Technology And The Legal Profession – A Perfect Merger

The law offices of yesterday were what are now known as “paper offices.” News stories, briefs, testimonies, and attorney billable hours were all recorded and displayed on pieces of paper. In today’s digital age, we know that paper systems can cause money, time, and efficiency to be lost. Additional staff must be hired to manage paper documents, to file legal briefs, and to search for and/or catalog evidence. Losing a vital paper means that extra time and money must be spent tracking down a copy. Compiling billable hours by hand is time-consuming. And, paper-based case filing systems require large amounts of storage space to warehouse – which is expensive – and can require long bouts of human searching to retrieve necessary documents, which is time consuming.

Enter the electronic law firm, the digital courtroom, and the virtual database.

Modern technology has digitized or automated most aspects of paralegal, legal secretary, and attorney job functions. From billing hours to retrieving evidence to filing briefs with a court of law, technology is helping legal professionals to perform an amazing amount of work cheaply and efficiently.

One of the greatest advances in legal work is the increased use of digital entities such as databases, e-mails, message board postings, and text messages as evidence. These types of records are invaluable in quickly enabling legal teams, judges, and juries to see evidence of crimes. Cyber-technology specialists are experts at deciphering and translating electronic records into testimonies and evidence.

Digital evidence can be especially compelling in intellectual property cases, murder cases, and white-collar crime debacles. For example, critical e-mails in the Enron case were used as evidence that the energy giant had partnered with its accounting firm, Arthur Andersen, to produce faulty accounting and auditing records. These e-mails ultimately helped to indict Enron and Arthur Andersen associates in criminal wrongdoing. However, digital evidence has other legal uses, as well. For example, the contents of pop star Michael Jackson’s computers were seized for use against him in The People v. Jackson, a case during which he was accused of lewd acts involving children, in 2005.

Technology-based evidence is a great development for expediting trial preparation and procedures. However, technology can be used in law firms on a daily basis, helping to make the daily tasks of paralegals and lawyers easier to complete.

Legal hour tracking and calculation programs allow employees of law firms to partially or fully automate the legal billing process. Paralegals, lawyers, and other legal professionals are often billed for their work on an hourly basis. Therefore, they must itemize the tasks they perform on an hourly basis, as well. Specialized legal billing software allows legal professionals to bill for their hours; these bills might be submitted internally, as well, for payroll, firm budgeting, or accounting purposes.

Another area of legal practice in which technology is an asset is document control. There exist several proprietary legal software packages that streamline the document imaging and preservation processes. Paralegals and lawyers are able to scan paper documents and convert them into electronic files; compile databases of evidence, facts, or statistics; code litigation documents for quicker retrieval — and in some cases, restore the quality of damaged electronic documents. These document-control programs allow legal professionals to work more efficiently while saving immeasurable amounts of space – and, therefore, costs — by eliminating the need for bulky paper organization and filing systems.

There also exist special software packages to manage cases and litigation. These packages can include features for client interviews, the management of evidence, and the presentation of litigation and case evidence. Some law schools and paralegal training programs instruct students in the ethical uses of these software packages. Law firms are increasingly requiring new hires to be proficient in these types of software.

Electronic filing is another use of technology in the legal profession. Before the advent of electronic filing, firms had to submit hard copies of all documents and evidence to the courts to be used in trial. Now, case materials can be sent to court via e-mail, with many pieces of evidence scanned in or digitized. One drawback is that compliance and system compatibility can be difficult to establish for these programs; however, compliance and compatibility are improving greatly, and will only continue to improve. Legal professionals might have a thorough education in this area of legal technology prior to beginning their legal careers.

Legal research has also been made more efficient by the use of electronic information storage and retrieval systems. Since the Internet became widely available to Americans, legal professionals were able to expedite their research – they can request, track, and research documents online. Now, online archives such as LexisNexis act as storehouses for court decisions, news stories, and legal precedents dating back many years. This saves legal professionals time and money by cutting down on trips to courthouses, state departments of records, law libraries, and the like. The use of LexisNexis and similar databases has become an integral part of paralegal and law school educational curricula.

Finally, technology can be an asset in the courtroom, during civil or criminal proceedings. Graphics and slide show programs are available to streamline and enhance court presentations in electronic formats. Attorneys, paralegals, and clients can also present some forms of evidence electronically – computers and other electronic devices are being used more often during trials to present the facts of a case.

The advent of technology has provided paralegals, lawyers, and other legal professionals with a vast array of time- and money-saving programs and devices with which to perform work. Because legal professionals are able to access, dispense, and display information faster, they free up their work days and their departmental budgets for other necessities.

LLB – The New Faces of the Legal Profession

The legal profession has evolved from what it has to be before. Just like any other field of work, the legal profession has also become a hotbed of money-hungry people who are least bothered about the world around them. The high degrees of respect, honor and dignity that the profession of law used to signify, have now been replaced by a bunch of people to whom money is everything and the rest come secondary. But still, exceptions do exist. Among the huge number of students who opt for LLB as their preferred stream of study,

Law, as a line of work, has definitely changed. The most prominent evidences of this change are perhaps the law firms. The way they recruit these days are hugely different from the way they used to. LLB graduates are now being hired not primarily based on their skills of handling legal work but based on their money-spinning skills. Most law students who have been there and done that, comment that the questions most asked in the interviews consist more of non-law matters and less about the LLB.

Studying LLB from a top-tier college has its own advantages. You have more offers than you can consider. Law firms keep on calling you until you have made your mind to join. But the real problem is that you just cannot decide which one to join.

Technology has its wings spread all over. Just as other fields are benefiting from the boons of technology, law is not lagging behind. LLB graduates are now using the tools of networking on the web that almost all professionals of all fields are involving into. For example, wikis. Wikis have become massively popular all over the world and new lawyers are using wikis to spread the word about how much they love their profession. What they are getting in return range from praises, appreciations, shared thoughts and most importantly, work.

Doing an LLB does not always mean that you have to work as a lawyer. There are other career choices that you can happily take up. If you have always fancied a court setting, you can work as a court reporter which includes a lot of paperwork like transcription, archiving, and red tape proceedings. You can also assist a senior lawyer by becoming a paralegal. The job will mainly comprise of administrative work.

Just as the field of law has changed, the field of behavioral studies has also changed and with Applied Psychology around, the fields are becoming more challenging as well interesting; thus, successfully attracting huge numbers of students.

Four Unusual Jobs in the Legal Profession

Legal Jobs – Top Four Unusual Jobs in Law

Legal Lecturer

Many lawyers find extreme satisfaction in teaching what they know to others, and these days, says a study on the academic profession, a large proportion of those who teach law are female. An article published in The Times in May estimated that approximately 42% of legal academics are women. What’s the attraction? Most likely, posits The Times, it’s the job security and hours offered by the academic setting. The average starting wage for a legal lecturer is about £35,000, and about 13% of those in the field of legal academics get a wage of £50,000 or above.

Company Secretary

Legal secretaries are in great demand within the legal profession. A legal secretary must have the understanding to properly type legal documents and pleadings, leases, wills, tenancy agreements and the like. In many smaller organisations, the secretary takes on the role of administrator and may even do preliminary research for cases of law. An entry level law secretary can expect a salary of £10,000 to £14,000 per year. Experienced legal secretaries can earn £25,000 per year and more.

Paralegal

Paralegals generally work within a law office, but are not fully qualified barristers or solicitors. The duties of a paralegal often involve document management, research, drafting contracts and pleadings, preparing court related documents, meeting with clients, attending court, general clerical work and offering legal advice. It is not unusual for private firms in many disciplines to hire a paralegal to manage and oversee contract management and legal matters for the company. It is not unusual for paralegals to complete additional training and work their way into positions as Legal Executives and eventually, solicitors. Annual starting salaries range from £14,000 to £22,000, and an experienced paralegal working with a large firm can earn as much as £40,000 per year.

Court Administrative Officer

Court officers and assistants help manage the daily running of the courts. They may assign courtrooms, book dates for hearings, manage and maintain the flow of paperwork pertinent to the days’ cases, prepare the day’s case list and follow up on decisions made by the courts. Some court officers specialise in various sections of the legal system, most often in fines and fees, where they are required to collect fines, send out summonses and assist the public in filling out forms. The starting salaries for court administrative officers range from £12,000 to £16,000 per year. An experienced court administrative officer can earn up to £20,000.