LegalTech after Covid: predictions for 2020 Q3 & Q4

legaltech after covid

Law firms and companies’ legal departments are rushing to adopt new technologies and build new legacy systems at such a fast pace that many lawyers and practices are being left behind. The second half of 2020 might be the tipping point of the legal tech industry, also taking into consideration the recent boost to remote working and digital tools brought by the health emergency. We may finally experience changes that will forever transform the practice of law and the delivery of legal services. Here are my LegalTech after Covid predictions for 2020 Q3 & Q4.

LegalTech after covid

1.    The Darwinian dilemma “evolutions vs. extinction”

The legal sector is preparing for a significant transformation. Increasing client demands, information complexity, and technology advancements are pressing attorneys to master technical skills and adopt new and powerful tools for the benefit of clients.

Artificial intelligence, algorithms, machine learning, and human-machine interaction are just a few of the new realities that the legal profession is facing. While the advent of new technologies with a highly disruptive effect can sometimes be perceived as a constraint, at the same time it is also a tremendous opportunity for lawyers.

The success of “alternative legal service providers” (i.e., legal services that are delivered via a model that departs from the traditional law firm delivery model, for example, by using contract lawyers, process mapping, or Web-based technology) proves that market expectations are changing and that IT needs to be used to meet new demands.

Using technology in an effective manner in order to deliver efficiencies and increase the potential value added for customers is becoming more relevant as a differentiating factor in winning clients.

LegalTech after covid will move from hype to reality. A growing number of innovative legal service providers will focus on a wide range of inefficiencies, adding value to the legal ecosystem by improving legal and business processes (e.g., the contracting process) and meaningfully integrating legal technology to permit more efficient “data-driven” legal and business workflow management.

To survive, forward-thinking lawyers will need to invent a new way of delivering legal services, focusing on client-centricity by combining legal-design skills to build easy-to-use solutions while ensuring their unbeatable legal competence and professional ethics.

2.    Access to justice will be more and more digitalized 

LegalTech after covid

The legal sector is quickly moving to embrace digital transformation and leaning towards innovation, as the opportunity to improve customer services, drive productivity and achieve interoperability can no longer be ignored. In 2019 investments in legal technology reached unexpected levels worldwide.

At the same time, we are more than far from pointing to an existing taxonomy or the legislative categorization of disciplines within legal tech. Law-making has turned into a fast, digital, innovative process.

To date, law firms and legal professionals are acting at a steady pace and are certainly well ahead on this two-speed journey. Consumers can rely upon a plethora of existing law-tech solutions which promise to increase the accessibility of legal tools to make legal services progressively more affordable to businesses and individuals.

Access to justice in the digital era is indeed marked by increasing creativity. Legal tech tools leveraging technology, data, and user-centered design approaches to develop solutions have widely reached consumers’ needs.

Much work has been carried out to reduce burdens of legal proceedings, and many online dispute resolution platforms will move a step further towards less utopian implementation of virtual courts. These courts enable access to justice without setting foot in a courthouse. Online dispute resolution platforms – where agreements are virtually reached and ratified by courts via an online portal – are already going viral in the UK and US and will sooner or later land in EU.

Time will reveal whether the legal sector is ready to challenge new questions arising from such digital freedom in accessing justice.

3.    Automation will become a timesaver and a risk-mitigator

LegalTech after covid

Automation technologies, based on the combination of machine learning, text processing, and industry statistics to measure the efficiency of specific legal issues, have been slowly adopted by law firms through the years.

In 2020 we will continue witnessing significant growth in the use of practice-management applications among legal professionals. At the same time, we are already seeing these applications changing the trajectory of their development. Narrowly focusing on core practice management, some disruptive new technologies are seeking to become more extensive in order to provide integrated tools and services that should serve as a junction for all functions within a law practice.

AI and Blockchain are already leveraging many years of experience gained in creating legal document templates, and contract management sector has matured significantly. Many legal knowledge fields have been enriched by means of document automation, achieving the solid use of machine learning to analyze, identify, and review legal documents.

But there is more to this. Tools enabling law firms to simplify, through automated solutions, the length, and complexity of the creation process of legal documents will become quite spread globally.

It’s all about optimizing efforts while improving the efficiency and client/attorney relationships within each law firm and improving clients’ intake from the firm. This scenario is already happening, and such phenomenon will most certainly grow, encompassing legal technologies that will snip and fix law firms’ and companies’ needs, by making the same data-driven platforms and services contemporarily available to lawyers and in-house counsels.

New frontiers of the marketplace will meaningfully increase connections between clients and lawyers to raise legal awareness from both sides, to understand and exercise legal rights and obtain successful outcomes. The need for quick and easy legal transactions will become more urgent until self-executing legal agreements finally breakthrough in the legal scene.

The hope is for automation to likely turn into the fingerprint of professional legal services, so as contacts, documents, and files will slowly become more and more cloud-based. Indeed, by moving their infrastructure to a cloud service provider, firms can rest assured that their data is physically secured, backed-up in multiple offsite locations, and most likely protected in case of a violation.

4. Customer-centric legal developement

Undisputedly, legal tech tools are becoming exponentially customer-centric, and this will mark one of the most significant success factors in 2020. Technology-driven tools will significantly provide information and guidance in making legal support quickly available and will expand lawyers’ work through automation and platforms, thus reducing costs and increasing accessibility.

Law firms and corporate legal departments are increasingly experimenting legal tech tools, recognizing the potential of new business models to transform the industry and engage with innovative service providers to develop collaborative solutions for clients.

With no doubt, legal technological solutions will be “epidemic” in Q3&Q4 2020. However, inescapable risks are around the corner, such as the liability of law-tech and AI tools when facing the connatural lack of infallibility.

LegalTech checklist

If you wish to know more about LegalTech applications and use cases, or if you wish to access our Checklist for market-driven LegalTech tools development, please contact me at tommaso.ricci@dlapiper.com.

You may also like this post on #LegalTech: How Legal Technology will disrupt the way lawyers work day by day ?

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