Law & Order: Legal Tech’s Path to Disruption

Legal Tech's path to disruption
On Monday 24th February 2020, I attended a talk hosted by Finimize at Rise London in Shoreditch.

This very interesting and wide-ranging conversation focused on the tech takeover including the eventual (?) automation of the delivery of legal services.

The panel was:

Julie Trench, Senior Compliance Associate at Seedrs, the equity crowdfunders

Daniel Burnand, Associate at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP) 

Olu Ogunnaike, VP Compliance Advisory Manager at BNY Mellon

Adam Curphey, – Innovation Engagement Manager at Reed Smith

The panel discussed how technology is changing their day to day work and what the future holds. There was also a chat around clients’ attitudes towards embracing these new forms of technology.

The talk started with the expansive question:

‘What drives innovation?’

The answers to this were predictably wide-ranging, but it was agreed that lawyers are now looking for ways to ‘work smart’ in order to get the job done effectively whilst also cutting out any wastage in terms of time costs and effort. It is important that the end advice is the same obviously, but the manner in which it is arrived at is now open to a wider range of technology-assisted methods. 

80% of the work that used to be done by lawyers can now be done using technology in a cheaper, quicker manner leaving the remaining 20% of work- the high-value areas for which the clients pay a premium- to be done by the lawyer. This ’80/20 rule’ will be discussed in greater detail in the following blogs but it is a term you should become aware of in the industry as it is being discussed frequently if you do not already know it.

“…everything can be improved. The advice stays the same but it can just be done quicker”

It was agreed by the speakers that clients ‘wish to be taken on the journey’ along with the lawyers as it enables them to a) have a deeper understanding of the technology processes assists their matter and b) to feel that they are seeing true value and feel part of the process.

As I have heard in other lectures, it can be difficult to get clients to accept change. And of course, innovation is often requested and then balked at when the additional cost is presented.

As with the previous lecture, it was agreed that divorce proceedings, leases, and other contractual processes are areas that automation is likely to occur.

The panel expressed frustration with ‘lawyer of the future’ being a vague, non-defined term to encompass what the future skillsets of lawyers will look like. A question from the audience asked what advice would be given to a trainee lawyer now in order to be ready for the challenges ahead. The answer was given that it’s important to ‘remain curious, remain teachable, and create skills that can later be adapted’. It was also said that it was important that lawyers find their skill set and also find an area that they are passionate about, as that will spur you on to explore areas that you previously did not consider.

Collaboration will continue to be key in the legal industry and law tech traineeships will in the future become the norm. And an exciting time to be in the industry, indeed.

My takeaways from this lecture are that the incoming advances in technology are not to be feared or viewed with caution. These technologies are to assist lawyers, not remove their requirement. One of the panel made an excellent point that hours are spent looking at the ‘administrative minutiae’ whereas if this were done in an automated fashion, it would free up the lawyer to be more effective in other areas; areas that could not be dealt with by these advanced technologies.

As I have seen and heard in previous lectures, clients do seem to now be open to the ideas of innovation, and lawyers are being asked to seek these methods so it will be very interesting to see what balance is struck that can combine all of these objectives whilst producing a pathway for the next generation of legal professionals.

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