Article-1 | PracticeLeague
When virtual courts are in session, litigating lawyers brace up with apt legal technology and tools.

Case presentations, arguments, and oral hearings through web-streaming have ensured the continuous process of justice dispensation. It has also necessitated lawyers to shift reliance on technology.

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Technology-backed reforms at various Indian courts and tribunals have been taking place on a continual, phased-manner for over a decade now. The functioning of e-Courts, digitizing court records, case management, video conferencing, and e-filings are instances of the early adoption of technology across the courts and tribunals. In the face of the pandemic however, the courts have mandated compulsory filings, written submissions, affidavits electronically, and even functioned as a paperless virtual court to ensure quality and continual process of justice dispensation. Lawyers, who otherwise thrive in the legal ecosystem of the interrelationship between lawyers, and peers have had to shift to remote working overnight, necessitating them to turn their reliance on technology. Among others:

The most immediate change caused the lawyers to work away from their offices and mobilize remote work-force with tech collaboration tools for videoconferencing and performing work tasks. Agile law firms were two steps ahead in ensuring seamless execution of work armed with offsite working capabilities for contract management, document sharing, docketing. While we believe that these tools are here to stay even as lawyers resume physical offices and can be harnessed for building agile teams.

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While courts have adopted technology in an unprecedented way with videoconferencing, webinars being a commonplace, senior advocates believe that hybrid system involving technology definitely works for a country like ours as virtual hearings can be embraced in alternative dispute resolution areas, for conducting mediations or negotiations. Reputed judges put forth “technology is relevant for case management and court management: , while also believe that “Technology is an adjunct to Rule of Law”

Remote work has pronounced the irrelevance of paper, in sharp contrast to what is the regular practice. Mounds of paperwork, contracts floated back and forth, misplacement of documents is a typical scene from any law firm. Besides allowing for digitization of records, the paperless mode of operations, arguably offers quicker solutions and are less expensive when scaled up.

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From crisis response to building core competencies

McKinsey reports that during the economic downturns, lawyers have weathered the storm better than the other sectors of the economy and estimates the law firms with transactional practices are likely to have an uptick going forward. The practical effect of an economic downturn for law firms has been identifying means to lower costs, render quality service, and also take care of the escalated work-flow going ahead. In comparison to the economic disruption we have had in the past, the present situation is no different I that sense. But considering the fact that colossal damage that it has created to the legal profession, lawyers have had to think of new ways to navigate to the crisis.

For the moment, there is an unequivocal need to have higher collaboration among lawyers and the legal ecosystem to avoid a domino effect in the future. Automation of work-flow processes for legal functions such as document review and end-to-end contract management, which otherwise were traditionally managed by lawyers, is taken over by technology. The past couple of months have seen the rise in platforms for docketing, archiving of documents that take care of functional and commercial aspects of law practice.

While these suggest the role of the alternative legal service providers, mindful investment in legal technology has helped the legal industry shape up for the present. Improved delivery of legal services, better turn-around time, enhanced delivery models are just a few key takeaways even in the face of unprecedented challenges.