A new Legal Tech trends report was recently published on basis of a survey conducted by the legal industry software company ayfie amongst legal tech experts worldwide from December 2018 to February 2019.
The report shows some interesting facts about the status and most important trends on the legal tech developments. For example, about 55% of the respondents agree that we have already come quite far in terms of digital transformation of the legal sector. About the same percentage believes that law firms will not be competitive anymore without leveraging technical solutions. This must then mean that almost half of the respondents still think that legal tech is not important for the competitiveness of their firms? Even so, about 85% thinks that digital transformation will continue quickly, which is a significant and concerning gap between the expected market trends and their impacts on a personal level. Should these somewhat contradictory answers be interpreted as a classical burying the head in the sand-approach, “others will need to adapt to the changing legal marketplace, but not my firm since we are so special”? Perhaps to some extent, but it probably has more to do with the costs and other barriers for legal tech projects, such as company culture, talent shortage and lack of quality data.
“Implementation. Implementation. And, implementation. Law firms are now happy to explore legal tech and AI tools. The challenge is getting law firms – and in-house legal teams – to use these automation tools at scale.”
This is also supported by another recent AI survey by O’Reilly Media, where about 23% of the respondents said culture was the major impediment to AI adoption and 18% said that the lack of skilled people and difficulty of hiring talent was the most significant issues. Read more about the survey in The Wall Street Journal article “AI Adoption Held Back by Company Culture, Talent Shortage, Data Issues”.
Hence, a cultural shift, as well as the right talent is needed, in order to succeed in any tech adaptation project. In addition, for law firms the whole business model must be changed to meet the new, more efficient working methods and the investment costs. Since it therefore takes longer for most law firms to adapt and implement new technologies, the tech developments have not yet been as remarkable on the competition angle yet as it will be. But in the report, it is predicted that already in 2020 most of the companies who are not using legal tech will miss out compared to their competition:
“Clients are also connecting the dots between their legal- and non-legal needs and want a common solution in place. They have a demand for a holistic, multidisciplinary solution that only technology can solve, to make them stay successful with their clients and keep achieving a good ROI. If a law firm manages to incorporate technology that solves their immediate legal challenge and offers their clients a long-term enterprise solution at the same time, they can be a real game changer.”
In conclusion, it is clear that lawyers of the future must understand and harness legal technology. At the same time the market can already feel a lack of talent because employees with the right mix of all required qualifications are still very rare on the job market. For any legal student or younger lawyer with an interest for technology and with skills supplementing the legal competence, the future looks bright. As stated in the report, the potential of legal tech is clear to almost all, but one of the absolutely most important topics for the legal market onwards is to find, keep and train the right talent that is tech-savvy and leverages their solutions.
That is why initiatives like the upcoming Tech Academy at Lund University are so important. VQ Founders Helena Hallgarn and And Björk will participate to, hopefully, inspire the students with all the possibilities in the future and to, inter alia, talk about how the traditional role of the law firm lawyer will split into several different roles and the new possibilities we see with the use of IT and new deliveries of legal service. This is an exciting time to start a legal career and there are so many great opportunities for law students to be part of the changing legal landscape – you can participate in the development of new legal tech tools and new legal services, or focus on developing a business with efficient legal support, or become a legal consultant combining different external tools and services to support companies with legal needs.