LawTech, not Low-Tech please!

The world we know now is far different from the world that existed hundreds of years ago. Although change is inevitable, the changes that had occurred and are occurring are quick giant leaps from simple curiosities and novel ideas that were mere conceptions in the mind, brought to life by ingenious and persistent intellectuals. If it were not for the pursuit for excellence and a better life, mankind would still be writing on cave walls. As generally known, man has a natural tendency to be drawn to finding the kind of life that is free from disorder and sufferings, and it is with this reason that continuous experimentations and researches are being conducted.

The most evident and widespread manifestation of mankind’s search for “the good life” is the application of science. With the advent of technology, almost all aspects of life have changed, from agriculture to education to fisheries. Technology, as defined in www.collinsdictionary.com, “refers to methods, systems, and devices which are the result of scientific knowledge being used for practical purposes.” Another definition is it is “the system by which a society provides its members with those things needed or desired.” As specified in the definitions, technology can refer to either a procedure or product that comes as a result of methodical investigation, and that the primary purpose of this procedure or product is for real-world use.

As can be observed, technology has been helpful to mankind in his day-to-day activities. From washing machines to watches, it is evident that man’s life has been made easier. With cellular phones or laptops and the internet, borders are broken and distances are made short. People get to make new friends with those across the globe. Loved ones working miles away can be talked to anytime. Students can learn at the comforts of their own home. Cures for illnesses can be mass-produced for the people. Navigating the air and seas can be safer. Physical storage units can be moved to virtual storage banks. More goods are produced because machines carry out most of the agricultural and industrial work. Information is now available with just the click of a finger. With these examples and more, the conditions of life have undoubtedly improved.

If technology has its benefits, just like any agent of change, it undoubtedly has its disadvantages too, the most obvious of which is for example, dependence on new technology. Ismail (2017) said “Man no longer needs to think. Even if the calculator is a good invention, man no longer makes mental calculation and no longer works his memory. The decline of human capital implies an increase in unemployment. In some areas, devices can replace the human mind.” A sad truth it is that because of technology, mankind has put almost all his belief and reliance heavily on technology. Moreover, according to Goodman (2020) “Technology brings all sorts of environmental problems. As well as machines and devices often being made from toxic or non-biodegradable materials, most technologies need a power source, which can often mean an increase in the consumption of electricity and fossil fuels. Aside from power, some technology produces materials that are toxic.” This reality perhaps will be the most challenging to control, since the materials used for producing gadgets are difficult to dispose of. Another problem relating to this, although it has long been a much-debated issue, is the power source to make these machines run, since fossil fuels are still the most widely-used energy source.

With the numerous developments in technology, it is difficult to choose which among the available hardware or software to use to be able to keep up with the changes either in life or at work. Merrick (2016) identified 7 different types of apps, namely: Utilities, Entertainment, Games, News, Productivity, Lifestyle, and Social Networking. Each of these app types are quite different and require a different style of programming from the other. An article written by Anurag (2020) stated that “Different industries across the world are looking for ways to elevate their brand names…” The author cited that several industries like the healthcare industry, finance industry, entertainment industry, education industry, hospitality & food service industry and more “must have a business app” to reach out to their consumers and then proclaim the product information in today’s world of the digital revolution. Anurag specified that “The future of business would be built on mobile technologies with a global presence in social media – WhatsApp, LinkedIn, Medium and Uber apps.”

Just like the abovementioned industries, the legal field too is now venturing into modern means in terms of having its procedures conducted. As stated by Ghadawala (2020), “Technology adaptation in law and legal firms have had a slow start. LexisNexis started the revolution by digitizing case law and journals in the 1970s and WestLaw followed the example in the 1990s—and paper slowly replaced email…Development have been slow since firms are mostly cost-agnostic as any extra cost normally flows seamlessly to the client…Time pressure and demands increased, and more significantly, the industry of technology for law firms boomed. The risks of falling behind competitors suddenly made the pain of changing bearable. The expectation of their clients have changed, so not adapting to technology was costing more.” This scenario shows a real but painful way of how technology can both be an advantage and disadvantage. As cited by Ghadawala (2020), Joni Pirovich from Hall & Wilcox explained, “As technology trends are pervasive across all industries, it’s now incumbent upon law firms to ensure lawyers have a good starting language to interpret technology concepts and how they interact with legal principles.” Sandvik (2020) in her article stated ““Legal technology” refers to smart contracts, blockchain, and bespoke digital platforms and apps as well as computational applications in artificial intelligence technology, software and computer analytics to provide legal services and justice. However, the rise of legal tech also generates important structural changes in the make-up, strategies and activities of legal institutions and the legal profession – and in how market actors, ordinary citizens and civil society understand, access and use law.” In this one can see how the incorporation and utilization of technology revolutionizes not only one aspect of the industry but also the entire field. In his blog Ambrogi (2018) wrote about the 20 most important legal technology developments of 2018. Some of these technology developments are: legal research gets smarter and more comprehensive, legal podcasts multiply, and legal tech gets platformized to name a few. Most research is done electronically with legal research databases such as Westlaw and Lexis Nexis. An application called Docubot allows users to generate legal documents. Virtual offices are making it easier for lawyers to practice law while saving on large overhead costs.

There is no field in the world in which technology is not involved. Technology is a double-edged sword; it is both a blessing and a curse, and it depends on its user as to which of the two will prevail. Sandvik (2020) states that “The main stakeholders in the effort to globalize legal technology are market actors, not governments.” With the legal field becoming digital, information is just at the tip of the fingers, but because legal technology can be complicated, because it is changing all the time, and because lawyers were never taught technology strategy in law school, adopting the right tools and keeping up with trends can be overwhelming. Still, lawyers must find a way past these defenses to address real needs around data security, applying efficient and effective practices, selecting the right solutions, and making legal tech work for them and not against them. Law plays a growing vital role in the regulation of science and technology, as well as the ethical consequences of scientific research and new technologies, so with this, to be able to keep up with the changing times the legal field must also apply technology to its proceedings, not to be “in with the trend” but to further safeguard the judicial process and make transactions with ease.



References:

Definition of ’technology’. COBUILD Advanced English Dictionary. Copyright © HarperCollins Publishers. Retrieved on August 30, 2020 from https://www.collinsdictionary.com/us/dictionary/english/technology.

Definition of ’technology’. Webster’s New World College Dictionary, 4th Edition. Copyright © 2010 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Retrieved on August 30, 2020 from https://www.collinsdictionary.com/us/dictionary/english/technology.

Ismail, N. (2017, April 10). Modern technology: advantages and disadvantages. Bonhill Group Plc. Retrieved from Technology: https://www.information-age.com/modern-technology-advantages-disadvantages-123465637/#:~:text=Advantages%20of%20technology,was%20a%20very%20important%20point.

Goodman, P. (2020, July 7). The Advantages and Disadvantages of Technology. HubPages Inc. Retrieved from Social Issues: https://soapboxie.com/social-issues/The-advantages-and-disadvantages-of-technology

Adil, M. (2020, January 12). Advantages and Disadvantages of Modern Technology on Youth in Society. AdilBlogger. Retrieved from Technology: https://adilblogger.com/advantages-disadvantages-modern-technology-youth-society/

Merrick, L. (2016, March 21) Different Types of Apps That App Developers Need to Know About. Buzinga. Retrieved from Buzz: https://www.buzinga.com.au/buzz/how-many-app-types-are-there/

Anurag. (2020, April 13). 10 Industries That Must Be on Mobile Apps. New Generation Applications Pvt Ltd, 2020. Retrieved from Blog: https://www.newgenapps.com/blog/10-industries-that-must-be-on-mobile-apps/

Ghadawala, M. (2020, January 23). How Technology and Law Changes for Career Development. Law Technology Today. Retrieved from In The Know: https://www.lawtechnologytoday.org/2020/01/how-technology-and-law-changes-for-career-development/

Ambrogi, R. (2018, December 26). The 20 Most Important Legal Technology Developments of 2018. LawSites. Retrieved from Blog: https://www.lawsitesblog.com/2018/12/20-important-legal-technology-developments-2018.html

Sandvik K. B. (2020, February 14). Is Legal Technology a New ‘Moment’ in the Law and Development Trajectory? Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO). Retrieved from Law and Ethics: https://blogs.prio.org/2020/02/is-legal-technology-a-new-moment-in-the-law-and-development-trajectory/

Complete Guide to Law Firm Technology. (2020, March 20). Lawyerist. Page ID: 239226. Retrieved from: https://lawyerist.com/technology/

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