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01 Dec 2016

How Technology is Penetrating Into the Legal Market

With the rapid changes in technology and the competitive landscape occurring in the legal market, a law firm needs to be future-ready – where the pace and end-game remain uncertain. Part of that is understanding where technology fits into legal practices and where the opportunities are to innovate. During his presentation at Legal Innovation & Tech Fest 2016, Sam Nickless (Chief Operating Officer, Gilbert & Tobin) touched on this concept. Here is an excerpt from his full presentation “The Future-Ready Law Firm – Agility, Innovation and (Self) Disruption”.




I think the thing that’s interesting that we have to think about in law firms is about how technology has started to penetrate into the market and into our practice. I think what’s going on at the moment is it’s getting closer to the core. Technology starts off at that sort of wrapper around the practice, all of the sort of legal support functions – finance, word processing, CRM, etc. – get new technology in, make that more efficient, take some cost out, improve the process flows. That kind of has happened over the last 20 years and has been something that law firms have done and tried to get better at.

I think what’s happening, and it’s really picking up now, is that it’s gone to that next level. Technology is getting now not just into the support around the law but actually into the practice of law, and particularly the process of the practice of law. Adopting technology to improve the eDiscovery process, bringing in legal project management, automation of activities and workflows, making us more efficient in what we do. The next step, and I think this is where it starts to get really interesting, is to go over further in this. We’ve gone from all the other people around us, to getting into the legal reasoning, and we’ve heart a bit about that. The next step would be “will we be actually be able to put technology not just into the core of the team practicing but into effectively the minds of the reasoning that’s going on?”

For law firms, when you think about the dynamics of these things, I look at the first one and say, well, this affects other people, i.e. non-lawyers, and therefore is easy. This one kind of affects junior people, so that’s interesting. The last one affects partners and senior people, and therefore is very scary. As we think about it, that middle one that we’re in now I think is where a lot of the activity is, and it is more than interesting, it’s actually really important and it is about efficiency and being able to deliver productivity, but the next one is also important to be near. I think a future-ready law firm needs to have absolutely nailed the top one, it has to be deep, deep into the second one, and it has to be thinking carefully about what’s happening in the third one; maybe not doing too much in there yet, but starting to really play with it and learn about it.

Download Sam Nickless’ full presentation from Legal Innovation & Tech Fest 2016 “The Future-Ready Law Firm – Agility, Innovation and (Self) Disruption“.

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