A few centuries ago, the practice of law required scribes for writing case notes when Persian was the language of the court, and people appointed as translators would copy the judgement in another language, by hand. Then came typewriters that mechanised the process and made it faster, followed by facsimile machines and computers. In the last nineteen years of this century, several new technologies emerged that have had great influence in shaping the practice of law. The rise in Intellectual Property practice can only be attributed to technology, innovation and discoveries that required protection by way of patents, trademarks etc.
From the point of view of law students as well, the ability to access diverse sources of law, spread across multiple continents, with great ease of access through their mobile phones has made life so much simpler. Even within the Indian jurisdiction, a host of websites contribute towards making cases, precedents and statutes available beyond the normal working hours of a physical library.
The gain that technology offers seems to be compounded for practising professionals, litigators, advocates and corporate professionals. Below, we examine some of the tools that drastically reduce the time required for legal research, the number of support staff required while also enhancing intra-firm cooperation. It is also a good idea to weigh your specific needs against the services offered by any automated application and then consider whether it is likely to enhance the overall efficiency, turnaround time and quality of work.
1.Voice to text convertor tools obviating the need for stenographers: Traditionally stenographers train to sit for long hours and take notes in their diaries and later type out the content along with formatting. However, using voice recognition for this purpose can help save many hours every day. Instead of waiting for the stenographer to turn up, we can easily start making our own legal documents. Since this tool is available 24/7 there is access available all the time, reducing the total turnaround time required for finishing a document. One such tool is MySteno, which is integrated with Indian laws, abbreviations and procedures and makes legal dictation very convenient.
2. Virtual Databases for Central Access: While OneDrive, Dropbox are generic databases, a law firm can also develop its own virtual database with increased security. This is typically beneficial for firms with multiple offices. Working across offices becomes more systematic as all content related to a case can be uploaded together, making data more integrated. Everyone can track ideas, store legal research and share information with ease with access to a central server or cloud.
3. Real-time updated case-listing on your phone: Till some years ago, a lawyer has to visit the court to find out case listings for the day, requiring time and effort. Applications like Libra make tracking of matters allotted to you easier by collating data on listing across various courts, giving you access to cases on your phone, all at one place.
4.Case Management Applications: As a law firm requires coordination across a team of professionals like solicitors, advocates, legal researchers, a case management app with viewing rights to everyone makes work easier by making sure all changes to case documents are saved real-time. It also helps track working hours to ensure billing to the client is accurate.