Law Tech

     I’m not a Luddite. Really, I’m not.
     I’m old. I have trouble getting my Fitbit on my wrist and I’ve got a computer that enjoys turning itself off whenever it feels like it.
     At least I have a Fitbit and a computer. I want to use those things.
     But every now and then I get the strong feeling that a lot of tech isn’t all that necessary or useful. After all, I could exercise or find porn without a machine helping me.
     It could happen.
     Bearing that thought in mind, take a quick look at this video.
     What do you think?
     The video is a description of a program being sold to law firms (assuming law firms are buying it). It shows a lot of computer screens with color-coded columns of stuff and a pointer doing some clicking. There’s some annoying, repetitive telephone-hold music in the background.
     Why would I want this?
     Yes, I do remember the good old bad days when complex litigation generated warehouses of paper. Really – entire warehouses.
     Believe me, young people. It happened. The bodies of associates lost among the files still haven’t all been found.
     Getting masses of files and data into electronic form is a good thing because the earth is finite.
     But we still have masses of files and data. Doesn’t somebody still have to read it?
     This is where the legal tech industry comes in. People think there is big money to be made in the data/document sorting business.
     I know this, in part, because an outfit called Everlaw put out a press release last week claiming to have closed an $8.1 million “funding round” headed up by a major venture capital firm.
     What is all this money going to produce?
     I don’t really know, but I do know that it takes a long time to get wherever this is going. The Everlaw website has a page devoted to a list of improvements to their product that goes back to 2011.
     This is not a bad thing – improvements, by definition, are good. But what are we getting here?
     Everlaw has several videos on YouTube explaining their product. The StoryBuilder Chronology, for example, shows you something that looks strangely like putting things into an outline.
     My yellow legal pad seems pretty advanced right now.
     I will give advanced legal tech credit for a couple of useful things – word searches and adding things up.
     But relying on a word search without reading stuff might cause you to overlook a word that you never thought was important.
     And consider how much irrelevant stuff you’ll come up with if you choose the wrong word or even the right word.
     Somebody’s still got to read things or you’re going to be in trouble.
     And what happens when there’s a glitch in the software or the hardware?
     I can’t wait for the upcoming deluge of legal tech malpractice lawsuits.
     Prediction: The next legal tech startup will be the company helping companies and defense firms with programs designed to thwart and confuse the plaintiff legal tech search programs.
     There will be a law tech arms race.
     
     New career path. There is another upside to the legal tech revolution – job creation.
     We’re going to need masses of people trained in computer technology and law. This could revitalize law schools – their students could fall back on becoming I.T. guys if they don’t pass the bar.
     We need a term for this occupation.
     Lechies?
     Techlawyers?
     Lawnerds?
     I like Judicial Engineers.

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