In celebration of Law Technology News’ 10th anniversary edition (October 2003), former managing editor Robert J. Ambrogi posed two questions to a dozen plus people, including me, who are deeply involved with legal technology. In The Future, The Past, Ambrogi asks one question about the future and one about the past. Excerpted here is the first question about the future and my answer. My next blog posting will answer the question about the past. [Note that answers were intended be very short.]

How will technology most significantly impact law practice over the next decade?

Large companies face tremendous risks for not complying with the law; at the same time, they are trying to reduce legal costs.

These pressures will lead them to begin using “embedded law systems.” Whether for preparing documents, managing contracts, administering benefits, tracking visa applications, or complying with regulations, the systems that run corporations will increasingly embed legal rules and reasoning.

This will reduce the demand for some routine types of law practice and create more competition for high-end work that cannot be automated. A key question is who will provide the content and expertise to drive the automated systems: law departments, law firms, publishers or new entrants in the legal market? The lawyers who work on these systems will need to develop new sets of skills, ones that facilitate translating legal expertise into systematic frameworks.