Lawyers are constantly facing pressure to be more efficient, more effective and to provide more for their clients at a lower cost. Technologies such as virtual reality (VR) could be a means to fulfilling these objectives, but this is really just scratching the surface of how those in the legal industry can use technology to be better at what they do.
Don't get me wrong; VR sounds great. But, there are so many other existing technologies which are under-utilized. For instance, lawyers or their clients are often required to travel long distances to attend meetings, hearings or discoveries. Although some still prefer to attend in person, it is often the case that the same tasks can be completed just as effectively via video conferencing applications like Skype or Facetime. Yet, these technologies are still often employed rarely. This is something that can reduce costs, save time and promote access to justice.
Lawyers and others in the claims-handling business need to gather information about their case or about key individuals related to it. There is a wealth of information available online or via social media that is not always properly tapped. For tasks such as viewing an incident scene, there are technologies such as drones and pocket-sized video cameras that are now extremely cheap and can provide highly detailed and useful information at a limited cost. (Obviously, this raises significant privacy considerations as well, but lawyers must nonetheless be aware of the tools at their disposal, as well as their limitations.)
Perhaps one of the most common chores in a lawyer's life is document review. It is something few lawyers enjoy and yet many still choose to sit in front of a stack of paper and drudge through the job, page by page. There are very powerful technologies available which can help to complete this work in a fraction of the time and get to the key information much more quickly. There is a wide range of E-Discovery software options, many of which now include TAR (Technology Assisted Review) or even Artificial Intelligence to support the reviewer. These are on the newer side, but provide interesting potential for improvements in efficiency.
Savvy clients will insist that their lawyers have an understanding of what technologies are available and when they can be deployed. As certain types of technology become more economical, more readily available and easier to use, it will be incumbent upon lawyers to ensure that they are considering how such technologies can assist them. However, we need to remember not to overlook many of the technologies already at our fingertips.
Will lawyers soon be arguing their cases in a virtual courtroom, perhaps from their living room or a distant tropical island, untethered by a physical location? While that may seem like a distant sci-fi future, virtual reality is no longer fiction...