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Four Areas of Developing Legal Technology

The legal world is one that is beginning to adapt to the newly available technologies of modern times.  While the legal world is adapting to these new technologies, however, it is still a very slow process with much room for improvement and with many areas that can still be expanded into.  A recent online article, “Four Areas of Legal Ripe for Disruption by Smart Startups” by Bob Goodman and Josh Harder of Bessemer Ventures discusses four different areas of developing breakthrough legal technology. lawtechnologytoday.org (Dec. 2014).

The first area that the article discusses is Process Automation.  Automation removes tasks that are not directly related to the law but that take up an increasing amount of a lawyer’s time, such as billing, calendaring, and task managing.  Currently, tools like Clio and Anaqua exist to help with such tasks, but due to the small amount of tools to help with these tasks it is an area that will continue to develop.

The second area that the article discusses is Legal Research.  While LexisNexis and Westlaw currently are used to do the majority of legal research, a number of startups have been focused on this space as well, such as Casetext, Judicata, Lex Machina, and RaveLaw: “These firms have taken a number of different approaches to helping lawyers find the right law, from using big data to annotated communities to visualization” Id.

The third area that the article discusses is E-discovery.  During many court cases, lawyers must review thousands or even sometimes millions of documents to find evidence that is relevant to the case.  A recently developed tool, Disco, helps lawyers store and manage this large amount of information: “Unlike other platforms which require armies of outsourced legal support services for simple services like producing documents for a court case, Disco automates these tasks and empowers lawyers to do their job at a click of a button” Id.

The final area that the article discusses is the Consumer.  Because there are no specific tools that currently exist in this area, “[t]here is a major opportunity to improve the legal consumer experience, either by making legal services simpler and more affordable for consumers to use or by making lawyers more accessible and responsive.” Id.  By improving efficiency in the lawyer’s workload and removing mundane tasks one must deal with, a lawyer can spend more hours doing important for the clients’ cases.  There is also opportunity for improvement in the area of lawyer-client interactions “by utilizing new communications tools geared toward interacting between lawyers and those they represent.” Id.

Matthew Gioello