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The Great Leveler? Using Legal Tech to Level the Playing Field

Law as stated: 9 December 2022 What is this? This episode was published and is accurate as at this date.
David Bushby joins Hearsay host David Turner to scrutinise the world of legal tech, as well as discuss how to stay on top of technical developments to give your firm the edge.
Practice Management and Business Skills Practice Management and Business Skills
David Bushby
1 hour = 1 CPD point
How does it work?
What area(s) of law does this episode consider?How small law firms can implement technology to level the playing field with larger firms.
Why is this topic relevant?Driven by the necessity of the COVID-19 pandemic, technology is being introduced faster than ever into law firms. This uptake of legal tech has increased the efficiency of firms and helped reduce the workload of lawyers and support staff.

However, the history of technology in the legal profession is complex and it demonstrates some of the difficulties of bringing newer technologies to the legal market. A deep understanding of technology – and the way people interact with technology – is crucial to the success of new technology in the legal sector.

What are the main points?
  • Small law firms have greater access to a vast array of technologies than at any time previously. However, it can sometimes be difficult for smaller firms to adopt legal technology into their practice for practical reasons.
  • Implementation requires time and resources to determine the best product. Large law firms are sometimes the first movers when it comes to tech for this reason.
  • Tech darling document automation can drastically speed up the process of reviewing large amounts of documents in litigation or due diligence requirements in M&A.
  • Over time, the number of documents required to train artificial intelligence is also being reduced, opening up these tech solutions to smaller firms that do not have access to the vast amount of precedents that large firms do.
  • Often the best technological solution is a “point solution” as they focus specifically on the issue that requires fixing. This means to get the best solution for each individual task, you will have separate pieces of software over multiple different platforms.
  • Because best of breed technology often means multiple pieces of software, integration is key to ensure the systems work together and ultimately save lawyers time.
  • User experience is the most important factor in choosing legal technology because if a solution is difficult to use then lawyers will be more reluctant to adopt it.
What are the practical takeaways?
  • Always get a trial or sandbox version of a piece of legal technology before you commit to purchasing it – don’t just rely on sales demos. This will give you a feel for the program and whether it is easy to use.
  • Ensure you have an effective change management and communications strategy on implementation. It is also crucial to have effective post-launch communication such as dedicating resources to answer any questions, scheduling regular check-ins and being available for the first 6 to 12 months.
  • To combat the difficulty in adopting legal technology as a small firm due to less resources, look to expand on the capabilities of systems already being used. Most firms will have access to the Microsoft 365 platform and should capitalise on the other applications available to them.
  • To keep up to date with the fast-changing world of legal technology, subscribe to the Law Hackers monthly newsletter, check out the College of Law Center for Legal Innovation website and check out the Artificial Lawyer news website.
How to:How to effectively integrate technology into your law firm:

  1. Begin by utilising the full capabilities of technology you already have, such as the other applications available in Microsoft 365.
  2. Research the best technological solution for a time-consuming task in your firm. This will often be the point solution to that issue.
  3. Always request a trial or sandbox version of a legal application before you commit to purchasing it. This allows you to get a feel for the technology, its user experience and see how easy it is to use.
  4. Have an effective change management and pre-launch communication strategy to ensure as many lawyers as possible are onboard before the technology is introduced.
  5. Continue effective communication after the launch – including allocating dedicated resources, scheduling regular check-ins and being available for the first 6 to 12 months.
Show notesTech & the Law 2022, Thomson Reuters

Future of Law and Innovation in the Profession 2017, Law Society of New South Wales

Law Hackers monthly newsletter

College of Law Centre for Legal Innovation

Artificial Lawyer news website