To be labelled a "legal" professional in today's world, one has to have experience in numerous fields in addition to law. The legal industry has been subject to significant disruptions over the last several years, which has elevated the significance of technology to a level not seen before. This pattern is going to pick up speed from here on out. Familiarity with the most recent developments in legal technology will become more vital as the legal industry becomes more dependent on technology and sees an increase in the number of non-traditional legal professions inside firms.
We were fortunate enough to have Christopher Tart-Roberts, Head of Lawtech at Macfarlanes, assist us to address the new skills that someone interested in a long-term legal profession would need to have at the most recent Junior Lawyer's Lunch that we hosted. Christopher worked for several years as a banking lawyer before deciding to concentrate completely on the subject of legal technology. During those years, he saw personally the growing popularity of legal technology. This is a reproduction of his notes from the whole ceremony, which took place as follows:
What does it mean to be a Legal Technologist?
The field of law has experienced a proliferation of fresh and original approaches to resolving client issues throughout its history. Innovators improved company processes by combining new technical developments with previously established legal obligations, resulting in the creation of these.
They collaborate with customers to research and develop innovative responses to legal challenges. Both Legal Operations Analysts and Legal Engineers are responsible for performing comparable duties, offering advice, support, and goods that, when combined, result in solutions that are both speedy and affordable.
However, it is essential to stress that the law continues to play an essential role in the work that legal technologists do. It is still a client-focused position that offers a wider range of skills and knowledge than just practising law on its own.
What do ‘different roles and wider skillsets’ mean in law?
It is in the best interest of businesses to recruit a more diverse set of experts so that they may better meet the needs of their clients. Expertise in a wide variety of operational areas, as well as data science, data architecture, product development, and product management, may be included.
In what tongues are you fluent? Do you speak Spanish, and French, and use Excel? You probably answered variations of this question on several forms you filled out while applying for jobs. We believe it evaluates technical skills well beyond demonstrating excellent language skills. Digital literacy, according to Chris, is rapidly becoming a prerequisite ability.
What experience do Legaltech teams require from us?
The first benefit of learning the inner workings of a firm is gaining insight into the normal quality of service provided by its employees.
Secondly, commercial awareness and wide technical skills will help you recognise upcoming trends in the sector that will be highly helpful to clients, much like the conventional training contract approach.
Finally, genuine enthusiasm is a game-changer.
The job of a legal technologist is to learn as much as possible about their client's processes and issues. People who are naturally inquisitive and creative, and who can draw on a wide range of experiences to find solutions, are likely to thrive in this role.
How can you get more involved with legal technology?
Organizations with larger legal departments are incorporating this element, and many of them are encouraging their employees to join digital forums like Legal Geek to broaden their professional networks, learn about cutting-edge technologies, and improve their technology literacy.
Bring in more people who grew up with digital technologies to help legal employment and the industry prepare for the future. There is a widening variety of legal avenues, and some of them have already yielded individuals who have sparked positive change in this purportedly old industry.
As of late, the IT sector has been paying increasing attention to the topic of contract management. We expect this pattern to continue, and in fact, think that it will be bolstered by a greater focus on ELM. This would connect all legal processes with the larger enterprise systems to unearth unparalleled value. Furthermore, it is expected that these changes will be followed by growing interest in and acceptance of:
• Document automation and review, or just document automation and review, is the process of using software to collect, evaluate, and store documents.
• Electronic Signatures - With the advent of the new hybrid work paradigm, the use of electronic signatures has skyrocketed. We foresee this trend becoming ubiquitous shortly.
• Litigation Management - As the number of corporate litigation increases, there will be a greater need for a centralised system to handle all legal matters for a company.
• Compliance & Entity Management: Rapid growth is anticipated in this industry as a result of recent regulatory changes.
• Artificial intelligence/machine learning with blockchain: smart contracts may reach their apex this year.
• Legal Research - Automated and Assisted Search of Legal Precedents, Lawyer Briefs, Decisions, and More. In the future, AI and ML will be used in a growing number of contexts, such as document analysis, reporting, personalization, and so on.
• Cybersecurity - With a high need for secure SaaSimplementations, innovations in this field are expected to accelerate.
• Today's legal departments are expected to align with business objectives, provide value, and enhance the customer service they deliver. We hope that the legal department will become more of a value generator and less of a drain on resources shortly. Customers will be the ones to push businesses to make this change, as they want more and more from companies.
• Over the next two years, we expect this development to expand to allied domains with blockchain-based AI/ML solutions in data analytics, automated documents, and other areas. The Alternative Legal Service Provider Model has already taken root in India as a consequence of these shifts. More and more law firms are expected to outsource administrative tasks like accounting to ALSPs during the next several months. Legal practices will benefit as they will have more time to devote to serving their clients' needs.
Meet the Game-changers
These game-changers have the potential to alter the playing field since they need a concomitantly enabling transformation in the environment. This transition will be made possible by Legaltech 3.0, which includes fully automated legal processes backed by AI/ML, blockchain, and digital applications. In addition, there have been many more developments, like as:
• The Cloud is on the rise; thanks to its reliability and the fact that it can be accessed from anywhere, "The Cloud" is destined to become the norm in the coming years.
• Heightened Interest from Financial Backers Without the support of financial backers, no ecosystem can survive and thrive. This is no longer the case since several legal technology startups have recently obtained funding. Because of this interest, we may anticipate the most incredible change right now.
• The third enabler, "Attorney 2.0," is revolutionising the dialogue between clients and lawyers. Clients and other stakeholders will increasingly use existing tech-enabled interaction strategies with legal service providers.
There is an opportunity for significant alterations not only between the years 2022 and 2023 but also in the years to follow. The ecosystem as a whole is going to be rethought by placing an emphasis on enablers and modifying the expectations of consumers. At the business level, the current tendency is toward greater integration of stakeholders, processes, and technological components. As a result, those with a stake in the Indian legal technology industry need to move rapidly.