Environmental Scan: Digital Revolution & Law

To understand the affect of the 4th Industrial Revolution on the practice of law, a scan was conducted on the current trends taking shape in the legal ecosystem.

The following guiding questions were used as a departure point to initiate the scan:

  • How is the industrial revolution shaping our concept of legal rights?
  • Who are the role-players and how are they adopting technology?
  • Where has the funding for legal technology coming from?
  • Is technology enhancing service or changing service?
  • What regulation is in place to enhance or hinder development?
  • What do these questions look like through the STEEP lens?

These aspects were considered globally, and then brought back to focus locally in South Africa. This brings an interesting dynamic to the scan; while the world converges as a result of the 4th Industrial Revolution, the legal systems are still territorial, in application and approach. Due to the different trajectories of growth geographically, the future seems to be happening in different time zones, which corresponds to our understanding, adoption and application of legal rights and how the law is practiced.

Download it here: How the Fourth Industrial Revolution is Shaping the Practice of Law

The Future of Tomorrow

It is an undeniable fact that the future is now and if not now then tomorrow, or sometime from today in the very least.  Regardless of where you draw the boundaries between the past, present and the future or where you regard the future to morph into the present, there is no denying that the future is happening or in the very least will soon be happening.

The future is not about making predictions on what will happen and wagering money on how accurate a prediction is or was not, rather it is about determining the possibilities, probabilities and likelihoods of tomorrow or the next year or of the next 30 years, so as to strategically grow your business to ensure a trajectory for exceptional growth and returns, or in the worst case scenario, ensuring survival where growth is an impossibility.

The Future Today Institute has released it’s 2019 Tech Trend Report that list all trends on the horizon which will undoubtably impact, influence and change various industries and markets including, but not limited too, government, law, media, education and society, serving as a forewarning to all to be aware of and plan business strategies accordingly to ensure best possible growth trajectories and avoid the worst case scenarios identified as possibilities if all goes wrong.

#1 PRIVACY IS DEAD

A recurring fact is that Privacy is extinct, fondly remembered but not consciously missed. We knowingly and more often than not, unknowingly,  generate vast amounts of personal data continuously through various different tech applications, whether through the acceptance of the nondigestible cookies on the website we are browsing or through the face recognition systems used when parking or driving our cars. Large corporates pounce on this vast production of data, proceeding to mine, refine, productized and monetized the data for their own personal gain under the guise of improving customer service and experience. This raises challenges to not only the basic human right of privacy but also in regard to how the data should be stored and safeguarded, not only from non authorised access but also against encoding of biases and best practises when allegedly rendering the data anonymous.

#2 VOICE IS WHERE IT’S AT

As content creators are increasingly focusing more on spoken interfaces, commercialization of Voice Search Optimizations (VSO’s) is the resultant outcome of same and predictions are being made that people will be spending more time talking to their smart devices than typing on them in the year 2020. This holds huge potential as a new, emerging market in which there is yet to be big developments and in which the initial conquers, still to be identified,  will reap substantial returns and market share, while at the same time causing a huge disruption to the business side of search.

#3 THE RISE & CONTROL BY THE TECH GIANTS

Further it is said that the big 9 as opposed to the big 5 will increasingly become responsible for and in control of research tools, data and funding, the degree of government involvement and engagement and consumer preference apps. The Big 9, consisting of the  G-MAFIA in the US being, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, IBM and Facebook, together with the tech heavy weights in China, known as BAT: Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent, will also be influential in respect of mergers and acquisitions, tech start-ups and the funding of the next generation of tech developers. This all in all means that more and more companies, particularly in the west will have to choose AI frameworks and cloud providers provided by the big 9, a choice which will not be easily changeable going forward.

Secured login’s and passwords will soon be a trend of the past, replaced by Personal Data Records (PDR’s) which can be regarded as a ledger of all the personal data we generate through the use of various types of technology and related technical applications, including but not limited, to the internet and cell-phone usage and will include other sources of information such as school and work histories, legal records, medical records, financial records, health records,  dating and romantic history and lastly but certainly not finally, shopping history. The Big 9 will use the PDR created by the AI they designed and gave life too, to determine what information will and will not be displayed to you, based on personal interests and preferences as mined, refined and deciphered by the Big 9 for their own market advantage. Although it is hoped that you would be the owner of your own PDR’s which would be inheritable by your next of kin, the Big 9 will act as the custodians of same, undoubtably at a unmentioned, undefined price.

#4 SLOW MOVING REGULATION

Additionally, new regulatory rules, policies and frameworks aimed at providing regulation and structure to the ever developing industries of science and technology will increasingly be proposed , however the application and enforceability of the  the proposed regulations poses a significant challenge given the fast pace of scientific and technological developments and the slow promulgation of legislation and related regulatory frameworks. A challenge that will have to be overcome if any order or direction is to be provided to new sciences and technologies and the impact that it has, will have and could have on the civilisation as we know it.

#5 CONSOLIDATION

Lastly, consolidation as an overall theme remains important as it leads to the concentration of resources in a certain industries, which in turn acts as an accelerator for development and strategy which is great for business, especially where it occurs in the same area or industry. Consolidation across the big tech corporations, news and entertainment media, robotics, home automation and biotech industries will continue to be an important futures trend to monitor and keep an eye on in the years coming.

As is demonstrated by the 2019 Tech Trends, when considering the future and how best to approach it, one should not only look and plan for the future in isolation but should consider it holistically to fully understand what impact the possibilities, probabilities and likelihoods of the future will have on your industry. In accordance to this understanding and comprehending that an industry does not operate in isolation, but in a web of interrelated markets and industries, each undoubtably impacted and affected by the future.

If this interests you, make sure to find out what lurks in the world of law and join us for renowned futurist and business strategist, Anton Musgrave in our upcoming Masterclass – Future Lawyers. 

Kristi Erasmus

 

Freedom of Expression

Every time I start typing a search phrase into the Google search engine, two things happen. First, Google’s autocompletion function provides me with suggestions on how to complete the search, encouraging me to use pre-selected phrases. Second, when I press enter, Google provides me with results for my search in order of “relevance” as determined by Google’s trademark algorithm called PageRank. Content which is not indexed or ranked highly by the Google search engine is less likely to reach a large audience or to be seen at all.

When I log onto Facebook, I do not see the newsfeed posts of my 5000 Facebook friends in the order these were posted, nor do I see adverts randomly placed on the Facebook page. Instead, a Facebook algorithm predicts my user preferences to guide not only what advertisements I might see on my Facebook page, but also to dictate the way my social media feed, including newsfeed, is arranged.

Moreover, if I were to type something on my Facebook page that offends the Facebook community standards, this post may be removed. Content removal on social media platforms often takes place through semiautomated or automated processes. Algorithms are widely used for content filtering and content removal processes, including on social media platforms. While large social media platforms like Google or Facebook have frequently claimed that human beings remove all content, a European Union Report claims that large parts of the process are automated.

These examples all help to demonstrate that algorithms used by large companies like Google and Facebook play a pivotal role in curating information on the internet. This raises serious questions about the impact of such algorithms on the rights of individuals to receive and impart information.

This is so, even where companies like Google and Facebook act in an honourable manner and even when they do not themselves manipulate these algorithms and take steps to prevent them from being manipulated by outside parties (as the Russian government allegedly did in 2016 to try and influence the United States presidential election).

Because of the size of platforms such as Google or Facebook, their centrality in the creation and maintenance of the internet as a quasi-public sphere and their ability to massively amplify certain voices, companies like Google and Facebook are pivotal to ensuring the equal enjoyment of the right to freedom of expression.

Moreover, the personalisation of information that users receive based on the predictions made by algorithms can create “filter bubbles” and may substantially compromise the freedom of expression, which includes the right to information.

An even more pressing concern is that a search algorithm might be biased towards certain types of content or content providers, further leading to an indirect ‘censorship” of information without the general public being aware of it. Leaving aside the question of whether the algorithms used by Google, Facebook or other large internet websites produce biased results, Even if there is

Search engines like Google, and social media sites like Facebook, are privately owned, and in most countries, they are either lightly regulated or not regulated at all. Yet, search engines like Google and social media platforms like Facebook act as crucial gatekeepers for human beings who wish to seek, receive or impart information, raising serious freedom of expression concerns.

Traditional conceptions of the right to freedom of expression do not adequately address the potential impact of algorithm technology on the enjoyment of the right to freedom of expression. The traditional conception of the right to freedom of expression is based on the assumption that freedom of expression is infringed when the state takes action to limit the ability of individuals to impart and receive information.

In this view, the right to freedom of expression is viewed as a negative right enforced against public bodies to prevent them from controlling or limiting the free flow of information. In this view, there is no positive duty on the state to regulate private institutions that play such an oversized role in mediating the imparting and receiving of information. It takes seriously the inherent threat to freedom of expression posed by powerful state actors, but not the threat posed by private institutions like Google and Facebook.

However, the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa contains powerful provisions that allow us to rethink what the contours of the right of freedom of expression. One of the pivotal provision in this regard is section 7(2) of the Bill of Rights states that: “The state must respect, protect, promote and fulfil the rights in the Bill of Rights.”

While the duty to “respect” rights imposes a negative duty on the state not to interfere with the enjoyment of a right, the duties to “protect, promote and fulfil” imposes a positive duty on the state to ensure the equal enjoyment of all rights in the Bill of Rights. South Africa’s Constitutional Court has confirmed in several judgments that this positive obligation applies not only to the social and economic rights (like the right of access to housing, health care and water) but also to traditional civil and political rights (such as the right to freedom of expression).

An argument could, therefore, be made that the state (in the form of the national legislature) may have a duty to take positive steps to enhance the ability of individuals to impart and receive information. This would include not only a responsibility to take steps to make access to the internet cheaper and more readily available to all but also to ensure that where private companies employ algorithms to select and order the information we access on the internet, this is done in a fair and relatively transparent manner.

A second pivotal provision is contained in section 8(2) of the Bill of Rights which states that: “A provision of the Bill of Rights binds a natural or a juristic person if, and to the extent that, it is applicable, taking into account the nature of the right and the nature of any duty imposed by the right.” This section confirms that rights do not only apply vertically (binding the state) but in some instances also apply horizontally (binding private parties and legal entities).

This provision is important because it implies that even where the state fails to take positive action to ensure fair access to information on the internet, private companies themselves could be hauled to court whenever evidence emerge that algorithms selecting, ordering or assisting in deleting information have been manipulated to make it more difficult for individuals to access controversial, unpopular or politically sensitive information on the internet.

Reconceptualising the right to freedom of expression requires careful thought. The dangers inherent in state regulation of access to information are apparent, and any intervention by either the legislature or the court will have to continue to take seriously the rights of individuals and businesses to impart and receive information and must guard against unnecessary interference that will limit rather than enhance the substantive enjoyment of the rights to freedom of expression.

In my masterclass, I will explore in more detail how this balance could be struck.

– Pierre de Vos

Professor Pierre De Vos is the current Claude Leon Foundation Chair in Constitutional Governance and Deputy Dean at the University of Cape Town, where he also lectures and teaches Constitutional Law.

Pierre has extensively studied the legal field having obtained a B Comm (Law), LLB and LLM (cum laude) from the University of Stellenbosch, an LLM from Columbia University in New York and an LLD from the University of Western Cape.

 

Article 13 & Coding Law

Over supper last night, my son asked me my opinion on Article 13. As an 11-year old who lives on YouTube, he has been dragged into the debate following YouTube demigods like PewDiePie and Shane Dawson in uproar. My daughter, listening with half an ear, suddenly stretched her eyes, saucer-like: “What? No more memes?”

The European Parliament made some drastic changes to the copyright rules of the European Union. It has caused great debate since its passing over the last few days, my son apparently being the biggest anti-13er of them all.

So what is Article 13 and the uproar all about?

As it stands copyright infringement is the duty of the holder of the rights. If I see you use my content on YouTube or social media for instance, the onus rests on me to protect my rights and notify the relevant platform of the copyright infringement and assert my rights as right-holder. The relevant company is only then expected to remove the content from their platforms.

Article 13 shifts this to the tech companies. Read in full, the understanding is that the responsibility moves to them to ensure their platforms take precautionary steps to possible copyright breaches. (Article 13 has subsequently been renumbered to Article 17, but publicly Article 13 seems to have stuck.)

This has caused an uproar, claiming the tech giants will use pre-filter systems to prohibit copyrighted material from being placed on the platform in the first place.

Goodbye memes! Goodbye GIFs!

“Fare thee well,” cry my young ones.

“The transformation of the internet from an open platform for sharing and innovation into a tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users.” – Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the worldwide web and a group of tech companies, in a letter addressing the European parliament in 2018 on the matter.

Is this the case? There’s a lot we don’t understand about AI and the complexity of its full expanse as lawyers and laypeople. But the one thing we do know: there is no way to crack a code as a layperson. From your suitcase lock to a password of your own user account to your pin code. If you’re out, you’re out.

Code as Power

This whole question lead to me to a recent read by Jamie Susskind, Future Politics. In this mammoth undertaking, of profound future concepts into a singular, engaging and surprisingly digestible book, Susskind ventures into the possible world where tech has seeped even further into our world. This new collective world of digital and ‘real’, he refers to as the digital lifeworld.

In this new lifeworld, he discusses the aspect of Code as Power by suggesting that power will take on three forms in the future; that of force, scrutiny and lastly perception-control. All of which are increasingly done by code.

Article 13, case in point. 

If we place the onus on the tech giants to eradicate copyright on their platforms, the platforms will use code to detect copyright. YouTube already has something like this in a system called Content ID. It detects copyrighted music and so forth. With Article 13, this code will become way stronger in its filtering abilities, detecting innocent memes and GIFs as an example and would prohibit the content from being loaded in the first place.

The problem is, no matter how much you try to convince your computer with the upload that it’s legally fine to proceed, it simply won’t. Algorithms don’t get it, yet. As Susskind puts it, “It seeks to generate unambiguous commands with no grey areas or room for interpretation.”

So what happens when the law itself is coded into our world and the sanctions are not after-the fact penalties, but rather preventative measures that disallow us from the act in the first place?

This brings us into a new realm where choice and free will is threatened by code that does not merely flag or report suspicious behaviour, but alters our behaviour.

“Because of code’s ability to direct our conduct in a finely honed way, many distinguished thinkers, following the pioneering work of Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig, have argued that code is law (or at least that code is like law).” – Susskind, Future Politics

No matter how badly I want to get into a password-protected phone, with life saving information, the code disallows me to do so, no matter the circumstance. And so there are many more examples of how code prevents me from doing something. Apple prevents me from sharing my music with others or Amazon prevents me from sharing my eBooks. Code is like a giant aluminium door with a flashing red light – NO ENTRY.

The code preventing bad behaviour is already there and set to be coded into more and more of our world, like self-driving cars. No more speeding or red-line parking, the computer says NO. Article 13 is merely another example pointing to this possible new world where code becomes part of our justice system as enforcer, but without the trial.

Are the G-MAFIA, (Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, IBM and Apple) as Amy Webb calls them, our new enforcers of justice and benefactors of rights? 

Jackie Nagtegaal  is a futurist, with a keen interest in the legal ecosystem. As an admitted advocate who landed in the world of NewLaw, by heading up an alternative legal service and legal tech company, she has a full-circle understanding of the landscape, current trends and future developments.

R.I.P the Billable Hour

We are gathered here today to bid farewell to the Billable Hour and commit her to the Hands of God.

The Billable Hour stood the test of time. She was resilient and adamant not to give up until the very end and had resolute support from her allies in the legal fraternity. She carried the customary fee arrangements that she inherited from generations before her with the grace and tenacity of a noble.

She suffered great criticism over the years from the public; but was revered by attorneys and advocates alike. With the rise of machine learning and auto-document generation the arguments slowly turned more hostile. Why should the public pay per hour for a human being to do something that a computer can do, should do, could do –  more accurately, in an eightieth of the time.

Two camps developed: FOR and AGAINST the Billable Hour. Those FOR the Billable Hour were unyielding in their support for her. They felt uncomfortable without her, how would they charge? How would they make their targets every month? How would they survive? How could we trust a machine to be completely accurate without double checking and how would they charge for the soft touch of the law that only a human being could provide?

Those AGAINST the Billable Hour were concerned that they could only work a certain number of hours a day and so only earn a certain amount in a lifetime if she continued to exist. They felt she had played her part but should retire from the law and that more creative ways to provide legal service and deliver the human touch should be considered. How would we keep up with our international counterparts, how would we stay current and not put ourselves out of business in the long-run?

Apps were becoming available internationally such as “hellodivorce”, an online divorce process in the States and “DoNotPay” an app dealing with disputes regarding flight tickets and parking tickets in the US. While South Africa was still light years away from this by 2018 more than 1000 legal apps were in use around the world that made no use of day-to-day attorneys or advocates. They used algorithms and machine learning to solve disagreements or basic legal processes. How were we going to adapt… or die?

As we commit the Billable Hour back to the earth from which she came, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, we celebrate her wonderful intentions and enthusiasm through her resurrection in the bodies of various new tariff arrangements and cost frameworks using all-inclusive fee arrangements and technology as the back bone of the future of legal in South Africa. The ingenuity and inspiration that her death has given legal practitioners around the world with regards to how they charge for services is moving.

Although dramatic, I don’t believe that this eulogy is as futuristic as some would like to believe. When I speak to legal practitioners about the opportunities that exist beyond the billable hour they stare at me blankly and say, “If clients are willing to pay me fees per hour, I will continue to charge them”, while the ethics of this statement are a whole different article on their own, the truth is that this belief is more firmly held by the legal fraternity than we like to believe.

Instead of focusing on more creative and lucrative ways of billing for business we instead spend our time and energy protecting what we know, when really the concept of retainers and contingency fees are already existing metamorphoses of the Billable Hour as we know her. Let’s be brave and stretch our minds and discover unlimited earning potential and capacity to service more clients outside of the Billable Hour – as she would want us to do in her memory.

Delia is an admitted attorney with over a decade of legal service experience. She was previously CEO of Independent African Mediation for 5 years and is currently Chief Legal Executive of LAW FOR ALL’s diverse legal team of over 350 legally qualified professionals. Her legal teams currently finalize over 100 000 legal cases a year with an 85% in-house successful mediation result. During Delia’s time there, LAW FOR ALL has won the Legal Innovation Award, the Best Large Legal Team in Africa 2017 and the Legal Tech award in 2018.
Books for Future Lawyers

Books For Future Lawyers: 5 Must-Reads to Understand the Future of Law

We love to read; in fact, we’re pretty fanatical about it. The more we read, the wider our understanding of the possibles of tomorrow. If you want to open some windows to the future, we’ve put together our favourite books for future lawyers. These are the books that stand out at the moment, and we simply couldn’t put them down, they’re gripping and shine a light on compelling possible futures. We believe you can’t only read about the future of law; you have to have a broader understanding of the future world, which will help you embed your understanding of how the law evolves within this world.
1. Rebooting Justice: More Technology, Fewer Lawyers, and the Future of Law by Benjamin Barton and Stephanos Bibas

 

If there is one concise book on future possibles in the world of law, this is it. Although it focuses on the American justice system, the trends and solutions are universal.
Rebooting Justice presents a novel response to longstanding problems. The answer is to use technology and procedural innovation to simplify and change the process itself. In the civil and criminal courts where ordinary Americans appear the most, we should streamline complex procedures and assume that parties will not have a lawyer, rather than the other way around. We need a cheaper, simpler, faster justice system to control costs. We cannot untie the Gordian knot by adding more strands of rope; we need to cut it, to simplify it. Get it here.
2. The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee

 

This book is a brilliantly digestible account of the velocity of change and the implications the digital revolution presents us with. As we’re optimists, we love this book for its focus on the possibility of a better world and bounty for all. 
In The Second Machine Age MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee―two thinkers at the forefront of their field―reveal the forces driving the reinvention of our lives and our economy. As the full impact of digital technologies is felt, we will realise immense bounty in the form of dazzling personal technology, advanced infrastructure, and near-boundless access to the cultural items that enrich our lives. Get it here.
3. The Future is Asian by Parag Khanna

 

One thing the West tends to do, is think of their system as the world. With Khanna’s book, your mind opens to the reality that 5 billion people live in the new Asian territory. What does this mean for the practice of law?
The “Asian Century” is even bigger than you think. Far greater than just China, the new Asian system taking shape is a multi-civilizational order spanning Saudi Arabia to Japan, Russia to Australia, Turkey to Indonesia—linking five billion people through trade, finance, infrastructure, and diplomatic networks that together represent 40 percent of global GDP. China has taken the lead in building the new Silk Roads across Asia, but it will not lead it alone. Instead, Asia is rapidly returning to the centuries-old patterns of commerce, conflict, and cultural exchange that thrived long before European colonialism and American dominance. Asians will determine their future—and as they collectively assert their interests around the world, they will determine ours as well. Get it here. 
4. Like a Thief in Broad Daylight by Slavoj Žižek

 

We’re devoted readers of Žižek and his latest book shines a light on big tech and the crumbling systems we’ve built. A fascinating read on our politics and the governments we continually try to protect.
In recent years, techno-scientific progress has started to transform our world – changing it almost beyond recognition. In this extraordinary new book, renowned philosopher Slavoj Zizek turns to look at the brave new world of Big Tech, revealing how, with each new wave of innovation, we find ourselves moving closer and closer to a bizarrely literal realisation of Marx’s prediction that ‘all that is solid melts into air.’ With the automation of work, the virtualisation of money, the dissipation of class communities and the rise of immaterial, intellectual labour, the global capitalist edifice is beginning to crumble, more quickly than ever before and it is now on the verge of vanishing entirely. Get it here. 
5. Tomorrow’s Lawyers: An Introduction to Your Future by Richard Susskind

 

This is an older book, we felt we had to include. Published in 2013, it still holds up. It’s a thin concise read that anyone should read if they are interested in the future of practice by one the leaders in the field.
Tomorrow’s Lawyers is a definitive guide to this future–for young and aspiring lawyers, and for all who want to modernise our legal and justice systems. It introduces the new legal landscape and offers practical guidance for those who intend to build careers and businesses in law. Susskind identifies the key drivers of change, such as the economic downturn, and considers how these will shape the legal marketplace. He then sketches out the new legal landscape as he envisions it, highlighting the changing role of law firms-and in-house lawyers-and the coming of virtual hearings and online dispute resolution. He also suggests solutions to major concerns within the legal profession, such as diminishing public funding, and explores alternative roles for future lawyers in a world increasingly dominated by IT. And what are the prospects for aspiring lawyers? Susskind predicts what new jobs and new employers there will be, equipping prospective lawyers with penetrating questions to put to their current and future bosses. Get it here. 

Have you read any of these must-read books for future lawyers? Share your thoughts with us! To learn more about more about the future of law, attend one of our insightful Learning Experiences.

soft skills for lawyers

Developing Soft Skills for Future Lawyers

The future needs a new type of lawyer.

According to the respected legal futurist, Richard Suskind, it’s no longer just enough to teach the old basic skills of lawyering in the new, AI-driven, automated economy. A new type of lawyer is needed who is not only trained in the use of coding and legal technology, but also in skills that AI will not be capable of automating. These include the very “human” capabilities of creativity, empathy, compassion, and emotional intelligence. More and more if you want to practise law you need to become a trusted adviser to your client, you need the ability to listen, to communicate and relate to others to help solve their legal problems. No matter how technology transforms the legal market place, these skills will remain highly prized.

Being a good lawyer requires more than the ability to get the facts, apply the applicable law, analyse and advocate for your client’s position. It needs humanity and compassion. When I say compassion, what I mean is the ability to feel with – the ability to empathise, tapping into our innate desire to help, and taking steps to alleviate suffering. This ability is what transforms a good lawyer into a great lawyer.

For those looking to future proof their careers, building competencies in areas that machines will be unlikely to tackle effectively (i.e. compassion, empathy, negotiation and problem solving) is likely the best recipe for success.

Developing soft skills for future lawyers.

I believe it starts from the inside out! Psychometrically measuring your current soft skills will give you the foundation from which to work. Like any other skill, these abilities can be nurtured and improved with practice. It boils down to the ability to inspire confidence in your clients so that they can trust your advice. Cultivating these traits provides the opportunity to understand the issues and offer practical solutions. Be honest and give your clients all the knowledge and help possible. The stronger the relationship, the more work and referrals you’ll receive.

Compassion is the foundation for good people skills. Without empathy, you cannot put yourself in your client’s shoes or fully understand the issues your client faces. Without compassion, you cannot understand your adversary’s position, anticipate what they will do, and take pre-emptive steps to benefit your client. Without it, you cannot provide the best solutions.

The report from McKinsey Global Institute has highlighted how it thinks a range of jobs based on human skills are likely to be affected by AI and automation. It emphasises the top skill sets workers will need to develop between now and 2030 if they do not want to be left behind. These skills include emotional intelligence, compassion and empathy.

In my workshop, I will address the soft skills needed as well as give lawyers an understanding of where they are at with regards to their own soft skill levels in the legal industry, while also providing developmental guidelines.

Taking the time to develop your soft skills will set you apart as top legal talent and assist you in taking your legal career to the next level. Take the first step today for a better tomorrow.

– by Sonica Mouton
Futurist & Industrial Psychologist

Sonica Mouton is a futurist, industrial psychologist with a particular interest in coaching future skills and developing strategic solutions for a brave new world.

Sonica has specialised experience in leadership and executive development, talent management, coaching and developmental feedback and in the assessment and integration of specific solutions based on the results of psychometric tools developed and created by herself.

Don’t miss Sonica’s workshop on developing soft skills for future lawyers. 

Legal in-house technology

Legal in-house technology will challenge existing legal service models

by Simon Drane

Strategist, innovator and advisor in LegalTech. 

Last week I attended the Alternative In-House technology summit, an excellent event for the legal in-house community, and it struck me that the combined buying power of those in the room (many from very large corporations such as Vodafone, BT, Accenture, Sky, Societie Generale, Barclays, Standard Chartered, Experian, Novartis, Prudential, National Grid, to name a few), combined with how technology is being considered, has the potential to dramatically transform legal service provision. It was interesting though to contrast this with the stage that many are at in the innovation journey which is quite embryonic, combined with their core challenge which is overwhelmingly to show value to their wider corporate business with limited resources. Interestingly, many are arguably not yet pushing their panel firms enough to support these challenges, perhaps to provide more “productised” legal services.

Some of the legaltech emerging on pricing and service analysis for in-house will perhaps in future drive a far greater economic dimension to the legal services model.

There was much to unpack from two days of excellent discussions and I can’t do it justice in one article, so will instead follow up with some more detail in what in my mind were the three main categories of focus around current in-house tech innovation (I’ll also try and reference some of the excellent speakers in follow-up pieces). In my view there is a form of supply chain review operating here which more effectively connects the real consumer to the providers. In order to get to the challenges for the legal in-house teams and then the knock-on challenges to law firms you need to go to the start of the chain first.

1 – Business consumption of in-house legal services is evolving – the core challenge arguably starts here and the clear theme was around the way in which core corporate business functions do, or perhaps do not, effectively interface into legal. There is clearly a shift towards things such as a single “front door” to the legal team, ensuring more accurate and efficient engagement; self-serve document automation of areas like NDAs; and better linkage to tools like SalesForce, combined with the use of electronic integrated signatures, resulting in more effective contracting. This feels the most embryonic stage and also key to really unlocking customer pain points, and identifying solutions. Technology has a key role to play here but so does really understanding the people dynamics and how to deliver change (which was also a key theme at the summit). At the heart of this all was a lot of excellent examples where in-house legal teams are engaging more with their business customers to reengineer how they best meet business needs. More on this to follow…

2 – Legal operations in running an in-house function is evolving – the volume of work undertaken by the legal team has grown significantly while in many cases costs have often reduced. There was discussion around the use of a range of technologies that both improve the business of law (matter management, document management etc) and the practice of law (document automation, process automation etc). There was much debate around the growth of the legal operations function, with increased focus on management information, analytics and clear KPIs for the teams. Another key area of focus that was discussed in depth was contract management and the whole contacting lifecycle – I will explore this further as it is a topic in its own right – suffice to say that there is currently a void in any form of consistency in what people are doing here, or even of being able to allocate the various vendors to the different stage of the lifecycle. This feels like the most evolved stage of the supply chain but also perhaps the one with the biggest prizes yet to come around areas like proper end-to-end contract management. More on this to follow…

3 – Buying in and managing of external services from law firms is evolving – there was discussion around panel management as you would expect, and a real focus around what people are doing with e-billing and spend management software. The idea of having a central instruction portal seemed to emerge as a common theme. Some of the technology shown from the vendors has yet to really be widely adopted and talked about, but real time tracking of legal spend from law firms, for example, is not just of interest to the GC, but is pretty interesting to the CFO I would think, helping to better understand and predict costs in an area where they would have struggled in the past. More on this to follow…

In each of these areas technology is being deployed to different degrees depending on where the most pressure is coming from for in-house teams. There are a number of high level challenges in addressing these areas:

  • There are varying degrees of connectivity of in-house teams to the wider corporate business. There were some great examples of where this has changed and the legal team better understood the business needs, while the business better understood how it could help itself. The common theme was the need for more dialogue with its own internal customers;
  • Pretty consistent was the challenge of getting focus from corporate IT teams to help with legaltech (even when the core business was a tech business). Most have adopted an approach of going direct to legaltech vendors away from their own tech teams. Imagine the combined spend with core vendors like Microsoft these corporate businesses have and the impact they could have if they leveraged their corporate CIO relationships effectively to fix their legal challenges (no small task I agree…);
  • Even if they can get the budget for legaltech the challenge can be who to spend it with and there was a lot of debate on the proliferation of vendors. Even the vendors I spoke to often said they found it hard to keep track of who did what now. For law firms with dedicated legal IT teams this is far easier to navigate than for in-house teams (although arguably even they are starting to struggle now with the legaltech startup mania!);
  • There was a consistent theme of reducing budgets but increasing expectations on legal teams, which drives a very real need to automate. Interesting the difference in the drive for automation here is that it is to cope with overwhelming demand whereas in law firms it is to drive efficiency and therefore margin. Arguably in-house could overtake law firms on core automation given the stronger pressure and that would create an interesting dynamic. There was already an example of an in-house team asking a panel firm for automation help, but the panel firm not having the skills to assist. For now though overall in-house teams are at a far earlier stage than law firms and this felt like an area most were exploring to some degree;
  • There was a clear feeling of needing to show the value of the legal team but often lacking the resources needed. Even the largest organisations have small teams compared to law firms. Interestingly though, there was very little talked about on how they could ask law firms to help more.

I will build out on this in some future articles around the three supply chain stages, sharing some of the discussions from the excellent sessions, and welcome any comments in the meantime.

What was really clear is that when you combine the possibilities of legaltech across the supply chain stages with the economic buying power that the in-house group has, it can only lead to a real shift in the legal services space.

If the ultimate customer of all this is mostly a business person in a corporate and they are after quicker, more predictable, better outcomes, then arguably whoever helps them get to this will be the ultimate winner. You can also start to see why there is an emerging conversation around shifts to outcome pricing in this light.

As an aside, I hear a lot of law firms talking about AI whereas I hardly heard AI as a term at all at this conference (which was quite nice!). Rather, it was about their customers’ needs and the need for real efficiency through optimising the workflow. The best comment of the two days was: “Are we seriously expecting widespread adoption of AI tools right now when many lawyers can’t even use Skype?”

From listening to the debate I wonder how many law firms are engaging enough with their customers on their real needs (which are driven in turn by their business customers), or perhaps they are but it becomes challenging given their current partnership-structured, services-based business models. It appears their in-house customers may be moving faster to more productised, self-serve, data-driven, outcome-based models. Discuss…

This article was originally published on February 18, 2019.

Read more articles on our blog.

Meet the Lawyer who Created the World’s First Impartial Robot Lawyer

The founder of the world’s first impartial robot lawyer, Robot Lawyer LISA, Chrissie Lightfoot is heading to Cape Town to help South African legal professionals prepare for the legal tech age.

Lightfoot, a successful UK-based entrepreneur, prominent legal futurist and non-practising solicitor, has been a strong advocate for incorporating burgeoning technology in the legal industry. However, she doesn’t back the repeated prediction that human lawyers will become extinct as legal robots take over law firms. She maintains that there will always be a need for human lawyers who possess skills, such as empathy, intuition, and emotional intelligence, to address the more emotive and sensitive aspects of legal problems.

She believes that there is no need for legal professionals to be intimidated by legal tech; instead, the industry should welcome the service offering enhancements, as well as efficiencies and savings technological advancements bring about.

Lightfoot is confident that increased adoption of technology will boost job satisfaction, productivity levels, bottom line results, and ultimately loyalty from clients due to better quality service. Not only does artificial intelligence (AI) have the potential to perform routine legal tasks, such as contract drafting, legal research or scanning of legal documents, but it also allows human lawyers to focus on tasks they enjoy and spend time on the legal aspects of a case that require human intellect and instinct.

After working with various law firms and LegalTech companies, Lightfoot spotted a gap to use technology in new and innovative ways in the legal market. She developed LISA to serve the almost 90% neglected legal buyer market that cannot access the legal services and attend to their legal problems without legal representation or advice.

Today, Robot Lawyer LISA is an easily accessible, online self-help service that allows clients to create personalised, legally binding contracts from anywhere in the world. This ground-breaking AI technology acts as the middle man and advises contracting parties on how to build their contract on mutually agreed terms while saving time and legal costs. Individuals and businesses can address their legal problems, only needing to consult with a human lawyer in very complex legal matters.

Join the number of legal professionals from around the country who seek a competitive edge or to future-proof their careers. Secure a spot at Chrissie Lightfoot ‘s special Master Session hosted by the Futures Law Faculty on the 14th of March 2019 in Cape Town.

The session will delve into future legal ecosystems, current and future trends to watch out for and how the legal industry can use it to its advantage. Chrissie Lightfoot will unpack various topics. To learn more about this event and to meet the lawyer who created the world’s first impartial robot lawyer, book your tickets:  CLICK HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

myths about legal tech debunked

3 Legal Tech Myths Debunked

Friday’s Future Note 

The pace of innovative disruption in the legal industry is accelerating, and we’re on the cusp of a transformation that will see artificial intelligence change the way legal work is executed. For now, it is easy to ignore technology, but that won’t be the case for much longer. The future will arrive faster than we think.

There has been a lot of speculation around automation in the legal industry, and while predicting future trends and developments doesn’t mean staring into a crystal ball, it’s all about making informed decisions based on the information available. To help shed light on the topic, we caught up with two experts in the field to give some insight and debunk some of the most common legal tech myths.

 

3 Legal Tech Myths Debunked

 

 

Myth: Lawyers will become obsolete in the age of automation.
Fact:  Roles will change, and fewer will lawyer in the “traditional” sense.

Renowned international legal futurist and CEO of the world’s first impartial robot lawyer, Chrissie Lightfoot warns that “bots” are coming, but believes that, while machines will progressively take over specific legal tasks and roles in the next 5 years, and more dramatically in the next decade, we don’t need to be afraid.

“There will always be a need for human lawyers. Machines are great at delivering answers, but poor at asking the right questions and taking context into consideration. The lawyers of the future will increasingly rely on their “soft skills” such as emotional intelligence, empathy, instinct, intuition, negotiation and persuasion skills, commercial nuance, and the ability to strategise,” says Lightfoot.

So, technology alone won’t transform the legal industry, lawyers will have to collaborate with other professionals and machines to drive transformation that improves legal access and service delivery. A recent Forbes article, which mentions Lightfoot’s Robot Lawyer, LISA, concludes that the line between law and other segments are becoming blurred. The article states: “Legal delivery is no longer about high-priced firm lawyers billing countless hours to solve legal challenges. It’s about integrating necessary expertise and leveraging it with appropriate resources—technological and “right-sourced” human ones—to solve personal and business challenges efficiently, cost-effectively, holistically, and measurably.”

 

Myth: If you’re a law student, you should probably quit now.
Fact: This is the most exciting time to study law!

 

British author and legal tech advisor, Richard Susskind’s popular quote, “If you’re studying law now, stop!” has many running scared, but his statement needs to be contextualised. Lightfoot has taken a different view as she believes that legal markets are likely to grow due to burgeoning technology that will facilitate alternative and DIY legal services. New customers who have never had access to legal services before might have to make use of machines but also look to human lawyers for additional help related to those self-service automated systems. “I would even go so far as to say that this is a tremendously exciting time to be a student of law as there are, and will continue to be, a variety of opportunities for tech-savvy, ambitious and entrepreneurial school leavers”.

Additionally, as local legal futurist and head of the Futures Law Faculty, Adv. Jackie Nagtegaal points out, a growing world population means there is more scope for lawyers and opportunity for future lawyers to enhance current and new systems. However, Nagtegaal also asserts that current law teachings in South Africa are not necessarily geared for the new world: “Law students have to read up, equip and upskill themselves for an exciting new world of opportunities”.

 

Myth: The digital revolution is still years away in South Africa.
Fact: Most firms are already using some form of tech. 

 

The tech revolution is speeding up globally, but South Africa is still behind. According to the renowned consulting firm, McKinsey, Africa lags behind other emerging markets on iGDP. But, Nagtegaal doesn’t see this as a negative: “The benefit of this is that we can see and learn and improve on international trends”.

Leading law firms and legal departments have already embraced a range of technologies to enhance their services or product offerings. For example, some have adopted e-discovery, chatbots, robot process automation, AI, cognitive computing, expert systems, machine learning, blockchain, smart contracts, etc. “Lawyers and businesses should identify the relevant “tech matrix” to assist in making their business more efficient, profitable and future proof,” agrees Lightfoot.

Adopting the right mix of technology will lead to more job satisfaction for South African lawyers, increase productivity levels within law firms or legal departments, bottom-line results from the lawyers, and ultimately more loyalty thanks to better service and improved quality of ‘augmented advice’ and legal products.

 

Keen to meet and hear from the experts themselves? Chrissie Lightfoot will deliver a masters session on Emotionally Intelligent Lawyers & Artificially Intelligent Machines on 14 March in Cape Town and Adv. Jackie Nagtegaal will share Lessons from LawBot on September 12 in the Mother City.