A Take on the Legal Innovation & Tech Fest

Change is a knocking and the legal industry is ready to answer its call. The possibilities and opportunities presented by  legal tech and AI and how it will impact and change legal practice,  is no longer discussed in whispers and hushed tones. No, in fact it is discussed openly and loudly, sending a clear message that the legal industry is ready to disrupt,  rather than be disrupted.  This was clearly evident from the second annual Legal Innovation and Tech Fest, held 10 – 11 June 2019 at the prestigious Maslow Hotel in Sandton, Johannesburg, which can only be described as stumbling through a tech labyrinth of wonder and amazement.

With over 35 different organisations, 40 local and international speakers and 200 delegates, it is clear that legal professionals are living through a digital tech renaissance, so aptly christened by Chrissie Lightfoot, legal futurists and owner / CEO of Robot Lawyer Lisa, referring to today’s rapid, exponential change, development and advancement of AI and technology. This fact was well illustrated by the evolution, growth and increasing tech utilisation by Juta, as discussed by company CEO, Kamal Patel,illustrating how Juta has grown and innovated, using tech and AI software to provide new legal services and possibilities with Juta’s newest product offering – Juta Evolve, which is set to significantly impact how legal professionals conduct legal research and prepare for trial and/or argument.

It is accepted that majority of the work that legal professionals perform, whether in practice or as in house counsel, can be streamlined with legal tech and software ,  with pioneering technology and digital developments coming from new, alternative law service providers and Fintech industries, bringing competition from outside the legal fraternity, from an industry that has an upper hand in making the law and its procedures faster and more efficient,  due to their own layman frustrations and misunderstanding of the law. A fact perfectly personified by Guy Stern,the founder, developer and CEO of Baobab Law, despite having no legal background, having studied computer science, but who having gone through a legal matter himself and experiencing first-hand the frustration and uncertainty experienced by a layperson in regard to a legal matter,  created Baobab Law, a decentralised case management application for lawyers, paralegals and clients to record all communications and interactions relevant to a legal case to ensure all are up to date as to the progress of the legal matter at hand.

The golden thread throughout the conference, as summarised by Knowledge Partner at Bowman’sCathy Truter, expressly acknowledged and noted in every keynote, workshop and panel discussion: “Legal professionals must disrupt or be disrupted”.

Warren Hero, (Chief Technology and Information Officer at Webber Wentzel), emphasised that lawyers need to “see now, see more, see new”  in  the tomorrow of today and the future of the legal industry and the way we understand, interpret and practice the law.

We as legal professionals need to ensure that we stay abreast of legal tech changes and innovation to ensure that we “Reskill; Upskill and Newskill”, as put by Tammy Beira(Talent Partner at Bowman’s) to ultimately allow for the coming into being of the Fourth Industrial lawyer, the so called Augmented lawyer. The Augmented Lawyer, as baptized by Kevin Oliver (Head of Advance Delivery (Tech) at Allen & Overy), will continue to practice law and provide legal services and advice to clients, however will change the means and manner of doing same, by utilising technology, AI and available Legal tech software and tools to increase the efficiency of legal service delivery. Legal Innovation and Technology is, as summed up by Rico Burnett(Director of Client Innovation at Exigent)about Technological enablement and not deployment.

The question however remains how legal tech and innovative AI tools will be utilised by the legal industry? Will it be used to drive more efficiency, to provide for more billable hours and so increase legal fees , costs and profits? Or will it be used to improve access to justice in light of the reality that due to the high costs of legal matters, the national wage, the minimum wage, increasing income disparity and inequality, economically speaking,  only the wealthier 10%  of the South African population can afford access to justice and related legal services.

Want to know more about legal tech and AI and the future of law tomorrow – see www.futureslawfaculty.co.za

 

Author

Kristi Erasmus

Head of Futures Law Faculty

info@futureslawfaculty.co.za

 

What the heck is blockchain anyway?

Blockchain is one of the many hyped up buzzwords of our times. Everywehre you go, people interject it into their talk and strategies or features. But what does it actually mean? And more importantly, as lawyers, what is the hype all about and should we be caring?

Dissecting blockchain seems to be the only way to understand it, because as soon as you venture into its constituent parts, intricately connected, there’s far more tech speak than any of us lawyers can pretend to muster. It feels a little like reading Latin in your first year of law or piecing together Roman law with our modern Constitution.

So what is blockchain, if one had to try and explain it in Human? It refers to a series of blocks, with each block presenting an individual transaction operating on an internet connected network, linked together by a series of rules. The rules are preprogramed and serve to govern the transactions that are automatically concluded between two peer groups (contracting parties) on the network  when the preprogramed rules are complied with, without the need for a central, “trusted” authority to render them valid.

The predetermined rules, known as consensus rules, manages the transactions and how the parties interact with each other and the transactions on the network by defining, when a transaction would be deemed valid, what the transaction costs would amount to, providing a mechanism by which transactions are validated (similar to a digital signature, password or biometric data) and lastly, the rules on changing the existing consensus rules.

Thus, holistically a blockchain represents a complete ledger of all transactions that have occurred over a series of time, starting with the first transaction known as the Genesis and each transaction concluded thereafter being added to the chain, linking up, as more transactions are undertaken and concluded, to provide for an ever continuing chain between two peers without a central, managing authority.

Blockchain not only offers the ability to store an immense amount of information, which is generally regarded as unmanageable, but also provides for the decentralised, independent verification of information without a central controlling body and for increased certainty as transactions, once they have been concluded are added to the blockchain and cannot be deleted, changed or tampered with unless all parties agree thereto and the consensus rules are amended. (Altman, 2018)

Blockchain holds significant potential in the changing legal landscape, especially in automating routine legal procedures and processes by way of smart contracts, comprised of scripted logic, terms and conditions which allow for automatic execution of basic contracts, such a the renewal of a lease agreement or conclusion of a non-disclosure agreement, which does not require human oversight or negotiations.

With smart contracts, blockchain also creates the potential for the automatic transfer of assets between participants on the peer to peer network where the preprogramed (conveyancing) rules and regulations are complied with, without the need for a controlling, central deed of registries to validate the transfer of ownership, saving time and costs and allowing for easier transfers and better customer relations. Blockchain further offers significant value to the legal field in terms of the immense amount of information it can store, recording pervious legal matters, transactions and events over a long period of time such as irrefutable intellectual property claims or criminal charges and providing legal firms with the opportunity to discover hidden evidence or contradictions that could assist in winning legal argument. (The Legal Executive Institute , 2019) (Altman, 2018)

Now the question is – have you actually ever seen a smart contract? Is this all fiction or is it real?

Join the Futures Law Faculty on 4 July at 5pm at the Inner City Ideas Cartel to delve into this hyped up technology to uncover the truth.

The Presenters:

If there’s one expert in South Africa, it’s Tanya Knowles, Faculty Member of Singularity University and Chairperson of the South African Financial Blockchain Consortium (SAFBC) which is comprised of over 50 members including the country’s largest banks, financial institutions, regulators, consulting and legal firms and start-ups. Tanya has been internationally recognised as one of the leading women in blockchain technology.

Tanya will be joined by Adv Jackie Nagtegaal, a futurist and legal professional that has conducted research into the application of blockchain and legal practice. She will contextualise Tanya’s finding to the legal fraternity and show examples of application from around the world.

 

Get your ticket here. 

 

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

 

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.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

The Time is Now for Lawyers to Embrace Technology

We started the Futures Law Faculty with the idea of bringing in inspiring speakers to stimulate conversations and thoughts about radical innovation in the legal sector.

The legal fraternity’s penchant for tradition is notorious: wigs and robes, ostentatious bookcases, our vanity and elitism, the list goes on. But as we’re thrust into the digital revolution, what will happen to all of this fanfare we’ve protected for hundreds of years?

I have encountered many lawyers who clench onto tradition like they do their gavels and use their black togas as invisibility cloaks to hide from the looming future. To them, the future can be reduced merely to an event that will never occur if they dispel it through their denial. Of course, it’s not an event, it’s not some unknown destination we will arrive at one day: we’re in it, shaping it as it, in turn, moulds us.

Last night, during a lecture by Prof. David Venter, I was reminded of the story of the Swiss and their immaculate timepieces. They were regarded as the best, no one could touch them when it came to the accuracy of keeping time and executing classic style. Enter the development of quartz technology, and suddenly the likes of  Seiko and Casio entered the market, along with the digital watch. Pop culture embraced it, and before you could say 007, James Bond was wearing one, too. The Swiss were stuck in a ‘quartz crisis’. By the 70s, they were nearly rendered obsolete for not embracing technology, and more than half of their thousands of employees were laid off. This eventually led to the funky Swatch branch,  a resurgence of sorts for the Swiss.

But there was a next step in the timepiece evolution: enter the smartwatch. Again, not an innovation spearheaded by the masters of time machines, but rather by tech companies, like Apple and Google. The Swiss missed the opportunity to lead the change in watches, again. It’s estimated that the production of smartwatches will double in the next four years. What will happen to Swiss watches? They will probably stay in business, as there is still something breathtakingly beautiful about a traditionally crafted Swiss watch. But they have lost enormous chunks of the market again. How much time do they have left?

Are we the new Swiss watchmakers? Will the big tech giants usurp the law due to their openness to embrace technology? Our attitude towards and willingness to use the technology of today could influence our road to success or failure. So, the question is: Will we make this shift as lawyers?

The current envelope does not contain the new paradigm, so let’s find a new way of doing it. And by that I don’t mean we have to change what we do, we merely have to change how we do it.

In the 60s, high jumping was forever changed by the Fosbury flop, when Richard Douglas Fosbury altered merely the way he executed a high jump. A diagonal, backward flop. He, quite literally, reached new heights by not conforming to what everyone else was doing. When last did you see someone at the Olympics not do a Fosbury flop? This revolution didn’t destroy high jumps, it’s still a thing. There was simply a change to the method in which it is done.

The law is not going anywhere, but how are we going to ensure its evolution? How do we revolutionise it without alienating the people it’s meant to serve and protect?

The future is within us. Let’s drive the change ourselves and not fall out while the tech giants do it without us.

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.