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Law and Technology 101

Abstruser

Legendary Member
Trainee
Jul 19, 2018
337
773
Hey everyone!

I'm not sure if this is the right place to post, but I just wanted to make a thread for those of you who, like me, are relatively late to the law, technology and innovation scene/discussion. Please feel free to share your thoughts and knowledge - whether you're new to the topic or a long-time tech enthusiast!

Just by way of background - for the past year or so, I had a very vague understanding that technology will be important in shaping the future of the legal profession. However, I found it quite difficult to articulate exactly why and how. There are so many elements to this discussion - automation, unbundling services, efficiency, artificial intelligence - that picking out the basic drivers of technological innovation was near impossible when I first started reading around the subject.

I recently found a nice layman briefing by HSF on technology (https://www.herbertsmithfreehills.c...urprise-how-technology-will-change-what-we-do) that essentially breaks it down into two factors:
  1. Client demands for greater cost efficiency and value for money.
  2. Technological developments that make it possible to deliver that efficiency.
Those may seem pretty obvious in retrospect, but once I clearly understood this dynamic, it really helped structure my thoughts on technology and the future of the legal profession more generally.

Essentially, technology has equipped law firms with the tools to meet client demands. Many large law firms are actively embracing technology in this sense - automation of legal tasks via platforms like Kira and RAVN is an obvious example, as is the birth of offshoring legal services - but lots of smaller law firms are still slow to jump on this bandwagon. So technology is a threat to law firms that refuse to adapt their working models, but an opportunity for the ones that choose to do so.

However, the relationship between technology and the law has mostly been one of playing catch-up. Law firms did well to quickly respond to advancements in automation, but there is still a real and material risk of being further disrupted by future technological developments. In other words, law firms are still at risk of being undercut by new, nimbler market entrants that can do what they do, only better. Artificial intelligence is a popular example, but examples can also be found in the dearth of 'lawtech' startups populating tech incubators at A&O, Mishcon de Reya and Dentons.

That threat of disruption has pushed the legal industry into the current paradigm of innovation. Instead of waiting to respond to the next big thing, lots of law firms are becoming more proactive in engaging with clients, understanding their needs and driving new solutions themselves. This means that law firms are refocusing on building closer client relationships, which is not actually a new phenomenon in itself (as noted in this interview https://www.thelawyer.com/60-second-interview-slaughters/). Off the top of my head, some examples of law firm driven innovation are A&O's MarginMatrix tool, Simmons & Simmons' Disputes Aviator and Baker McKenzie's Compliance Cockpit. I'm sure there are many more examples!

That concludes my beginner's take on technology, innovation and the law. I recognise I have much more to learn, so please feel free to leave a comment or your thoughts!
 
Last edited:

bronson

Distinguished Member
Nov 23, 2018
65
112
FYI anyone interested https://www.forbes.com/sites/markco...-a-legal-blockchain-ebook-has-1-7m-views/amp/

Essentially saying how the legal profession is becoming a more inclusive community and having to open itself up to external influences, mainly from technology, that allow it to provide a more client-orientated service.

One of my favourite quotes was “Lawyers once controlled the profession and the industry. Clients control the industry now, and that is impacting how the profession operates...”
 
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