Part 4: Legal tech
This week we’re going to round out this four-part series on how the current crisis serves as a tipping point for the Global Legal Industry by looking at LegalTech. I want to explore its implications, what is worth considering and how it carves a path to the #futureoflaw.
Among the four pillars, LegalTech seems to be in the most advantageous position in the current crisis. As those in the Market, Institutions and Regulators recognize the need for solutions, they will look to technology to make their work more effective and efficient - much like the boom of Legal Ops during the economic downturn of 2008-2009.
The challenge however, has always been and still is - Adoption. I have long noted that one of the fundamental issues for LegalTech (aside from its own iterative development into a robust solution) has been the gap (read sizable chasm) between:
The product/service or solution provided, and;
The knowledge and know-how of the buyer to use and implement it.
This singular point has been one of the driving forces for FutureLab.Legal as it is one of the biggest hurdles to overcome if we are to move into the #futureoflaw. I believe the ultimate solution does not lie in a particular product or brand, but rather Education.
Tangent: Future Framework for Legal Practice
More recently, my pursuit of Educating the Global Legal Industry at scale reached a milestone late last year when I premiered (version 1) of the Future Framework for Legal Practice, the first framework of its kind.
I am really proud of this work because of its global applicability to Lawyers and Legal Practice. It is a means by which you can shift your thinking about how a Legal Practice will run now and into the future. Most importantly, it allows Lawyers to make sense of how they would build a Legal Practice utilizing the growing ecosystem of LegalTech we witness today. Here’s a brief background and rationale:
The story is simple. For at least 100 years, Lawyers have used and iterated on one fundamental business model: the Partnership, time-based human leverage model. Through the rise of LegalTech, from basic tools applied to niche areas to more robust end-to-end solutions of today/tomorrow, we now see an emergent ecosystem which cannot simply be re-applied to that old business model. The exponential capacity that is unlocked with technology - particularly the way in which it has developed in the last 10 years - has created a need for a way in which it can be integrated into Legal Practice. The Framework does exactly that: make sense of the LegalTech tools around us so that we can design our Legal Practice using multiple technology stacks.
If you take time to digest this, the implications are incredible! Your imagination and the imagination of those developing LegalTech are the limit for what the #futureoflaw will look like!
Let’s get a few caveats out the way.
It’s important to understand that I do not believe Technology in and of itself is a solution or the cornerstone of the #futureoflaw. It is an enabler, but “innovation” and “technology” themselves do not just miraculously create a magical future.
The re-framing of the way The Law operates anywhere in the world requires two fundamental considerations:
The holistic combination of all Four Pillars of the Legal Industry, and:
The focus on the ultimate core of Legal Services which is people and human-to-human service.
Right. Now that we’ve covered those points…
(Back to) LegalTech
We are seeing a lot of examples of companies creating a friction-less entry point through free tiers to their services. It’s understandable that people who may be in a stronger position to adopt a solution due to the current circumstances will become candidates for this kind of strategy, but it is ultimately a specific solution that is in isolation to the rest of their set up (e.g. a messaging platform, or contract management platform).
We also are seeing a lot of attempts from companies to provide resources that help people manage the current situation, all with a time-old hook toward their own products at some point throughout the material.We may also see some companies stressed financially as they adopted a VC model for seed and growth. I expect to see LegalTech companies folding under funding cuts and pressure and/or being bought out in the coming months/year.
LegalTech: COVID Implications
Beyond the survivability of companies developing LegalTech - this is a crucial time to understand the core of what you are doing and how it is intrinsically linked to your client and their “future selves”.
Using buzzwords, and flashy marketing won’t get the message across. There is too much friction in our industry even in the face of these current circumstances (remember adoption is the challenge). Empathy will be needed, experience of the Legal environment in your team or consultants/advisors will be essential. You need to reach your hand out now, rather than entice with “free” and make real impact with your technology.
You will need to make a decision about whether you will build an education (not marketing) arm of your company or partner with companies such as FutureLab.Legal (of which there are few in the world). You could do either or both - but my message is clear: your product does not solve the problem, it solves a problem. To get your potential clients on board, you need to build their future capacity as system thinkers through education and accompaniment as much as you think you need marketing and sales cycles.
LegalTech companies need to begin to plot their solution against the ecosystem of LegalTech rather than thinking (perhaps foolishly) that they will be ubiquitous. There are many nuanced areas of law that can benefit from technology - no one product will suffice across a specific area or category (yet). At the same time, how “it all fits together” is an increasingly essential conversation for any Legal Practice that wishes to take action and sustain growth now and in the future. If you’re not resourced to address this conversation, or haven’t (read cannot) position yourselves in a holistic way, you need to ensure that your clients are equipped to learn this in order to benefit from your solution.
Unifying factor of COVID
As a final note: One of the outstanding implications in this current environment is the specificity of this crisis which unifies the four pillars in their experience of it. From this vantage point it is clear that restricted movement has made remote working and communications the foremost challenge experienced throughout the Global Legal Industry regardless of which pillar you focus on. Where there have been other challenges and influences in the past, we have seen different pillars blame each other for the lack of mobility or impetus for change. Here we see that there is a clear unifying factor for us to agree that change is necessary and more concerted efforts for systemic change. I look forward to this #futureoflaw.
Personal note from a Change Maker
For me personally, I’ve been very calm and even excited at the prospect of the current crisis. My heart goes out to all who are affected, but I can’t help focusing on the abundance of positive forces and opportunity that are being released as a result. When times are good, I’ve felt like my message fell on deaf ears - there’s a lethargy that permeates our Industry. Now, I believe there is a critical opportunity for change and that’s why I feel the way I feel.
In summary, I hope you’ve found this mini-series insightful. Thank you for joining me on this journey as we explored this tipping point. I hope you have gained some nuance and expanded your horizons. Most of all I hope you come away feeling inspired and motivated to change!
I have a bright future in mind for all of us and am humbly at your service.
You can always find me posting regularly on Linkedin and can join this weekly newsletter to follow my journey and take some insight and value about the #futureoflaw.
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A personal thank you to Allard, Joek and the team at LegalBusinessWorld for sharing this series on the platform.
As always, the future of law is in our hands 🔥
This 4-part Series has originally been published at #FutureofLaw Newsletter
About the Author
Quddus Pourshafie has paved his own way in the Legal Industry after recognizing the traditional pathways were failing to align with the future practice of law. Since his admission, he has dedicated to solving the Legal Industry’s biggest problem: transitioning into a future of law brought about by technological disruption.
Known for his ability to think laterally and connect the dots, Quddus has positioned himself to bridge the various protagonists in the legal industry to bring about the necessary transformation, making it his mission to assist those who are ready to tread that path. Quddus also believes it is the first time in recent history where young graduates can change their value proposition in the market as a digital native.
Lending from his creative DNA as a musician and various entrepreneurial ventures, Quddus continues to grow Futurelab.legal and its projects with partners around the world to accompany Firms, Universities, LegalTech companies and Regulators of the Legal Profession and prepare them for the Future of Law.