The impact of mobile technology and cloud-based computing is everywhere. From the way we interact with colleagues and friends to how we manage our daily life, the norms are changing. This impact and shift of thinking is especially prevalent in the legal industry.
The legal industry in previous years, and often still today, was known as a paper intensive field. You may walk into an office and see stacks of papers everywhere. However, this is changing.
For example, when a lawyer is reviewing a deposition, they often identify testimonies that relate to factual issues in the case and make notes on particular points of a testimony… on paper. In previous years, and even today, this may have included a copious amount of sticky notes that could easily move or fall out of the pages, leaving lawyers to search through the deposition on their own.
With more advanced technologies, including cloud computing, it could be as easy as a simple click. In this example, the lawyer could, instead, download the deposition to their tablet application and easily highlight and flag information needed. Then, as simple as a few clicks, the lawyer can compile a report showing all portions of the testimony that address a specific issue. This would save time and remove added stress and frustration during the legal process.
I won’t go into too many details about the different applications that can be used, but I just wanted to make a quick point about how such technologies are enhancing efficiencies in the legal industry.
Are you thinking that no lawyers are working in the cloud and other technology-advanced tools? If so, you may want to think again. While it is very true that not all law firms are doing so, some are, and it continues to increase every day.
Several statistics from the 2012 and 2013 ABA Legal Technology Surveys support this. Since 2008…
- The number of attorneys that belong to a social network increased from 15% to 78%.
- The number of attorneys using a smart phone increased from 38% to 89%.
- The number of attorneys using cloud-based software increased from 13% to nearly 31%.
In addition to the evidence gathered in the ABA’s surveys, the recognition of legal technology trends are being classified in the ABA Model Rules, specifically last August’s revisions. These changes affected, among other things, cloud computing and outsourcing, confidentiality and lawyers’ obligations to stay abreast of changes in technology.
Most notably, the ABA amended the comments to rule 1.1, requiring lawyers to “keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology” in order to competently serve their clients. With this change, attorneys are now ethically obligated to explore relevant technologies that may allow them to serve their clients more effectively and efficiently.
The effects of technology on the practice of law are inescapable. What are you doing to move forward? Is your law firm implementing a strategic technology plan to stay ahead?