Has the Indian legal practice really developed in terms of welcoming legal tech into its daily working? Recent trends suggest that globalization has triggered a tremendous spat of growth for Indian law firms and organizations, yet digital transformation in the Indian legal sector is erratic if not sporadic. Date management, machine learning, case studies, e-filing, etc. is today manifest in the daily workings of any legal organization or firm.
Let us look at some of the reported digital transformation in the Indian legal industry.
Online legal Services: Of late, there is an upsurge in online legal services in India, most notable amongst them being Lexis Advance® India, an online legal research platform supporting its users in making legal advice easily accessible, providing the users with agile legal support and helping users derive intelligent information and insights from the available legal database, amongst others. All of these will help the legal professional grow by saving time and resource in legal research, mapping their research, and much more.
Digitization of Indian courtrooms: Video conferencing, remote working for sensitive matters like bail petition for specially-abled people, etc. are important aspects which have widely helped in the speedy disposal of pending cases.
Artificial Intelligence: There has been a spurt of news in the media about AI and Indian law firm – the birth of an incubator which helps in developing/nurturing legal start-ups; a law firm in India creating a machine for screening potential candidates; Indian law firms using AI for its daily filing and date management – to digital dependency of Indian legal practitioners – all unthinkable a decade ago!
Government Initiative: In 2017, the Supreme Court digitized one crore five lakh pages and records of civil appeals back from the pre-independence era till 2002. The same year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also launched the Integrated Case Management System (ICMS) to digitize the delivery of government services to Indian courts.
Transborder flow of legal information and know-how, the global presence of law like Arbitration, Intellectual Property, international client base, etc. renders an impediment on legal practitioners to not just digitally transform themselves but also to draw a parallel with technological advancements.
How will Indian legal practice and consultation look like in, say a decade from now? We may not be able to foresee but we can very well predict what the future of legal practice is, with global reports such as:
- “The big four accounting firms, which are growing fast and are now the world’s largest employers of legal staff. These firms can perform legal services (e.g. due diligence) using AI-assisted technology in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost of a traditional legal practice.”
- “In 2017, in an experiment involving more than 100 lawyers in London, hundreds of actual applications to the Finance Ombudsman for a specific credit card irregularity were examined. While the accuracy of human prediction was 66.3%, an AI program trained to predict whether or not to accept files achieved 86.6% accuracy.”
- “Lawyers themselves might well find that they are doing a very different job from their predecessors.”
The above list is definitely not a sweeping depiction of the legal practice future but it gives us an inkling as to how it is going to be. Legal tech is, without a doubt, going to reshape the legal workplace and workflow. Lawyers will be studying law which will include global business development, technology, data management, and the like.
From the Indian standpoint, lawyers have definitely shed their inhibitions about technology. Just Google “India and legal tech”, and you will know. We are not in tandem with the global legaltech knowhow but we are definitely following and will catch up in the nearest future!
 “Digitisation of the Indian Legal Sector”, Bar and Bench, July 2018.
 “What Will Your Legal Practice Be Like in 2039?” Law Gazette, April 2019.
 “The Role of Technology in the Future of Legal Professions”, University of Oxford, Faculty of Law, Rachel Buchanan, 2017.