How many devices do you have with you? Are you reading this blog on your tablet, smart phone, laptop or desktop? Are you at your desk, on the train, or standing in line for a coffee? Have you checked in with friends on social media today, booked a restaurant on a booking app, paid your bills online?
We hear often of the lag faced by the legal industry in adapting to new technologies. That lawyers are techno-luddites. That legal training naturally instills a risk aversion that builds high hurdles to the adoption of new technology. We also hear that we are on the cusp of a revolution in legal artificial intelligence that will make lawyers redundant.
Unsurprisingly, almost all of these were decried as myths at the Legal Innovation and Tech Fest I attended with our CEO Jarred last week. Technology innovators, law firms and in-house counsel shared experiences and ideas about how to overcome the cultural obstacles to change within the profession. "Just start” was the advice of experts attending the conference. “Lawyers tend to just keep taking aim, aim, aim… and never fire.”
The conclusion reached by most in the audience was that the profession is in a rapid, some thought frightening, state of change. But also that technology should be viewed as an enabler to more efficiently deliver legal services by human lawyers, not by lawyer robots. A key issue is the skills we are teaching the next generation of lawyers: technical legal skills and an understanding of the client’s business needs will remain paramount. But “soft skills”, practice and project management skills, and technology skills are vital to keep ahead of the competition and provide value for clients. Efficiency requires us to concentrate on the value of what we deliver, not how or who delivers it.
In the end, the clearest benefit of technology for lawyers as with the rest of the population is mobility, flexibility and efficiency. Breaking the physical and temporal barriers that have traditionally channelled work to a particular individual in a particular room at a particular time will liberate the profession.
Jarred spoke with journalist Margaret Paton for the start-up industry site Short Press a few days ago about how Crowd & Co fits within the environment of legal tech enablers. Do have a read... on whichever device is most convenient.