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Importance Of Technology For Lawyers in the Coming Times
Legal Technology

Importance Of Technology For Lawyers in the Coming Times

Technology has become an integral part of our society. It plays a vital role in human lives now transforming every section and strata of society. From children to the oldest people, all are using technology and it has made things simple and easier for people. From education to the corporate world, technology has proved useful and supportive providing numerous benefits than drawbacks.

Technology is not limited to Business sectors only, but it has paved its way into the legal industry as well. Corporate law firms have adapted and embraced the technology as it has made their work process much easier and simpler. Technology is proving best friend to lawyers in various areas of work and many litigation lawyers have already started embracing technology in their daily routine.

 

 

Why Embracing Technology is Crucial Now More than Before?

COVID-19 has proved the need and vitality of certain changes in the legal industry. Whether law firms or litigation practitioners, usage of technology is growing daily. From e-filing to hearing via video conferencing, Courts have gone virtual although certain difficulties are being faced by the judges and the advocates. However, coping with the change and need has left not much space.

 

Time is unpredictable and Coronavirus outbreak has proved and forced people and every small and big business to a standstill for an unknown time period. In such a situation, it turned out to be extremely essential to embrace technology as it will make the process of work much smoother and easier. It will also save the cost of time and avoid other unnecessary stuff.

 

The present situation has taught people to find an alternative and long-lasting solutions over the available resources. Amid this crisis technology adoption has become the key to survival and success.

 

 

Software Available for Lawyers and Law Firms

 

Time and Billing Software

This software tracks time spent on working on a project accurately and creates invoices accordingly. Time and Billing software is helpful in creating accurate time deadlines and crucial for the firms or companies in the professional field. Some of the law firms are benefiting from this software already now.

 

Customer Relationship Management

Customer Relationship Management or CRM software is essential for business companies and law firms are no exception in my opinion. CRM is very critical to businesses as it helps to consolidate company data in one space. Law firms can access customer data, send bulk emails to their clients and newsletters, invitations, etc.

 

Document Management Solution

This software is used for the collection of secure data. It helps to organize, store, access, and share documents including confidential files. Through this application, Documents can be stored on the cloud and can be accessed from smartphones or tablets.

 

Finance and Accounting Software

This software can make work much easier and simpler by providing financial tools and features that can help lawyers and law firms in tracking and managing their book of accounts, profit, and loss, monitoring all financial performance, etc.

 

Proofread and Review

Proofread and review helps read and review large files that can take hours to read and review by a man. This is less time consuming and more reliable in terms of errors.

 

Knowledge Management Software

Knowledge management software can help lawyers and law firms organizing, publishing, and sharing important documents including opinions, transaction files, judgments, etc. This software also helps to lessen the cost while maintaining the quality of work.

 

Case Management

It helps to manage your cases and it works as a reminder keeping the details of all your cases. This is proved to be less hectic for lawyers and law firms.

 

In addition to the above list of software, other digital tools which are helpful to lawyers for a better experience for their clients are Live Chat, Artificial Intelligence enabled document scanners for scanning large and heavy documents and other data; this is already being used by most of the law firms and lawyers in their offices. This software is commonly used in countries like the USA and UK.

 

 

Benefits of Technology

  1. Technology takes less time in comparison to humans
  2. Fewer chances of error as technology will increase accuracy and transparency.
  3. More reliability unless the software gets corrupt and hacked.
  4. Large data files storage.
  5. Easy Access, Time management, and fast process
  6. Reduces large stack of papers into a device that is also environment friendly.

 

 

Drawbacks of Technology

Every coin has two facets so it is with technology usage. Drawbacks are as follows: -

  1. Cyber-attack risk
  2. Lack of fully trained users can cause the risk of data loss.
  3. A mistakenly given command can corrupt the device.

Cyber-attacks are emerging rapidly since the lockdown started as various big organizations and companies have allowed their employees to work from home and home internet networks and systems are not fully cyber secure. Security can be breached easily, and the organization’s confidential data can be stolen. Therefore, the risk is high using the unsecured system.

 

 

Limitation of Technology for Lawyers in the Present Scenario

 

Necessity is the mother of all invention. Definitely, lawyers are trying to learn and adapt to present scenario, however, subordinate courts lack basic IT facilities including lawyers practicing there and Bar Council of India in its letter addressed to Chief Justice of India has shown emphatic concerned towards advocates and judges as well mentioning “I can emphatically say that 90% of Advocates and hon’ble judges though out the length and breadth of the county are themselves unaware about the technology and about its nuances,..” (Source: LiveLaw).

 

19 lakhs advocates practice in India and the majority of lawyers lack the basic IT infrastructure so it is not hard predicting that 90% of advocates and judges lack technical knowledge and find it hard to learn and adapt technology.

 

 

Future Scenario

The present situation is enough to teach the lawyers and law firms that their staff and they shall be well versed with technology and changing aspects of society. Only survival is not enough but co-existence with the unseen situations has become crucial.

 

 

What Can Be Done to be Future-Ready?

To avoid such chaos in the future, lawyers can facilitate themselves with technology advancement and provide proper training to their staff. So that they don't find themselves in the pool of unknown. Some suggestions are as below that lawyers can avoid the present crisis in the future by: -

  1. Update and upgrade with technology.
  2. Bringing technology to practice in their daily routine of work.
  3. Research and exploring Artificial Intelligence including other aspects of technology.
  4. Encouraging more virtual meetings and usage in their work style.
  5. Not restraining themselves to a particular software or application.

 

 

Conclusion

Technology can help lawyers and law firms in various positive ways. It improves communication and efficiency. It also helps to keep employees engaged, increases the quality of their work, provides an unlimited supply of knowledge. Lawyers and law firms can get maximum benefit by training their staff and themselves. Technology has revolutionized the legal industry with its advancement. It can help law firms and law offices to achieve higher milestones driving their work capacity and sorting their small work issues for instance case updates, client management, etc. However, considering the available IT infrastructure of our country, technology adoption amongst lawyers, law firms and law offices will take some time. So, for progress, growth, and success in the future, every lawyer should prepare themselves and learn to adopt technology and become future-ready.

“Technology can become the wings that will allow the educational world to fly farther and faster than ever before-if we will allow it.” – Jenny Arledges

 

Authored By: Asha Singh, Advocate

Practicing in High Court of Punjab and Haryana, Chandigarh

 

 

Disclaimer: The content of this article is solely the author’s personal analysis and interpretation. In case you wish to act upon on the basis of the content of this article, please seek legal advice. The author shall not be responsible for any loss you may incur as a result of your actions relying upon this content. The content herein is the copyrighted material of the author and is informational and shall not be used for commercial purposes other than for personal reading.

 

Appearing in court hearing through video conferencing?  8 important tips for you
Legal Technology

Appearing in court hearing through video conferencing? 8 important tips for you

During the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, videoconferencing is the new normal & Indian courts are adopting videoconferencing as a critical measure to continue the judiciary to work & to ensure the implementation of social distancing as a mandatory safety measure for all.

 

Now, most of the courts don’t have in-person appearances and have started using videoconferencing tools to facilitate and streamline the administration of justice.

 

We have seen a sudden rise in court proceedings via videoconference but lawyers are still to catch up with the new technology and their new normal of pleading in the court. Lawyers are trying to navigate the not so easy screen of video conference software & the attached new etiquette of it. Unfortunately in a country like India where technology penetration among Lawyers is low and not all practicing lawyers have become accustomed yet with the digital techniques of practice. Recently an honourable Judge made an observation and requested that lawyers appearing before him through videoconference should at least wear shirts and dress in a manner that is appropriate to the courtroom.

 

So the key question is WHAT IS THE RIGHT ETIQUETTE FOR COURT APPEARANCES via VIDEOCONFERENCE? What steps can – and should – you as a Lawyer take to ensure that your videoconferences are professional and suitable for the hearing?

 

Court appearances using videoconference are very new methods and there are no well-established rules or accepted practices available as of now. Having said that, I feel common sense along with practical knowledge can be used to make sure that you put your best foot forward when pleading for your clients via videoconference. I have collated a few practical tips for you so that you can follow these tips and stay ahead in the practice of the online representation in courts.

 

 

1. Your Professional Attire

It’s very practical & common sense that you should dress appropriately for the online hearing, at least on the top half of your body, since that’s all that will be visible on the screen. Put on a white shirt and/or a black coat, this is applicable to both the genders. This can make a huge difference. Comb your hair and make yourself presentable. We all are homebound during lockdown, but if you’re appearing in an online video court proceeding, dressing is the key. By doing that, your looks will not distract from the point you’re trying to make. And if your client is also asked to appear in the hearing, make sure to remind your client about the importance of dressing correctly.

 

 

2. Mention your ROLE in your login name

This is very important because Judge is also looking at your name to talk to you hence if your ROLE is also mentioned there, it will help him/her identify you correctly. For example Mahesh Moorthy, Lawyer for the defendant. If your client is also attending via videoconferencing, the client should also use the same nomenclature i.e. Ajay Mishra, Defendant.  By doing this, it becomes immediately clear to everyone attending the hearing who you are and what is your role, thus providing more clarity and ensuring that the proceeding runs smoothly.

 

 

3. Login Early

Like in the real court, we all are present before the Hon’ble judge’s entry in the courtroom, similarly, it is a good idea for both you and your client to log in for the hearing a few minutes early. By doing that if you find any technical issues while logging in, you will have time to correct it.

 

 

4. Watch your body language

As a lawyer, you know that court craft is all about your body language and it is equally important for your clients too even during a videoconference. For new users (in Indian scenario almost all are new) it may be difficult to get used to it i.e. looking directly at the camera when you speak. Also, during the videoconference, don’t do any kind of multitasking. You should keep your hands away from your face and keep your face as neutral as possible. Your facial expressions are more easily identifiable during videoconferences and you don’t want any expression to be misinterpreted by the judge! Make sure that you share these tips with your clients who also might be appearing in the hearings.

 

 

5. Your Background in the Video

Yes! that is the most ignored aspect in a Video Conference and that is the most disturbance causing reason too. Always check your background before logging into the videoconferencing session. If you are sitting in your room then be aware of what’s behind you and how it will appear to the Judges during the hearing. Make sure there are no distractions like reflections of lights or the sunlight coming directly on the background behind you. If there is no option and you are in a room which is not professional; like a bedroom or kitchen, then you can use a background image in the videoconferencing software usually now available in all of them and if you are using a background make sure to choose a professional-looking background for example a bookshelf etc. 

 

 

6.  Do the technical checks of your camera & microphone before the call

Technically check your computer system before you go live on videoconferencing. It is a good idea to conduct a practice session before you appear for your live hearing and more importantly advice your client also to check his computer system thoroughly. If you have never used the videoconferencing software preferred by the court, make sure it’s compatible with your laptop/mobile or desktop and download the software before the scheduled conference. Advice your client to do the same. Better safe than regret!

 

 

7. Use a good quality headset

As a technology company we advise avoiding usage of your computer’s audio. You should use a good quality headset and if it’s Bluetooth make sure that you have paired it with your device much in advance to the video hearing. We also suggest keeping a wire ready in case Bluetooth fails for any reason like not charged enough, pairing issues etc. A headset, allows you to maintain client confidentiality and have better sound quality all around. It is a very important etiquette to mute yourself whenever you’re not speaking i.e. keep your microphone off to avoid any unwanted sound/noise which can create a distraction. This advice applies equally to your clients attending the videoconference hearing.

 

 

8. Discuss with your client ahead of time

If your client will be participating in the virtual court hearing, make sure that your client understands how the videoconference hearing works and that all participants can hear what’s being said if you’re not muted. Explain the importance of confidentiality and how it is critical to avoid sharing confidential information or to have confidential discussions during the appearance.

 

 

Those are my top videoconferencing etiquette tips for Lawyers. Did I miss anything? If so, let me know in the comments.

To know more about how technology can help manage and grow your practice visit us at https://www.legalkart.com/lawyers-practice-management

 

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