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Tech it easy: LegalTech applied

TECH IT EASY: LEGALTECH APPLIED

How Legal Technology will disrupt the way lawyers work day by day

Everybody is talking about LegalTech, but what does it really mean and what is LegalTech applied?

By Alessandro Rubino

The term LegalTech refers to a set of technologies that law firms shall adopt and implement in order to stay up-to-date with the new working schemes of the 2020’s and to be able to support their clients with the ever-growing information technology related legal issues.

Generally speaking “legal technology” refers to a set of tools, ranging from AI based software to document automation programs, used by law firms to improve their internal processes and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their services.

The first LegalTech applications were designed in the early 2010’s, aiming to assist law firms in acquiring clients, monitoring workflow, restructuring the IT architecture, using online space, the cloud, and speeding up relationships with clients and institutions.

Some of these technologies, mainly software, have helped law firms to better adapt to clients’ needs, enabling them to operate and provide services more efficiently, e.g through remote assistance. In the second decade of 2000, LegalTech applications have considerably expanded through the use of new technologies, such as blockchain and artificial intelligence, or smart contract, identified by many experts as the technologies that will bring unprecedented changes to the legal profession, turning the lawyer into a “tech lawyer”.

The rising technological development which has involved traditional professions, in the form of legaltech, fintech, insurtech, represents an industry trend also at corporate level. Alongside tech boutiques, also in-house companies’ legal departments are experiencing new technological developments and starting to adopt more tech-savvy solutions to speed up business.

Here below we will examine in deep the definition of LegaTech, covering the top 3 key aspects to understand LegalTech applied.

  • The key application fields of legaltech
  • Big Data and Artificial Intelligence use cases
  • LegalTech and lawtech: what is the difference?

1. The key application fields of LegalTech

legaltech applied technolawgy

Based on the experiences so far in Italy and Europe, LegalTech applications can be subdivide in 4 main areas depending on the main assets used:

  1. Law firm management: this is the area in which law tech offers advanced management systems for law firms, such as managing teams and workload;
  2. Practice management: these are the management systems that include applications for practice management;
  3. Practice execution: these are platforms and software that support lawyers in carrying out their specific operations;
  4. Legal services delivery: these are online platforms that provide services, either in the form of documents or as a marketplace for consultancy.

Each macro-category above, can be further subdivided in relation to specific tasks. Over the years, the LegalTech industry has grown to include, on the one hand, software and technological tools that simplify legal practice for lawyers; on the other, digital tools that simplify the acquisition and management of legal services for clients by reducing or eliminating the need to consult a lawyer (or making it easier to find the right one quickly).

Sector specific applications

With regards to the industry sector-specific applications, among the main areas of interest in the LegalTech scene we find:

– Regulatory compliance: providing support to comply with the applicable regulatory rules within the financial transactions ecosystem, e.g. compliance with regulatory reporting requirements, market agreements, asset management (investment funds, Sicafs and Sicavs);

– Fintech, Regtech and Insurtech : from open banking to cryptoactivity/cryptocurrency, firms engage in the blockchain sector through the creation and use of cryptocurrency and cryptoactivity, smart contract as well as in the open banking and PSD2 sector.

– Alternative finance – from traditional crowdfunding to Ico/Sto: Crowdfunding is an increasingly effective method of collecting finance from alternative sources. Equity and debt offerings can be an asset for companies that need financial resources. Ico and Sto are an effective way to raise capital and exploit the potential of the blockchain.

2. Big Data and Artificial Intelligence use cases

Law firms will increasingly need to provide qualified assistance to their clients on innovative issues such as artificial intelligence liability and data-based behavior modeling. Other areas where they will be engaged are e-commerce and online business, corporate and M&A, i.e. assistance in corporate and commercial law matters with a focus on the specific needs of high-tech companies.

At a higher level, LegalTech is the legal industry’s way of achieving digital transformation, i.e. using software and technology to simplify operations, become leaner and satisfy modern customers.

Existing solutions and main applications

The LegalTech industry includes the following software solutions and technologies:

  • Workflow software tools
  • Artificial intelligence / machine learning algorithms (AI / ML)
  • analysis software tools and big data
  • customer experience solutions (CX)
  • cloud technology
  • distributed accounting technology (DLT)

Areas of application:

– AI / ML document review: data-trained algorithms that analyze legal documents in many areas, from risk management to mergers and acquisitions and compliance cases;

– document and contract management platforms: tools that simplify or automate the creation of templates, negotiation of clauses and content analysis;

– Workflow tools: systems that allow lawyers to digitize and automate workflows;

– smart contracts: autonomous execution clauses in legal contracts enabled by DLT, Internet of Things (IoT) and others;

– e-discovery tools: solutions that simplify and automate e-discovery steps, such as machine learning algorithms that collect and process documents to be reviewed and finalized by a lawyer;

– legal chatbots: automatic tools based on AI / ML engines that allow users to get answers to basic legal questions in a chat or messenger;

online markets: digital platforms that help clients to find the right lawyer faster;

cloud-based databases: data is collected in a single data warehouse that employees in all departments can access;

Data security – ensuring the highest level of security for legal documents with DLT.

3. LegalTech and lawtech: what is the difference?

Finally, it is time to highlight the difference between LegalTech and lawtech. Some experts believe that the two terms have different purposes: the first refers to software and technologies that lawyers use to simplify their work (e-discovery, revision of the AI / ML document) while lawtech includes products for their clients (legal chatbots, online consultancy services markets). Other lawyers believe that lawtech is not an appropriate name for the industry, as it implies the subject matter of the law in general rather than an industry. In several publications, lawtech and legaltech are used interchangeably, although the term LegalTech seems to prevail and to be most commonly used in the worldwide legal technology scene.

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This post is part of TechnoLawgy Guest Post series and has been written by the brilliant  Alessandro Rubino, Practising lawyer  & Legal of Innovation. Access the italian version of this post here.

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