Litigation fees can have a crippling impact on businesses. New technology adopted by both individual law firms and by the courts themselves is aiming to reduce the cost and time spent in litigation. We interviewed Joseph Zoppo to find out about some of the new trends in litigation that utilize technology to provide faster and more satisfactory results from litigation for their clients.
Attorney Zoppo is experienced in merger and acquisition defense, real estate litigation, commercial litigation, contract law for real estate and corporations, and loan workouts and refinancing deals.
E-Filing of Cases
One huge aid in more rapidly dispatching and responding to legal challenges and lawsuits is beginning to take hold across the country in courthouses. It is the process of filing legal cases, papers and challenges electronically. E-filing saves client fees and expenses because law firms do not have to send couriers to court to file and receive copies of papers filed or to be filed with the court. The other obvious cost reduction is the savings in copying and courier fees must be filed with the Court and served on the other parties to the litigation. Another area of potential savings is that both parties in a dispute have quick access to all of the filings in the case, reducing time-consuming information-gathering efforts. Sadly, not all courts across the nation have a provision for e-filing, but the tide is moving in that direction.
Alternative Dispute Resolution Goes Electronic
Another application of technology that is beginning to emerge in court is electronic, more democratically-accessible forms of alternative dispute resolution. In civil cases, most courts offer, and some courts require some process where the disputing sides attempt to resolve their dispute before the court by attending mandatory mediated meetings. The new twist on this process is that some courts are beginning to require the initial step in civil case litigation be a dispute resolution process that both parties work through online before they are allowed to file a complaint. The goal is to pre-empt unnecessary court filings that simple discussion and mediation between the parties can resolve. By eliminating unnecessary court cases, the courts can resolve backlogs and move more quickly and efficiently through the remaining cases that truly require a judge and possibly a jury.
Another trend that is on its way is more internal and external electronic collaboration. This allows sensitive client data to be in one secure location where attorneys from multiple locations and possibly firms working on a single case can quickly get up to speed. Documents can be created and revised online in real time by employees at multiple locations. Legal teams can create notes about their meetings that other team members can access any time. Clients can have a discussion with their attorney and look over filings, evidence, and other documents together from remote locations. Such collaborative technology allows for more transparency and for the client to have a window on the progress of their case. These improvements in productivity save time and money for the client in terms of billable hours.
Sifting Through Mountains of Evidence
In the past, teams of law clerks were dispatched to sift through sometimes thousands of emails and other data looking for evidence. Now such data can be searched for certain phrases or words to tease out the information for human eyes to look over and determine if there is relevant evidence to be found. This automation also creates reduced costs in billable hours and eliminates errors that tired employees who are reviewing thousands of pages of evidence over many hours may miss.
Attorney Zoppo stated that one new horizon for the legal field is called “legal analytics.” Basically, huge databases of information are stored by legal information database companies such as Westlaw and LexisNexis about the successes, failures, and tendencies of judges, law firms and opposing attorneys. The idea is to be able to query the database to see what could be done to improve the outcome of litigation by understanding how a particular opposing attorney, law firm or judge tends to operate.
Joseph Zoppo recommends that businesses try to store data in a machine-readable form that can be accessed and queried with database technology. Forms of paper and data that need to be rendered readable by database inquiry tools through OCR may not always scan reliably. This leads to errors and slows the process of sifting through evidence because teams of clerks are then required to sort through the data by hand.
All of these changes to the legal field are emerging today. None are yet in full implementation around the country. Every one of these changes, including legal analytics, e-filing, database searches with predictive phrases, electronic dispute resolution, and collaborative technology are making the legal field and law firms more transparent and more cost effective for their clients. The sum total of these changes will reduce the amount of litigation and the costs involved when there is no alternative but to litigate.
“This article is not intended to constitute legal advice or the provision of legal services. By posting and/or maintaining this website and its contents, Peres, Zoppo, and Associates do not intend to solicit legal business from clients located in states or jurisdictions where Peres, Zoppo, and Associates or its individual attorneys are not licensed or authorized to practice law.”