WILL TECHNOLOGY RESHAPE THE LEGAL INDUSTRY?
Advancements in technology
Access to justice and our legal system is far from efficient, and there are great opportunities for offering legal services in new, less costly, more client-friendly ways.
By analysing the needs of people living in this era, we invent new products and services every day to meet those needs and constantly question how to improve our experience of this world and our interactions using technological inventions. Justice actors, although coming from a traditionally conservative approach, are not immune to this change. Recently, they also have started getting curious about the promises of technology for the justice system.
Powerful market forces drive the increasing infiltration of technology in the legal industry. While these fundamental shifts and further advancements in technology encourage innovation and efficiency, the very nature of the law practice is also changing. And to maintain a competitive advantage, lawyers must understand the trends and embrace these changes. Now, the legal industry is transitioning from a traditional one-to-one consultative legal services model to one where technology enables one-to-many legal solutions.
Machines can now assist legal professionals in doing their tasks more.
Advances in information technology, especially artificial intelligence and machine learning, are making it possible to automate knowledge worker tasks that have long been considered impossible or impractical for computers to perform. Such facilities open up possibilities for sweeping change in how legal work is organised and executed. Modern practice management, document automation, analytics, and prediction tools can be helpful to increase the talents of legal professionals. As the delivery of legal services will shift online, mechanical cloud-based services will possibly replace human lawyers more often unless a complex legal judgment is necessary.
Thanks to the benefits offered by broadband Internet access, cloud technology, and personal computing devices, teleworking is being made increasingly possible. Such facilities lead to greater flexibility and mobility within the legal industry and empower a new age of collaboration and increased productivity as lawyers are no longer limited by their location when conducting legal work.
Technology is a significant element of working remotely.
So the flexibility offered by practice management systems, virtual legal libraries, conferencing, and collaboration software, along with other technologies serving the legal industry, suggests that legal professionals will have an increased opportunity to work from virtually anywhere.
Consequently, this new momentum influences change in the infrastructure of the average law practice and gives rise to the sensation of virtual law firms.
Tradition has it that most lawyers have obtained new business from word-of-mouth referrals.
Even with the proliferation of the Internet, that has not changed. What has changed is how people exchange word of mouth, where they seek referrals, and whom they listen to. Today, more and more consumers ask for recommendations online for everything from restaurants and hotels to legal services.
Reviews of services can determine when concluding whose services to book. While information technology has changed how business is conducted, it has disrupted and transformed almost every industry, and the legal one is no different. However, it is renowned for lagging behind technology innovations.
On the one hand, lawyers who embrace the emerging technology trend address more issues when they run their practice to enhance productivity and efficiency. Although new legal tech start-ups are slowly emerging and delivering a growing range of services, the legal tech ecosystem remains fragmented and diverse.
The industry it serves has some inherent limitations, such as the inadequate Research and Development component, and the Law is highly regulated. In many countries, regulators discourage innovation through different regulatory restrictions. However, even with the limitations mentioned above, we can identify significant demands and obstacles in the industry that can be addressed with the right combination of technology, business model adaptation and execution.
On the other hand, some lawyers tend to resist changes, resist new technologies and do not necessarily feel obligated to fix what they do not see as broken. Of course, they recognise that their way of doing business will inevitably evolve in accordance with technology trends. Still, in reality, the path for legal professionals in many aspects is less clear than for other sectors.
While seemingly untouched by the impact of technology, the legal profession is undergoing its changes. More and more exciting changes are already underway in the day-to-day operations of law firms across the world. We are left to ponder what the future law firm will be like and how the legal industry will evolve in the coming years.
Barrister at Law | Avocate