At Stanford’s Code X, speaker Jim Sandman of Legal Services Corporation promoted the use of technology in the legal industry in 10 ways:
- Focus on courts and administrators to improve access to justice. Judges see what’s going on in their court rooms. It’s hard to be a judge presiding over a case where the client has no lawyer. Judges get frustrated when the litigant before them has a valid case or defense, but they don’t know it because they don’t know the law or have representation. Talking to judges can fill this gap. Attend the conference of state court admins, the conference of state judges and talk to them about these issues.
- Go to the funders of civil legal services – Funders of civil legal services, like the Florida Bar Foundation, require the use of the same case management system so they can get data and compare one program to another. Look for other sources of funding and keep in mind access to justice, and see how you can influence the funders’ impact on legal technology.
- Go over the heads of lawyers directly to their clients – There are clients out there who are interested in promoting use of technology in the law firms they use. Ask them to conduct technology competency test for lawyers.
- Rank lawyers based on their use of technology – Jim’s suggestion is to punish and shame lawyers when they don’t use technology to improve their services. Rankings of law firms change behavior. Come up with a set of standards to evaluate the tech proficiency of law firms. Write stories of who’s doing what and who’s not doing what.
- Don’t give up on regulators, including bar examiners – Some proficiency with technology is part of competency as a lawyers. You must provide competent legal service and if you’re not using the right technology to do that, you’re not meeting the standard of care required to meet your obligations.
- Think about who pays for legal services but is not a client– Insurance companies have influence on the way the law firms they pay do their business. Go over the lawyers’ heads and talk to the insurance companies. They look at what it costs for a firm to provide services for a particular litigation. They want the efficiency. They want the work done in less time, not more. If you market to them, you can influence the use of legal technology.
- Talk to malpractice insurers – While malpractice insurers can be impediments to the use of legal technology because they are unknown and risky, and they they rate risk based on experience, they can also be useful in promoting the use of technology. If you have an innovation that will reduce the risk of malpractice insurance where the failure to adopt would put the firms at a risk, the malpractice insurance company would be interested in that and promote its use. Think about how to reduce that risk and go to malpractice.
- Shine the light on law firm leaders – If you shine the spotlight on thought leaders and firm leaders, you give them a competitive advantage that’ll engage them and amplify their voice. Look for leaders in the legal profession. Make them allies.
- Legal academia can help – Introduce technology to law students. Make it a part of their education and make lawyers tech savvy from the very beginning.
- Circumvent the lawyer administered regulatory process – This is a consumer protection issue and the effective functioning of our legal system. There should be a strong governmental interest in this. Equal justice under law is one of the core principals of the US. It’s who we are as a country. Using technology to provide effective and equal justice should not be thwarted by the regulatory process.
To gain more insight into using technology to improve the legal industry, follow Jim Sandman at @LSCtweets