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3 new technologies legal service providers can no longer ignore

 

According to Deloitte, 100,000 legal roles will be automated by 2036. If that’s not enough to jolt you into reality, they also believe the ‘tipping point’ for firms to adopt a new talent strategy is 2020 (tick tock!). But, there is a flipside. Emerging technologies also hold the potential to make your firm more competitive – and profitable.

There’s no way to dance around it – new technologies will kill many existing jobs in the legal services sector.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) can now process data at lightning speed. Because of this, Neil Sahota believes most paralegal and legal research positions will become redundant within the next 10 years.

Yet, legal services still need a human touch. New technologies only augment the work of the person using them, which can free up their time for higher level tasks.

The main challenge the legal services face now is the disconnect between how lawyers receive their formal training, and the skills they need in a contemporary workplace. Law degrees aren’t teaching students how to harness new technologies. And firms are too slow in adopting them as a result.

Does your firm have a strategy in place to adopt these technologies?

Cloud systems

Cloud computing is simply the process of storing and accessing data online, rather than on a server or your computer’s hard drive.

Australian legal specialists Coralie Kenny and Tahlia Gordon suggest cloud computing offers a number of opportunities for legal practices, including:

  • Removing the need for a physical office
  • Allowing for a more mobile workforce
  • Providing online legal management systems and storage platforms

However, Kenny and Gordon advise that firms using cloud computing need to be aware of the challenges the technology faces when it comes to ‘accessibility, integrity and confidentiality’. The inherent risks of the medium mean education for lawyers on use and best practice is vital.

AI-powered software

AI is a new kind of computing system that can take on tasks that have previously needed human intelligence to perform. It uses algorithms to process large amounts data and provide insights, such as predictions.

Intelligent business performance expert Bernard Marr says AI is transforming the way legal services work by:

  • Reviewing documents
  • Helping perform due diligence
  • Conducting contract review and management
  • Predicting legal outcomes
  • Automating divorces

AI can do all these tasks faster, cheaper and usually more accurately than a human. What’s more, many of these tasks involve routine or tedious work that many won’t miss doing.

With these tasks taken up by machines, teams will have more time to focus on high value-adding work, such as collaborating with clients, advising and negotiating. 

Blockchain

Blockchain is redefining our thinking around the security of contractual agreements.

Up until now, there hasn’t been a widespread adoption of blockchain within the legal services, but experts believe it’s only a matter of time.

Marr describes blockchain as: ‘… a comprehensive, up-to-date (real-time) ledger of anything that can be recorded, from financial transactions to ownership of physical assets stored in a distributed, peer-to-peer fashion.’

Much like Google Docs can be edited at the same time, all users can access and add to the ledger with records staying in sync. Everyone accessing the file has a unique key that grants them access – which means every entry is immutably encrypted and time-stamped to the user. What’s more, users can only edit the content they have added. 

The possibilities for the legal profession are only beginning to be realised. But the security of knowing documents can’t be tampered with will open countless doors for lawyers and their clients.

 

Need help integrating these new technologies?

A six-week course from The College of Law, Fundamental technologies shaping legal services: understand the technologies driving the business of law will help you understand today’s legal market.

It will equip you with in-depth knowledge on the major technologies disrupting the way lawyers work, and the skills legal teams need to survive our digital future.

The subject is part of the College’s newly formed Master of Legal Business, and is led by Teaching Fellow, Michelle Mahoney. Learn more.