The Role of Technology in Litigation
Lawyers in Australia are now doing more work than they used to. With electronic documents now allowed as legal evidence in court, law experts today need to handle more information and use limited resources in the best way possible to hasten assessment of cases.
Unfortunately, this so-called information overload has a downside. So far, this has led cases to drag longer which the experts point out as contributing only to an inefficient system. As cases drag on and organizations are spending more on litigation, the longer it takes for parties involved to reach a settlement.
Another issue that's happening is the lack of manpower in law firms despite the rise in litigation spending. This is trend common in the U.S., the U.K. and Australia since 2011. In the U.S., 79 percent of companies said they had five or fewer in-house lawyers and 61 percent of law firms in the U.K. also claimed the same.
The same situation is being experienced in Australia. Lawyers are charging more for their hourly rates but at the same time, they're also doing more work manually reviewing documents instead of performing the real legal work. This has resulted in higher costs to law firms and sadly, to a poor customer service and inefficient system.
Here are other interesting statistics worth noting.
- 20% of lawyers spend more time in doing research.
- Nearly half of lawyers said new partners often quit due to the amount of information they need to work on.
Setting up a digital support system is one way of preventing these issues in law firms in the future. When companies that provide legal services are able to do this, there is a greater chance of responding faster to the needs of clients. With the use of legal technology, data gathering, storing and assessment data can be made faster. This then can lead to lower litigation costs benefiting the law firm and their clients as well.
Computer technology allows for the automation of back office operations, word processing and front office functions in particular managing cases and automating litigation support. When legal practice technology is in place, there are many tasks that can be done without having to be a programmer. These tasks include creating electronic checklists and procedural forms, databases, multimedia interactive forms and hypertext documents and fast searching of documents or words and phrases among thousands of documents.
Higher courts are also using modern technology today. The Supreme Court of Victoria, for instance, has a range of courtroom technologies and infrastructure to speed up litigation and support the needs of litigants and lawyers alike.
About the guest author:
Morris is a practicing lawyer who acknowledges the benefits of modern technology in speeding up the litigation process. He is a partner at HCA lawyers.