It turns out that computer-assisted review isn’t the only way new technologies are upending the legal profession. A recent article in Slate discusses how for the past few years a small organization has achieved success at fighting “patent trolls” by crowd-sourcing research to entrepreneurial amateurs with the lure of cash rewards.Patent trolls, organizations that hoard large numbers of patents with the sole intention of suing those who later develop businesses based on similar ideas, have long been a scourge of Silicon Valley, where tech firms have been forced to spend a fortune on legal fees to protect themselves against frivolous lawsuits. Often these suits can take years to settle, as firms need to provide evidence that similar ideas had been developed prior to the patent’s creation (prior art), a process which is time-consuming and expensive.Article One Partners, the group profiled in the Slate piece, has a novel solution to the problem: Rather than hire experts to scour the world for examples of prior art, the group instead turns the work over to untrained experts who send in their findings—with cash rewards for successful efforts. So far, the strategy has managed to win cases against a number of patent trolls.As new technologies become cheaper and easier to use, expect to see more businesses organized around similar models. Legacy institutions like large law firms with armies of employees, assistants, and strict work rules may appear powerful, but all of these features come at a heavy price. As more complicated work becomes easier for individuals with nothing more than a laptop and an internet connection, massive overhead will cease to be necessary, and customers will be drawn to businesses that can provide the best results at the lowest price, not the ones with the biggest names.