Is this the end of the world as we know it?

Is this the end of the world as we know it?

Author: Andrew Sharpe - LexisPSL Head of Commercial

Professor Richard Susskind is well-known in legal technology circles and is the current president of the Society of Computers and law. In his book The End of Lawyers, he identified the top 10 disruptive technologies that he predicted would shape the legal services industry. In this personal view, and not that of my employer LexisNexis, I review where I think we are with these disruptive technologies.

• Relentless Connectivity
The first mobile handset I used (a Motorola 4500x) had a battery that weighed about 4 kg and was nearly the size of a Butterworths Company Law Handbook. Speech quality was poor. Now almost all lawyers are slaves to their Blackberry or Smartphone, with push email available 24/7. Nearly all law firms provide online access to document servers, with knowledge management systems or external legal information services available 24/7, too. That said, I have not seen this shape legal services, merely speed them up. It has merely increased the pressures on lawyers providing those services.

• Automated document assembly
This is an area where I expect there to be some real developments. The first systems have been little more than automated form filing, but all the main providers (such as Business Integrity, suppliers of the software behind LexisSmart) are looking to develop more intelligent systems. The value of these systems inevitably relies on the underlying content, so as they develop I expect this will drive greater pooling of know-how – see Closed Legal Communities.

• Electronic legal marketplace
When I first read about the reverse auction website Shpoonkle I simply laughed. Do turkeys vote for Christmas? However, if I were a General Counsel I would certainly consider a closed electronic marketplace for panel law firms. I expect the use of online marketplaces to increase, but thi

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