Legal Tech: People want solutions, not buzzwords

09 Oct, 2018

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Gizmos and gadgets to replace all lawyers. Nothing replaces the human. The conflicting reports around legal technology are simply nauseating.

In a recent article, Deloitte predicted 114,000 legal jobs will be automated within the next two decades, which triggered a wave of disagreement, such as “Legal Transformation Requires More Than Tech”. With the uncertain future of legal tech, how do you know how or when it will affect you?

Firstly, it’s important we define “legal tech”. Ten years ago when we talked about legal technology it meant things we take for granted today - think electronic document storage or a case management system. With the advancement of computing power, legal tech now means anything from advanced analytics to complete automation of advice.

This definition may explain the conflicting narratives and help us better predict the future of legal tech. What we do know is that efficiency is extremely important to larger firms, like King & Wood Mallesons who are always looking ahead: “Any time we can save, is time my lawyers can spend providing expert legal analysis to our clients” says John Swinson, Partner, King & Wood Mallesons. With the adoption of intelligent solutions, the only thing that will change is the efficiency of firms.

Efficiency is important, but for all firms we’ve found that legal tech is also being seen as a potential way to find new business and personalise client service. Automation of tasks never before thought possible, like monitoring use of their IP, can lead to legal opportunities and a closer attorney-client experience. In this case, legal tech is indeed growing and growing fast, but we see it as improving the data and advice, not replacing the lawyer who ultimately has to bring it all together. Some administration tasks might dwindle, but that revolution has already been well underway for decades.

If we look at legal tech that is touted to replace jobs, such as predicting potential case outcomes, then we have to assume it also creates jobs. Successful firms are alive today because they adapted and changed with customer expectations. As the legal technology landscape continues to grow so does the dependance clients have on their trusted advisors. It’s important lawyers understand the impact technology is having on their market, their business and their future, and use it to offer greater advice and help their client run their business.

This is an incredible opportunity for law firms to become well versed in the legal tech space and instead of talking about “legal tech” buzzwords, talk about the precise technologies they are going to use to better understand and improve the business of their clients. It will open up opportunities for the lawyer and executive to operate together more consistently than ever before.

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