6 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – INDIA E-MAGAZINE MARCH-APRIL 2024 It’s no secret that the Indian legal industry has generally been behind the curve when it comes to embracing technology. The legal community has typically alienated itself, often strategically, from the tech-explosion that has driven the country’s growth over the last two decades, dismissing available market tools as imprecise, lacking legal acumen and non-pragmatic. This tech-free (or at least low-tech) model continued to work through the years, reinforcing the view that legal market growth is not tied to tech adoption. The landscape, however, began to change in the latter half of the last decade, with the emergence of a legal-tech industry and a new crop of tech-adept law firm leaders who saw utility in creating tech infrastructure in not only increasing efficiency and reducing costs, but also as an effective brand-building tool. Additionally, with the emergence of boutique law firms offering high-quality services and a personalized approach at competitive prices, the legal market has become increasingly competitive. Consequently, top law firms can no longer ignore the need for adopting technology tools to remain relevant and competitive in a fragmenting and disruptive market environment. Failure to embrace technology could potentially lead to a loss of market share and diminished competitiveness. LINKING TECH TO GROWTH Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas led the way for law firms as far back as 2017, signing an agreement with Canadian AI software provider Kira to handle its contract lifecycle management on transactions. It was also among the first to hire a C-suite level technology executive, hiring Komal Gupta as its chief innovation officer to drive its tech-integration. Today, technology professionals are in high demand in the legal fraternity, with even smaller law firms making strong financial commitments to building tech capabilities. Gupta, a lawyer by training, says the increasing trend of law firms in India hiring technology executives is a response to the ongoing digital transformation within the legal industry. “Law firms are recognizing the need for adept professionals who can guide them through this dynamic digital landscape,” she says. Despite its high investment cost, the need to stay in the game has driven mid-size firms to invest in tech-growth. In March, criminal-law-focused MZM Legal became the latest to hire a chief technology officer in Suchorita Mookerjee, who was previously a senior vice-president for legal shared services at U.S. business solution provider Exela Technologies. “A technology strategy for Indian law firms especially for large and mid-size ones is no longer an option but is about to be the new normal,” says Mookerjee. TYPE C FOR TECH Indian law firms have been reluctant to invest in legal technology.However, with the advent of precise AI-based technologies and an increasingly competitive market, embracing legal technology is no longer an option but a necessity. Law firms are now increasingly hiring technology management professionals who can chart a roadmap for technology-driven financial growth, and develop innovative client solutions leveraging cutting-edge technologies. BY NIMITT DIXIT Image: PopTika/