Monday, April 25, 2011

The State of Legal Technology

I was recently prompted to answer a question on Quora about the state of legal technology. My answer: fragmented and outdated. That answer included a few examples and raised two other questions: why is so much of legal technology anachronistic, and what can be done about it?

I've set up this space, in part, to provide more detailed thoughts on these three questions. My friend and Tabulaw advisor, Sungmoon Cho, whose blog is very popular in Korea, has been an inspiration to do so in the form of a blog.

I founded Tabulaw to tackle some of the problems with current legal technologies, which limit access to legal information and make the legal system inefficient. In developing and marketing Tabulaw's products, I've gained greater insight into some of the cultural and institutional barriers to improved legal technology. I've also been introduced to many of the technologies that hackers have developed to make their own work more efficient, or at least more fun, and am convinced the next generation of lawyers will be using many similar tools, as well.

I am not the first to notice the lack of technical sophistication in law, or the major transformations that technology could bring to the profession. Richard Susskind's End of Lawyers, for example, identifies many of the structural problems with today's legal profession and the ways that technology may impact its future.  Other insightful thinkers, including Jonathan Zittrain at Harvard and Ed Felten at Princeton, have painted a picture of how technology could (or should?) transform the practice of law.

I hope that this blog can add to these perspectives and provide another bridge between the technical and legal communities.