Over the past few years, it seems that legal technology has been evolving and growing at a rapidly accelerating pace, in more and more unpredictable ways. And 2014 was no different. Let’s take a look back at some key ways that the legal technology landscape has shifted (yet again) this year.
IBM double-downs on Watson
IBM has already taken their Watson technology into the medical field. In 2014, IBM has also taken Watson into the legal space. IBM made headlines when they announced a $1-billion investment and a new office in Manhattan. Following that, IBM announced two new use cases for the Watson system in legal work. Watson has a new function called the “Debater.” This function lets the system sort through mountains of data and list the most valid arguments for and against a topic of choice. Watson could take a hypothetical issue and write a brief about a predicted outcome.
Responses can even be crafted in natural language. As IBM further develops Watson, law firms, businesses, and even client could get their legal issues analyzed with dispatch. IBM has also allowed Legal OnRamp to apply Watson to compliance issues. Legal OnRamp is using Watson to scope banks’ Dodd-Frank imposed mandate to go through “resolution and recovery planning.” Watson can analyze and predict worst case scenarios that would require documented recovery plans.
Law schools shift from theory to technology.
Many law schools created or grew their technology training programs in 2014. Richard Granat & Marc Lauritsen picked out their top 10 favorite advances in legal technology training in Law Practice Magazine. From Georgetown’s Iron Tech Lawyer Competition to Michigan State University College of Law’s ReInvent Law Laboratory teaching ediscovery software, law students are starting to emerge from schools with skills and training in technology.
With new products like Avvo Advisor (offering legal advice for $39) and Lawdingo (promising that you can get a lawyer for as little as $30), the commoditization of law has officially shifted into high gear. It’s now more crucial than ever that lawyers differentiate themselves in innovative ways, whether it’s through exceptionally responsive customer service or a highly specialized practice area.
RocketLawyer partnered with the ABA.
With this partnership, RocketLawyer and the ABA lowered the price point for access to justice. The majority of people have usually been priced out of traditional legal services. Not anymore. Now, the 400,000-member ABA, aka. the nation’s largest association of lawyers and one of the largest voluntary professional associations in the world, is challenging lawyers to deliver affordable online legal services. Might want to think twice about those hefty hourly fees.
Supreme Court banned warrantless cell phone searches.
Privacy rules are finally catching up with technology; this year, the Supreme Court ruled that the police need a warrant if they want to go through your cell phone. Chief Justice Roberts explained that searching your phone could reveal your entire personal history, “including medical records and ‘specific movements down to the minute.’” This bodes well for lawyers and other professionals who deal with sensitive information but use mobile devices to work on the go, like you!
Have a #LegalTech development in 2014 that you think we missed? Let us know in the comments!