Who knew robots and lawyers went hand in hand? I had no idea until the two terms recently began repeatedly showing up in my RSS feed in headline after headline. Most articles seem to posit that robots will one day—in the not so distant future—replace lawyers. In other words, lawyers are doomed. Doomed I say!
Now the death of lawyers—that’s nothing new. It’s a theme I’ve grown used to. In fact, I’ve even been know to throw the words “dinosaur” and “extinct” into a sentence that contains the word “lawyers.” After all, a little hyperbole can sometimes go a long way.
As 2015 draws to a close, I thought I’d take a look back at all of my columns from the past year. It’s been an interesting year for legal technology and there are insights to be gleaned from 2015’s events and trends.
First, there were the legal technology conferences. I attended quite a few of them and each left me with a different perspective as to where the legal technology space was headed.
There has been some noise in the past months regarding email read receipts and whether or not they are admissible in court. In the North Carolina case, Fox v. Leland Volunteer Fire/Rescue Department Inc., 7:12-CV-354-FL. (E.D.N.C. Mar. 10, 2015), email read receipts were contested by the defense as unauthenticated hearsay. Judge Flanagan countered this argument, saying that read receipts amount to a party admission rather than hearsay.
It’s well known that standard email is inherently unsecure. As emails travel to their intended destination, they traverse untold number of servers and can be intercepted and viewed by virtually anyone with technological know-how. This is because emails are unencrypted and are akin to postcards written in pencil and this inherent security flaw in email as it now exists arguably places confidential client data at risk.
Lawyers need to make sure their voices are heard in debates about the Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) is poised to affect everyone, everything, everywhere, no doubt including the legal industry and the clients it serves. But will it have a drastic impact on IT operations at law firms? How can lawyers participate in the IoT phenomenon in a meaningful way?
The world is experiencing an explosion in tech start-ups that are jumping on the artificial intelligence (AI) revolution bandwagon to serve the hunger of established markets and new markets. You only have to follow the plethora of tweets on the subject of #Fintech and #LegalIT (aka #lawtech) to realise that certain sectors are enjoying exponential promise, opportunity and growth. The legal ecosystem is potentially one of these.
I am pleased to witness the current deployment of the potential, promise and peril of cognitive computing, AI and robots in the legal world. It’s been too long in arriving.
The results of the 2015 ILTA/InsideLegal Technology Purchasing Survey (“the Survey”) have confirmed what I’ve been saying all year about lawyers’ attitude toward technology in 2015: they’re frozen in their tracks by fear. In part this is because it seems that every week there’s news of some new, massive data breach.
The causes of the breaches are many and varied: hacked passwords, sophisticated attacks by foreign government agents, company employees stealing data, and security flaws in online programs. That many of the reasons for the breaches are something that are unlikely to happen or are inapplicable to most law firms is often irrelevant to lawyers; they hear news of the latest breach and automatically assume that all new technology is dangerous and should be avoided.
Litigation, negative publicity, shrinking client pipelines or extinction are all possibilities as cyber incidents continue to run rampant: time to pay attention to the fundamentals like your equipment and technology lifespan
Sustained corporate success and the ability to adapt to change have long gone hand-in-hand; the average life span of a corporation has been steadily decreasing for decades. Standard & Poor’s data shows that it was 61 years in 1958, 25 years in 1980, and just 18 years in 2011. In today’s business world, many more companies merge, are acquired, or go through some other form of transformation which feeds into the data—all which means business as a whole is more dynamic than it was 60 years ago as the pace of change accelerates.
Dear legal technology vendors,
It’s time for another chat. You may recall that right around this time last year I urged you to reconsider your PR efforts leading up to ILTA (aka ILTACON) — or any major legal technology conference, for that matter. This year, I’ve got a different message and it’s about trade show booth manners.
That’s right: manners. You know, that societal custom whereby you are polite and friendly towards others simply because that’s how you’re supposed to behave. And this is all the more true when you’re representing your company. After all, at a conference your booth is the face of your brand.
I think that it's fair to say that while the potential benefits of mobile productivity are significant and incessantly discussed, they are not broadly understood and remain elusive to the average law firm. To many firms, remote access is a separate entity from laptop access, which in turn is different from mobile access. Many firms fell behind in the big push for BYOD and have not yet recovered. In the rush for multi-platform, consumer connectivity, firms flocked to Microsoft's ActiveSync to enable email but that's it. Many firms have moved on from the original BlackBerry but not from the almost single purpose it served.
Earlier this month I had the good fortune to travel to San Francisco to speak at Legaltech West Coast on a panel at that was sponsored by the San Francisco Bar Association. The panel’s focus was wearable computing and the Internet of Things. It was called “Legal Implications of Wearables/Internet of Things (IoT)” and my co-panelists and I discussed this emerging era of computing and the legal implications of Apple Watch, Google Glass, and smart apparel, including how privacy, intellectual property, ethics, technology and the law intersect.
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