Legal Tech and Innovation
The emergence of legal tech provides exciting tools to change the way in which legal services are delivered. Much like any industry, the legal services market must adapt to the ever changing requirements of the customer, in order to both keep itself relevant and continue to offer value. This is where legal tech provides a real opportunity for adaptation in the marketplace.
Getting a coherent agreement on what falls within the boundaries of legal tech can be a tricky business. However, any definition of this sector must include, in my view, the ability of the technology to disrupt current delivery models and to allow for the development of new skills for those working within the legal sector. Critically, it must add value for the customer, and not simply the delivering lawyer.
I think it is fair to say that the legal tech world, in comparison to either the market for fintech or insuretech, is significantly underdeveloped. Much of the commentary has been on the division of legal tech into two distinct categories of evolution; the first rules-based wave leading to IT solutions such as document automation, legal diagnostics and legislative analysis tools and a second wave more focused on data-based prediction to identify outcomes of disputes, analyse documents and perform legal risk assessments.
But where to start? Like all technology, successfully introducing legal tech to your organisation will probably require significant change management to align people, technology and processes. In short, people both above and below in any organisation must be convinced of the value of the change. This can be a hard fought battle, particularly as there is a capital outlay involved. One of the offshoots of the development of the legal tech sector is that of what is termed ‘legal engineering’: those who advise you on the technology that you require, based on an assessment of your needs and, in some cases, agree to build that technology for you.
In any organisation, the introduction of technology, particularly new or innovative technology, needs to be sold to the various stakeholders. In my experience, this involves the ability to navigate the barriers you might face in the process of adopting the technology, based on the products you choose to try. The issue here is that the legal technology market is, in my view, dis-ordered.
Confusion in the Cloud
There is significant confusion about the products currently available, and the plethora of providers in the market. Given the area in which they are operating, it is extremely difficult for start-ups to get a foothold in the marketplace, and with little to no brand recognition, experience difficulties in gaining access for their products to established businesses. In addition (and I have personally expressed my concerns about this to clients), transferring sensitive data to cloud-based solutions can be a real deal-breaker for some businesses.
Legal Tech does the Drudgery
Legal technology has, in its first phase, brought an element of cost saving to the market. The savings have accrued mainly to the legal firms who have engaged with it. Whether those savings have passed into the market generally is a moot point. The automation of manual processes may have the effect of reducing the requirement for firms to bring in large numbers of trainees to perform tasks which border on drudgery, although I would question how it is the lawyers of the future will be trained, if legaltech completely subsumes those tasks. There is, sadly, some learning in drudgery.
The second wave of legal tech, where advanced AI assists in-house teams in making predictive decisions on risk is to me far more exciting that the first. The type of predictive modelling, where AI analyses risk and reports to a business could lead to some interesting developments. Although I have to admit I have yet to be wowed by any particular piece of technology, I’m open to convincing.
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The material contained in this post is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Specific legal advice should be sought on any particular matter. No liability whatsoever is accepted by PF Solicitors for any action taken in reliance on the information in this post.