Norma Harris *- The evolution of technology is positively impacting each industry. From retail to hospitality to finances, modern technology has significantly changed the way businesses work. The legal sector is also adopting certain technological advancements to rise in this new modern atmosphere and maintain competitiveness.
The courtrooms are also shifting from traditional tools towards more technologically advanced solutions to streamline processes. Although the legal industry might be considered a conservative one, numerous organizations have realized the benefits of implementing legal technological tools into their daily operations.
After watching movies and television depictions showing legal dramas, many people often think courtroom as a place with classic architecture, piles of documents on tables, and memorials of historic legal scholars in the form of portraits and statues. This is because the grandeur and the formal nature of law have been contrary to advanced technology and tools.
Even in 2010, only one-fifth of attorneys were using laptops for presentations in a courtroom, as stated by the American Bar Association. However, the good news is that attorneys are adapting and utilizing computer technologies for assistance in their cases both in and outside the courtroom in recent years. In addition, there has been a 484% rise globally in the last five years regarding patents filed for new legal services technology.
Just like any revolutionary change, the adoption of technological enhancements in the legal sector is not that easy. Financial compulsions prevent many firms from allocating budgets for implementing these tools. In addition, there is also the presence of some resistance from the old veterans of the legal field who might hesitate to change the working methods that have been there for decades as automation may outperform various jobs and tasks.
Importance of technology in a courtroom
The computer-generated graphics of recent times greatly assist attorneys and expert witnesses to provide a more interactive and enhanced experience to the jury. However, certain technologies are taking things a step further. For example, the arrival of virtual and augmented reality software can build graphical representations. On some occasions, even the witnesses can be presented inside the courtroom without physically being there through holographic technology.
Although things are in the beginning stages, the utility of such technology is encouraging. For instance, medical experts can explain a person’s physical injuries through human anatomy’s life-like imagery, while interactive visuals of an automobile accident can be created through accident reconstructions.
As the legal technology field is making progress, the courtrooms are also developing. However, many courtrooms, unfortunately, lack the required machinery to run various computer-based programs. As a result, many attempts have been made by both state and federal courts to technologically enhance the courtrooms by installing flat-screen monitors and optimum video/audio signal inputs and outputs.
The federal court system frequently implements changes in its courtrooms to keep up with the ever-changing technological enhancements in trial litigation and presentation. Fortunately, such improvements have significantly aided in bridging the gap between big firms and smaller firms by providing both parties access to the same services.
In recent years, virtual litigation services have also gained popularity with the arrival of cloud storage. The storage capacity of the cloud allows attorneys to avoid heavy piles of paper files, and attorneys can hire virtual legal assistants to take care of back-office tasks like creating and organizing documents electronically, do legal research, transcribe dictation, and much more so they can get time for more important things like client interaction.
Legal Technology Trends in the Courtroom
Legal Transcription Solutions:
An increasing workload of the courtroom task has significantly increased the demand for qualified court reporters. As all court proceedings (hearing, trials, and depositions) must be conducted in the presence of a reporter, their shortage is delaying many legal processes.
A transcription solution or who is equipped with AI technology is rapidly acquiring a center stage as an effective solution to the increasing shortage of court reporters. By applying automated speech recognition (ASR) technology, the AI can effectively enhance the speech-to-text frameworks to the extent that it can transcribe legal proceedings with complete precision. Hence, AI transcription can benefit courtrooms through their chronic backlogs by bridging the gaps when there are not enough courtroom reporters available and ensure a smooth and speedy trial.
Evidence camera is one the most prominent elements of a technologically enhanced courtroom. It provides the facility of converting physical documents into digital images showcased on the courtroom’s video monitors. In addition, the images can be enlarged or reduced in size for better evidence examination.
Digital Recording Technology:
The utilization of digital recording technology has become a common practice in many courtrooms of the country. Oregon, Utah, New Hampshire, Indiana, and Alaska are already utilizing digital audio recording for most of their courtroom sessions; others have also started to implement the same. This displays the progress of technology adoption across the country.
The Bottom Line on LegalTech in Court:
Considering all the given factors, courtroom technology will definitely continue to grow at a rapid pace. Many pieces of research have shown that using such technology can significantly enhance efficiency, decrease the trial cost, and boost jury retention and engagement. In addition, studies have also stated that even jurors agree on the usage of technology in trials for improving their understanding with respect to testimony and evidence.
To ensure compatibility, attorneys and experts must regularly acquaint themselves with the new digital implications that are available. Through proper usage, courtroom technology can become a deciding factor for one’s case in obtaining a positive outcome.
The implementation of developing technology erases the belief that courts are conservative regarding legal technology. It also throws light on the positive trend of technological adoptions in all aspects of the legal system. While trained professionals like court reporters will undoubtedly remain an integral part of the process, using legal technology provides ever-lasting benefits for the entire legal industry.
The legal technology market is growing at a rapid speed, and one can clearly expect even more innovative solutions in the upcoming years. All of this comes down to one conclusion: legal technology will further grow in the future. Firms that understand the benefits and implement legal, technological tools into their daily operations will attain a competitive advantage over other firms that might still be utilizing conventional methods.
Norma Harris is a senior paralegal in Cogneesol. She has been a major contributor to the legal sector for the last 8 years. She writes about the technological transformation of the legal sector, helping legal professionals and law firms to manage their legal back-office tasks and helping them to drive growth in the agile market.