How we define and practice law is perhaps one of the clearest reflections of the societies and times we live in. Before World War 2, nobody even thought about issues like crimes against humanity and the legal repercussions of global warfare. In the 21st century, online security and cybercrime are at the forefront of many legal processes.
With that in mind, let us look at three important trends in the legal industry.
Global Outsourcing and Labour
One of the many effects of globalisation is creating labour parity systems across most countries in the world. It can be seen in various industries such as manufacturing, telecommunications, trade, and education. While in the past, employees could only market themselves and work for a local company, today, things have changed. If you are a skilled individual in one nation, you can work for a company in a completely different country for similar pay.
The same can be said for the legal industry, especially at a corporate level. For instance, let us imagine you are the owner of a small business and your firm is being sued for bribery, tax fraud, company fraud, or corporate crime. Instead of having no option but to choose the services of a local law firm, you now have the choice of expanding your search for representation to offshore markets. Even if you are in the United States, if you find a qualified corporate fraud attorney in England, this does not impede you from having him represent you.
For your firm, this represents a dual-advantage. On the one hand, you are getting the best service money can buy at a global level. On the other, with presentation and video conferencing platforms like Zoom or Google Meet, you are not paying more for it.
AI in Decision Making
In the last decade or so, we have seen the geometric growth of artificial intelligence in all walks of life. From unmanned airplanes used in the military to compute engines that can process enormous amounts of information and HR robots that can measure an individual’s potential in a specific job, AI continues to be an integral component of many corporate decisions.
When it comes to legal issues, AI is now being used primarily to collect and process information. There are several benefits to this. First, a machine can look at and analyze data much faster than a human being. Second, it is also less expensive as one AI system can perform the job of up to 10 paralegals. Finally, a computer doesn’t get tired. As long as there is electricity to power it, it can continue researching the same efficiency level as in the beginning.
In the near future, AI will not only aid in decision-making but take part in it as well. While some argue that a decision made by a machine is dispassionate and only takes facts into account, others worry that not everything is black and white. Oftentimes a verdict of guilty or innocent is purely circumstantial. In essence, a robot can make an accurate decision, but one is left to wonder whether it is the right one.
Previously, we looked at the role globalisation has played and continues to play in the labour market. But there is another instance related to the law where the influence of globalisation can be seen. And that instance is the law in and of itself.
According to the United Nations, there are 195 countries in the world, 193 of them being members of this global organisation. As such, in theory, there are also 195 different legal systems.
Of course, this is not true, and most countries use similar legal processes when handling different types of cases. A murder is a capital crime no matter where you live. While in some countries it might merit the death penalty and in others, it may not, it is a crime, and the perpetrator has to be punished.
Yet, what if a Russian citizen with a computer commits a cybercrime in the United States while on a flight to the UK? What if this is done while the plane is navigating through international waters? In this case, who is responsible for prosecuting this individual and under what nation’s jurisdiction?
Clearly, the idea of a unified global system would make matters like these not only much easier to handle but also much more expeditious and fair.
As we have seen, three key trends in the legal industry are global outsourcing and labour, AI in decision-making, and a shift into a unified global system.
As technology develops and distances between nations become smaller and smaller, they will continue to define how processes are handled and decisions are made regarding the law.