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The Future of Legal

How to Adapt Your Law Firm with the Oncoming Advent of Legal Tech

Christian Frank

Vice President, ITechLaw Association

Technology has taken over. But it demonstrates that the human brain is — to a certain extent — a muscle which is getting weaker if you do not exercise it any longer.

Now think about legal tech — great systems automating document review, automating, or at least facilitating, contract drafting, etc. There are the obvious tasks, like fine tuning the systems, training the included artificial intelligence component, recognizing and remedying its fallacies, which keep us busy for the time being.

A case for experience​​​​​​​

An article published in the New York Times last year described the clients’ unwillingness to pay for routine work while strategy, creativity, judgment and empathy have been identified as efforts which cannot yet be automated. They require experience — a factor still seen as a value for which clients are willing to pay.

As long as decision-making in contract negotiations or court proceedings will continue to be based on human involvement and interaction — rather than automation — this will probably not change dramatically. Most individuals have reached their professional level by exercise which led to experience. It has been nurtured by doing less complex work at the beginning of a career.

Beyond automation

The legal profession is facing quite a challenging task to keep the human legal brain sharp and adequately able to train the next generation. If train is going to become fully automated, it follows that the practical on-the-job training for lawyers will be gone.

To counterbalance this loss, there will be a greater requirement for continuing legal education, with sophisticated digital training labs as an obvious solution offering further business opportunities. As they will not come for free, lawyers will sooner or later try to increase their fees and rates.

So the digital revolution requires remembering the essential lesson of evolution: Neither intelligence nor strength but adaptation to a changing environment is key to the future.

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