New Zealand Law Society - Legal professionals’ attitudes to innovation and technology are shifting

Legal professionals’ attitudes to innovation and technology are shifting

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Services in nearly all sectors have evolved to meet consumer demand except one – legal services. The legal sector is one of the few that hasn’t adopted a new agile service delivery and payment approach. Think Uber, Xero and AirBnB in taxis, accounting and accommodation respectively. Services that we traditionally used and paid for in a certain way have innovated through leveraging technology, and businesses and individuals are now expecting this as a way of interacting with legal services too.

Trends are showing consumers of legal services are starting to look for fixed or capped fee structures, are wanting more value at a lower price, and are not necessarily looking to law firms for legal services, they’re going to innovative professional service firms that offer a wider range of options.

But there’s no excuse as to why firms and organisations can’t adapt to these pressures. The technology to help them achieve it is available. There are a myriad of companies developing software and services specifically for the legal industry, especially in the areas of practice management software, e-discovery solutions, cloud-based IT infrastructure and document automation.

Not everyone has their head in the sand though. We’re seeing refreshing examples of those who see the opportunities in exploring new ways to innovate and drive efficiency, and a growing number of legal professionals recognising that to address these pressures and challenges they need to look to technology. We see this shift in attitude through the growing number of delegates attending the legal innovation and technology conference LawFest every year, as do the number of suppliers.

What is noticeable is the forward movement of two quite distinct groups of legal professionals. The first is those who are already leveraging technology – they’ll take it up a notch and explore things like artificial intelligence to perform complex tasks, preparing for wide adoption of block chain, leveraging technology assisted review (TAR), and how the power of information governance can assist with innovation cost effectively. This group will also be looking for opportunities to develop their own technology in-house to get that extra edge, and are always looking ahead.

The other group are slower to move, but are taking notice of what’s changing around them. They’ll start to develop an understanding of what their basic cyber-security needs are, how to leverage e-discovery and what small changes can make a big difference to efficiencies and the bottom line.

That’s what LawFest is offering this year – two streams to cater for legal professionals both new to legal technology and those at the forefront of it. Lawyers, support staff, and management from within firms, corporate organisations and government agencies will discover new technology and develop a greater understanding of how technology and innovation can impact them, their organisations and their clients.

LawFest 2017 is being held on 17 May at the Langham Hotel, Auckland. Tickets available at lawfest.nz/register

Andrew King is the founder of E-Discovery Consulting and organiser of LawFest.

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