Legal Research vs. Intellectual Technology

paralegalOne may argue that the backbone of law is legal research but what if legal personnel were no longer required to fill this need?

With technology making its way into every aspect of our lives, it isn’t surprising that incorporated intellectual technology is predicted to overtake simple legal research tasks and replace legal researchers.

On the one hand, this may be a relief to clients as they will no longer be billed for the long hours legal professions spend researching information. Clients will pay a fraction of the price as the intellectual technology will have the ability to obtain the information in a short time span. As legal intellectual technology progresses, the legal searches will become more complex and the answers will be provided much better. Everyone wins! Right? Not exactly.

moneyMany legal professionals, such as paralegals have dedicated a significant amount of their academic careers to master the art of legal research. In larger law firms, lawyers often rely on Paralegals to conduct legal research at a fraction of the cost the lawyers would charge if they had done the research themselves. For an illustration, imagine a lawyer who is paid $300 per hour he/she would charge that amount for every hour spent on finding the answers the client requires. Legal research can vary from a quick 30-minute search to 10 hours of research or more. That’s anywhere from $150 – 3000. Conversely, if a paralegal conducts the search, the lawyer will charge the client much less, for example $100/hr. Consequently, the client pays anywhere from $50 – 1000.

Although many clients believe that $100 for research is excessive, some legal professionals argue that it may seem simplistic but is far from it. Legal professionals are liable for the information they provide, so there is a need for thoroughness. Legal research requires reliable sources which can sometimes result in hours of reading through a statute, case law and government websites. Every issue is treated in a unique manner to assure the best results.

Furthermore, sources are then compared to check for consistency and address any gaps in information. After conducting research, the information is then simplified to ensure that the client can understand what is being conveyed.

What’s your opinion- would you prefer intellectual technology or individuals conducting research on your behalf?

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Points of Discussion:
1. How do you feel about the progression of intellectual technology in the legal field?




  1. I would agree that at this point in time, though less expensive, technology cannot entirely replace the need for research being performed by an actual individual. It is very similar in the science profession where often times people think that what they read on the internet is sufficient to self-diagnose or learn about a medication for example. People often do not realize that they are not entirely equipped to understand the complicated terminology, sift through what is relevant and factual or interpret information. Conducting research is multi-faceted and involves much more than simply typing something into Google and a detailed answer appears for your specific scenario. That is why a professional conducts such research on behalf of the general public. As advanced as technology has become over the years, it cannot simplify and interpret information as needed. Not to mention peoples’ cases very drastically and are often very complicated; refining a search to meet your exact needs takes time, effort and the ability to formulate a final answer complied from a series of sources which the researcher is then liable for. As much as I would love to be cost effective and save the money, this is one of those few times where the information being retrieved is significant enough that I want to ensure a thorough job is done – a job which I have yet to entirely trust technology to.


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