The dynamic world we inhabit demands that laws and legal procedures be flexible and adaptable. As technology progresses, legal procedures naturally evolve to be more efficient and productive. The global impact of technological advancements on law practice is significant and spans centuries, with recent times witnessing groundbreaking changes. Some of these revolutionary changes and their impact on the legal system are discussed below:
- Mechanized writing: The typewriter was one of the first technological advancements that was adopted by legal practices. Mechanized writing increased transcription speeds, allowing legal specialists to work more efficiently and productively by creating legal documentation, sharing research, and writing letters and internal files more quickly.
- Commercial copiers: Legal companies had to print several copies of documents before the advent of copiers, which was quite expensive and often outsourced to professional printers. Copying machines allowed law firms to make copies themselves, reducing their need to print and saving them both money and time.
- Telephone fax: Communication is crucial in the legal profession, and the introduction of the fax greatly improved the speed and effectiveness of communication, enabling law firms to communicate with their clients, courts, and third parties quickly.
- Computer systems: Computers have become an integral part of legal practice by improving productivity, enhancing data security, and facilitating knowledge and information management.
- Word processors: With the rise of computers, electronic replacements to the typewriter became necessary. Word processors enabled editing and changes to documents, thus saving time and money while creating documents faster.
- Computer-assisted research: The cost of law libraries was always a concern for legal practitioners until computer-assisted research was introduced, allowing for quicker and cheaper research.
- Laptop computers: Laptops enabled legal practitioners to work remotely, from courtrooms and clients’ premises, improving productivity across all industries.
- The World Wide Web: The internet revolutionized work and life, enhancing communication, research, and data sharing. The internet expanded the scope of laptop use, allowing legal practitioners to conduct research while in court.
- Smartphones and tablets: The benefits of laptops and the internet were scaled down into portable smartphones and tablets, enhancing our ability to work remotely.
- Current technology trends: Virtual hearings, advanced file sharing tools, computer simulations, and artificial intelligence are some of the latest technological advancements that are currently impacting (or will impact) legal practices worldwide.
Technology has had a massive and positive impact on the legal profession, and its influence is only set to continue as we become increasingly reliant on it.