Jan 16, 2023

Written By Yi Kang Choo

How is technology impacting the legal profession?

Jan 16, 2023

Written By Yi Kang Choo

Throughout the last few decades, rapid development of technologies have impacted how companies and individuals traditionally conducted their work. Similarly, the technological boom has significantly transformed how the legal profession operates globally, So how is the legal profession being impacted by technology?

Legal Tech – The Secret Efficiency Tool

One of the common uses of technology within the legal profession is to increase the work flexibility and reduce labour-intensive work. For example, it is estimated that 23% of a lawyer's time can now be automated, saving 2 hours of a 10-hour working day to allow the lawyer to focus on more pressing matters.

This is also why most law firms now deploy technology and software to streamline large collections of information (traditionally reviewed manually by lawyers) while conducting due diligence work for clients, and to flag out key points relevant to build their case.

Besides, ‘cloud-based solutions’ that are initially well known across the technology and IT sector, are now commonly being applied by many law firms. Services such as Google Drive, DropBox, or intranets have been vital for firms to store and communicate crucial information/documents efficiently.

They not only benefit from the huge storage capacity of these cloud-based platforms but also ensure seamless collaborations amongst colleagues, offices and clients based in different countries worldwide. Individuals no longer need to be based in the same office in-person to access key documents and collaborate together as a team.

Not Replaced by Robots, New Roles Created instead

Wth the introduction of legal technology, new roles/opportunities were created too. For example, there has been an increase of law firms that possess an Alternation Legal Service Provider (ASLP) arm within their operations. This is where legal analysts or legal professionals are being recruited to operate most of the legal technology and software deployed by the firms, while conducting client due diligence or contract management work. Technologies like e-discovery software or legal research databases are used to increase the accuracy of any legal analysis that is being conducted.

Interesting legal engineer roles were created too. Here, an individual works at the interface between law and technology, with the aim of increasing the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of legal processes within the profession. As stated by Stephen Allen, the Head of Global Innovation and Digital at Hogan Lovells, legal engineers are similar to solution architects who advise on, develop and create solutions that are essential in keeping the firms ahead of the curve.

These ‘new roles’ mentioned are just a fraction of the opportunities that were brought upon to the legal profession by new technology. It is also clear that possessing an adaptive and innovative mindset will be crucial for law firms and members of the legal profession to thrive in the future.

Smart Solutions and Artificial Intelligence (AI) 

According to a recent report from the University of Oxford, AI-assisted law tech has improved how the legal profession operates too. AI is not only being used in contract creation and review, but it has also developed into a crucial tool that provides high-value insights that increase firm-wide productivity and profitability.

AI advisory chatbots and prediction tools (of case outcomes) using AI and historical data/case law, when fully developed, could also revolutionise how lawyers and firms provide their advice to clients on a day-to-day basis.

On the other hand, smart contracts utilising blockchain technology, and software like “Contract Express” could largely automate contract drafting processes and save valuable time for both lawyers and all contracting parties. AI-powered reviewing technologies can also be used to review existing contracts and effectively check for missing or inaccurate clauses. The use of similar “predictive coding” technology in electronic disclosure processes has also been formally recognised by the English Courts (as demonstrated in the case of Brown v BCA trading Ltd, 2016)

Lastly, AI in the courtroom – with AI judges and robot lawyers in action – have been constantly discussed as one of the potential impacts of technology on the legal profession in the future. Researchers from University College London, University of Sheffield and Pennsylvania programmed an AI system that was able to correctly predict the outcomes of 584 cases heard by the European Court of Human Rights, at a 79% accuracy rate.

A Vibrant and Ever-Changing Profession

The rapid development of technology is impacting the legal profession and challenging how traditional legal work/judgments are being made. Despite all the changes, one thing for sure is that the legal profession has always thrived on innovative solutions, and technology will amplify the work of lawyers.



Legal Technology