The new generation of lawyers has high expectations about what technology can do for them. With life cycles of innovation getting constantly shorter, we are surrounded by new disruptive technologies and this is not different in the legal world. According to research from Thomson Reuters Legal, 579 “lawtech” patents were filed worldwide in 2016, up from just 99 in 2012. The expansion in Legal-Startups and patent filings are driven by interest for quicker and less expensive approaches to legal services.
In honor of the Legal Tech Conference taking place in Vienna today, we are highlighting 6 legaltech trends, which could make a big impact in the work of lawyers as well as the experience of their clients.
The most interesting case of a robotic lawyer is ROSS, an artificially intelligent legal research assistant built on IBM’s Watson supercomputer. Capable of handling ‘natural language’ legal questions, for which ROSS will return cited legal answers and topical readings from legislation to case law and secondary sources instantly, many legal heavyweights in the US are already using it, such as Latham & Watkins LLP.
Legal research is very costly for law firms. Therefore, advanced analytics programs, some of which use artificial intelligence and machine learning technology, are already proving to be invaluable for law firms, which handle and generate loads of documents. Most legaltech startups to date have focused on making this procedure and all this material more manageable.
Big data has already caused a big impact in various industries, and it is not different for the legal world. Many tools are already helping improve the search process and give lawyers data-driven tools to research through millions of documents. Using big data can also lead to a greater degree of efficiency and transparency, which everyone will benefit from. Reducing the time it takes for lawyers to complete research and casework, will lead to improved access to the justice system.
Many firms are already using packaged legal solutions instead of custom-tailored solutions for every client. For example, Wevorce users can have access for around USD 800 to a pre-packaged divorce plan that suits their needs together with pre-filled divorce forms. We can also find startups such as Bright Advise, where users only need to submit a question and a professional will be in touch with them shortly after.
Writing legal documents, together with legal research, are the tasks that most likely cause a strain on lawyer’s finances and time. Some startups are already automating those tasks using various programs or services. Many services like Ironclad may help create, fill, and manage contracts in an effective way.
The search for new business models or at least for the possibility of expanding their own business model will also play a greater role in the future for lawyers. An example would be to use data and smart algorithms to predict what a client might need and actively approach it.
All those trends, while impressive and likely to ease the workload and research of many lawyers, are still far from being an everyday reality. Legal advice is still a very personal job, clients often seek reassurance in face-to-face advice. The reality of an artificial intelligence lawyer might have to wait some decades but today the increasing presence of automated processes will start replacing associate-level lawyers and help firms save money and time managing documents and handling research.
If you are interested in getting to know more about this topic and how we can help your firm be more efficient, please contact our Partner and Head of Legal Alexander Rapatz.