The Future of Technology In Law: Should Your Law Firm Build A Balcony For Drone Landings?

Is it time for luxury apartments to start offering balconies for drone landings? Some people think so.

Charles Bombardier, mechanical engineer, wrote an article for Wired Magazine touting just that. He opens his persuasive article with the question: “Make no mistake: Drones are coming, and they’re going to change a lot of things about how we shape our lives. So why shouldn’t we change how we shape our buildings to get ready for them?”

Drone Tower—that’s what we’d call it. As Americans mentally prepare for Amazon packages or their next grocery order delivered via drone to their doorstep, engineers are technically ready and already making plans to incorporate this technology in consumer life.

At one point, it seemed far-fetched that information could travel from a computer to portable music player or mobile phone through a USB port, let alone charge the device completely, but now USB ports are built into every new electric socket of your house.

So the idea of drone landing strip in your home may seem a bit futuristic now, but it’s hardly far out.

In fact, 65 percent of Americans already believe that within 50 years robots and computers will “definitely” or “probably” do much of the work currently done by humans, according to a national survey by the Pew Research Center.

With so many technology advances in the law industry of late, it’s easy to see why the majority of Americans consider lawyers replaceable.

Over the past decade, for example, court reporters and deposition stenographers have been replaced by real-time, digitally-recorded transcripts. And, first-year associates—once bogged down with mounds of paper Discovery—are, instead, being substituted for computer software.

Automated indexing and keyword searches in eDiscovery software make it possible to conduct hours of billable work in a matter of minutes. In a 2011 article in The New York Times titled, “Armies of Expensive Lawyers, Replaced by Cheaper Software,” author John Markoff reported that Blackstone Discovery, out of Palo Alto, Calif., helped analyze 1.5 million documents for less than $100,000.

“From a legal staffing viewpoint, it means that a lot of people who used to be allocated to conduct document review are no longer able to be billed out,” said Bill Herr to Markoff in The New York Times.

Herr, as a lawyer at a major chemical company, used to muster auditoriums of lawyers to read documents for weeks on end. Now?

“People get bored, people get headaches. Computers don’t.”

Another Silicon Valley e-discovery company, Clearwell developed software that analyzes documents and identifies concepts, as opposed to simple keywords. In 2010, law firm DLA Piper used Clearwell software to search through a half-million documents under a court-imposed deadline of one week in just two days. Talk about streamlined (and mechanized) operations.

Are androids, not attorneys, powering the legal industry?

“The legal profession needs to do a better job as a whole of embracing and leveraging technology,” asserts Brian Powers, attorney and founder of legal tech startup PactSafe, to the Indiana Lawyer.

“The firms and lawyers who do both of those over then next 25 years are the ones that will be thriving. The rest will be extinct.” 

The future is here for legal technology. Although your law firm may not need a drone-landing balcony quite yet, it’s safe to say, we’re not that far off.

WB

Need help getting started incorporating legal tech in your practice? Take a look at The Center For Competitive Management’s offerings here.

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