The 3 technologies that won’t shake up the legal world in 2018.

I’m a pro-technology lawyer. Like really pro-technology. But I’m depressed at the state of the reporting of technology in the legal field, generally. The Lawyer Daily posted a story entitled “Three technologies that will shake up the legal world in 2018,” and I read the first sentence and stopped caring.

Their three technologies are artificial intelligence, blockchain, and the cloud.

Artificial Intelligence is not going to shake up the legal world in 2018. It is going to continue to slowly eat at the edges of what has until now been done with less effective tools. But when machine learning behind the submit buttons on all of the legal research and contract review tools on the market, that will not be a shake up to the legal world. That will be evolutionary change. Artificial Intelligence has shaken up the human language translation world in 2017. If you think you know what it is going to shake up next, you are wrong.

Blockchain has no identified application by law firms in the legal space. There are ways that governments, regulators, and our clients might use the technology. And those of us who work in securities will be dealing with an entirely new sort of beast when people start suing one another over ICOs… but shaking up securities is not shaking up the legal world.

The cloud. The cloud will shake up the legal world in 2018? Nope. No, it won’t. Because when lawyers say the cloud, what they mean is the web. Putting it in the cloud means putting it online, to a lawyer. But online is not the cloud. The cloud is when you move from an infrastructure where your server runs on one machine to an infrastructure where your server can run on as many machines as it needs at the time. And law firms are not going to be doing that in 2018, because law firms do not offer online software services. Or at least most don’t.

I think online workflow automation and interoperability are the real sources of change in the next 12 months. But I would have said the same thing last year.

Written by

Lawyer, Round Table Law; 2018/2019 ABA Innovation Fellow; Sessional Instructor, University of Alberta; Computational Law (Symbolic AI) Researcher, CCLaw @ SMU

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