The legal profession has never been static, but the pace of change is accelerating with every technological advance. This article explores some of the key trends that are likely to impact law in 2022.
In 2022, artificial intelligence will be used in all walks of life. Legal systems are already being disrupted by using AI, such as “smart contracts,” automated document review and translation software, smart keyboards, and voice recognition software. Lawyers themselves will increasingly adopt AI-enabled tools to review documents and applications in real-time, leading to more efficiency.
The legal profession is undergoing a fundamental shift as automation replaces more and more of the traditional practices. Legal research companies like LexisNexis use artificial intelligence to automate deciding what case and legislation to use. In contrast, AI-enabled legal software packages for drafting agreements such as E-Sign work around the clock to simplify and streamline the process. Litigation law is also under pressure from computer-assisted litigation or “CAL,” which allows parties to resolve cases before they reach court mutually.
The legal profession has always been skeptical about increased computerization, but in 2022 hackers and cybercrime will be a key issue for law firms and governments. Computer systems will be insecure because of their complexity, which increases the possibility of criminals gaining access to sensitive files. Cyber-security specialists will hope to get more traction in the legal profession as there is growing recognition that lawyers are essential to making digital systems secure.
4. Client-led change
The influence of clients is likely to increase in the next few years as law firms adjust their offerings to meet emerging client needs. As more law firms adopt app-based practices such as document review, clients will be able to request documents by streaming them through the internet via video conferencing systems. Furthermore, reduced fees and streamlined service make legal services more attractive to retail and SME clients who used to be deterred by the cost of legal advice.
There is no doubt that the legal profession will change during the next decade, but it remains to be seen how healthy and prosperous it will be. Adopting AI and automation will significantly bring down costs and improve efficiency. But there are also risks in this trend because if AI is perceived as too impersonal or acting inappropriately, consumer confidence in the law will fall away.