The American Bar Association’s Law Practice Division publishes a bi-monthly magazine, Law Practice, which contains insightful articles and practical tips on marketing and client development, practice management, legal technology, and finance. July/August’s “Big Ideas” issue serves as a type of long-range planning session for the practice of law and its possible societal impact. Below is a selection of technology highlights from the issue.
“Documate: Beyond Document Assembly” by Heidi S. Alexander
“Document assembly enables programmable logic that will control output based on the inputted values. For example, you can use conditional logic to automatically change text to reflect an individual’s gender throughout the document. Beyond assembly, we now have document automation, which takes this concept even further. Automation encompasses more of the process. These tools can create workflows that take you through the entire life cycle of a document, from questionnaire to document generation to signature.
One product that goes beyond traditional document assembly is Documate (documate.org). Like many other legal tech tools, Documate was conceived by a lawyer, Dorna Moini, looking for a better way of dealing with documents in practice. I find that the product backstory is nearly as interesting as the product itself.”
“Retaining the Best of Our COVID Technology-Focused Existence Will Be a Challenge” by Daniel J. Siegel
“Eventually, the pandemic will fade into our memories. Meanwhile, many articles in legal journals are predicting how quarantined life will change the practice of law forever. For some firms, it has. For some courts, it has. For some offices, however, the transformation may be primarily superficial—that is, unless leadership takes the steps necessary to evaluate whether its actions during the pandemic met the needs of its staff. These offices need to evaluate what worked, what did not work and where to take the firms in a post-pandemic technology world.”
“Alternatives to All-or-Nothing Technology Adoption” by Laura L. Keeler
“Too often, lawyers believe that integrating technology into their practices involves all-or-nothing investments. Boggled by product marketing, attorneys may shudder at the thought of redoing all their internal processes at once. Others may encounter resistance from longtime partners or office administrators. Usually, such opposition stems from risk aversion (thinking “law should be practiced the way it has always been done”) and a narrow interpretation of costs (“if our firm automates our processes, what will we have left to bill?”). However, there are fallacies with this kind of reasoning.”
“Moving Courts Online” by Michael L. Spekter
“Of the numerous changes imposed on the practice of law by the COVID-19 pandemic, perhaps nothing was more of a watershed than the broad move to online litigation. If you are a litigator, I would wager that you have both taken and defended more than a few depositions on Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Webex, Go To Meeting or a similar platform; participated in substantive motions hearings before a court or administrative body; and perhaps even had complete trials or administrative hearings—all online. Prior to February 2020, very few attorneys knew about, let alone had used, Zoom. By April 2020, every lawyer I know was using Zoom as a verb—several times a day.”