During my 2.5 years in law school so far, I have been shocked by how rapidly the legal technology landscape has advanced. Now, when I log onto WestLaw, Bloomberg Law, or LexisNexis, I have data and statistics for individual judges, areas of substantive law, and law firms at my fingertips. I can see how often a specific judge rules in favor of a summary judgement, and filter results across multiple categories. Previously, finding answers to such inquiries would have required hours of work, but now, such analysis is literally at our fingertips. Despite this increased ease of access, I am not afraid that the availability of such data will replace lawyers.
By learning more about the current legal technology landscape as well as possible new developments, law students can become better equipped to advocate for their clients and efficiently provide advice and recommendations regarding the optimal course of action. In addition to taking advantage of free student subscriptions to many of these platforms, I have also benefited from more formal learning opportunities. One such opportunity was enrolling in a relatively new course at my law school – Legal Technology. This class has exposed me to new legal technologies that I had not previously heard about. Furthermore, it provides an opportunity to gain hands-on experience with a variety of areas of technology I otherwise might not have easy access to. For example, I have learned about machine learning and AI’s applicability to the legal field. I have especially enjoyed Skyping with leaders in the legal technology field and hearing about their approaches to innovation.
As I have learned more about legal technology, instead of fearing such technological advances as potential replacements for all lawyers, I rather view these developments as opportunities to work more efficiently and be able to analyze data to provide more nuanced guidance to clients. Learning about legal technology is not only personally interesting to me, but will also help me be a more efficient and competent attorney and better serve my clients.
Because of these positive experiences so far, I am looking forward to listening to and learning from other experts in legal technology and getting a more hands-on view of the latest developments in legal technology at ABA TECHSHOW 2019. I am confident legal technology will assist lawyers and law students such as myself in becoming data-driven lawyers.
Megan Smith Richardson, Northwestern University School of Law, 3L