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New legal practices, client expectations and technologies are all affecting business models across the legal sector. Nicola Laver examines what the rise of legal tech start-ups could mean for law firms. Evolving legal practices, client expectations and the latest technology means traditional legal business models are increasingly being ‘disrupted’. Today’s demand for online legal services and legal consultancy, and the rise in the unbundling of legal services and greater competition from accountancy firms, means the disruption of legal practice will continue.
Technology-focused legal start-up companies are now an increasingly emerging trend, with the likes of game-changer, Ross Intelligence (widely described as the world’s first ever AI ‘lawyer’), and DoNotPay entering the market. These tech start-ups represent a further disruptive force to traditional legal practice.
Calum MacLean, risk specialist solicitor at Locktons says technology is increasingly infiltrating into the way law firms operate. He explains:
This is evident in many guises—from the use of sophisticated case management systems which are enabling greater use of legal executives, and outsourcing of large swathes of legal work (in some case up to 80% of a conveyancing transaction is now completed online by teams in India) to the adoption of artificial intelligence to automate much high cost, high-margin work."
This, he says, is not limited to ‘disrupter’ start-ups. Established multinationals are already using artificial intelligence-enabled systems to automate aspects of due diligence, contract management, and contract review. Pinsent Masons, for instance, has developed its TermFrame system; Dentons has set up NextLaw Labs (which provides legal tech start-ups with access to IBM Cloud and the IBM Global Entrepreneur Program for Cloud Start ups); and Riverview Law has developed virtual assistant, KIM, which is run as a ‘stand-alone business’ and is expected to eventually launch its own products.
MacLean adds that the cost of justice will also put pressure on courts, and the practices that serve them, to adopt ‘e-justice’. He says:
While we are not going to see the elimination of the discretion and personal input from qualified legal advisers and judges entirely, it seems inevitable that outsourcing and automation will radically change the legal lan
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