Oliver Mould, head of Asia for Lawyers On Demand, discusses the essential role technology plays in keeping the business up to date and ready to adapt to the changing legal landscape.
ALB: What are some of the recent technological trends you have seen in the legal industry?
Mould: Technological trends in the legal industry have been wide-ranging and made an impact throughout the legal industry. There have been several recent developments in management tools, particularly as cloud-based offerings. Enhanced scalability now allows technology to be available to a wider market that includes both smaller law firms as well as in-house legal functions. A crucial part of this development is enhanced analytics, providing a broader spectrum of metrics that can assist with strategic and technical decision making, particularly for corporate counsel.
Another more obvious trend is the development of AI and machine learning. Practical developments have manifested themselves in the form of mass document and contract review practices, speeding up processes whilst reducing risk. AI technology will not be widely used on a day-to-day basis until it is commoditised, however the desire to understand and embrace AI technology has never been higher
The emergence of self-service and chatbot technology is allowing easier access to the law to a greater variety of people, irrespective of social status, wealth and geographical location. Without question, technology is now facilitating greater access to justice.
The development and application of automation technology is also becoming increasingly prevalent. Time intensive processes with low strategic value, such as the processing of NDA’s, can be managed almost entirely via automated technology.
Finally, there have been specific developments in technology to manage the increased levels of work associated with regulatory reform. Repapering projects that ensure compliance with new directives are being made more efficient and accurate via the use of bespoke analytical systems that highlight non-compliant clauses via mass document review.
ALB: What kind of services do your clients request mostly? How do you make use of technology to provide such service to your clients?
Mould: LOD remains a people-centric business, and most of services requested by our clients continue to focus on the lawyers and consultants we employ, however, technology is increasingly playing a more significant role in the solutions we provide, and we anticipate this trend to increase dramatically.
Our Designed & Managed Services solutions, for example, harness technology to provide analysis on work-flow and contract risk levels, as well as utilising integrated portals to facilitate client engagement and manage the triage of legal work.
Many of our clients are in the process of re-organising their operations before enhancing them, and are assessing document and email management, contract management systems and control panels to manage their internal resources and their external suppliers. In such cases, LOD can provide impartial advice and guidance to help our clients navigate through the myriad of options and solutions that are available in the market today.
Moving forward, our lawyers and consultants will increasingly use legal software and intelligence to increase efficiency and effectiveness whilst they are on secondment and LOD see it as our responsibility to provide our lawyers and consultants with the support and training they need to keep up with the changing legal landscape, and the evolving challenges of in-house corporate counsel.
ALB: How has technology changed your operation? And in what ways does it help you to lower the costs?
Mould: With the appointment of a global CIO last year, LOD has made significant investments in technology throughout the business.
Firstly, we have fully integrated our increasing number of offices around the world, by improving and increasing communication via collaboration software. This was especially important for us as, to truly serve our clients on a global scale, we felt it was vital to have an internal infrastructure to facilitate this.
We have improved and refined our IT infrastructure and security systems, to enable us to stay one step ahead of cyber-security threats, and we are also looking at new ways to empower our HQ team, lawyers and consultants, to assist with our client delivery services.
The incorporation of technology into our operations has primarily reduced costs by increasing efficiency and reducing time spent on administration. Many of our team of lawyers and consultants are now using a mobile application that tracks working hours, significantly reducing time spent on the collation of data as well as the invoicing process. Our CRM systems are also being upgraded to increase capture of information and minimise downtime. We understand that reduction of cost is a key factor in the delivery of legal services and by reducing our own costs we will be in a stronger position to help our clients reduce their own.
ALB: How has technology changed the legal landscape? Has it contributed to the rise of contract lawyer services? Why or why not?
Mould: The major change that the legal industry has seen as a direct result of technology is an increased focus on value and efficiency, and with clients increasingly having to work with reduced budgets there is a realisation that technology is the primary way to facilitating a reduced legal spend via more efficient working practices.
The rise of the contract lawyer has occurred independently to technological advancements, however, technology will undoubtedly continue to drive growth in the sector, as it has been doing over recent times.
Primarily, advancements in technology with help facilitate remote working for contract lawyers working individually or as part of a managed team. Remote working is becoming an increasingly attractive proposition for clients as not only can it increase efficiency, but it can lead to a reduction in rental and property spend. Whilst improved IT infrastructures and security systems will support the practicality of remote working, collaboration software and client engagement tools help lawyers to engage with businesses easily, flexibly and effectively.
ALB: In the face of technological advancement, what are some of the opportunities and challenges for the lawyers?
Mould: The dramatic headlines declaring robots will take over from lawyers have certainly shone a light on the challenges that lawyers might face from technological advancement and of course, over the long term, the efficiencies created by technological advancement will create leaner in-house legal functions and reduce the amount of time spent on the provision of legal services. In-house lawyers will certainly need to embrace technology to keep up with the changes and developments available in the market, and general counsel will need to ensure they understand new technologies to the extent they are willing to take the plunge and rely on them to help make decisions and review documents.
This in turn, however, presents ample opportunities for the more ambitious lawyers of today. Those lawyers, and legal functions, that successfully embrace technological advances will find they have a competitive edge over others in the market. As mentioned previously, lawyers will also be able to enjoy more remote and flexible working arrangements because of technological advancements, freeing up some of their time so they can have a life outside of law.
Finally, technological advancements will provide an opportunity for lawyers to develop their skills in other areas outside of the law which complement their existing legal skill sets. Lawyers can, and will increasingly be able to, consider careers in project management, process improvement change management and even coding, for those matters related to legal or quasi-legal issues. Here at LOD we are certain that the future of the legal services sector remains as interesting and exciting as it always has been, and technology and change are fundamental drivers of this.
To contact the editorial team, please email ALBEditor@thomsonreuters.com.