A young attorney, Dorna Moini, came up with a great idea while doing pro bono work as an associate at Sidley Austin. She realized that the repetitive nature of her work – essentially, filling out applications for domestic violence restraining orders – was inefficient when it came to time and costs. As a result, she came up with a way to automate the process of filling out forms. In collaboration with a software engineer, they developed software to address this issue. The product is called Documate (formerly known as HelpSelf Legal) and the software engineer is now her chief technology officer.
Using AI in the Law
Documate allows attorneys to create online forms that guide the user through the process of filling out their documents. The software can be coupled with any type of legal form that (1) does not carry a lot of risk and/or (2) does not require legal analysis for completion. The purpose of the software is to take tasks away from attorneys that do not require human supervision.
The target market of the software, initially, was initially civil legal aid groups as well as those who do not qualify for legal aid but cannot afford an attorney. When the software got some coverage from legal websites, it attracted interest even from those in private practice. Documate is sold to all types and sizes of private-practice firms, as well as nonlegal organizations, but is provided free of charge to legal aid organizations.
Technology Trends in the Law
Not surprisingly, technology is becoming more prevalent in all areas of life, including the legal field. Below are some key technological issues that all attorneys should be aware of if they want to stay in the know:
- Legal analytics have become essential – detailed analytics is entering research platforms such as LexisNexis and Westlaw, as well as other areas such as Fastcase and Gavelytics;
- The cloud is no longer something to fear – what once used to be a source of fear is now essential to most, if not all, law firms are using cloud-based computing;
- Practice management is key – whether it is Clio or Rocket Matter, the practice-management market is both stabilizing and maturing; and
- Tech competence has entered the CLE realm – the Model Rules of Professional Conduct, and even some state bar associations, are requiring attorneys attending continuing education in technology.
Simply put, attorneys need to not only know technology but be on the front end of innovation if they want to continue to succeed in their careers.