When technology meets legal services in a thoughtful discussion my eyes lift and my shoulders straighten, sort of like I did when the teacher said something interesting in class and I paid attention.  So earlier this week when I read A Guide to Four Technologies Disrupting Legal Tech, I paid attention.

The four technologies discussed by author Ian Lopez are:

  • Blockchain
  • Machine Learning
  • The Cloud
  • Analytics

These technologies are most definitely interrelated, though “the cloud” is more about storage of  than application for data.

My first reaction is that the cloud isn’t a disrupter, in fact at this point I think we need to move beyond calling all of these technologies disruptions. They are the result of evolution. If we hold the truth that technology changes then we have to recognize that these “disruptions” are more about changing the way we use the technologies to work than disrupting the services.

This means I have to rethink some of my own past writing, and that’s OK. As we continue to think about and analyze the information we use our ideas and conclusions should alter because that is the human take on information analysis.

So, based upon the premise that these four technologies are evolutions we should examine why they are so easily categorized as disrupters. I think because these technologies are changing how the legal industry works our first response is to exclaim at the “disruption” rather than recognize the potential.

Let’s consider the base “change” that is introduced with each of these “disrupters”.

Blockchain – secure records that can be accurately distributed.  Doesn’t sound disruptive, sounds like a solution to a long-standing problems

Machine Learning – using automation to complete specific tasks on massive amounts of data. Sounds more like efficiency than disruption.

The Cloud – distributed, cost-efficient storage for massive amounts of electronic information and access anywhere from a multitude of devices. Sounds like more efficiency in both work processes and costs.

Analytics – using select data sets to pinpoint needed information.  The “definitions” out there vary for this technology term but at the end of the day analytics and visualization tools make sifting, sorting, and analyzing data sets quicker and more accurate.  So we have tool that let’s us use the massive amounts of data more quickly to inform strategies and make decisions?  Seems less like a disruption than an enhancement.

So I’m changing from thinking about these tools as disrupters to thinking of them as enhancers. I do agree with the author that these technologies are transformative.