Revolutionising the Legal Profession

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Who would have anticipated that the humble portable computer in 1982 would morph into the Apple iPhone in 2007, in what has been a classic case of technological disruption? The legal profession, which was once synonymous with tradition, inertia and an aversion to reform, is also undergoing a metamorphosis of sorts as innovation and technology are reshaping the nature of legal services and client expectations.

The landscape of the 21st century is changing beyond recognition and this is posing a challenge for legal fraternity. As if the proliferation of price-conscious clients, affordable technologies and entry of new-age legal businesses was not enough, the corporate clients are further complicating matters for legal firms by demanding value-added services at miniscule costs. Furthermore, these clients look for lawyers who know the corporate sector well and can provide commercial advice rather than mere legal assistance.

The world is becoming increasingly ‘virtual’ and the legal industry needs to adapt to this changing dynamics by taking the ‘virtual’ route. A virtual lawyer provides services to clients from a distance by making extensive use of technology. The reduction in overheads will lead to lower costs, better productivity and tailor-made services to the clients.

The millennial generation is coming of age. The individuals born between 1980 and 2000 are 92 million strong in the United States alone, constituting the largest generation and by 2020, they will possess total estimated spending power of $1.4 trillion. The millennials are the most tech-savvy generation till date. As clients, the millennial generation value flexibility and rebel against the rigidity of billing by the hour. As colleagues, millennials prefer to work at a place and time of their choosing, aided by the intelligent use of technology. The legal industry cannot afford to ignore this generation.

 Technology is the ‘New’ law

Technology is revolutionizing the legal practice and re-shaping the delivery of legal services. Technological development is accelerating at a rapid pace, in accordance with Moore’s Law, and those that fail to keep pace with new developments are doomed to fall by the wayside.

The world of data has undergone a sea change in less than a lifetime. The first stage of the data revolution lasted for many decades, and was characterized by the use of hard-copy documents and file cabinets overflowing with papers. In the second phase, paper documents were supplemented by email messages and computer programs such as Word and Excel. We are now in the third, exponential stage of growth. An estimated 2.5 texabytes of data is being created each day in the form of paper and electronic documents, email and text messages, and social media postings, and this is stored in hard disks and on the cloud. Savvy lawyers can harness the data to increase their client base and diversify their service offerings.

Law firms are capitalizing on technological innovations to establish legal process outsourcing (LPO) units or offshore operations in low-cost areas, with the aim of processing work at a fraction of the original costs, enhancing flexibility and expanding capabilities.

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are set to transform the practice of law in unprecedented ways. Judges, lawyers and witnesses will be in a position to participate in a virtual courtroom trial despite being separated by miles and time-zones.

Blockchain technology will help in streamlining tedious processes and storing tonnes of evidential data. In a world where digital evidence is subject to tampering, blockchain technology will assist criminal defense attorneys by creating a trusted and de-centralised ledger to store such evidence.

The Law Firm of the Future

Technology is overtaking every sphere of human activity and the legal field is no different. The surge in disruptive technology calls for tech-savvy lawyers who can respond to the new situation in an appropriate and quick fashion. The legal education system will have to partner with leaders in emerging technologies such as AI to equip the students with relevant experiences and skills for the future. Global law firms are already initiating steps in that direction by equipping their members with the necessary programming knowledge to code contracts and other legal documents.

The law firms of the future will also be different from what they are today. They will leverage the exponential growth in computing power and artificial intelligence to augment human capabilities. Law and accounting firm hybrids, virtual law firms and legal subscription services will be the order of the day and some legal firms may also get listed on the stock bourses one day.

Technological advancements will level the playing field in the legal sector. Big firms and start-ups will be placed at the same footing and have to find ways to gain a competitive advantage in an environment where the top-down, command and control approach of yester-years no longer holds validity. Boutique law firms, consisting of attorneys specialized in a niche area of law, would also become widely prevalent in such a scenario.

Technology is likely to transform the legal services as we know today. Lawyers have conventionally been the prime sources of legal knowledge and services. Law firms, governments and corporations have depended on lawyers for legal advice and resources. Technology will lead to greater democratization of the legal sector, healthier competition and qualitative growth in legal services. The delivery of legal services will be propelled by innovation in process and technology, better resource utilization and a well-developed legal supply chain. The in-house legal teams will exercise a strategic influence in the management of businesses and corporations.

The future of the legal profession will be intertwined with technological advancements and be global and collaborative in nature. As technological disruptions will transform the legal world across borders and time zones, legal firms will need to embrace technology in order to thrive in changing times.

Who would have anticipated that the humble portable computer in 1982 would morph into the Apple iPhone in 2007, in what has been a classic case of technological disruption? The legal profession, which was once synonymous with tradition, inertia and an aversion to reform, is also undergoing a metamorphosis of sorts as innovation and technology are reshaping the nature of legal services and client expectations.

The landscape of the 21st century is changing beyond recognition and this is posing a challenge for legal fraternity. As if the proliferation of price-conscious clients, affordable technologies and entry of new-age legal businesses was not enough, the corporate clients are further complicating matters for legal firms by demanding value-added services at miniscule costs. Furthermore, these clients look for lawyers who know the corporate sector well and can provide commercial advice rather than mere legal assistance.

The world is becoming increasingly ‘virtual’ and the legal industry needs to adapt to this changing dynamics by taking the ‘virtual’ route. A virtual lawyer provides services to clients from a distance by making extensive use of technology. The reduction in overheads will lead to lower costs, better productivity and tailor-made services to the clients.

The millennial generation is coming of age. The individuals born between 1980 and 2000 are 92 million strong in the United States alone, constituting the largest generation and by 2020, they will possess total estimated spending power of $1.4 trillion. The millennials are the most tech-savvy generation till date. As clients, the millennial generation value flexibility and rebel against the rigidity of billing by the hour. As colleagues, millennials prefer to work at a place and time of their choosing, aided by the intelligent use of technology. The legal industry cannot afford to ignore this generation.

Technology is the ‘New’ law

Technology is revolutionizing the legal practice and re-shaping the delivery of legal services. Technological development is accelerating at a rapid pace, in accordance with Moore’s Law, and those that fail to keep pace with new developments are doomed to fall by the wayside.

The world of data has undergone a sea change in less than a lifetime. The first stage of the data revolution lasted for many decades, and was characterized by the use of hard-copy documents and file cabinets overflowing with papers. In the second phase, paper documents were supplemented by email messages and computer programs such as Word and Excel. We are now in the third, exponential stage of growth. An estimated 2.5 texabytes of data is being created each day in the form of paper and electronic documents, email and text messages, and social media postings, and this is stored in hard disks and on the cloud. Savvy lawyers can harness the data to increase their client base and diversify their service offerings.

Law firms are capitalizing on technological innovations to establish legal process outsourcing (LPO) units or offshore operations in low-cost areas, with the aim of processing work at a fraction of the original costs, enhancing flexibility and expanding capabilities.

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are set to transform the practice of law in unprecedented ways. Judges, lawyers and witnesses will be in a position to participate in a virtual courtroom trial despite being separated by miles and time-zones.

Blockchain technology will help in streamlining tedious processes and storing tonnes of evidential data. In a world where digital evidence is subject to tampering, blockchain technology will assist criminal defense attorneys by creating a trusted and de-centralised ledger to store such evidence.

The Law Firm of the Future

Technology is overtaking every sphere of human activity and the legal field is no different. The surge in disruptive technology calls for tech-savvy lawyers who can respond to the new situation in an appropriate and quick fashion. The legal education system will have to partner with leaders in emerging technologies such as AI to equip the students with relevant experiences and skills for the future. Global law firms are already initiating steps in that direction by equipping their members with the necessary programming knowledge to code contracts and other legal documents.

The law firms of the future will also be different from what they are today. They will leverage the exponential growth in computing power and artificial intelligence to augment human capabilities. Law and accounting firm hybrids, virtual law firms and legal subscription services will be the order of the day and some legal firms may also get listed on the stock bourses one day.

Technological advancements will level the playing field in the legal sector. Big firms and start-ups will be placed at the same footing and have to find ways to gain a competitive advantage in an environment where the top-down, command and control approach of yester-years no longer holds validity. Boutique law firms, consisting of attorneys specialized in a niche area of law, would also become widely prevalent in such a scenario.

Technology is likely to transform the legal services as we know today. Lawyers have conventionally been the prime sources of legal knowledge and services. Law firms, governments and corporations have depended on lawyers for legal advice and resources. Technology will lead to greater democratization of the legal sector, healthier competition and qualitative growth in legal services. The delivery of legal services will be propelled by innovation in process and technology, better resource utilization and a well-developed legal supply chain. The in-house legal teams will exercise a strategic influence in the management of businesses and corporations.

The future of the legal profession will be intertwined with technological advancements and be global and collaborative in nature. As technological disruptions will transform the legal world across borders and time zones, legal firms will need to embrace technology in order to thrive in changing times.

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