Five technologies lawyers shouldn’t ignore
From Big Data to Blockchain, Marti Manent gives us a glimpse of the five technologies that lawyers mustn´t ignore if they want to succeed in today’s increasingly competitive and global landscape.
Technology has disrupted all the sectors, and the legal sector is no exception. Although many different sectors have successfully integrated new technologies into their activities, law firms are discovering the power of legaltech and its application in the legal services industry.
Technology today allows legal professionals to go beyond the legal sphere; it allows them to do their work more efficiently and provides opportunities for disruptive innovators to create value by doing things differently. This new reality demands a new breed of lawyers who can adapt to this new paradigm, understand the application of technology and the impact it has on the legal sphere.
Marti Manent, Director of the Legal Bridge to Silicon Valley Program and founder of Derecho.com and elAbogado.com, trains and prepares professionals, entrepreneurs and lawyers to be leading actors in the legaltech ecosystem, a sector of growing importance. “Spain and Barcelona are in the top three or four most important startup hubs in Europe. In the last twelve months, we have seen an exponential growth of legaltech startups in Spain”, explains Manent, who will be at the IE Booth at the 4 Years From Now Platform of the Mobile World Capital Barcelona for those interested in startups and innovation in the legal sector.
“Today’s lawyers are advising and running businesses that are oriented towards facilitating the development of projects for startups and towards generating more revenue and opportunities in their companies. A lawyer today must understand his role in the new digital economy and add value to businesses”, explains Marti.
In this article, Marti Manent explains what are the tools that are revolutionizing the sector and that lawyers cannot afford to ignore.
1. Big data
The power to store and manage massive amounts of information is changing how law firms operate. This capability not only shortens the process of reviewing large amounts of data—for processes like acquisitions, mergers, and due diligence— but also reduces costs associated with servers and infrastructure. Thanks to the speed of this technology, the cost of managing large amounts of data has also plummeted.
In the legal sector, Blockchain technology —best known for its application in cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin—has been used to track transactions. A blockchain is very difficult to modify and thus can provide a comprehensive record of any transaction. According to Marti, the reach this technology has is overwhelming, for it could eventually replace today’s notaries and public registries.
Searches based on cost and speed will nudge clients towards one firm or another, so technology will be the factor that sets the competitive organizations apart.
Commonly used in the United States, this technology answers a very important question: which court is the most advantageous for a given case? To answer this question, law firms have traditionally relied on their senior partners’ experience with the various courts and knowledge of their trends. Today eDiscovery helps firms decide what court to choose by allowing them to consult rulings, assess the parties involved, and review a large volume of documents. With this information, teams are better equipped to decide which court offers the best chance of a positive result in a particular case.
4. ‘Machine learning’
Popular in Silicon Valley, this tool harnesses the power of algorithms to categorize legal documents. For example, if a firm has a thousand agreements to review and classify for a due diligence proceeding, the first step is to manually classify between as either “bad” or “good.” On the basis of this initial classification, a machine-learning algorithm can then proceed to classify the rest of the documents in a matter of hours. In other words, the machine “learns” from the data you provide.
Although this technology is often associated with cybercrime, Bots can perform various tasks with no need of human intervention. Thanks to bots, the preparation of tax returns is now much simpler than it was a few years ago. One example of bot software is www.clerky.com. Their tagline is simple: “We build software to make legal paperwork easier for startups and attorneys.” In the case of an entrepreneur, for example, a computer uses basic information to generate the necessary documentation to create a corporation, a task that previously required the assistance of a lawyer. Some law firms—particularly those which need to interact with thousands of clients in a short period of time—also use bots to communicate with each client.
The future is disruption
There is no doubt that these five technologies are disrupting the legal sector. It is critical that lawyers, law firms and legal departments understand and implement these technologies and adopt an entrepreneurial vision and business approach to legal services.
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