Kerwin Burl Stephens of Texas is a legal field professional who stays at the cutting-edge industry trends. In the following article, Kerwin Burl Stephens discusses the future of the industry, and how technology is changing the way legal professionals do business.
While some industries have fully embraced modern technological advancements, others, like the legal sphere, have been somewhat slower to shift away from precedents and time-honored procedures. How might new and future technologies transform the legal profession?
New technologies such as AI, automation, and blockchain offer many potential benefits to the sector, including increased efficiency, wider access to information, and better communication between clients and attorneys. These digital advancements, however, are often expensive to install and may struggle to adapt to policy changes and exceptions.
So, innocent, or guilty? Kerwin Burl Stephens of Texas reviews the facts and decide how the latest technologies might fare in the courtroom.
Kerwin Burl Stephens of Texas on Litigation Automation
Since the Industrial Revolution, the term “automation” has been a two-sided coin. On the one hand, using technology to speed up repetitive processes can save businesses time, money, and manpower. On the other hand, however, it can also cause a host of problems and threaten to disemploy workers whose jobs can be easily automated.
In the modern, digital world, automation has impacted practically every profession and despite the cost and commitment of attending law school and becoming a lawyer, the legal sphere is no exception.
Kerwin Burl Stephens of Texas says that many firms have begun using automation for repetitive and rule-based tasks that require little interpretation, such as searching for precedents and key terms, classifying data and invoicing clients. Research even suggests that using Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can cut legal costs by 20-40% by reducing human error and speeding up operational tasks.
This can also help firms communicate with clients by making it easier to search for and record data, which then allows lawyers to respond to clients more quickly and spend more time resolving the nuanced, complex legal issues of their individual cases.
Despite these many benefits, however, automation programs can be expensive to install and run, and issues may arise that require an exception or modification to standardized rules or when procedures change. As a technological tool, automation programs also cannot comprehend the real-world impacts their findings may have on clients.
Blockchains in the Legal Industry
Blockchain technology yields similar time-saving and cost-cutting benefits in the legal field by supporting decentralized digital databases that connect nodes in a shared computer network.
Many industries have been attracted to blockchain technology for its efficiency, transparency, and the difficulty involved in manipulating or altering its decentralized data system. Kerwin Burl Stephens of Texas explains that since data collected in a blockchain is encrypted, stored across different nodes, and easily traceable, changing information from any single node is nearly impossible.
Given the sensitivity of many legal documents, these features make recording and sharing data potentially more secure than alternative methods, such as emailing zip files. The standardized programming also reduces the risks of human error and information falling into the wrong hands.
Kerwin Burl Stephens of Texas indicates that blockchain can be applied in many legal processes, including:
- Smart contracts
- Property records
- Intellectual property regulations
- Custody tracing
- Financial transfers
While many analysts have suggested that blockchain will revolutionize business in the modern world, the new technology can be prohibitively expensive because of the high computational power required to run the system.
Kerwin Burl Stephens of Texas notes that Artificial Intelligence, commonly known as AI, has become a key technology in everything from facial recognition on cell phones to song recommendations based on previous searches. In the legal field, AI is often used to perform “behind-the-scenes” tasks to enable human representatives to focus more of their attention on client interactions.
Some of the most common AI applications in firms include:
- E-discovery, which allows lawyers to scan documents by using search terms.
- Legal research, which allows industry professionals to locate precedents, case laws and other regulations by searching extensive legal databases.
- Document management, which allows firms to organize legal files and control their accessibility.
- Document automation, which allows lawyers to automatically transfer known information onto standardized templates.
By reducing the time and hands-on involvement required to perform these research and data collection tasks, the use of AI can increase the accessibility of legal aid by reducing labor costs. Additionally, AI can enhance lawyers’ ability to focus on aspects of the profession that fall outside the realm of AI, such as empathizing with clients, contextual reasoning and creativity.
Kerwin Burl Stephens of Texas says that given the standardization underlying AI functionality, complications may arise when precedents reflect the role of implicit biases in previous rulings. Relying on AI resources can also raise ethical concerns regarding who should be held responsible in ambiguous or problematic situations.
In cases involving AI input, the losing party may question if blame should fall on their lawyer, the opposing counsel, the technology itself or even the programmer. Similarly, if one lawyer uses AI and another does not, questions may arise over whether a ruling is truly fair.
Although the legal industry has been slower to embrace new technologies than many other professional fields, tools such as automation, blockchain technology and AI have the potential to reduce the time spent on research and repetitive procedures, helping to shift lawyers’ attention and work hours to building client relationships.