Lawyers Must be Prepared for Technology Disruption

For the past decade, new technologies in automation and artificial intelligence have been disrupting several industries. For example, AI is being used in the medical industry for rapid diagnosis and research analysis. This puts doctors in interesting territory. Will we need doctors in the future, the same as we do now, with all the new technology? Interesting question indeed.

Will We Need Lawyers in the Future?

Before we answer this question, let’s take a moment to understand the client-facing business model overall. Lawyers are service providers to clients that need specialized legal help. This is essentially the same for doctors, accountants and consultants. And the reality is, client needs and behaviors, especially because of transformative technologies, are changing.

Companies that can embrace these technological catalysts become frontrunners with a competitive edge. Incumbents that are slow to adopt, quickly become irrelevant and obsolete losing entire markets.

Let’s get back to lawyers.

PwC released a report in 2017 that claims clients are now more frustrated with rising costs, and speeds of the legal services delivery, more than ever. This makes sense. Think about how quickly people can order online from Amazon or get “on-demand” services nowadays through services such as Uber for rides or Upwork or freelancing. The fact is, the legal industry has been one of the slowest to adopt technology in the same manner.

This is all changing, and legal firms must be prepared.

Automate Tasks and Improve Decision Making

Many legal firms are making the investment now into technology to automate tasks and improve decision making when serving clients. For example, artificial intelligence is being used to for document and contract analysis (check out the tech company Kira- for an example). But it doesn’t stop there. Clients also want to know how they can access and protect their sensitive information—all with the convenience of the cloud and comfort of cybersecurity. This convergence is presenting some unique IT scenarios for law firms.

A New Breed of Lawyer

Disruption will not eliminate the need for lawyers. But lawyers will need to change and position themselves to compliment technology versus being disrupted by it. This requires a combination of cultural and technology shifts throughout the entire firm.

This new breed of lawyer will use a combination of interpersonal soft skills (emotional intelligence) and technology (software and platforms) to provide clients with new insights, predict and judge better risks and provide quality service for better outcomes. The best part is the technology to do this exists now. It’s just a matter of embracing and adopting while managing IT costs for maximum ROI.

This is where a Virtual Chief Information Officer (vCIO) is also the new breed in IT services and support provider. Just like the legal industry, our industry is being disrupted and requires a new level of quality and service. A vCIO should help a law firm make technology decisions and advise on the best strategy for success in the future. Creativity, communication and collaboration between is the key.

Shaun Rowsell