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What Does the Term “Legal Tech” Really Mean?
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What Does the Term “Legal Tech” Really Mean?

Summary: Legal technology, which assists law firms with different areas of daily practice, has grown in the past few years and offers job opportunities to attorneys and entrepreneurs alike.

The practice of law has come a long way over the past few decades. Long gone are the days where attorneys spent hours in libraries, searching for case law in dusty books, taking notes on several legal pads at once.

  
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Technology has revolutionized the practice of law. Word processing, spreadsheets, telecommunicating, and research have all been enhanced. Such technologies are used both inside and outside the courtroom. During trials, interactive graphics, photographs, and video clips help bring a case to life, which can make or break a case for a jury used to watching CSI reruns.

One major breakthrough has allowed law firms to simplify their billing procedures. Instead of handwriting the hours spent on a case, the data is entered into software, which can then generate a bill for the client. It is more accurate and likely saves firms thousands of dollars in lost fees.

Computers and case management software allow attorneys to review a case in a click of the mouse. There’s no more hunting down a file in an office, as most offices scan all documents and add them to their servers so that the entire firm can access a document when needed. This allows greater collaboration on cases as well, as multiple attorneys and paralegals can view a document at the same time–usually from anywhere. Case management software also saves space, since wall-to-wall file cabinets are being replaced with computer servers.

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The practice of e-discovery has also exploded in recent years as discovery requests are sent electronically. Requested documents are provided on a CD instead of printed on pounds of computer paper. An added bonus of e-discovery is the postage a firm can save! Further, the federal court system mandates electronic filings, which allow all attorneys on a case to view all of the documents that have been filed. Court notifications are sent electronically as well.

Computers aren’t the only benefit to the practice of law. Many apps have been developed that allow attorneys to research from their iPads or iPhones. Many allow the attorney to take notes directly onto a document for reference later.



Such a technology boom has another benefit: legal career opportunities. Many law students, inspired by Mark Zuckerberg, have begun start-ups in the legal technology industries. These companies help law firms get up to speed on the latest technology that will enhance their law practice. In a time where law school enrollment has plummeted and students are faced with an abysmal job market, merging the technology world with the legal world has proven fruitful for many.

Sources: legalcareers.about.com, thelawinsider.com

Photo credit: elsinoresystems.com



 

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