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Digital transformation: A boon or curse for the US legal industry?
Law firms across the US are known to adopt new technologies and innovations to digitise the legal process. Usage of new technologies are altering ways lawyers are processing with their legal functions.
The way the public interacts with the legal system is also changing due to usage of new technologies and innovations.
Approximately, every judicial court in the United States has adopted the usage of virtual platforms for hearing cases.
The fast adaptation of digital innovations in the American legal system has been directed towards the occurrence of COVID-19. This resulted in judicial authorities conducting their hearings in virtual platforms.
As stated by the National Center for State Courts it has been observed that “judges believe that usage of virtual platforms will be a vital tool even after the pandemic due to its potential to save costs and time, along with providing convenience to lawyers”.
Moreover, transparency of the legal industry of the United States is also transforming due to the occurrence of digital transformation.
Live streaming of court hearings on public platforms leads the public to have a better understanding of the court proceedings and legal functioning of the nation.
According to the report presented by Fix the Court, only 4 federal courts have live streamed their court proceedings in 2020. This action is a rare circumstance in the US.
Currently, 14 federal courts have been observed in their agreement to live stream court proceedings for public viewing.
One of the main reasons transparency is crucial in the legal industry in the US is high public demand regarding to view high profile cases.
Public has the right to hear the live streaming of cases that in some ways affect their daily lives.
The case regarding ex-President Trump’s case regarding his tax records has been viewed and listened to by more than 880,000 US citizens .
Live streaming of legal court hearings could be considered as a boon for the legal industry. This will allow in ‘educating the public regarding basic legal processes and rights’.
Most US residents have low knowledge regarding the basic legal principles and processes that are followed in the region. Live streaming of court hearings will enable increasing legal awareness amongst US citizens.
Another benefit that could be associated with live streaming of court hearings is ‘increasing transparency’.
Live streaming of court cases will propagate the principle of ‘open justice’. This will enhance transparency within the US judiciary process.
Open justice and live streaming will also allow the US justice system to have increased trust and understanding regarding the sentencing process. Moreover, this process will also enhance the ability for the public to have a better understanding regarding the aspects of legal proceedings.
Live streaming of court hearings in the US could also lead to various negative impacts. ‘Risk of sensationalization’ is one negative impact associated with live streaming of court proceedings.
Recordings of legal proceedings pose a threat of sensationalization of the public through the media that streams the proceedings.
Legal proceedings associated with high profile cases being streamed in public have a high risk of being transformed into ‘media circuses’.
This might lead to the accusation being faced by the judicial authorities stating the hearing into an entertainment. This might lead to loss of integrity of the legal system in the US.
Another risk that is associated with live streaming of court trials in the US is ‘threat of influencing the juries’.
Rise in social media usage could lead to the juries present in the trial facing the influence of public opinion. This might alter the overall judgement of the case.
It is crucial for the public to have appropriate ethics and understanding of the legal proceedings that are streamed in live streams.
This will allow effective propagation of ‘open justice and transparency’ in the United State’s judicial process.
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