Undoubtedly, Information Technology (IT) has revolutionized the legal profession and as a result, the legal professional's role has had to evolve. Automation of legal procedures has prompted paralegals, lawyers, legal secretaries and other professionals in the field to become proficient in an ever-expanding array of spreadsheets, word processors, database presentation, legal research software, and telecommunications.
Today, IT impacts every aspect of the legal profession, from corporate practice and law firm to document management and courtroom operation. Below we take a look at 5 indispensable ways in which IT can advance your legal practice as follows:
Needless to say, technology is critical in a corporate legal department. And presently, numerous law firms are investing in this key strategic asset as for every corporate function there is a computer program that can perform it. These include programs that are used for filing patents and trademarks, preparing budgets, creating organizational charts, monitoring counsel fees, keeping up-to-date with directors' stock holdings etc.
Today's law firms have witnessed a gradual replacement of traditional paper invoices with electronic billing (also referred to as e-billing). And with new legal blogs and law firm websites springing up everyday in cyberspace, IT continues to be an essential legal marketing tool.
With the advent of electronic case management, law firms have had to change how they handle documents. Nowadays, voluminous case files are stored electronically with users employing databases to edit, track, search, archive, and distribute documents. IT has transformed legal processes such that every single piece of paper that finds its way into a law firm can now be imaged and the images then sent to company servers either locally or abroad. This will help in organizing your firm's data besides providing a constant backup to your firm's docketing system.
Paralegals, lawyers, and others in the legal profession are relying on IT in an unprecedented way to among others, use their video conference tools, blackberries and other devices, and operate databases relevant to their area of practice. And in order to verify case law, perform research, and track data, legal databases are invaluable. Some of the most popular include Lexis/Nexis and Westlaw although new software products continue to emerge everyday.
The Federal Civil Procedure Rules enacted in late 2006 have fueled the rise of tech-savvy lawyers as they require litigants to produce and preserve documents which are in electronic form (also known as e-documents) e.g. voicemails, e-mails, instant messages, graphics, e-calendars, and data contained on hand-held devices.
Consequently, the time-consuming process of producing and reviewing millions of electronic pages has spawned off numerous database management tools. These have allowed legal professionals to code, image, analyze, manage, and review massive amounts of e-documents in a process referred to as electronic database recovery. These litigation database tools have also contributed to the emergence of a new profession within legal circles i.e. litigation support staff whose core responsibility is implementing and managing new technology tools.
Filing e-documents with the court has now become commonplace in state and Federal courts thereby allowing counsel access to important documents remotely. Further, court rooms now come equipped with monitors and other modern equipment that are designed to enhance the trial process.
For more information about technology resources, IT support, consulting, and other strategic resources related to tech, visit Facet Technologies, Inc. a regional company that specializes in IT Consulting in Peoria, IL and thoroughout central Illinois.
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