Practical legal technology for junior lawyers
The legal technology sector remains fragmented and difficult to comprehend for many people embarking on a career in law. Various start-ups compete in diverse areas, such as e-billing, e-discovery, e-signing, legal analytics, workflow management and novel trial prediction technology. Elsewhere, law firms are investing in client customised document automation and due diligence, among other things.
For inexperienced lawyers this jargon can be confusing, and achieving the required expertise on any useful legal technology product can be even more troublesome. Paralegal opportunities often desire candidates with experience on applications such as Relativity, Magnum and Nitro. These descriptions appear more like Gillette marketing brainstorms than tangible opportunities to boost workplace productivity.
Nonetheless, the diverse range of legal technology should not discourage anyone from enhancing their skill on the frequently used platforms. Below are common contexts in which junior lawyers typically encounter legal technology.
Discovery or disclosure during litigation is the process of revealing information pertinent to the dispute to your opposition. Previously trainees sorted through millions of physical documents to find relevant evidence. Nowadays emails, contracts, slideshows etc are all uploaded onto a single platform, for example Relativity, and a trainee is now able to find any document at a click of a button.
Relativity prevents each file format opening up in separate locations – imagine Outlook, Excel, PowerPoint and Word tabs everywhere! The platform also allows machine learning to use human responses to several thousand documents to establish patterns. From these patterns, Relativity’s algorithm estimates with considerable accuracy the relevance of the remaining documents. This saves countless billable hours of disclosure and helps to reduce the client’s costs.
Trainees can gain real insight into E-discovery and Technology Assisted Review by watching the DiscoveryBrief YouTube channel. For more practical experience they should also explore the Relativity website. Relativity’s website offers hours of valuable free training, including video tutorials on how to use the product to perform complex analysis tasks.
When working on a litigation matter as a junior lawyer, you might be part of an international team. Your colleagues may want to annotate, edit and hyperlink useful witness statements, video testimony and deposition evidence. Additionally, to avoid multiple lawyers scrambling through cumbersome paper bundles, usually the case management requires a simplified online workflow. Your team will want the evidence that assists their objections easily available and searchable. Furthermore, cases habitually need to be accessed by worldwide partners and external counsel.
To assist in these tasks many firms use Magnum. Magnum is a cloud-based document management and electronic bundling tool. The platform is a centralised workspace that can also contain courtroom transcripts and video. It allows teams to work digitally and respond to one another in real time throughout the trial.
For greater insight into the changes Magnum has brought to trials, please listen to ‘The Evolution of the Digital Courtroom’ by Legal Talk Network. The podcast extensively discusses the development of Magnum and the platform’s prominent role in litigation.
Signatures are required to make most deals official. With contracts increasingly featuring signatories from multiple jurisdictions, physical signings have become more problematic. Likewise, the cumulative time that lawyers spend printing, signing and scanning documents, is not brilliant for their time = money equation. Consequently, many law firms now have a preferred e-signing partner. Nitro is one such partner. You can freely download and test Nitro out via its website.
E-signing is not particularly exhilarating. Yet, a mastery of the software involved in legal administration, allows you to perform the basic tasks easily. This enhances your productivity, creating more time for stimulating work.
These are just three ways in which those embarking on a career in law can get ahead of curve and learn about the legal technology being used by firms today. There may be other applications out there that serve a similar purpose but at the very least understanding why those applications are being used will serve you well. Having an understanding of the above applications, and learning about them using the resources listed, will give you an edge when it comes to recruitment at the junior end.
by Matthew Dow (@matthewdow99)