much of the work that lawyers do altogether.  This profound change took a giant step forward recently when two courts endorsed what is cryptically called ‘predictive coding’ —the use of sophisticated algorithms to enable computer software to determine the relevance of documents.”

You may not know much about predictive coding - and you may not want to know - but the march of this kind of technological change is inexorable.  Technology is changing the way lawyers practice, ready or not.

Read it at Thomson Reuters News & Insight 

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