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The Future of Legal

What’s Missing When It Comes to Legal Technology?

Douglas Lusk

President, National Society for Legal Technology

Innovation is a buzz word on everyone’s lips these days in the legal profession. Law schools are launching legal innovation labs as fast as they can find professors to teach in them. Law firms are home to incubator programs fostering startup companies looking to create new technology. Like the railroad barons of the 19th century, these technology innovators are laying down tracks that will lead us toward advances in artificial intelligence and block chain technology. “Hackathons” — where legal technologists come together to innovate new legal applications — are taking place across the globe at a record pace.  

Eyes on the road​​​​​​​

In all this excitement, however, the innovators — and those who champion them — are forgetting a critical part of the equation. Namely, that technology is only as good as the training and implementation that goes with it. Train tracks do not have much use if we forget to build the railroad cars that bring people to their destinations.

While law schools are so excited about being called “innovative,” many are forgetting that their basic mission is to instruct and educate. Now, innovation labs can be found in abundance, yet legal software education classes are scarce enough to be on the endangered species list.

Reaching the destination

Many software companies report that the majority of their users only employ about 20 percent of the features the software provides. Firms spend thousands of dollars purchasing new software titles but neglect to invest in proper training for their use. This is a drain on efficiency. The goal of legal technology is not about possessing the newest or most advanced technology — it is about solving a law firm’s real, everyday problems so lawyers can serve their clients efficiently and in a cost-effective manner.

While the tracks that have been laid are pointing us to new and exciting realms in technology, the next big industry push needs to come in the form of legal technology education, the proverbial engine and railroad cars carrying us to these new destinations.

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