How Legal-Tech is transforming Global Landscape
For the longest time, Legal Industry has been averse to adapt to the technological calling.
Technology, throughout history, has transformed our lives and has played the role of a catalyst of change. No business or industry has remained unaffected by the Digital Revolution and the Internet Age. However - for the longest time, Legal Industry has been averse to adapt to the technological calling. This unwillingness can be attributed largely to the fact that the creation and application of the law has always been seen to be a matter of reaching consensus through dialogue, where technology hardly has any role to play. But the traditional conservative field of law is now changing. Legal-tech has transformed from merely being a buzzword to becoming the future of law.
In an experiment conducted by a well-known legal Artificial Intelligent Platform, twenty experienced lawyers were pitted against an AI trained program to evaluate legal contracts. The AI program won by achieving an accuracy of 95% while the lawyers achieved, on average, an 85% accuracy rate. The AI program also completed the task in 26 seconds, while the human lawyers took 92 minutes on average. Although, this experiment proved to be an eye-catching headline, it is not the only way Legal-Tech is challenging the norm.
In high-volume areas - like Contract Management, E-discovery & Legal Search, Legal-Tech is already - standardizing, automating, and ‘productizing’ what were once labor-intensive tasks performed by lawyers at law firms. A recently published report showed that lawyers are spending only 2.3 hours on billable tasks - this accounts for less than 30% of an 8-hour workday. The rest of the time is spent on administrative tasks and retaining clients. In such a scenario, the advent of technology in Practice Management for lawyers, seems less of a choice and more of a necessity.
Law firms too are quickly realizing the value of Legal-Tech and are trying to adapt. Some have even started generating significant revenue by coming up with their own niche client facing apps and tools. More firms than ever are now signing up for Due Diligence tools. As technology automates such large chunk of the tasks, which are usually assigned to the junior lawyers, it would give rise to a more linear structure of a law firm, which would be a shift from the traditional pyramidal structure.
Coming to the more complex Legal-Tech advancements is concerning Blockchain and AI, which will prospectively disrupt the legal industry. Smart Contracts, Property & Financial Transactions, Intellectual Property Registry – all will be powered by the Blockchain in the future. The benefits of blockchain can be realized even without being aware of the intricacies of how it works, it’s something like having the benefit of a more efficient car without knowing what changes have taken place in the engine.
AI is also being adapted to create solutions which are a hybrid of technology with traditional, face-to-face lawyer/client contact. All this would vastly increase the efficiency of lawyers through predictive electronic discovery, intelligent legal research and automated document preparation.
There have been several concerns amongst the legal fraternity regarding how these advanced technologies would render the lawyers useless. But the reality is that technology is still a long way off from replicating the people skills, social awareness and intuition required to make a good lawyer. The only thing it would do is, it would make their job more efficient. For example: having the AI do a first review of an NDA, would be much like having a paralegal doing a spot-check. This would free up valuable time for lawyers to focus on client counseling and other higher-value work. Supreme court Judge Hon’ble Mr. Justice A.K. Sikri was right in stating that “Artificial Intelligence will be augmenting lawyers’ capabilities but cannot take the place of a lawyer as advocacy is a matter of emotions and human empathy.” Thus the fears of lawyers becoming obsolete is absolutely unfounded.
Another area which Legal-Tech is transforming is how we find lawyers. With the population of internet users crossing the 4 Billion mark in 2018, showing a 7% growth year-on-year, consumer demand through the internet is driving big changes in the way we find lawyers. In the past, businesses and individuals found lawyers through personal connections or word-of-mouth. Personal referrals can be as inefficient in law as in any other industry, as your network might not know the right type of lawyer for you. This is where the online platforms, like Lawyered, which help connect lawyers to clients, are adding value. In addition to enhancing the ease of availing suitable services of a lawyer, this platform also ensures greater transparency in terms of price and quality. They are equally as beneficial to lawyers as they are for consumers, as now independent lawyers have a greater chance and platform to build brands as big as the largest law firms. Even the core areas of dispute resolution are being positively affected by technology.
To conclude, I must say that the greatest beneficiaries of Legal-Tech are the consumers, as they can now afford greater visibility and access to a wide range of legal services and providers. The Legal-Tech era is increasing the competition, providing quality metrics not presently available, reducing costs, enhancing transparency and is aligning the consumer with the provider. It is also introducing predictive tools to compress the lengthy resolution process. But most importantly, it will allow customers to make more informed decisions when they need 'practice' assistance and which lawyer is best suited to provide it.
Co-founder & CEO - Lawyered