What is Legal Tech?
It has always been challenging to understand how law and innovations can collaborate. For an ordinary person, the law is something well-established with lots of legal and regulatory frameworks, rules, and attorneys, so it is better to stay away from this business. It is valid to some extent. Indeed, the legal profession is one of the world’s most complicated, conservative, and traditional vocations, that is why the industry cannot be changed in a couple of years. It is one of the service areas in which nothing has ever changed when it comes to customer experience.
But given the rapid development of technologies, lawyers cannot stand aside and witness how artificial intelligence and various applications leave them out of business. For that reason, most of the law firms and legal entrepreneurs throughout the world started to create and implement technologies for their services.
Legal tech is often wrongly considered when a classic law firm starts servicing IT-companies or accepts cryptocurrencies from its clients. Some might say it is, but in that respect, I must note that in its proper understanding, this definition constitutes more and has nothing in common with the criteria listed above. To explain what legal tech is, a parallel with football can be established where referees started to use video replays (VAR) during the match. No one has changed the rules of the “law game,” only auxiliary elements have been implemented. There are more and more new applications and programs that are designed for providing legal services.
Thus, Legal Tech can be considered as a unique technology and software developed to provide faster, value-added legal services to clients.
How can Legal Tech change the industry?
Many everyday things in a profession can be automized and therefore decrease the number of random mistakes made by a human being. But is it enough to change how things are done? Let’s have a look at a new approach that will refresh and transform the industry.
Every lawyer knows at firsthand what concentration is required for the preparation of legal documents such as contracts. But what if a lawyer fills in a particular form with the substantial terms of the contract, which will be enough for drafting a contract? Such technology already exists and is used by many lawyers throughout the world, including Ukraine.
Together with such technology, there is also a possibility to use smart contracts. This type of agreement enables parties to verify the performance of the contract automatically. As for now, this technology is more about technology than law since it requires a strong technical background to operate.
Additionally, thanks to numerous bots and software nowadays, it is not necessary to get into the law firm’s office to get various legal services, for instance, consulting or patenting inventions. In this direction, Legal Tech has started to evolve in the last couple of years.
It is also to be noted about artificial intelligence. Yes, it is not that smart these days as it is shown in a cinema or tv shows. But some software has already been developed that analyzes even complicated cases and propose its resolution based on different jurisdictions. Quite impressive, isn’t it?
The abovementioned tools allow lawyers to digitalize and automate their workflows, which means fewer hours spent on each client.
It is hard to imagine how lawyers worked fifty years ago. Considering the constant increase of amendments approval to normative instruments, searching for actual information was a disaster. It would take a couple of years for modern lawyers to start working with paper-only documents.
There is a significant number of informational resources that let a lawyer find a necessary article of the Code, Act, calculate court fees, search legal positions, etc. Frankly, this software might be called the very first Legal tech inventions as the primary types have been developed in the late 2000s. Over the past decade, such applications sparked a big push (can consist of internal CRM system) and are an integral part of lawyer’s phones, PC’s and perhaps their lives 🙂
It is too early to say that artificial intelligence and software can replace lawyers. Indeed, most of the legal processes can be automated and will reduce the lawyer’s time and effort. But will it look good? In approximately 10-15 years, there won’t be a need for entry-level specialists, such as paralegals, junior associates, considering the rapid development of technologies. Of course, legal issues when it comes to strict objectives is one of the most complicated things to automate. Therefore, unequal development of legal tech can lead to unpleasant consequences in which there is space for senior-level specialists only.
In any case, lawyers must transform and be ready for the technology’s changes. Perhaps we will witness legal services price reductions, waning enthusiasm for the profession, and other significant changes. But finally, lawyers will have time, which is always short.