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The role of technology in the resolution of personal injury claims

Wannell, Oliver 2020. The role of technology in the resolution of personal injury claims. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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This is the first study to focus on the role of technology within personal injury lawyering. The thesis draws on Science and Technology Studies methodologies to offer a unique and much needed approach to a highly topical and growing area of socio-legal research. Discussions of technology and the legal profession have been dominated by Richard Susskind who has consistently predicted greater computerisation in practice and, eventually, the replacement of lawyers by technology. The thesis moves forward these discussions by offering an empirically-based account of the role of technology within personal injury practice. It combines the insights gained from interviews with claimant practitioners with a review of the limited literature to explore the current uptake and use of technology in practice; practitioners’ perceptions of technology; the impact of technology on practice; and the drivers and tensions that shape the use of technology. This thesis argues that, while the LegalTech market has expanded rapidly, technologies for personal injury practitioners have changed little in the last two decades. Case management systems and legal research tools remain the principle technologies but not all practitioners have access to them. Participants recognised the benefit of the technologies they use, in stark contrast to the literature that portrays lawyers as technology deniers. However, none supported the view that technology will replace lawyers entirely. Though limited to automating legal processes, the systems have facilitated a shift towards greater use of non-qualified practitioners. This, with greater public access to digitised legal knowledge and an increasingly demanding clientele, challenges the expertise and autonomy of lawyers. Financial pressure on personal injury practices was the primary driver towards technology reported at interview. However, this pressure is markedly different from that set out in the existing literature. Coming from policy changes which prima facie seek to tackle the pervasive issues of cost and delay within civil justice, the financial driver in this context has been as much socially and politically motivated as it has economically. The need to reduce costs is balanced with a concern for the quality of legal service. This is also a key tension against the disruption of legal services that Susskind and others predict. That tension is linked with issues of trust in technology which, in lieu of a legislative framework to establish liability where sophisticated technologies fail, is a primary barrier to professional and public acceptance of such systems.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Law
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Law and technology, legal practice, legal services, LegalTech, LawTech, future law, deprofessionalisation, disruption, automation, technology, case management, civil procedure, personal injury practice, Richard Susskind, Social Construction of Technology
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 18 February 2021
Last Modified: 26 Oct 2021 01:40

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