Technological advances are revolutionizing the legal landscape, completely changing the role of the legal professional. Automated legal processes have compelled lawyers, paralegals, legal secretaries and other legal professionals to be not only proficient in law, but also technology adept as well. Legal professionals need to be acclimated to word processing, telecommunications, spreadsheets, databases and legal research software to maintain in this technological world. Technology impacts every aspect of the legal field, from law firm to corporate practice to document management to the courtroom itself.
Law Firm Technology
Electronic billing is gradually replacing traditional paper invoices in law firms. Technology has become an important legal marketing tool, with law firm websites posting updated legal blog content to stay current and vitally competitive on the Internet.
Electronic case management also changes how documents are handled. Firms will now electronically store case files that used to take volumes. Databases are used to track, edit, search, distribute and archive documents, performing in a few seconds what it used to take a room of lawyers days to do.
E-filing, or the process of filing documents electronically in court, is now common place in federal and state courts. Filings are posted on data-based websites, allowing counsel to access court records remotely from any computer. More and more courtrooms are reaping the benefits of an electronic age.
Technology and the Legal Professional
Legal professionals are using legal technology more than ever before. They use database applications daily. Video conference tools, Blackberries and other technological devices might not be replacing the traditional briefcase, but as they become more important, the briefcase becomes lighter and in all probability carries a laptop.
New Federal Rules of Civil Procedure enacted in late 2006 require parties in litigation to preserve and produce documents that are only in electronic format, such as an email, text or voice message. The time-intensive process of reviewing and producing millions of pages of electronic information has created a host of litigation database management tools. These allow legal professionals to image, code, analyze, review and manage the massive amount of electronic evidence in a process called electronic database discovery.
E-discovery and its many tools have given rise to the new profession of the litigation support professional who implements and manages these e-discovery tools.