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Can Legaltech Become A Threat To Lawyers And Their Profession?

3 Pros and 3 Cons of Legaltech


By Hans Paul Pizzinini.


Different views on the future of law.

86% of lawyers view legal technology as an imminent threat to client business.

The integration of technology into the practice of law is bound to have an impact on the legal profession, and opinions on the outcome of this impact are divided.


Some lawyers fear that the profession could be “taken over” by automation and technology, with human lawyers being completely replaced. Others see their role as expanding: technology can perform routine tasks, freeing up legal professionals to focus on more creative work. But what does this mean for those who want to become lawyers? Will it be possible for them to find a place in this new world?


While some legal scholars talk about how automation will "destroy" the need for lawyers, others view tech as a tool that will augment lawyers' abilities rather than replace them.


Data show that lots of money are spent on legal documents and that there are several inefficiencies involved in this process.


In San Francisco, the average hourly rate for a contracts lawyer is $455. A week’s worth of work and that’s over $18,000 of funding gone. Yet, this is a task that has to be done. Especially for young companies looking to quickly expand their incoming business, they will need to contract out certain tasks.


Legatech has a positive impact on Law

The main goal of legaltech is to increase efficiency and reduce costs. As such, AI will not replace lawyers but only help them do their jobs better by providing useful insights from large amounts of data in a short amount of time. Their clients will be happier too as they potentially receive a better and faster service.


According to the International Association for Contract & Commercial Management (IACCM), the average cost to businesses of processing and reviewing a basic everyday contract has risen to $6,900. This is a conspicuous amount and AI has been depicted as one of the tools to help reduce this cost.


More than just speed

AI is able to improve not only the speed but also the accuracy of some legal tasks. A study conducted by Lawgeex found that human lawyers have an 85% success rate in spotting legal issues - whereas an algorithm was around 94% accurate in predicting their outcomes.


This debunks a myth; that humans are better and more accurate than machines, but this is not always the case.


AI also helps lawyers keep their clients happy by creating easy-to-use interfaces that are accessible to those who are not tech-savvy.

Imagine uploading a contract and getting a summary that can easily be shared with your clients. Less time spent on document review and preparation, more time spent on providing value to your clients and creating deep relationships.


Technology helps attorneys reduce their costs

In addition, technology helps attorneys access and process data faster which in turn reduces their costs and allows them to focus more on providing quality service to their clients.


For example, as a legal professional, I may need to filter through hundreds of contracts and spot those that match specific criteria e.g. Confidentiality and terms of payment, IP assignment clause, or a change of control. Searching and opening one document at a time may not be the most effective solution: legaltech tools allow them to access the needed contracts in seconds instead of hours. This can be done by inputting specific searching criteria and keywords in a legaltech tool: usually, it looks like a search engine bar e.g. Google with the possibility to add more filters to run an advanced search.


Better case law decision making

Finally, AI enables better decision making through analytics as it provides more information about legal cases for both sides than any human could possibly know.


For example, we can find some information and insights never before available about judges, attorneys or expert witnesses, parties, and the subjects of the cases themselves, culled from

millions of pages of litigation information.

But while Legaltech can help with case law language analytics and verdict and settlement analysis it is not yet a reliable solution to substitute humans in deciding the outcome of a case.


A group of researchers used machine learning to train a model on a dataset drawn from more than 28,000 case outcomes and more than 240,000 individual justices’ votes from the US Supreme Court decisions.


The model predicted the votes of individual justices with 71.9% accuracy and the outcome of the decisions with 70.2% accuracy.While these results seem promising, there is still a good way to go before “crossing the chasm” into automated legal case decision making.


Human experiences, rationality and creativity are essential to the legal world. Nonetheless, it is not enough for legal professionals to have a brilliant idea about an argument or strategy if they cannot back it up with data. The ability to recognise patterns in raw data and quickly identify outliers can help lawyers make better decisions. For example, being able to distinguish between a potentially winning and a losing case can be useful for deciding whether or not to pursue litigation.


For now, the partnership between humans and machines can produce truly better work as long as humans remain the ones who handle all reasoning while machines simply provide support by analysing large datasets.


Another example of how big datasets are used in the legal space is e-discovery technology.

E-discovery has been around for a while and it is now becoming increasingly sophisticated. For example, e-discovery software can be used to analyze and sort through huge numbers of documents in a short space of time - far quicker than lawyers can. This is because the software can identify keywords and basic patterns. Furthermore, the latest technology uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to help find more complex patterns that have previously eluded humans.


Other emerging legal technologies involve automated risk analysis platforms, contract lifecycle management and contract drafting platforms among others.


3 Pros and 3 Cons of legaltech

Legaltech brings change and as such, every organizational change has its pros and cons.


Pros

  1. Increase in efficiency and costs reduction - lawyers can provide a faster service and devote more time in building deep relationships with their clients

  2. Improved accuracy - lawyers can access and process data faster, can recognise patterns in raw data and quickly identify outliers

  3. Better decision making through analytics as it provides more information about legal cases

Cons

  1. Changing habits and learning require some time and effort

  2. Not all legaltech solutions work 100% so some time may be required to vet and choose the right platforms

  3. If you like paper (and its smell :)

The evolving role of lawyers in the era of legal technology

Instead of fearing the progress of technology in their profession, maybe it's time for lawyers to evolve with it. After all, the threat is not that technology will replace lawyers, but that it will take over certain tasks and leave lawyers to do the more interesting and profitable work. I believe that lawyers augmented by technology will be able to bill more, not less because they will be able to provide additional high-value services e.g. strategy and negotiation support, legaltech solutions integration to their clients’ processes. In short, this is a good thing - they can do more with less! And probably create more sources of revenue by offering new types of services.

 

About the Author

Hans Paul Pizzinini is an entrepreneur and consultant who has been writing and speaking about legal technology and innovation for several years. He writes for Startup blogs, curates from 0 to 1 Newsletter and is the co-founder of the weekly podcast Rethinking Legal Ops.


Paul is also CEO of www.speedlegal.io, a successful AI powered contract management platform.


Hans Paul graduated from Bocconi University in Economics and Management of Innovation and Technology. He previously appeared in Forbes, GQ, Vogue and Vanity Fair.








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