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Changing the business of law

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is impacting multiple industries, from financial, healthcare, travel,  welfare and political stability of nations across the globe. Restrictions on movement have also affected the legal industry, changing the business of law and highlighted the significance of digital transformation,  in the legal industry.

Nowadays, law firms have not been immune to clients, affecting their business activity. Many M&A transactions are on hold and courts are closed. Just like most of the world, law firms have also made the transition to a work-from-home environment, depending more than ever on technology to drive efficiency and connect employees.

The transition to the digital environment has been easier for organizations that had already invested in technology solutions and collaboration tools over the last few years. However, the legal industry tends to lag in technology adoption as compared to general business.

We believe that life will be quite different once the immediate crisis of the pandemic diminishes. According to Tom Friedman’s New York Times Op-ed, the coronavirus will introduce a new historical divide: Before-Corona (BC) and After-Corona (AC).

My personal belief and what Legalpedia has projected is that the future is digital and the sooner lawyers, firms and courts shift their approaches to meet this trend, the better off they will be. To join this rapidly-changing landscape, lawyers, firms and courts need to reexamine and change their structures to support agility. lawyers, firms and courts can start doing so by learning about digital transformation and creating a roadmap for its implementation.

Digital transformation involves utilizing data, technology, and software as a means to generate meaningful insights and conduct operations more efficiently. When used correctly, data can trigger a meaningful shift in the capabilities of any firm. This can enable it to connect with clients in more significant ways. This may manifest in several ways which may include greater choice, more transparency, increased predictability, and overall effectiveness.

A McKinsey report reveals that compared with companies who have not embraced digital transformation, data-driven organizations are 23 times more likely to acquire customers/clients, 6 times more likely to retain customers, and 19 times as likely to be profitable.

Business owners seeking to keep pace with digital transformation must keep several considerations in mind for success. Digital transformation impacts data protection, IT security, contract design, and regulation. Legal issues such as compliance, intellectual property protection, and data security should be top priorities.

Statistics show that by 2030, we will see significant legal work being done by machines. As exponential growth of technology consumes the world, the legal industry is especially appetizing. As a result, tomorrow’s legal services will be fundamentally different from today’s in terms of both job function and the way legal services are provided.

In the final of a four-part global webinar series, The Uncertain Decade, Legal Geek brought us bold concepts and a vision about the future of the legal industry, bringing together two of the most respected names in the legal industry—Mark Cohen, CEO of Legal Mosaic; and Professor Richard Susskind—to delve into how digital transformation impacts the legal function and then peer into the future of legal technology.

The future of legal technology is finally here. Machines will dominate the industry, Susskind offered, starting the discussion of what he termed, The First 60 Years, where the legal industry was marked by a time of automation from 1960 to today. While that continues, he stressed the pivot will be from automation to transformation in the future.

It is really about the systems going forward not the lawyer, Susskind said, as Cohen peppered him with questions. Lawyers far from retirement will have to re-engineer themselves, Susskind explained, adding that at the core of this thought process “is how can lawyers deliver the outcomes that clients want.”

Susskind further explained that people have been confusing “our services with how we get there and how we have always worked”. While the industry has been about automation for the past several decades, transformation is what will take hold going forward.

Indeed, law firms have been so keenly focused on the plumbing technology (e.g., accounting, computers, and connections) for the back office that they have missed the boat on technologies to deliver legal advice to their clients and identify dis-intermediaries in the business.

Susskind said we need to “put the fence at the top of the cliff rather than the ambulance at the bottom”. Meaning, we should utilize technology to improve the customer experience by providing preventative guidance and information technology.

Cohen further defined digital transformation as being “about customers, by finding new ways of gaining access, ensuring customer satisfaction, and not about the latest technology”. Technology is simply an enabler or tool, Cohen explained, adding that data, on the other hand, is monumental.

The central question for legal professionals going forward, both panelists contended is how can lawyers prepare themselves for the future of the legal industry and digital transformation?

Both agreed that people need to think long and hard about what a legal career will look like in 2030. If you are winding down your career, you should be fine, they said, but if you are younger, you may want to rethink your role.

The legal industry’s openness to the full spectrum of people, cultures, legal professionals, professional support roles, and technologies will be paramount to its future sustainability, they added. And while the horizon could be fabulous for most, in practice, lawyers in the future will be working to enable legal machines, far more so than today.

Fighting that concept is inevitable for some and losing that battle is almost certain. The winners in this legal evolution are those that find a way to adapt. The positive note of adapting is that with the support and efficiency of legal technology, lawyers can focus more time and energy on higher value tasks and client care.

Digital transformation is here to stay in 2020 and is revolutionizing the law industry. Upskill now, to ensure you don’t get left behind, especially at the rapid rate that technology is advancing.

Legalpedia believes that legal departments and organizations that leverage digital technologies can distinguish themselves from the competitive legal landscape. If you want to implement any of the above techniques into your legal operations, contact our technical experts who will make your legal digital transformation smoother and quicker.

Let’s talk: [email protected].





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