The history of legal technology is the history of managing legal documents: finding new ways to search for, create, and store them. While many industries have taken to technology like fire to paper, legal has lagged behind.
But over time, technology has been developed to meet some of the legal industry’s most pressing needs, like ediscovery, word processing, and the latest iteration, cloud-based software.
LexisNexis, originally founded as Lexis, has always been ahead of the game, envisioning a future that would allow legal professionals to conduct independent research without relying on legal librarians. LexisNexis is one of the largest electronic databases for legal information and was the “first information service to directly serve end users.”
The Early Days of Legal Technology
After dictation machines became all the rage in the 1950s, the next tech book happened in the 1970s with the introduction of computer-assisted legal research (CALR). Leading the charge was a product known then only as Lexis.
Before then, lawyers did all their research manually. First, they had to go through legal librarians and pour over legal texts to get the information they needed, and then they would spend hours combing through case law, primary and secondary legal docs, statutes, federal regulations, and any type of legal information they would need to make a case or publish an article.
But Lexis was among the first to provide full online access to case law and legal text from online databases, making legal research easier for lawyers and law students alike. When Lexis created the red UBIQ terminal that allowed lawyers to research case law without an intermediary – and in minutes and hours instead of days and weeks – the field of legal research was changed forever.
Since searches could be conducted electronically, lawyers began to embrace other electronic possibilities. Namely, the word processor and personal computer. Instead of writing by hand or using a typewriter, lawyers used word processors to create their legal documents. By the late 70s and early 80s, most law firms used a word processor or a desktop computer and were firmly ensconced in the electronic era that carried the industry all the way into the new millennium.
Legal Technology in the 21st Century
Over time, there have been tremendous developments in legal technology. From case management software and ediscovery to esignature and contract lifecycle management (CLM) tools, legal departments are moving into the 21st century along with the rest of the business world.
Most notably, the legal industry is seeing a ton of development in artificial intelligence (AI). In an industry that spends too much time reading and analyzing documents, AI has radically shifted the legal industry, particularly in legal research. AI is used to review contracts for litigation, manage documents, conduct ediscovery, and anticipate court decisions based on precedent. It analyzes a significant volume of texts, like court opinions, in a fraction of time, leaving the door open for more innovation and possibility.
According to LexisNexis, “AI-powered legal research platforms can help lawyers do more billable work more quickly, allowing them to spend more time putting that research to good use.”
LexisNexis has continued to evolve over time, acquiring complementary companies and expanding its product line to involve legal analytics and data-driven insights. Always ahead of the curve, LexisNexis has adopted artificial intelligence as part of its offerings, ushering the legal industry into the future of work.
Wherever there is evolution is legal, LexisNexis is right there. For over 50 years, this company has been innovating the legal industry and executing a vision way ahead of its time.
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