Technological advances are reshaping Law Offices and their relationships more rapidly than any one is actually comfortable with. There is a visible shift from improving the traditional methods to an uprooting and gutting of systems, coming up with lower-cost, efficiency based solutions to ongoing challenges.
The introduction of advanced robotics is enhancing the practice of medicine and provides hope to amputees in robotic prosthetics. Smart phone apps now aid physicians and medical students in diagnosis and treatment selection. These radical changes in medicine, crowdfunding in finance, and many other new techniques have been aptly named “disruptive.” The McKinsey Global Institute report Disruptive technologies: Advances that will transform life, business, and the global economy published in 2013 also discusses the future of next generation genomics, energy storage, and the benefits to business leaders and policy makers in incorporating disruptive technology to confront challenges and develop altogether new, innovative products and services.
In the legal industry, progressive practitioners, JDs, and affiliates have instigated a revolution from within the traditional legal practice. The February 7, 2014 event ReInvent Law NYC at Cooper Union provided a well-rounded, well attended, representation of the movement. The conference recognized legal industry innovators including legal hackers. The hackers have embraced technology to create solutions to continuing inefficiencies in the legal service industry. Speakers addressed the use of collaboration, outsourcing, and insourcing within the firm. The use of alternative fee arrangements and transparent pricing was continuously encouraged.
Among the new products affecting the industry is Legal Zoom whom many consider a prime example of innovative technology. Legal Zoom maintains that they meet the client’s demand for quick, transparently priced legal services. Another is the iPhone and iPad app Agree on the Go. This app enables users to draft contracts through standard forms available for as little as $1.99. While arguments against online, non-customized legal services are plentiful and even perhaps valid, in some respects, these applications’ successes illustrate the consumers’ call for heightened value, efficiency, and speed in solving their issue at hand.
As is the case for many entrepreneurs, legal innovators hit roadblocks in taking their idea from vision to reality because of difficulty securing funding. Crowdfunding may ultimately become the most transformative of the technologies because it may provide an everyday solution to myriad of life’s quests that require significant funding. This includes law suits which are, after all, a desire for justice. Crowdfunding can help individuals, groups, victims and alleged offenders alike seek the money necessary to have their day in court. Sites such as Angel List, Kickstarter, and iFunding provide platforms for startups to meet investors and donors. Judicata, for example, a San Francisco based company has utilized crowdfunding to raise funds for its legal tech business. They successfully raised $2 million in seed money and $5.825 million in its second round of funding. Seeking to compete with big names LexisNexis and Westlaw, the innovative technology company claims to “map the legal genome” by applying metrics to big data, structuring that data, and then communicating it to the lawyers in a smart way.
What’s next in the innovative legal technology industry? The sky is the limit. Consumers demand heightened value from law service providers. Innovative thinkers, unafraid to challenge the old order, struggle to satisfy them. Crowdfunding appears as a white Knight carrying a Pandora’s Box providing the realistic opportunity to seek ever more of what Humans desire and fulfillment of the ambitions that fuel them. Perhaps Bob Dylan’s twang rings true again.
“Your old road is rapidly agin'
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'.”
Legal industry participants now face a choice: Join in or be left behind.