Technology and the Law: Is the Legal Profession Adapting Quickly Enough?

By Kaela Carpenter

             The last decade has seen an explosion in the amount of technology we possess and the amount of time we spend using it. However, one area of business that has been slow to transition to a technology forward business has been the practice of law. While there are good reasons the practice of law has been slow to transition, there are just as many good reasons for the legal profession to update their systems to stay up to date with the technology the world is using.

            One of the main ways technology has changed law as a business is by changing the way people, or customers, find the lawyers they want to represent them. Before, the covers of phone books and being on billboards were some of the main ways to gather customers. Now, due to Google and technology, people do not really even get phone books anymore. Today, the main way people find lawyers is by using social media, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, and Google. While using Google can expose your firm to more potential customers, one con to people using Google to find lawyers is that potential customers very rarely will venture beyond the first page of results. Because of this, firms must work harder to make sure Google analytics put their website on the first page of Google searches. Which can mean that some firms with larger marketing budgets get listed first even when the quality of the attorney is not good. One way that I would recommend to consumers is look at google reviews since the law firm has no control over what is posted the review is likely a more accurate assessment of the value of a firm

            Also, websites like Legalzoom can be either positive or negative for the practice of law depending on how a business looks at it. Legalzoom is a website that handles things such as contracts, wills, power of attorney, LLC, and trademark documents. Websites like these can allow lawyers to direct their time to more complex cases. However, these websites are also taking away the income that lawyers would earn by drafting these types of documents for customers. And sadly, because complying with statutory law when it comes to these issues is often more complex than what is on the website, and if legalzoom screws up your legal document there is little recourse since you waived all right to sue when you agreed to purchase a product. Some legal instruments are so simple that these companies can do a lot of good but wills are inexpensive anyway and screwing those up can destroy the financial and emotional future of a family. However, a trained legal mind could benefit from these legal templates and pass their savings to the consumer. This is similar to other programs that uses templates that lawyers can use to create documents. While these programs make it easier and faster to draft documents, this can become a problem when a non-trained legal mind makes an error that renders the document null and void and gives the consumer the false sense of security that ends up putting them in dangerous situations.

             Becoming popular in recent years are document scanning systems. With this, any document can be scanned and put into a virtual data place or saved to a hard-drive or computer. By utilizing this technology, a business would always have a virtual copy of their documents wherever they went. However, while some companies who decide to go completely paperless can use these systems to keep from having dozens of filing cabinets holding all their important documents there is one major drawback. If the system, computer, or hard-drive crashes, and there is not a backup, then everything can be lost. If a business uses this technology only as a backup to be able to access documents while traveling, then it can be a great asset. But there are some legal documents that will always need to be on paper because the law will never allow for certain things to be signed for by electronic signature nor should it.

            In conclusion, while the practice of law is slowly adapting to the changes in technology, I believe that there is great room for growth. If a firm was to focus on keeping up with the changes in technology, then not only would customers be able to find the firm easier, but the customers would also be more comfortable using the firm due to the familiar technology. Once a company learns how to master the technology of the times, especially google analytics to keep their website on the first page, then they should see a growth in their business and social media sites.  At the Reid law firm, they are very intentional about passing their savings on to the client and this is the ethical standard that all firms should strive for. If attorneys would do the ethical thing then there may be less desire for consumers to look to do it themselves websites. I see that the websites have made the practice of law better and more responsive to client needs and even though attorneys do lose a little in the equation, it is always best to do what is right regardless of who it benefits economically.

About the Author: Kaela Carpenter is an intern at the Reid Law Firm. She is a student at Samford University. Kaela can be reached by e-mail at

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