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When it comes to technology, the legal industry isn't known for being an early adopter. But after years of dragging their feet, many firms have now started to embrace legal tech, even if that embrace is a bit tepid. There are legal tech conferences, legal tech blogs (ahem), legal tech gurus. The field is exploding with startups in everything from legal research to practice management to eDiscovery.
So what's next? Here are some promising trends at the intersection of law and technology, taken from the FindLaw archives.
Paper is no longer the main medium for communication (just imagine how many reams you'd go through if your email was printed out) but for many legal documents, you still need a printed page and a signature in ink. Nowhere is this truer than in wills. But, a new bill in Florida could change that, allowing wills to be completed electronically, even witnessed and notarized online. Sure, this might not be as revolutionary as other legal tech change out there, but it's a step in the right direction.
Alright, for those of us who aren't probate lawyers or estate planners, this technological change might be a bit more impactful. Blockchain, the distributed, encrypted ledger technology, has been hailed as the next big thing for awhile now -- and for good reason. It may be able to provide security and reliability for public records without needing a centralized authority, and it could leave a mark on everything from contracts, to land records, to fund transfers.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning are set to transform the practice of law, simplifying, if not fully automating, some of the more rote legal tasks. But breathe easy. The automatons will never be able to fully replace you. According to a new survey, less than a quarter of the tasks lawyers regularly perform could be automated under current technology. That's a lot, but not a lot to send lawyers walking just yet.