Law and Technology: The Demise of the Traditional Legal Model

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Lawyers traditionally have lagged in the uptake of technology in their professional offering, perhaps due to concerns over trust and reliability embedded in the nature of the profession. But with increasing demands on time and cost efficiencies, technological solutions such as automation, AI and analytics are gaining momentum and transforming the legal market in many ways.

The traditional model for legal services- lawyer-centric and labour-intensive – is transitioning to a vibrant, competitive and interdisciplinary technology-empowered landscape.

This has opened the legal industry to an assortment of professionals including data and technology experts and project managers – law is no longer exclusive to lawyers. A report by Deloitte predicts that by 2020, law firms will reach a ‘tipping point’ with drastic changes to the role of talent in law firms brought about by the quickening pace of technological developments and the need to offer better value for money.

Law firms are no longer a ‘one-stop-shop’ for legal services.  

 The slow response in incorporating technology and adopting process-driven solutions has made way for the growth of alternate legal services providers. Clients are increasingly willing to uptake new delivery options, particularly where there are time and cost savings to be made. Tasks that were traditionally handled exclusively by lawyers and law firms are now routinely outsourced to technical and process experts and it is not uncommon to see phases of a matter handled by different providers. A new market is emerging where law firms do not have the full hold on legal services that they once did.

The changing market is demanding a new skillset though meaningful reform in universities and law schools has been slow to catch on. Law graduates are entering the market without being adequately equipped with an understanding of the emerging ways in which technology is impacting legal services.

Technology will remove the need for lawyers in some aspects of delivering legal services but will also open opportunities for new career paths.

There is a marked uptick in demand for legal professionals with technical skills, and professionals with a technical background combined with a solid understanding of the legal industry and legal processes. Young lawyers are typically also quick to adapt to technology and readily accept it as a component of legal services, as well as being receptive to working collaboratively with non-legal professionals.

The traditional legal culture is moving towards its demise and being replaced with a dynamic, cost-effective, client-centric and diverse legal offering embracing technology. Technology will never be a panacea in the legal market, but it is enabling lawyers and non-lawyers to collaborate in new and improved ways.