An Overview of the Impact of Technology on the Legal Industry

Updated: Sep 1, 2020

There has been a revolutionary change worldwide as a result of the improving technology era; which has mandated step up in all sectors to ensure remodeling and a better output. This revolution cuts across all spheres and the legal sector is not left out. Legal technology simply entails the use of technology to deliver legal services through the use of online software. This development avails legal organizations with the opportunity to improve their overall proficiency for a progressive adaptation.

The word “legal” means something relating to the law or something that is permitted by law i.e recognized by relevant statutes and provisions. On the other hand, technology means the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes. The nexus between law and technology is the impact technology has on the law since its invention. Law and technology interact when legal rules foster the development of technology. The relationship between them serves as a check and balance function because technology promotes innovations, commercialization, and go-to-market while law promotes governance, risk, and compliance management. Technological innovations are disruptive and bring in systemic changes that need to be managed and governed.

With the emergence of the internet, the average person has wider access to legal information than they would usually have over the past several years. This has led to people becoming more informed with regards to making important legal decisions. Also, in the past, lawyers mostly did their legal researches using books, however, they now conduct their research electronically with legal research databases like West Law, Lexis Nexis, and JustisOne. This in reserve means that technology has impacted law positively.

One of the biggest impacts of technology in the legal system is the digitalization and storage of case laws, statutes, and regulations. Recently the Harvard Law School made its legal collection available to the public. This has brought about the opportunity for technology firms to provide information and statistics about the law in ways we’ve not seen in the past.

Another way on how technology has positively impacted the legal field is with artificial intelligence, a while ago IBM developed a computer called Watson that does legal research and it has been used by the company ROSS intelligence to perform their legal research, The computer has also been trained on how to understand legal terminology and how lawyers use it to look up case law and statutes. Some firms are also working on developing intelligent legal contracts that can adjust based on variable sets of information.

Chatbots are also changing how people get access to legal information. With the advent of smartphones, people can get quick access to legal information by asking questions via certain applications and they are not answered by attorneys or lawyers but by computers.

However, there are challenges that might hinder the effect of Technology on the Legal industry and this includes but is not limited to:

● Lawyers are naturally risk-averse so they might not take too kindly to new technology

● Most of the legal work makes use of unstructured information, and the use of technology will require structured and organized information.

Technology can be said to have impacted law positively and if it continues at this pace, it paves better ways for the future of the Legal Profession to ensure greater efficiency. Although, this will likely mean fewer jobs in areas like document review or other time-consuming tasks that are traditionally assigned to junior lawyers. But with these challenges also comes opportunity. Machine learning and Artificial Intelligence may assist with predicting case outcomes, while more efficient ways of working may lead to lower legal costs and better access to justice. The courts would need to take a leading role in the responsible implementation of technology in legal practice, to bring this to fruition.

The emergence of the technology era has brought about a revolution and this pace must be maintained, to ensure a more flexible, organized, and efficient justice system as well as a less expensive cost to file a suit; thereby giving every individual the opportunity for access to the justice system.


The Lawyer Portal(2020) What is Legal Technology and how is it Changing Our Industry? Available at

https://www.thelawyerportal.com/blog/what-is-legal-tech-and-how-is-it-changing-industry/

Wikipedia(2020) Legal Technology. Available at https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_technology


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