Automated law—the mindset of the legal profession

Automated law—the mindset of the legal profession

How is the legal profession embracing modern technology and the automation of services? Julian Sayarer speaks to early adopters and pioneers of new technologies in the legal world. Steeped in procedure and synonymous with a high degree of human expertise, the legal profession is not an industry that would seem naturally sympathetic to the adoption of modern technology.

Accordingly, and given the differences that exist between firms of very different sizes and specialisations, perhaps also unsurprisingly, the profession is far from uniform in its embrace of the future.

The largely tech-free venue of the courtroom is perhaps also emblematic of the broader profession. While stereotypes of sceptres, wigs and robes are not representative of the majority of what takes place inside a modern court, when the culture in which a discipline is practiced remains so imbued with tradition, it perhaps stands to reason that there will be some inertia that stymies change.

Simon Harper, who started the Berwin Leighton Paisner venture, Lawyers on Demand (LOD), reasons that creating a tech-based project within a law firm relied on ideas that often in fact had very little to do with technology itself.

‘The most important element when originally starting LOD was a philosophy rather than any one particular process. We set about trying to establish an openness to new ways of working; a focus on the personal needs and motivations of individuals, and a willingness to experiment and iterate in an agile way.’

Choosing change

As the pace of change in the world outside law accelerates, will there always be the luxury of a choice between traditional or modern? For now the more pertinent question, however, is arguably whether the two are so mutually exclusive to begin with. Much discussion of technology—from the ‘gig’ economy outwards—presumes that society is undergoing a seismic change, when often the change is only in the platform or the tools being used, and

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