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Will tech make lawyers obsolete?

Technology for Lawyers

Published: February 15, 2019

Tech taking over is always good sci-fi, from The Terminator to Black Mirror.

In Black Mirror, season 4, episode 3 (“Crocodile”), one of the characters settles insurance claims by reading the memories of people to reconstruct accident cases, Voila! No disputes about facts. Therefore, no need for lawyers in that world.

Time travel would have the same result.

Several other stories that I can’t quite think of have similar themes—the point being that, if someone had the ability to track or reconstruct the facts of a situation, the need for attorneys to argue facts would disappear, along with the rules of evidence.

Well, there are writers who think that that world may be creeping up a little closer than we may think.

Stephen Embry, posting in the blog TechLaw Crossroads, think that there is a lot of tech on the market now that points to a lawyer-less world coming down the pike. And a lot of this tech is stuff that you might not think will substitute for a lawyer—as in, it’s the little things that add up and get you in the end.

Take dashcams, for instance. Embry wrote about a company called Nextbase that is making cameras that have virtually 360-degree capability for less than $200 and is negotiating placement with US car manufacturers. If all driving is recorded, that recorded data can take the place of a few PI lawyers. It isn’t a time machine, but it might as well be one in this context.

The same is true of police bodycams, although they do seem to spark litigation now. Nevertheless, at some point I think they will reduce the need to go to court over events they record.

Another example he points to is the Walmart food supply chain moving over to the blockchain. That supply chain can create litigation from food poisoning to contract problems and is a huge source of litigation for the company. But now Walmart is forcing every movement within its food supply chain to be recorded to a proprietary blockchain database. Before this move, it took a week for the company to trace food from source to shelf. It now takes 2.2 seconds, and there is no question about the accuracy or timeliness of the data.

The more instantly self-provable a situation is, the less likely an attorney will be needed. Something else to worry about, ha!