A 2018 report from the U.S. Federal Reserve suggests that up to 40% of U.S. households would not be able to come up with $400 to cover an emergency expense. In March 2019, CNBC published a report suggesting that just 16% of the adult population saves more than 15% of its income despite experts recommending a 10-20% savings just for retirement alone.
Not saving is bad enough when you have to spend $500 to fix the car or replace the washing machine. But what if you find yourself in a courtroom after a car crash? What if you find yourself facing bankruptcy or divorce? You could spend tens of thousands of dollars on legal fees.
Perhaps that’s why a 2018 report from the American Bar Association (ABA) suggests that upwards of 80% of all civil legal needs go unmet. The ABA says that people are going to court without attorneys because they cannot afford legal fees. That is just the tip of the iceberg.
The current legal environment looks bleak for a lot of people. However, technology might be the answer. The creators of the NuLaw legal case management app say that technology is making huge strides toward revolutionizing how law is practiced. They say there are two technologies that could make legal services more accessible without shutting out attorneys.
The first technology automates contract writing. Contracts normally follow standard formats that allow attorneys to plug in relevant data and make a few minor adjustments to accommodate individual circumstances. Most contracts are not difficult to write for an experienced attorney. Yet they are time-consuming, hence the cost.
Artificial intelligence can be leveraged to write contracts without any direct human assistance. Contract writing software starts with a standard template, or boilerplate if you will. The client enters necessary information and then sits back and allows the software to do its thing.
In many cases, completed contracts are ready to go right away. In other cases, they have to be reviewed by attorneys for language and accuracy. In either case, contracts are produced more quickly, more efficiently, and without as much time and effort required by attorneys.
Chatbot technology is a second technology that could make legal services more accessible. Think of it in terms of initial consultations. While many attorneys offer free consultations, lots of others do not. And even when initial consultations are free, potential clients can be scared away by fears that they will be roped into paying for something they cannot afford.
A chatbot can be utilized to handle initial consultations at no charge to clients. Chatbots can be programmed to ask specific kinds of questions related to specific kinds of cases. Such directed questions are intended to yield detailed information that helps the software formulate the right advice.
The beauty of chatbot technology is that it is becoming less limited by the day. Thanks to artificial intelligence and deep learning, chatbot programs are gradually reaching a point where they can intelligently steer conversation by themselves. They need less hard programming and fewer static questions because they are able to adapt to answers being provided by clients.
Both technologies discussed in this post can be incorporated into a legal case management app. As such, they could be offered as modules on a law firm’s website or through its client portal. Deploying the technologies would give people access to some legal services without having to actually hire an attorney. Why would attorneys want that? Because opening access provides more leads that could eventually translate to new clients.